Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Nov '12

Pregnant No More!

My due date was November 15. I used to think November would never come. And then, as it crept closer, I couldn’t believe it was actually so near.

Around 36 weeks things started to get more uncomfortable, and I began looking forward to not being pregnant anymore. I’d be able to sleep (and still breathe) in any position, not just on my left side (which made my shoulder ache). I’d be able to lay to rest my awful compression stockings that I had to wear to keep pain in check from my many, horrible varicose veins. I could pack away my maternity clothes!

But, still, having the baby seemed far off. On Monday, November 5th John and I went to Wesley’s school to visit the transitional kindergarten classroom. This is his last year of preschool, and we need to decide what type of classroom will be the best fit for him next year–regular kindergarten (which has 1 teacher to 20 kids, and high expectations) or transitional (which has 1 teacher and 3 aides, and is a special ed environment, so slower paced). As we drove together in the car we talked about the baby and I said, “I have no inkling of having a baby today.”

Which was true. I never saw it coming. That night around 11 pm I got ready for bed as usual and wrote in my journal, but my back was hurting. After a little while I called John upstairs to sit with me because it was so uncomfortable. Eventually he pulled up an app on his tablet that timed contractions. It turns out they were about 12 minutes apart. And soon they were 7 minutes apart. Then 5, then 4. Around 1:30 am John called our neighbor and asked her to come sleep on the couch so we could go to the hospital.

I had been dreading this labor and delivery experience because having Carissa was difficult. It left me feeling traumatized and scared to go through it again. This time John and I decided I would try an epidural and see how it went without the accompanying pain.

So as we drove to the hospital (with a towel on the seat beneath me, which John kindly gave me in case my water broke in his car), I felt surprisingly calm. The labor pains hurt, but I knew how to breathe through them, and I knew that in a bit I would have the epidural to help.

We arrived sometime after 2 am and got the paperwork started for my stay. I ordered the epidural right away. First they hooked me up to an IV to get a bag of saline solution into my system. I also had negative memories associated with getting an IV, because during Carissa’s labor the nurse took about a half hour trying to set up my heplock (which I never needed), poking both arms in the midst of heavy, horrible back labor pains before finally getting it in. This time was better.

Getting the epidural made me nervous, I think mostly because I’d never done it before. All in all, it wasn’t a big deal. It took several minutes, but there was only one “Ouch!” moment when I got poked in the back, and then my legs started feeling warm and tingly. I was like, “Hey, what’s going on?” and the epidural guy said that meant it was working, and that the needle was in just the right spot in my back.

And that was the last I felt of my contractions. I’ve had three babies, two without pain medication and one with. After my experience with an epidural, here is what I’ve decided: WHY did I never do this before??

Somehow my labor with Wesley wasn’t so bad. But Carissa’s was terrible. This one probably would have been similar. It was so lovely to not feel the pain anymore.

In fact, it was kind of surreal to be at the hospital, in a bed with a gown on, unable to move my legs (but I would move my feet a little), and to just LIE there. I watched “I Love Lucy” on our portable DVD player for a while. The nurse started by lying me on my left side at 3:30 am, and after an hour she came back and rolled me to the right side. It wasn’t until then, when my view of the room changed and I could see the baby bed set up in the corner, that it registered in my head WHY I was there. To have a baby! Right. So, so different from an active labor experience where you feel everything. Truthfully, so much more pleasant.

Around midnight, long before we left for the hospital, my body started shaking. It’s an effect of the hormones during labor, and I remember having the shakes to some degree during or following my other deliveries. This time I was shaking so strongly that they couldn’t ever get a blood pressure reading from the cuff on my arm because I couldn’t hold my arm still enough. Once the epidural kicked in they transferred the cuff to my calf, and finally it worked.

The first hour of my epidural (about 3:30 to 4:30 am) I couldn’t relax. I was shaking hard, and I was adjusting to the feeling of numbness in my legs. It is a WEIRD feeling to not be able to move your legs. I hate holding still, even when falling asleep at night, so this was hard for me at first. We turned up the thermostat in the room and I asked for some hated blankets, and gradually my shaking improved. Once the shaking lessened, I could relax, and once I relaxed, I could rest. From 4:30 to 5:30 am John and I were able to sleep off and on (a very little, but still). I listened to a book on my mp3 player, and John lay on the couch. For some reason they couldn’t find a spare pillow for him and he had to use our coats.

Nearing 5:30 am, I started to notice mild pressure in my lower back sometimes. I figured things were progressing. At 5:30 am they positioned me back on the left side, and after that I could tell things were really moving along. Three or four times I felt strong, strong pressure deep down that clearly meant the baby was getting in position to come. It was nearly 6 am, and the nursing shifts were about the change. I asked my nurse to call my doctor.

Just after 6 the new nurse waltzed in and said the doctor’s instructions were to “progress all the way and then call him.” I told her it felt serious and asked her to check me. She did, and promptly called out to the hallway for someone to call my doctor and tell him to come NOW. I was at a 4 when I arrived at the hospital around 2:30, at a 6 when I got my epidural around 3:30, still at a 6 at 4:30, then about an 8 or 9 at 5:30. At 6:05 my water still hadn’t broken but the bag of water was basically hanging out. The nurse told me to relax and keep my legs closed (hello, epidural, they weren’t moving).

Then people started shuffling in to prepare for the baby to come. My doctor showed up around 6:15 am and got the party started. I felt a little nervous because, historically for me, pushing has been the hardest part of giving birth. So, so difficult and tiring when I was already completely exhausted from enduring the labor pains. So I asked my doctor what to expect. He said, very calmly, “Well, you’re going to take a few deep breaths, push a little, and then you’re going to have a baby.”

Turns out, that was it exactly. He instructed me to take a deep breath and push. which I tried doing. Then he said next time to push a little deeper down. So I took another breath and tried again. It felt like I was doing nothing, and I asked, “Am I doing this right?” John and the doctor both said, “You’re doing great! There’s the head.” I took a couple more breaths and a couple more pushes, and the baby was born. It was the easiest thing, nearly effortless. I couldn’t believe how much easier that was this time around.

The baby girl was born November 6th at 6:35 am. She weighed 6 lbs 4 oz and was 18.5 inches long. She appeared healthy.

I was in such good spirits that I told John to get out our video camera. He gave me a funny look and said, “Are you sure?” But I felt so happy to have had the baby, to not be pregnant anymore, and to have had it be a positive experience for once. So this is the first baby we have video of during the first minutes of her life.

As soon as I held her I thought she looked different from Carissa as a baby. The longer I held her I more I decided she more resembles Wes as a baby. Her hair color and face shape is more like Wesley’s as a baby.

We had kind neighbors who cared for our older kids while John and I stayed at the hospital that first day. He slept at home with the kids that night, and the next afternoon I came home with our new baby.

We weren’t sure what to name her. We had a first name tentatively chosen, but were completely blank for a middle name. The day after she was born John called me from home and suggested a middle name that he had thought of while trying to fall asleep the night before. It sounded good to me, and it was Irish like my first name is. So we decided on Elizabeth Erin.

She is 11 days old now, and we are impressed by how remarkably CALM she is. She seems just happy to be here. Sometimes we watch to make sure she’s breathing, even when her eyes are open, because she can be so still. She cries when we change her diaper or wakes up hungry, but that’s about it. She seems very sweet, and we adore her. Wes loves to hold her and often says, “I carry you?” which is how he asks to hold her. Carissa is merely fascinated by the baby’s dirty diapers, and is practicing being “soft” with her sister.

And here is Elizabeth, in her first few minutes of life.

Our first day in the hospital together. I watched a lot of HGTV–a special treat for me, who doesn’t have cable at home.

A couple days old.

And now, we have THREE.

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