In hindsight, it’s a good thing I didn’t go to my 39-week OB appointment alone; I don’t think GP would have believed me when I returned home and told him we were going to have a baby in the next 36 hours or so. As it happened, he was there, sitting next to me as my doctor told me that, because my blood pressure had been consistently high for much of my pregnancy and because I was full-term, she wanted to go ahead and induce. At first, I thought she’d set us up to go to the hospital the following week (this conversation happened Friday afternoon), but nope, we’d head over that night. So, we heard home to panic a little, finish packing our bags, and take one last shower before approaching the desk in L&D and telling them we were there to have a baby. (Yes, totally nonchalant, not at all the way I expected.)
My doctor had been able to get me admitted because of pre-eclampsia (though I never had any proteinuria…you’re welcome for that detail), which meant that a cavalcade of drugs was in my near future. First came a beta blocker, then the magnesium sulfate, and then the Cervidil to soften my cervix (the insertion of which was…not a treat). Aside from 20-30 minutes during which I felt like hot garbage because of the magnesium, these weren’t so bad. The Cervidil needed 12 hours to work, so they told us to get some sleep. GP and I stretched out on our respective beds (both uncomfortable, but it was easier said than done, for sure.
The next morning, the Cervidil had done its work and it was time for Pitocin. I’d heard alarming things about Pitocin contractions (intense, and with small breaks in between), but I had no frame of reference for contractions, so I was ready to roll without an epidural for as long as I could stand it. As it turned out, I was able to go about 4 hours before I accepted the fentanyl that was offered as a temporary relief, then finally had the epidural put in not long after (maybe 2 hours or so). With the epidural in, I was still aware of contractions but wasn’t crippled by them; the nurses advised us to get some sleep– the big show wasn’t too far off now.
After a nap (oh, I was so grateful for that nap!), I woke up and was told I was complete, so I could start pushing anytime I was ready. My doctor had arrived, and she, a nurse, and GP would coach me through the delivery of our daughter. Aside from a few weird interruptions in the epidural line– during which I was so distracted by pain that I count focus on pushing– I would say that this was the most… satisfying (?) part. They wheeled in a mirror so I could see what was going on (an idea which had previously seemed sort of gross to me), and that was a huge motivator. At one point, when we could first see her head (and all that hair!), my doctor told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head. I did, and it was still entirely surreal that any of this was happening.
We had a good laugh when my doctor suggested she might be a redhead, like me. (“Oh, that’s not your natural color?”) And, eventually, we’d done the old three-big-pushes-per-contraction routine enough to deliver the head, and her body tumbled out immediately after. I was vaguely aware of them suctioning out her nose and mouth, and I remember hearing her cry for the first time. (GP confessed to some worry because she was a little blue at first, but she pinked right up and had 9/9 Apgars.) I lost a fair (but not concerning) amount of blood, but was fine after chewing some Cytotec (more drugs, please), and got to “enjoy” the “vigorous massage” administered to help my uterus contract.
I had expected that I would be completely overcome with emotion and absolutely sobbing by the time they placed her on my chest; instead, we just looked at each other. It seemed (and still sort of seems) impossible that she was finally here, this person that I already knew so well, but was only meeting for the first time.
Now that she’s been here for over two weeks, it’s already impossible to remember what life was like before her. Sure, my life at the moment is loved in roughly three-hour increments, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.