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So once the doctor realized I was fully dilated and ready to push, the room went from “generic hospital” to “The Vagina Show” in 2.5 seconds. The bed had leg things folded down underneath – not just the stirrups like at the lady doctor but big fat thigh holders and foot pedals so you could pull your legs right up to your armpits. Since I could still move myself around pretty well, Pam my nurse didn’t have to manipulate me and I still felt like I was in control. Then some other nurse came in to see how things were going. Then the nursery nurse brought in all the stuff they needed to check Baby Evan once he was out. Then another random person in scrubs came in. All of these new visitors got a full view of my croth and possibly the baby’s head, but were too polite to suggest I not lie around with my legs in the air. The doctor came back in wearing a plastic face shield that secretly fascinated me. I wondered how often things flew out at such a speed that eye protection really became necessary…but then decided I didn’t really want to know.

At 7:10 pm I warned the nurse that the pressure was starting again in a huge way and she said we’d try to practice pushing. She warned me the average pushing time for a first time mom was 2 hours so I should really make each one count. The first push I forgot to hold my breath – all those relaxing breathing techniques from birthing class had clouded my brain – and all I did was make my face red. The second time I was still thinking about poop, so I tried to push with my pelvic muscles instead of my butt muscles.After those two practice pushes I decided 2 hours of this would kill me so I concentrated on relaxing, not worrying, and PUSHING. No more thinking about poop. But just for the record, all my worrying was for nothing. I DID NOT POOP ON THE TABLE!

7:15 pm – Push, breath, push, breath, push, breath relax. I could still feel the start and stop of each contraction, and now I could feel the doctor sort of wiggling things around to help the baby’s head descend the rest of the way too. Still no pain but I wouldn’t exactly call it comfortable. E was awesome this whole time, holding my hand and encouraging me to keep going. I think he was prepared to be incredibly understanding while I screamed “Why did you do this to me you f*cker!??!” and might be secretly disappointed his patience was unnecessary. I can be pretty creative with the cursing. Thanks for preventing me from turning anyone’s ears blue, epidural! Two more pushes and I heard the doctor said I was almost done. DONE?! What happened to two hours??? The last few had gone by so fast I hadn’t really had time to think about becoming an actual mother to an actual child. Yikes.

7:20 pm – Baby Evan’s head popped out. No, really, it actually went “pop”. The nurse kept saying “look down look down!” Sorry lady, I’m kind of busy here, how about you look and I’ll finish delivering? E got to look though, and later said there was a lot of blood, scary amounts, but he did a great job of not freaking out. At 7:21 pm I pushed one more time and the rest of Baby Evan joined the world. The nurse dragged him right up onto a blanket on my chest and they started cleaning him up. The rest happened really fast and is kind of a blur. The doctor let E cut the cord, the baby started to cry, the nurse took him to the warmer for weight and measurements, and I thought “oh my God, what’s wrong with my child’s head?!” Then I thought “wow, I’m a terribly mother to care so much about the shape of my perfectly healthy baby’s head”. All the baby books warn you about how baby’s head shapes and compresses to go through the birth canal, but it’s really kind of alarming. Thank goodness for those cute little hats.

7:24 pm – Something went “wooosh” and fell out of my vagina. I must have looked really surprised because my doctor reassured me it was just the placenta. I had heard that you had to deliver the afterbirth the same way you deliver the baby, but since the nurse turned up the Pitocin drip to help my uterus contract it’s way back to normal it delivered itself without any help from me. The other nurse asked if I was in pain and I said no, I was still numb. “Good” she said “since you had air in your line and I turned off the epidural 5 minutes ago.” YOU DID WHAT?! “I think I’ll need to repair this tear” said the doctor “One stitch, maybe two.” EXCUSE ME?!? You turned off my drugs right before someone started a sewing project in my perineum? THANKS SO MUCH. It was fine though, the drugs lasted through two stitches and I’ve hardly noticed them at all.

By 7:30 pm I was cleaned up and no longer spread eagle in the bed. The doctor and the nurses kept going on and on about how having a baby in 7 pushes is AMAZING and I made a comment about how I would definitely have another baby. Especially seeing as how I am apparently very good at it. Plus, then I could have MORE EPIDURALS. Suddenly the doctor punched me in the stomach. Hard. Actually, she and Nurse Pam were trying to help get the rest of the…stuff out of my uterus, but the pushing on my stomach was by far the most painful part of the whole birth. The hospital staff did it all night too, coming in to check on me, act all concerned and nice and then kneed my stomach until I yelled “OUCH”. The baby nurse finished weighing and measuring and cleaning so they brought Baby Evan back to cuddle. I was still totally giddy with joy and drugs and hormones and couldn’t really believe that this whole entire baby I was holding was the same baby I’d been carrying around for 9 months, although my deflated abdomen and the lack of kicking baby feet was a super strange sensation. To be truthful, it’s been a little more than 48 hours and I’m still having a hard time believing I am done with Pregnant and on to Mommy. On the way out of the hospital parking lot today I laughed (perhaps slightly insanely) and said “We totally got away with stealing this baby!” I may be I little over-tired.

After everyone got to hold the baby – including Mom, who came in after all the gross parts were over – Nurse Pam did another baby check. She thought his temp was low and wanted to put him under the warmer. When that didn’t improve things right away she checked his blood sugar and it was a little low. I wanted to try breastfeeding* before they took him to the nursery, but after about 15 minutes of working on his latch he needed to go back under the warmer. I gave them permission to give him a little formula to get his sugar up but it took the nursery staff a really long time to get him interested in the bottle. Since we had a little break from the baby, Pam asked if I could feel my legs and I wiggled around to prove I could. With a little help I got up to the bathroom and tried to pee but couldn’t relax enough. I forgot to mention they put in a catheter right after the epidural, so there wasn’t much in my bladder anyways, but my fear of peeing on the stitches was pretty high.

My time line from this point on is a blur of baby, sleeping, trying to feed, episodes of Designed to Sell (I must have turned the TV back on), and people coming in and out to check on me. Someone brought me graham crackers, peanut butter and milk, which is to date the most delicious meal I’ve ever had. I even got my Diet Coke – three tiny cans of total deliciousness, the desire for which is at least partially to thank for my quick delivery. E went home around 10 pm to get some real sleep and the nursery staff wanted to keep the baby to monitor his blood sugar. By morning I was pretty well rested – well enough to write the first half of this story anyways – the baby was warmer and healthy, I had a delicious blueberry muffin, and I FINALLY pooped. The doctor gave me a self-medication kit after labor which consisted of a bottle of ibuprofen, four stool softeners, some Tucks pads and a water squirt bottle to clean up if I needed. I took two pain killers and a stool softener with my graham crackers, and O M G was that a good plan. Sitting in the bed was really uncomfortable after the epidural wore off and my fear of ended up constipated was very, very real. But that morning I pooped like a champ and my last huge fear about having a baby flew out the window to the land where people try to scare you with awful labor stories.

All of Monday was really boring and unnecessary. Lots of hospital reps came and went with surveys and advice and paperwork. I got a shower and put on the pajamas I brought – a huge improvement over the hospital gown. I cannot emphasize enough how much better it is to wear your own underwear after 12 hours of either nakedness or hospital issued mesh shorts and giant diaper-sized pads. We had a couple friends stop by to visit, which was a nice way to pass the time, but mostly I just lounged and held the baby. It was a very long day with a definite lack of naps. At around 9:30 pm the doctor from my OB-GYN practice came in and said she was ready to do the circumcision if we wanted. I let E make the call on the circ as I don’t have a penis, and he was very sure that it was something he wanted. The doctor said the nursery needed to keep the baby for a while after the procedure so I took the opportunity to sleep and E headed home for another night in our soft comfy bed. At about midnight I started hating him for not suffering through the same terrible hospital bed. I think I might have sent him an angry text message about being a bad father. That second night was much harder than the first.

More details to come unless my boobs explode and short out my computer. Two hours ago I was worried my milk would never come in. Right now I’m about 99% positive I could feed an entire pre-school class and still have enough to lighten my coffee.

*Breastfeeding is hard, y’all. I know my baby is 48 hours old and my boobs aren’t even making milk yet but this kid really isn’t great at eating. I’ve got great support though and a real desire to make it work so we’ll get the hang of it soon.

When I posted on Saturday about trying to scare the baby out with super-preppy clothing I didn’t think it would actually work. Apparently the joy of wearing tiny madras shorts was just what Baby E needed to get moving.

Saturday night I started having much stronger contractions than I’d had before, but they weren’t very regular. I decided unless my water broke I was going to wait until morning to consider going to the hospital so I took a nice warm bath and some Tylenol PM and went to bed around 11. At about 5 am the contractions woke me up. I thought about making E get up and help but figured I’d been breathing on my own for 26 years and could handle it for another couple hours. I wandered around practicing my hee-hee-hooooo techniques until I decided these were definitely painful enough to be labor. I tried to wake E up to tell him he might want to get moving but he just rolled over and muttered something about “later”. I finished getting ready to go and then went into the bedroom and yelled “You’re the worst labor coach ever! Get up, I want to go to the effing hospital!” This time, he listened. We left Mom with the dog and told her we’d call if the hospital admitted me.

Once I got up to the birthing center I did some more heaving breathing while signing paperwork and then they set me up in a room. I was thinking about all the labor stories I’d ever heard and trying not to freak myself out about what was going to happen to me for the next few days when in walked my nurse – Nurse Mustache. If you read Dooce.com, you’ll know why this is hilarious. I mean, I’d love to be just like Heather Armstrong but what an insane detail to have in common, labor nurses who have incredible mustaches. It was impossible to listen to anything she said because I was so focused on her upper lip. I think it was something like “I’ll have the mustache come in and check your mustache in a mustache, but first change into this mustache”.

At 9 am the doctor came in to check me and said that I was 3.5 cm dilated and definitely in capital L Labor, not that wimpy, useless labor I had on Thursday. They hooked me up to that stupid belly monitor again and we watched the line for my contractions make feeble little hills while I insisted they felt more like mountains and that everyone should know this was VERY UNCOMFORTABLE. When the doctor came back in at 10 am, I was at 4 cm and she broke my water to speed things up. I am wicked glad that happened in a hospital bed covered in disposable pads instead of all over my pale blue sheets, The “pop” felt like I had just lost 10 pounds, the relief of pressure was so huge. I sat there gushing for a few minutes until the doctor said that if I was planning to get an epidural I could have it any time. I was like YES PLEASE, I’LL TAKE TWO. RIGHT NOW.

When the anesthesiologist showed up, she looked at my wimpy little hill contractions and made a comment about maybe I didn’t need the epidural quite yet. I was like, but the doctor! She said I could have it! Now! She has a medical degree and fancy green scrubs, we should definitely do what she says. Between the nurse insisting I relax relax relax and the anesthesiologist telling me to hold still hold still hold still, getting a needle in my back was one of the most stressful parts of the day. First I got two numbing shots so I wouldn’t feel the actual GIANT NEEDLE or the teeny tiny catheter that sent magic fairy dust directly into my spinal column. I keep saying “ooooh this feels weird, so so weird, it’s weird!” but can’t really describe the weirdness. The official word for the whole day is “pressure”, so I’ll just say I could feel the pressure of the needle going into my spine and I was suddenly very aware of the spaces between my vertebrae. The anesthesiologist taped everything to my back and then gave me a test shot to make sure I didn’t react to the medication. Once they were sure I wasn’t going to pass out and the baby wasn’t going to have a heart attack, I got the full dose. It made my right side numb but not quite my left side so they propped me up with pillows to get the medicine dripping in the right direction. At 10:47 am, I was giddy with joy and ready to begin a long, loving relationship with my anesthesiologist. It was the most comfortable I’ve been since I was about 6 months pregnant.

Apparently I am a perfect epidural patient, since I could still feel the pressure from my contractions but not the pain. I could even move my legs around, wiggle my toes and feel Baby E kicking, so it wasn’t like being paralyzed at all. Just a total lack of pain from my crotch to my ribs. The doctor was really thrilled with this and seemed to think it was a good sign for the rest of my labor. Everyone left me alone then to give me a chance to rest and dilate. I napped until about 1 o’clock and then woke E up and demanded he entertain me. We played cribbage for a while, but I lost interest when he beat me 3 out of 4. Beating your wife at cards while she’s in labor with your child is not a sign of a good labor coach. Mom came over to the hospital to keep me company and see if anything was going on. It was not. When the doctor checked me again at 2 pm I was only at 5 cm so we agreed to start a Pitocin drip.

Dear Pitocin,
I know I said a lot of bad things about you in the past. I’m sure I made you feel unwanted and unloved. But you should know that now I know the truth and a Pitocin drip – while already on an epidural – is the second best invention in the birthing world. The first is of course the epidural and the third is stool softener. But we’ll get to that later.
xoxo
Suzanne

I was assured that getting to 5 cm was the hard part and things should go much faster now, but I wasn’t getting my hopes up. They played with the dosage for a while, adding a little at a time until they found a good level and my nurse predicted I would have the baby before 10 pm. I decided what I needed was another nap (all that sleep now while you still can!!! talk really stuck with me) so I put some HGTV on and dozed while watching people try to sell their horribly ugly houses after really pathetic makeovers. At about 5:20 pm I realized I was dying of thirst and what I really, truly needed more than anything in the whole world was a Diet Coke – and if pushing out this baby was what I had to do to get one then I was going to do it RIGHT NOW. I noticed that my body seemed to agree. Even without the pain my contractions were definitely stronger and I felt like I was in real danger of crapping myself. Considering I hadn’t eaten anything in about 20 hours I wasn’t too worried but it still wasn’t high on my list of things to do so I concentrated on not pooping.

At 6:30 pm my nurse Pam (not Nurse Mustache, she left) came to check on me and I mentioned the pressure. She didn’t seem too concerned but said it was a good sign. I tried to make casual conversation about how serious the pooping threat was but she just assured me it was normal and no one would point and laugh at me. At least not where I could see it. At 6:50 the doctor came in to see how I was coming…and got a lovely view of Baby E’s head. Everyone scrambled to get things ready for the pushing part while I sat there being smug and saying I WASN’T KIDDING ABOUT THE PRESSURE. It’s not easy to be smug when you’re in labor, but totally possible with an epidural.

Tomorrow you get the story about the actual delivery and the (continuing) aftermath. Feel free to think of really specific, personal questions you might want to ask, since so far today I’ve talked about labor with three visitors who are a) not related to me in any way and b) probably didn’t want to hear about my placenta.

Even when not pregnant, I found accounts of other people’s labors fascinating. And thanks to the interwebs, there are tons of them out there to read!

Sarrible sent me this one the other day, written by Alice Bradley. She specifically warned me not to read the comments but that’s like me telling the dog “Hey, so I’ve got this steak that I’m just going to put right here on the floor and then I’m going to stare over there at the wall for a while, but you’re not supposed to eat it, ok?” But I’m going to warn you anyways, if you are pregnant or want to someday be pregnant, skip the terror-inducing comments.

Allie the fashion blogger who writes My Wardrobe Today had her baby this month and wrote about it here. It is also slightly scary, but everything ends well and her baby is ADORABLE.

Of course there’s also Dooce’s story, which might be from 2004 and is kind of long but still amazing. I’ve read it about a dozen times now, and will probably have the whole thing memorized by the time my own labor starts.

Anyone have more suggestions? Personal stories encouraged!

I love email! It's like talking to other grown ups without having to worry if the baby is screaming! Contact me: bebehblog@gmail.com
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