|Daddy and Elijah (5 days old) at his first pediatrician appt.|
The first weeks of parenthood have been a blur. Our weekends include visitors but during the week we take it super easy—spending time with Elijah: sleeping in until 10 if he does (that's after being up at 12, 2, and 6), trying to get out for a brief mid-day adventure (he sleeps like a rock in the car seat), and then home again for seemingly innumerable feedings and diaper changes. We are in love.
Shortly after we got home from the hospital, I typed out what I could remember of Elijah's birth. All the details in a very non-poetic way. Little sleep affects my ability to write coherently, but I wanted to record the details. Let's be honest, though. You don't need to hear all the graphic details. But his birth was not what we were expecting, so here's the semi-condensed version.
Elijah's due date was originally April 12, but based on measurements during the early ultrasound, they calculated his due date to be a week later: April 19. By early April, I felt ready and anxious to meet our little boy. Any day would be just fine with me.
April 12 was a Saturday. I think Nate worked most of the day and came home in the evening. I had spent a lot of the day trying to get things cleaned up around the house. Elijah's room had stacks of books in it. We hadn't finished preparing it; it had been Nate's study/library. I didn't know where to put all the books. I ended up putting many of them in totes and found a place (attic, box, or trash/recycle). Nate got home and I was still working hard. He said, "Honey, why don't you go to bed? We can finish this up tomorrow." I had already planned to lounge/nap after church on Sunday. "No, I'll finish. I don't want to have to do this tomorrow." Hindsight is 20/20: This was classic "nesting."
On Sunday, I woke up around 6. I felt the first contraction around 6:30—a tightening at the front of my abdomen, like period cramps. Googling. I had never had Braxton-Hicks contractions during pregnancy, and I always assumed I would just know when I was actually in labor. I didn't know, so I wondered if this was false labor. Some early practice contractions. Labor could be many hours or even days away.
Nate and I got up and showered. He got ready to go to church early to handle coffee and go to his Porterbrook class. I would join him later. I got ready and ate breakfast, trying to figure out if there was any regularity to the contractions. Our instructions from the hospital was to come or call if the contractions lasted 60 seconds or more and were difficult to endure and had been like that for 2 hours. All of our friends had advised staying home as long as possible because laboring at home was easier than laboring at the hospital, and they might send you home. Everything we heard made us expect a labor that could last 20 hours. So this was supposedly just the beginning.
The contractions seemed to come more frequently. Around 8:30 a.m., I started timing them on an app. Five minutes apart. Sometimes four minutes. I tried breathing through each one and they were really starting to hurt! I thought, If this is just the beginning of labor, I am the biggest wimp! I take back everything I said about having a high pain tolerance! Then I texted Nate and said, "Can you come home after Porterbrook? Even if this isn't the real thing, I can't handle the pain alone." Nate called immediately and I started to cry. He came home right away.
I was trying to breathe and move around. No position helped. Nothing helped the pain, and it was getting worse. Nate came in the door and looked at the app. Contractions were two to three minutes apart. He didn't say so at the time, but he assumed the app was broken or I was just trigger-happy in starting/stopping it. I told him I wanted to go to the hospital. Maybe they could at least get some epidural started or some other pain meds. I needed something; I was starting to despair. "I can't do this!"
My hospital bag was mostly packed, but I had nothing for Nate. He pulled things together as I tried telling him what we still needed to pack. He loaded things into the car. I wanted to go now, but kept pausing. After this contraction, I'll go. Then another would start and I'd need to wait it out. Our friend Amy had told me to stay home until you aren't sure you can ride in the car. I had no idea how I'd ride in the car with pain like this. I started contemplating an ambulance.
Finally, I got shoes on and hurried to the car. I was in a tank top and shorts but my appearance was the least of my concerns. I had to close my eyes through the contractions, and in the car I just kept them closed. I didn't want to see the road or how long it was taking to get to Vanderbilt. I leaned the seat back and tried to get semi-comfortable, and then I'd shout: "Starting!" and Nate would start timing the app, and then I'd finally say, "Okay, okay. Over."
When we got to Vanderbilt, we tried to find the entrance they told us to go to when we took the childbirth class. We didn't have time to park in the East Garage. I told Nate to just valet the car. The first entrance we went to didn't have valet. I said, "Just run in and tell them we need a wheelchair!" Nate did, and they told him to go in through the ER. So we did. A lady came out with a wheelchair and I got in, leaned back (against her, I think) and closed my eyes, breathing and contracting and in a lot of pain. They rushed me to triage and told me I could stop using the app. That was 10:15 a.m.
A doctor (or nurse?) gave me a gown to put on and checked me. "You're 9 centimeters."
"What?" I asked. Had I heard her right? "9 centimeters," she said.
Another nurse asked if I wanted to go to the delivery room in a wheelchair or on the gurney. "I can't move," I said. So they pushed me down the hall on the gurney, and then helped me onto the delivery bed. I kept my eyes closed. It hurt. Nate tells me the room flooded with nurses and doctors. The midwife on call introduced herself. A nurse stood to my left and Nate was at my right. I told the nurse on the left, "I want epidural." I think she said, "I know, honey." I didn't know Nate had already told them I had planned on epidural. They told him, "Uh … we'll see." Instead, they tried to quickly find a vein and start an IV to administer any pain meds they could, but they had a lot of trouble finding a vein. Stuck me four times and pulled off my sock to look at my feet/ankles for one before hitting it in my left hand.
They told me I was going to start pushing. How in the world? We hadn't told anyone we were even heading to the hospital. Admissions had handed Nate a bunch of papers to fill out but they sat blank. What a surprise this would be. I remember I was thirsty and asked more than once for water, and a nurse said no. I started to shout/moan through the pain. The nurse at my side was firm with me. She told me not to make a noise, to focus all my energy on pushing. Her directions were helpful, and Nate repeated them. I heard Nate more than the nurse, and I remember thinking, What is Nate talking about? How does he know what I'm supposed to be doing?
I made a few attempts at pushing. Then they said that I wasn't making much progress, and they were worried about the baby's heart rate dropping. They asked if we'd be okay with them assisting with forceps. We had heard about forceps during our birthing class and had talked about how we didn't love the idea, but at this point we trusted the doctors to do what was necessary and I was thinking, Do whatever you have to do to get him out!
Before long, I felt relief as Elijah entered the world (at 10:46 a.m. … about 30 minutes after we arrived at the hospital). They briefly set him on my stomach before moving him away to clean him up and suction out some meconium he had apparently swallowed while in the womb. Then they brought him back to me. I was tired but couldn't believe it was over and our baby boy was here.
|Mommy and Elijah after moving into our recovery room|
I had inadvertently joined the "natural birth club." Though I am very thankful everything went like it did and labor was quick, if I have the option next time I am going for the epidural. And we will try to get to the hospital as soon as I feel anything that even slightly resembles labor.
|Sweet Elijah Raymond Jones|