I feel like so much of the whole birth experience and our hospital stay is already such a blur, and I can't believe he's almost a month old now. But I've been working on this post since he was about a week old, so hopefully I can capture it the best I can!
If you hate reading about dilation and contractions and all that stuff, you might want to skip down to the pictures I'll post at the end. I generally wasn't a big fan of it either before I got pregnant, but then I got fascinated with other people's birth stories, and honestly I just want to remember it for myself!
On Monday night, February 25, I started having some contractions. I had a meeting at school and had contractions that started to pick up a little more than my usual end-of-the-day Braxton Hicks. I remember sitting at a table in the media center talking about contractions with Ms. Hinton and Ms. Spencer that I work with, and showing them how my belly was standing out from the rest of me when I contracted. I wasn't really hurting, but I definitely did notice that there seemed to be more than usual. I had a post-observation meeting with one of the assistant principals after that and he joked with me that I could go have my baby now that that was out of the way.
Phillip worked that night, and I had been texting him, telling him that I was sure it was nothing but that I hoped I wasn't going to go into labor that night while he was at work. I had contractions all Monday night that woke me up, though they just felt like bad cramps. I still wasn't sure that this was going to lead to real labor. I knew when I got up and had some bleeding though, that today or the next day it was probably going to happen.
I showered and went to work anyway, thinking I'd probably go to work and labor all day and then hopefully have a baby Tuesday night or sometime Wednesday. I was contracting all day at work, at the rate of about one every four minutes by mid-morning. I really didn't want to tell anyone because my plan was to just ignore it for as long as possible and act normally to get through early labor. They still weren't really hurting badly, just like bad cramps. I was still able to walk and talk through contractions, though I might have gotten a little snappy or still. By the end of the day, I was starting to have concentrate a little more on them, sort of a level of pain like if you have a stomach virus and your stomach is cramping. I honestly wasn't expecting him to come a week before his due date though, so I had lots of loose ends to tie up, like a meeting at work that I needed someone else to cover later in the week. I really didn't have a choice, I had to tell folks what was going on...I think my nesting instinct was all focused on work. Everyone was hollering at me to go home, but I knew that we still had a ways to go, so I tried to stay as long as I could. I signed out during my planning (which we're allowed to do) at the end of the day and decided to go ahead and go home. The contractions were picking up in intensity and I was starting to get quieter through them.
I got home around 2:30 that afternoon, and Phillip was home with me. Phillip had taken his cousin to pick up his car from being serviced and got home right before I did. I stayed in my work clothes for awhile and just relaxed at home, feeling the contractions pick up more and more. I was still doing fine, just taking each one as they came. My mom and grandmother showed up a little later in the afternoon and were sweet enough to come over and clean up around our house. They vacuumed and mopped, did laundry and washed dishes.
I decided to get in the shower and wash my hair since I hadn't washed it that morning, and since I knew that would help me get through contractions. I was to a point where I could barely talk during them, and I definitely didn't want to answer questions. Time is kind of a blur to me at this point. When I was in the shower, I remember thinking that I was okay and could probably do this for a good while longer. I got out, dried my hair at Phillip's encouragement since I didn't know how fast things would move after that, put on some sweatpants and tried to relax. Tried being the key word - I was surviving, but honestly I don't even have much memory of what was going on outside my little labor world at that point. Phillip was running around the house, washing the dogs because we were thinking we might take them to a friend's house to dog-sit at that point, Mom was still there cleaning and such, and I was just wallowing around between the couch, the floor, and leaning on the coffee table.
At certain points, my contractions would come every two minutes, and at other times, I'd have a four minute stretch in between them. Sometimes they'd last for a full minute, and other times I'd be done in 30-45 seconds. They were still very intense, and I was feeling them all over my midsection at this point. Every time one would start, it was like intense pain building all over my back, belly, and down into my upper thighs.
We really didn't know what to do at that point, because we had said from the beginning that we didn't want to go to the hospital too early. Bradley teaches that you should go when your contractions are three minutes apart and one minute long for two hours. There were times when I was way past that point though, and other times where I'd have a little break longer than three minutes, though things were definitely moving quickly. Knowing that I had been having contractions for about 24 hours at that point though, we all thought I was probably going pretty fast at that point, since things had picked up so quickly.
Phillip actually called our Bradley instructor and she told us that we should think about going to the hospital with contractions that close together. We loaded up in my Jeep with me sitting on a beach towel in case my water broke, and Mom driving separately in her car. That was the most hellacious ride of my life! Sitting up in the little front seat of my car was absolutely horrible, because I wanted to be up and moving or swaying or hanging on PB at that point in my labor. I was having chills and sweating intermittently. It was freezing outside but I kept rolling the window down because I was burning up.
I felt a lot better when we got out of the car, though I had a contraction in the parking lot as soon as we got there, and I'm sure I was a sight, standing there in the parking lot hanging onto Phillip. We went inside, past the little old lady at the desk next to the elevators, who had the same reaction as if the little girl from The Exorcist had just come in with her head rotating on her shoulders. She waved us up the elevator right away and we checked into triage about 6:30 that night.
Of course none of us thought about the fact that we were there at shift change and let me tell you, that triage room SUCKED. As soon as they got me there, they wanted me to lie down on this little prison cot of a bed, put on a hospital gown, and wear belts on my belly to monitor Ira's heartbeat and my contractions. I am sure that that is just what hell will be like. Lying on my side was so not working for me, and I kept trying to get up on all fours, or stand up, which kept screwing up the monitor, so everyone kept making me get back in bed. The gosh darn hospital gown they had on me kept making me feel like I was going to catch on fire, so I kept ripping that thing off.
I finally told them I wanted to go to the bathroom, so I convinced my nurse to let me come off the monitor for a minute, and I made PB get a pillow and put it behind me on the toilet. I definitely sprawled my big self out there, gown hanging off of me and monitor wires hanging around my neck. I felt horrible, like I was going to throw up, and I kept shaking and sweating at the same time. I had some fluid leaking and I was just the biggest (literally), hottest (also literally) mess you have ever seen.
They made me get back in the bed and on the monitor, and every time I had a contraction while lying on my side on the prison cot and shaking like a detoxing druggie, I would say I couldn't do it anymore. I was slamming out contractions left and right, shaking for the minute or so in between each one, and as a result, tensing up all my muscles. I was so exhausted, I felt like I had to be close to having that baby. I had been doing this for 24 hours, right?
So the nurse, who was actually a friend of my mom's, checked me - and we were all shocked to discover I was 3 centimeters. At that point, I looked up at PB and my mom and said, "I am DONE. DONE DONE DONE. I can do this at a 6 or 7, but not at a 3." I just kept thinking that if it had taken me 24 hours to get to that point, and several hours of very hard labor, there was no way I had the energy to make it to a 10 and then push. My mom and PB were both great coaches and kept telling me that I could definitely do it, but I was serious.
When my mom walked out to talk to my dad for a few minutes, I grabbed PB by the arm, looked up at him, and said, "I am serious. I am done. If I am going to get the meds, I want it now and not when I am at an 8. I will not hold this against you in 20 years, it's not your fault, you have done a great job. But I am done."
So my doctor came in, who happened to be my favorite doctor in the practice, and I told him I was done. After I had made the decision, that was my only goal. I just knew I had to make it to the epidural and I would be ok. They moved me to a room, and I pulled the same sit-on-the-toilet routine. I also brayed like a rabid moose for the duration of pretty much every contraction, because I was feeling like my entire body from the bottom of my ribs to halfway down my thighs was being squeezed in a vise grip. I'm sure the entire L&D floor just loved me but I didn't give a crap if the pope was there, I was just trying to survive until I saw the anesthesiologist.
They put a huge IV in my arm, which I barely even remember. PB said later that the needle looked like a garden hose, which normally would have been horrifying for me, but I literally have no memory of it and I didn't care at all. They told me I had to have a bag of saline before I could get my epidural, so I sat on the toilet shaking my arm in between contractions to try to move it faster. Once I had made that decision, I figured I might as well get it as fast as possible.
The anesthesiologist came in, a lady in her 50s with longish gray hair. That's about all I remember of her - I don't really remember her face and I don't even know what her name was. They let PB stay, and he knelt on the bed in front of me and held my hands while I hunched over and waited for the epidural. I didn't care how big the needle was, I didn't care if it hurt, I just needed it in because I was so completely in that mindset at that point.
Once I had the epidural, I was able to lie in the bed and relax within seconds. I still had the shakes, but I wasn't sweating so much, so I was able to lie under warm blankets and get my shakes calmed down some. I was hooked up to the monitor, and it was amazing how much I didn't care about that after the epidural - beforehand, being hooked up to the monitor was akin to being on the rack because I had to be still.
My doctor came back in after that and checked me, and I had already progressed to a 4. Time is still really fuzzy to me at that point, but I think it had taken me about an hour and a half to get to that point. He looked at the monitor and said "You need pitocin about as much as I do at this point, so we'll just let you move things along on your own right now." He did ask to break my water to get things going - I initially had wanted to avoid that, but it was clear to me we were having a baby within the 24 hour time limit of having your water broken, and further, it didn't really matter to me if that made contractions more painful because I couldn't feel any contractions at all at that point. The monitor looked like a mountain range of contractions, but I didn't feel the first twinge.
In about 2 1/2 hours, they checked me again and I had gone all the way from a 4 to a 7. I was really exhausted by that point, but I was at least able to lay there and relax for awhile. My parents, grandparents, and PB's parents all came in for awhile after I got my epidural, since I could tolerate seeing people at that point. Everyone kept telling me to try to sleep, which I probably could have done from a pain standpoint, but I am not good at sleeping in a strange room that's also full of people, especially knowing I had a baby on the way, so I just stayed in bed and tried to relax. At one or two points, my nurse came in and checked my monitor because Ira's heart rate was dropping. That had been one of my greatest fears about the epidural and one of my reasons for trying to avoid it, but they just changed my position and everything was ok. My nurse really wasn't an alarmist and it all worked out and Ira was just fine. We kept going right along with just a little adjustment in the recline position of my bed. By midnight, they checked me again and I was at a 10!
It took them about an hour to gather up all of their delivery equipment, but by 1:00 that morning, I was pushing. PB and my mom and my awesome nurse, Tammy, were in there with me the whole time. I don't really know if someone turned off my epidural or if it just wears off at a certain point, but I could feel my legs really well and could feel a lot of pressure at that point. I could tell when I had contractions and tried to push as hard as I could through them. I was still totally relaxed between contractions and pushing - a whole different person from who I was when I checked in.
I pushed for about an hour, lying in bed and holding my own legs up, and then we were ready to have a baby. I pushed one more time and Tammy told me to stop while she called for my doctor. At that point, I really really did not want to stop because I was feeling a lot of pressure and I felt like I could get Ira out in 2 seconds.
My doctor came shuffling in, taking his sweet time getting his gown on, and I was getting into the frenzied animal stage again because I felt like I was trying to hold the baby in and it just wasn't working because I wanted to push so bad! I do remember saying at one point while he lollygagged around - "Dude, this is like when you're 10 minutes away from the house on a run and you REALLY have to poop. Hurry up!!!" He laughed - but he didn't really move any faster. Of course, by the time he got there, a break in my contractions came, so we had to hang out for about 3 minutes or so and wait for another one.
It took another few pushes and we got Ira out! There were tons of people in the room but I really don't remember anything about it except reaching down to grab for him and Dr. Campbell putting him on my chest. You would really think a baby who comes from such a messy process would be terribly dirty and smelly but he smelled like rainbows and unicorn farts and a lollipop forest. He had these giant chipmunk cheeks and a little tiny mouth and I just loved him. After a few seconds, they took him from me because he needed to be suctioned, but I had him back in a few minutes - no eye ointment or needle sticks or anything, just like I asked.
Mom helped me, and he was able to nurse right away, while Dr. Campbell stitched me up. Honestly I have no idea what else was going on in the room at that point, because I was so completely exhausted and so completely in baby world.
About 3am, my nurses had me cleaned up to some degree and had everything done to Ira that they needed to do. Our family came back in, and got to see Ira, but I was so tired that I barely remember that. He went to sleep and let me sleep until about 6am, when our nurse came in to check on us and we realized he had gotten cold in his little bassinet, so we had to be skin to skin under the heat lamp for awhile, which I didn't mind at all.
The rest of the time in the hospital for us was mainly attempting to rest, eating a lot of delicious fast food that people were kind enough to bring to us, and me enjoying the fantastic whirlpool tub in our room, which felt awesome after being so sore from delivery.
Above all? I have the sweetest, most precious baby in the whole wide world. There have been times where we've been tired and slightly overwhelmed, but every second was worth it. My mom has helped me out so much, staying with me while PB works, doing chores, and answering all of my baby questions. Overall, I have no idea how people do it without help, but it is an amazing, wonderful experience. I feel like my entire life has a different purpose at this point, and I am so, so in love with him!
February 25 - 2 days before Ira was born!
Ira Franklin, born 2/27/13 at 2:01am - 8lbs, 6oz and 22 inches long - born at 39 weeks, 1 day
PB changing one of Ira's first diapers - right after he almost got soaked!
Ira's first day as an outside baby - Mama's looking a little worn out, but we are good!
Love this baby!
First car ride, on the way home from the hospital (and his first pit stop at Chick-Fil-A)!