I feel like queen of the slackers lately. 6 weeks have passed since Snow Pea was born, and I have yet to write her birth story. I think about it every day and keep telling myself I will sit and write this post, but I never seem to actually do the writing part. So much of my last moments of pregnancy and her arrival into the world are still so fresh to me, it seems like I will always remember them, but I know the reality is that more and more details will slip my mind the longer I wait to write them down, so I have resolved to write at least part one of her birth story today. Beginning, of course, with the day before she was born.
The week after Snow Pea's official due date was full of hope, excitement and anxiety. Chad and I had spent lots of time reading up on and trying all of the old wives tales we could find to try coaxing Snow Pea into coming on her own but as my scheduled induction neared, we instead began emotionally embracing and preparing for that moment much as we did as children waiting for Christmas. We wanted to make the most of those last hours before heading into the hospital and they were so perfect and poignant for me, that this story really does start there.
We scheduled the induction for midnight on a Friday and at first I worried it would be a mistake to go into the hospital in the middle of the night, but once the last 24 hours began, I was so glad we made the decision we did. That day I created a "Last Day" list that included a few chores and errands I wanted to finish before we left, as well as a few fun things I wanted to enjoy. And because we went in at the end of the day, instead of the beginning, I was able to leisurely enjoy every moment of that last day. I went for long walk, rubbing my still pregnant belly the entire time, spent some time in Barnes & Noble enjoying a book and a coffee, met with a few of our closest friends for dinner and re-packed my hospital bag taking into account the reality that when I came home again, it would be as a family of three. It was undoubtedly the most exciting, anticipatory day of my life and when it was time to leave the house Chad and I were both nearly breathless from the butterflies flapping away in our stomachs. It was a drizzly drive down the freeway, and of course incredibly surreal as each mile went by.
After we arrived and signed all of the admittance paperwork I was brought to my room where I was asked to pee in a cup one last time and then change into a hospital gown. My nurse, Suzanne, seemed a bit insecure but she was sweet and took good care of me that night. She went over all of the admittance questions as she started my IV and the lowest dose of Pitocin. She showed Chad where he could go to get himself coffee and my hourly allowance of juice, popsicles or jello. After getting my ID bracelet on, Chad and I gave her our birth plan attached to a box of See's chocolate for her and the rest of the nursing staff. I am not sure if it was the chocolate or just that they liked us, but we did feel that we received excellent treatment from all of the labor and delivery staff.
Once the external contraction and heart rate monitors were on, she did a check of Snow Pea's and my status and found that I was between 80% effaced, 2 & 3centimeters dilated and Snow Pea was at -1 station. It was a good place to start and my contractions were very mild, so we took advantage of that early stage and got plenty of rest.
At about 4am my contractions were still very mild, too mild to be making much progress,so Dr.Casual ordered my water to be broken. In our childbirth classes the instructor showed us the slender plastic pokey stick they use to puncture the bag of waters and explained how quick,easy and painless the process is. Apparently my membranes missed that memo because it took the on-call OB a lot of time and effort to actually break my water, which was less than comfortable. The slight discomfort of having my water broken didn't compare to the discomfort of the contractions that followed. Literally within minutes my mild,easy contractions became surges of hard, hollow cramping pain. For about 3 hours I breathed and walked through each wave of pain, but by 7am and at close to 4cm, I succumbed to temptation and had my epidural placed by an anesthesiologist who could have taught a course in bedside manner, while I watched a gorgeous sunrise over Newport Harbor.
Shift change came and while I had liked my night nurse, I really loved Ashley who eventually became my nurse for the day. She was very sincere and easy to relate to. She kept telling us how happy she was for us and I could tell she really meant it. By mid-morning my epidural had made my contraction pain a distant memory but it had been replaced by the most insane itching of my life! No one had ever told me about the possibility of that side effect. It was unreal! The IV fluids coupled with being bed bound by the epidural also caused my feet and legs to swell to nearly epic proportions. I looked like I had sprouted sausages on the end of my torso. Ultimately though, I was able to sleep much better with the drugs than I ever would have without them, so Chad rubbed my legs for me in between naps as my body continued the slow and steady progression of labor.
Snow Pea's birth day was unbelievably exciting and surreal for me and Chad. We napped, chatted with the nurse, enjoyed a delicious lunch of jello and juice, watched the sailboats glide by outside our window and continually marveled at just how amazing and wonderful this whole thing was. I now realize that I was in labor for 18 hours before I began pushing, and it was another 3 hours until Snow Pea was finally born. Not a short amount of time by any means, but for us, giddily enjoying every second, the day seemed to fly by.
There were a few moments throughout the day when I worried I wasn't progressing enough. The nurse would come in to check me and hour after hour, my cervix would be exactly the same. I was so paranoid I would fall victim to the so-called "cascade of interventions" and my progression would stop altogether or Snow Pea would be put into distress and I would end up having to have a c-section, my greatest fear. Thankfully, Snow Pea was never stressed for a second, her heart rate stayed perfect throughout the entire labor and then all at once I went from 6cm to fully dilated. After laboring down for another hour so that Snow Pea could move into position, it was time to push. That's where the real story of her birth begins...