September 22, 2010

one year ago (part 1)

In the wake of my baby's first birthday (TOMORROW!!), I have been doing a lot of thinking about how we got to this point in the first place. This past year has felt like an instant and an eternity at the same time, so it is really difficult to believe that my child's entrance into the physical world took place only one year ago.

Really, I can barely wrap my mind around it.

To commemorate that magnificent event, and to truly join the ranks of "mommybloggers" everywhere, I wanted to share my birth story.

I hope you don't mind reading about it ... If you do, you have been forewarned.

I woke up at about 1:00 am on September 23, 2009 with some minor stomach cramping. My husband had taken up residence on the couch during the night for the past month or so (he couldn't sleep with my pregnant snoring), so my tossing and turning was frustrating only to me. When it became evident that I wasn't going to fall back asleep anytime soon, I wandered into our computer room to putz around until I became tired again.

Being in actual labor was the farthest thing from my mind. I had taken the following day off from work for a routine doctor's appointment and had joked with my coworkers that, although I'd see them soon, they should start taking bets on when and what I'd be having (we wanted to be surprised) since my due date was less than a week away. So, at 1:00 am, I tinkered on the computer for a little while, using Google to research things like "Braxton Hicks" and "bloody show."

Note to self: In the future, steer clear of Google images!

Satisfied that I wasn't experiencing either of those events, and that it was probably just the previous night's chili dog dinner that was haunting me, I returned to bed and actually fell asleep.

At around 3:00 am, I woke up again. This time, the cramps were feeling a little bit more uncomfortable and they were making me feel like I had to go to the bathroom. When I did, I noticed that I had begun spotting ... Weird. I Googled "bloody show" again.

Second note to self: Seriously. Steer clear of Google images!

I returned to the computer, keeping track of the timing of the "cramps" on a scrap piece of paper. Then I sent a friend a message on Facebook. She always said she was an "insomniac" and with a daughter of her own, I thought she might be able to give me some information that Google was apparently withholding. Unfortunately, she must have chosen this particular night/early morning to sleep ... And, with no response, I went back to bed and tried to get some rest. If I was in labor, I knew it was going to take a while and I didn't want to be awake for twenty-four hours straight ...

After a mostly sleepless night of tossing and turning, I waited until my husband woke up at 6:00 am to get ready for work. When I could hear him in the kitchen, eating his breakfast, I wandered downstairs to drop the bomb on him.

"Honey," I remember saying. "We might be having a baby today."

The look on his face will never disappear from my mind. It was equal parts sleepiness and shock. I'm pretty sure he almost choked on his cereal before muttering a feeble. "What?"

I repeated that I thought I might be in labor, but that he should go to work anyway. Since I wasn't in any serious pain, I was going to call my doctor's office when it opened at 8:00 am to see what the nurses recommended. I would be okay and there was no use having both of us, nervous and pacing the house ... If things started progressing, I'd give him the okay to hurry home.

He didn't take much coaxing and agreed. He was out the door by 6:30 am and I was alone.

In the hours that followed, I packed our hospital bags: one with granola bars, some CDs, and a change of clothes for him should labor/delivery last into the night, and an overnight bag with toiletries, clothes for me to wear home, and clothes for the baby we'd soon be having. I spent more time on the computer, searching the familiar keywords and checking my email for a response from my friend.

When 8:00 finally rolled around, I called the doctor's office and explained the situation. The nurse essentially canceled my appointment and told me to call back if the contractions (she actually used the word contractions ... This labor thing was becoming more real by the minute) progressed to five minutes apart, if my water broke, or if I was in so much pain I couldn't handle it.

Excited yet nervous that today seemed to be the day, I called my mom at work to tell her the news and to cancel some plans that we had had for later that afternoon. She didn't seem very enthusiastic.

"Are you sure you're in labor?" she kept asking. "What did the doctor say?"

She seemed skeptical and didn't think it was the real thing. The due date was still four days away ...

The hours just dragged by and the contractions, while somewhat uncomfortable, didn't really change. They continued as they had been since 3:00 am. I tried to practice my breathing, took a long, hot shower, and sent my friend an update (coincidentally at 9:23 am) that I really was in labor.

At 11:00 am, my husband returned from work after calling in half of the day. We sat and watched "The Price is Right" together, me bouncing on my exercise ball each time a contraction began. For about the entire hour that we watched the show, my contractions were very regular, coming at every five minutes and lasting for about one.

When a nurse called at around 12:00 pm to check in on me, she gave us the go-ahead to leave for the hospital and said she'd alert them that we were on the way. With that, we grabbed our overnight bags and got in the car.

It was during that drive that I realized how uncomfortable (and dare I say painful) the contractions were becoming. While in the passenger's seat, there was really no way to position myself the way I needed be in order to get through them comfortably. Every little bump the car drove over was irritating. All I wanted to do was lower myself in a nice, hot bath ... Something birth classes told us I'd be able to do in the labor/delivery room as long as my water hadn't broken.

When we arrived at the hospital, my husband dropped me off at the designated entrance and I called the maternity ward from the hospital's "stork line" to let them know that I was on my way up. The security guard nearby asked if I was okay and if I needed a wheelchair. I declined, and when my husband joined me at the entrance we headed for guest check-in (as we had been instructed to do in our classes) and then to the third floor maternity ward.

When we arrived at triage, we were escorted to a tiny room the size of a large closet. There was a chair for my husband and a gurney-like hospital bed for me. At around 1:00 pm, I was checked for the first time and deemed to be only one centimeter dilated.


All of the cramping and contracting since 1:00 am (twelve long hours) and my body had barely changed.

I felt somewhat deflated ... I had been hoping for at least three or four! What was the point of even being in the hospital so soon? We waited and felt mostly ignored for an hour or so while the nurses got in touch with my doctor. After (finally) talking with her, they instructed us to walk up and down the triage hallway for an hour. If I made any progress, then I'd be admitted.

If not, we'd be sent home.

Feeling like my cervical dilation was now some sort of strange competition, I was determined to stay. So my husband and I dutifully began to walk. We walked ... and walked ... and walked some more. For the first half hour or so, we laughed at how stupid we must have looked. We'd pass the same doorways, see the same patients inside (and they'd see us), then come upon the nurse's station and make our way back again.

At the far end of the hallway, there was a gurney with a CPR dummy on it. It was covered in a sheet and looked like a dead body. Each time we passed it, my husband (a huge horror movie fan) couldn't get over how creepy and weird it was. He even touched its sheet-covered foot and reveled in how life-like it felt. As time went on, these minor distractions were funny and welcomed, because during each pass of the hallway, I noticed that the contractions were becoming more intense. Soon, about twice during each pass, I'd have to brace myself against the wall to keep myself from doubling over in pain.

I hoped like heck we were making progress.

After our hour was up, at about 3:00 pm, we headed back to our cozy, little "closet" and waited. Again, it seemed to take forever, but finally someone came to check me ... Now, I was two centimeters ... Really?!


But at least it was enough. My cervix had accomplished a small triumph! We could stay!

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