Well, I figure I should write this now before I get down to the serious business of forgetting this labor and delivery. (A necessary follow-up after giving birth, as we hope to try for a second child one day. Nature's way of assuring the continuation of the species.)
So to pick up where we left off, I had my OB appointment on Tuesday, March 4. The doc found I was 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Although women can be dilated and effaced for weeks before labor begins, I had a strong feeling that I wouldn't make it to the end of the week. DH came with me to the appointment and we arranged to go to the fancy mall for dinner afterwards. In my book, going past your delivery date means you don't have to cook dinner. In fact, my book contains lots of great reasons not to cook, so let me know if you need to borrow any.
Anyway, during dinner that evening, my stomach was feeling... different. I couldn't identify contractions specifically, but I was always running to the bathroom. I wondered if it was just indigestion. DH and I decided something was going on and we needed to get home ASAP to prepare for the hospital stay. He asked for the check immediately and we scarfed down our meals in panic as I cursed our decision to eat so far from home. Before we left the mall, though, I made him take me to the Godiva Chocolate store. I had a coupon that was about to expire, and it was my last chance to get a free chocolate-covered marshmallow. Risky, but definitely worth it. Turns out that would be the last thing I ate before becoming a mom; I couldn't have asked for better.
Back at home around 7:30 pm, we rushed to put the final items in our hospital bags. We weren't sure if we'd be going anywhere that night, but our toothbrushes were ready just in case. The weird tummy feelings kinda subsided, so we both expected to at least get some shuteye before the excitement began. We were in our PJs and turning out the lights (with DH remarking how exhausted he was) around 10 pm when I jumped out of bed and rushed to the bathroom. My water had broken, let the fun begin!
DH called the birthing center and our OB. The nurse asked a bunch of questions to determine if it was time to go to the hospital. ("Are you ready to be parents?" was not on her list, although in retrospect, I wish it had been.) When she got to "Can she feel the baby moving?" and we answered "No," she became concerned and said we needed to show up ASAP. We frantically threw everything into the car and took off. I didn't feel the baby move the entire way to the hospital, which was absolutely terrifying. Meanwhile, I was starting to have honest-to-goodness contractions. Ahhhh, so THAT'S what they feel like. Lovely. DH called family and the dog sitters, telling them we'd be checking into the hospital tonight. I kept yelling things like "Maybe!" and "If they don't send us home!" but he ignored me. Denial, my dear sweet old friend.
We arrived at the hospital and they sent me to the triage room before admitting us. The nurse immediately found Bean's strong heartbeat... total relief. My contractions were becoming more and more painful while we waited, with hardly any time in between. DH asked if I wanted him to breath with me through a contraction, and I agreed to give it a try. But he kept breathing in when he was supposed to breath out, so I shoved him and yelled "YOU'RE BREATHING WRONG!" Luckily he didn't take it personally and just laughed apologetically... needless to say, I decided to go it alone on the breathing from then on. The nurse then said we were 3 cm dilated and would be getting the last open room in the birthing center. Thank goodness for our timing! We found out later that someone who came after me had to labor in the triage room. No thanks, I'd rather go back to the mall.
We finally got into our room and I informed the nurse that I wanted the epidural IMMEDIATELY. Having four kids of her own, she rushed to get the anesthesiologist. (This is when having a full birthing center came in handy... there were tons of docs everywhere ready to assist when needed.) The epidural was woooooonderful. When it all kicked in, I was one happy lady. Lounging around lazily in bed, DH constantly attentive, a nurse assigned to me and only me, and full TV remote control rights. But underneath the haze, my body was working like crazy. Based on the monitors, the nurses kept remarking how intense and frequent my contractions were. The OB pronounced my uterus "insane." Man, if I had a nickle for every time I've heard that!
So this epidural-induced semi-coma persisted through hours and hours, from People's Court to American Idol. Around 7 am on Wednesday, a nurse said I was 6-7 cm dilated. Hooray! She thought we'd have the baby by lunch. But when my OB stopped by at noon, she said it was more like 4-5 cm. Okay, so my cervix is closing? I've never done this before, but I'm pretty sure that's a bad sign. She explained that she's a bit more stingy with her estimates. It didn't bother us too much, we were just chilling. The nurses kept commenting how calm we were, saying that many people would have been demanding pitocin to speed things up. While we were excited to meet Bean, we were also enjoying our last few hours as just the two of us. We could wait, and we did.
Around dinner time, our OB checked me again and gave the thumbs up to start pushing. So I pushed. And I pushed. And I pushed. Our nurse at that time looked about 21 years old. She was absolutely adorable and extremely attentive, but between her inexperience and ours, I was not really feeling very confident in the progress. But our OB was monitoring us and said the baby's heartbeat was doing extremely well; all the nurses in the front couldn't believe how strong he was. (I guess that's a benefit of giving birth to a toddler.)
Finally, after three hours, I was done. I wanted my OB and I wanted to know why I was still pushing. She checked the baby and reluctantly told me that he wasn't progressing through the birth canal. It was c-section time. They gave me some time to bawl (are you kidding me?) before a team of doctors and nurses came into the room. This part was hazy for me; it happened so quickly and I was definitely out of it. I was in the operating room before I knew it, with DH scrubbing up to join me. The anesthesiologist was very nice as he upped my epidural meds, warning me, "I'll be pinching you like I don't like you, but really I do." Finally I was completely numb. We chatted about the Midwest and my undergrad alma mater while my OB opened me up. I will never, ever forget the feeling when the doc pulled Bean out. You won't be counting me among fans of being awake for surgery.
Bean immediately gave a little cry. It was very sweet, and DH and I looked at each other. (DH was sitting near my head at this point, safely hiding behind the sheet separating us from utter grossness.) I told him that he could go with the baby. He looked at me worriedly, "I want to stay with you." Which was incredibly sweet... either that, or he just didn't want to catch a glimpse of my OB massaging my uterus back down to size in her lap on the other side of the sheet. DH reluctantly followed Bean, so unfortunately for him, he did get quite an eyeful of one internal organ or another. We don't really talk about which one specifically.
Soon after, DH was back on the safe side of the sheet with a freshly cleaned Bean in his arms. I smiled and was certainly happy, but in all honestly, I was more focused on the aforementioned uterus being put back in the proper place. I was pretty certain Bean would look the same in an hour or two, but a misplaced uterus is a much more difficult to resolve. They stitched me back up, and before I knew it, I was back in my room with a new roommate: our very own Bean burrito.
It's been an adventure ever since, one we wouldn't give up for the world. Mommy loves you, Danny boy.