When I started this I was really excited to recount my birth story, but now it's my baby's birthday and what I really want is to write a big, fat letter about how much I love him and post it. Since I've baited you this far, I suppose I should finish the task at hand!
Waking up in the hospital was like not really waking up. I had spent the night strapped to so many monitors and contraptions that every time I had to go potty (which was like 847 because I was almost 10 months pregnant at this point) I had to wrap all these cords around my shoulders and hobble into the bathroom. I probably slept an hour and a half total. My Pitocin drip started between 8 and 9 AM, and despite the horror-story warnings I had received, my body worked surprisingly well with the drug. I began having contractions almost immediately, but they were soft, gentle, well-spaced, and generally just a minor interruption to my day.
This is the part where I wish I could change things. Doctors and nurses preach "protocol" in the hospital setting a lot, but going into it I knew that I didn't HAVE to be monitored the whole time if I felt like it wasn't necessary. Knowing the kind of birth experience I wanted, I should have been much more proactive and voiced my opinions instead of drifting blissfully along, eating jello and talking to DH while doing nothing but lying in bed all day. If I could go back, I would insist on 15 minutes an hour off the monitors as long as baby's heart rate was fine (it was) and my blood pressure was manageable (it was, barely). I would have showered, stretched myself across the birthing ball, walked the hallway, gotten on all fours, anything I could do to progress my own labor. But when you're strapped to an ever-increasing drip of Pitocin, the hospital staff start thinking lawsuit and get antsy.
Around 11AM things were looking promising...my contractions were steady, and I had dilated about 1/2cm, enough that my OB (our second favorite, and coincidentally the doc who delivered my 2 1/2 year old niece) could break my water. This was honestly the MOST painful part of my entire pregnancy, labor, delivery, and recovery. Probably because they usually wait until you are a little more open to do it, but that couldn't be helped in my situation. It took somewhere between 3-4 tries, but I was practically blind with vaginal pain at that point so I stopped counting.
The next 3 hours were awesome...and I mean awesome only by the fact that I felt something was HAPPENING. I was finally in LABOR! Despite our plea that we only wanted my mother and mother in law to visit, and only while I was in labor (not when time to push) we had several visits from other family throughout the day, and I didn't even mind. My contractions were getting stronger, so much that I needed to practice breathing techniques, and steady and closer together. When my OB can back to check around 2:30, I was sure she would tell me I was at a 4.
Not so much. My cervix HAD NOT BUDGED. At this point, everyone was still hopeful for a natural delivery, except me. I was too busy worrying and being a pessimist and having that Big C hanging over my head. Since baby was doing fine, she wanted to use an internal monitor to make sure my contractions were strong enough because I was already on a high dose of Pit. At this point, getting out of bed was no longer an option. She also suggested Stadol for the first time, and I surprised myself by accepting. Her argument convinced me: at the rate we were going, this could be a 24 hour labor and I needed to rest. My pain level was not as high as I had expected, but the contractions were definitely make sleep impossible.
The next 3 hours were a blur, mostly because of the two doses of Stadol (and two subsequent 1 hour naps) and the breathing and concentration through the heaviest contractions yet. They were painful and getting worse, but nowhere near the level of pain I thought I would be in. Even so, hubby and I had a plan for the next OB check. The guidelines were this: if I was dilated at a 6 or higher, no more drugs because I knew I could handle it, 4-6 would be epidural time, 2-4 was iffy maybe just more Stadol, and if I still wasn't past a 2, then surgery time it was. Maybe I gave in too soon, but after Cervadil, Pitocin, and no more than a 1/2cm progression in 20 hours, it was time to let this kid see the world.
The doctor gave me the choice, which I will be forever grateful for, but it was time. Once we said the word, I have never seen people move so fast. Apparently, there was an operating room opening up right away, and within 10 minutes I was naked from the waist down, being shaved by two nurses, and talking to an anesthesiologist while hubby and the moms were packing up our room. Within 20 minutes, I was being wheeled into an operating room, stuck in the spine, and strapped to a cold steel table, naked and exposed from the waist down. The 10 or so people in ther emoved like clockwork, and I think I had the best nurse anesthecist ever. My husband joined me, I felt nothing, we just looked at each other with love in our eyes and waited.
And at 6:36PM, our tiny baby boy was out and crying for the first time. I cried, of course, and when they whisked him into the next room with John by his side, I could hear him crying. It made me so happy first, because I knew he was alive and well, but the longer I went without him the more I felt the pull of "he's crying because he needs mommy".
The worst part of the c-section? Not being able to hold Jacob for more than an hour after his birth. The best part? Seeing my husband holding him first, and the absolute joy and pride coming from his face as he brought our son over to me.
And a year later, I cannot even explain all the ways my life has changed for the better. No matter what the sacrifice I've made, which hasn't felt like much this year, there is nothing I would change. My baby is happy, healthy, and even sometimes cuddly. He's intelligent and loves to point at things and say "be-gock?" which I guess is his way of saying "what's that?" He gives the best hugs and open-mouthed kisses a mama could ask for, loves people, loves his family, and brings so much love and laughter into our home. I cannot wait to see what the next year holds.