February 27, 2014: I have a five-week old baby.
How the hell did that happen?! You know how long I’ve been wanting to post on here? A little over five weeks. I figured I would post regularly since I am on maternity leave and the baby would sleep all day between feeds so I would have down time, etc. How wrong I was. Oh boy, how wrong I was.
So let’s go way back to January 16: after dinner, Juan and I are sitting on the couch and I get my first real contraction. I only got Braxton-Hicks (practice contractions) for about a week before this, and they were very infrequent and mostly felt like the baby chose a really uncomfortable position to stretch or move around in. But this new one was certainly different and I knew we were getting close. Good because this also happened to be her due date.
Things don’t really progress much that night so Juan goes to work the next day (nervously) and I stay home and try to take care of some last minute chores before the baby comes. Namely, I really wanted to make the curtains for the restroom that I had promised Juan I would do weeks before. Well, in between contractions I managed to do some light chores and finish those curtains even though being pregnant at this stage meant that I was sweating like a pig. By that evening, I was feeling mighty uncomfortable, but we still went to my parents’ anyway for our weekly Friday night dinner.
It was a quick visit but it at least included a delicious last meal because since then I haven’t been able to sit down and eat comfortably. Went home and tried to sleep, but at that point, it was really difficult.
Saturday was more of the same, still not coming in a pattern, but they were definitely stronger. Saturday night was awful. I didn’t sleep a wink but I was so tired from the nights before that I kept trying to sleep. But lying down made the contractions so much worse! I tossed, turned, moaned, pleaded, paced, rocked, changed positions, etc all night long as Juan tried to comfort me with every trick in the book. I knew this had to be it but we couldn’t go to the hospital until they were 1 minute long, 5 minutes or less apart, for 1 hour.
— Time warp to JULY 2014 —
Understandably, I have not been able to get back on since I attempted my blog entry weeks ago. Now, instead of a five-week-old, I have a five-month-old. Let me try to get back into that headspace and catch you guys up.
— Time warp to January 19, 2014 —
As daylight started to appear through the blinds in the living room, we kept an eye on the timer, praying that I could go in to the hospital soon because oh-my-god-how-can-this-get-any-worse?! I made the executive decision once we were consistently under 6 minutes that that qualified and we needed to go STAT.
We got into Juan’s shiny new car (I put a disposable pee pad and a towel down because I was terrified of ruining his heating/vented leather seats in case my water broke on the way) and off we went! We pull up and I waddle out of the car as another mother in labor pulls up. You can tell because we are alternating bending over on our way to the elevator as we get our contractions.
They put me in a monitoring kind of triage area at first because there were other ladies in labor who were not first timers. So they were all expected to have the baby way before me. Around 8am they tell me that I will be admitted and won’t have to go home – I was minimally dilated (3 cm I think?) but my contractions were consistent. I ended up asking for the epidural and got it in the early afternoon, I believe. I am now writing it almost five months later and the details have gotten fuzzy (write those birth stories down quickly ladies!). That’s were it all went downhill.
My plan was to go in and go with the flow. If I could handle the pain, then cool, I won’t do the epi. If I couldn’t, no worries, I’ll take the drugs. Well, they called the anesthesiologist over and he and my nurse exchange pleasantries and we find out it is the anesthesiologist’s last day at this hospital. I sit up and hunch my back so the doctor can poke my back. He says “you’re gonna feel a zap on your right foot, ok? Don’t move.” Electricity runs down my leg and make me jiggle my leg and out jump up a little. The nurse and doctor freak out and tell me to not do that and the nurse checks my leg to make sure that I can still feel everything and move it (and I guess that I wasn’t just paralyzed or something). It was not a good feeling and I was apprehensive about him trying again, but I relaxed and he said the same thing.
It was the most horrifying pain I had ever felt. I screamed and sobbed almost instantaneously. They tried their best not to flip out but the nurse was checking my leg for function and additional pain. It was incredibly scary but the adrenaline took care of most of the immediate pain. Then it was time for the other side.
That’s what it was supposed to feel like. I still to this day don’t know what happened and have pain all along the line of fire. It made my labor much more difficult than it ever had to be. But I’ll get back to that some other time.
The epidural is now in place and I start to get some pain relief. About an hour goes by and I realize the pain is getting more intense so I hit the bolus for some relief (for those who don’t know, the bolus allows you to self-medicate by adding a dose of medication to your IV. It does have a limit.). Next round of contractions, I’d hit the bolus again because it was overpowering my epidural. This goes on for an hour or so. I’m in some real pain and I ask them for relief because the epidural and bolus are not doing anything. Anesthesiologist comes by, checks things out, and says everything looks fine. Nothing changes.
Next time he comes by after me begging for pain relief he adds more to my epidural directly through the line in my back and I feel instant relief. Now I can’t feel anything below my waist. Thank god! He checks out my IV again and “oh, whoopsie! Looks like the bolus on this IV is broken!” The whole time I was trying to self-medicate, I wasn’t doing a damn thing. I was so mad! The work around was now I had to ask Juan to push a button on the IV stand instead of me being able to push the one in my hand.
So now, thankfully I had relief. I couldn’t even tell when contractions were hitting. Things are a bit fuzzy but for some reason, I think how far I was dilated, my doc wanted me to start pushing. Uh oh. I can’t feel a damn thing! They kept telling me to push like I’m having a BM and all I could think about was how I could not tell if I was pushing or just squeezing my “abs” (oh what a thought – abs on a pregnant woman in L&D!). I could tell I wasn’t doing it right because my face and stomach would tense up. When I didn’t tense them up, I couldn’t tell if I was pushing in other parts. It was awful and tiring and very very frustrating. Basically, at this point I was overmedicated. After an hour, they gave me a break.
The first sign that the epidural was starting to wear off (at least from the high dosage) was that I could feel my really sore leg. The one that was struck by lightning. It felt like I can only imagine it would after running a marathon. So sore! My contractions were also much more apparent and were starting to get painful again. It was time to try again, and this time, we weren’t going to up my meds. What followed was probably about an hour of horrible pushing. It’s weird that in some way I thought it would be worse than it was, and in others it totally was. The actual delivery, you know, baby coming out of my nether region was almost a piece of cake compared to the epidural, leg pain, and prior contractions. My whole life I worried about the actual act of getting that giant head out of the tiny hole when I really should have been worried about the lead up to all that.
Anyway, I was so exhausted and my legs hurt so much that when my baby was born the moment was almost lost on me. At least, it would have been if it wasn’t for Juan. One moment he is cheering me on for one final push and the next he looks over and exclaims “Oh my god, she’s beautiful!” with tears in his eyes. Seeing his face light up like that meant more to me at that single moment than having just given birth. It was such a physically, mentally, and emotionally exhaustive experience for me and now I had this new being I had to care for. It was difficult in that first moment for me to fully appreciate what had happened but leave it to Juan to snap me back to reality.
Thankfully, we went skin to skin right away and they let Sofia root and breastfeed in that first hour. She was magical and wide awake (“she’s so alert!” said every person who met her in those early weeks – oh boy, was she ever!). At our hospital they don’t whisk babies away, they’re embracing kangaroo care nowadays which really helped me bond with my new baby. She was born in the late evening on a Sunday, 7 lbs 10 oz and 20 inches long. A bald baby, like her momma.
Welcome to the world, little one.
Recovery would have been a relative breeze if it wasn’t for my leg (which in July still gives me trouble).
Here’s the whole set. Just hover over the photo and you can navigate from there (such a glamorous start – ugh).