Okay, so, she’s been here for a week. But can you really blame me for not updating until now? Adding a newborn to a family with a preschooler and a toddler is a bit complicated!
So, the birth story. You know already that I went late. I really thought I’d go into labor on my own, but as I approached a week late, I got fed up. I think I mentioned before that I’d had a migraine headache for weeks that was *not* going away, and it was making me unable to sleep or function. I got about 3 hours of sleep each night in the days leading up to Cecy’s birth. So I finally made arrangements with the midwife I’d seen most recently to have Cecy induced on Wednesday, exactly one week late.
I came in that morning at 7am, and after a million questions, an IV, lots of in-processing, etc., they finally started me on Pitocin around 8:30. I was 4cm dilated when they checked me (before they started the Pitocin), so I was optimistic that I’d deliver fast. Ha. They amp the Pitocin up every 30 minutes, and it took a couple of these increases before I started feeling anything at all. I walked up and down the corridor. This was a very short corridor, so I became a familiar sight pretty quickly to all of the doctors and nurses on duty. After a while I got tired of the sympathetic smiles as I passed, plus I was bored of looking at the pictures on the wall, so I grabbed a book to read. It was difficult to turn the pages with one hand while pulling the IV rack with the other hand (especially as the IV went into my left hand and so I didn’t like using it for anything), but I put up with it. I tried reading a couple of funny grammar books, but since they’re informational and don’t have a plot they didn’t keep me as busy. Also, I hit sections of the books where they were teaching grammatical points, but I already knew the stuff and so was skimming over it. And once I started to feel the contractions, I found that anything that involves skimming really doesn’t help keep your mind off pain. So I switched to “A Little Princess.”
I did get rather teased by the doctors and nurses later in labor for the fact that I was reading, especially during contractions. I think they took it as me being very into the book, or the contractions not being that bad. But if anything, I was using the book to take my mind off the contractions, sort of like a focal point. When a contraction hit, I’d focus really, really hard on a sentence, paying attention to every word, sometimes reading it softly aloud to myself. It helped a lot, and I think is the most effective coping mechanism I’ve come up with yet. If I have another kid, I’ll have to remember that technique. “A Little Princess” was perfect, because it’s old and familiar instead of being new, it’s interesting without being action-filled, and since it’s an older book it’s written in language that bears up to a bit of extra attention. “Pride and Prejudice” would probably have worked equally well, especially if I made sure I didn’t read it in the months leading up to childbirth so that it could be a little fresher.
Contractions started to pick up as noon approached, and more so after my water was broken and then the Pitocin upped again shortly after noon. By 1pm I was really feeling them, and alternating between walking the halls and sitting on a birthing ball. As they got worse, the birthing ball definitely was my preferred choice. It felt better, I could focus on my book better during contractions and so manage them better, and also I didn’t really like how in view I was when pacing the hallways.
Around 3pm I was still doing pretty well, feeling the contractions but managing them all right. The midwife on duty checked me and I was 7cm. I was very excited by that, as the pain was still very manageable. She told me that this was my window if I wanted an epidural, though, and I opted for it, as the migraine was very bad and I didn’t think I could handle both at once. I’d thought to try this birth naturally, but that was before the migraine. Even at the hospital they couldn’t give me anything for the migraine but Tylenol and Coke (for the caffeine) and an ice pack for my head. 😦
The epidural was far and away the worst part of labor. Apparently this being a “teaching” hospital, I had to listen to one anesthesiologist teaching the assistant how to do it, narrating every step, etc. There was much discussion of whether the epidural catheter was in far enough or not, etc. It took ages and ages to insert. Also, they set up a table with a pillow on it for me to lean on. When they were setting it up, it collapsed (it can be raised or lowered, and it lowered itself very abruptly). I expressed concern that if I leaned on it, it might collapse again, which could be a problem since they were sticking a needle into my back. The nurse told me it wouldn’t. Sure enough, it collapsed while they were doing the insertion. No problem with the insertion, they assured me quickly, they hadn’t been moving the needle at the time, but that was unnerving. After that, Seth stood in front of me and I leaned on him, and that was much better anyway. It was good to have human support. They took an unbelievable number of contractions to get the thing in, though, and they’d keep asking me questions or trying to chat with me during the process, and when I didn’t respond they’d think I was upset or something until my nurse told them I was having a contraction. <sigh> I missed the high-level hospital I’d had my other births at during that epidural insertion, I tell you!
Once it was in, it took mostly on my left for a while. I was worried that I wouldn’t get it at all on my right, although even just being one side is better than nothing. It did eventually take on the right, although it was always stronger on the left. But it was fine. I could move my right leg but not my left at all.
The most overwhelming sensation during this childbirth, though, was hunger. I ate breakfast before I came in, but that was something like 5:30am. They did allow me to have some graham crackers and popsicles, and I ate so many graham crackers that my mouth was sore, but they still didn’t fill me up. When it came time to actually deliver, I was weak and couldn’t stop shaking because I was just so hungry. I know they don’t want you to eat just in case there’s an emergency and they have to intubate you, but leaving women so weak for delivery doesn’t seem like a good idea, either. Around breakfast they gave me some broth, and I thought there’d be more for lunch but there was no lunch at all. When it came time for dinner, the nurses ordered me a tray and promised they’d hide it in my room so that I could eat right after I delivered (Cecilia was born around 5:45). But they didn’t bring it into my room, they left it at the nurses’ station, so it got taken back down again before I could eat. 😦 So I got a sandwich. It was good to eat and filled me up briefly, but then I was hungry again, and that was basically the pattern all night. I scavenged all of the food I could find, I was so desperately hungry. It wasn’t until the next day at lunchtime that I stopped being ravenously hungry all the time.
Anyway. Cecilia didn’t exactly pop out in one push the way Jocelyn had, but she came easily enough once it got to the end. So ultimately the labor was longer than Jocelyn’s, but then she was bigger as well. 9 lbs. 2 ounces, 20 inches long. She was born with a full head of dark hair (explains all the heartburn!). Mommy’s beautiful little girl.
I’ve got lots more to tell, but I’m exhausted and Cecilia’s nursed herself to sleep, so I’ll have to do the rest in another post. Including pictures!