January 22, 2015
7 pounds, 13 ounces
On Thursday, January 22, 2015, my whole entire world changed with the birth of my son, Caleb Manuel. I was 40 weeks + 2 days when he finally made his arrival.
I had my 40 week appointment the day before, on the 21st, and was feeling really disappointed by the news we received from the doctor: I was STILL not dilated at all, and Caleb’s head hadn’t even dropped even though he had been due on January 20th. I was slightly effaced, and that was all. My doctor was quite certain we would need to be induced the following week, likely on the 29th or 30th. He said it would be very convenient if we were to go into labor naturally that weekend because he was on call, but we knew it was unlikely because of how little progress I had made. We left the office very disappointed and discouraged, but with a 41 week appointment set up for Tuesday the 27th which was to include an ultrasound to check his size and fluid levels. The doctor predicted he would weigh in the high eights… yikes. We were looking forward to seeing him on ultrasound again, but just really wanted him here with us. We were certain it would be more than a week before we would finally meet our son… we were so wrong!
So after the disappointing appointment, I awoke the following morning around 8:00 AM with a bad cramp. It was just a consistent pain though, and wasn’t coming and going like contractions, so I wasn’t thinking too much of it. I sat down on the couch and, very ironically (on the day that wound up being his birth date!), wrote this blog post about how we would be waiting for Caleb for a bit longer… I watched a little TV (“Big Women: Big Love…” good show) and then noticed the cramp had changed and was now coming and going like waves. I thought perhaps they were contractions but was pretty certain they were not. I decided to call my doctor’s office just to be safe, and had an appointment for 11:45 to get checked again. Before leaving, we packed the rest of our hospital items into the car just in case, and put some gas in the tank. It’s a good thing we did because by the time Jerry and I were on our way to the office, the pain was BAD! Jerry tried to distract me in the car by cracking jokes, but I was in no mood to laugh… the waves of pain were serious. When we got to the office, they had us sit in the waiting room but as the pain escalated, Jerry went up to the receptionist and told them we were now pretty sure I was in labor, so could they please bring us back now? They did so promptly.
When we got to the back, I was asked to give a urine sample and things went incredibly quickly from there. I lost my mucus plug at that time and the nurses became very excited. They put me in an exam room and said the doctor was doing a procedure, but they would do their best to get him in there right away. He came in pretty quickly and discovered that I was 3-4 cm dilated… um, what?! He actually said he was surprised too. This wasn’t even my actual doctor, so I’m not sure where the surprise came from on his end; he must have looked over my chart and read about the previous day’s appointment and lack of progress. Jerry and I were quite shell-shocked, and the doctor instructed us to go back home, have some lunch, relax, and then go to the hospital around 2:00 or 3:00, unless the pain got worse in which case we should go in earlier. He left the room, and the moment I stood up, my water broke all over the floor. I was shaking at this point and Jerry ran back out to tell the staff we thought my water had just broken. The doctor came back in and confirmed this for us. Jerry joked with him that just a few days earlier, he had asked me if I thought anyone’s water had ever broken at the office… I guess we were proof that this does in fact happen!
We left and I decided there was no way I could go home to eat and relax. It felt impossible with the pain and anxiety coursing through me, so I told Jerry we were going to the hospital right away. We quickly stopped home to pick up my dog, then made another stop at CVS to try and find some gloves for Jerry (long story short: he has warts on a couple of fingers and was told to wear gloves by the dermatologist when the baby was born). We quickly went to my parent’s house to drop off the dog and pick up my mom and we were finally on our way.
When we arrived at the hospital, we immediately went to the birthing center where I told the receptionist I was in labor. We were sent back to triage to start where we ended up spending approximately two hours before being admitted to a birthing suite. I was seen and asked questions by a number of nurses, residents, medical students, etc. The baby’s heart rate was monitored and they gave us some kind of low-tech ultrasound where we didn’t even get to see the baby. I was checked again for progress and was already 5-6 cm dilated. Things were progressing quickly still! Since I knew you could be given an epidural at 4 cm, I asked a couple of times when I would be put in a room and given one, and grew really frustrated really quickly as the contractions became stronger and more painful. I gripped Jerry’s hand with each one, and though I was very calm and quiet, asked him at one point “what the f*** is taking them so long?” Finally, we were told we were being put in a room. A nurse walked us down the hall and instructed me to stop with each contraction and hold on to the bars in the hall and sway back and forth. We finally made it to our room and an anesthesiologist came in almost immediately to give me my epidural. We just happened to get lucky because the nurse said he was walking by and she grabbed him. It really wasn’t too bad but he was showing a medical student what he was doing, and also answered his phone (with his Rolling Stones ringtone!) and was chatting it up while administering the epidural so I was kind of nervous and annoyed. It ended up going off without a hitch though and I was soon feeling the relief. Ahhh… it seriously made a world of difference. I really couldn’t feel the contractions at all and I was able to rest and doze. I am SO glad I made the decision to get it because I don’t know how much longer I could have handled the pain.
Things were pretty uneventful for the rest of the afternoon except for when the baby’s heart rate temporarily dropped. I had to wear an oxygen mask for awhile, and was instructed to shift to my side to get him moving. This was pretty scary but I remained calm, surprisingly. I think this was because the epidural had me in a bit of a fog. Everything turned out fine though, thank God. I don’t remember a lot of the afternoon after that either because of how tired I was. My nurse stayed in my room almost the whole time I was in labor though and we really liked her. Even though I had been completely terrified of giving birth, I was somehow able to remain really calm almost the whole time and the nurse actually said I was her easiest labor patient in her entire 17 years of being a nurse! Ha! Who would have thought?! I am such a spaz and nervous wreck so this was unexpected.
Since I couldn’t really feel the contractions anymore due to the epidural, the nurse instructed me to let her know when I started to feel pressure. Right around 8:00, I told her I was feeling some pressure and might be getting ready to push. The doctor came in and I was completely dilated. I told him I didn’t want to wear myself out by pushing too early, but he said he saw no reason to wait, so at 8:00 the pushing began. Jerry had a look at one point right before I started pushing and said “oh boy.” The sight of blood freaked him out initially and the nurse cracked us up by saying “that is not something you say to your wife right now.” Ha! He was really amazing the rest of the time though, saying over and over again that I was the bravest and strongest woman he knew.
So anyway, I started pushing and it was pretty much a nightmare for me. It was completely agonizing pain and discomfort. I was dripping in sweat and incredibly nauseous. There were a lot of points where I didn’t think I could keep going, but of course I somehow did. Jerry and my mom each held a leg and encouraged me the whole time. I was given wet washcloths for my forehead and somehow remained polite, with “no thank yous” and “pleases,” which the nurse thought was hilarious. I dropped an “F” bomb at one point and she said “finally!”
There were so many people in the room during the pushing, including Jerry, my mom, my nurse, a tech, a medical student (who my mom asked to take some pictures), a doctor from my office, and a resident. There were a couple of times when the doctor actually left which was really discouraging for me because to me it basically meant I wasn’t making much progress yet. The nurse had me continue pushing though with each contraction. At one point, she got on her phone and called the doctor back. Other nurses came in and started preparing the baby bassinet, scales, etc. so I finally knew we were getting close, and at 9:47, Caleb Manuel was finally born. Jerry cut the cord and he was immediately placed on my chest where I got a good look at him and all of his hair, which I was delighted by but not surprised at in the least. He was then whisked away for weighing, measuring, vaccines, etc. Jerry and my mom joined him while I got stitched up for 35 minutes for what wound up being 3rd degree tearing. Um, ouch. I finally got to see my son again when the stitching was complete and he was bundled up.
The rest of the hospital stay was pretty uneventful. Because it’s currently flu season, we were only allowed two visitors at a time and Jerry counted as one of them so we had just a few visitors during our time there. The morning after his birth, his pediatrician stopped by at around 6:00 AM to give him an exam. My doctor (who didn’t end up delivering the baby but was on call the next day) stopped in to see me shortly after. The first thing he said was “well I guess I was wrong, huh?” That night, the hospital served Jerry and I a “sweetheart dinner” which is a meal that is slightly fancier than their usual that they serve to new parents. Jerry had dry steak but my stuffed chicken was decent! We got to go home on Jerry’s birthday, Saturday the 24th. We were simultaneously ecstatic and terrified to go home with our new baby.
I was told I had a pretty perfect first labor and delivery with fast, natural progression. My water broke at noon, I started pushing at 8:00, and by 9:47, Caleb was here. Even though the pushing was pretty traumatizing and I told Jerry I would NEVER be willing to give birth again, I know that it was all worth it every time my son looks up at me and I look into his eyes.