Waiting for the phone call Sunday night, May 11, was like waiting for a heart. Like in the movies (which have provided me with basically all of my information on the transplant experience), where you carry around the beeper, waiting for the call that, yes, they have a heart for you. When the call came, that first-day-of-school feeling turned into full-blown anxiety. OhmigodwhatisabouttohappentomeIcan’tbelieveit’sfinallytime! That feeling. The car had already been packed for days, so we just climbed in and drove. I think Mom and Rob were secretly happy that I didn’t make mouth noises during the drive. [Backstory: When I was on my way to Loyola for nursing school, I guess I clicked and clucked and made all sorts of mouth noises the entire three-hour drive down to Chicago. Apparently, I do it when I’m nervous. My Mom didn’t say a word about it the whole time we were driving. She’s a saint.]
When we got there, I found some comfort in the familiarity of the triage area. I had been there a few times before for BP issues, so I knew just where to go and who to talk to and what to expect. After checking in, we were brought straight back to the Labor and Delivery room to get started. Our nurse, Melinda (whose name I kept forgetting. I called her Melanie, Molly, any name that started with ‘M’ and had more than one syllable.) was new. She had been off orientation only a few months and it showed. She was very nice, but very nervous, and still in the stage where she couldn’t carry on a conversation and set up an IV pump at the same time. They drew my lab work (for me and for the cord blood collection) and started the IV with IV fluids and the Pitocin. It’s now 11:00 p.m. They said, “Rest. You’ll need it later.” We said, “Rest? Who can rest when we’re here to have a baby?!” We all tried. Mom went back to her hotel room at about 2:00 a.m. and Rob and I pretended to sleep until about 7:00 a.m. During the night, they turned up the Pitocin periodically, but otherwise left us alone. Mom returned around 7:00, Dr. Whiteside came in and checked my progress. No progress. Still just a fingertip dilated and 100% effaced. So, on we went with more Pitocin and more encouragement to rest. The day dragged on with two more progess checks (none), a little more contracting (but nothing unbearable), and more pretend resting. Dr. Whiteside said after the second check in the middle of the afternoon that if there was still no progress, she would talk with MFM about sending me home to try to give my body more time to progress on its own. That was a little disheartening, because, hey! we’re here to have a baby! We had an appointment! Let’s get going! MFM came in with Dr. Whiteside early that evening (around 5:00?) and said the best thing to do was to keep going and not drag it out. And so, the already hefty dose of Pitocin was jacked up higher and we continued to hang out and wait. Around 7:00 p.m. Dr. Whiteside came in again and checked my progress. Finally, I was dilated enough to break my water. She didn’t give me any time to think about it. By the time, I was finished processing what she had said and asking whether I was going to feel it, she was done. And then there was a gush. (Sorry about all the information everyone.) It was crazy. This is when they started the magnesium sulfate to control my BPs during labor.
And then it started. Labor, I mean. The contractions got stronger. I lasted about an hour with the increasing strength of the contractions, but the Pitocin dose was so high (22 ml/hr for those of you who keep track of such things, Paige) that I had no break between contractions. Sam was posterior, too, so all of the pain was searing through my back. It’s like the worst backache you’ve ever had and nothing helps. We put on a choral CD (yes, I am a music dork) to help me change my focus, but as soon as the music started (Crucifixus by Lotti), the tears started flowing down my face. I wasn’t sad or scared or anything, the music just let it all out. That is when my new best friend, Dr. Lace, came into the picture and put in the epidural. I had great relief for a while with that lovely contraption.
Up until this point, Rob and Mom were Champion Rubbers. They rubbed my lower back and my sides and pretty much anything that I said hurt. In fact, they rubbed so much, I felt bruised the next day! They took turns, which I think was probably nice for them, so neither had the brunt of the rubbing duty.
Things went very fast from that point. I went from 3 cm to 6 cm in two hours (10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.), then from 6 cm to 10 cm in an hour. At 1:30 a.m., the epidural no longer provided pain relief, since I had reached… dun-dun-duuuuunnnn!… transition! The baby was moving down farther and I was feeling very intense pelvic pressure. (Sorry, again.) I started shaking and shivering and making little bububububububub breathing sounds. The nurse, Amy, called the anesthesia resident on-call to give me a bolus of epidural meds to help with the pain. She came and gave me a dose and said that maybe the OB resident should be called to check me. They called the resident and Dr. Whiteside. When the resident came, she asked when I was last checked. When she found out that it was only an hour ago, she said, “Well, let’s check again,” in a tone that said, “I’m doing this as a courtesy, but I don’t really think it’s necessary.” Meanwhile, my mom is saying, “She’s ready. She’s ready to push. It’s time.” Lo and behold, and much to the resident’s surprise, I was fully dilated and the baby had moved from -2 to +2 station (meaning, the head was now nearly peeking out). Amy the nurse started directing the pushing and I soon got the hang of it. Through the epidural, I could feel when I needed to push. Rob and Mom were both right there on either side of me. I puked a few times throughout the delivery. Not surprising, given my puking history. I am a puker. I hope Sam does not inherit this from me.
I have to say, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was hard work, but at the time, I didn’t feel like it was totally overwhelming or anything. I didn’t feel like screaming (in fact, I think I was very quiet) or thrashing about like you see on TV, I just felt really focused. It was almost like tunnel vision. They had a mirror over the bed, so I could see what was happening. It was very encouraging to see the progress that was being made. It actually felt very clinical to me. It didn’t make me feel all emotional to see it all happening. I pushed for 45 minutes. I don’t know if that is a short time or a long time, but it felt very short to me. Really. I couldn’t believe it was over so quickly. The staff was very helpful; it seemed like a well-oiled machine the way they all worked together. Rob and my mom were funny during the delivery. As the head was coming out, Rob would say, “ok, Ok, OK!” getting louder as he went. And my mom would squeal little, “Oooh! OOOHS!” I didn’t laugh at the time, but I was thinking it. All of a sudden, the head came out, and then the rest of him was out. He came out waving. One little hand sneaked out before the first shoulder and he burst into the world. I don’t know if Dr. Whiteside said it, but I remember saying, “It’s a boy!” because I had a clear view in the mirror. He was settled on my tummy and apparently (I don’t remember this) I said, “That’s my baby” a few times.
Then he was taken to the infant area in the room and the pediatrician assessed him. Because he was early by three weeks and a preeclampsia baby, he required an automatic early assessment. Rob was with him. I remember watching Rob watching the baby, and seeing him cry as he took in this vision of the new little life that lay under the warmer in front of him. By this time, my head was really foggy, partly from the magnesium and partly from the work of delivery. I have a vague memory of being fingerprinted for his footprint card. Mostly, I remember Sam. I couldn’t take my eyes off him.
We spent about an hour in the L&D room before being transferred over to 2700. I had the room right next to the one where I spent my hospital stay, which I thought was really funny. I don’t remember the ride over in the stretcher. The last thing I remember is transferring from my L&D bed to the stretcher and someone asking me if I was ok to hold Sam during the ride. I fell asleep immediately upon arrival in my new room. I guess they took the baby to the nursery to do his shots and stuff. And Rob left to write an update on the blog. I don’t know where my mom was. I slept through all of that. Everything is a blur until a conversation with my nurse about getting up to the bathroom and how that had to happen by 10:00 a.m., since I had had a catheter in for a short time. When I finally got up to go, Rob helped me to the bathroom. I could hardly stand, my body was so weak. Slowly, we got to the bathroom and I peed (best pee ever) and then promptly started to pass out. My vision started to tunnel out and I couldn’t hear anything. Rob got me back to bed at my insistence and called the nurse. By the time she got there, I was fine. I had a little orthostatic hypotension (I got up too fast and my BP dropped really quickly) which made a lot of sense when I found out that my hemoglobin was only 8.3. Between the anemia and the mag sulfate, I was definitely a candidate for fainting! From then on, I sat on the edge of the bed for a while before standing up.
We named Sam that afternoon, after I was more coherent. I couldn’t even begin to think of something as important as choosing a name after delivery. I do remember Rob saying that he thought that he should be William right about the same time I said I thought he should be Samuel. But later that afternoon, we decided that Samuel Robert was the right name for him. And I think we chose wisely. 🙂
The fog lifted in the middle of the night that night (the 13th). Sam was wide awake (his last alertness before his own bilirubin fog set in) and I didn’t want to miss it. It was like a switch was flipped and I was no longer foggy. We lay in bed together and I memorized his face and fingers and floppy little body. That night it finally sunk in that he was here and he was mine and he was perfect.
So that’s what I remember. There are some pretty big holes that Rob and my mom have filled in for me. It was like being a ghost in your own life. But I look back on it and feel only positive thoughts and memories. Who could complain when the reward, that beautiful little baby, is so great?