Wednesday, September 23rd was my due date, and I was so certain that I would go into labor early that I was seriously bummed when I woke up Wednesday morning and nothing had happened. Dan had been asking me every morning, "Nothin' cookin'?" when he left for work in the morning (well, actually, he would say Nothin' to-tin? like the way Jenna would say it) and every morning I would dejectedly say no... nothing was happening. Michaela was home from school sick (but not really ill) for two days and it was a real blessing as she is good company and she helped distract me from my own self. So we went to the mall each day and shopped for Christmas outfits. Because isn't that what EVERY 40 weeks pregnant woman does in September??? (Side note: we bought gorgeous three-child coordinated outfits at Gymboree on Wednesday morning.)
I had an OB appointment that afternoon and valiantly tried to think of anything- ANYTHING- I could do to bribe my doctor to induce me. At one point I told him, "I make REALLY good chocolate chip cookies!" and without missing a beat, he looked up at me, raised one eyebrow and replied, "How about oatmeal raisin?" And I told him I could do those equally well.
"It just doesn't work well to induce if nothing is happening... the labor and delivery can get long and complicated," he said.
"PLEASE don't bog me down with DETAILS!!" I replied, but indicated that I understood completely what he was saying.
But then he looked at my elevated blood pressure, my incredibly puffy legs, and checked me: I was 2-3 cm dilated. He asked how the baby was moving around and I truthfully told him that the baby was much quieter the last day or so, so much so that I almost called the on-call doctor the night before to make sure things were a-okay. The OB wanted to do a non-stress test and after he saw the results of that, he announced, "Well, you're getting your wish! Show up at 7am tomorrow morning to be induced."
And sweeter words I had not heard in many, many months. It was like a tremendous weight was lifted off my shoulders.
We showed up at 7am the next morning and I did my usual, "Uhhh... I'm here to have my baby" statement to the nurses. They were so packed on the unit that there were no rooms available for me to be in. They put me in a post- delivery room, where a sign stating We care about the health of you and your baby! Wash your hands thoroughly! taunted me the whole time we waited. All I wanted to to get things started and hold my little boy and have it all be over with.
We read the paper. We filled out paperwork. I read a People magazine. All three doctors from the OB practice wandered in and out. A very nervous looking third year medical student came in and asked me how painful my contractions were. "Not very," I replied. "I'm not in labor- I'm here to be induced." "Oh," he replied and looked visibly relieved.
Finally at 12:30pm a room was ready and they wheeled me into the room where my baby would come into the world. Dr. B broke my water and my contractions started coming pretty soon and strong after that. The pitocin was started. We talked about my pain control plan, which was to replicate as much as possible Jenna's birth experience, which was terrifically empowering and fast and generally fabulous. I didn't have an epidural with her, instead got some short-acting drugs in my IV and then fell asleep while I dilated. I woke up and pushed her out in four contractions. I was looking to do the same with Alec.
So about an hour into the whole process I got my first dose of pain meds and it just did not cut the pain like it did with Jenna. After two more hours, I was progressing beautifully but was starting to panic about how much it hurt. I asked for something- anything- to help with my pain control and was offered an epidural, which I knew would not come to fruition: I was too far along, too close to delivery, and likely unable to tolerate sitting up and staying still as someone fiddled with my spinal column. I settled for another dose of the same pain meds which they hustled off to get for me.
At about the 4pm mark, the room was quiet, Dan was standing next to me and I was sweating, yelling during every contraction and in the throws of painful labor. I was checked by a resident, who declared me 8 cm dilated and then about 10 minutes later Dr. B checked me and said I was only 6 cm. And that's when I lost it. Because 8 cm is a lot closer to delivery than 6 cm.
But I needn't have worried because a few minutes after that, I started to have to push. Not like, "Oh, I'm feeling pressure down there and think pushing would be a good idea" but more like "Parts of my body are convulsing on their own and I'm just letting you know that very soon a baby will be coming out." Dan called for a nurse and immediately the room was filled with the doctor who started barking orders at the six or seven nurses who came into the room.
As I roared like a lion from the pain, I felt the amazing journey my baby was taking: I FELT his head start down the birth canal, felt all the pushing and shoving my body was doing all on its own. And as I screamed, "HIS HEAD IS COMING OUT!" the only comfort I felt was knowing that very, very soon this would be all over and my baby would be born.
And it was just like Jenna's birth. I went from 6 to 8 to 10 cm and then, after an incredibly breath-takingly painful few minutes that I will never forget nor cease to remind Dan about for the rest of our married life, our beautiful son Alec John Libutti made his debut into the world. It was exactly four hours from start to finish. I have never been so glad that something was over in my whole life.
"Is it a boy? Is it a boy?" I kept asking over and over, because while I could sense that everything was fine with me and the baby, no one was saying anything. Dr. B started fixing me up (if you know what I mean) and the nurses started doing all the stuff they do to newborns.
I had finally gotten my second dose of the pain meds 10 minutes before I delivered, which did little to cut my pain during delivery but instead hit me afterwards and made me groggy. "Danny! Get the camera out! Take some pictures!!!" I told him.
That's when one of the nurses said, "He's a big baby!" and I whipped my head to to the right, trying to look at him for myself. "I bet he's over 9 pounds!" What?? Over 9 pounds??? That was so different than the 7-8 pound prediction that had been repeatedly told to me leading up to delivery. If I had known he was going to be that big, I probably would have opted for the epidural from the start. Because what kind of freak wants to deliver a 9 lb, 3 oz baby without great and total pain control??
I guess freaks like me, who somehow find value in the experience of going through labor and delivery doing the work, feeling the pain, and almost weeping with relief when it is all over. I still don't know exactly why I chose to go this route, but I did- and planned to since the beginning of the pregnancy- and I'm glad in a way, though it did really wear me out for the next few days.
Quick, dirty and painful: a four hour time period that changed our lives forever for the better.
And that's my story.