I’ve been thinking a lot about my future labor & delivery with Dane. What it might be like and what I want to change this time and what I want to keep the same. So, I thought the first step would be to get all the details of Elaina’s labor & delivery out. If you’ve ever had a conversation with me, you know I’m a detailed story teller. I like to paint a picture. I want to make sure you have all the information you need. So, this is going to be unnecessarily long. You probably won’t find this interesting unless you are a mom or a mom-to-be (and even then…..). You’ve been warned.
In the spirit of accuracy (this was 2 years ago), I won’t quote someone unless I’m SURE it’s exactly what they said. For today’s purposes, I’ll use * to express “quotes” that may not be EXACT representations of what the person said.
Let’s paint the scene: I am exactly 38 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I have a doctor’s appointment today and I am excited because Dr. Brown is going to look under the hood and check for progress. I came last week and there was no progress. On top of not having any progress last week, Dr. Brown dropped the bomb: he would be out of town Oct 29 – Nov 5. Today is Oct 21st. My due date is Nov 3rd. Awesome. Thanks, Dr. B.
My dad is an OBGYN, too. And, he’s been “gently” nudging that I should not allow this pregnancy to go past my due date because *that’s when things get hairy and more complications can arise*.
I am terrified of induction. I want things to happen naturally. I want her to decide to come on her own. I don’t want to manipulate such an intricate process. I’ve shared my concerns about induction with Dr. Brown and he’s given me his ever-popular response (which is part of the reason I love him) “whatever you want to do, we’ll do”. In my head, induction means c-section. Dr. Brown tells me that his personal c-section rates after induction are about 50%, but that his personal c-section rates for first time moms are also about 50% (with or without an induction). In my head, this is how the math works: I’m a first time mom, so 50+ (if I get induced) 50 = 100% chance I will end up having a c-section. I could go on and on for hours about the reasons that I don’t want a c-section. They are not the “normal” reasons why people don’t want c-sections. I don’t have enough time to list all of my obsessive worries regarding c-sections here, but let me just say it basically boils down to: a lot of things are out of your control. I’m not a fan of this in any aspect of my life, but it turns me into a CRAZY person when my children are involved. Wow…..we’ve gotten off topic. Sorry. Back to my 38w1d appointment.
So, Dr. Brown checks out the situation and there is absolutely zero progress. I decide to ask him to strip my membranes. Why? Because I’m terrified of induction (hospital induction), but people are putting into my head how worrisome it can to be to go over your due date, so, I’m trying to avoid going over and being forced into an induction. The stripping takes about 3 seconds and is on slightly uncomfortable. I tell Dr. Brown to give it to me straight: the fact that there is no progress means nothing will happen soon, right? He smiles and tells me that he’s been in this game for a long time and there’s no way to know for sure, but if he had to guess, I have a while. Great.
We go home and have a normal night. Nothing interesting happens. I’m not expecting it to. I don’t even have the tiniest bit of spotting from the stripping. Blah. People text me asking me if “anything has happened yet”. This makes me want to punch them in the face (because I’m crazy). Dear Friend, you know how “ready” you are? Multiply that by about 167 and that’s how ready I am. I don’t need you to text me and remind me that I’m still pregnant. Ugh. I love y’all, but daaang.
The next day comes and nothing interesting happens. I google “what contractions feel like” obsessively and text everyone I know who’s been through this before asking the same because I’m scared that labor will start and I won’t know. Everything I read online says they can’t really “describe” what they feel like and everyone I text says “it’s hard to explain”. Thanks, peeps. I text my mom asking if there was a “warning” that she was going to go into labor. Like, did she feel different or weird or have a feeling something was going to happen? She responds “LOL no!” Thanks, mom.
I hate everyone at this point. I talk to my belly like a crazy person. I repeat the following statement over and over: “Elaina, whenever you’re ready, we’re SO excited to meet you.” Nothing. Not even a kick. Blah.
Dr. Phil is on. I start to watch it and fall asleep in the recliner while it’s playing. At precisely 2:45 I wake up because I need to poop. I go to the bathroom and sit on the toilet, but nothing happens. The urge to poop goes away. About 15ish minutes later, I need to poop again. Again, I go to the toilet and sit on it and nothing happens. The urge to poop goes away. Again, about 15 minutes……rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat. Rinse….HOLY CRAP!! AM I IN LABOR?!?! I start to wonder if I’m in labor. I’ve read way too many “false labor” stories to ask this out loud or tell anyone.
Now, it’s 4:00. I’m still having what I thiiiiiiink are contractions. Marvin walks through the door from work and I look at him and smile from ear to ear. “What,” he asks. “I think I’m having contractions,” I say. He smiles…. and only gets out “really?”. He seems extremely calm. I’m pretty calm, too. This is weird. I tell him I want to go for a little walk to see if the contractions go away. We walk for about an hour. They continue to come. We get back inside and I tell him maybe we should time the contractions? Marvin gets a piece of paper and I tell him when one starts and he writes down the time. Marvin has had to sit through a million stories about all the women I’ve read about online who think they’re in labor and aren’t. He is just as worried as I am that this is false labor. So, he writes at the top of the paper “Contraction Starters” in an effort to remind himself this might not be the real deal. I take a bath. I hang out in the bathtub a little while and call my mom. I tell her I think I might be having contractions. She gets nervous. “Ok, what are you doing now,” she asks. I tell her I’m in the bathtub. “WHY are you in the bathtub?” She seems nervous about this. *I’m taking a bath, Mom. Calm down. We’re timing the contractions. They are a tad bit uncomfortable, but not bad. They’re about 12 minutes apart.* She puts my dad on the phone. He asks me if I am still able to talk through the contractions. I’m not sure what he means by this, but yeah, why wouldn’t I be able to talk? *Ok, baby, it sounds like it might be early labor. When they start getting closer together we’ll know it’s the real deal. Call me if you have any questions.*
I get out of the tub and make Marvin and myself a pizza. He is watching TV. Why are we so calm? This is weird. The pizza is ready. We eat it. We are still timing contractions in between everything else we’re doing. It’s now 7:30 and they are about 7 minutes apart. We sit there watching TV and I keep talking about how weird it is that we are this calm. It’s now 8:00 and they are about 4 minutes apart. They are still pretty mild. They are uncomfortable, but feel kind of like a period cramp. Totally do able. I call my Dad and give him the update. He says it sounds like it’s the real deal and it’s time to head to the hospital. Really? This is labor? But, it’s not like the movies. I tell Marvin what my dad says and I go to finish the hospital bag. I fix my hair a little and change into comfy “labor” clothes. Marvin packs up the truck. It’s now 9:15PM.
We get to the hospital. I tell Marvin to leave all the bags in the truck because I’m scared that this isn’t the real deal and I don’t want to be “those” people walking into the ER with bags and pillows only to be laughed at. I walk up to the ER help desk. “May I help you,” the woman asks. “Ummmm….I think I am in labor, maybe?” She seems calm, too. “Ok, ma’am. Have a seat and we’ll be right with you.” Surely this can’t be the real thing. It’s not like the movies. Everyone is so calm.
We get called to a little desk where a lady makes copies of our IDs and has us sign a few papers and we get sent to L&D. We go upstairs to the room we are assigned and eventually a nurse comes in. She asks me what’s going on and I tell her I’m having contractions. She asks me how far apart. I tell her about 4 minutes. She asks me to rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 is nothing at all and 10 is I’m about to die. Ummm, I guess a 2? She puts the two little belts on my belly. One is to monitor my contractions and another is for Elaina’s heartrate. She tells me she’s going to watch me on the monitor at the nurses’ station and tells me to press the call button if I need anything.
She comes back a little while later and checks me. I am 50% effaced and about 1 cm. I tell her that yesterday I had absolutely no progress. She leaves.
She comes back and this time tells me Dr. Brown is in the hospital and he’ll be here soon. It’s about 10:30 PM now. Dr. Brown comes in. We talk a little. He checks me. About 80% effaced and almost 2 cm. I’m still having very little pain. Still feels like a mild period cramp. I’m still amazed at everyone’s calmness. No one knows we are at the hospital except for my parents. I finally have the guts to ask what I’ve been wondering this whole time. “Dr. Brown, am I in labor?” He smiles and tells me I’m in early labor and I can go home or stay here. It’s completely up to me. “So, is this the real thing, though?” He tells me that this is the real thing, but the baby won’t be here for a while. I think about it a little and decide to stay. He tells me that he’ll be back to check on me in the morning and the nurse will call him if they need him.
The nurse and the doctor leave. I tell Marvin to text his parents and let them know that I’m in labor, but they DO NOT need to come and we will update them when they do. I tell Marvin to go get the bags. It’s now safe. We are not crazy. I’m in labor. I call my parents and tell them the update. I tell them I’ll call them to update later. When I get off the phone with my parents all of a sudden something happens. I AM IN PAIN. It feels like someone is stabbing me with a million knives in the stomach. It hurts BAD. I panic and press the nurse’s call button. She comes in. “Are you ok,” she asks. “NO! Something is wrong. I had a sharp pain and it hurt BAD!” She looks at me in amazement. “You’re in labor,” she says. “I know, but this hurt bad.” “You’re in labor,” she says again. Oh. I’m in labor. That’s why it hurts. I see. She leaves. Another horrible knife pain comes. I am no longer calm. Marvin comes back with the bags. He sees me in horrible pain. “What’s wrong,” he asks. “I’m in labor DUH!”
It’s about midnight now. The pain is…about a 5? I can no longer talk through the contractions. (Ohhhhh THIS is what my dad meant!) No one else is allowed to talk either. Or breathe. Or move. Or look at me. Or make any noise whatsoever. By “no one else” I mean Marvin. I tell him I want to go for a walk. We walk the halls. We have to stop about every 3 minutes for me to lean on him and make really embarrassing moaning noises. I don’t know why the moaning noises come, but they do. We go back to our room and I spend my time walking in between the bed and the bathroom. I get the frequent urge to sit on the toilet. Nothing ever happens, though. My body just brings me in there.
This is the cycle of a contraction: A contraction starts. It is the worse pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life. It hurts BAD. I moan through it. I think I’m going to die. Move and sway. Try to get comfortable. It goes away after about a minute or so. As soon as it goes away I think to myself: “hey, that wasn’t that bad.” Then it starts again and it’s UNBEARABLE pain and I’m going to die and then it ends and I think it wasn’t that bad. I guess this is your body’s defense mechanism? Just a few seconds after the contraction is over, I forget what it feels like. In between contractions I feel normal.
Marvin is being a real trooper. It’s about 2 AM and he is trying to help. He rubs my back and tells me he loves me and asks what he can do. He does some of this during a contraction which PISSES ME OFF. During a contraction you are supposed to freeze like a statue. Eventually, I am in so much pain and I want to be left alone so badly that when he asks what he can do, I SCREAM at him. “GO TO SLEEP NOW!!!!” He looks at me confused. “No, I want to help. What can I do? Just tell me what to do.” Again, I scream. “GO TO SLEEP NOWWW!” He lays on the sorry excuse for a fold out bed and tells me to let him know if I need him. He lays there and pretends to sleep for the next 2 hours. That’s love. Eventually he really does fall asleep.
It’s now around 5 or 6 in the morning. Marvin is for-real sleeping and I am exhausted. I haven’t slept at all. Except for about every 2 minutes in between contractions. Who even knew that was possible? I get up and go to sit in the rocker. I rock and moan and rock and moan. This crap hurts. Bad.
There’s a knock on the door. That’s weird. The nurse doesn’t knock. It’s Marvin’s mom. She happens to knock and enter the room when I am smack dab in the middle of a contraction. She tries talking to me. I cannot speak. I am in excruciating pain. I yell for Marvin to wake up so he can talk to her. He wakes up. She says and I QUOTE “I brought some snacks and a Dr. Pepper for you, Marvin.” I love my mother-in-law dearly, but at this point I want to punch her in the face. She puts the food on the table, her and Marvin talk outside the door and she leaves. Marvin doesn’t have a death wish so he leaves the bag of food alone. He does not inspect it or eat it. He pretends it doesn’t exist. Smart man.
The hours pass and nothing interesting happens. I have contractions about 2 minutes apart. I moan through them. The nurse comes in sometimes to talk to me and she doesn’t wait for the contraction to be over. I hate her for this. I want the world to STOP when I’m having a contraction. At about 9AM IN BETWEEN CONTRACTIONS (aka the only acceptable time for conversation to happen) I tell Marvin to let his parents and sisters know they may come to the hospital and sit in the waiting room should they wish. He tells my parents the same.
I do not want anyone else in the world to know I’m in labor. I don’t need an audience at the hospital. This crap hurts. I don’t want to talk to my husband much less see anyone else. This isn’t a party. It’s LABOR.
My parents show up. They come in the room. My dad checks out the strip of paper and the little machine we’re hooked up to. During a contraction he watches me and the screen. When the contraction is over (thank you) he tells me that things look great and Elaina’s heart rate increases during a contraction and how great that is. A Lot of babies’ heart rates decrease, he says. I don’t know why, but this makes me feel so glad that she’s ok. I realize that I was worried about her up until that point.
Dr. Brown comes in and checks me. I’m 6 cm dilated. He tells me he’s going to break my water and it’s going to hurt worse after that. He asks me if I want an epidural. This is the first time someone says that word and this is the first time I even remember those things exist. Up until this point, I’ve been in really horrible pain, but I was just trying to survive through the pain. I wasn’t thinking about “stopping” the pain. I assumed when she was born it would stop. I am way too into the words “hurt worse” to focus on the words “I’m going to break your water”. Now, as a normal functioning human being, I would’ve said “why”. And I would’ve questioned whether breaking my water was really necessary. But, it’s hard to have a conversation when you have to stop every two minutes. I think for a while. I decide I can’t even imagine what “hurt worse” will feel like. I want an epidural.
The anesthesiologist comes in and he did not get the memo that the world should stop when a contraction starts. The nurse tells me to slouch over to get into position so he can insert the needle. A contraction is starting. The slouching position is kind-of-sort-of comfortable (all things considered). This is the first position I’ve tried since labor started that felt natural to me. I’m now pissed that I didn’t try the slouch position before. I wonder if I should make him stop and just labor in this slouch position. I say nothing. I get the epidural. Getting the epidural does not hurt.
After a little while I am numb. I start to cry because I can’t feel my lower half and I feel like I’m not in control of my body. Marvin comes over to comfort me. When I’m done crying he tells me that my breath is horrible. It’s now 12:00 in the afternoon and I’ve been awake all night and I forgot to brush my teeth in between contractions. I am paralyzed so he brings me a toothbrush and a cup of water. I brush my teeth in the bed. People are allowed to come into the room now. By “people” I mean our immediate families. Still, no one else knows I’m in labor. My mother-in-law comes in and my parents do, too. They hang out for a little while. The nurse checks me. I am at 8. I ask her to turn down the epidural. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I can’t feel anything and I want to be able to push when the time comes. She comes back about 30 minutes later. I’m at 10. It’s time to push. What? Are you sure? But, this isn’t like the movies. I’m just chilling. Everyone is so calm.
The doctor comes in. He is ready to go in his astronaut gear. Marvin and my parents are allowed to be in the room. Yes, I allowed my dad to be in the room. I didn’t care that he’s a man. I didn’t care that he is my dad. He is an OBGYN and I felt a sense of security knowing he knew the medical side of what was going on and he was present.
Marvin holds my right leg and the nurse holds my left. She touches my stomach and tells me that she’ll let me know when I’m having a contraction and that I should bear down like I’m having a bowel movement. She tells me they’re going to count to 10 and I can stop when they get to 10. I feel the contraction. I tell her to move her hand, I can feel when the contractions are coming. I don’t feel them in a painful way, though. I feel them in a stomach-tightening way. It feels kind of like a Braxton Hicks contraction.
I push. They count. Dr. Brown tells me that I pushed perfectly and I just need to do that again next time. We wait for another contraction. I push again. When I’m done pushing I ask Dr. Brown what he’s going to do if he sees that I’m about to tear. Will he cut me or let me tear naturally? He asks which I want him to do. I tell him I don’t know. I don’t want to tear. He tells me he’ll let me know if he thinks it’s about to happen and we can decide.
Another contraction comes. I push. Dr. Brown tells Marvin to look. Marvin looks. Marvin smiles from ear-to-ear. “I can see her HEAD!!” The contraction is over. I ask him what it looks like. Can he tell what color her hair is? Dr. Brown says he thinks it’s light. I’m amazed. I want to see! Another contraction comes, Marvin is counting and watching and Dr. Brown is telling me to push, push, puuuuush. Her head is coming out this time, he says. Marvin is cheering like his favorite team is about to score the game winning goal. “Go! Go! Go! Go!!!!” Her head is out. I can’t believe it. The look on Marvin’s face is like he just won the lottery. Dr. Brown tells me to push hard and then stop. Elaina is born. She’s out. Marvin cuts the cord. She looks SO BLUE. Dr. Brown holds her up next to the clock so my mom can take a picture. He passes her off the to nurse who cleans her off.
Elaina starts to cry. The few seconds between her exit and her cry seem like an eternity. I have never been more glad to hear a sound in my life. This is the first and last time that her cry makes me happy. She is beautiful. She has light hair. How is that possible? She is perfect. The nurse takes what seems like forever to clean her off. I tell her to hurry up and put her on my chest. I don’t care about being polite. This is the beginning of a trend that will play out again and again. When it comes to Elaina, I don’t care if I hurt your feelings. I need her by me and safe. I don’t care that you want to hold her. I don’t care that you want to see her. I don’t care. I want my baby by me. I want to be left alone to feed her and take care of her. I would be perfectly happy if everyone left us completely alone for the next 5 months.
While the nurse is finishing off the cleaning, I ask my mom if I pooped. I didn’t. I expected to. I ask everyone if I ripped. I didn’t. I expected to.
Ana Elaina Vallette was born at 2:30PM on October 23, 2010. She weighed 6lbs 1 oz and was 19.5 inches long.