I have a confession. Before becoming pregnant, I always saw myself having a C-section. Mostly the thought of pushing something that large out of my whooha was kind of frightening to me after stories I had heard. I also worried that my husband would not be able to see my whooha attractive ever again. Once it became clear that we would be doing IVF, my desire to have a C-section became stronger. After all, there had been nothing natural about getting pregnant, why start with delivery.
With the help of some wonderful doctors and an overall desire to do the best thing possible for my child, I came around to wanting to deliver vaginally and going as long as possible without medication. Although I was clear that this is what I wanted to do, I procrastinated on developing my birth plan. So, when my water broke unexpectedly at 36 weeks and 5 days. I found myself unprepared. No bag packed, no nursery together, and no birth plan printed to give to every nurse or doctor during labor. However, it all worked out exactly as I wanted and for that I am very lucky.
It started around Friday, October 8, around 5PM. I had gone to the hairdresser to get my hair done. We finished early, but she told me that an old friend of mine was coming after me. I decided to stay to visit with my friend. While I was hanging out, I stood up and it felt like I wet my pants. I quietly excused myself to go check out the situation. Sure enough, my panties were soaked, but not through to my pants. I went back out front and asked my friend and hairdresser if either of their water had broken when they gave birth. Neither one had that experience, but encouraged me to call the doctor. I called the doctor who told me to put on a pad and call her in an hour if it soaked through. Luckily, my hairdresser had a pad. I put it on, texted my husband to meet me at the house and headed out into rush hour traffic to get home. In the hour it took me to get home, the pad had soaked through. Greg got home about the same time I did. I called the doctor again and she said to come on to the hospital to get checked out. Both of us were surprisingly calm, as we packed our bags to go to the hospital. I can't remember what I took, but all of it was useless because I did not use any of it while there.
Before we headed off to the hospital, we said a prayer for our new family to get through this safely with a healthy outcome. By the time, we reached the hospital, I had soaked several pads. We headed to triage where they confirmed that my water in fact had broken and I was having contractions. At this point, I could not feel the contractions at all. Once we met with the doctor and found out I was 2cm dilated (luckily, my doctor and another doctor that I love were both on call during my labor, so I was super excited about that), I was formally admitted we called my sister, parents and Greg's mother to let them know that we were at the hospital and our little girl would be here soon. The doctor told us to go get some dinner and walk around the hospital to get labor going while we waited on a birthing suite. Our plan all along was that my sister would come to Seattle from South Carolina the first week to help us out, so our first agenda item was to work with her to make travel arrangements. This took longer than we thought, but we got it worked out and then headed to the cafeteria to have our last meal as a childless couple. We took pictures of our last meal shared at the hospital to save for later. At this point it is around midnight and we set off to explore the hospital. Our RE's and OB's offices are both attached to the hospital by skybridges. We first walked over to the elevators we had taken many times to go to the RE and through tears we told Gracious the story of how she came to be. Because the building was empty, we were able to spend time there together, holding each other and talking to our soon to be born daughter. We then took the skybridge over to the elevators leading up to the OB and pediatricians offices, and we told her about going there to see her on the ultrasounds and how we would be visiting there often in the future to see her new doctor at the pediatrician. After all of this, it was time to head back upstairs to see if we had a birthing suite.
Once we were in the birthing suite, we met Marlowe who was our first labor nurse. I was hooked up to all the machines to monitor heart rates and contractions. Although I was having contractions, I still was not feeling them. However, I was dilated to 3cm. They decided to start pitocin since my water had broken and they wanted me to deliver sometime the next day. I begged them to let me try and make it to 10/10/10 for two reasons. First, I would be officially 37 weeks and full term and that would be a really cool birthday. However, my doctor was adimit that we go ahead and get things started to try and avoid infection after my water breaking. Of course, I gave in wanting to do the best thing for all involved. After drugs were administered both Greg and I tried to get some sleep. However, sleep was not in the cards for me. One I was too wound up to even think about sleep, and the pitocin made it so that I started feeling the contractions. At 7 AM, there was a nurse shift change and I was in some pretty bad pain at this point. Our new nurse, Ms. Choi, introduced herself and immediately started throwing pillows around me and man handling me. At first, I was kind of annoyed, but once she finished I felt so comfortable and knew that this woman was going to take really good care of me. Several hours later, Ms. Choi offered me some pain medication to take the edge off to help me get some sleep. I gave in and took it. I felt fantastic for a bit with this and got a little bit of rest. At this point, I completely trusted Ms. Choi and did everything she told me to do. When she thought it was time to do the epidural, I took her word for it and did it. She held me while I got it done and immediately felt relief. My doctor came in to check and I was only at 4cm, so they upped the pitocin to make my contractions more effective. By this point, Greg's family had arrived and were starting to get bored waiting at the hospital. We gave them a list of things we needed from Costco and BabysRUs and sent them on there way. We told them we would call them when we were closer.
A few hours later, the doctor came back to check on me and sure enough we were ready to go. We then began pushing. This is a weird experience that I don't think I can describe. Plus, I will admit it would probably a little TMI. However, I will say this it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I will say my days of being a below average athlete did help me through. PreIVF, I did a boot camp four days a week. There was drill we would do where we would get in rows of four people. We would then jog and the person in the back of the line would have to sprint to get to the front as everyone else continued to jog. There were several hills along the route and it sucked to have a turn sprinting at the bottom of the hill. After completing the drill one day a few us were complaining about the hills. One of the women who was in her late 50s and usually put the rest of to shame told us she loved the hills and ran faster on them to make them go quicker. From then on, I have looked at hills differently while running. I kept thinking about pushing harder and going faster to help things progress. I was surprisingly quiet and focused during the entire labor. Finally, at 7:30 PM on 10/9/10 Gracious made her entrance into the world. They were able to put her on my chest immediately and it was amazing!
I will admit the recovery has been much harder than the labor. However, I am about 98% back to normal. We are happily adjusting to this new member of the family. She is beautiful, wonderful and the biggest challenge of my life. We have plenty of family members and visitors here and are very lucky.