Sorry I've been absent, but the last several weeks have been a roller coaster for me. First of all, my beautiful daughter, Evangeline, was born on April 22nd. It was a few days before I expected to have her, but I was more than ready to have the labor be over with by that point anyway. I accidentally/purposely induced my labor...I guess I'll start at the beginning and tell you what I mean.
April 21st was a beautiful day, and for once I finally had energy. I decided that I wanted to go to the zoo and walk around for a little bit. Ironically, several people warned me that if I walked around too much it could cause me to induce labor. In a way, I wanted that to happen because I was tired of the swollen ankles, lack of energy, back pain, etc., and I was so close to the due date of the baby (April 25th). I basically wanted the comfort of having it over with. Still, I never dreamed that it would actually work. So, I decided to risk it. The walk was great and when I got home I had a nice long nap. However, I was awoken from my nap with some mild abdominal pain which I thought was Braxton Hicks contractions. I was wrong.
To anyone who is going to have a baby and has heard that contractions tend to start out many minutes apart and get more intense and closer together as they progress, that is only SOMETIMES the case. My contractions came about four minutes apart and just got more intense, but the timing didn't change. When they got more painful I called one of my friends in the medical profession to find out if what I was feeling was real. Long story short, it was. I ended up at the hospital at 11:30 at night.
It was rough. When I got to the hospital there was a lot of waiting and filling out paperwork, then when the nurse took a look at me it turned out that I was only dilated by one centimeter. The doctor on call had me walk around the birthing center floor at the hospital for one hour. By the time that hour was up my contractions were becoming painful enough that I was gasping for breath (trying to remember how to stay calm and breathe) and occasionally screaming. However, they checked again and I still was only a centimeter, so they had me walk around for another two hours using a wheelchair to lean up against whenever I had a contraction. It was getting to the point that walking felt like a form of torture. When they checked--you guessed it--I was still only a centimeter, so they had me walk around for another forty minutes. By about five in the morning they decided to give me some morphine and let me rest to see if that would help me dilate.
Something if you are a new mother that you should know is that when it comes time for the delivery, all of your well made plans will more than likely fall out the window. I didn't intend to use pain medication until it became time for an epidural, but I was more than ready for the morphine. And, it seemed that was what I needed in the first place. After a nice, hour long, mostly pain-free nap, I dilated nearly four centimeters. After another short nap, it turned out that I dilated another four and was moved to the delivery room to push.
When it was time to start going into labor, I remember that one of my friends said, "If you get the epidural there's still pressure but not pain." In my case, pressure was pain--bad lower back and upper abdominal pain. I took my epidural when the nurse recommended it, but the contractions slowed down to ten minutes apart, so they gave me Pitocin to speed up the process. I think the Pitocin was what did me in. It made the contractions hurt more in the two places that the epidural didn't affect, and given that I only could try to give birth in one position afterwards that involved crunching down on my upper abdomen while my legs were being pulled by my mom and my husband nearly behind my head, and I could feel the contractions badly in my lower back, it was agony. I tried to push, but lack of sleep, pain, and physical exhaustion were collapsing in on me like a demolished building and I just couldn't seem to do it. I would fall asleep in the two minute intervals between contractions and was practically begging to just skip pushing during one of them. When you're that tired and in that much pain, holding your breath for ten seconds while hunching over and pushing feels like trying to puzzle out a question way beyond your capacity to solve.
I tried to push for over an hour before the doctor on call came into the room. Ironically, it was the same doctor who helped me through my miscarriage. He was wearing a camouflage medical cap and made a funny comment about "hunting for babies." He told them to "break down the room" and it was like the whole place transformed. There was suddenly blue medical cloth around me, the bed started changing shape, and medical utensils were literally coming out of the walls as the entourage of nurses around him worked. (The room was a freaking transformer...I would've thought that it was the medication but I have witnesses.) Then, doctor simply told me that I was going to have the baby in ten minutes.
The nurse told me that I was not pushing properly. I was starting to feel hopeless, like I couldn't do it, but his upbeat attitude gave me a renewed motivation and made me feel like maybe, just maybe, I could. I tried pushing unaided for another hour and then he gave me some more pain medication, and I found myself chanting "I can do this...I can do it." Still, the going was slow and I was still so weak that I wasn't making much progress, so I finally gave him permission to help me. Even though I didn't want to use suction to get the baby out initially, again, our good intentions are sometimes not practical when it's time to have the baby.
She was six pounds and the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. When I saw her, the entire pregnancy, the labor pain, and the exhaustion was worth every second. I know that sounds corny, but it's true. It really is true that when you see your child for the first time you forget about the pain and the any frustration you felt during the pregnancy. That's why when people talk about the labor they say it wasn't that bad. It's not that it wasn't bad, it was that the result was so good you can't focus on the bad anymore. Having that baby was the most fulfilling thing I've ever done in my life. It's put a lot of things into perspective for me as well.
And, now, I have a baby. Breastfeeding isn't working out well, but she's healthy and strong even with mostly formula feeding. The cats are adjusting nicely as well. Some of them even seem very protective over the baby. Ironically, the meanest one of the bunch is actually the one that seems to care about her the most.
Recovery from labor is coming slowly. I'm a little frustrated because I did get an infection recently that caused me a fever for three days and it seems that not one day has gone by where I feel like there isn't some new pain or discomfort from recovering. Still, all things considered I'm adjusting very well. I can't believe that I went from being afraid of holding the baby to changing diapers, feeding her, bathing her, rocking her to sleep, and even starting to interpret what her crying means in only two weeks time. I'm functioning fairly well on very little sleep, but I've had a lot of help from friends, family, and especially my mom and my husband, with the chores and with the cooking. I've been focusing on learning how to care for Eva and learning her schedule so that hopefully I can adapt to it and learn how to work within it. (I'm writing this blog while she's sleeping after her afternoon feeding...it's amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.) I'm also starting to have friends over again and have even made a little extra time to write.
Still, this baby is the most important thing to me now. I'll do my best to protect her, teach her, and above all make sure that she knows how much her mommy and daddy love her. As for the writing, I'm going to work it in. I feel like this new perspective is something that can help improve my work in the long run. This phase in my life is a wonderful new adventure, and my daughter is a miracle.
My husband said to me after we got home, "It's funny, I never knew I could love someone this much. It takes me time to get to close to people, but I loved her the moment I saw her." I know exactly how he feels.