8:45am, Friday, May 5th. You know that feeling right before you get your period where you're achey and crampy for a few minutes and then---woooooosh?! Well, that's how I woke up, but I was pretty sure, considering I was 34w5d pregnant that I wasn't being visited by Aunt Flo...
Indeed, I was not. I was being initiated into the fabulous world of labor and delivery. And I hadn't even packed the all-important hospital bag yet. As a small ocean poured out of me, my entire focus became that bag--where was my bag? Where was my collection of travel-sized toiletries?? I need my toiletries!!!
That is what was going through my head. Where was my mini bottle of pantene??!! Interesting how your brain shields you from the overwhelming. Like the fact that my cervix was trying to dilate with a big old piece of fishing wire wrapped around it. Oh yeah...there was that.
Which I think is why the contractions started right away. My poor cervix , it was so confused. And, as for the stupid Lamaze DVD lady Husband & I were watching for a couple of weeks before this--she told me I would have hours of "hey, this isn't so bad" type contractions before I started feeling any serious "discomfort". Lying bitch. I hate her and her New York accent.
One of my favorite memories of the day was walking into the entrance of the women's center of the hospital with a giant bath towel wrapped around my waist (how much water is IN there??!!) I must have looked like such a dweeb, especially as the contractions hit while I was registering at the front desk. Yes, people were staring. And nope, I didn't care.
I also loved the fact that Husband double-parked in the entrance and was just as jittery as one would expect to see in a sit-com. He wasn't quite Hugh Grant in "9 Months" (we didn't hit any pedestrians or give anyone a heart attack) but he was still pretty tightly wound.
Let me say one thing about the epidural--i love it. I listened to people for months tell me that I did or didn't need one, that I could deal with the pain, or that I couldn't, that it only got so bad and then plateaued, I could deal, yadda yadda yadda...and yes, had I not had a cerclage holding my cervix closed, I might have made a valiant effort to forge ahead for as long as possible without the assistance of pain meds. But the doctor assessed me and decided that I was not a good candidate for unmedicated cerclage removal...let's just say that when in pain, I am not good at holding still. And a writhing patient is really not the patient you want on your table when you are trying to snip a stitch from a cervix with a pair of scissors. So epidural it was....thank god. And immediately following the removal of the cerclage, I dilated to about 4cms.
I had about 2 hours of pain and then the epidural kicked in. From 11am until 4pm or so, I dilated from 4cm to 9cm without so much as a cramp. Around 9cms, I started to feel pressure. And then it all stopped. No more dilating for me. My cervix, in its infinite incompetence, after trying to dilate for almost 4 months, came to a complete stand-still at 9cms and refused to budge. Not only did it refuse to budge, but the little man, who had been so mischeviously pushing on my cervix for months, now refused to make friends with the cervix and kept floating back on up...are you kidding me, kid???!!!!
To make matters even more fun, Ethan's heart rate decided to yo-yo into dangerous territory and the doctor started in with the "c-section" talk. I don't remember a lot of it--was I freaking out and shutting down or just super mellow? Not sure. But at that point, I just wanted Ethan out, whether it was me pushing or them cutting. I didn't feel frantic, I just wanted to meet him, already!!! Enough with the drama!
And so, c-section it was. Husband, who carried the burden of the panic on his own shoulders, signed the consent form and away we went. My parents had been in the delivery room with me up until that point, apparently taking turns at kicking each others' asses at Texas Hold 'Em over by the window while I napped on and off. I remember saying, "bye" to them and then it was all bright lights and blue paper sheets.
Husband and I had our final, "what are we naming this kid?" conversation to distract me from the surgery. Here's where the boundlessness of my body's incompetence becomes almost comical--turns out the c-section was far more necessary than any of us realized when the decision was first made. My uterus is nearly as incompetent as my cervix. I recall hearing the description, "as thin as wet tissue paper." Ah, the poetry of it all...yes, my uterus was barely doing its job and apparently, had I been allowed to push, it could have been super ugly (haven't really discussed it in detail with the doctor yet, but in my daze I heard the words "could have ruptured" in there somewhere...)
Discussion of the recovery doesn't really merit any space here--recovering from major abdominal surgery sucks and I dont' want to remember it as I look back on the blog in the future.
If I were ever to do this again (don't get me started), I would actually like to pursue the whole idea of the "quiet birth" that was made infamous by Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and the birth of their daughter, whose name, by the way, does NOT mean "Princess" in Hebrew (um, that would be Sarah, dumb-asses). I say this not because I am considering a conversion to Scientology, but because some of those L&D nurses are LOUD!!!! I had one woman who walked in every 15-20 minutes and yelled in an Asian accent, "YOU FEEL PRESSURE LIKE YOU HAVE TO POOP??!!" Um...in front of my dad. No, lady, I don't feel pressure like I have to poop, but thank you for asking again. And again. I think the idea of just shutting up and letting the woman "be" is a pretty nice idea. I found the experience to be very relaxing (pre-c-section)when I wasn't being yelled at by some crazy nurse about the state of my bowels.
The other thing I noticed about the nurses is that all of them seem to have taken, and passed with flying colors, a "How to Distract the Patient from the Current Situation" course in their education. Every single nurse from triage to the OR and recovery said to me, "Wow, what a lovely manicure you have!" EVERY SINGLE ONE. And honestly, it wasn't that great of a manicure, for god's sake; I did it myself!! By the time I got up to my room on the baby floor, I could almost see the nurses scanning me for something innocuous to pleasantly comment on (I haven't had a haircut since December, so it wasn't going to be that!). Very bizarre.
So now, here he is. Little Mr. Ethan, after 9 hours of pretty mellow labor and one rocking c-section, made his way into the world, kicking and screaming, all 8& 9s on his apgars. We spent 8 days in the NICU, being the big old bruiser on the block. Compared to some of the little peanuts in there, Ethan looked like a linebacker at 4lbs, 13oz, which was reassuring to us, but it also made going to the NICU difficult and made me sad for other parents. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the universe that I got to 34w.