I'd had Braxton Hicks contractions loads of times before. In fact I got them for two hours every day while I was running. But this contraction was longer and a bit painful. I didn't even give a thought to this possibly being the beginning of real labor. But when Eric came home, we decided that the frozen Costco combo pizza was a better-sounding dinner than juiced veg (don't get me wrong, I love juice dinners, but can you imagine having to birth a child on only juice?! Eeek!).
Post delicious pizza, I had had two more contractions. I wasn't keeping track of them, but I can remember thinking that I was thrilled that I hadn't juiced for dinner, juuuuuust in case. I really wanted to go walking, which calms fake contractions or strengthens real ones, but because we live on the surface of the sun, we had to go someplace inside. We chose the AZ Mills mall because it was close and shaped like a track, a nice big loop. Upon arrival my contractions were about 40 mins apart. Eric was keeping track since I was convinced this was fake labor. We walked a lap and in a leap of faith I purchased some weird supplement that is supposed to induce labor. Maybe it's just the act of purchasing it? Ha! By the end of the next lap, my contractions were 8 minutes apart and I was hopeful, but not convinced. On top of it I was tired of walking and wanted to go home without having a contraction in the car. Yeah, that didn't happen. We made it home and I called my mom when the contractions were 5 minutes apart (within 30 mins of leaving the mall). At this point it's about 9PM.
My mom tells me that I'll just KNOW when I'm in labor, meanwhile by the end of our phone call Eric is frantically packing some hospital essentials and I am insisting that my 4-minute-apart contractions are really just colon-related. "Eric, I just have to poop, that's all!" I can remember telling him. My mom told me later that after hanging up with me that she rushed off to go to bed figuring we'd be calling her in an hour or so and wanting to get some solid sleep in before then. Eric finally convinced me that we needed to go to the hospital when I could no longer stand during the contractions and they were lasting a full 90 seconds or more. Good call, babe.
Off to the hospital we go. We delivered at Banner Gateway because that place is like a flippin' palace, you guys. They have prime rib - PRIME RIB in their cafeteria. Eric dropped me off outside the door and went to go park the car. I get out of the car (mercifully contraction-free) and see two other pregnant women clutching their bellies and heading for the same door. Judge me if you want, but this was my moment of truth! This was what I had prepared for with all that running! I sprinted (in my best I-weigh-fourteen-pounds-more-than-I-normally-do-and-am-wearing-a-watermelon-in-my-shirt sprint) right past those women and got to the check in counter moments before them. It was both not-my-proudest-moment AND my proudest moment. Judge me if you will.
And it's a good thing I did, because I got the LAST BED in triage, people, the LAST ONE. Apparently that storm business makes the pressure change a whole bunch and can send people into labor, myself included. In the 12 hours before Drew's birth and the 24 hours after, THIRTY-SIX babies were born in that hospital. Apparently that was legendary. I don't know what happened to those two women I ran by, but I can't say I regret the choice. Aaaaaanyway... Cut to me, bent over the check in desk, clutching the counter, begging the nurse not to send me home (for those of you who don't know, if you're not in advanced enough labor, they won't let you stay), and she laughed at me. "Oh honey, you're not going home. You'll leave here with a baby." And then all of a sudden, in my head, you-know-what got real.
Off I went to a triage bed where I immediately made sure to take care of the really important things... DRUGS. I think I might have asked for an epidural before the nurse said "hi." So, I know what's important, ok? She told me that I wouldn't see the anesthesiologist until I had left triage and gotten a delivery room. I politely (I think? ;)) informed her that I would be requiring an epidural immediately pleaseandthankyouverymuch, and she paged the anesthesiologist (whose name was Todd and reminded me of Scrubs the WHOLE TIME). See? Ask and you shall receive. Also it helps to be in a ludicrous amount of pain. Side note: good thing I didn't wait because I was in triage FOR-EV-ER.
Five relatively pain-free (the epidural only worked on my left side - anyone else had this?) hours later... I was STILL in triage! When I had arrived to the hospital I was 100% effaced (yay!) and 5cm dilated, with only 5 more to go. After 5 hours in triage, I had progressed a whole 1cm. *insert sarcastic "Yee haw" here* The good news now was that a delivery room was ready for me! The bad news? My blood pressure was falling...fast. I'm not sure what happened because it's all a little blurry for me. I went really cold and sleepy and all I remember is people hurrying and something cold going into my IV. Apparently they shot me full of something that raises your blood pressure, and also makes you horrifically nauseous. Consequently, I remember little but a barf bag about my journey from triage to the delivery room.
Once in the delivery room, I talked to my nurse for about 3 minutes before she rushed off and Eric and I were left to wait it out in the dark (this sounds terrible, but was actually delightful). Come to find out that during the next 3 hours (from 3:30AM to 6:30AM) that I didn't see her, she was assisting in three other births - holy babies! People have all sorts of opinions on how birth should be done, and that's A-OK, but I have to tell you, an epidural is FANTASTIC, or at least it was for me, even thought it never really worked properly. Eric and I just sat there in the dimly lit room, so peaceful, dreaming about what the next few hours would hold, and enjoying our last few moments as just us two. No screaming, very little pain... it was lovely.
When the nurse came back in at 6:30 (by this time we had called our family who had arrived and were hanging out in the room with us), she apologized for being gone so long and decided to check on my progress. "At least 7cm, at least 7cm..." I kept repeating aloud, hoping my labor wouldn't be long and drawn out (contractions started at around 5PM, got serious around 8PM, and we arrived at the hospital at 10PM, so at this point I've been at the hospital for 8.5 hours) and that I had managed to dilate at least another tiny bit. "You wanted to be at a 7?" asked the nurse, "How about a 10! Let's have a baby! I'll go call your OB." YES! I was shocked/thrilled/scared to death.
When doctors and nurses start rushing around opening plastic packages and setting up the room with all manner of tarp-like things, you know things are about to get real. And in that moment, at least for me, all of my fears came to the surface... Would I be a good mom? Am I fit to be a parent? Did we have kids too soon? Am I going to tear? What if I have to have an emergency C section? Will it hurt? This is the most dangerous time for my baby, what if something happens? Fortunately, things went SO FAST that I didn't have time to worry. My OB arrived at about 7:15AM and started getting ready. Let's not forget that had been in his office not 24 hours before this asking him how to get labor started, so as soon as he walked in (he has a good sense of humor), he joked with me "WHAT did you do? Did you take castor oil like I told you not to?"
At this point the nurse ordered all of the family but two people out of the room. This actually really sucked. I know some people want just their spouse to be in the room, but our family was so good at just observing and being supportive that I didn't mind if the whole group (my mom, dad, sister, and eric's parents) stuck around. But we had what we found out later was a BRAND new nurse who was all about hospital policy. Womp womp. My OB said later that he usually doesn't care who is in the room, but ultimately it's up to the nurses, since they are the employees of the hospital, and the OBs are just contracted. At this point, some of you are wondering, your DAD and FATHER IN LAW were there?! This is how I feel about nudity when having a baby: who cares. I know some people are shy about it, and honestly I thought I would be too, but it's so amazing, bringing a life into the world! I wanted my dad and father in law to be able to share it, if they wanted. It's not like they haven't seen it before. ;) So, I was pretty bummed that my dad, sister and in-laws didn't get to be there, but what can ya do? My mom stayed to take pictures and Eric stayed because, duh.
We got all set up and the nurse turned down my epidural (Eeeeek!), so I could feel to push. At this point it's 7:30AM on Wednesday morning. I told the doctor randomly, "I'm a little frightened." To which he kindly replied, "There's nothing to be scared of, now let's have a baby." Weirdly, that's all I needed. For those of you who have had a baby, I don't know if you'll agree, but pushing is pretty great. In stead of just existing through the pain of a contraction, you're working against it, and it actually feels better to push. Normally you push 3 times per every contraction (which come about every 3 minutes and last about 90 seconds, leaving you with about 90 seconds of down time to recover and get ready again), but I wanted this baby OUT! So, I asked if I could push 4 times per contraction. It was EXHAUSTING, but in 19 minutes, and 6 contractions...
Andrew Emory Cylwik was born Wednesday August 20 at 7:48AM, weighing 6lbs 8oz and was 19.5 inches long. It was a relatively short labor, an extremely fast birth, and very uneventful for Andrew and myself physically. I was so overwhelmed when I saw him. I now completely understand what people mean when they say they would throw themselves in front of a bus for their kids if they needed to. Yep, for sure. So, there's my birth story (ugh, that term!). We are soooo super thankful that it was relatively easy and uneventful, and that we were surrounded by our family and a great staff of doctors and nurses the whole time. Shout out to Todd, the anesthesiologist - you made my life liveable for those 10ish hours. Thank you wherever you are!
So, here are some stats for a brief fly over:
- Total time in labor: ~12 hours
- Number of unlucky women I bum-rushed to the door: 2
- Hours spent in triage: 5
- Number of times I saw my nurse: 2
- Epidurals received: 1 GLORIOUS 1
- Number of times the epidural had to be adjusted because, according to Todd I am "small everywhere with teenie vertebrae": 5
- The cost of my epidural if we hadn't had insurance: $4500
- What we actually paid for the epidural: $55
- The WORTH of my epidural: Priceless (someone call MasterCard, I'm ready for that commercial)
- Number of times I almost passed out: 2
- Bags of IV fluid received during my stay: 11 (What?!)
- Total pounds gained for pregnancy: 14
- Total pounds lost upon returning home from hospital 36 hours later: 0 (Thanks, IV fluids, lol)
- Time pushing: 19 minutes
- Number of contractions until he was out: 6
- Vitals: 6lbs 8oz, 19.5 inches
- Agpar Score: 9.5
- Number of times he picked up his head, held it up on his own, looked at his mom and freaked the living daylights out of her: 1
- Number of nights stayed in hospital: 1
So there you have it! Hope this was fun for all of you who like this sort of thing. Notice I stopped the story where it gets gory - trying to keep it PG. But for all of you who will ask, my recovery has been CAKE. I am so thankful I got to deliver traditionally and didn't have any crazy tearing. We had some fun adventures when we got home, which I will probably end up writing about later (or not, as I would like to forget them), but as for our birth, this is it! Hope it was as fun/enjoyable for you to read as it was cathartic for me to write. =)