I'm going to backtrack a little bit: When I arrived to the hospital, my usual OB was the doctor on call that day. I was so excited that she would be the one to see me through my delivery! But unfortunately, her shift ended 2 hours after I arrived. :( :( :( The next doctor to take over was the other female doctor who I had seen several times during my pregnancy, and again I was happy that she would see me through my delivery! She stayed on 2 hours later than her shift because she thought I would deliver...but unfortunately, she ended up having to leave for the day. Not to worry though, she was leaving me in the capable hands of Dr. A! My response was: "Who?!"
Remember how I had made a point to see all the doctors in my practice so I would know all of the OB's who could potentially be on call during my delivery? Well...I managed to completely miss one doctor in the practice, and that just happened to be the doctor who I ended up having!! Luckily, she was really awesome, and I've already scheduled my 6 week follow-up appointment with her. I have no complaints, I just think it's so hilarious that she was the ONE doctor I never saw during my 9 months of appointments!
Moving on: Around 2:00pm, a barrage of nurses, my doctor, and a med student stormed into my room with machines, and various other medical equipment. I think the med student was participating in his first ever delivery, not because he was bad, but because he was being talked through every single little thing, and he seemed in total awe of everything. Apparently, it was time for me to start pushing. I was surprised! I thought I had a few more hours until I would be 10 centimeters dilated, but I was already there! It was then that I started to get nervous. I realized that this was really, actually happening. Was I ready for this?
Labor is kind of crazy. But at the point where you realize just how insane it is, you're already too far in...you can't turn back, and you have absolutely no choice but to get the baby out.
Heather asked me a great question yesterday, and it's a question I feel I should answer for everyone, because up until 3 weeks ago, I would have had the same exact question, and I should have been more specific yesterday.
Also, was it basically 2-3 hours of pretty much continuous pushing, or more like pushing, then waiting a few minutes, and pushing again? I guess it's good that it felt much quicker than it was.
When I say that I had 2-3 hours of pushing, it wasn't continuous. I pushed only during contractions. During each contraction two people on either side of me held my legs up and pushed them back. I was instructed that as soon as I felt a contraction coming on, I was to take a deep breath, hold it, and push as hard as I could for 10 seconds. I was to do this 3 times for each contraction, and then I could rest until the next contraction. Sometimes these rests were a few minutes long, sometimes they were only seconds. I found it interesting how my body would react accordingly based on what I was able to handle. For example: There was one contraction in particular where I pushed extra hard and really expelled a ton of energy. The rest period after that contraction lasted twice as long as usual...because my body knew that I needed the extra rest. After that, I didn't push as hard as I could have, and as a result, my next contraction came 10 seconds later. My body knew I had more in me. It was incredible how the contractions happened sporadically based on what I could or couldn't physically handle.
During my rests in between contractions, I usually laid on my side with my eyes closed and tried to relax as much as possible. Chris would sometimes try to engage me, but I wasn't really much for conversation, and I didn't really have the energy to talk back to him. He kept giving me ice chips as I needed them (I wasn't allowed to drink water, but I could suck on ice). During one rest in particular, the doctor asked us if we knew what we were having. When we told her we didn't know, she got really excited because it's not that common anymore for couples not to find out. As a result, she's not used to announcing "It's a girl!" or "It's a boy!" anymore, so she would try and remember to do so when our baby was born.
Natalie was stuck behind my pelvic bone for quite a few pushes, I'm not entirely sure how long it was. Once we finally passed that difficult part, she was kind of half out/half in for a few more contractions...my pain and uncomfortableness was at an all-time high for that part of it. I was so close, I just need to muster up a bit more energy for the last part. For my last contraction before she was delivered, I did my pushing for the required 3 times....but I knew she was there. So I told them I was going for a 4th push and with one big cray cray energy burst I pushed her out and she was officially born. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, so Dr. A had to cut it instead of Chris.
Through the excitement of everything, added to the fact that the doctor was focused on cutting the umbilical cord, she didn't remember to announce our baby's gender. What followed went something like this:
Dr. A: "Put him over on the table to cut the cord"
Chris: turning to me "Well...it's a boy!"
Dr. A: "Oh..is it?!"
Chris: "Yea...well..you just said 'him'"
Dr. A: "Oh! I didn't even check!" she runs over to the table with the baby "It's a boy...no...no...it's a girl!"
Laura and Chris: "Are you serious?!?!?!?! Wait...no, are you really serious?!"
I thought she was joking, I thought she was being funny. But Chris went over, and sure enough...it was a girl.
I. was. shocked. (but still very very happy of course)
I wanted to have skin to skin contact as soon as possible after the birth. But unfortunately it didn't happen. They cleaned her up and took care of everything, but a nurse from the NICU was concerned about her pale color (ummm hello? Have you seen how pale I am?!) I was informed that I could hold her for a few minutes, but that they would like to monitor her for a few hours in the NICU until she got a better color in her.
I have to say that even though she was taken to the NICU and I, of course, wasn't happy about that...I really never honestly felt nervous or distraught. Of course, I wished that she was with me and that I could start breastfeeding right away...but I knew that she was fine. I knew that they were just being extra cautious for the sake of her health, and I never for a second thought that there was actually something wrong with her. Maybe I was too exhausted to fret or worry, but I knew she would be fine.
I was still in the stirrups for a good 30-40 minutes after delivery. The doctor pushed on my abdomen to deliver the placenta (funny story: It came out so quickly the doctor didn't have time to react and it fell on the floor. True story. You heard it here first folks.) She stitched me up - I could feel her stitching me, so she had to apply a local anesthetic to numb the area. I was cleaned up, and I was supposed to stay in that room to recover for the next 2 to 3 hours. However, they ended up needing the room for another delivery that had just arrived, so I was taken to a separate recovery room.
I have to say, one of the biggest surprises to me about labor was how I felt after labor. No one ever tells you how much you hurt for the next hours/days/weeks. I felt like I had gone through major surgery. I couldn't stand up straight, I needed the aid of a nurse just to go to the bathroom, the cramps continued for hours afterward and were still extremely strong, and the blood just wouldn't let up. It hurt to move, it hurt to shift positions in bed. My epidural needle was removed and I "relaxed" in the recovery room for a few hours. It was while I was there that our parents and Chris went home to get themselves dinner, and wash up a bit before heading back to the hospital that night. I was glad to have some quiet time to myself - even though there were women on both sides of me WITH their babies, and being visited by tons and tons of people.
At around 9:00 p.m., I was finally wheeled to my post-partum room, where I would be for the next two days. These were private rooms, with huge amazing bathrooms. Basically, I felt like I was being put up in a hotel room for two nights where I'd get around-the-clock care for both me and my baby. It was an ideal situation. I can't imagine having to share a room with someone, as I know so many hospitals still do. Both our families were back at the hospital and we were anxiously awaiting Natalie to be brought up to us. I was told that the NICU was releasing her at 9:30 p.m.
9:45 p.m. rolled around, and we still didn't have her! Chris and my mother-in-law went to go see what the hold up was and tried to move them along. At 10:00 p.m., Natalie Claire was brought in to us and our families were able to meet her for the first time.
I let everyone in the room get time with her, but then I had to ask everyone to leave. I was very eager to get started on breastfeeding, and knew that I had already lost 5 1/2 hours with her where I could have been establishing our breastfeeding relationship. The nurse came in to help get me started. I have much to say on breastfeeding, and I will address that in the coming weeks. I was totally winging it, but we did have a pretty natural and easy start right from the beginning and for that I am so grateful.
The next two days were a blur of visits from both family and friends, restless sleep, great nurses, awful nurses, a not-so-helpful lactation consultant, learning how to change our first diapers, learning how to swaddle, down time together just Natalie and me, and time together just Natalie, Chris, and Me. As eager as I was to get home to start our new life together as a family, I was actually really sad to leave the hospital on Sunday. The hospital was safe. If anything happened, I could have a nurse or doctor there in two seconds flat. In the hospital, I just called downstairs for my food order three times a day and a tray of food would arrive to my room 20 minutes later (good food I might add!) In the hospital, if I needed something, I could just push a red button on my bed and someone would help me. Most people can't wait to leave the hospital...I wanted to stay.
But Sunday came, and we sat down with the nurse and signed a bunch of paperwork releasing both me and Natalie from the hospital. The nurse did a final check on me, and a final check on Natalie. She loaded us up with some more supplies, and before we knew it...we were left to our own devices. Chris and I dressed her in her "coming home" outfit, we spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to get her into the carseat (ok..come on, those things are complicated) and then Chris went to get the car and pull up front.
I'll always remember a friend who recently had a baby said when her and her husband left the hospital they were driving home with their baby in the backseat and they looked at each other and said "They just let us leave with a baby!" We felt that way too.
"Umm...there's a baby in our backseat. Are we qualified to just leave the hospital on our own...with a baby? What do we do now? Is this car-seat even properly installed?? Will the balloon I attached to her car-seat kill her?? Did I dress her warm enough to be allowed outside? Did we even have newborn diapers at home to fit her?!"
And Chris? He probably didn't break 20 mph the whole drive home. I'm sure even senior citizens were passing us, cursing those crazy "Sunday drivers."
And the we arrived home.
Which is a whole slew of other posts, best saved for another time.