Before I start this post I feel like I need to explain why I am putting this highly personal experience out there for the internet to read. For someone who has never been through it before, pregnancy, and especially labor and delivery, can be a terrifying experience. I spent my entire pregnancy agonizing over how it would end. I was simply afraid of not knowing. My reasoning behind reading dozens (hundreds?) of birth stories was that if I put them all together in my head as a kind of birthing handbook, I would be prepared for anything that would come my way in the delivery room. I am not ashamed to admit that I was wrong about my preparedness plan. But it gave me reassurance just the same. I read every birth story I could find. Well, every birth story except those about C-Sections because I couldn’t possibly end up with a C-Section. Not me. In fact, my hips are specially designed for birthing. Why else would they be so big? So that is why I’m putting it out there. I hope some other scared pregnant lady can add it to her preparedness plan. If you’re squeamish – or if you’re my Dad – you may want to stop reading here.

At 8:30 Monday morning – 9 days past my dues date – I was getting laundry out of the dryer and felt a trickle down my leg. I thought it was a little strange that I was beginning to have incontinence issues at this point in my pregnancy. You hear stories all the time about pregnant women who pee when they sneeze or laugh. I was not one of those peeing pregnant women. I read countless birth stories where someone’s water broke and they thought that maybe they were just peeing. I thought they were all idiots and made a mental note: ‘If you’re near your due date and have unexplained, uncontrollable bladder weakness you’re about to have the baby.’ But it wasn’t a gush, just a trickle. So I took the dog for a two mile walk and chatted with the neighbors. Three more trickles by noon and Scott finally convinced me to call the doctor. The doctor told me to go to labor and delivery. Whenever. No rush. I finished the laundry, and the dishes, cleaned the house and ran out to get a bite to eat. Scott came home and for some reason, seeing him in the house in the middle of the day made it all a little more real. After some nervous preparation we headed off to the hospital, all the while telling each other that this was probably just a false alarm. Talk about denial. A week and a half past my due date and I was so freaked out about having a baby that I was trying not to think about the fact that the next time I walked through my front door, it would be with my daughter in my arms.

We arrived at Labor and Delivery just before 3:00 in the afternoon. A nurse took us to triage to check the fluid that had been trickling out of me all day. She touched a small strip of yellow paper to the fluid and the paper instantly turned bright blue. This meant it was amniotic fluid. My water had ruptured and I was staying in the hospital to have my baby. We were asked a series of questions about our medical history as well as our family’s medical histories. The nurse seemed more than slightly annoyed when I drew a blank on a few of the answers. I offered to start calling relatives to help me fill in the blanks but she declined. I guess it wasn’t too terribly important; she was just the first in a series of surly nurses. After getting settled into our room and hooked up to the IV my doctor came by to check on me. He had just come back from a conference in Las Vegas and was headed home to get some sleep. Lovely. He instructed the nurses to start a pitocin drip to get my contractions started. I didn’t feel the first contraction for over an hour and when they did start they were very mild. I was playing my Nintendo DS, emailing friends and checking my Myspace. This was going to be a breeze.

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By 8:00 the contractions were getting pretty painful. I had to breathe through them – which I didn’t know how to do – so I quickly asked for an epidural. The anesthesiologist came in at 8:30 and after getting into position and sitting still through a few contractions the epidural didn’t take. As soon as he had administered it I felt stabbing pain in my left hip which, apparently, is not what you’re supposed to feel when you get an epidural. Once the second one was in position and the medicine started flowing, my heart rate dropped way down and I got the cold sweats. I could feel myself starting to lose consciousness. The monitor also showed Addison’s heart rate dropping significantly. I was immediately put on oxygen and after a few moments the danger had passed, though I had to keep the oxygen mask on for the remainder of my labor. The contractions were barely noticeable and we tried to get some rest. I was pretty wired, getting ready to have a baby and all, so Scott slept and I just laid there trying not to think of what was ahead of me.

By 1:00 Am I was 8 CM dilated and the contractions were coming on strong and fast. I was in a disgusting amount of pain, but only on my right side. My epidural had stopped working on one side. Each contraction felt like my uterus was being ripped out. Through my right butt cheek.

The nurse cam in and asked me if I felt like I needed to push. Still in denial that giving birth was imminent, I told her, “No, I don’t think I need to push yet”. Once I finally gave in and started pushing, I quickly realized that I had no idea what I was doing. This is something that did not come naturally to me at all. I guess that my nurses weren’t used to this. They must see some seasoned pushers in that hospital because they had no problem telling me how bad of a job I was doing. Complete with sighs and eye rolls. To say that I was unhappy with the nursing staff is a gross understatement. They called the doctor to come in because they thought she would need to be there to catch the baby. This was not my doctor, he was home sleeping off his bender, just some other doctor who delivers babies. At this point I was so exhausted and so OVER labor that it truly did not matter who they called. They could have called the cashier at the gift shop as long as they promised me it would be over soon.

Addison’s heart rate was dropping way down into the 60/70s with every contraction. I could hardly focus on pushing because I kept watching her heart rate monitor. At 3:00 AM in a fit of frustration I cried to the nurse, “Just give me a C Section.” As the doctor was walking through the door the nurse turned to her and said, “She wants a C Section.” Very matter of factly. Like this is Burger King and now I should have it my way. All night they’ve been torturing me with demeaning birthing positions and surprise internal exams but suddenly now they want to be accommodating. After 15 more minutes of hard pushing with the doctor present, she examined us. Not only was the umbilical cord wrapped around Addison’s shoulders, her head was (is?) very big and my pelvis was (is?) very small. Can I just digress for a moment and say that I knew this kid was going to have her father’s large head when we went in for our 19 week ultrasound. I even commented to Scott at the time, “Look honey, she has your head.” I knew it! I knew it! I knew it!

I was in the operating room by 3:30 where the anesthesiologist tried to give me more medicine through the epidural as they started prepping me for surgery. I was laying there not really feeling my legs but feeling a sharp stabbing pain in my stomach. They were cutting me open – or maybe just testing as a joke? – and I could feel everything. I was barely able to talk at this point but I managed to let them know that I was not at all numb. They took out the epidural and gave me a spinal in its place. Everyone asks a spinal hurts. Honestly? I don’t even know what a spinal is. I do know that it didn’t hurt as much as the contractions or pushing, or my uterus being ripped out through my bum. In fact, it doesn’t even register on my pain scale for the evening. I say go for the spinal! They laid me down and put the blue curtain up. Scott came and joined me and held my hand while we sat there and waited. I couldn’t feel a thing, not pain, not pressure, nothing. I didn’t even know when they had taken her out.

They whisked Addison off to an adjoining room immediately to clean her off and check her vitals. I sent Scott off to be with her even though he was worried about me and wanted to stay by my side. After what seemed like an eternity I finally heard her cry. It was the most amazing noise I’ve ever heard in my life! I started laughing. That’s all I remember. I asked how she was and Scott yelled over, “Meg, she’s beautiful. She’s just perfect.” And she is.

Daddy

Addison Jennifer

Born October 30, 2007

8 pound 1 ounce, 14 inches long

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