A cold and windy day (naturally--it is Chicago). I woke up at 3 am with stronger contractions than I had experienced before. I had had Braxton Hicks contractions for a few days. But these were much stronger. A contraction is a weird thing, it's like your stomach has been turned into a vise and someone is slowly cranking it tighter and tighter. Then suddenly, that pressure stops. Remember, at this point I was 41 weeks along in my pregnancy and desperately ready to NOT be pregnant anymore, and there was pretty much NO ROOM inside me for the baby to go when these squeezings occurred. Except down and out--which is the whole point. But I get ahead of myself.
After tossing and turning for about 5 hours, I decided to wake up officially at 8 am. Jared had school, and my mom and I drove him to class, then went to a park to go for a walk. I was mostly trying to kill time since I had a doctors appointment at 1 and they were going to check me to see how far along I was. We walked about 3 miles before I had to call quits. Then we met up with a very good family friend for lunch. The whole lunch my mom kept asking me, are you still having contractions? You're awfully quiet. Our friend goes, Oh yes, she's having them, I am watching her face. Mother was pleased, since she wanted that baby out as much as I did. Lunch finished and I was starting to be really uncomfortable.
At the doc appointment, they hooked me up to a monitor for about 30 minutes and I whipped out my book to distract myself/pass the time. They came in and said, are you feeling that? Those are really strong contractions. Yes, yes I am feeling that. Between you and me and the lamp-post, I was feeling pretty proud of myself for not succumbing to the classic movie type sorrow of contractions. But then we saw the OB and he said, well you're in labor but you're only about 30% effaced. This baby isn't coming until probably 10 am tomorrow. DANG! Not good news.
I went home and then things started to get tough. The doctors had confirmed that I was positive for Group B strep, so I needed to get to the hospital early enough to have two doses of antibiotics before the baby came, and I was so stressed about getting there on time. I think that stress put me over the edge. The night wore on, and the contractions came harder and harder, about every three minutes, and I was finding it very hard to relax. I ate half a baked potato and finally called the midwife and said I wanted to go to the hospital. She said, sure, they would admit me but she wouldn't come until I was much closer to having the baby.
After arriving the nurse told me that I was only 50% effaced (7 pm). Blast again! Labor is hard. Mostly it was a labor of will, trying to remain calm, not knowing what to expect, and being afraid of what was to come. For me, the labor is not what scared me. As I sat on that hospital bed, in the beautiful birthing room with my mom and my sweet wonderful husband, I was afraid of becoming a mother. I felt sure that I wasn't ready. I even felt unworthy. I couldn't have a baby. So many other people wanted a baby more than I did. Had I done everything I could to be ready for this new life? I started to cry. And cry. And my mom and my sweet Jared gave me hugs. They told me I would be alright. They inspired me and gave me confidence and courage. And the best advice. I had been planning to have a natural hypnobirth/water birth. However, due to moving and being apart and etc, we just hadn't practiced enough and I just was unsure it would work. My mom knew all this, and best of all, she knows me. She told me that the most important thing, no matter what, was that the baby came to us healthy, and that I stayed safe and healthy during delivery. She said, there is no shame in not having a natural birth. I know that's what you want, but if you feel like you need to change your mind, change your mind. Then she gave me once last big hug, wished us both luck, and left Jared and I to become parents in the privacy of just the two of us. I am so forever grateful to her for her support.
Around 9:40 my water broke. I could feel it, and it was like a big pop. The nurse was all, no, it's probably just a little fluid. Then I shifted and boom, splash. Okay yes your water did break. From that point on, everything was wet, apparently there was a LOT of fluid in me. With every contraction, more "water" came gushing out, but it made the contractions tighter. Just before this happened, I was up and moving around the room, bending over double when a contraction hit, and then jamming my fists into my back and sitting straight up to combat the pain. I had such back labor--like a few dozen knifes being stabbed into the small of my back right above my kidneys. The contractions lasted about 2 minutes each, and they came even more regularly than that, I felt like I never got a break. I tried so hard to do my relaxing breathing. Jared was great and so encouraging, and he squeezed my feet when the contractions came to help distract me from the pain in my back. The nurse said that there was meconium in the water, and therefore, they couldn't let me labor in the tub. My heart sank. I was banking on that. I'd heard so many good things about laboring in a warm tub, just the sound of it now is relaxing. But no, I was to be hooked up to several more monitors and confined to a sitting position on the bed. Everything opposite what I had been taught in my hypnobirthing class. But still, I wanted to soldier on. I reminded myself that I was strong and I looked at Jared and he looked at me with such love in his eyes, and not a little bit of agony also. He told me afterward that it was really hard for him to see me like that, in so much pain.
At one point, I remember kneeling on the floor, head on the cool tile, and naked bum in the air, since the hospital gowns don't close in the back. The nurse came in and I just didn't even care anymore. I asked her about an epidural, what they do and how long it takes etc. I looked at Jared again, and then another contraction came and then I decided definitely to get an epidural.
I stand by that decision being the best one I could have made at the time. I was still only dilated to about 60%, it was about 10:30 at night, and by all reckoning of all the doctors, I was still in for at least another 9 hours of labor, probably more. I was starving at this point, and although I wasn't exhausted, I knew I would be since I'd already been awake for 19 hours without sleep or rest.
The nurses switched at this point, another blessing, since although my first nurse wasn't bad, she wasn't sweet. I needed someone sweet. My new nurse came in with the anesthesiologist and they did their thing. I sat on the side of the bed and leaned on my nurse, head on her shoulder and clenching her scrubs to keep from moving when the contractions hit. At this point my entire body was shaking uncontrollably, a common occurrence in labor so I'm told. For me it was one of the worst parts, since I couldn't relax, my body kept shaking, I couldn't feel the epidural itself, other than once it was plugged in, I could feel the meds spread through my body. That's a weird feeling. But what a relief. I could still feel the contractions, but they were reduced to feeling like they had a few days prior. I felt a great swelling each time the pinch of the contraction occurred, but it was small enough that I was able to doze. Fortunately Jared could too. We also turned on my favorite audiobook, the one I had listened to as a kid to help me get to sleep. The comforting sound of my favorite story ( The Call of the Wild) being read to me, in combination with the drugs, finally helped my tired body to relax.
And that's I think what did it. That's what finally got me closer to having a baby. The nurse told me that the midwife would come in at midnight. We slept through that and at 2 am, the nurse came back to check me. I had been feeling slightly stronger, and slightly different contractions for awhile at this point--they were lower and more pushing than squeezing, I used my relaxing breathing techniques and visualized pushing the baby lower. I also used my hands to push that kid down. When the nurse checked me she got startled and said, THERES A BABY HEAD THERE! I was so excited! Unfortunately, the midwife was still at home since no one expected the baby to be ready-normally epidurals can slow down labor so they figured they'd come in a few hours. That epidural fooled them all. An hour later, the midwife arrived, and after that, everything was wonderful.
It was the type of delivery that you would want to have. The room was dark and peaceful. We were the only people in the L/D unit that night, so it was quiet in the hospital. The early hour was a little enchanting. Jared and I were tired but our nurse and our midwife were wonderful. The midwife kept me talking, we talking about different vacations, and family stuff and favorite foods and all the while she'd have me push. She told me I was a champion, and a natural and that I had good body awareness. She told me to take it easy at one point so I wouldn't tear. I could feel the profession of our baby coming out. He pushed against my ribs with his feet so he could help me help him get out. I was able to feel his little head. Jared's face, once he got over the shock (understandably, I'm sure it wasn't pretty), was so rapturous of this little baby being born. I suppose it must have been about an hour of pushing because of the time of birth, even though it only felt like 20 minutes to me, when at 4 am our little boy came whooshing into the world. Jared was able to cut the cord, and one of the nurses tried to take our son off to be measured, and I, and the midwife-bless her forever for this, said no, let mom hold him. I got to hold out little fat, big, handsome baby in my arms and on my chest and it was glorious. I didn't cry, I was just utterly so happy. Jared was so happy, and he did get choked up a little. It was so wonderful. When they did measure and weigh him, and do his other newborn things, Jared held his hand and kept him safe by talking to him and our little one didn't even cry once he heard his dad's voice. That for me was the sweetest. Seeing my two men together and loving them so much. Then I got to have that baby put back in my arms to nurse him. That's an odd sensation the first time. But very cool.
I don't remember the nurses or the midwife leaving, but suddenly, there were me and Jared and our little boy. Jared turned to me and said, Bruce, his name should be Bruce. I just have a strong impression that that is his name. Since the name had been crossed off our list a few months prior, I was surprised, but wholly pleased. We three snuggled on the bed and slept for a few more hours until it was time to move to the recovery room.
The rest of the hospital stay was routine but really nice. I had excellent care from the nurses. My mom came a little later that morning and snuggled and praised us and our new baby. I felt so happy and so much love. All my fears of the night before were gone. I knew we were in good hands, and not just in the hands of the people around us, but in the hands of our Heavenly Father, and I knew He was looking out for us. Everything had worked out perfectly, and retrospectively I have no regrets or negative feelings about Bruce's birth. He was so healthy and so strong, and that was exactly what I wanted. I've said multiple times since then, how Bruce is the perfect baby for me; how my heavenly father knew exactly what kind of baby I could handle, and he gave me the perfect one. I have absolutely loved being a mom, it's an entirely new role, but I have found myself more capable than I ever expected, and full of hidden talents--like patience--who knew? All the things that I've prayed to be my whole life, those gifts have been granted to me now to fill my role as a mother.
So most of you are probably wondering, but where did he get his nickname? The nurse who came in for the morning shift, who transferred us to the recovery room, picked our baby up and said, he's huge! How big is he? 9 lbs, 8 oz and 20.5 inches. Girl, you gave birth to a moose!
And that's how Bruce the Moose was born.
|Our first day as new parents|
|The best sight in the world|
|Our sweet "little" boy|
|So glad that Mom was there!|