Like Sh!tting a Pineapple: My Daughter Gets Born
Four years ago tonight, my daughter got herself born. In honor of this momentous occasion, I share herein the story of her nativity. (No donkeys, no frankincense, but we did have the machine that goes, “ping!” )
Well, here we are—D-day. My estimated date of delivery. At yesterday’s prenatal appointment I was two cm. dilated and 20 percent effaced, which means… precisely nothing. Dr. Lutefisk [name changed to protect the innocent] stripped my membranes (without asking, thank you very much!) and said that she’d like to schedule an induction for next week, if the baby didn’t come before then. She got on the phone to the hospital, and voilà—we had an end-date for this particularly miserable pregnancy.
Yeah, Baby, I’m serving an eviction notice on your tiny ass!
Hmm. Feeling something—could it be a contraction? Yes, if memory serves, that sensation was definitely a contraction. I have a few more, but they’re not regular. Guess it’s another bust. Sigh.
Around ten p.m., reminding myself that this can only last another four days AT MOST, I decide to go to bed.
I’m awakened by (oh, joy!) a contraction. And it was hard enough to wake me up. Maybe this baby will come after all. I stay in bed for a while, but the contractions won’t let me sleep. I’m watching the clock; they’re coming every five minutes, but lasting only about 30 seconds, and certainly not hard enough that I can’t talk through them. Wonder how long this state of affairs will last?
I decide to get up, since I can’t sleep. I watch TV for a while, but discover that early morning TV consists entirely of televangelists and infomercials (aren’t they the same thing?) I decide to do something productive. I make cookies. (I make awesome chocolate-chip cookies!)
I’m bored. Cookies are made, and since I have a four-year old, I’m already well-versed enough in the joys of Saturday morning cartoons, so I decide to wake my husband. I tap him gently: “Umm, honey? Umm, I think, possibly, maybe we might be having a baby today.” He gets up to shower and dress. I follow suit, and [TMI alert!] notice some blood when I use the bathroom. Wow, this might actually happen today! I call my mother to let her know her babysitting services might be needed today.
I consult the instruction sheet from my doc. It says that second-time moms should go to L & D when contractions are seven minutes apart and you can’t talk through them.
Hmmm. My contractions remain five minutes apart, but are not terribly painful. I call L & D to see what they think I should do. When I tell the woman on the phone that I’m a second-timer, and that I’m GBS-positive, she says to come in so they can be sure to get my antibiotics on board before delivery. I’m still skeptical that I’m really dilating with these rinky-dink pains, but okey-dokey.
Mom arrives, and we wake my son to tell him that Mommy and Daddy are going to see if the baby is ready to be born. He’s profoundly nonplussed. Hubby and I are off to the city. Since it’s Saturday morning, there’s no traffic and we whiz across the bridge, thus eliminating Hubby’s single greatest fear for this whole enterprise: that he’ll have to deliver the baby in the car on the Golden Gate Bridge.
We check in at Triage. I’m still sure they’re going to laugh and send me home, but when the nurse checks, I’m four cm. dilated and 80% effaced, so I get a one-way ticket to the L & D floor. (Thanks, β-Strep!)
Once we’re settled in, and my IV antibiotics are started… boredom. The contractions are still five minutes apart and not horribly painful (they go to about a “70” on the pain-o-meter, whatever that means.) So we watch some bad TV and work on crossword puzzles.
I walk the halls, have a light lunch. The contractions seem to have spaced out a bit, coming five to seven minutes apart. Eventually, I call my sister to let her know we hope she’ll have a new niece or nephew today. She arrives… aaaaand… we walk the halls some more.
OB I’ve never met comes in, checks my strip, and says that baby’s heartrate looks fine, but since contractions have spaced
out a bit, she could break my water to try to get things moving in the right direction again. She checks my cervix, and I’m only at five cm. (fuck!), but baby’s head is engaged (not fuck!), so I say okay to the AROM.
The doc sticks the amnio-hook (which looks like a crochet hook) up my wazoo, and suddenly fluid comes warm and, thankfully, clear. Meanwhile, the nurse checks in to see how I’m doing painwise… just fine, actually… that’s kind of the problem.
Around 5:00 p.m.
Contractions are back to five minutes apart, and registering around 90 on the Richter scale, but the nurse thinks I’m not having “enough pain.” She’s kidding (sort of), but the doc asks if I’d consider augmenting with Pitocin. I ask her if there’s any pressing reason to speed things up, and she says not yet, so I pass on the Pit for now, which is fine with her.
Around 6:00 p.m.
Contractions are getting stronger now, and I’m feeling more pressure. The nurse tells me that, if I think I might want an epidural, now would be the time, since the dude with the drugs is headed into a cesarean soon. I say no thanks. Not that I’m set on having an unmedicated birth, but my pain levels, although increasing, are still manageable, so I’ll take my chances. Also, I have a serious fear of headaches, and the possibility of the dreaded “spinal headache” is more terrifying than the possibility of unmedicated childbirth at this point.
Around 6:30 p.m.
Pain definitely increasing. I decide to get into the shower to see if it helps relieve the pain a bit (no tub, unfortunately!) Not such a help with pain, but I do like rinsing the ick off me. After a few minutes, the pain increases some more, and I have to sit down (on the thoughtfully placed shower-stool) during the contractions. When I start feeling more and more pressure, I decide it’s time to get out of the shower.
Around 8:00 p.m.
The contractions are now pretty intense. Sitting on the ball and bouncing offers a modicum of relief, or at least distraction. I suspect my husband and sister are afraid I’ll bounce right off the thing like an overstuffed, psychotic bunny.
Around 8:30 p.m.
I take to my bed. Contractions get even more intense, longer and closer together. I have a bizarre urge to sing during them to distract myself. Unfortunately for all within earshot, Italian opera is what I like to sing.
I’m not a singer.
Around 9:00 p.m.
The contractions are intensely painful—at this point, all I can do is concentrate on getting through them, and rest in between. I must be I transition, because I’m beginning to feel very sorry that I didn’t get the epidural! My husband reports that I asked him accusingly, “Why did you let me do this?” but I don’t remember it. Probably because I was too busy TRYING NOT TO KILL HIM.
Around 10:00 p.m.
I’m feeling a lot of pressure, so the nurse checks my cervix. I have to lie down for this, and it’s really uncomfortable. She says I’m about 9 ½, and I can try pushing if I want. (Not really, thanks, but then again, nothing about the last two hours has been about what I want. I want to be sitting in my bed, looking like a serene Raphael Madonna and NOT WRITHING IN EXCRUCIATING PAIN while looking and sounding very much like Medusa on a bad hair day.)
Nevertheless, the nurse sets up the bed and other stuff, and I start to push. Holy Mother of Kazan! That hurts! Are you kidding me? THIS is what unmedicated childbirth feels like? Hey, it really IS like shitting a pineapple—just like my sister-in-law said!
The first few pushes are a little tentative, because—like I might have mentioned— it really hurts. I quickly realize, though, that the only way out is to push through it, so that’s what I start to do.
After a few pushes, I find that my body takes over, so that I can’t control the end of each push at all—it comes like a sneeze. The nurse calls the OB in, and she begins to set up for delivery.
The kind OB must realize I’m gonna split like a piece of wet canvas, because she offers me a shot of Lidocaine (you know where), which I accept gratefully. Consequently, I don’t feel the tear that happens as the baby crowns—thanks, doc-whoever-you-are!
I look down, and see this marvelous little head, twisting and turning, with its mouth opening and closing like the cutest little guppy you’ve ever seen. Another push, and the rest of the body comes out like it’s being shot out of a cannon [remind me not to share that imagery with my husband.]
I hear Hubby say, “It’s a girl!” I can’t believe it! I was so sure she was a boy. Is he sure? I mean, Hubby didn’t go to med school or anything… Is he SURE??? The doctor hands me the slimy little nugget, and, yup! She’s a female. (I didn’t go to med school either, but I recognize a hoo-ha when I see one.)
My DAUGHTER (holy shit—I have a daughter!) and I make our first attempts at nursing while the OB stitches me up. Hubby is annoyed when the doc takes a cell phone call (the nurse holds the phone up to her ear) while she works. I couldn’t care less. I have a baby.
My girl weighs 8 lbs., 5 oz and is 20 ½ inches long. Her APGARS are 9/9, and she has a perfectly round little head (which, frankly, I would have traded for a conehead baby and intact hoo-ha, but whatever.) She is the most beautiful little thing I’ve seen since her big brother was born 4 1/2 years ago.