This post is for those who want to know all about Aiden's birth story because apparently, some people THRIVE on these sorts of detailed timelines. SO... I probably won't get too graphic, but if you are freaked out by this sort of thing, or you are a man, feel free to not read this. I guess that goes without saying- it's a blog - no one's forcing you to read ANY of my drivel!
So, yes, Brad drove me to the doctor on the morning of the 24th, we had an ultrasound, and my progress was checked. For the last three weeks or so, my cervix had been stubbornly staying at 1/2 a centimeter, or " a fingertip" and that morning was no different. I was really disappointed and frustrated. But then the doctor said that there was a little protein in my urine and that my blood pressure was a little high and these concerned her enough to send me to the hospital to be induced. I was like, " Now? Today?" It was a little surreal because I wasn't having any contractions and my water hadn't broken. I wasn't writhing in pain and panicking. It was just like any other day... sort of.
We had all our stuff in the car already, just in case, so we drove to the hospital, sat around waiting for our turn to register, and then were shown to our room. This was somewhere between noon and 1:00 or so... Around two o'clock, some lovely substance called cervi-dil ( not sure of the spelling) was um... given to me to help my cervix soften up... I had to lie still for two hours in order for it to work; that concerned me because I thought there was no way I could get through two hours without having to go to the bathroom and I wasn't too excited about the prospect of a bedpan. But somehow I managed to get through it, sans a bedpan. And the nurse said that it would probably be about twelve hours before the next step- which would be Pitocin, to start my contractions. So, we settled in to wait and watched some TV. The worst part of this stage was that I was STARVING and of course I couldn't eat.
At first I felt as though I was in a strange hotel - a hotel where the bed is really uncomfortable, the sound on the TV is very poor, and they take your blood and give you drugs. And, oh yeah, you have a baby.
The nurse said that the cervi-dil would make me feel a little crampy. Ah yes- sure enough. At one point, one of my little monitor thingies fell off ( that track the baby's heart beat and my contractions) and I got them mixed up and couldn't get them working. Brad was out at the moment and I was starting to feel more and more uncomfortable and panicky. It was around 7:00 and I had called for the nurse b/c of the monitor thing and no one was coming - it being Christmas Eve, of course, so they were a bit short-handed. Brad came back and encouraged me to press the call button again if I was in pain. At first, I was like, " I shouldn't be in pain. I'm just having cramps from this cervi-dil stuff." I felt rather wimpy and for some reason, I felt BAD about calling for help - I didn't want to bother anyone. ( What was I thinking? Of all the times to feel free to call for help... ) But it had reached the point where I really needed something for what I thought was excessive "crampiness." So finally someone showed up and checked me out - yay- and told me I was five centimeters dilated! I was shocked! The "crampiness" was actually contractions! ( I should have known - I was using my Lamaze breathing tricks to help me - when do you ever do that for plain ol' cramps? I had not attended any sort of birthing class but I had bought a DVD of a class and learned how to breathe from that. I found that whole skill to be somewhat helpful. But I liked the drugs better.) I thought my cervix wasn't going anywhere until midnight and it was only 7:00. Or maybe it was 8:00. I don't know. I guess the cervi-dil worked faster than normal and kick-started my contractions. SO... I made my wishes known as far as the epidural. "I WANT IT NOW" was pretty much the gist of it.
I was pretty scared of the epidural - not knowing what fresh, new manner of pain was about to be inflicted on me... and whether I would flinch and cause myself to be accidentally paralyzed for life. But in the end, it wasn't too bad - or at least, it was better than the alternative. Oh, praises be for drugs. What a difference. And the catheter - weird! I wished I had had one for the last month of pregnancy; the quality of my sleep would have been greatly improved. I called my parents around this point to give them an update and tell them that now that I had the epidural, the worst was over. HA. Well, I got a wonderful hour or two of rest and relief before they gave me some pitocin to keep my contractions going. The blessed relief started wearing off and I asked for more help. Look at me imposing my demands on the nursing staff and all. They gave me a little more pain killer that I could control through a little clicker thing but I maxed that out pretty fast. I kept clicking away on it nonetheless. I think it helped me psychologically somehow - kind of a placebo effect, I guess. ( Or as I heard someone mistakenly call it recently: a placenta effect. Ah, yes!)
At this point, my silly water STILL hadn't broken. They said it was BULGING. WHAT?! Good grief. The pressure was pretty awful. I was getting a little nervous and annoyed as I realized that the epidural was not taking care of all my pain. This was the point where the moaning and groaning kicked in big time. Finally, I met my doctor; I had met pretty much every other doctor in my group, except for this one. When I looked up and saw her standing there, I almost said, "What are you waiting for?!" I think I said something along those lines, but phrased a little less harshly, and she said, " What do you want me to do for you?" and I said, " BREAK MY WATER!" ( I was a far cry from the Claire of a few hours earlier, not wanting to disturb the nurses to ask for anything... This Claire was a barker of orders. And at a doctor, no less! ) She broke my water, I started pushing and things started moving pretty fast from there. People were swarming in and getting things ready to receive Aiden, and part of my brain said, " Oh- he must be almost here, because all these nurses are here...That's a good sign." Duh. My brain is weird. I don't know how I had room at that point in my brain to think that. Forget the pain and pressure in my own body - look! Nurses! A sure sign of SOMETHING good!
I just couldn't get my mind around the idea of a small mammal emerging from my body, no matter how much I pushed. All through my pregnancy, whenever I would think about it, my brain kept chanting: " Error! Error! Does not compute. Does not compute!" So I gave up getting my mind around it and had to take it on blind faith. I didn't want to think about HOW it could happen. I simply had to accept it, just like the time I got on that huge airplane and was a little nervous that it was so big, there was no way it could actually take off... ( How can all these tons of metal become airborne?! Oh well, everyone else seems calm. I guess I'll just close my eyes and join the lemmings.) Better yet, I had to just ignore part of the equation ( A + B = C) that supposedly did not compute: "A" being there is a baby inside me, "B" being that I must push, and "C" being that the combination of these two should result in the baby coming out. I had to just focus on B as being the only reality in the world.
I thought I was pushing hard until I heard the word "vacuum"... and "heart rate dropping"...
( I'm glad I somehow missed the mention of going to the O.R. or I don't know what I would have done. ) I think it was at this point that God took over and gave me the strength beyond myself to become a pushing machine, obeying the coaching of the doctor, who was very good. A few minutes later, Aiden was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck twice and the doctor started hacking it off. ( This was something I was nervous about from DAY ONE - the umbilical cord. MAN. ) Thank God he was okay. I could not believe the instant relief I felt in my body. Once I knew he was okay, it was all a happy blur.
When they told me he was born at 11:59, one minute from Christmas, I just had to smile. I had really wanted him to be born on the 24th, and Brad wanted him to be born on Christmas Day. But I was not watching the clock. I like that he has that little bit of trivia attached to his birth story. It's something to tell him about someday and have a good laugh.
Immediately afterward, the thought of ever doing this again seemed preposterous. And doing it without drugs? Unthinkable. But with the event almost three weeks behind me now, and realizing how much God carried me through, and reflecting upon how well everything went, I guess I might consider doing it at least one more time in a few years...maybe...I guess that saying about how you forget the pain is really true. Or at least, your brain minimizes it enough to accept the fact that "the world must be peopled" - to use that great quote from Much Ado About Nothing- and that you might help to people it.
The other night, we watched the video that Brad took of Aiden's first few moments out in the big wide world, and it was pretty incredible to relive that. Already, it feels odd to think that he was ever NOT around.
So there you have it. Basically, it's a tale of a parade of drugs, (this drug did this, oooh, ahhh, applause....and then that one came along and did that, hurrah, hurray...) through the audience of my blood, sweat, and tears. But the bottom line is: I was prayed through, Aiden was born, and he's safe and sound. Thanks be to God.