I guess it is only fitting that our little girl would choose to enter the world a la the stylings of that fantastic film: Fast and the Furious. Brakes got 6 speeding tickets the first 7 months we dated all while tooling his bright red 3000 GT down to Phoenix to visit me, his lady love. (Sigh. He was such a bad-boy.) And F&F is one of our mutual guilty pleasures. Brakes loves the drag-racing scenes and I love watching Paul Walker and Vin Diesel flex their umm... acting chops. Ehmm. Anyways, Eloise has obviously internalized her parent's preference because, on the night of her birth, she demonstrated a definite need for speed.
For organizational sake I will proceed in a bullet point format:
*Sunday and Monday 3/15: Bits of mucous plug (MP) start coming out and Braxton Hicks contractions continue.
*Tuesday 3/17: I implore Eloise to make her appearance by midnight so that I can toast St. Patrick's Day. I begin the "Go Into Labor Campaign," which includes a 2 mile walk up and down steep hills, raspberry-leaf tea, swimming, and bouncing/rolling my hips on the yoga ball. Campaign somewhat successful: painful contractions 4 minutes apart all night long and the rest oh my MP falls out (for you weirdos that want to know: it was not bloody, just looked like thicker EWCM).
Wednesday 3/18: Contractions stopped by my 10 am doctors appointment, where it was discovered that I was 2 cm dilated and had begun effacement.
Thursday 3/19: I slept great and I had tons of energy! I cleaned the house and did a hard swimming workout around noon. After swimming I noticed that the bottom of my suit was slimy. I appeared to be leaking something. I went for another long (a little over 2 miles), hilly walk and bounced on the yoga ball for over an hour. I took a long shower and made a great dinner (salmon and sweet potato french fries). At 8 pm, I had just sat down on the couch to text my BFF a happy birthday message when I felt an unmistakable pop. I propped my hips up and yelled to Brakes that it was time. He brought me a towel and I caught the rest of the water. I went potty and felt more gushes. Brakes was not convinced my water broke because I managed to keep most of it off the couch (impressive, I know!). Once I showed him my soaked shorts he called labor and delivery. Because we wanted to avoid pain medicine L&D recommended that we stay at home as long as possible. They said to come when my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and to call back after 3 hours. We futzed around the house for an hour.
* Thursday, 9:15 pm: Brakes implored me to sit down and start timing contractions. Over the past hour I had been having painful contractions, but they didn't really hurt that much (in fact, I was laughing through them!) and they were not coming at any interval. We started watching The Office and before Dwight had given me my first gut-busting laugh I had a major contraction (level 5). 6 minutes later, I had another one (level 5.5). 3 minutes later, I had a third (level 6). 1.5 minutes later I had another, and another, and another; every 1.5 minutes for about 10 minutes at which point we decided to go to the hospital. We snapped a couple of pics right before we left:
Final Belly Shot: Last Picture of cue music Just the 2 of Us:
*Drive to the Hospital, 10:00 pm:
We live 25 minute from the hospital. 25 minutes has never taken so long. In the 10 minute it took to get from our house to the freeway I felt Eloise move much lower into my pelvis, so much so that it I felt huge pressure. Contractions were still coming every 1.5 minutes and now they really hurt! I was afraid of freaking Brakes out so I quietly breathed through them and applauded myself for my self-control. When I looked at the odometer and realized Brakes was going 45 mph on the 280 freeway at 9:30 pm on a clear Thursday night with NO TRAFFIC, I gently suggested he pick up the pace. He said we had plenty of time and kept tooling along. 10 minutes later contractions were still coming so quickly and the pressure was so bad; I urged him to run a red light. Apparently his, "bad boy of the many speeding tickets" days were over because he went at a snails pace to the hospital and paused once to tell me that I was not in fact having contractions every minute and a half and that, "he can tell when I am having a contraction." Apparently he could "feel," my contractions better than I could and I had lost the ability to read the clock. Sure, pal. This was the one and only time I felt like smacking my husband while in labor.
*Labor and Delivery, 10:30 pm: Brakes dropped me off at the ER entrance and went to find parking. In San Fransisco, this is no small feat and I am proud to say Brake's broke down and parked in the pay lot down the street. In the ER they put me in a wheel chair and drove me up to L&D. The male nurse that admitted me questioned that my water broke and half-way smiled when I said I was hoping for a pain-med free delivery. He said all first time moms thought they were in labor when they weren't and he rolled his eyes when I breathed heavily through another contraction. He asked me to go into the bathroom, change into a gown, and swipe my pachina with the slide to check for amniotic fluid. I had just managed to get undressed when a major-major contraction hit me (level 9.5). I hit the ground on all fours and rocked back and forth groaning until it passed. It was here that Brakes found me; buck naked on the bathroom floor mewling like a badly injured cow. And the rest of my mystery began to fade away. Sigh.
He helped me back to bed, put down the 3 bags of crapola we had brought as labor tools (FYI: A mini-DVD player and aroma therapy wickless candles are probably not necessary). A really nice nurse, Bethany, came in and hooked me up to the monitors (which were by far the most irritating thing about labor. They were so tight around my tummy and I cannot be bound. Ask anyone.) and put in a heparin lock, which is like an IV that is not hooked up to anything. I did not want to be trapped to my bed with wires and tubes and I was plenty hydrated so I did not need an IV but they wanted to make sure, in case of an emergency, they could get medicine into me quickly. I explained to my nurse that I wanted to go pain med free for as long as I could and she was like, "more power to you, you crazy lady," but in a very nice way. A really sweet doctor, who looked no older than me, came in and asked me how I was feeling. I told her I felt a ton of pressure in my hienie and because my contractions were still coming so close together she decided to check me. I was 4 cm dilated, fully effaced, and at + 1/2 station. (To deliver you have to be 10 cm dilated, fully effaced and at +2 station, you start at -2 station which means the baby is very high in your pelvis.) She said I was in transition labor but that that could last for a really long time for first time moms and that she would check in with me again in 2 hours.
For the next 2 hours I labored. There is no other word for it. I felt like I was at the end of a very long and hard work out. I was out of breath, sore, and bone tired with exhaustion. Towards the end of the two hours I was actually falling asleep for the few seconds between contractions. To deal with the pain I mostly just breathed and held Brake's hand. My tip for pain-med-free labor: stay calm, quiet, and focused on not reacting . Don't think about the pain and don't give into the impulse to cry, writhe, and yell. It makes the pain worse and is zaps your energy. Also, have a really incredible husband! Brakes was soooo amazing. He gently nurtured me and whispered reassurances that I was doing a good job and that I could handle what was coming. I don't think we have ever worked so effectively together. He anticipated my needs before I even recognized I needed something. When I started throwing up he was right there holding the bucket, and yes, puking while contracting is the absolute pits! He fed me ice chips and pedia-lyte to keep me hydrated, though they did eventually give me fluid through my heparin lock because I was loosing so much liquid, ralphing.
I changed positions a few times in labor; I sat on the ball, leaning over with my head and shoulders on the bed, I kneeled on all fours on the bed and rocked, or I lay on my side with my knees curled up. The contractions were heinous; much worse then menstrual cramps, and the pressure on my bottom was terrible but to be honest, the worst part was that there was no break! I was so tired and my body did not give me anytime to rest. Everyone says I lucked out only having a six hour labor, and I am sure in some ways I did, but for four out of those six hours I was contracting every minute on the minute. That meant my body was in an almost constant state of contracting. I am not sure how many women could have handled that without pain-meds, thank you very much (yes, I realize I am smug). It was only a six hour labor but it was fierce, fierce, fierce!
I was beginning to worry about my ability to push her out because I was so tired when the doctor came back to check me. I had decided that if I had not made significant progress then I would get some pain meds so that I could sleep before I pushed.
There was no need for pain meds! I was still fully effaced, at +2 station, and 7 cm dilated. As soon as I dilated to 10 I could push. I asked how long that would take and she said it would be another 2 hours probably and I said, "Oh no! 20 minutes! I am pushing in 20 minutes!" The doctor just smiled. Seriously, less than 10 minutes later I felt the urge to push. It is indescribable how strong that urge was for me. It was like my body was doing it on its own and I had no control! I looked at the nurse and said, "I have to push," and then did this face distortion thing and started grunting. She gave Brakes a freaked out look and yelled into her walkie talkie, "Urge to push! Urge to push!" The doctor rushed in and checked me. I was at 8 cm. She said, "Gas, calm down. You are not ready yet. It is still going to be awhile." I had another contraction and made the grunting/yelling animalistic noise again. Surprised, she quickly checked me. I was at 9 cm. She and the nurse rushed to get the tools set up and I had another contraction. I was at 10 cm. Every contraction dilated me another centimeter. The nurse and doctor were shocked at how fast I was going. My body was pushing by itself but now that I had permission I was able to help it along. Brakes held one leg, the nurse held another, I grabbed the back of my thighs and pushed with all my might for the count of 10. We did 3 counts of 10 with each contraction and let me tell you, there is no better feeling than finally being able to push. It alleviated soooo much pressure. They wheeled a mirror in so that I could see what I was doing and on the next contraction you could see Eloise's head. They pointed it out and I felt a panic because I knew I would never be able to get a baby out of such a small hole (I have very small crevices). On the next contraction I pushed again and reached down to try to touch her head with my fingers. It was then that Brakes realized that I was confused about which hole Weezy was coming out of; he pointed to the right hole and I immediately felt hope. (Sorry, Weez, Mama had never seen her hienie so up close and personal before!) As soon as I saw her dark hair I became super motivated to meet her in real life! I gave a mighty push and part of her head whooshed out. All the sudden everyone was yelling at me, "Stop pushing! Short pushes, short pushes!" The nurse showed me how to do little pushes which I managed by making gorilla grunting noises which somehow reminded me of a sitcom I watched as a child, the one with the little boy that said, "What you talking about Willis?" I was laughing about that when Eloise's shoulders and body slid out and I swear I have never felt such blessed physical relief in my entire life! It was amazing. I savored it and then demanded to see my daughter. I said, "Hi, baby! There's my girl!" She looked totally different than what we had thought she would look like but somehow I recognized her. I held her to my bare chest and kissed and cooed at her. She was beautiful. Blue but beautiful. Brakes cut the cord (after it quit pulsating) which made blood splatter all the way up to the ceiling while the nurse wiped her off. It took her a minute or two to pink up and to start crying because her cord was wrapped around her neck but I barely noticed. I think I instinctively knew that everything was going to be fine.
And everything was fine, with her. Me and my hienie were another matter. I had an external 2nd degree tear and an internal tear on my cervix. The internal one they had a hard time stopping the bleeding. Soon there were 4 doctors around me and they were talking about giving me pain meds so that I would hold still while they sewed me up. I was not about to go through a pain-med free delivery only to get drugged up after birth. They took the baby away from me because I was wiggling around so much and Brakes did something to make me fall even more madly in love with him, if that was even possible! During my pregnancy I had read that the best way for a newborn to regulate their body temperature was through skin-to-skin action with mom or dad and it was really important to me that Eloise got that right after birth, so when they took her out of my arms I looked at Brakes and communicated distress with my eyes. He took one look at me and ripped off his shirt and clutched Weezy to his chest. What a man! What a Dad! Sigh.
They finished stitching me up and Brakes held the Weez. Soon I was drinking a juice box and basking in the post birth glow, which for the record is strictly an internal thing. I looked like hell after birth. I had broken all the capillaries in my face, chest, neck, and shoulders, and my face was swollen to almost unrecognizable proportions. I will not post the pics of directly after birth, as I do not want to remind Brakes that I have ever been so unattractive, but I will share one from 2 days later so that you can tell I am not exaggerating.
Making and birthing Eloise was the best experiance of my life. It was my greatest privledge and it has forever changed the way I view myself and the world. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to have this experiance and words cannot describe the joy and sense of rightness I felt going through this with the best man I know, my amazing husband, Brakes! Thank you, Love!
... now go change the baby. She wooped.