Sunday, December 20, 2009

In the Christmas Spirit

This will be my last post for 2009! A year ago today, my daughter hadn't been born yet, she was 2 days late and I was getting pretty antsy. The following is my recollection of that time:

We had taken our Lamaze classes and I was sitting on my exercise ball and we went on walks every day at least once. We went and ate spicy Indian food too. Still nothing. It only started to really get cold when it was very close. I remember one day that a frigid cold front came through and we walked during the day instead of at night, hoping to get as much warmth as we could, but the whole walk was us thinking how crazy it was to be taking a walk when it was that cold. We had very fun times talking to our baby and stamping our feet trying to encourage something to happen and singing songs and exploring our neighborhood, looking at everyone's Christmas decorations and talking about our future family and plans and such.

I was so prepared ahead of time, I had put our Christmas decorations up early so that I wouldn't have to worry about it and I would be sure to have them up, because everyone was coming to our house, with or without a baby.

I was a bit depressed about not producing a baby yet and as Christmas loomed I was pretty convinced that I would have to be induced. I didn't think I would have a baby on Christmas, what were the odds? I had just passed my mucous plug, but that was no guarantee that I wouldn't still hit my induction deadline. I was trying to keep my spirits up because I wanted to just be at peace with however she was going to come even if it wasn't how I wanted it to be. If I thought about it too much though, I would get pretty blue. On Christmas Eve, all those feelings were coming to a head. I was convinced that Christmas was going to come and go with no baby and my whole family would come over and we would have Christmas but it wouldn't be as much fun because we had all thought she would be here before then. I whined that all I wanted was a baby for Christmas, but that I wasn't going to get her in time. I knew that I had to find joy though, so I cried a little and talked to Bryan and asked him to help me distract myself so that I could have good memories and be in a festive mood. It was Christmas Eve, after all! We decided to bake some Christmas cookies. We were going to make Christmas tree shaped ones and went to the store and bought fun candies to decorate them with. Bryan wasn't used to decorating cookies, and we had lots of fun. I put on my Christmas morning pajamas and went to bed.

At 5:30 in the morning on Christmas day I woke up and went to the bathroom. I then noticed a short crampy contraction like sensation. It went away and I was going to go back to sleep. It came again and again and again. I was watching the clock in the dark and it seemed like it was happening about every five minutes. It didn't hurt that bad though. I told Bryan what was happening and that I was going to go and get in different positions and walk around a bit and see if it went away or not. (Many times this had happened and as soon as we went on a walk or changed things up, it would fade). A little while later, Bryan got up and checked on me, it was still happening. He started to write them down and we eventually had been having contractions every five minutes for two hours. Bryan called the nurse line and they said to come in.

In retrospect, I would have waited to go to the hospital, but I was so anxious to get the ball rolling that I was going to jump on the situation as soon as possible.

We called Celena and Jack, who were already packing all the presents up in their car and Mom and Dad's house. (they were helping them to bring the inordinate amount of gifts to my house for us to all open; mom is crazed about Christmas). They were ready to come to the hospital right away, but we told them to wait until I actually got admitted. I was worried they would just send me home because the contractions weren't strong enough.

I went to triage and they kept asking me to rate my pain, they seemed to want it to be worse, but it just wasn't that uncomfortable. It was happening regularly though. They called my doctor and she allowed me to be admitted because she knew that induction was the next day, so she was of the mind to get the show on the road. I was admitted around 9 am. We then called everyone back and my family was there shortly. We also called Bryan's parents and they got in the car to head into Austin.

When I was being put into the bed and hooked up to everything for monitoring, I thanked my nurse for being there on Christmas. She said that she wished she could say she was happy to be there, but that the only reason was because she was new to that hospital, so she was 'low man on the totem pole'. So, right off the bat, Nurse Brenda and I weren't friends. I was told during the hospital tour and at the Lamaze class that the nurses would ask me what my wishes were relative to getting an epidural or not, and once I told them, that they would not ask again or press the issue. Nurse Brenda went into her personal preference for the epidural several times and was being really pushy, saying that it was the best way and that she knew there were these 'earthy granola' types who didn't want to do it, but that she just thought it was the only way to go.

I told her that I wanted to try without it and see if I could do it. I was concerned because I had a compressed nerve in my lower back, so I didn't know how that would affect things. If I had to get the epidural, I would, but, if I didn't need it, I didn't want it. I also didn't want pitocin.

Celena and Bryan and I were all hanging out. Mom and Dad had come and stepped in, but were waiting most of the time in the lobby. I wasn't allowed to eat except for popsicles, water and jello. The jello was nasty. The popsicles were pretty good though. Bryan had some snacks in our bag. I was hooked up to fluids so that I wasn't really getting dehydrated or too hungry, but I really wanted to eat. Bryan was making us laugh and things were pretty fun.

I was being polite and waiting for Nurse Brenda to unhook me and let me walk around a bit. I kind of hinted at it and she said that my doctor wanted me to stay hooked up, so I waited some more. My doctor came in to check me, as it had been awhile and the contractions were regular and were getting worse. I was at 3 cm, but my water hadn't broken yet. Things were progressing fairly slowly, so my doctor broke my water. Nurse Brenda came in a little while later and checked me and said that I still wasn't much further and that she was going to give me pitocin. I told her I really didn't want to get it and asked her if I could get up and walk around and see if I could progress on my own. (I had been laying on my back for hours). She reluctantly said that she would give me an hour, but that then she would come back and give me the pitocin anyway. I asked her if she couldn't check me to see if I had progressed any more at that point. She said that they really didn't like to check any more frequently than was necessary once the water was broken. I told her that that was what I wanted.

I put on my special undies and got unhooked and put another gown on for decency. Bryan and I went to walk around the halls. There was no one around at all. We did walk past the room where Nurse Brenda was hanging out, talking on her cell phone, distinctly getting the impression that she wanted me to just do what I was told so that her job would be easier. Walking was good, we would stop when I had a contraction and Bryan would count me through it.

I went back to the room after an hour and Nurse Brenda checked me and was all surprised when I was at 4 cm. She didn't give me pitocin, but she hooked me back up and wasn't keen on unhooking me unless I needed to go to the bathroom. She also said that I should have the baby by 7:00 pm, because that was when she got off. I marked the time mentally.

Celena and Bryan helped me through the next few hours. Celena was massaging me during contractions and they were both keeping my spirits up between. Bryan's eyes became my focal point. The pain was getting fairly intense now and I was wanting to be in different positions. I tried lots, but didn't find one that I felt I could settle on as the 'one'. During one rough contraction, I was standing and Bryan was hugging me. I started crying out of nowhere. It was like an involuntary response to everything that was going on. I didn't feel that emotional, but it felt right and it was like my body was emotional. I had to have Bryan make me focus on him and not let me go inside of myself during the pain because it was much worse when I did that, but at the same time, it was easier. I felt okay, but it was already early evening and no one could give me any idea how much longer anything would take and there was nothing that would reliably speed things up either. I was anxious because I could feel myself getting more worn out and didn't know how much longer my energy would hold up and I still had to push, having no idea how long that would take.

Every time Nurse Brenda came in was tense and annoying. Finally, 7 pm came with a new nurse, Heidi, who was wonderful. I was at 7 cm; at this point my contractions were so bad that I was passing out between them, only waking up for the pain. I spoke with Bryan and we both agreed that we wanted to go for the epidural at that point. I did feel that my compressed nerve was making things worse too. I asked Heidi about the epidural, expressing that I really hadn't wanted to get it, but was thinking I wanted it now. She said that if every birth took 5 hours, that she didn't think people would need it, but when they took so long and the woman was so exhausted, that it was really a great thing. I was dreading each contraction and was beyond really being able to focus on anything and was just moaning and writhing during them. The anesthesiologist couldn't get there quick enough once I had decided to get it. He came and was on his cell phone pretty much the whole time, except when he was actually injecting me. I had to stay as still as possible while this was happening and my contractions were so bad that it was difficult, but I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel, so I did pretty well.

The pain didn't go away immediately, but it got better pretty quickly. I ended up needing more because I'm so tall. They gave me a little button to push if I wanted more medicine. Celena had left earlier when Bryan and I were discussing getting the epidural and I was feeling like just having he and I in the room because I was so uncomfortable. I asked for her to come back so she could see how much better I was doing. I could still feel my contractions, but it was just pressure, there was no pain and my lower back was completely pain free. We played my relaxation music and I was able to get some rest. I felt so much better and was very relieved to be making progress and not at the mercy of my contractions any longer. Bryan stayed with me and everyone else waited in the lobby. My mother was annoyed because there were no eateries open. We kept having to point out that it was Christmas and that that made sense. Heidi was supposed to come in and check me again around 10. I was eager for her to come right on time because I didn't know how long pushing would last and I wanted to have a Christmas baby. What fun is being in the hospital all Christmas day and then having the baby the day after? I knew everyone had been waiting for so long in the lobby. I was sure I would be at 10 cm.

Heidi didn't come in until after 10:30 because another patient's water broke all over her and she had to change her scrubs. There were apparently people coming in that night at very late stages of labor. She checked me and said I was ready to start pushing. I was impatient, but they had to do some prep before I could actually start and I didn't really begin until after 11 pm. I had less than an hour to get this baby out! I pushed as hard as I could and took every opportunity they gave me, they said I could take breaks, but I didn't want to. I wanted to push even more than my contractions would allow. It was very difficult and when I pushed it felt like my head was going to burst, but I was focused. Heidi and Bryan told me I was doing great, but you can't tell until you get very close to the end that anything is really happening. I had a little bit of bleeding, so Heidi called my doctor just to be on the safe side. By the time Dr. Cutler arrived, the bleeding had stopped, but she decided to stay because I was just about to have another contraction and she wanted to watch and see how things were going. She said I was doing great. On the next push, I could really see the baby's head crowning and they told me to stop pushing because they had to get the bed ready for delivery. I stopped, but the baby didn't. It was like when you break the seal on a brand new tube of acrylic paint, she just kept coming. I remember Heidi putting her hand on the baby's head as if to keep her in, but it was happening regardless. Bryan remembers that someone was surprised and actually took a step back, knocking some things over. She just came right out onto the bed. Everyone was very surprised by how quickly it happened. Dr. Cutler said she was glad she had stayed!

I saw her little face in the mirror and was impressed by how normal and pretty she looked. They put her on me for a brief moment and I got to see the umbilical cord, which was so pretty. It was surreal and I couldn't even comprehend it all. They put her under the warmer while they worked on fixing me back up. Bryan went over to look at her and take pictures. He said she was looking around with one eye closed, all suspicious. He said she looked great. After I was cleaned up, everyone came in to the room. She had been wrapped up and I got to try breastfeeding her, it went well. Bryan's parents and sisters were there, Nathalie and Jason, Celena and Jack and my parents. I remember Celena was the first to hold her, then I think it was Ginny, then Bryan for awhile and then Nathalie. The room was bright and I was so proud.

Celena and Jack had a leftover breakfast sandwich from Jack in the Box that they hadn't eaten. I was so thrilled to eat, I didn't care what it was, so I was very happy. They asked me to try to go to the bathroom, but I couldn't yet. My legs were still numb, but I could walk pretty well, but my body didn't even seem to remember how to go to the bathroom. We packed everything up and went to our post partum room. I think Dorothy was being washed up at that time.

We got to our room and got settled around 2 am. They asked if I wanted anything from room service. I just wanted to sleep, but I got some juice and some graham crackers which were delicious. A little while later, they wanted me to try and go to the bathroom again and it still was nowhere near happening, so they got two nurses to put a catheter in me. It was awful and I just laid there and pretended to be asleep and tried to mentally go somewhere else. I was so tired and the epidural was wearing off and I just wanted them to leave me alone. It took awhile to do and was very uncomfortable. Bryan was asleep. It seemed like every time I started to go to sleep, someone was coming in to either check my vitals or the baby's vitals.

Bryan got more sleep than I did, but he was very uncomfortable on the fold out couch in the room. We had to mind the thermostat. It took Dorothy a little while to regulate her temperature. Bryan did most of the diapers because it was hard for me to get up and move and stuff. Feeding seemed fine, nurses would ask me if I felt it was going well and I said yes, so they left it at that. She was pretty hard to wake up, we had to take her out of the swaddling blankets and out of her clothes and move her around. It took 30 minutes just to wake her up so that she could eat. They seemed to want me to feed her more, she would eat sometimes for brief stretches and then fall asleep, we would wake her up again every 3-4 hrs., but they said if she wasn't eating for longer stretches that she should eat every two hours. Everything was confusing and overwhelming and you're so unsure of everything. I remember her snorting a bunch, I was worried, but they said it was normal. They were checking on her again because of her temperature and someone realized that she had amniotic fluid in her lungs. They were surprised she had been eating at all, because that normally makes babies feel so full that they will even gag. After that she would nurse for longer stretches, but we still had to wake her up.

I was so thrilled when they finally took the last piece of tape off of me. Taking a shower wasn't easy, but it felt so great to get clean and into my own clothes.

We left her in her outfit from the hospital for awhile, I didn't know if it was okay to put her in her clothes from home yet. We were finally able to put her in cuter clothes and we realized that her "outfit" was actually just two baby wrap shirts, one of which was rigged to serve as pants. Our clothes for her were much better. She was swaddled most of the time though, so you didn't see her clothes much.

One time while we were changing her diaper, she started to have a bowel movement. It started so small, we thought it was just the opening, but then the dark spot got bigger and in no time there was poo everywhere. It got on her hands, her feet, our hands, the blankets, her outfit, underneath the monitor on her ankle; it was a mess. We called for some help because we didn't have many wipes, but they didn't come very quickly and we had gotten it figured out by the time a nurse arrived.

Celena brought us a unicorn balloon. Ginny (MIL) and all her sisters came to visit at the same time. We went in on Thursday morning and got to go home Saturday afternoon. It seemed to take forever to do everything we needed to do on Saturday before we left. It was pretty nerve wracking to have her in the car, she didn't seem big enough for the seat and just looked so fragile. We brought her home and we had a big plate of our cookies and lots of food that my mother had planned to cook but just ended up leaving with us.

Early Saturday evening, shortly after we got home, Celena and Jack and my parents came over so we could open presents. Zoe and Marc came by for a short visit because they were leaving for France the next day for a vacation. We had an excessive Christmas. Everything was overwhelming and wonderful at the same time. I was so tired, but so happy; I got everything I had hoped for.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everyone. Take this time to enjoy your families as they are right now. Next year everything could be completely different!


  1. Happy Birthday to your dear daughter...happy holidays to you and your family...and lastly....Happy New Year!

  2. Yay! Thanks for writing this all down- it was nice to read it and remember. You have so many details! I don't know if I could include that many if I were to write mine down....I can't believe it's been a whole year. She's still fascinating. :)

  3. I wrote it back around Mother's Day.