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December 29 started like any other normal weekend - we went to breakfast then we went to run some errands. We were done with our expedition before noon and it had started snowing as we got in the car. I was feeling like i had been for a while - uncomfortably large and forever in the bathroom but more than happy to stay pregnant for another month or at least a few days until my Dr got back from vacation. By late afternoon I laid down to take a nap on the couch but before I could get to sleep I started feeling slight cramps that seem to come every few minutes regularly. I was definitely in denial. Even when the pain started getting worse I still couldn't believe it - i hadn't had any warning signs and now the contractions were so close together! i was convinced it was false labor and baby wasnt going anywhere. Who goes into labor on their due date? So when Luke came upstairs at about 6, i told him what i was feeling but insisted it wasn't anything to get worked up about. He asked if he should put the chicken in the oven and I said definitely!
By this time I had pulled out my phone to start timing contractions and they were between 2 and 3 minutes apart, lasting for almost exactly 30 seconds. We didnt know what to do since they weren't following the typical course of starting out with longer intervals and getting longer. On the off chance this was the real, we left a message for the doctor (keeping fingers crossed the Dr Rindfuss was back)
While we waited to hear back I decided maybe I should finish packing my bag, have a shower and blow dry my hair, just in case. Contractions were still coming every 2-3 minutes so I would just pause for that 30 seconds and get going again when it was done. Unfortunately Dr. Rindfuss was still out of town and we got a call back from Dr. Hanna (boo!) I described my symptoms and she thought this might be labor but told me just hang tight at home for little while longer until the pain got worse since we were so close to the hospital. By the time that chicken was ready, i wasnt really in the mood to eat but thought this might be my last meal for a while so I best load the hump. The pain was getting much worse and Luke got ready to go too. He told his mom and she came up for a little while and told me to put some socks on. By about 10 o'clock the pain was getting harder to handle so I said let's go to the hospital to get checked out. We somehow found the worlds most perfect parking spot right in front of the hospital (the beauty of going into labor on Saturday night). Baby brought us good luck.
After a little paperwork, the triage doctor came in to check my cervix. that exam felt like he was feeling for my tonsils via vaginal canal - ouch! I was only 1 cm dilated and 60% effaced. So I thought they were going to send us home but instead because my blood pressure was high they wanted to admit me. Weird since I hadn't had any blood pressure issues during the pregnancy but they definitely seemed concerned. The bonus there was that I got to have the epidural rather than being sent home to suffer for a few hours. I met my labor nurse Tamika, who tried to get me to relax during each contraction and also assured me getting the epi early was going to be fine. upstairs I went.
By the time I was admitted the anesthesiologist was busy with other patients in the OR so took a little while for him to actually get into my room and give me epidural. Once he did the contractions are still two minutes apart and very intense - a little scary having the whole procedure but thankfully they let Luke stay while they did it. As soon as it was in i had a bad back spasm which really scared me but it did take the edge of the pain a lot. Unlucky for me I was still feeling the contractions but at least I wasn't wishing for death.
At some point, the resident came and checked me - I was 4 to 5 cm dilated so she decided she's going to break my water which scared me again but it didn't hurt at all. I wanted to try to get some sleep but my contractions were too strong for that. Luke got situated in the hospital folding chair bed contraption while I watched tv.
A few hours later the nurse told me I wasn't progressing, they were concerned since they saw that my contractions weren't happening anymore but I was definitely still feeling them! I agreed to the Pitocin drip to move things along. l was sure that I was having contractions but I took their advice on it - only later did I realize their monitor wasn't working properly!
A few more hours passed before being checked again and I was 8 cm dilated. There was a shift change around this time and I said goodbye to Tamika - she was wonderful and I wasn't as comforted by the new nurse, Mrs. Lambert. Yes, she had us call her by her last name. I guess seeing my lady parts up close didn't put us on a first name basis. Oh well. By about 10 am, I was 10 cm dilated, baby's head was very low and they told me pushing would start soon. I immediately starting crying because this is what I was afraid of! Dr. Hanna came in and had the nurse turn off my epidural (despite my objections!).
By this time, I hadn't slept in more than 30 hours, I was terrified and my doctor and nurse team weren't my favorite people. I never quite felt the sort of pressure or urge to push but I started feeling the contractions in full force plus a new pain in my right hip that was killing me. They had realized the monitors weren't picking up my contractions so they told me I would have to tell them when a contraction was coming to push. Ouch ouch ouch for 34 minutes. I told Luke not to look but I don't think he could help himself - I'm sure it was a car wreck down there. It doesn't seem like very long when I put it that way but it felt like an eternity. Toward the end I was losing steam so Dr. Hanna asked if I wanted to use the vacuum to help her along. I wasn't sure what to do but I was in a lot of pain and confused so I agreed (still feel guilty). One more push and out she came! They put her on my belly right away - all bloody with a beautiful cry and pink color - I quickly looked at her hands and feet and face before they whisked her away to the warming bed a few feet away. Luke ran over to get a better look at you while they cleaned you up.
In the meantime Dr. Hanna finished with me (placenta, 3rd degree tear repair, etc). I wanted to know the Agpar score and the baby was okay - the nurses told me everything looked great and they were sure she would be a 9/9. 7 pounds, 11 ounces and 20.75 inches long. A few nurses in the room mentioned that was tall. They asked if we had a name picked out and I turned to Luke and said something like "what do you think? Are we sticking with Agatha?" It all feels like a big blur now but watching the baby nurses exam the baby stressed me out. I kept wondering what was wrong and why it was taking so long to get her back (although it could have been a very short period of time that just felt long to me - there were no clocks in sight). Finally they brought the baby back and we tried a little nursing. She was cute as could be - dark brown hair, pale blonde eyebrows, beautiful big blue eyes. She seemed a lot more alert than I expected her to be but she was perfect.
We spent the next 2 days in the hottest hospital room of all time and celebrated New Years Eve in the hospital with sweet Agatha Grace.
Congratulations, Stephanie! I'm glad you finally shared Agatha's birth story (finally...ha! That was only a week or so ago, right?) I'm so sorry that you had a crap birth team...the bit about the nurse having you call her "Mrs." would crack me up if it weren't so obnoxious. It's not the freaking Social Security Administration.
Don't feel bad about needing the vacuum. Seriously. I had to use it with Marlowe, and she was perfectly fine apart from a little yarmulke-like scab mark where the vacuum attached on her sweet little head. Maternal exhaustion is a real beeyotch and it's completely legitimate to need some assistance towards the end. It's like Mother Nature's joke on us that the hardest work has to come at the end of the labor, right?
She's gorgeous, Stephanie and I love the photos. Particularly the one where you've got your finger poised over that pain button.
Maggie - Mommy to Marlowe & Willamina