When I was newly pregnant and given a due date of March 1st, one of the first things I thought was, “I won’t make it all the way to March.” Now, I feel like that was a little bit easy to assume since I’ve only made it to my due date once, but right from the beginning I figured I’d have a February baby. And right from the beginning I hoped for a baby born on Brian’s birthday, just for fun.
The Schedule ended up being all for naught as Will got sick on Sunday night with a stomach bug, causing me to cancel physical therapy for Daniel on Monday and my pre-natal visit with the pediatrician on Tuesday. Kalena also came down with an awful cold so she was home from school. We watched a lot of TV and did not much else. I started timing contractions Tuesday afternoon for a couple reasons. First, they were decidedly more intense than the ones I’d been having in the evenings and second, it was the middle of the day. Prior to that my daytime contractions were totally dependent on my activities, these were happening fairly often and fairly regularly despite all the sitting and TV watching. I started timing about 1 in the afternoon and around 3:30 I called Brian to let him know I was pretty sure this was the real thing. Not that I wanted him to come home, or even that I thought the baby would be born Tuesday, just that it was happening and he probably shouldn’t plan on going to work on Wednesday.
When Brian got home Tuesday I went upstairs to our room to continue timing contractions. At that point I was hoping this labor would be like my labor with Daniel, which started in the evening but then quit long enough for me to sleep and started up again the next morning. Around 10 pm the contractions slowed down some, to about 6 minutes apart (although the pattern was never very regular) and I tried to go to sleep around 11. Unfortunately I couldn’t sleep through them, and they were more intense even though they weren’t as close together. Around midnight I gave up on sleep and woke Brian up. I told him there was no way I was going to make it until morning before needing to go to the hospital so we might as well call someone now. So he called my friend (who had specifically offered to come sleep on our couch if we needed someone) and she came over. Brian had, fortunately, thought to alert the kids to the fact that we might not be there when they woke up. I had Brian take this picture while we were waiting to go, at which point he accused me of not being in real labor.
I assured him I was.
We got to the hospital a little after 1 am, got put in a triage room, the nurse checked me and said I was at about 5 cm. So I told her I wanted an epidural. Being tired makes it much harder for me to handle pain (this was very much true during Will’s labor also) and at this point, knowing 12 hours of contractions only put me at 5 cm dilated, I figured why wait? Of course, I DID have to wait, because I’m sure you’re aware, you can’t have an epidural without an IV placed! This was around 2 am, and somewhere in there I met the on-call doc for my practice. I remember feeling disappointed that my doctor wouldn’t be delivering, but mostly caring about when I could get some pain relief. I warned the nurses (AS I ALWAYS DO) that people have a hard time getting an IV in me but they ignored me (AS THEY ALWAYS DO) and the first nurse tried: nada. So a second nurse tried: nope. (Also, both of them dug around in my arm with the needle which I HATE and specifically asked them not to do.) At that point they agreed to just take me to the labor and delivery room and let the anesthesiologist place the IV when he came in. (The anesthesiologist also had to place my IV with Will AND with Daniel.) So off to an actual labor room, and happily, a quick arrival of the anesthesiologist. (One of the benefits they mentioned when we toured L&D is that anesthesiologists are at the hospital 24 hours a day. Definitely glad for that at 2 in the morning.) Finally got an IV placed, roughly 50 minutes after the nurses first started trying. He went ahead and did the epidural then, even though technically they want to get a bag of fluid through the IV first.
Epidural placed, it’s 3 am, and the nurse and I get to start a fun little game that goes like this: My blood pressure drops really low. Baby doesn’t like that. Put me on oxygen. But my heart rate is through the roof (140s-150s) so the anesthesiologist doesn’t want the nurse to give me ephedrine (which is what they’d normally give to get blood pressure up) so they hunt down something else and give me that. Blood pressure comes back up, baby looks good again, take me off oxygen. Then maybe 10 or 15 minutes later this happens again. Blood pressure drops, baby doesn’t like it, put me on oxygen, heart rate is still high so give me some more of the non-ephedrine stuff. Blood pressure back up, baby looks good, back off oxygen. Y’all I think we went round and round like that for about TWO HOURS. My blood pressure cuff was set to check every 3 minutes this whole time because it just KEPT HAPPENING. Every time my blood pressure dropped I got nauseated too which was fun. Finally my heart rate came down and the nurse switched to ephedrine which seemed to work better. We also repositioned me to to my left side which seemed to help with how the baby was doing. Brian, fortunately, got to sleep through most of that circus. (It was never serious, just a lot of adjusting and checking on things and medicating.) The nurse was great though, and we chatted for a lot of that time.
Anyway, blood pressure finally seems stable around 5 am so I got to nap. Then a little after 6 the nurse came to adjust the monitor, because it wasn’t picking up baby’s heart rate, and checked me. At that point I was at about 8 cm. I was a little disappointed to not be complete, because it meant my lovely nurse wouldn’t be there for the actual delivery since shift change was at 7. However! After the shift change they called my actual doctor and he came over and broke my water around 7:45 am. We laughed because I’d told him at my last regular appointment that I was hoping not to make it to my next one and it was scheduled for 1:45 that afternoon. I joked that I needed to make sure and call his office to cancel. He told me he was pretty sure he could remember to take care of that.
After he broke my water he guessed baby would be there within the hour. An hour later at 8:45 am we were still waiting. But by a few minutes after 9 the nurse checked me and said it was time to call the doctor! Conveniently, his practice is located IN the hospital building so it was just a matter of his walking over. There was a little meconium when my OB broke my water, not enough that he was really concerned, but they did bring in a NICU team for the actual delivery as a result. So while we were waiting on my OB the NICU nurse started explaining why they were there and possible complications from meconium. (Obviously we’re familiar since Kalena aspirated.) While we were waiting I started to feel a lot of pressure (new for me, since my epidurals with Will and Daniel were both VERY heavy. Like, I couldn’t move my legs, let alone feel any pressure.) so the nurse ended up calling my OB again to make sure he was on his way. He was, and made it into the room just a few minutes later, which was kind of anticlimactic actually since then we had to wait on a contraction before I could push. (During the wait everyone guessed boy or girl: the OB and the nurse guessed boy, Brian said girl, as he has all along.) But! One contraction was all it took! I pushed maybe 5 times and the OB held her up so we could see and announced that we had a girl!
(This, by the way, is the next photo on my camera after the one where I’m “not in labor”)
At 7 lbs 1 oz and 18 inches long, she is the smallest of our babies, but she came with a full head of hair just like the rest of them The NICU team checked her out and everyone oohed and aahed over her hair and they declared her perfect, which she clearly is.
P.S. That title is for Erin. I texted that in one of my labor update texts because you know what? Hospital ice IS delicious. And my mouth was super dry during labor so that made it even better.