births in the midwest

THEO (March 8, 2010):

I was admitted to the hospital the night before my induction was to take place so that Cervidil could be placed. The goal with Cervidil is to prime the cervix for the induction, and supposedly make it more receptive to Pitocin, which is actually intended to start or strengthen contractions. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was placed at the entrance of the cervix and was extremely uncomfortable going in…about 10 times worse than having your cervix checked for dilation, for anyone who has experienced that pleasure.

I was surprised when the nurse came into the room to ask me if I was feeling the contractions that were registering at the nurse’s station. She said I was contracting about every 6 minutes. Nope. Didn’t feel a thing.
I was scared of the I.V. It wasn’t bad at all. I hated wearing the blood pressure cuff and I hated that they didn’t want me to wear a bra. I’m not sure what that was all about, but they let me sleep without the cuff so I dropped it. My last, late-night, pre-baby meal was a grilled chicken sandwich and mandarin oranges from Wendy’s. Bleh.

They removed the Cervidil and it had done it’s job…I want to say I was about 50% or 75% effaced. I got up and took a shower before they started my Pitocin. That got going right on time at 8am and the nurse was in every 10 to 15 minutes, turning it up to increase the strength of my contractions. I felt crampy/achy like PMS but nothing worse than that. I kept waiting for the serious pain to set in. The first time they checked me after the induction was officially under way, I was at 2cm. Two hours later…3cm. Two hours later…4cm. I wasn’t much more uncomfortable than I had been at the beginning so I didn’t feel like I needed my epidural yet, but the nurse informed me that the anesthesiologist was about to go into a Cesarean and I might want to go ahead with the epidural.

I opted for Nubain instead at that time, which made me loopy, then sleepy. When they woke me up, I got my epidural and the doctor came and broke my water. I was scared of the epidural too, but it was a breeze, aka: BFF. Everything was going so much smoother than I’d expected. The doctor broke my water at 5pm and when they checked me at 7, I’d gone from 4cm to 8cm.

The nurse warned me about “breakthrough contractions” and I asked what that was supposed to mean. The nurses were switching shifts at that time and I remember them looking at each other like “silly girl” and then one of them explained that the pain might be breaking through the epidural block. Ohhh.

I did feel slightly more uncomfortable and got to a point where I didn’t feel much like talking. I was so lucky to have my wonderful husband, my mother, my sister, and my in-laws in the room with me most of the day. At that point though, I really just wanted to be alone with the hubs. The reality of what was about to happen was setting in. And I’m not talking about the reality of motherhood or becoming a parent for the first time. I was seriously freaking out about pushing a big ol’ baby out a small you-know-what. I got really nervous. I wanted time to slow down, because I knew when they came to check me at 9pm, I would be ready to go. They did and I was. However, I didn’t fully understand what my nurse meant with regard to the urge to push because I wouldn’t describe what I was feeling at that time “the urge to push.” So foolishly, I said “no.” I think I could have figured it out, but maybe if we’d started then, it would have just taken that much longer. It was 9:15pm when she came back from talking to the doctor, who said to give me 30 minutes to “labor down” with no additional epidural goodness.

I watched the time tick by on the clock and before I knew it, 9:45 was there and so was my nurse. Man, she was prompt. It was just me, her, and my husband. She helped me get into position and was coaching me on how to push. I asked her if this was just for practice because it didn’t feel like anything was happening. She laughed and said that this was IT. She said I was moving the baby well with each push. Between pushes we were joking and I was still not feeling the discomfort that I had been expecting and fearing. It wasn’t long before another nurse showed up and they were both raving about how much hair the baby had. What? They could already see the head? I still didn’t feel like I’d done anything. With a total of four of us in the room, I gave a couple more pushes and Courtney, my L&D nurse told me to hang out through the next couple of contractions and not to push because it was time to get the doctor.

When he showed up a couple of minutes later, things started getting serious. Three, maybe four more pushes and Theo was crowning. I’m not sure who attached a razor blade headband to his scalp but the epidural had worn off by that point. Once a good portion of his head was out, I was feeling some seriously indescribable pain. The head came out and the doctor told me to give one more good push. Nothing.

Then, pandemonium. There was screaming. There was yelling. There was repositioning me and the bed and people pushing on my belly. There were commands to keep pushing and don’t stop. Later, my hubs said he could tell that the doctor was a bit freaked out because of the intensity on his face and the urgency with which he was calling out commands. I had my eyes squeezed tight while pushing with everything left in me. I didn’t really understand the seriousness of the situation at that very moment. As it turns out, Theo had a mild shoulder dystocia that lasted about 10 seconds. If you click that link, you’ll see that there are few situations that are scarier for an OB. But, before long, Theo decided to come on out and greet us.

I have a fuzzy memory of those few minutes, as they were fueled by so much adrenaline and emotion. I asked if I was screaming during and right after the birth, because I remember it that way but apparently I wasn’t. They plopped Theo up on my stomach for a moment and then the doctor said to my husband that he had to cut the umbilical cord. Theo wasn’t breathing right away so they swooped him over to the warming table, where he did begin to breathe and whimper. It took him forever to cry, though, and he never really did while we were still in the L&D room. I watched in the mirror while the nurse tried to agitate him by flicking his foot and rolling him back and forth. I couldn’t believe how cute his little face was. So that’s what you looked like in there, huh?

And the hair…oh the hair! Lots of thick black hair sticking straight up. I just couldn’t have imagined him being any more adorable. He was born at 10:39pm, less than an hour after I started pushing. With the exception of those few EXTREMELY painful moments and the uneasiness I felt while the doctor was stitching me up, the entire process went so much smoother than I ever imagined. That mirror on the ceiling that allowed me to watch the nurse with Theo was the same one that allowed me to see what the doctor was doing and that was NOT cool! Pretty traumatic really. There was a lot of blood and pain. The doctor began stitching me and I felt every bit of it. Lidocaine fixed that problem. But they had to give me something else because my uterus was not contracting or my blood wasn’t clotting or something…I can’t remember exactly what but it was a quick fix as well. We enjoyed a half hour or so alone with our baby after I was stitched up and it was determined that his breathing was good enough. Then, the grandparents and my sister, came in to see the spectacle that was Theo. Enter: Paparazzi.

It was fun to see them oohing and ahhing over him and it felt good to know that this little tiny person was already loved so much by so many people.

DEXTER (May 13, 2011)

I was all set to be induced at 10am on Thursday 5/12/11. Bags packed, house cleaned, baby dropped off at the babysitter. They had instructed me to call an hour in advance to confirm that there was a bed for me in Labor & Delivery. No biggie, I had to do the same thing when Theo was born.
I called at exactly 9am and there was a pause. And a “um, actually we doooon’t have a bed at this time. We’ll call you at 11 to let you know what’s going on.” So devastated. I was so ready to get the show on the road. Everything was ready and waiting. I sat down and got caught up on some DVR’d shows.
At 11:20 I called them. “Oh I was just getting ready to call you.” Uh huh. Sure. Still no bed, still depressed. Skip past 2 more phone calls like this to when they did actually call me at 3pm to say they were ready for me.
We got to the hospital and got checked in. I think my Pitocin was started around 4:30pm. 6.5 hours past the scheduled time. And thoughts and fears were already dancing around my brain about what time my doctor went off call and whether she would be there for this much anticipated, much planned event. I never even saw another doctor during the entire pregnancy.
I was checked around 5:30 and was shocked to learn that I was 2-3cm dilated, which they rounded up to 3cm, and 80% effaced. That was quite a change from one week earlier and made me wonder when I would’ve gone into labor on my own. The problem was that my cervix was super high and posterior (the opening was behind the baby’s head) and checking it for dilation was painful. They said since I still had a way to go, they wouldn’t do routine 2 hour checks.
I was crampy and anxious and watched the clock and the pitocin pump as the nurse cranked it up to the max drip (20mL/whatever). The contractions were steady and strong and I was sure they were super productive. The nurse checked me again around 10pm and said that I was at 4cm. FOUR measly centimeters. And the cervix was still super high. I started to get paranoid that the cervix would not come down and that I was going to end up on the operating table. With Theo, I got my epidural at 4cm and had my bag of waters popped shortly thereafter. I asked if my doc would break my water and learned that #1 – this doctor doesn’t like to break water because of a higher risk of complications and #2 – it wasn’t even an option because with my cervix still so high, it could cause the umbilical cord to come out first. I was disappointed because with Theo, as soon as my water broke I went from 4cm to 8cm in less than 2 hrs. I guess I should have stopped comparing the two babies then.
She said she’d be back to check me in a couple of hours. Midnight came and went. The contractions were getting stronger and more painful and more irritating. Basically the worst pms cramps imaginable, so not like something that you’d go to the ER for but not something you want to endure for hours and hours with no end in sight. I finally gave up and hit the call button, asking for my epidural. I think I got it around 1am or shortly thereafter. I was kind of nervous because it wasn’t taking effect immediately like I remembered with Theo’s. The nurse checked me around 1:30. FIVE. Cervix still high. Are you freaking kidding me?
I was trying to tell myself that it wasn’t a big deal if my doctor didn’t deliver the baby. At this rate, I was sure that it would be noon before I saw my babe. I started getting numb and decided to try and get some sleep. The nurse came in and cath’d me at 3 and stayed in the room until 330. Other than that 30 minutes, I pretty much slept from 130ish until 6am. I woke up at 6 sooo uncomfortable from lying on my side with these crazy heavy, numb legs. I couldn’t move from the waist down. I called for the nurse to come help me roll to my other side.
She came quickly and checked me. While she was trying to gauge my progress, we both heard a gush and I knew that my water had finally broken. She said I was 8cm. She said she’d check me again at 7am. With only an hour from 7am until my doctor left for the day, I asked the nurse how likely she thought it was that I’d have the baby before 8. She predicted we’d have a baby by 730. She was more optimistic than I was, but I went ahead and told my husband to call his mom and dad and tell them to be at the hospital with Theo by 8am.
The nurse started to leave the room to call the doctor at about 620 and decided to just check me again. NINE! I couldn’t believe it. She called the doctor and checked me again at 645 just before the doctor came in the room.
TEN!!!
I was so happy at that point that I could have cried. Contraptions started coming out of the ceiling and the day nurse arrived just before 7. She told me to give one tiny push for practice to see how low the head was. She said the baby had lots of hair, as I expected that he or she would. By 7, it was all systems go and everyone was in their place. The doctor told me to put my chin to chest, take a deep breath, and push. A few seconds later, I opened my eyes and saw a head as the doc exclaimed “not so fast!” Seconds later, a gooey, pink, beautiful baby was plopped down on my chest. There was noise and excitement but I never heard anyone say what the gender was. The cord was between the baby’s legs so I picked it up and saw that my little one was indeed a boy. I had a strong sense all night that it would be a boy, but I don’t know if that was legit or if I was just trying to prepare myself for whatever happened. My husband thought it would be a girl and I didn’t want there to be the slightest hint of disappointment, either way.
All I remember at that point was laughing. I couldn’t stop laughing. I think after the baby was born in one little push, I said “that’s it!?” I was overcome with happiness that the delivery went so smoothly and that my second born baby was a little boy. It was a beautiful moment. I wish I could experience that euphoria again. Well, you know, without having another baby.
We had spent a good part of my labor discussing what this child’s name would be and were still not decided when he was born. My initial reaction was “he looks like a Crosby,” but for whatever reason, it didn’t seem liike the name I wanted to live with. He was born at 705am and we didn’t settle on his name – Dexter Jay – until after 12pm. Even then, it felt fake. My first instinct when someone asks “what’s his name?” is to say “Theodore, but he goes by Theo,” and I had to stop myself and then pause to think “what DID we decide?” for about the first 24 hours. Now, the name feels like a perfect fit (and I’ve only called him “Theo” once or twice so far)!
Dexter laid on my chest for most of his first hour, nursing sporadically and looking at me, putting a face to the voice I suppose. Theo was whisked away to the warming table because he wouldn’t cry. Ryan got to cut the cord this time. Looking back, everything kind of happened in a magical, Hollywood kind of way. Of course the movies never talk about second degree tears or post-natal uterine cramps from hell.

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