Monday, February 04, 2008

Birth Story, Part ii

We showed up at the hospital at exactly 7:02 p.m. I know this because I still have the parking garage ticket since they don't charge to exit on weekends. We proceeded to the labor and delivery floor, complete with me waddling and Bjorn carrying my bag and two pillows with distinctive pillowcases so there would be no mistaking they belonged to us and not the hospital. It was shift change time so there were about a dozen young, prettish nurses going over charts at the check in desk. After quickly registering, we were taken to room 3, a big room with a window with blinds, camoflaguing the fact that the windows overlook the lobby of the building.

We soon met our fabulous L&D nurse Kelly who would spend the next 12 hours getting to know us really well. I changed into my gown, which naturally made me look thin and svelte. Kelly then spent the next hour going over my medical history and forms for us to sign. She also got me hooked up to an IV and generally got me prepped for my doctor who came in about 8:30 p.m. We chatted for a bit and she gave me a painful exam. She deemed that I was only 2-3 centimeters dialated, not the 3-4 that my other doctor had declared me just that morning, but I wasn't too surprised as I'd heard from friends that my first doctor is a little generous with the centimeters. She then hooked me up to a little pitocin to help get labor started for real.

The contractions started off quite mild so we watched some bad TV, cursing the writer's strike and the fact that is was a Friday night so there wasn't even a college basketball game on to mindlessly watch. After about an hour, my doctor came back in, performed another painful exam and declared me officially at 3 cm dialated. She offered the epidural then, saying it would take about 20-30 minutes to page the anesthesiologist and get one in place once I called for it. By then, they had upped the pitocin a bit so it was starting to feel less comfortable and I could imagine how it would be in an hour so I asked for the epidural. By then, it was probably 10:30 p.m. The epidural hurt worse than I remembered last time, but then, last time I had endured the pain of getting to transitional labor of 5-6 cm so the stick in my back was less noticable. The anesthesiologist also had a rather sour personality so I wasn't sad to see him go. The best part of this epidural was it came with a button that I could push every 10 minutes to give myself a bolus of pain medicine. I didn't need it then, but I sure would later.

About 11 p.m., the contractions started to get more intense (or so I could see on the monitor, I couldn't really feel them). The other thing I noticed was the pain medicine was making me really itchy. Apparently Virginia Hospital Center's type of epidural includes a morphine-based pain killer that can make people itchy. They gave me a Benadryl intravenously to control the itching, which also made me really sleepy. It was sort of surreal to be in labor and be nodding off in the middle.

At mightnight-ish, my doctor came in to check again and I was at about 4 cm and was progressing on schedule for a delivery, she predicted, at around 6 or 7 in the morning. I was generally feeling okay, just sleepy except for a pain in my arm. Nurse Kelly had tried unsuccesfully in the beginning to find a vein in my left arm and was met with resistence so she had to try the right arm. Unfortunately, that really bruised my arm which hurt every 15 minutes when they took blood pressure.

At the 1:30 a.m. check, my doctor was stunned to find that in an hour, I had gone from 4 cm to 9 cm. That meant that in another 30 minutes to an hour, I'd be ready to push. Bjorn and I were definitely getting excited that it was going to be sooner rather than later. Immediately after that, the different nurses came in to set up a surgical table with all the surgical instruments. I began to think this baby was going to come rather quickly, but instead it took probably an hour to get all the way to 10 and to have everything prepped and ready, including my doctor putting on special disposable scrubs to cover her legs, shoes, head and torso. I must say that it's a little unnerving to watch your doctor cover herself in waders to protect herself from all the blood that is going to come.

The idea was to let me get as close to delivering the baby on my own as possible with just the contractions alone so that when the time came to push, it wouldn't be so difficult. In preparation for the pushing, I began to hit the bolus every 10 minutes regardless of if I felt any pain. With Andy, I felt a lot of pain through the 2 1/2 hours of pushing so I was hoping to stock up on the anesthesia to avoid that. I did a really good job though because when they finally did tell me to push, I was so numb I couldn't really tell what I was doing or pushing. I just did what they told me and that seemed to work.

I pushed for about 15 minutes and was starting to get really tired when my doctor was paged. She gave me a couple of minutes to catch my breath, which was the best thing for me. When she came back in about 5 minutes later, all it took was another 5-10 minutes of pushing and Meg was born at 3:09 a.m. They immediately put her on my chest and we were in awe. She just looked so big and healthy and at the same time so small and perfect. She was also completely covered in the white vernix. After a couple of minutes, they took her away to wash her, weigh her and give her a quick exam. It was then that I sent Bjorn over to make sure she really was a girl and that she did indeed have 10 fingers and 10 toes.

It was a pretty overwhelming moment. We were just so happy and relieved that she was perfect. And that labor was over and everything had turned out well. I had worried off and on that while I'd had a million prenatal tests, you just don't know about all the stuff that can go wrong until it you get there. We kept saying grateful we were to be so lucky.

P.S. Blogger spell check is not working so I apologize for any obvious typos that I can't seem to see.


  1. Yay for drugs! And for healthy little babies, of course.

  2. It sounds like the second time around was much easier than the first. And faster.