This might be a long one...
(in the recovery room minutes after the delivery)
It was Thursday September 21st. Jon and I both work on Thursdays, so we were both working in the morning. I had my 39 week check with the OBGYN that afternoon at 2, then I was supposed to come back for one more patient to finish the day. Mom was driving me to my appt just because she happened to have the rest of the afternoon off. At the appointment, the doctor offered to do a sweep if I was dilated a bit when she checked. I said, yes, definitely. At that point I was feeling pretty large and uncomfortable. The main thing was my feet! They were huge and tight and made wearing shoes kind of the worst. She checked me and said I was 3 cm dilated and did the sweep (not super fun, but only 15 seconds long). She said I would probably feel super crampy and it might induce labour, so maybe I should consider not returning to work. So mom and I went to Winners to walk around and see how I felt so I could decide if I was going back to work. I started feeling pretty crampy, so I called and asked Jon to finish my last patient.
At around 8 pm I started to have some back pain that was pretty intense. Jon and I were watching Nashville, and I had to keep pausing it because the pain was so bad. I really, really didn't want to go to the hospital and be sent back home, so I waited another hour, timing the "contractions." They started to get more frequent, and were happening every four minutes exactly. So I called labour and delivery, and they said I could come in and get some gravol and pain meds even if they sent me home after. At that point I was pretty interested in pain meds, so we called mom to come stay with Cohen, and drove to the hospital.
At the hospital we got a little room and the nurse checked my dilation. This nurse looked like she was maybe 25, and I now know she was brand spanking new. I'm not kidding, when she tried to check me, it took her probably five minutes. She couldn't even find the right...area? It was bad. I jumped when I felt her finger in the wrong area altogether, and asked her why she was doing that. I think she was just super nervous, but really, I don't think anyone wants to be the nurse's first patient ever. So after her fiddling for a long time, she decided I was 4 cm dilated. She gave me a shot of demerol and gravel, and told us she would come check on us in a few hours. She hooked me up to the monitor so they could see the contractions. Within a half hour, I was pacing the tiny room, on all fours when a contraction came, telling Jon there was no way we were leaving this hospital until this baby came.
Around 11 pm the nurse who felt like basically a teenager to me came in again, and checked me. I was 7 cm dilated, so she offered me the hot bath. I was like, sure whatever. Then another nurse came in and was like, nope! You cannot give a bath to someone who is 7 cm. So they just kept checking my dilation and eventually I got to 9.5 cm. They kept saying there was a little lip still, that I needed to get just a little more dilated. I was not a happy camper at this point, and really not loving my teenaged nurse, though another nurse had joined her. So they started massaging the area every time I had a contraction. Not fun. They decided to put in an IV so I could get better pain meds. Naturally the teenaged baby nurse couldn't get the IV after multiple fumbling tries. She was like, ok, I'm going to get another nurse. I was like, NO! Get the best nurse on the floor. Get the one who never misses an IV*. I was not messing around with this child-nurse at this point. So I got my IV and they started giving me a little hit of fentanyl at each contraction. This was amazing. I no longer cared about the child-nurse or the pain. I felt so high. I started talking about my niece Grayce, and our special relationship. I couldn't remember how she was related to me, but I knew I loved her. Jon says I was also really preoccupied with the fact that there were no plants in the room. Soon, the "lip" was gone and I was fully dilated. The child-nurse asked me if I wanted the bar or the stirrups. Umm, I have no idea? She said the bar was good, so I said sure, the bar. I was shocked to see her yank a bar like you would do gymnastics on from under the bed and attach it to the bed above my waist. Then I had to put my feet on it. It was insane, and I'm sure I looked shocked, though I obediently put my feet up. They told me to start pushing when I had a contraction. It felt really weird to be pushing in this tiny room with just these two nurses that were so young! But I was pretty high, so I started pushing. I had been pushing for maybe three contractions when the doctor came in and immediately was like, stop, no more pushing. He was like, there is clearly a problem because we are making no progress and the baby is in distress. He attached a monitor to the baby and gave me some local freezing .
The doctor determined that the baby was facing the wrong way. It made sense then that I had been having contractions only in my back, with no pain at all in my stomach. I could have a c-section or he could try to flip the baby with forceps. He suggested we prep for a c-section, but he would try the forceps once, and if it didn't work, he could immediately do the c-section. I was honestly feeling pretty high at this point, but that sounded good to me. I signed the consent forms, which felt hilarious, because I couldn't even see the papers, I was so high. I couldn't even hold the pen, so the nurse helped me scribble something on the paper. They prepped me for surgery and the child-nurse attempted to place a catheter. It was terrible despite the fact that I was sucking on nitrous while she did it. She couldn't get it (no surprise), and another nurse reminded her the doctor could just do it when I had the spinal block. Omg, I hated her at this point.
They wheeled me in to the operating room and the anesthesiologist gave me a spinal block. Best thing ever. I had been in so much pain, and within seconds it was gone. I think I fell asleep for a second when they did it. From then on, things were so easy! The doctor did the catheter, the episiotomy, the forcep flipping, all while I was chilling, asking the nurses if they knew my aunt (they did, as she is the nurse manager of labour and delivery), making small talk. Then the doctor told me to push, which I obviously couldn't do as I could feel nothing! But I kinda tried, and after a few minutes, our sweet baby was born. This was at 2:55 am on September 22nd. He was so beautiful, and amazing, and crying. Jon cut the cord and the nurses weighed him (7 lbs 12 ounces). They laid him on my chest while the doctor put in the stitches. They wheeled me to recovery where child-nurse was waiting. She took a few pictures (the ones above), which was the best thing she did the whole time. The nurses realized the doctor had taken out my catheter, so I needed another one since a spinal block lasts about 12 hours. The second nurse told child-nurse this was a good chance to get some practice as I was almost asleep and totally frozen. It took her so long to place that catheter. I was frozen, but still, I was so over this nurse**.
This delivery was so much harder than my delivery with Cohen in a lot of ways. It felt really different to be so numb this time. And the healing has been way, way harder. I think it will be a long time until I feel "normal" physically, and I might have to adjust to a new normal. Emotionally, this experience has been great. Jon and I are in a much more solid place with our careers than we were when we had Cohen. We have so much more support this time. I can't believe how many packages and diapers and meals have arrived at our door. When Cohen was born, we didn't know a single person in our town, and had zero support. I am just so, so happy. Our family feels complete.
*Earlier this year I needed an IV and the nurse could not get it. She tried multiple times, then got another nurse, who also tried multiple times and could not get it either. Eventually they had to get a neonatal nurse who does IVs for babies, who was able to get it after a few tries. So I know I am probably the worst patient for placing IVs
** A few people suggested I let hospital staff know about the inexperienced nurse I had, especially the part where she couldn't figure out where she was supposed to be checking my dilation. And I considered it, but like so many things with pregnancy and childbirth, the memory has faded a bit, and I just am so grateful to have a healthy happy little baby. I hope she quickly figures things out and becomes an excellent labour and delivery nurse.