As my little "Tiny" turns two, I remember all of the details of the day she came into the world. As a pregnant woman, other women see you as a walking sign that says "Please, share your horror/birth stories with me. Don't leave out any of the gore and scare me as much as you can". I swore while pregnant with Lucy that I would never do that to another woman, but now I get it. I understand now that what you go through while giving birth is so incredible, scary, and unbelievable that, even when told repeatedly, you still can't wrap your head around exactly was has just happened. It's like a war wound or a rite of passage.
I feel a disclaimer is in order, for this is a birth story. You have been warned. If you don't want to read about things like dilating cervix, think it's TMI or simply don't care, then I advise you skip this post. If you want to scare your teenage daughter from ever getting pregnant, feel free to pass this one on.
This time two years ago, I was a whale. I was scheduled to be induced on a Tuesday, the 13th of July. The night before, my parents rushed down here to Austin to stay for a couple of days with Lucy while I was in the hospital. I had everything all set up-the bassinet next to my bed, little white onesies (we didn't know we were having another little girl) all washed and folded in a drawer, new diapers all set out... I was instructed not to eat anything that morning and be in Albert Lea (a 20 min drive) by 6:30am or something ridiculous.
When I got up at 5am, I immediately received a phone call from the hospital; ...we are really sorry...too many women who have gone into labor on their own...understaffed for today....we will call you later...
I simply didn't know what to do. I felt sorry for myself, pouted, sat around, cried...all in a mumu, I'm sure. My dishes were done, my house was spotless and ready for a newborn. I was supposed to be having a baby today. Now what?
My dad kept asking me what I thought they should do. Should they go home? Will I go into labor soon on my own? How long do I think they should stay? How long do you think this will take? All things, of course, I couldn't answer. I was only that much more frustrated. My little brother (soon-to-be 9 years old) was disappointed that my new induction date was rescheduled for two days later, on his birthday, because he "wanted to wake up at his own house that day". Poor Jacob was complaining to the wrong person, and I think he may have gotten the brunt of my wrath. I could have snapped at anyone that day, and a whiny nine-year-old was not going to get any sympathy from me, to put it nicely.
I was wanting to go into labor on my own this entire pregnancy, as Lucy's labor was induced and awful (but that is a whole other blog post). Like I said, they rescheduled my induction for two days later, meaning I had two more days to go into labor on my own...and two more days to be miserable in the summer heat, with my family waiting around, asking if they should continue to wait around or not. Finally, my mom and I got out of the house. We went for pedicures, while I sulked in a smoothie. The Asian ladies at the nail salon pretended not to understand English when I asked them to rub my ankles to induce labor.
My mom stuck around, though she had a flight to catch on the 14th (which she rescheduled to the 15th). We went for pizza (my third night in a row--I was told there is a certain pizza here in town that puts women into labor) and then a very long walk. The next morning was the 14th and it was the hottest day of the summer. Every time I would have a contraction that day, my mom would wishfully declare that we should go to the hospital. Finally, that evening, after they were 5 minutes apart consistently for a couple of hours, I called Tony at work to come home just an hour early and take me to the hospital. My contractions were steady and big, and I was excited to have 1) gone into labor on my own and 2) be meeting my new baby boy or girl that evening.
On our way, while we drove, rain was pouring to the point that we were at a complete stop on I-90 and unable to see anything. It was that perfect, dramatic urgency I missed out on the first time, and almost missed again. When we got to the hospital, they showed us to my room. It was kind of a let down after being spoiled by a brand new birthing unit in Wisconsin two years prior. To give you an idea, Tony made jokes like, "Let's play a game. Count the number of different wood grains in this room. I've got six."
The nurses told me I wasn't dilated much, despite my steady contractions. They told me that my doctor still planned to hook me up to Pitocin to the next morning for an induction, a drug that I wanted nothing to do with after an awful experience the first time around. I didn't (and still don't) understand why they didn't want to just let nature take its course. Even when I asked if I should walk around, the nurse replied, "Well, that might move things along". Ummm, yeah? Isn't that the idea? Basically, they wanted me to just sleep that night and let my doctor deal with me in the morning.
They did give me a lovely pain killer called Nubane, which had me dreaming about life-sized Sour Patch kids having a tiki party in my backyard. (When given this drug in labor with Lucy, I tried to get Tony to snuggle with me on the hospital bed in front of my mom). The nurse went to get me some shaved, flavored ice and by the time she got back, I was so wasted, basically, that I didn't have the coordination to feed myself. I still vividly remember the look on Tony's face when I asked him to spoon-feed me. You could say I have a way of embarrassing him in front of people at the hospital.
We thought for sure we would have a newborn that night with a July 14th birthdate, but Clara had other plans. After the Nubane wore off sometime in the late hours of the night/early hours of the morning, I asked the nurse in a half-joking matter when I could get that good old epidural. (This is where the story gets really good). "Oh, we don't do those here!" she said.
Queue my stomach dropping like a rock, along with my face most likely. How this never came up in the nine months prior to this moment is still beyond me.
I thought for sure she was making a not-in-the-least-bit-funny joke. She told me they do a spinal block that is "similar" to an epidural but it doesn't exactly numb you. It "just takes the edge off" she said. I grabbed Tony by the arm and told him to start the car, and call my doctor back in Wisconsin to let her know we are on our way. "I can hold this baby in for three more hours if it means getting an epidural from Dr. Stygar." Everyone laughed. I was completely serious, desperate, and had been in pain for hours now. I felt like I was about to jump out of a plane and someone saying "Oh, by the way, you don't have a parachute...good luck!" and pushing me to my death.
I may sound a bit dramatic here (me? no!), but I think it's safe to say that the spinal block was THE WORST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME. It did not take away pain, and I immediately itched all over my body. They had mentioned itching was a side effect, but I thought they meant in the way I itched a little bit after my epidural wore off my first labor and delivery. Instantly I was scratching all over so desperately that Tony warned me I had to stop scratching my face before I started bleeding. I was red all over, crying and scratching. To help me out they gave me Benadryl via IV. Not the best idea for someone who, at this point, hasn't fully rested or slept in over 24 hours and had a long road of pushing ahead.
Now I never believed women before when they talked about this "urge to push", until I experienced it myself while in labor with Lucy. My body really did take over and want to start pushing this baby out. The nurse told me that I wasn't dilated enough yet and couldn't push. So imagine me, red, itchy, exhausted, full of pain, fighting an urge to push with every contraction. I had some choice words for her.
Fast forward about an hour or so to the part where they finally let me push and push I did. I pushed for two and a half hours, blacking out in between from the pain/overwhelming exhaustion. The only parts of this I remember are yelling at my doctor to get her hands out of my body (and her kindly complying at one point), and the doc telling me to relax because I was "out of control" and "hysterical". Oh yes, and there were a few times she told me that I was screaming too loud. I had also yelled "there has to be another way to do this!" to which my doctor replied, "C-Section?" I think I tried to convince her to cut me open, but that part is still a little blurry...
Finally, a nine-pound toddler-sized-infant came out, cellulite on her little butt and all. They threw her on my chest and we are both lucky she didn't slip right off, as I hardly caught her. (I forgot they do that, as I had requested the first time that they clean her off before handing her to me). They said she is a girl and I was thrilled. When they took her away to weigh her I remember the nurse asking Tony if we had a name picked out. Tony looked at me and asked, "Clara?" Yes. She was a perfect, sweet, Clara. She looked like a less chunky version of newborn Lucille. My biggest regret looking back is how long it took me to get over the pain, as I wish I could have taken that sweet girl in a bit more. My friend Amanda still laughs about the phone call afterward. I guess I wasn't the beaming, proud new mother I should have been...yet. The wounds must have been a little fresh.
I would call what happened to me that day, nothing short of a train ripping me apart from the inside out. Yep, that sounds pretty accurate. I thought my labor with Lucy was bad until I gave birth to Clara. If I had to compare the two births, I would say my labor with Clara was 10..... mayyyybe 20 times worse than it was with Lucy. So yeah, the second time was not easier than the first like they say it's supposed to be. I'm hoping third time's a charm?
Despite my desperate pleas at that time with Tony to "remind me of this when I say I want a third", here we are two years later, happy as can be, expecting another. It truly is the most painful thing women go through but the quickest pain they forget, I guess.
Anyhow, today, two years later, here we are at Clara's second birthday party and what a perfect, painless day it was!
Happy birthday to my beautiful, little Clara Louise! You have brought so much joy into our lives in the two short years you have been here. Your sweet, little voice, and sassy demeanor have added "many layers of ruffles" to our everyday lives. You bring smiles your dad, sister and I constantly and we are blessed to have you in our family. I hope you will always know how loved you are.
...and in case you forget, I will keep this story for you to read. I may also pull it out anytime you say I never did anything for you ;)