Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Minion Is Born

The last week of my pregnancy was brutal. Not because I was having any issues with it. I wasn’t. My whole pregnancy had been pretty easy, even when factoring in the gestational diabetes. But going to work every day was the worst. I was just tired of people asking me how soon it would be (as if I knew), telling me I “looked ready” (loose translation: you look haggard) and generally making themselves annoying. I wanted to be done and I hated it, because I loved being pregnant. Of course I was ready to meet the little baby inside me since we hadn’t found out the gender, but I was still mostly enjoying the fun of the kicks and spins and feeling good. The unknown was killing me. Not being able to plan anything, cleaning up my desk every evening in the chance that I wouldn’t be in the next day, getting the “you’re still here?” every morning I came in. I told my husband the Sunday before my due date after a particularly bad morning at Church that being 39 weeks pregnant was the only time in my life that I felt like people were actually disappointed to see me. As much as people wanted to meet my child, didn’t they think that I wanted to meet it more?

The Monday before my due date (June 24) I told my mom that I was convinced the baby was never coming out. I was under a lot of stress as I had been told at my last midwife appointment that I would not be allowed to go past 40 weeks due to the GD. This was my worst nightmare. I wanted an unmedicated birth, not because I was some kind of crunchy mama, but because I was deathly afraid of needles and didn’t want one stuck in my back for any reason. I knew my chances of this went way down with induction as well as increased my chances of c-section at the worst and constant IV drip at the least. Neither option was very appealing to me. I started a St. Therese Novena, downed evening primrose oil and red raspberry leaf tea and did all kinds of pelvic opening exercises. I had called them that previous Tuesday and told them I was refusing an induction unless they had a medical reason to do so. They didn’t, gave me the legal spiel and scheduled a bunch of appointments for July 1. At that appointment that day (the 24), they checked my cervix. I was 4cm dilated and 80% effaced and at a -1 station. My MW was shocked. I was shocked. But I was also secretly vindicated. I was hoping it would happen Wednesday, which was the day my grandmother was flying in from Louisiana for the birth. I hadn’t received my roses from St. Therese, but I was sure she was working on it. She had to be, right?

It didn’t happen Wednesday (the 26). I cried to my mom telling her that I wanted Mimi to postpone her trip,that the baby wasn’t going to come on time. I was scared to be induced, defiant of the so-called standard of care, and annoyed with my body for dawdling. I started an Our Lady, Undoer of Knots Novena in the hopes I wouldn’t have to finish it. I got text messages daily from my mother in law and auntie asking me how I was feeling. I was feeling pregnant. Just pregnant.

Thursday the 27, I woke up at 3am with the thought of “I am going to take a half day today and come home and clean, since Mimi will be here Sunday regardless of whether or not Minion is.” When I got to work, I emailed my boss and told him, citing exhaustion. I texted my BFF Jenny and told her, who cited nesting. Around 11am, about an hour before I was about to leave, I started to have back pains. I told Jenny I felt like I was having mild cramps, like the kind you get days before you have your period. She informed me these were contractions and told me to go home to take a nap. I told her I wanted to do laundry, but took her advice. I got home, laid on the couch and all contractions stopped. I was crestfallen. That evening, when Greg got home, we went for a walk. My mom told me the day she went into labor with me, she sat on the swing and just swung for hours. So I got on the swing at the playground, hoping something would happen. I went to bed that night feeling pregnant. Just pregnant.

Friday, June 28 was my five year wedding anniversary. I swung my legs over the bed and hobbled out as best as I could. But as I was doing it, I burst into tears. “You can come out now, Minion” I told my still-sleeping belly, “everyone is excited to meet you. Your room is ready, the world is ready.” Gathering myself, I checked my blood sugar and wandered to the bathroom. Blood. Lots of blood. I told Greg who was getting ready to leave. He asked me if I should stay. I told him no, everything was fine and to go to work. I told him I was going in and would come home if anything happened. I said it was probably my mucus plug, but that didn’t necessarily mean anything. As soon as he left, I texted the doula (Christie), Jenny and consulted the hive mind of #CathSorority Moms. Moms said no big deal, Jenny said go to the doctor’s office, Christie said wait an hour to see if bleeding stops. I called my boss and told him I wasn’t coming in and sent up a prayer that the baby at least came over the weekend so I didn’t have to show up at work Monday after missing a day and a half. I got into the shower and decided to throw in that load of laundry after all. Jenny texted me a little bit later and asked me if I wanted company. I told her I was fine, but she insisted I not be alone if I went into labor. The bleeding had stopped and nothing was happening, so I told her I was not in labor. She came with Gabi and Grant at around 11. We watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for what felt like hours (realizing later the thing was on loop, so it was only like 10 minutes of the show over and over), before deciding to take a walk to the park to get me moving, hoping it would coax something else to happen. After having spent my entire pregnancy dreading this part of it, I was not in the least bit anxious.

June 28, 10am. Last belly shot. 39 weeks, 6 days

Jenny asked me if I needed to do anything and I declared I needed toilet paper (note to self: next time you buy toilet paper when you think you’ll have a newborn in the next few days, buy the BIG pack and spring for the good, soft stuff). We went to Target and decided lunch was probably in order. We dropped the kids off at Ed’s (Jenny’s father in law) and went off to Red Robin, which was one of the only places I could eat with my GD. After ordering approximately 10 fries and downing our food, I went to pay the check and BAM. Contraction. Big one. It hurt. Jenny paid the check pronto and we went to pick up the kids. It was 2pm on the dot. Jenny told me to time them, and I texted Greg but told him not to come home, he only had a couple of hours left and it was likely going to be a long night. They were sporadic and really short, lasting maybe 30-45 seconds and between 5-15 minutes apart. I texted Christie, who had a meeting in Boulder (45 minutes away) at 4. I told her to go, but that I would keep her informed. She was concerned that I would dilate really fast since I was 4cm nearly a week before. Greg texted me at 3:45 to ask me what I wanted for dinner. Since it was our anniversary, I told him to get Carrabba’s takeout since that’s where we would have gone. I told him I didn’t think I wanted to sit in a restaurant. Jenny left at about 4:15 and Greg got home at about 4:30. He downed his food, and got in the shower while I bounced on the yoga ball and timed contractions. Christie told me she was leaving and I told her things were still sporadic. Greg was feeding me between contractions and noticed that they were getting pretty close together. After being famished, I suddenly wasn’t very hungry and told him to put the stuff in the car so it would be ready “for later or tomorrow.” He timed my next few contractions and they were 3 minutes apart. I called my mom and said we’d be leaving for the hospital in about 30 minutes. Christie had just gotten to Boulder and decided to turn around. At about 5:15 Greg decided we should go to the hospital, since it was a Friday, rush hour and we had to get on the highway to get to the hospital. I called my mom for an ETA and she said she was on her way.
Mmmm... Carrabba's Chicken Bryan. 

When we got to the hospital, I realized I hadn’t called the midwife. I called the after hours line and they asked me a bunch of really stupid questions. We got up to the labor and delivery floor and they put me in triage. Martine (the midwife who had been on my shitlist most of my pregnancy because she’s the one who put me on meds and told me I would have to be induced) was the on-call midwife that night, and she came in to check me. I was 7cm dilated and 90% effaced and at -1 station. She commented on my shirt, which was an Imagine Sisters t-shirt (because I refused to wear a hospital gown). It was admittedly, a strange thing to wear in labor. They decided to admit me (hooray, since I was in labor). Christie got there sometime after 6, and we hung out there as they apparently had a baby boom and all the l&d rooms were full. My charge nurse, Terri (who was surly and I did not like her) came in to insert my IV and failed twice. This was, I would later report, one of the worst parts of my labor.

[I don’t remember a lot from my actual labor. I have two theories on this. One is that I had taken off my glasses and I am basically legally blind. Because I couldn’t see, I kept my eyes shut for most of my labor and have literally NO visual record of anything. The other is that, well, we’re not really supposed to remember it.]We were moved to an l&d room around 7:45 and someone came in to insert my IV in my hand. I was not happy about this. All these nurses need better training. Apparently, the weather had changed as it started to hail. One thing that Greg does not like is bad weather. So I was getting an IV (my worst fear) and it was hailing (his worst fear). I smashed my face into the bed and prayed Hail Marys like they were going out of style. Greg put on my CD of chant and rubbed my head. I looked up at him, barely coherent and asked him how HE was! Once the hail finally stopped, things just went on like that, contraction after contraction, breath after breath. Martine came in to check on me and told me she wanted to tap the baby’s head to see if they could get its heart to adapt to the contractions (or something like that). When she did this, the baby’s heart rate dropped. I had to ask Greg about this. He said a bunch of nurses rushed in all of a sudden. I remember one of them picking up her walkie talkie and telling someone that they would have to wait because she was in an emergency. Hubbs said that he prepared himself mentally at that moment that both the baby and I would die. I remember thinking this was all really stupid because my baby was fine. They put me on an oxygen mask, and broke my water. Baby’s heart stabilized and labor went on. The contractions were bad, but I breathed and listened to the music and prayed and at one point said I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. Christie encouraged me to move and change positions, they put me on a peanut ball (which I think is probably the most uncomfortable thing ever). I was 9.5cm dilated and not budging. Christie suggested I try to pee because maybe my bladder was full and emptying it could help, but every time I got up, I felt like I had to push and I couldn’t because of the stupid lip. Finally, Martine told me to go ahead and push with the next contraction and she would try to move the lip. BAM, just like that, it was baby time. It was 10:30. Martine announced we would be having an anniversary baby. I got excited and told Christie “I did it! I had an unmedicated birth!”

Pushing was glorious. Finally! A way to DO something with my contractions and my labor. They put me up on the squat bar because my pelvis was narrow and baby had a “large head.” I pulled myself up and was grateful I had done all those squats in prenatal yoga. I was too good at it, though. Baby’s heart rate dropped. Again. Martine told me they might need to use the forceps or vacuum and I told her whatever they had to do for baby to be safe was fine (and I was so happy no one even mentioned a c-section once). The OB came in to see what was going on, and checked me (seriously, I think everyone in that hospital had their hand up there at least once). He patted my leg, said we were fine and for me to just push every OTHER contraction. Agony. It was absolute agony. The contractions were so intense and hard and I had been pushing. I wanted to push. But I breathed and pushed hard. Everyone was saying encouraging things, everyone was rubbing my head or putting cold compresses on. I felt every single woman in my family all throughout history there with me—it was a true communion of Saints moment. I talked to my baby,“come on baby, we can do this, we will do this together.” I randomly got the song “Eli’s Comin’” by Three Dog Night in my head. It was almost time and I was tired, I had been pushing for nearly 2 hours, in labor for 10. My mom, who has been away from the Church for 20 years came to my side and whispered “Undoer of Knots” in my ear. I don't know where she got it from or heard it. I thought I imagined it, but I read my mom's journal entry and it was in there, too. Martine said “One more!” I pushed and… BABY.

They had to sort of wrench the baby out because its shoulder was stuck, they cut the cord to check the collar bone and make sure it didn’t have a dislocated shoulder. I said to Greg “what is it?” “It’s a girl?” He said. “She’s a girl?!” I said. My mom asked if she could call her by her name, and they laid little Eliana Claire on my chest. I had a daughter. A beautiful, wonderful daughter who was pink and perfect. 7lbs 8oz and 21 inches long. Born 25 minutes after midnight so she got to have her own day. She was born on her due date, 40 weeks exactly. Take THAT, standard of care. 

I didn’t finish the Our Lady Undoer of Knots novena. I didn’t have to. She came through for me (like she always does). And as for St. Therese, well, when I woke up the next morning in my hospital room, I noticed there was only one decoration on the wall: a picture of a vase full of roses.