So there I was, contractions 3 minutes apart, in an elevator at the hospital, grasping at my husband’s hand to stay upright. Oddly, I wasn’t scared — I was excited. Relieved. I really wasn’t going to be pregnant forever! IT WAS FINALLY HAPPENING.
When we got to the maternity area, a nurse buzzed us in and the hubbs helped me waddle to the registration desk. Where they gave me a form to fill out. A FORM. Did I look like I was capable of filling out a form?! It was a short form — it wanted my name, address, phone, doctor’s name, and insurance information — but as I was writing the first initial of my name (and thinking how stupid filling out a form was), another contraction hit.
And I’m bent at the waist, gripping the counter so hard I swear I heard it crack, and I’m hissing through my teeth with my eyes slammed shut. And bless his heart, the hubbs asks the registration nurse: “Can I fill this out? When we get to the room?”
So another nurse shows us to our room and asks me to use the bathroom, put on the hospital gown, and get into the bed. And that someone would be in shortly to check on me. So I waddle to the bathroom, not bothering to close the door, stripping as I go. And — the hubbs swears he’s telling the truth — he peeped his head in to ask if I needed any help. Apparently he didn’t even get the whole question out before my dress and undergarments were flying at his head.
When I come out, I’m between contractions — and apparently sane. The hubbs helps tie the gown and I climb into bed to wait for the nurses/doctors/circus.
Not five minutes later, Dr. A come sauntering in. Yes, sauntering. And he’s older than I thought he would be, for some reason and this strikes me as funny. As does his baseball print do-rag. And as he asks me to assume the position, he makes small talk: about the baseball season and spring training and how he and his wife love to go to Arizona, and you’re dilated to 4 so I’m just gonna break your water now, OK? Cause if he doesn’t do it now, by the time he gets back to me — apparently there’s another woman ABOUT to actually have her child — it’ll be an hour and this will just get “things moving” faster.
Um … OK. “Moving faster” sounds good.
So he tells the nurse that “I’m going to break Mrs. Monkey Momma’s bag of waters now. I need a kit.” And continues to talk baseball with the hubbs. Which entertains me during a contraction and for about two minutes after when the nurse comes back in with a plastic crochet hook in a bag. Seriously. That’s what it looks like. And Dr. A sits down, leans in and says, “A little pressure here,” and then it feels like I just peed myself but it keeps going and going and going. And while the nurse is there, mopping up the fluid with towels he flips his gloves off, tosses them in the garbage can and throws back an “I’ll check on you in an hour” as he saunters out of the room. The man should seriously have a jazz band following him or something.
Now, please note: I haven’t signed any forms yet. I haven’t even officially been admitted into the hospital yet. They haven’t set up the IV yet. And now? My contractions have gone from 3 minutes apart to what feels like ONE.LONG.CONTRACTION. And you know what? It freaking hurt. And I think the conscious part of my brain went away for awhile, because I’m honestly very fuzzy on what happened after that. Most of the details were provided to me by the hubbs after I became lucid again.
Here is what I remember: They strap the fetal monitoring equipment onto me just as another contraction hits. And the contractions just kept coming, wave after wave after wave. And its hard to breathe. The pain is so intense, I can barely breathe. And I find hubbs and I hold onto his hand, because its the only thing I know that’s REAL at that moment. And I know I was able to tell him that I was tingling. My forehead tingled. My face tingled. It felt like my hair follicles were tingling. My hands tingled and clenched so tight I couldn’t move them. My jaw was clenched and I couldn’t unclench it.
It was like being trapped in your own body. You’re pushing the buttons but nothing is happening and somewhere a little robot is screaming “Danger Will Robinson!”
I remember him telling the nurse that my face felt tingly. And by tingly, I mean the pins and needles you feel after your foot/arm fell asleep and the blood is flowing back to it. THAT kind of tingling.
And the nurse was asking me questions, but I couldn’t hear her. I could see her, but I couldn’t hear her. I couldn’t move my mouth to tell her that either. It was all I could do to breathe. It felt like I had to concentrate really hard just to do that. I was looking at hubb’s hand over mine and thinking: BREATHE. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. BREATHE.
Suddenly, the hubb’s voice cuts in: “Slow down your breathing or you’ll hyperventilate. Sweetie? Slow down.” I slow my breathing by counting to five for each inhale and exhale, still focused on our hands. And there’s silence until: “Honey? Move to your right, OK? You need to turn.” And there were his hands helping me, and his face, although it was blurry. “You need to talk to them. What’s going on?”
Remember that clenched jaw? Yeah. Couldn’t unclench it. Couldn’t talk. I just shook my head, mouthing “I can’t talk.” (Or at least, I THOUGHT that was what I was doing.) And I notice some woman fluttering around my sides for the first time, but woman? I’m trying to BREATHE here. Little room?
And then the contraction’s over. There’s a pause at least. Although the tingling is still going on. And suddenly, its a riot of noise in the room. And I look down at my hands and both of them are covered with small trails of blood. There’s a guy leaning over my left hand putting in an IV. Apparently, two nurses were going after my veins and couldn’t get them. (The hubbs will angrily tell me later that they used my hands as a pincushion 8 times before they called for backup.) They had to call in the anesthesiologist to do it. He gets it on the first try, then tells me to lean against this cushioned thing so he can set up my epidural. (And oh yes I wanted one.) And he taps me on the shoulder and says to stay very still and to let him know if a contraction starts.
And as he’s cleaning the area and after he numbs it, a contraction starts. And all I can do is hiss out this fact before counting my breaths again. But the needle is already in my back. “Stay still!” I hear the hubbs say. “Stay still! Don’t move!” Its the hardest thing EVER not to move. All I want to do is squirm around and flop on the floor like a fish out of water. But I hold still, and suddenly … there’s warmness. A languid warmness slowly radiates all over. And where the warm goes, the tingling stops. And my ears stop ringing. (When had they started?) And I can hear people talking. The hubbs is murmuring comforting words and patting my hand and the nurse is telling me I did a good job, and the anesthesiologist is taping the wire in place and then helping me lean back in the bed.
And I can breathe without willing it to happen, and I look down at my hands again and there’s tiny rivulets of dried blood. And although I KNOW I saw this already, it surprises me. I tell the anesthesiologist he’s an angel and deserves his own parade and to just let me know when he wants it, cause I’ll bring the balloons. And the hubbs? He looks as white as a sheet.
I tell him that I tried to talk to him before, but that I couldn’t, and apologized if I scared him. He tells me that I wasn’t listening to the nurses, but he noticed that after he parroted what they said, I did it. So he became a parrot, repeating what the nurses said so I would do what was needed. I told him I didn’t hear the nurses, that I didn’t even remember seeing any until after the epidural took effect. Apparently they had also done a couple of “checks” down there while I was out of my mind focused on breathing, and we were now dilated to 6. The hubbs said three checks had been done, two by the nurses and one by a midget in a cowboy getup.
Yes, you read that right. Apparently a three-ring circus came in too, but the dancing bear was annoyed that I had ignored him and so they left. (Really, he said these things.)
I’m dilated to 6. We have to get to 10. And I look at the clock and its 4:30 p.m., the hubbs is still white as a sheet and I realize he never ate lunch. A nurse is checking my monitors as I tell him to go get something to eat and to take care of himself. He looks at me like I’ve sprouted a third eye, but the nurse laughs. “If she’s telling you to go eat, she’s OK.” I nod at him.
“Really, I’m OK now. Go and get something to eat, we’ll be here awhile. I’ll be OK.” And the hubbs nods and takes off for the cafeteria.
The next couple of hours are actually kinda boring. We watch TV, we talk, the hubbs goes downstairs and gets himself dinner. A million people come into the room, identify themselves, slap on a glove, and stick their hands inside me. Dr. A saunters in every couple of hours to see how I’m progressing. At one point, my labor slowed down, so they gave me pitocin. I now feel slight pressure during contractions, but if I’m concentrating on something else, I really don’t feel them.
Essentially, nothing happens until 10:15 p.m., when Dr. A says we’re dilated to 10 and can start pushing. Wahoo! Pushing! This means its REALLY on! Baby in no time!
Riiiight. Idiot, party of one?
So, pushing means to push like you’re going No.2. Every try to do that when your butt’s asleep? Cause that’s kinda how it is with the epidural. You can’t FEEL anything, so you’re not quite sure you’re doing it right, which sounds funny, but its true. And after an hour — yes AN HOUR of pushing, the nurse can finally see the Sea Monkey’s head. And guess what? He’s got a fuzzy head. Just like his sibling, THE CYST. Apparently, I make fuzzy things. Anyhoo. ANOTHER hour goes by and the Sea Monkey is at ‘2’ and we still need to get to ‘0’. All these numbers!
BUT during this hour, the nurse lets the hubbs get a peek at the Sea Monkey’s fuzzy head. He confirms that yes, it IS fuzzy. Also? During this time, the Sea Monkey is KICKING like crazy. Probably wanting to know WTF is going on and WHY HASN’T ANYONE FED ME ALL DAY?! I urge him to help me out by pushing off a rib or something.
Dr. A saunters in again and estimates I’ve got another HOUR of pushing before we’ll be ready for him to play catch. (ahem) Deliver the baby. Remember waaay back when? When he broke my water to “get things going”? As in, “this will go quicker if we do this”? I want to know what that man’s definition of “quick” is.
The nurse finally lets this slip: The reason this whole pushing thing is taking so long (as in three hours)? The Sea Monkey’s head is turned ‘just so’ that he can’t squeeze all the way out. Basically, he needs help. So in saunters Dr. A, jazz band in tow, and he slaps some gloves on, takes a look, and decides its go time.
Suddenly there are all these extra people in the room and — oh look, there IS a three-ring circus. There’s Dr. A, the nurse, the nurse’s assistant, the lady who does all the baby measuring, some guy who I can’t remember what he does, but apparently its important, and another nurse who wheels over the covered table of very scary things.
And then, like a magician’s assistant, she unveils it. And it is a table of very scary, shiny things. There are stainless steel bowls, salad tongs, probe-looking things, things that look like they belong in a dentist’s office, NOT within reach of someone sitting between my legs like a linebacker. And one of the nurses is pouring iodine over the salad tongs (forecepts) and my main nurse sees my quasi-panicked look and comes up to my head and whispers, “Don’t worry, Dr. A is the best person in this hospital with forecepts. He knows what he’s doing.”
I nod, and am slightly comforted. Until he picks up a PAIR OF SCISSORS and places it within easy reach. This could seriously be a room in the Tower of London. Holy bejeezuz, I can’t believe I’m doing this. I push the button on the epidural. You know, just in case. And I look at the Hubbs as if to say “Seriously? Can we talk about this for a sec?” And he smiles and squeezes my hand and says “We’re almost there. You can do it.”
Not like I have much choice at this point.
So Dr. A half-stands from his stool and says, “OK, with the next contraction, when I tell you to, you’re going to push and I’m going to pull.” And I nod and then gasp when VERY FREAKING COLD metal salad tongs are put up there and secured around the Sea Monkey’s head. And then he gives me the signal to push, and I can FEEL him pulling and … THERE ISN’T ENOUGH ROOM. I can tell. And just as I’m about to gasp this, he picks up the scissors. And just as I’m about to scream at him to get the eff away from me with those, there are three pinches accompanied by the sound of three snips. And the hubbs, who is WATCHING, stiffens, and then the Sea Monkey slips out of me and into Dr. A’s hands.
And the hubbs looks back at me, all doe-eyed with wonder and excitement, and whispers “Honey, you did it! He’s out!” Believe me, I know. There’s suddenly a languor over me. The pressure’s gone.
And there’s silence. I’m just looking at the Sea Monkey — now Monkey — thinking “Breathe. Breathe. Why aren’t you breathing?!” And the dude that I don’t know what he does? He’s sucking fluid out of the Monkey’s mouth and suddenly there’s his cry and I can relax. And the hubbs is over watching them clean him off and measure and weigh him, and Dr. A now has a needle and is sewing me up.
And THAT is when the drugs wear off. I push the button, but its no good. I’m gasping and clenching my toes with every stitch. By the time he’s done and “packs the area” with gauze, the nurses are done with the Monkey and they bring him over to me.
And there he is. My little Monkey. And he’s all baby soft and fuzzy and warm. I’m all gushy and smiles and relief. And tearful. Because he’s here and I’m just so grateful.
And even then, still bleeding and tingling from the stitches and that whole labor thing, I understood why people keep doing this. Why women keep doing this. Its magical, and special, and something I’m so very glad I did.
Because you know what? It was SO worth it.