Since Baby #2 is going to be making its way into the world in these upcoming days or weeks... I have been reflecting and thinking a lot about my first experience with Raea. I thought I'd take the opportunity to blog about it since I never did before.
Let me preface by saying that although it is nearly two years later, I remember most details. I remember being in the worst pain I've ever felt (until the pain got worse... which it did) and looking up at my husband between vomiting and contractions and saying "I'm not going to be one of those women who forgets how painful this is! I'm going to remember this!" and I'm almost certain I have... One thing I wish I did was have more photos. I had my professional camera for once the baby came, but wanted Matt to be "in the moment" and didn't want to give him photography duty... Now I realize how long labor is... We will have more photos this time!
I must have some wide hip bones or something (even though it doesn't look that way, I don't think) because I feel like I carried Raea very low, and now this kid even lower. I had a wedding to go to in Vermont a little over two weeks out from my due date. I was supposed to be the Maid of Honor. While I early on resigned myself from that responsibility, at my 36 week appointment I asked to have my cervix checked as I felt I was already getting contractions and I wanted to be able to give my friend a definitive answer on whether or not I would be attending her wedding. I did not attend her wedding. Good thing her and I had an outing at Kripalu Yoga Center before that, so that was our little time together celebrating her getting married
At 36 weeks I was already 3cm dilated. My doctor thought I'd be having the baby early, but also assured me that she could never be positive and to hunker down; the baby was low, low, and I was ready to go! It was best to err on the side of caution and not be stuck up in Vermont where I'm not even sure they do epidurals. My plan was to go naturally as long as tolerable, but not be a hero and tap out if I needed to.
At 37 weeks I had to photograph a wedding, so I didn't want to rock the boat and do anything crazy, I hung tight for that week leading up to the wedding (7/11. Due date was 7/30). I was incredibly uncomfortable and had regular Braxton Hicks contractions (or were they real contractions?... I don't know)...they were painful enough to take my breath away for a brief minute and it all felt worse than the time before at this point. They were timable and often 10 minutes apart. I hired a back up photographer just to be on the safe side and also had Matt come just in case something happened and I had to leave. The bride and groom were very aware of the situation and joked that I should have the baby at the reception! I was relieved when I made it through this last wedding (I did 5 weddings pregnant this summer). I could finally focus on the baby. I'd be at home laboring in bed nearly every night and think things were going to progress, and then suddenly after hours and hours, things would be "normal" again.
At 38 weeks (or probably the end of my 37th week) I went to the sneakerama fun run to walk/run and get things moving. (I wasn't even cleared to do this by my Orthopedic Surgeon.... But desperate times) On our way there the contractions started. They would be 7-10 minutes apart, and painful enough to shorten my breath (I had no idea how much more painful things could get, so at the time I thought "this is pretty painful, I must be in labor) I had read to labor at home as much as possible, but I was afraid that since I lived 30 minutes away from the hospital and labored at home too long, I'd have the baby in the car like the girl on youtube. I had read that if you labor a lot at home it is faster in the hospital, and I felt like I had been laboring for weeks with all those other night time contractions! My fear was I was going to have this baby too fast! So instead of driving all the way home we called the doctors and went in to the hospital. The contractions stayed steady and strong, but I wasn't in crying pain... just "hold my breath/ let me sit down for a minute" type of pain. Everyone had told me I've done marathons so this should be easy. Some of the wussiest people I know delievered naturally.... so I'm expecting pain, genuine pain... but am not sure what exactly a 10 feels like! They checked my cervix, 3cm still. I was hooked up to a monitor for many hours until contractions stopped. Since I was so close they sent me walking around the hospital to try to get labor going... It just wasn't happening. Home I went.
39 weeks Another Thursday night at sneakerama. Same exact deal. For a whole week I've been at home (30 minutes from the hospital) with contractions that will not get closer than 7 minutes apart... but sneakerama is literally next to the hospital so each time I was in the area I just didn't feel safe going all the way back home with ongoing contractions. Back to the hospital, Back on a monitor, back in a bed with people putting hands all over the place. I'm starting to know everyones face and getting embarrassed that once again I'm sent home. Am I that much of a wuss that I think this is labor when it's not?!
Week 40 My due date. Another Thursday night at Sneakerama, only this time when the contractions started I was not going to the hospital until they were much much closer together. They were again 7-10 minutes apart and more painful each day. I was so exhausted from not being able to sleep each night because I'm hitting the split button on my watch waiting and wondering if this is it. Instead of the embarrassment of checking in with the hospital before going home, we just went home. I was emotionally drained and couldn't bare to see the faces of the residents ever again unless I was actually in labor!
"You can't keep saying you're going into labor, everyone knows you're full of it!"
I labored all night while my husband slept soundly. I just quietly cried thinking "how will I ever know for sure?".... But when the sun rose and I was still having contractions, I realized this was the first time I had had them in the morning. This was different. still 7 minutes apart, but I knew this was different. I sent my husband for his run knowing this would probably be it (He's for sure one of those people that needs to run, I wanted him at his best in the hospital, AKA: post run). I was excited now. I felt in control. I was in lots of pain but each contraction I thought "woah, I can do this! Maybe when I get to the hospital I'll already be 6cm since I was already 3! Maybe this will be fast!" We went to my moms house which is only 5 minutes from the hospital, and I labored there. I hung in until about 1pm warding off tears of pain while watching re-runs of the office on Netflix, and feeling proud that I was taking it like a champ. 5-6 minutes apart now, but super painful. Can't talk, can't move, painful... I couldn't take it anymore... I needed to go to the hospital... BUT FIRST I wanted food. I didn't want to starve and I was craving a sandwich from Apple and Spice (right near the hospital but on the opposite side of construction). I ordered between contractions, and felt energized by the food and was ready to go. 5 minutes apart now. We sat in the parking lot of the hospital for a while waiting until I was 5 minutes for a full hour... I was gripping the seat with pain and not sure how to position myself to make it hurt less! My Doctor was on staycation with her family but available via text. Matt was getting nervous and texting her. She said to go into the hospital. This is the first of my 3 visits that I needed the wheelchair.... I was tired and there was NO WAY I could stand up during contractions
Pre-Labor (bigger sigh)
The paper work was so annoying. I had filled this shit out twice already...The first two times were annoying because I thought I couldn't breathe and was anxious.... but this time I really couldn't breathe like...this was really happening. They are asking me questions like I have the breath to answer. I'm literally holding my breath for 90 seconds and releasing and then preparing to hold it again. I know all those stupid classes teach you to breathe, well I never went to one. And Fuck them, because I am a competitive runner. I make it difficult to breath for fun. I practice breathing through pain on a daily basis... I go to yoga, I meditate...Trust me when I tell you NO CLASS is going to teach you to breathe through labor. or pre-labor. Whatever phase I'm in at this point. My saving grace was that I thought I'd be pretty far along by the time I got through triage and into the delivery room. Well, lucky for me they saw me in the wheelchair and could tell I was in some sort of ordeal and I finally got passed triage. There were people in labor everywhere (supermoon, no joke) and it was full anyway was rooms were filling quickly but Thankfully I didn't have to deliver in hallway since it appeared I was obviously ready to push out a baby I got to skip right by the monitoring phase (it's cool... been there, done that). I was excited to find out how much further I've progressed. At this point I've worked through so much pain for over 12 hours on my own (not including all those false alarms and the night after night of slower contractions). I was confident. I got this I thought. They got me settled in a bed. I'm sweating, I'm swearing, Someone please tell me how much longer! Can I have drugs!? I think I'm ready for drugs!...They try to calm me down, and tell me they just need to check my cervix. I'll never forget the face of the Resident who checked me. He was kind, and had an up beat positive energy.... I liked him at first... not that I really wanted his hands all up in my grille, but tell me the good news! I'm 7, 8, 9 centimeters, right?..... RIGHT!?!!!? He's talking to me as he removes his gloves telling me things are progressing nicely but not giving me a number. I see him out of the corner of my eye wince at the nurse (Bonnie.... I'll never forget her name)... and he held up three fingers and mouthed to her "still three". Before telling me three and a half.
That was it.
I was done.
This was the end for me.
Kill me now.
Not only can I not get the epidural but I'm not even technically in labor yet! As labor is considered 4cm. This was the hardest .5cm of my life! They are discussing sending me home and some of the residents have no problem telling me I'm not in labor. Tell me that one more time and I swear you'll never see the light of day again! I was left alone with just Bonnie (and my husband, who is pretty useless at this point. I can tell he wants to help but literally I have no use for him. I might even hate him for getting me pregnant... I don't know) Bonnie told me that the residents are new and they have no idea. She said I'm in labor but for some reason my body hasn't progressed yet. She helped me take the most painful shower of my life. We tried bouncing on the stability ball, but I literally had lost all enthusiasm for this whole experience. I just couldn't even deal with trying to get labor "really" going but she suggested I try walking again. I joined many other women walking in the hallway. Matt holding me up and I just remember cying to him about how embarrassed I was. I held my head in shame as I saw all the residents from the days I was in false labor earlier in the month. I pictured them snickering and laughing at me because I thought I was in labor again. The pain of contractions was bad. really bad... but I think the emotional pain of being told I wasn't in labor yet was a very close second. I couldn't get a break from pain because in between contractions I was just... not myself. All I could think about was how if this wasn't labor, there's no way I can do it. I do not feel insecure often at all. I do not feel weak really, ever.... But this? ... Nothing could have prepared me for this. I got back to the room and I was checked again. No change. There is no consoling me. I'm not crying because I had no energy to cry. I'm throwing up, but not crying. This was the lowest feeling and the most self defeated and the most self doubt I've ever experienced.... but I didn't have time for self loathing because every 2 minutes I was holding my breath for 90 seconds only getting a minute or so to prepare for the next wave. Bonnie took my watch away (I was hitting the split button still) she told me about how she just had a baby and hasn't even been back to work for a month yet so she totally understands my pain. She followed up telling me that she thinks that I'm trying too hard to control my body and if I could just relax I would probably be at 10cm in no time. I couldn't relax. They gave me morphine to slow down the contractions hoping to stop them and send me home. After all, I wasn't really in labor and I was taking up a room and there was an absolute full house.
Morphine sucks. It literally did nothing for the pain. It made me say more impulsive and probably a bit funnier things... and I guess, in hindsight, it did change my mood a bit because I recall laughing at how horrible the pain was and laughing about my mom having 8 kids, and joking that someone needed to call her so I could say sorry for being a little shit. I also remember saying I owed her a lot of mothers day cards.... It was as if I could still feel the pain (like, I could really feel it) but I wasn't recognizing it as my own. It was almost like I was looking down at my pathetic self clinging to the side of the bed. At this point Bonnie had to switch with Danielle... she had 4 kids. I remember calling her a badass so many times. and then also saying "whyyy would you do this more than once?!" In come the doctors.. Guess what!? STILL 3.5 cm!!! I lost it- I was shaking with pain and fear... The residents were asking me if I had cervical scaring... how the f would I know!? I can't see down there? Do I? I don't think so?!... They followed up with "have you had any trauma to the cervix" and I replied "does right now count?!"... I was still having contractions so they weren't sending me home, but they discussed options. Some higher-up resident came in and said she was going to do something very painful but it would hopefully move things along. She "stripped my membranes"... That Fucking HURT... Like WTF?!?! are you SURE it's normal to feel this level of pain, or am I actually dying? There was also a lot of blood at this point. I know that it's probably normal, but when you're in that much pain, and see that much blood... You start to think maybe, just maybe you are actually dying. I thank God for that stunt because some amount of time later (I had no watch) I was 4cm.
Matt was texting with my Doctor who was demanding they get the Anesthesiologist in right away. The longest 20 minutes of my life, I could have kissed him when he came through the door! I will never forget his face either. Now, lots of people say the epidural needle hurts... They also say it's really big... I don't know anything about that. They ask you to hunch your back and not move, and that's a real bitch... I remember looking up at Matt (who at this point has tried to hide from my wrath, has eaten food behind a curtain because he's hungry, and looked some sickly shade of green as he rubbed my feet watching me suffer) and his eyes widened big; I could tell the needle was out and I prepped myself to feel something.... I didn't feel a thing... Praise the LORD that epidural worked and it worked well! I'm sure I was in pain for some bit of time after, but everything after the epidural was easier... I was able to breathe, and rest! Matt was still texting with the Doctor who said she could come in and deliver the baby in the morning. She said it could be a while before I have to push... and that we should both sleep. I felt like sleeping. They turned the light off. Danielle came back in quietly and I remember saying to her "I think my water broke" and she said "hmm.... Yup! Looks like it did!" .... A doctor comes in to check me again. My cervix went from 4cm to 10cm in less than 20 minutes... Bonnie was right, I just needed to relax (hahahahahaaa! I tried!) They asked me if I wanted to push, and at this point I realize there's a clock on the wall. It's 10 minutes till midnight. I laughed thinking about the office episode where Pam and Jim need to have the baby after midnight to get an extra night in the hospital. I replied "Nahhh, I'll wait".... I tried to sleep I was so, so, so tired... but I was anxious. The next time a doctor, or resident, or person that could help me came in I said "I think I'm ready to push now. I want to meet my baby"...
The rest was easy.
I couldn't feel anything but pressure. I had to actually have my hand on my stomach to know if I was having a contraction and needed to push or not. Pushing was very athletic, and what I think I was more mentally prepared for (mind you, I couldn't feel anything...so I'm literally just pushing. I'm not pushing through the pain that other women push through...so I am by no means lessening the magnitude of how painful and difficult this part could be. It just wasn't for me this time....) In less than 30 minutes I had my baby girl in my arms, and she immediately looked up at me and crawled up on my chest to nurse. I counted her fingers and toes, and saw two eyes, a nose, and a perfect little mouth, and I was relieved.
She cried I supposed, We have a picture of her crying when they weighed her after she nursed but I don't even really remember it when she first came out. She was so calm and collected from the very beginning, just taking it all in. She was eyes wide open just looking up at me... For all the pain I went through, there was equal, if not more love that countered it in that moment. And for all the love I felt in that moment, it has grown and grown and grown. Matt literally held her and sobbed at how amazing she was for a solid week... We thought we knew what love was when we got married, but we were really just learning. Together we created more love... and soon we will welcome even more! We can't wait!
I later found out (when my Doctor came to visit me in the hospital the next day) that the kind of labor I had is very hard. It's called Prodromal Labor, not to be confused with false labor (where was this article when I was in labor with Raea? Would have answered a ton of my questions). I wonder if it had to do with my knee surgery, or if it's going to happen to me all over again (please no!) but it was a relief to put a name to the type of labor I had and to clarify for me that I'm not, in fact, the wussiest person in the world... Fingers crossed, no prodromal labor this time!
So that's the story of Raea Elizabeth- 7lbs .02oz! I'm looking forward to these feelings all over again! And yes, I even (anxiously) look forward to labor. Who knows, Maybe all this running will make this time something like what I expected the first time.... But I wont hold my breath right now.... There will be plenty of time for that, later!
Welcome to my blog! I blogged my entire pregnancy in 2017 and I had high hopes for where I could take my running after baby number 2, but my body had other plans. At some point I got too discouraged to write and recently realized that it is essential for my personal growth and development to keep putting feelings into coherent(ish) thoughts. I still hope to run sub 2:45 in the marathon one day, but for now I’m trying to focus on the process and I’m learning to enjoy it. You can come along for the ride, apologies in advance for grammatical incorrectness!