Friday, November 4, 2016

Cat's birth story part 1: Let me be brave

Obligatory birth story disclaimer: Here be discussion of bodily fluids and other things you might not want to think about if you're squeamish and/or a man and/or know me in real life. 

There's also a possible Doctor Who (S9 E10) spoiler.
39 weeks = officially really full-term
= officially REALLY ready to be done
Like with any proper birth story, I think we ought to start before the actual labor does. (This is probably one of the reasons my last labor was 6 hours long and merited a 7-part birth story. :p )

Monday night/Tuesday morning, Tad slept very very terribly. At about 10 a.m. I was messaging with Sheila and and said that I'd bet good money that he was going to spike a fever or break out in a rash or something within 24 hours.

Within about 10 minutes of my writing that, he started throwing up.

So we canceled all our plans for Tuesday and Wednesday and once Tad fell asleep I left him with Scott (who was working from home) and went to Kroger for crackers and Pedialyte.

Facebook discussions of the day revolved around the fact that Murphy's law dictated I would definitely go into labor that night. I panicked a bit worrying that nobody would be willing to watch Tad when he was potentially contagious.

Throughout the day I kept thinking that I should do housework/take a nap/get caught up on paperwork so that if I DID go into labor I would be that much more prepared. But instead I did basically nothing but surf Facebook and read Sims blogs. Honestly, though, I think I needed a day off more than I needed to get all that stuff done.

Tad stopped throwing up at around 1 p.m., took a roughly 4-hour nap, and woke up apparently right as rain. We went to bed and woke up and no baby so I assumed I was actually in the clear. (For some reason it seemed impossible that I would have the baby during the day.)

On Wednesday morning I left Tad watching cartoons with Scott's supervision and went grocery shopping by myself--50% to avoid spreading Tad's germs around and 50% because I was just way too pregnant to deal with a toddler while out shopping.

Tad took another good nap that afternoon and I felt somewhat guilty for wasting more time on the internet instead of a) napping myself or b) getting baby prep done.

After Scott finished work we made dinner and I thought about suggesting going for a walk to get some fresh air but it was raining very heavily. (Parts of our metro area got hail and tornado warnings!) So we kept lying around like slugs.

Around 8:15 I was sitting in the recliner and Tad wanted some milkies so I told him that if he was going to do that I needed to use the bathroom first. (He seemed sleepy and I was honestly hoping that nursing would put him to sleep, but that's quite the time commitment for a pregnant bladder.)

So I went to the bathroom with a cranky Tad hanging off my knees. As I stood up I felt weirdly damp but I assumed it was just extra pee (I mean, not being able to tighten one's pelvic floor promptly enough after peeing is kind of a thing when you're 39 weeks along...) and ignored it, bundling Tad off to the recliner for nursing.

He nursed for a while, but obviously didn't want to sleep, as evidenced by the fact that the nursing session included things like moaning/fussing loudly while still latched on and repeatedly kicking me in the face. (He stopped doing the latter after I asked if he needed to be all done.)

I remarked to Scott at one point that it was incredibly annoying to sit through all the noise and wiggling. What I didn't mention was that it was even more annoying to sit through that when I kept thinking about the weird damp feeling and trying to convince myself that it really was just pee.

After a few minutes Tad finished nursing so I went back to the bathroom (after noticing that I'd left a little damp spot behind on the chair). Even as I was trying to get my underwear and skirt off I had more fluid dripping down my legs, and once I sat down there was a big gush of it.

The fluid in question was also pretty solidly pink, which for some reason made me more sure it was amniotic fluid and not urine. (I mean, it could have been a sudden onset, totally painless UTI, right?) I put on a pad and found the phone and hid in the office to call Dr. B. He called me right back and we talked things over and he agreed with me that it sounded like my water breaking but reassured me it wasn't a big deal, even with some blood (he mentioned that was probably just the cervix bleeding as it dilated), that it was even less of a big deal since I was GBS negative, and I should go to the hospital either when I started having regular contractions or in the morning, whichever came first.

So I told Scott about the situation and then we started working on getting things together. I took a shower first, figuring that a) I wanted to be clean for labor (so I could get all messy immediately...) and b) a relaxing hot shower would help clarify whether the contractions I was having were strong enough to merit going to the hospital.

I did have some very strong contractions even with the shower taking the edge off--strong enough that I started having to rock through them and concentrate on breathing. During this time I started repeating "Let me be brave" as a labor mantra, which I had gotten from catching up on Doctor Who a few weeks prior.

(Does it say something about how I view labor that the quote I picked was spoken by a character going to her death? But, really, they are both similarly inevitable and similarly terrifying and about all one can hope for is to face them willingly rather than running away.)

After getting out of the shower I kept having strong contractions and tried to time them in an app but I found it frustrating--some were over a minute long, some only about 30 seconds, and they ranged from about 2 to 6 minutes apart with no apparent pattern. Still, the benefit of an app is that it smoothed all this data out into "about 4 minutes apart" and "about 45 seconds long."

At about 9:45 we called Scott's family to come watch Tad. He was still awake and demanding snacks and things and I was starting to need Scott's help to work through the contractions. (That reminds me that at some point in there I made myself a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk because I hadn't eaten since dinner and didn't want my blood sugar to get too low. And I made Tad a peanut butter sandwich too because of course he wanted one. Labor is much different the second time around!)

I remember Scott asking me whether we were planning to head to the hospital now. (Since of course the last time we'd discussed it, it had been a maybe tonight or maybe in the morning kind of thing.) I replied, "Yes, because either I'm in labor or I'm dying and either way we should go." And then I asked, "If I'm making jokes does that mean I'm not really in labor?" I looked at the clock then which is how I knew it was about 9:45. I started to feel a greater sense of urgency then because I had gotten it in my head that I could not count on labor lasting more than 3 hours so we needed to leave around the 1 to 1.5 hour mark, and at that point it had been 1.5 hours since my water broke and the inconsistent, not-quite-long-enough contractions started.

So I called Dr. B again and told him (or rather told his answering machine) that I had been having contractions about 4 minutes apart and 45 seconds long, maybe closer since I'd stopped timing them, and that since my last labor had been only 6 hours long I'd rather err on the side of going in too soon. Even while I was leaving the message I thought that I probably didn't sound labor-y enough.

Usually Dr. B calls back right away but this time it took a little while. (Maybe 5 minutes or so, not an actual long time.) After having Scott rub my back through a couple of very strong contractions I told him, "If he doesn't call back soon I'm going to assume he's delivering somebody else's baby and we'll just go." Pretty much as soon as I said that the phone rang. I was expecting some back and forth but all Dr. B said after the initial pleasantries was, "Okay, I'll tell the hospital you're coming" and I said "See you later" and then we hung up and started heading out.

Scott's dad had arrived by that time to watch Tad and we gave him a few parting admonitions and then I gave Tad hugs and kisses and told him I'd see him in the morning.

At the head of the stairs I remembered that Tad had locked me out of the apartment earlier that day while I was checking the mail, so I went back to tell Scott's dad that he should make sure to not leave the apartment unless he took a key. Tad hadn't really noticed when we left the first time but now he insisted on trying to come out with us. I gave him another big hug and told him I loved him and would see him in the morning, etc. and then handed him off to his grandpa and walked down the stairs to the sound of him sobbing on the other side of the door. I felt kind of bad about that. (He turned out not miss us that much, for the record.)

Because it was dark and raining, we decided to take surface streets to the hospital. I kept telling Scott to drive slower, believe it or not, because I get nervous when somebody else is driving and being nervous distracted me from coping with contractions. At some point I figured out that if I braced my feet on the floor of the car I could push backwards hard enough to sort of put counterpressure on my back--or perhaps the tension in my legs just distracted me enough to make it bearable.

We got to the hospital a little after 10:30 (I remember this because I was steeling myself to survive until 10:30 and we hadn't arrived by then but were close enough that I could manage anyway). I had Scott drop me off at the door and go park and made my way up to L&D.

At that point I apparently didn't look like I was in labor because the nurse working the triage desk was all, "Why are you here?" I managed to give a non-sarcastic answer, yes my water broke, blah blah blah sign all the forms that they shove at you.

Then she paged some other nurses and said "There's a Dr. B__ here for you." Apparently that's a descriptor as well as a doctor's name. :p

Scott arrived around that time (I was so glad he didn't get lost) and rubbed my back while I leaned on the counter and breathed through a contraction. The nurse politely waited for us to be done and then Scott had to wait in the waiting room while I went back to a triage room.

Read Part 2 to find out if I was actually in labor!

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