In my perusal of other blogs, I have noticed a trend – everyone, at some point, tells their birth story. And since I have become intrigued with a new show on Lifetime called “One Born Every Minute,” I have decided to tell mine. After watching “One Born Every Minute” and reading so many other incredible birth stories, I now realize that Henry’s birth was quite uneventful. But, as always, Chris and I were able to produce a few moments of hilarity.
Let me start off by giving all of you a glimpse into our birth plan.
Get epidural. Have baby.
Yep, that was pretty much it. Sure, we took natural childbirth classes and learned all the breathing techniques. But, mostly those classes were spent quietly snickering at the other first time Moms who insisted on having a drug-free birth because as they said, and I quote, “How hard can it be?” Now, I have nothing against women who choose to have natural childbirth. Lots of my friends, not to mention my own mother, have had their children without any drugs. I both admire and fear them. But…that is not who I am. I scream incoherently when I get a paper cut.
So, that was our birth plan. Get drugs. Have baby. And, honestly, it was a good plan. It worked out well for us.
At about my 35th week, I started noticing some swelling. I couldn’t wear flip-flops without getting those creases in my skin and I couldn’t type OR write because my hands and fingers looked like something Jimmy Dean would sell in plastic casing. And I know I’m a big girl, but gaining 20 pounds in 3 weeks seemed to be just a tad out of the ordinary. Come to find out I actually had a medical condition called pregnancy induced hypertension.
You know it’s never good when, after a normal routine procedure, such as taking someone’s blood pressure, the person doing the procedure goes running out of the room calling for a doctor to come immediately.
Well, that’s what happened at week 37. Really high blood pressure and enough water retention to fill a small baby pool. The nurses and doctor were simply amazed that I hadn’t blacked out, had a seizure, or simply a headache. Needless to say, I was sent home with strict instructions to quit working immediately and lay in bed for an entire weekend. If Monday came and my blood pressure wasn’t down, I would have a baby the following week. And I can’t claim that I wasn’t somewhat aware that I would be put on bed rest. Chris kept telling me that on the way to the doctor. Over and over again. Seriously, like a broken record.
Well, I was sure my blood pressure was going to be fine. Oh, did I mention I was in the midst of a huge work event, a banquet featuring a silent auction and over 600 guests? Oh, and I was also hosting a baby shower for my best friend at my house that weekend. No work and bed rest? That was funny.
Well, I got through the weekend just fine. Everyone at the shower told me I looked great. Liars. I looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy getting ready to explode. When Monday morning rolled around, I grabbed my computer and began working on my event database. When it was time for my appointment, I noticed Chris was feverishly packing a bag. Whatever. I knew I was coming home, which is why I left my computer open and my purse on the kitchen counter.
Well, I didn’t come home for 7 days. Let me say this right now, because it may be the only time you ever see this sentence in print. Chris was right. I was sent to the hospital immediately. And I was simply unprepared. Now ladies, you will know what I mean when I say this. I had the best laid plans to “spruce” myself up before giving birth, so you can imagine my distress. Not to mention the fact that I arrived at the hospital with no ID and, worst of all, no chap stick.
After being put in a “transition” room the size of a storage closet, being hooked up to a million monitors, peeing in a cup and finally figuring out how to get Wheel of Fortune on the 7 inch TV, I settled in for the night. Well, at least the next 2 hours. This part is boring so I’ll fast forward for you.
Blood pressure taken. Sonogram. Big Baby. Parents arrive. Hideous dinner. New room. Induction. Sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, I was only dilated 2 centimeters. This was bad. I was induced the evening before and that was it? Well, at least I wasn’t feeling any contractions. If you know me, you know that I don’t do pain. So, this was going rather well so far. I was dilating, albeit slowly, but not feeling any pain. This childbirth stuff was a piece of cake!
I had just welcomed the 53rd member of my extended family to the hospital when my very pregnant nurse raced in holding a needle and an IV bag. The conversation went something like this:
Nurse: Sweetie, I know you’re feeling good, but you’re not progressing so we’re upping your Potossin. Oh, and I have to put you on this horrible medication called Magnesium Sulfate because the doctor is afraid you are going to start seizing and that’s just not good. This medicine is really bad – it makes you hot and you may be throwing up all afternoon.
Now, at that point in my life, I had a huge vomit phobia. So, when she mentioned “throw up”, I began to get nervous. No, I didn’t get nervous when she said I might have a grand mal seizure, it was the throw up part that did me in. And she wasn’t done talking.
Nurse: Now, hon, these two medicines are gonna be fighting each other all day long and the Mag is gonna win, so just prepare yourself for a long day.
And a long day it was. After I was “magged out” as I like to call it, life for Chris became unbearable. The meds didn’t make me puke, thank goodness, but it did make me feel like I was slowly melting from the inside out. I think by 3:00 PM the room was -5 degrees and Chris was covered in several warming blankets. Family members refused to come in the room without their winter parkas and ski gloves. But, for me, it felt like an inferno. I think the nurses were outside drawing straws to see who would be next in line for frostbite. There was no hope for Chris.
Well, finally around 6:30 PM, when I had dilated a whopping 5 cm, my doctor felt like I’d had enough. It was time for a c-section. The epidural guy came in and I was apparently overly friendly, due to my “magged” out state. I kept wanting to tell him my life story. He just wanted to stick the needle in my back and get the hell out of the Ice Freezer he’d unfortunately found himself in.
I think it was on my way to the OR when my sweet nurse stopped the gurney, handed me a small cup and told me to drink this “tiny amount of fizzy water” that would settle my stomach. OK, that stuff tasted like ASS, if you will excuse my language. And why did my stomach have to be settled? My last meal was over 72 hours ago. What? The ice chips had a hard time digesting?
I had a wonderful c-section. Chris was amazed. I was clueless and drugged. See, my birth plan worked out great! Chris actually watched the whole thing and for five days afterward told everyone he met that my doctor was wearing waders during the procedure because of the gallons of water that burst forth when the first incision was made. Chris also told me that Henry had red hair. Now, I love kids with red hair but all I could picture was my baby with a Ronald McDonald fro. (And by the way, Henry did NOT have red hair.) Did I mention that Chris is color-blind?
It was after the birth of my precious baby that I learned a few things about childbirth. I will pass on my wisdom here.
1. When a nurse tells you NOT to inhale a gallon and a half of water after childbirth even though you are so damn thirsty, you’d make yourself cry just to taste the tears, listen to her. Drinking that fast will make you throw up consistently for several hours.
2. When a nurse offers you a sleeping pill that you’ve never had before, just take half. Trust me. I’ve been on the bad side of an Ambien.
3. While I don’t wish for anyone to be in the high-risk ward for any reason during pregnancy, if you find yourself there, you will be OK. It’s the difference between a Motel 6 and the Ritz. At least, that was my experience.
4. When your doctor tells you at 33 weeks that you are having a 10 pound baby, don’t laugh. Henry was 3 weeks early and he weighed 9 pounds, 6 ounces!
So, that’s my story. A new job, new insurance and new hospital for next time. We’ll see how it goes.
(No, I’m not currently pregnant.) Why is that always your first question?