Monday, January 9, 2012

The Birth of Sammy - Part One

Prior to Sammy's birth, I followed a few "new mommy" blogs and loved reading their birth stories. And back when I had Sammy, even though I didn't have a blog at the time, I still wanted to write out our birth story just for my own purposes. I never got around to it though, and thus now, as Sammy's six month birthday approaches - one week from today (::sob::) - I figure better late than never.

If you'd like to join me, I suggest grabbing something to drink and nibble on, as well as a comfy seat. I've separated this into two parts (and will post the second part in another day or two), but each part is still rather long.

Sammy's Birth Story

This post will be pretty light on pictures as I wasn't very photogenic my last few days of pregnancy. Instead, here is one of James and I on Mother's Day - a much more comfortable day.
I should start off by saying that I had the easiest and best pregnancy. I know, I know. But it's true. I felt absolutely fantastic the entire time (minus some exhaustion), I exercised, I ate healthier than ever, I never had any morning sickness, the only thing I really craved was orange juice, and it was just an all-around great experience. I truly enjoyed being pregnant (once I got over my jealousy of seeing everyone else enjoy cocktails while I couldn't). Now I'm sure that, God-willing, my next pregnancy will be totally different, but I feel very lucky to have had such a great first experience.

And here is the only other picture I'll post of myself pregnant, taken a month before I had Sammy at my baby shower.
With that said, Sammy's due date was originally July 20. And yet everyone predicted that I would have him early (because I was so big? Or short?), and thus, at least a month before he was due, I became very anxious. I didn't feel like he was coming anytime soon though - no Braxton Hicks, no contractions, nothing.  At least not that I knew of. The week before my due date, I actually felt completely normal, minus just being overly tired, sore, and rather cranky. Maybe I had some mini cramps.

That Wednesday I went in for what I prayed would be my last doctor appointment. I was told that I was now 3-4 cm dilated, and 90% effaced. (A shout out to Sara, who actually just forwarded me an e-mail I sent her after returning from said doctor appointment, in which I included all these details!) I was ecstatic and felt certain that I would go into labor any day now. Regardless, I returned to work that day, shared my new information, only to hear over and over, "what are you doing here??" But I felt fine! Seemingly well-meaning coworkers then proceeded to share story upon story of unplanned labors.

I had planned on working through that Friday, but on Thursday morning, I had just had enough. I was exhausted from thinking so much the night before, I was exhausted from getting up and going to the bathroom so often, I couldn't deal with any more "sudden labor" stories, I couldn't deal with any more people stopping by my cubicle and saying, "you're still here?", and perhaps most important, I had absolutely no work clothes that fit me anymore. Instead, I worked from home (meaning I sat in on two conference calls and attempted to do a few work-related things), but as it was a gorgeous mid-July week, I spent most of the day out on our patio.

That Thursday night, I attended James' softball game, and afterward, we met some friends at a nearby ice cream place, and I joked about going into labor the next day. But I still felt totally normal, and happily slurped from my peppermint stick ice cream cone.

Friday morning I woke up super early and felt totally off. I can't quite recall how exactly I was feeling, but I do remember waking up and thinking - today could definitely be the day. I also went into super nesting mode and for some insane reason, felt the need to bake croissants right then and there. (I actually think this was due to the fact that the previous weekend, James and I went to the French bakery in our town and had the worst ever croissants. And I knew I could make them so much better.) So at 6 a.m., while James was still snoring away, I embarked on what was supposed to be a 14-hour croissant project.

Between feeling so off, and my marathon croissant project, clearly I was not going to make it to work that day, so at 7:15 a.m., I called my boss (of course she was already at the office - totally thwarting my plans to leave a "good bye and good luck" voicemail) and said that I was done for the next four months (my estimated maternity leave time). James, however, still went to work, which I assured him was okay to do.

If you've ever made croissants before, or just looked at a recipe, you know that not much labor (no pun intended) is required. Basically, you make dough, chill it, add a heinous amount of butter, roll it out again, chill it again, roll it out again, chill it some more, etc. There is a lot of waiting around time. (Looking back, the fact that I chose this style of recipe to make was rather telling of what was to come.)

So in between all the rolling and chilling, I had a lot of time to sit on our patio and read. (I happened to be reading this book at the time.) I also remember that I wore a blue strapless cotton dress from Old Navy (probably for the zillionth time that summer), and after I took a shower that morning, prior to getting dressed, I carefully lined up all my shower goods on my bathroom sink as I still had a feeling - or was just hoping - that our baby boy would be arriving that day. (Note that my bags had been packed for weeks. James' bag - not so much.)

Also in between the croissant project and reading my book, I answered phone calls and texts from my mother, all in regard to how I was feeling at that very minute. At one point in the morning, after assessing how I was feeling each and every second what felt like the last month, I got very upset and responded, "I have no idea HOW I'm feeling anymore! I physically can not assess my body ANY MORE!" I vaguely recall that this was after feeling awful all during the early hours, and then no longer feeling anything. So at that point I started to think that perhaps I was wrong. Maybe we wouldn't be going to the hospital that day after all.

As it was a Friday, halfway through the afternoon, James came home and mowed the lawn. I continued to read my book, roll and chill dough, and pout. I now was back to feeling totally normal. No cramps and no "off" feelings whatsoever.

Around 5, I received a call from my sister who had just minutes before, signed a new lease to an apartment just a few blocks from my house. Having nothing else to do, I drove over to her new apartment to take a look. A little while into my visit, I can't remember what exactly spawned it, but I just broke down and started crying, right in the middle of her floor. I was tired, I was frustrated, I was huge, and what the heck was taking this baby so long??

A couple hours later, James and I were in our living room, trying to decide what to do about dinner. Friends of ours were going out in town, so we would likely join them. But then... I felt something. As James took a call from another friend, and chatted on and on, my stomach started to feel really weird. It was sort of the same crampy feeling I had had earlier, and yet at the same time, it was a little different. And it would sort of come and go. Quietly and secretly (for some reason I didn't want James to know - though he told me later that he saw me), I began to time whatever this feeling was on a "contractions" app I had downloaded to my iPhone. At the time, I didn't even really know if this was something that could be timed, but I tried it anyway.

By the time James got off the phone, I was feeling substantially worse. Oh, and whatever it was that I was timing - they were 3-4 minutes apart.


I broke down and told James what I was doing. At this point it was about 8 p.m. We again discussed what our dinner plans would be, and somewhere in that conversation, I started getting all teary. At this point, I was in a bit of pain. I suggested that we wait a half hour or so, as by then maybe I'd be feeling better and we could still meet our friends for dinner. James suggested calling the doctor, but I was adamant about not calling anyone until I had been feeling whatever it was for at least a full hour.

We then decided to take a short walk. I had been walking non-stop the weeks leading up to this point, and if I ever was having some sort of cramping, going for a walk usually halted it. We got about three houses away, and the pain was overwhelming, so we turned around. My contractions app still showed that everything was only 3-4 minutes apart. This was insane to me, as I had always thought that my contractions would start out something like 20 minutes, or 10 minutes apart, and then get shorter. I figured I'd be sitting around just waiting for them to get to at least 5 minutes apart so we could finally go to the hospital.

As soon as we got back to our house (by this time it was 8:30 or 8:45), I finally gave in and called the doctor, who, once told the timing of whatever it was, and how far along I was at the doctor's earlier in the week, nonchalantly said, "Eh, why don't you just come on down to the hospital."

I could not believe my ears. I relayed what the doctor had said to James, but tried not to get too excited. "I'm sure they'll just tell me I need to go to the bathroom (sorry, gross, I know) and just send me right back home," I said to him, over and over again. Regardless, we gathered our stuff, and I was grateful for having sorted out my shower stuff earlier on in the day. It's strange, but the one thing I was most worried about leading up to this day was having a chance to shower and shave my legs before going to the hospital. (Again, apologies for the over-sharing of information.) And yet as by this point I was in so much pain, I could have cared less.

(I should also note that at this point, my croissant project had been abandoned. I can't say I didn't think about it - I was actually quite disappointed to have to leave my dough behind, and to have wasted so much time, effort ... and butter.)

Two things I remember very vividly about getting into the car that night. First, it was an absolutely gorgeous night, complete with a full moon. Second, James' and my "song" was playing on the radio the second we turned the car on. Neither of us could believe it.

The drive to the hospital was horrible. I was in indescribable amounts of pain, to the point where I had a death grip on the side of the car door. At one point, James pulled out the directions to the hospital, which he had very thoughtfully printed out and had waiting in the car, in anticipation of that very moment. Mind you, we had just gone on a tour of the hospital's maternity ward a couple weeks before, and I did not think the hospital to be that hard to find. In an effort to redirect my pain and frustration, as James studied the directions for what seemed to be the umpteenth time, I yelled out, "Just follow the blue signs with the H! It's not that hard!" (Note that this quote - and probably some others - have been edited to be G-rated for this blog. I guarantee there were a few other words thrown in.) Yes, I was a peach.

As we arrived at the hospital, my pain continued, though I turned down any suggestions of using a wheelchair. And yet I still felt that we would be told to go home. As we checked into the maternity ward registration area, James, being his usual self, was making jokes with the receptionist. In between tears, I shot what I hoped to be daggers out of my eyes. (He later told me that he was just trying to butter him up so that we would receive the best treatment. I responded by saying that she probably wasn't the person he needed to worry about.)

Once inspected in triage, they quickly decided that I would be staying that night, especially considering how much pain I was in. I couldn't believe my ears!

Upon being moved into a delivery room, James made the call to my mom. It was around 11 p.m., and I hadn't wanted to tell anyone what was going on until I was absolutely certain that we'd be staying at the hospital. I didn't talk to her on the phone though as I was being checked out, and was just in too much pain to speak.

I received an epidural within minutes. Throughout my entire pregnancy, I made no qualms about my desire for an epidural. I don't deal well with pain, and considering how horrible I felt leading up to our trip to the hospital, there was just no way I would go without. I was super nervous about being given the epidural, but the woman who gave it to me was incredibly nice (and apparently was married to someone I sort of knew at work), and James was very supportive while I received it. I actually barely remember it hurting at all, and soon after... ::bliss::. My God, I loved that epidural.

Stay tuned for part two, tomorrow.

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