During my pregnancy with Haden, I knew very little about childbirth, and watched just enough Baby Story to keep me terrified of the process. I, like many women, gave myself completely over to my doctor, believing that anything that I really needed to know, my doctor would tell me. It has been three years since his birth, so I know of the finer details will be lost here, but I wanted to try my best to write down the things I do remember.
On September 22, 2006, after a late night trek to a gas station, and a king size Snickers for my belly, my husband and I laid down in the bed to get some sleep. Around midnight, I started having noticeable contractions. We stayed in bed timing the contractions from the very first one, to be sure I was actually in labor, and did this for an hour. During that time I started having bloody show. Contractions were coming every five to six minutes, and had been like that since I first noticed them. Since my doctor had said we should go to the hospital when contraction were coming every five minutes for an hour, we got right out of bed to get ready for the hospital.
I did some cleaning around the house because I wanted to come home to prettiness, and Michael ran around trying to make sure we had everything packed. Contractions were very mild at the time, pretty much like strong period cramps, but nothing as bad as I had felt before; during my high school years, I had a period of time where I suffered very severe period cramps that would sometimes cause vomiting. I was okay with taking my time leaving, but Michael really wanted to leave, so we headed out to the hospital at three in the morning.
The ride was slightly uncomfortable, and I was glad to get out of the car. We went inside, and sat down at the admissions desk to take care of things there. Then, we headed upstairs, and went into triage, where I was asked a series of annoying questions, then had my cervix checked where I was found to be at 2 cm. This might have been more exciting if I hadn’t already been two cm for the past two weeks. They would not admit me, so I was told to go walk the halls for an hour, and then come back to be checked again.
So we walked, walked and walked some more, in circles around the L & D floor. Contractions were a bit stronger then; I would stop walking during them, lean down and brace myself on my knees, Michael or the wall. As soon as we hit the hour mark I headed straight back to triage and was checked again. Almost three cm. Close enough they said, and decided to go ahead and admit me. That was when I received my first epidural offer. I declined, saying I would wait a bit longer because I didn’t really feel like I needed one then.
I was moved to my room, hooked up to monitors and an IV. From that point I kind of felt like I should be in the bed, since I was hooked up and it was right there. So I sat down in the bed, taylor sitting. My nurse offered me the epidural again before she left the room. I declined. Again. Contractions seemed to be getting more uncomfortable. I chatted with my parents and Michael in between them, still sitting in the bed. The nurse came in to check me again; I was four cm. That is when I received my third offer for an epidural, which I decided to accept. I was becoming more uncomfortable, with no clue what to do about it, Michael looked really tired (I felt pretty tired myself), and I figured they were just gonna keep asking me about it until I did, so I might as well.
It was 6:00 am when the anesthesiologist was called. It didn’t seem to take very long for him to get there. I was super nervous about getting it; I almost wanted to cry because I really didn’t like the idea of a very big needle being put in my spine. I leaned over like they asked, squeezed Michael’s hands, anticipating the terrible pain I was sure to feel when they stuck me, but I never did feel anything. It was done.
My parents left after that; Michael and I decided to lay down to get some sleep. As the medication began to take affect, my entire lower half went completely dead, I couldn’t move my legs at all. I started to feel shaky, nauseous, and just… not right. I felt drugged. After a bit those feelings subsided some, and I was able to fall asleep, but it was incredibly patchy. I kept waking up every time the nurse would come into the room, then I would doze back off.
At some point the nurse came into the room, which woke me up. I heard her doing something right next to me, so I rolled my head over, opened my eyes to see her putting something in my IV. I asked her what she was doing, and she told me she was just giving me a little bit of Pitocin. I nodded, closed my eyes, and went back to sleep. I’m sure somewhere in all that my cervix was checked again, but I don’t really remember.
Later, we woke up and my family came back. Hanging out… hanging out… water broke! Pop! It felt like someone uncorked me. Another cervical check, and I am eight cm.
They start setting the room up for delivery, and I began to feel really excited knowing that I will have my baby soon. At around 11:30 pm I was checked again. I am ten cm! The nurse tells me I can start pushing, and calls for my doctor. From that point my legs were pushed back, while I was told to hold my breath for a count of ten while pushing. The nurse is “oh so helpful” by counting very loudly while I’m doing it, and telling me what to do with each push.
Eventually the doctor showed up, and got down between my legs to watch my progress. Haden’s head is crowning, right there, and then going back up. Over and over again. I can’t quite seem to get him to come out, and it probably didn’t help that I couldn’t feel a thing. Apparently, my doctor had somewhere important to be, and didn’t think I was moving things along fast enough since I had been pushing for almost an hour and a half, so he decided to give me an episiotomy. I wasn’t told this was going to happen, I didn’t even see it happening, but I felt it. When he cut me I could feel the pressure of it, my tissues coming apart. A couple more pushes and his head came out, followed by his body.
They put him on my chest and I felt… transformed. I was a mother. I hadn’t felt that while I was pregnant. Not really. It was consuming and awe-inspiring, the depth of my emotions. I was crying from my happiness… and then they took him away. After about five seconds of being skin to skin with me, they snatched him off me, and took him over to the baby warmer to perform all those “very important” newborn procedures.
I kept crying, asking them how long it was going to take, and they kept telling me not long. Every instinct in my body just wanted him back with me, because that was where he belonged. It felt like an eternity before he was finally given back to me. That was probably the most miserable fifteen minutes of my life. As soon as I had him in my arms, I put him straight to my breast, and he latched right on. He was always a very enthusiastic nurser. 😉 Our breastfeeding relationship would be my first step towards becoming an educated, and more thoughtful mother.
Haden Charles Bowden was born on September 23, 2006 at 12:49 pm after almost 13 hours of labor. He weighed 8 lbs. 11 oz. & was 21 inches long.