I expected my 3rd delivery to be relatively quick. After all, my body had done this twice before and my second delivery was substantially shorter then the first at only 9 hours.
I felt more tired this time around, but I’m also in my 30’s now and was homeschooling two kids, so that was to be expected. I stayed pretty small and never got to that I-can’t-wait-to-not-be-pregnant! uncomfortableness. I figured I deliver early, but was hoping to make it to Saturday, February 14th. My due date was February 25th. My first baby came 11 days early and my second was a whopping 15 days early. I still had so much to get ready that I was hoping he’d more like the 11 days early so I had a few more days to get things done, but that was not how it went.
My doctor stripped my membranes at my 37 week check up, which we actually hadn’t talked about that day, and kind of took me by surprise. I had requested my membrane be stripped with my second baby as I was afraid he’d come on Christmas. I had that done on a Wednesday and delivered him on Saturday, so I thought even though she went ahead and stripped my membrane this time, I’d still have a day or two before I went into labor.
My labor started at 4 am the next morning, February 11th. I was a little miffed as I had planned on spending that day doing laundry and getting a few things finalized before Henry arrived. Sam, our 5-year old boy, informed me the night before that he had no clean underwear! So, the first thing I did when the contractions started was get up, sneak into his room and start a load of laundry so I could pack his and his sister’s bags for their grandma’s house.
I had started labor at about 4:30 in the morning with Sam, but waited over an hour before waking up Joel because I knew I had time. This time the labor was much more intense from the very beginning and I had some serious back labor going on. I could barely walk to the laundry room and I woke Joel up right away and had him call his mom to come over. It was still so early I didn’t want to wake Sam and Caitie, but I thought for sure I’d deliver this baby by lunch and I’d be seeing them by dinner so I didn’t even kiss them goodbye. Little did I know then I wouldn’t get to see them for another 36 hours! I was practically in tears as we drove to the hospital. It’s 2.9 miles from our house, but that drive seemed to take a million years! This was sunrise at 6:52 am that morning.
I begged for an epidural the minute we walked into the hospital just before 7 am. Looking back, I wish I would have waited a while longer knowing now that he wasn’t in a good position and his head was stuck, but hindsight is 20/20. I really thought I was in transition with how much pain I was in, but once I was checked, I was barely dilated 5cm. I barely progressed after about 45 minutes when they checked again. I still was able to get the epidural. With my first labor, I progressed quickly from 4cm after receiving the epidural, so I thought this might be similar. I was in good spirits mid morning and even put on my make up! I thought this boy would make his appearance at any moment. My mom was by my side the whole day (Joel was there too, but moms are just so much better at comforting during labor).
The hours ticked by… I have ridiculously low blood pressure on a normal day, but the epidural caused my pressure to drop too much so to counteract that, I was given LOTS, and lots and lots and lots… of saline. This was my poor sausage feet at 11 pm that night. And THIS wasn’t even how bad they got following delivery the next day and day after!
THIS isn’t even how bad they got, but was 16 hours after delivery. I left the hospital bigger then I went in – if you can believe it. I didn’t really have swelling during my pregnancy so this was a pretty unwelcome surprise. So, back to the delivery. By dinner time I was still upbeat, but was sad that I was most likely not going to be able to see my other two kids that day. My doctor accidentally broke my water during my 10 am check up that morning – which was weird since they practically had to jab it with a knife with the first two – so by evening they had re-filled my uterus with saline so Henry had a bit more cushioning. His head was stuck, stuck, stuck and I was asked to get up on my knees in order to let gravity help him down.
If you’ve never had an epidural before, you simply cannot grasp how hard this simple-seeming task is. I could feel my right leg and had a little bit of control on that side, but my left side as completely dead. I was wearing nothing but the hospital gown, so modestly was out the door. I couldn’t maneuver myself up and around over the top of the bed by myself so it took my mom, nurse and Joel to get me in position. I had to hold myself up with my arms, especially on the left side for about 30 minutes. I ended up doing this fun little acrobatics two more times before Henry finally moved down a little.
My epidural had completely worn off on the my right side so I ended up getting a bolus dose, which helped moderately, but I pretty much had ALL feeling on the right and NO feeling on the left. By midnight I was on oxygen and was more afraid then I could have admitted that I was going to need a c-section. My doctor had been in surgery all day and was pretty exhausted herself. No one ever said the words “c-section”, but I could see it in their faces. I was tired, my mom was tired and Joel was tired. I couldn’t believe it had gone on so long.
I’d had strong contractions all day, but though I could feel the pain, I didn’t have the urge to push. My doctor wanted to wait until I felt that urge so that I wouldn’t tire myself out even more.
FINALLY, finally, finally, finally I felt a moderate urge to push – though that might have just been sheer will-power wanting to get this baby out of me without having the dreaded c-section.
I ended up only having to push for a blessed 17 minutes and Henry finally made his grand entrance at 1:31 am.
And he was TOTALLY misshapen!!! I was mystified. Had I not just watched him come out of me I could have sworn they gave me the wrong baby.
His lips looked like Steven Tyler’s lips – huge! His eyes were crazy puffy frog eyes and his head was lumped up on one side! Having seen his 35 week sonogram and knowing that he was going to look like his sister – THIS baby was a shock!
I’ve heard it said that if an adult had to go through the type of trauma that is a vaginal birth, they wouldn’t survive. It was so apparent that Henry’s little face had been scrapped and mushed in ways it shouldn’t have had his head been in the proper position during labor.
But, oh, this boy!!! The hours and hours and hours and hours – 21.5 all together – were totally worth it!
Words cannot express how incredibly amazing it is to hold your baby for the first time. When they place him on your chest and his is fully yours and you are fully his. Everything else in the world fades away – all the pain, all the fear – and you live in a moment of the purest bliss.
It’s amazing that in just a few hours he started looking like the little boy I was expecting.
Oh, and look at those BLUE eyes!!! And the sweetest little smile at just 7 hours old. And the HAIR!! They said they could see some hair in his sonogram, but I was pleasantly surprised how much he had all over his head. AND he kept it all! He even had those blue eyes for about 5 months until they started changing to green and now they are solidly golden hazel.
I felt cheated for a long time about this labor. I know that all labors are different, even with the same mom, but this one was by far my longest and hardest – and scariest. I count my blessings I didn’t end up with a c-section – that might have sent me to therapy. Despite our rough start, Henry has been the most perfect baby, and now, an ENTIRE year later – is such a charmer.