At 38 weeks, 6 days, after begging Thomas for weeks to just let me have the bed all to myself, PLEASE, he finally agreed to sleep elsewhere for the night. I woke up at 2am in labor. (39w0d) Or at least I thought I did, but I’d never been in labor before, so how should I know? They weren’t like the Braxton-Hicks I’d been having, though, and I thought it was the real thing. I was super-calm and it felt like something really exciting was happening. I went and woke Thomas up around 3. The contractions continued erratically all day. We went for walks around the block. We went to the mall to walk and take one last pass at finding a going home outfit. (I had one picked out, but I still wanted to look.) We didn’t buy anything. By that evening we were very frustrated.
I thought labor would be linear. It might take 48 hours to get from contractions every 30 minutes to every 2, but you’d be able to tell they’re progressing. Mine, however, never found a pattern. At several points during the day, they came every 5 minutes and we’d get excited. Then they’d slow back down to every 15 minutes, or even every 30 minutes and we’d discouragedly start watching another episode of The Office.
At around 10 pm, my mom came over and we sent Thomas to get some sleep. I walked figure eights around the living room and kitchen for hours. The contractions kept coming, but not in any regular pattern. At 9am, my mom convinced me to just go the hospital and see what they said.
I was put on a contraction monitor in triage and, thankfully, proved to be in labor. I was 4.5 centimeters dilated, so they admitted me. I was disappointed with the number, as I’d been 4 cm already at my doctor appointment two days earlier. After I was admitted, the doctor came to break my water (I think around 10 am) since I’d been in labor for 32 hours without much progress.
That kicked things up a notch and after taking a couple laps around L & D I was begging for an epidural. I think I got it around 11:30. At noon, I was feeling MUCH better and tried to take a little nap. I’d been up for 34 hours, walking for most of it. I dozed a little, but don’t feel like I really slept. My contractions slowed way down and I was given a little Pitocin without being consulted. I remember hearing my mom ask the nurse what she was putting in my IV and the nurse answering Pitocin, which made me think, geez, that’s not something you think you should ASK me about?? Or at least TELL me about? I was pretty timid, though, and couldn’t feel anything due to the epidural, so I didn’t say anything.
They increased the Pitocin dose a few times over the next couple hours (and did at least tell me about it). It was still a low dose, though. By 2pm, things were humming and everyone was preparing for the birth. I started pushing at 2:50 and we could see progress with every push (yay!). Margaret was born after only 15 minutes, at 3:05 pm. 7 lbs, 0.5 oz (rounded to 1 oz for the paperwork) and 19.5 inches. She was put directly on my chest and I couldn’t believe she was real.
My mom immediately ran and told my sister to come in with the video camera to tape the beginning of Margaret’s life (cutting the cord, weighing). Meanwhile, I was still spread wide in stirrups, with the doctor grumbling he couldn’t reach high enough “up there” (????) to stitch me. I still don’t know exactly how I tore ‘up’ instead of…back? Is that how you’d phrase it? but for the next year I could feel the scar tissue extending ‘up’ a ways. It was painful. (I’m sure Margaret will love to read about this.)
|I'm sure you all were dying for photographic proof.|
See the doctor in the lower right corner? Still stitching.
Breastfeeding was a little difficult to get the hang of, but by the time we left the hospital two days later I thought everything was peachy. When we took Margaret in for her 4 day checkup, she’d lost over 10% of her birth weight and the pediatrician demanded I give my child formula. Right now!
Actually, he was very gentle about it. He asked if I had a breast pump (I did), told me to start using it after every feeding while Thomas feed the baby a bottle of whatever colostrum I’d pumped the last time mixed with enough formula to equal two ounces. My new-mom brain freaked out, though, and totally lost it. I was starving my baby! She was wasting away! How could I have been reduced to formula only 4 days into my breastfeeding career?! What a failure I was as a mother!
For the next 48 hours, I nursed Margaret for 10 minutes on each side every two hours during the day and every three hours at night. Then Thomas gave her a bottle and I pumped for 30 minutes. We then washed the pump parts and bottle, set everything up for the next time and had, like, 45 minutes before starting the next round. It was grueling and miserable. Then, when she was 6 days old, I suddenly pumped 3 oz in 10 minutes and I think it was the most exciting and validating 10 minutes of my life. I had milk! I was not a failure!
After that point, Margaret didn’t have any formula until she was 9-ish months old and that’s a whoooole ‘nother story of angst and feelings of failure. (Which I now see as a success, actually. There’s nothing wrong with breastfeeding your baby for 9 whole months!)