It's really shocking how long it has been since I posted. This pregnancy turned out to be really difficult, all nine months of it. I feel like I spent the better part of the past year lying in bed and of course everything (housework, playing with the Burrito, cooking, and blogging) kind of slid. I struggled through exhaustion (even in the supposedly golden second trimester), much more nausea, a lot of pain and contractions... Not fun. I even had a couple episodes of bleeding--one so early that it was pretty scary (although it turned out to be nothing of consequence). The scary times reminded me, though, that in the midst of what was a very uncomfortable pregnancy, I truly did want this baby.
About a month or so before Bean arrived, I began having more and more irregular contractions. Some felt like Braxton Hicks; some felt like something more. Although the contractions were usually not time-able, they were intense enough that I would often have to lie down for hours while my belly squeezed over and over again. Some bleeding around this time made me think baby was coming soon but after a visit to the hospital, I still had a month to wait. Every day, it was exhausting paying close attention to my body and trying to figure out if "this was it." Baby was very low and I swear he was bouncing on his head somedays! Ouch.
With my daughter's birth, I had no prelabor symptoms that I remember. The start of labor was very clear. Not so this time. Time continued to pass and continued to pass and we even considered doing a scheduled c-section if I went overdue.
A couple of days before Bean was due, I woke up to use the bathroom and noticed what felt like a stronger contraction. However, I had been disappointed many, many times before. I shrugged and figured this was probably the same and would peter out just like the others. Besides, all the books said, "While in early labor, go back to bed if it's nighttime. Get some rest before it gets hard to do it later." So I went back to sleep.
About 2:30 AM, I woke again to use the restroom and noticed what felt like time-able contractions, 5 minutes apart. I felt a couple of them and then woke my husband to ask him to begin actually timing. A few minutes later, I said, "You know, I would feel more comfortable if you would finish packing my hospital bag." We timed for about an hour and the contractions were coming pretty consistently. So we called the doctor. She asked if I could walk or talk through the contractions. "Well," I said, "I've built up a lot of endurance in the past month, so theoretically I could, but I really think that maybe I should come in." The next call went out to the family who would be watching Burrito for us while we went to the hospital and the mom hurried over to pick her up. Just after she pulled in the driveway, I was sitting on the bed, felt that teensy "pop!" and my water broke! I found myself beginning to feel a little anxious. The contractions were already getting fairly strong and I knew this would make them a lot stronger. Nausea hit (which I knew was a sign of going through transition) and I headed into the bathroom to throw up.
At this point, labor began to get intense. My husband loaded up the car while I tried to get myself together and we took off for the hospital. It's about a 20-25 minute drive there and while we drove, my contractions got much stronger and closer together. I began to wonder if I would make it to the hospital on time. I even felt the urge to push...which seemed awfully soon since it had taken me over a day of labor to feel the urge to push with my daughter. By the time we arrived at the hospital, my contractions were 2 minutes apart and strong. I could barely get out of the car and into the wheelchair. And this former home birth lady was begging for an epidural! The pain was just out of control by this time. The only thing that brought any relief at all was pushing (although I was not yet doing organized pushing).
It seemed to take hours and hours to get my pain medication (which turned out to be a spinal anesthetic) but my husband assures me it was not that long. Once I received the medication, I was able to relax within about 15 minutes. I rested for a couple of hours and that felt great! Nurses and the doctors told me I could push whenever I wanted (because I was fully dilated and effaced by the time I arrived at the hospital!). I didn't want to. I wanted to lay down and enjoy the comfy medicine. Finally, about 7:30 AM my doctor came in and gave me the tough love. I'd been asking for another medication before this one wore off, not wanting to get to out-of-control pain again. She told me there was no point in doing that because I was ready to push and it would just delay things. She told me it was time to get to work.
Thus began two really tough hours. I experienced a lot of self-doubt and memories of my labor with Burrito. I remembered that this was how it had felt, how long I had pushed and how I had not been able to do it. I was really worried that this would happen again. Maybe I couldn't do it. I kept thinking to myself, "Maybe I should just ask them to do the c-section. I obviously can't do it." Because, let me tell you, they give you pain meds., but they wear off quite a bit when you get to the pushing stage! It was painful and one of the toughest workouts I've ever done. But my husband, the doctors and nurses didn't give up on me. They kept encouraging me, pushing me to keep going and believing in me.
The moment when I felt Bean crown was one of the most amazing moments of my life. I knew in that moment that I was going to be able to do it. I knew that he was coming and I was avoiding a c-section. I knew that he was probably just moments away. Sure enough, within a couple more pushes he was out and laying on my chest. It was about 9:30 in the morning...just 7 hours since labor had begun in earnest. I couldn't believe it. My baby was here. He proceeded to coo in the most adorable fashion for about a half an hour. Amazing.
I am so grateful for the doctors and nurses who knew how important it is to try to avoid surgery, if at all possible, and who worked so hard to get me the delivery that I wanted. I also learned that a little medication, used judiciously, can be a very helpful thing in labor. Not all medical interventions are wrong. The best possible world for delivery is a good hospital, like the one we have here in the Flathead Valley, where both natural techniques and medical interventions are available. Having all the tools at my disposal set me up for success in delivery and made sure both baby and I stayed healthy and well-taken care of.
Although I'm suffering the usual bouts of emotions and tiredness after having a baby, my physical recovery is going so much better without having to have a c-section. And the support of my community of friends, family, and church family has greatly improved my state of mind and body as well. As time goes by, I find myself bonding with Mr. Bean more and more every day and the whole difficult pregnancy begins to fade far into the recesses of my mind. Going through the discomfort and difficulty was totally worth it...because now I have Mr. Bean.