Thursday March 8:
5.30 am: awoke from really excellent, refreshing sleep to hear hubby and la cocotte playing together
10 am: ran 15 km (83 minutes), cycled 15 minutes. felt strangely awesome. impossible to make myself tired. something very hormonal going on...
12 pm - 4 pm: unpacked and organized our books. ok, that was enough to make me tired.
6 pm: hubby arrives home totally exhausted after very poor night's sleep and getting up early with la cocotte so that I could sleep. thought to myself that it would be completely inconsiderate to go into labor tonight bc of hubby's sheer exhaustion (though he is kind of super-hero-like about sleep deprivation whereas I am definitely on the whiny/complain-y side of the spectrum).
8.45 pm: sitting on couch with hubby. hubby asks me to do some reading about cars. cars. sigh. we have been trying to decide which one to buy. the onus of the research has fallen on hubby for various reasons (though it's not like i've been sitting around eating bon bons... oh, except for that day when at the gym when i did actually eat bon bons). anyway he clearly, justifiably wants me more involved in the process and I have not been very good about it. So he hands me the his latop saying "read this" and I am thinking 'I so do NOT want to read about cars right now' and as the laptop touches my hand... my water breaks.
Not with a gush. Just a trickle. I immediately do what I do best, go into denial and say nothing. I really want hubby to go to sleep tonight. I feel guilty about being so well rested when he is so exhausted. I do NOT want him spend hours awake watching me scream in a hospital bed right now... Besides maybe it was some other fluid, god knows there has been all kind of yuckiness going on lately. Trickle. Trickle. Trickle. It becomes undeniable. Call the hospital. They say come in. Contractions start.
10 pm: Friend arrives to take care of la cocotte. Debate waking her up to let her know what's going on. Decide against and hope that if she wakes in the middle of the night friend may be mistaken for hubby (both have appreciable beards).
10.30 pm: arrive hospital. Contractions by now quite painful. Interesting (to me at least) last time I was induced and I had tons of piggy-back contractions and often the pain did not really completely dissipate between contractions. I would sometimes, even early on, have as little as 45 seconds between contractions and I thought that this was the result of being induced. Turns out this is just how my body labors. Interesting but utterly useless information at this point.
11 pm: checked. 4 cm dilated. Impossible. There is no way my body is that efficient. Checked again. 1.5 cm. 70% effaced. Yup, that sounds more like my body. But the resident who checks me says and (I think) I quote: "I was able to stretch you, now you are at 2 cm". And I'm left wondering a) does that count?? am at a "real" 2 cm now? b) If so, could you go back in there and stretch me to 10 cm? Or at least a nice 5cm?
11 pm - 2.30 am: I AM that woman. The one who, to everyone else's initial sympathy and eventual annoyance, cannot keep her pain to herself. At the start of each contraction I would tell myself "just try, just see if you can SHUT UP this time" and I really, honestly couldn't. I think I must be some kind of super wimp. Everyone else I know either delivered without drugs or else got to a good 6 or 7 cm before accepting an epidural. Heck, as I've written about before, in Italy, the epidural is essentially not available. I truly do not know how women do it. I wanted to wait as long as possible to establish labor and reduce the c-section risk (though the resident told me that that thinking is controversial, waiting may or may not have an effect on labor's progress) but it was honestly unbearable. During this time I did not have a choice because they did not have a room for me so I was in triage where they cannot perform epidurals. They can, however, give morphine which they did but which had no effect.
2.00 am: they tell me a room and an anesthesiologist will still be available. Checked again for dilation. I am hoping for a big number so I can take the epidural without possibly slowing labor. 3 cm i.e. 3 hours of contractions yield 1 lousy centimeter. Yup, sounds like my body.
2.30 am: they find me a room and immediately get the anesthesiologist. They do not even ask me if I want an epidural. It's going in.
2.40 am: after pressing the "happy button" on the epidural a few times, heaven.
2.40 am - 7 am: some sleep completely disconnected from the storm brewing inside me. (my dream labor!).
Inevitably the contractions do slow down. There is some discussion of using oxytocin to speed things up and once again I find myself sliding down the Funnel of Interventions... Baby is generally doing well but with the way my body labors, sometimes having four contractions in a row with no real break (as I watch these unfold on the monitor I am so bloody grateful for that epidural) (also... how can having four contractions in a row without a break be "slowing of labor"... only thought of that now) baby does not like these and heart rate stays lower for longer than we would like. Am asked to breathe oxygen for the remainder of labor.
7 am: 4 cm dilated. my wonderful ob who has, as chance would have it, been on call all night comes in to say good-bye and good luck. She tell me everyone is aware of the VBAC factor and watching closely. My progress is slow and everyone is hoping it will pick up. She tells me the exit could be through either door at this point. That they aren't going to take any risks to achieve a VBAC and that she has filled her colleague in.
10 am: 7 cm dilated. Yipee! Things are picking up. Baby is causing a regular flood of staff into the room to check the monitor but generally doing well. So, so sleepy. Keep napping on and off. Perhaps sleeping off the morphine??
11 am: 9 cm dilated. Feel like I should be putting on my spikes, doing my final strides and toeing the start line getting ready for the actual event but literally cannot keep my eyes open. So very sleepy. Alternate between thinking "must get ready to push" and thinking "what can I possibly to do get ready anyway? must sleep." Can't believe I am about to push a baby out but can't keep eyes open.
12.30 pm: confirmed fully dilated. Now the wait begins for someone to be available to deliver the baby. I can feel the baby working its way down and wonder if the baby knows it's supposed to wait until the ob has finished with previous delivery. Starting to feel contractions again. Debate pushing happy button. Think maybe better not so I can feel the contractions and know when to push. Nurse comes and encourages me to push happy button. Did I mention that the hospital I am delivering at is very generous with drugs and has a c-section rate of approximately 50%? (though, to be fair, they are a high risk center).
1.30 pm: OB becomes available. I tell him I feel stinging where I imagine my c-section scar would be and am nervous about rupture. He tells me we are going to get this baby out quickly, he will likely use suction and if ever baby is in trouble we will go to c-section. He tells me, almost aggressively, that he is taking no risks. No arguments here. Please, sign me up for the "no risk to baby" exit! Let the pushing begin.
As a physical event it's easier than I thought it would be. Easy in the sense that I can tell that I am pushing my absolute very hardest and quite simply there is nothing else I can do. With running I think we always question whether we are performing optimally, making sure we are completely spent at the finish line and not before. With birthing, at least for me, it was very clear to me with every push (after the initial few) that I was red-lining with each and every single push. Took all the thought out of it. After about 6 pushes a patch of head appeared with a ton of dark hair causing the OB to remark the baby was "hairy like papa". After another 6 or 7 pushes the OB started getting a bit antsy and told me that he was going to "help me" sooner than he normally would. I could feel him rubbing the baby's scalp between pushed to stimulate the heart rate. He told me that he was going to use suction, that he would be doing 10% of the work and I would be doing 90% so I still needed to work hard. Then he said, ok, baby is coming out on the next push. And baby did. At least the head. One more push and there was a pinkish, bloody, vernixy, mucous-y hairy ball of wonder with bluish hands and feet on my belly looking very, very confused.
The OB pronounced (without looking at the genitalia): "It's a boy!". (Our guess is that he had decided earlier when he saw the hair colour matched hubby's that this baby of unknown gender was male.) I thought - a boy, we don't have one of those! The nurse looked over and said, very authoritatively: "That's a girl." And I thought - a girl, now we have two of those! The doctor of geology (that would be hubby) said: "looks like a girl to me". And I thought 'hubby wouldn't get it wrong'. Baby was handed over to pediatrician who said "boy" followed by something indistinguishable (now I think the something must have been the pediatrician saying "boy i could go for a cup of coffee right now") and I thought a boy - we still don't have one of those! And then the pediatrician said quite clearly: "definitely a girl". Which,as it turned out, was the final answer.
And that's how Squeaker entered the scene on Friday March 9 at 1.46 pm. She weighed 7 lbs 3 oz at birth, boasts 52 cm of length, dark blue eyes, a head of light brown hair and a distinctive squeak that lets me know it's feeding time.