October 18, 2009
It started like any other day. Well except for the fact that I was 9 months pregnant and 2 days overdue.
We were having a boy and we were thrilled. After 3 miscarriages it was such a joy to find out that we were pregnant again, but that this time the baby had stuck around.
All the prenatal care that I received showed that everything was great with baby and me.
It was a Sunday and I decided that I wanted to sleep in instead of going to church. This cute little person growing inside me was sucking out all of my energy. We thought that this would be our last weekend without kids, so we decided to do something fun. We threw around ideas like the movies, and going to the beach to throw around the Frisbee. As we were talking I felt something warm and wet squish between my legs. OH MY GOSH, my water just broke! I called the doctor to let them know, and the nurse picked up and told me that I should get a shower, pack my bags, and get something to eat before heading to the hospital because labor would take a while since it was my first baby.
Our bags were packed, let’s be honest, I was so excited that my bags had been packed for weeks. I had packed everything but the kitchen sink. I had a birthing ball that I insisted we not only bring to the hospital, but I insisted that we inflate it before we got to the hospital. And when I say we, I mean my husband, Jeff. I brought all my makeup because I was not going to be one of those mothers that has dark circles and splotchy skin in the pictures. I was going to look hot. I also packed about 8 outfits for the baby. I did not want him wearing those hideous white onsies that they have at the hospital. My baby was going to be lounging in style. My suitcase was huge. I think that I packed less when I spent 3 months in India. My husband’s suitcase was another story. He had less of a suitcase and more of a small backpack with deodorant and extra pair of underwear. And I am not even sure he had that much.
So, per the nurse’s orders, I hopped in the shower. That’s when I started feeling contractions. Strong contractions. The kind of contractions that make you grab the shower wall just so you can hold yourself up. I called for Jeff. I was never so excited to have someone crammed in a tiny apartment shower with me. I had soap dripping into my eyes, and could barely stand to rinse it out. Jeff helped me rinse off and get out of the shower. Least sexy co shower ever. EVER. Jeff had to shimmy himself around my enormous belly and try to somehow get himself out of the shower before me to be able to help me out.
Remember how I said that I was not going to be one of those moms that looked worn out in the pictures and I was going to wear makeup to look my best? Well, after about 8 contractions while in the shower and drying off, I realized that I didn’t care if I had dark circles and zits the size of Volkswagons. All I wanted to do sit down and relax. The thought of putting on mascara and blush
was just too painful. So I threw my hair up in a bun, and Jeff and I headed out the door with bags
in hand. Well, actually the bags were all in Jeff’s hands and he also managed to hold the birthing ball and my hand while walking down the three flights of stairs from our apartment to the car.
It was about 10 am and I was silently cursing because In N Out was closed. The nurse had told us to grab a bite before we arrived because they wouldn’t be able to give me food at the hospital. All I wanted was an In N Out Burger with fries and a Dr. Pepper. But alas, that was another wrench thrown in our plans.
We settled for Panera Bread. Jeff ordered me a bagel and water. We sat down to eat, even though Jeff really wanted to get to the hospital. But the nurse told me to get something to eat. So darn it, I WAS EATING. The contractions were getting stronger and closer together, but I was sure that we had plenty of time. This was after all my first baby and most women were in labor for hours! Besides, the nurse told me to take my time. So I was determined to enjoy my not-an- In-N-Out-Burger and relax.
It was Sunday morning and there were some people around us having a quiet bible study, and some others reading the newspaper with their coffee. Jeff and I were talking and getting excited about having a healthy little person in our arms, soon. I was having contractions the whole time, but they started to get unbearable. I was trying to stay quiet and not disturb the other bagel eaters on this quiet Sunday morning. I was practicing my breathing and thinking happy thoughts about the beach, and focusing on anything but the pain. Then I opened my eyes and realized that I was gripping the table so hard that my knuckles were white. And apparently my breathing was anything but quiet. We had an audience. This is when Jeff decided that he didn’t want to have a baby in the booth at Panera and wrapped up my bagel to go. I was going to argue, but all my energy was taken up with not screaming profanity in front of the Sunday morning holy crowd. Perhaps Jeff had a point. Man, I hate it when he is right.
We drove to the hospital, which seemed like a 4 hour drive on a dirt road covered with rocks. It was quite possibly the most uncomfortable drive I have ever taken in my life. If I had the energy, I would have reached over the gear shift and punched Jeff for both driving too fast and not driving fast enough all at the same time. In reality though, the drive was less than 10 minutes down the road. A straight road with no curves. There was no traffic and, because it was in the city of Irvine, the roads were in pristine condition with nary a pothole or bump to be had.
We arrived at the hospital and parked the car in the emergency lane because I am pretty sure Jeff thought that I was going to have this baby in the car. We walked into the lobby and followed the signs to the third floor “Labor & Delivery”. A guard stopped and asked if we wanted a wheelchair. I declined. I wasn’t going to be one of those women. Besides, the nurse told me that I had a ton of time before I was going to have this baby. While in the elevator I was having some strong contractions. It was Jeff, another gentleman and me, a heaving breathing, barely able to stand up obviously in extreme pain, pregnant woman. Jeff got the worst looks from this man because I didn’t have a wheelchair. Poor Jeff.
The elevator opened and stepped out into the hallway. This was the longest hallway I have ever seen in my life, and of course, the last door on the left was L&D. Of course.
Hi, Jeff here. As Carrie has already mentioned, I am her husband. I was there for most of the stuff she talks about in this book as well as for some things that she didn’t realize or wasn’t aware of at the time, so I’ll be dropping in with helpful information every now and then. On this one: no one, including my lovely wife, will ever claim that she doesn’t exaggerate sometimes. In this case, though, she’s right. This was – is – the longest hallway I have ever seen in living memory. If the ceiling was higher I probably could have thrown a football a good 40 yards or so. If I stood at one end and yelled, you might possibly have heard a very slight rustling noise at the other end. The first time I saw this hallway with Carrie, I made a mental note that once we had two or more kids, I’d bring them back here at some point and race them. So: big hallway.
However, before I had time to complain to Jeff, I had a huge contraction. I was barely able to stand up (why the crap did I decline the stupid wheelchair?) and so I braced myself on the wall near a weird sculpture of a bird, or some waves, or maybe it was a field of flowers, I really have no idea. After my insides were done (for the moment) being squeezed out my belly button, Jeff and I walked the 7 mile stretch down the hall.
Ok, I am lying, we ran. Ok, I am lying again, Jeff ran, I waddled.
We made it through the doors only to be met with yet another obstacle. A set of locked doors with a single phone bolted to the door. Are you freakin’ kidding me? Thank God that a nurse picked up the phone quickly and all she did was ask my name and apparently she remembered that I called earlier and she buzzed me in.
They set me up in triage and asked me to get dressed in the ever so elegant, ever so modest backless (aka assless) gown. The doctor came in immediately and checked to see how dilated I was. She thought before the exam that maybe I was 2-3 cm since it had only been a couple hours since my water broke. Nope, I was 6, maybe 6 ½. She had the nurse set me up in a room and they asked if I wanted an epidural. My birth plan was to wait and see how I felt and just go with the flow. I figured that after walking 12 miles down the longest hospital hallway in North America, I earned some pain medication.
It seemed like 6 hours and 3 million contractions later, but was really only 4 minutes and 2 contractions later, when the anesthesiologist came in. I think I said something like, “Oh, thank God! Can I kiss you?”. Nope, I have no shame about that. To this day, if she would have let me, I would have kissed her.
A side note about epidurals: While the anesthesiologist is a ray of hope in an otherwise dark and endless hallway when they enter the room (yeah I know, I am still bitter about that hallway), they quickly become a sadistic troll. How the heck am I supposed to stay still, in a curved position, laying over a hospital bed while I am having severe contractions?
Well, a few minutes later the epidural kicked in and I asked the anesthesiologist if I could kiss her again. She politely declined. I started to feel relaxed, then I started to feel numb, and then Jeff had to tell me when my contractions were. It was blissful. My parents arrived shortly after I arrived in my euphoric state and I assumed they were helpful and asked how I was doing. I really have no recollection. The nurse came in to check me after a few minutes and told me that I was about 9 cm. My parents were kicked out. Or perhaps they were kicked out before the invasive vaginal exam. I can’t remember because I was singing “Yellow Submarine” in my head and enjoying the high.
It was about 2 pm and I felt a sudden urge to push. I told Jeff to get the nurse, the doctor, the janitor, anyone that could help me get this baby out of me. Within a couple minutes, the room was filled with people and I started to feel nervous. I entered into a state of complete awareness and relaxation. I was breathing and feeling every contraction. I pushed through 3 or 4 contractions and then my little man was here.
But, the doctors and nurses took him immediately to the warmer on the other side of the room. The ob told me to relax because she still had to take care of me. Because of the awesome epidural, I was blissfully unaware that my baby was not breathing. I thought that maybe this was just procedure, that he needed a little jumpstart, but that he would be placed in my arms and allowed to nurse within a few minutes.
But then a nurse said some words that I didn’t recognize, but what I did recognize was the sense of urgency and panic in her voice. She took the baby, MY baby out of the warmer and started to whisk him out of the room. I asked her to let me see my baby before she took him. She hesitated for a moment, but the pleading in my eyes made her stop and lean him, all wrapped up, over my bed so I could kiss him.
He was the most beautiful little person I have ever seen.
But he was blue.
Hi, Jeff again. Immediately after our boy was born, Carrie was laying in the hospital bed having just given birth while I followed the nurses with my brand new baby boy over to the baby warmer in the corner of the room. She gently shook him, then popped him on the back a few times – not hard, but definitely firmly. “Some babies just need a little help to start breathing,” she said. But I could see that he was actually breathing, although somewhat slightly. The nurse laid him down in the warmer, rubbed all over his body vigorously with her hands, then picked him up and started pounding on his back again – this time quite a bit harder. “He just looks a little dusky,” she said, which he definitely did – although, having never really seen a newborn firsthand, I really had no idea what he was supposed to look like – I just thought he had slightly darker, more olive skin like Carrie’s Mom Holly. In any event, this process went on for a few minutes, at which point a doctor arrived, the nurse had one of those hurried conversations that she tries to keep low profile but which really just serve to broadcast to everyone paying any attention at all that she thinks something is wrong but is trying to hide it. I understand the risk of lawsuits against the hospital or even the nurses and doctors themselves, but I really wish that hospital staff trusted parents enough to be just honest with them instead of putting on the smiles and acting like everything is fine.
My stomach lurched and I started to panic, but then the epidural made me feel a little woozy. I am so thankful for that epidural, because while it was helpful during labor to numb the pain in my body, it became a lifesaver afterwards to numb the pain in my heart.