I remember thinking he would come early. Of course I was wrong. My sister planned to stay with us and coach me through labor. I forced her to come when I was only 37 weeks. It's not like she had anything better to do with her time, right? I stopped working at 38 weeks. Then the two of us gallivanted around Austin doing as much free stuff as we could, cause we were both broke as a joke, trying to walk the baby out and people watching downtown.
Labor started 5 days after my due date, around 4 in the afternoon. I had the weirdest feeling like my cervix was just stuck in the open position. I didn't know what the heck was going on. The feeling lasted all of ten minutes. MINUTES. I sat on the toilet thinking I had to pee, and asking Chris and Maria what the heck was going on, and of course they had no idea. I said, contractions don't last ten minutes, this doesn't make any sense.
Around 30 minutes later it happened again. It was such a weird feeling and not at all like what I expected a contraction to feel like. I felt the urge to pee so I sat on the toilet again. It was just strange. This time it lasted only eight minutes. Of course we were googling "ten minute long contraction" and finding nothing and I started to get the feeling this might be real labor but I just couldn't wrap my mind around it.
Twenty minutes go by, then another contraction. This time it lasted six minutes. Fifteen minutes later, a five minute contraction. After almost two hours of this, my contractions had started coming every ten minutes, lasting about three minutes each. I called the doctor to see what was going on, she said it sounded like labor and offered no explanation for my baffled incoherent questioning about the extremely long contractions. She told me to call and then come in to the hospital when they were about 3 to 5 minutes apart.
At one point during all of this I decided I didn't want to give birth hungry so I said I wanted something "light" to eat, whatever that means. I sent Chris to Chick-Fil-A to get me some chicken noodle soup. When he came back I ate two bites and started eyeing the heck out of his nuggets, so we switched.
Once my contractions got closer than ten minutes apart, I started really feeling them. I was standing up and swaying through contractions and thinking, wow, this really does suck. They still weren't too bad and I had full confidence in myself. The closer my contractions got, the shorter they got, until they were maybe two minutes long and five minutes apart. I didn't want to be laboring in the hospital forever so we decided we'd wait til they were four minutes apart to make the 15 minute drive to Seton Southwest.
Once we all decided it was time to go (because I felt clueless and not at all able to make decisions by myself) Maria had to make herself a dinner to go. She was on an extremely strict diet due to food allergies. So Chris was aghast and I was laughing as she cooked herself tilapia and peas and packed it in a Tupperware to take to the hospital.
I remember HATING the drive to the hospital. It was about 8 at night so no traffic. But I ended up having three contractions in the car and thinking it was the worst experience of my life. We had to go through the emergency room entrance and of course they put me in the wheelchair to take me to the triage room which still boggles my mind why they think forcing laboring women to sit in a wheelchair that they have no control over is a good idea.
I got changed into a hospital gown and the nurse checked me and said I was 5 cm dilated and Maria was just about beaming saying isn't it so great you're already at a 5? And I was proud, I knew it meant things were going quickly, deep down I knew that was good especially for a first time mom. But really I wanted to curl up and die. I thought, I'm only at a 5?!? Only halfway. This is going to suck.
We got sent over to the delivery room and the nurse forced me to lay down an wear a monitor and even though I was against all of that before going into labor, things changed. See, once I laid down on that hospital bed I was stuck. Maybe they superglued me? I got up a few times to pee but after a while I just couldn't. I couldn't walk around, I was so tense I just clenched every muscle in my body the entire time I laid there.
Maria suggested I get up, that it would help move things along, but I felt like I would die if I tried. Chris held my hand and whispered sweet nothings to me. Maria got out the bag of tricks including a hair comb to dig into the palms of my hands and a hard ball to roll on my back. We must have read about that online? She was all set to massage me and take care of me and I told her if she put one finger on me I would snap it in half. Instead she got the workout of her life trying to hold on to the end of the bed while I pushed against her with my feet through every contraction, and pulled up on to the bed rails with all my strength. She told me afterward that she was shocked I could push that hard and she was just about dying trying not to get pushed off the bed.
Chris said I looked calm(ish) like I was in the zone. Really I had retreated into some deep dark cave of pain and I could hardly talk or do anything. I forgot to pray, I forgot to relax, I forgot all my labor training. With each contraction I cramped up like a clam and I started repeating these words, "This doesn't hurt. This doesn't hurt. Thisdoesnthurt." until the contraction was over. Not sure why, but lying to myself seemed to really help. Thankfully no one was coming in or out of the room, the nurses just let me be alone with the lights off although they were checking up on me from the other room since they forced the monitor on me. I was also hooked up to an IV of antibiotics since I had been tested group B strep positive, and they gave me a saline solution to keep me hydrated, I guess. Which seemed unnecessary but what do I know. Also it made my skin blow up like a fat gloopy sea slug the next day.
I kept looking at the clock thinking "wtf how has it only been ten minutes since I last checked the clock?!?" I was hopeful that Lenny would be born on April 11, the birthday of his namesake, my husband's grandfather. But midnight came and went and no baby. And then it seemed even more unbearable because I was so sure all along that I only had to tough it out til midnight and the baby would be here. But no, I'm still glued flat to a hospital bed hating everything at this point.
Finally the pain was getting so bad and somewhat different, I wasn't sure what the deal was but I said I wanted to get checked because I thought I might be almost done dilating. I was scared to death to hear that I was at a 7 or something so I put off asking but finally we got a nurse to come in and she checked me and said I was at a ten and they would go get the doctor so I could push. What a huge relief I felt!
Now all of a sudden this dark, calm, quiet room got flipped completely upside down. What felt like twenty people but was probably four busted all up in my room a little after 3 am flipping on the lights, moving stuff around, setting up all kinds of rolling tables and whatnot, making a ton of noise. Although, in retrospect, I think they were being as quiet as they could. My doctor came in looking tired as heck, too tired to smile but she really was trying. She said, "Are you ready to have a baby?" in the most tired voice while trying so hard to seem chipper and happy, I wanted to bust out laughing at her but I kinda had other stuff going on. And now after all the fuss they had made at this hospital about all their options, about their birthing bar and squatting stool and birthing tubs and just how I had a million options and it was all about me, they flipped down the bottom of my bed, told me to lay flat, hold my knees just about up to my ears, and PUSH.
They literally had me pushing like it was some kind of major emergency. Give it all you got, they told me. Push harder. Harder. With each contraction there was a bouquet of heads floating around my area, looking at me with shining and expectant eyes and demanding me to PUSH. Well of course I did. I pushed hard as hell with no excuses. My doctor was "massaging" my perineum, I put it in quotes because what started as a gentle stretch bloomed into a tug of war. My sister later said the doctor was "ripping me apart" as hard as she could and was literally shaking with exertion. I did not realize any of this was happening at the time but I do remember yelling out saying "Ow wtf is that it hurts so bad!" when I kind of knew it wasn't crowning but I was a noob so I had no idea what I should feel and what I shouldn't.
After the fact I look back and wonder what was the reason they had me pushing so hard. I literally pushed for maybe 20 minutes before Lenny was born. All vitals were good, I just don't understand the reason for all that rushing and I felt kind of lied to by this whole hospital system of doctors and nurses who were supposed to be there for me to birth naturally, my way, whom I completely trusted and in the panic of labor did whatever they told me without thinking.
Pushing was not a relief as some people describe it to be. It was the worst pain of labor but I was glad knowing it would be over soon. I was so floored and relieved and happy once Lenny was born, after his head came out I gave one more push and his body twisted right out. He was so healthy and red and tiny like a little naked baby mouse. I was all torn up and the doctor had to give me a lot of stitches, I can only assume due to the extreme push fest I just went through, especially since Lenny was only 6 lbs and 1 oz. I guess I didn't know or didn't remember that slow pushing with proper support can help to reduce tearing but even after that I didn't even really care because I was just utterly relieved to be DONE.
We spent some time with our sweet little son, marveling over him and how it was even possible that this human was growing inside of me. Then I got insanely hungry and all they had at the hospital at that hour was turkey and cheese sandwiches. I ate two of them and then begged for someone to go get me a big breakfast platter from McDonald's but Chris and Maria were both passed out sleeping so I just laid on the bed and tried (and failed) to sleep. Newborn babies sure do make a lot of noise breathing! Every little hiccup and breath he made had me wide awake, but somewhere in those first few hours I guess I managed to get a little sleep.