So, I'm going to steal someone's idea and do a little time-line of Elinor's birth. It's the easiest way for me to put things in order and be a little coherent.
Wednesday April 11th, 1PM - Elinor's due date! I go to the bathroom at Mabel's and see that things are starting! I know that losing your plug isn't a sure sign of labor, so I stay pretty relaxed for the rest of the afternoon as Ashley and I run errands and hang out at home, finishing things up. I feel some pressure in my belly and continue to have show throughout the afternoon, but nothing too dramatic happens. Despite the lack of action, my body knows. My pulse races when I entertain the possibility that this is it and I keep saying to Ashley, "Honey? Things are starting!"
11 PM - I call the midwife on duty and tell her that I'm having small regularish contractions and explain some worrisome (to me) details about stuff that is happening (too much info. to go into, I think...) She tells me to take a long bath and see how I feel afterward and to call back if things keep happening.
11:15 - I can only take 15 minutes in the bath before I feel like I'm going to lose my mind from the heat, so I stand up, get out of the bathtub, and something other than bath water is running down my leg....but does it look kinda weird?
11:30 - We're packing up! The midwife has told us to head to the hospital. Lottie looks confused and worried. Ashley and I just keep laughing and trying to act cool. Ashley says "You know, they'll probably just send us home," approximately 100 times.
Thursday April 12th, Midnight - We drop Lottie off at our friend Kim's house and tell her we'll call in the morning, when, Ashley points out, we'll probably be home anyway.
12:30 AM - I am admitted and strapped to the monitors. They begin watching the screen when 10 gallons of what looks like pond water and smells like cookie dough gushes out of me. Meconium! The nurse says "you're not going anywhere!" Is this it??? The baby sounds fine, they don't seem worried about anything, they may have to monitor me a little more closely, I'm 1.5 cm dilated and OH MY GOD is that what a real contraction feels like?
12:45 AM - Ashley and I walk the halls. My contractions are a minute long every three minutes. I keep looking at Ashley out of the corner of my eye because I seriously worry that he might fall over with a serious case of the giggles. He pulls it together like a champ and we go about this labor business.
For the next 7 hours I labor in the shower, in the jacuzzi, on the ball, on my feet. My contractions build and build until I feel like I'll crawl out of my skin. I am sick everywhere, I feel a little desperate, I'm disappointed when the hot water only annoys me as it's always been such a big comfort to me. Sarah (our labor assistant) shows up around 5 AM, I think, and she's a big help. Ashley is being great - just quiet and supportive. I am excited to be checked by the midwife. She straps me in to the monitors, snaps on the ol' rubber glove and tells me that I am....wait for it....3cm dilated. I cry. She tells me she thinks I need pitocin because of the amount of meconium and I order an epidural. This is a sad moment, but I know I won't make it if it gets anymore intense, so I relax into the idea. I say to Sarah, "Fuck Ina May and her stupid hippie shit." This is related to the midwife later, much to her merriment.
7:30 - The epidural man comes and does his thing. I feel something cold run down my back - how weird! I lay back in bed and wait for the relief, which I *kind of* feel. Ashley is rubbing my legs, which I feel, I have a gas pain, which I feel, and what's that? Oh, a contraction. Certainly the edge has been taken off, but I'm feeling everything. The midwife wonders if we should have him put a new one in - I say no. They try adding more drugs, but it doesn't seem to change anything. Everyone is a little perplexed, but labor is somewhat bearable and that's all I care about.
10 AM - Sarah and Ashley rest and my epidural wears off almost completely. I begin having to breathe through contractions again and things are back to about the intensity they were before the epidural. I count myself lucky because I assume things would be worse with nothing at all because of the pitocin.
11 AM - I am almost fully dilated! Yay for pitocin!
11:30 AM - Wait...what is labor? You mean the baby is actually going to come out soon? Something never happened during labor...I never connected to the experience. I don't care if the baby comes out. I want to go home and watch the Sopranos. Labor is awful and everyone lies when they say it's a spiritual experience. I have hated it. I have not breathed through the pain. I have lost sight of everything. I have forgotten to freak out about pushing.
Noon - Time to push!
To all you ladies out there who have pushed a baby out....I am so glad you're there, because I so need people to understand what this was like. I pushed for an hour and a half - nothing has ever been as physically demanding, painful, frightening, or emotional in my entire life. I am trying to keep my eye on the prize, but I can't in the face of this absolute overwhelming force of nature. My world is exactly one inch around my head. I can't open my eyes. I paw at the air for supportive hands, faces, shoulders....whatever I can get my hands on. I am being LOUD! Ashley is being perfect. I love my perfect husband with all his ice chips and cold washcloths! I think its funny that they are telling me to push....ummm, like I couldn't? There ain't no stoppin' this train! But half way through I lose it. I honestly lose hope that I can do this and I don't care if I can't. I tell everyone they don't understand. The pain is beyond imagination. I keep thinking I feel something inside of me ripping. They say "Look down, Caitlin! Look down and see the top of your baby's head!" I pry my eyes open and see a slit the size of a quarter where there should be a coconut. Don't tell me to look down anymore! Ashley sees the slit of her hair and has a completely different reaction. He is dumbfounded, overcome, emotional. The nurses ask if he needs some oxygen. He says no, but I worry that he is about to lose it. I've never seen him like this! He is so excited for his little girl! Why don't I feel like that?
1:30 PM - Elinor's head starts to peak out and stays instead of sliding back in. OH MY GOD! MY LITTLE GIRL IS ALMOST HERE! This is what this is supposed to feel like! From nowhere the will to push overtakes me and I feel her little face come out, her chin, Ashley is is telling me to "Look, honey! Look at our girl!" I don't have to look! I can feel every little inch of her...her neck, her shoulders, her arms already wiggling, and then foooosh! She's out and crying! No need for the standby waiting for her in case she's in trouble. She's wonderful! She has Ashley's feet! I love her so much I can't stay on the bed! I rise three feet above it, I swear! My little daughter is in my arms...finally!
Elinor stayed perfectly healthy ( a little jaundiced) but I unfortunately took a turn for the worse. The next 24 hours were some pretty scary ones, and I'll write about them when I have the chance. Needless to say, we are all well on the road to recovery now. I had a couple of days when I got a little too sure of myself and certainly pushed myself back a few days, but now, thanks to TV on Demand, I am staying in bed and nursing for all of my hours.
Did I mention how much Lottie loves the baby? She sleeps with one ear in the air at all times and runs to Elinor whenever she makes a peep. It's very sweet. Elinor, for her part, puts up with the kisses all over her perfect little head and feet and whatever else Lottie can lick before being called off the poor little dear.
Don't make fun of my sentences, either.