Monday October 5
3:00AM I was in a nice, peaceful sleep when I suddenly sat straight up in bed (not easy to do with a huge belly)! Something was wrong. I thought I had felt a gush of fluid and made my way to the bathroom to see that I was right, a small amount of clear fluid with a little bleeding. I knew we'd be on our way to the hospital again tonight so I wondered whether I should take a quick shower and throw some last minute things in my hospital bag but quickly decided against it knowing the noise would wake David and he'd be angry at me for even thinking of wasting any time. As gently as I could, I woke him up and explained what had happened but that I wasn't having any contractions stronger than the ones I had every night and that there had been no more fluid leaking. Immediately, he was awake and worried. We got dressed calmly and quietly, both of us nervous and completely caught off guard, grabbed the hospital bag, left a key for the neighbors to come and check on the pets, and headed out the door.
4:00AM I sat in triage again needing to pee and glaring at the nurse who had given me the huge bruise on my arm the last time I was here. Fortunately, she wasn't the one who would be admitting me tonight. I sleepily answered questions for another nurse wondering how long I'd have to wait to be seen by the doctor this time but after just a few questions the nurse put me in a bed and asked a doctor to come check me. Much to everyone's surprise, especially mine, the doctor announced I was 6 cm dilated and completely effaced! They called my doctor to let her know and immediately put me on medication to try and stop the contractions. I got changed into a hospital gown, was weighed and catheterized to get a clean urine sample to check for infection. Now I know this sounds strange, but I was really glad about the catheter since I felt I had to pee like a racehorse! I asked the nurse since she was already doing the procedure, could she just go ahead and empty my bladder and she said she would try. Then I was wheeled into another room for a sonogram by a different doctor to learn that the baby's head was already so low the doctor was having a hard time measuring it. He asked if I was sure about my dates since the baby was measuring large, an estimated 4 pounds, 12 ounces! This doctor knew David and said he had been sent from the ER to make sure I was being taken care of. And he wasn't kidding. After I was wheeled back to triage I sat there for 5 minutes listening to the misery of two other women in labor wondering when my pain would start and whether they'd let me get up to go to the bathroom when I heard the doctor ask, "Are you all gonna take the patient in 4 to her room, or not?" "Uhh, yes doctor the room is ready and we'll take her now." A nurse came in with an irritated look on her face and off we went to a birthing room.
5:00AM Two nurses wheeled me to the end of a long hallway and I think I might have heard trumpets calling in the distance as we entered first the nice little private family waiting area at the entrance to the birthing room and then the huge room itself with couches, chairs and TV and its own nice big bathroom. The queen has arrived and she really needs to pee! But I wasn't allowed to get up since they were closely monitoring contractions, hoping they would slow down, and the baby's heart beat for any signs of distress. Once I was settled in, hooked up to an IV and handed a bedpan, David was allowed to join me and the nurse went over everything with him.
6:00AM I was given a dose of a steroid used to try to mature the baby's lungs. The nurse explained that the medication would take full effect in 48 hours so they hoped to hold off labor at least until then. Stay in this bed for two days?! My back was hurting and I really needed to pee and no one was letting me up to go to bathroom. David and I discussed whether we should call my mom yet. I decided we better at least let her know what was going on so I sent her a text that said, "Guess who's trying to be born today?" and I lay back to imagine the excitement (or panic) the text would cause over 2,000 miles away.
7:00AM-12:00PM For the next five hours we waited hoping the medication to stop the contractions would work but I could tell they were still there. We watched TV and talked and the nurse kept coming in asking how my pain was. She asked me to describe it on a scale from 1 to 10. I told her it was a 2 and not because of the baby but because I really needed to pee and no one would let me go to the bathroom. She blew me off very matter-of-factly saying, "You don't have to pee, that's the baby's head." It's funny now to think of how offended I was by that. I had done my reading and none of the books described the pressure of labor as having to pee a river. I was supposed to feel pain and bowel movement pressure; it's what I was waiting for all morning. Clearly this woman didn't know what she was talking about. I kept myself busy sending text messages to everyone and then I asked David to go home to check on the animals and try to get a good nap in our own bed. I was given the second dose of medication to stop the contractions at noon. The nurse said she would call my doctor and ask if I could at least have some clear fluids for lunch. Half an hour later she returned, annoyed again, with a tray of regular food because my doctor (I love that woman) said I could eat whatever I wanted to. I got a text letting me know my family had put my mom on a plane that would arrive at 5:05 pm. Grandma was on her way!
1:00-4:00PM Looking back I think this must have been transition. I still didn't have any pain but I became very irritated. The urge to pee was so strong and coming and going at very regular intervals. I was sick of asking to get up and of trying to relax enough to go in a bedpan in the bed. If they wouldn't let me go to the bathroom, I'd just go right here all over the bed and that nurse would just have to come in and clean it up and I wouldn't care one bit! I also wished they would turn off the TV and the sound on the monitors. All that beeping and thump-thumping and talking was getting on my last nerve. How could David have just left me here all by myself? And that's when it hit me. Maybe the nurse was right. I started to concentrate through each contraction and the more I allowed my body to relax, the more bearable the pressure became. I quickly found a rythm of feeling the pressure build, allowing every part of my body to let go, and resting in between.
After two or three hours I started getting the feeling I might want to push. I told the nurse as soon as she came back and she said she'd call my doctor right away. I was so excited! Was today the day I would get to meet my baby? The answer was yes! My doctor came in and checked my cervix: 9 1/2 cm!! Now my excitement turned to fear. Would my baby be okay at just 31 weeks and 4 days? I sent another text to my mom. Where was she? And a text to David who was already on his way back. Two male doctors asked why we were waiting to break my water. When Dr. Lyn said we were going to wait for the grandmother they asked where she lived and rolled their eyes when the answer was New York. Sorry boys, I'm not in any pain and I can do this all day if I have to, so get your eyeballs out of your skulls and pull up a chair!! David came in and sat with me through the contractions and recorded a little on the video camera. My doctor came back in scrubs, set everything up for delivery and talked to me about what was going to happen.
5:00PM Mom's plane touched ground at 5:05 pm and by 5:40 she was at my side in the birthing room. My doctor broke my water and continued to talk calmly while we waited just minutes for the urge to push to take over. I told her how scared I was for the pain to start and she told me it was okay to be scared because I was so close to meeting my baby. I looked at my mom and she agreed. So with the next contraction I started to push. My doctor coached me on where to bear down at the height of the urge and I tried again and again until I had it down. I was so comforted to have my mom there to help me but so angry with the nurse who wouldn't get her eyes off the monitor, watching each contraction rise and then yelling, "Okay now! Pushpushpushpush!" I didn't get an epidural so how about I tell you when I feel the need to push? Soon I felt my baby dropping down low and the pain started. An overwhelming burning sensation like I've never felt before and then a break when the contraction lessened and the baby went back up a little. I still had enough composure to smooth my hair and reposition myself for one good picture during all the pushing. But the baby got lower and the pain was becoming unbearable. That's when five or six people from the NICU filed into the room and stood by the warming bed. This was it! With the next 3 or 4 contractions I pushed with every ounce of my strength through the most pain I've ever felt and at 6:32 pm my son was born! My eyes well with tears even now as I write this, remembering seeing him suddenly there for the first time all wet and curled in a little ball. The most beautiful thing I've ever seen!
He was whisked away and examined by the NICU team. Everyone gasped when the nurse called out his weight: 5 pounds .09 ounces. My doctor told the other doctors he was an IVF baby so the dates were absolutely right and he had measured large all along. He cried and I was relieved that he could breathe enough for that. I delivered the placenta and now I wish I would've taken a quick moment to say thank you for working hard to grow my beautiful boy. But I was distracted wondering what those doctors were doing to my son and when I would get to hold him. I got two stitches and after that was allowed to hold my boy for just a quick minute before they took him away to the NICU. We were a brand new family! David was immediately on the phone with everyone he could think of to call. He's not a very emotional guy. He didn't cry when the baby was born but I was so happy to hear him on the phone saying he had never seen a birth like that before. No screaming and crying, everything was calm and under control the whole time and the baby seemed stable. I could tell he was very proud.
I would go through it all over again in a heartbeat to give my son, who we finally named Zachary Cole, a little more time to grow in my tummy where he was supposed to be for two more months. He's been through a lot in the first two weeks of his life but he's a healthy, strong boy and when I see some of the other babies in the NICU, I know it could've been so much worse. He's still trying to get the hang of sucking, swallowing and breathing at the same time so he can eat on his own but he's come a long way and I can't wait to get him home to show him that life isn't about needle sticks, feeding tubes and constant noisy monitors and bright hospital lights at all. It's about love and fun and lots of people who care about him and can't wait to meet him. Everyday we get a little closer to the day his real life here at home with Mom and Dad will begin and David and I are so happy and excited to be his parents.