Sophia’s Birth Story
If you like long, wordy birth stories… well, you’re in the right place.
I had been having some verrry light contractions for a couple of weeks (light enough that I wasn’t sure I was having them for awhile) and had made a bit of progress over the last couple of weeks so I was cautiously optimistic that this baby wouldn’t be as late as Grace was. On the Friday night before the (Monday) due date, I was starting to feel stronger (but not painful) contractions. I knew the real deal would be happening soon, so I tried not to panic about all the cleaning and packing that needed to get done before the hospital. I thought about timing contractions, but decided I should probably go to bed since I remembered not sleeping much for a couple days leading up to Grace’s arrival, and preferred to get all the rest I could this time around.
Good thing, because nothing happened then. Saturday my sister was in town, and kindly did some cleaning for me while I intended to be productive but felt sick instead (not birth related this time. I think.) I was a bit disappointed that we weren’t having a baby that day, but relieved that I felt more prepared than stressed. At least now whenever the baby came, there would be a clean car seat to come home in.
Apparently I needed that kick in the butt to get things done, because Sunday morning I woke up around 5 am to contractions. They were strong enough that I knew that I wouldn’t be getting any sleep for quite awhile, so I quietly got up and decided to kill some time until Joe and Grace got up by calling my dad- the only person I know who would be awake at that hour. He helped distract me for an hour (or two?) which was good, since I was in for a long day of labor. Lucky Joe got to field a lot of “so why isn’t Francine at Mass today? wink wink” questions while I tried to rest at home. I gave my aunt a heads up that Grace would probably need a home for the night, since I knew that even though my contractions weren’t consistent with each other, they were consistently stronger and somewhat closer together. I had Joe run her over before dinner, so we wouldn’t have to wake her up since I knew we wouldn’t make it through the night without going to the hospital.
I had timed my contractions throughout the day, and waffled on whether to lie down and rest as much as I could between them, or to keep walking around the house, which sped them up and gave me less of a break between. Joe tried rubbing my feet and back to get me through while watching Friends to pass the time (the ones where Rachel is pregnant, ha!) until I couldn’t take it and decided enough time had passed and it was time to head for the hospital.
We walked in the door and got checked in right at midnight. One of my friends is an ER nurse who was working that night, and she commented that I didn’t look uncomfortable enough to stay. Ha! They offered me a wheelchair to get up to the OB wing, but I knew that if I could walk, it would help speed things up. The OB wing was quiet, which I really liked. My nurse (who I LOVED) gave me my glamorous gown, got me hooked up to the monitors, and let me labor for a bit. After an hour, I had progressed to 5 cm (I think I was at 4 when we got in) so she called my doctor, who said I could stay, (little did they know that I would have refused to go home anyway!) and said I could have my epidural when I wanted it. Now, please! The nurse gave me whatever drip I needed to get ready, and since she knew I was increasingly uncomfortable, make it go quickly so I could get the medication sooner. I loved her for it, but did not loved the gross metallic taste it left in my mouth. I also was strep B positive, so I had an IV with an antibiotic as well. Joe kept offering me water, which I wanted because I was thirsty, but it made the taste worse and I felt increasingly nauseated. Great. Sometime before I got the epidural, one of the contractions broke my water, which was a weird feeling. I remember watching the clock for a couple of hours, wishing the time away so the anesthetist could hurry up and get there already.
When we got word that she was on her way, the nurse had me go to the restroom before I would be stuck in bed for awhile. I was still nauseated, and getting up only made it worse. I told the nurse, who ran to get me a bag, but that wasn’t fast enough. Luckily the garbage can was within reach. Oh, humility. Just then the anesthetist came, and I don’t know when I’ve been happier to see someone, ever. It was great, too, because her husband is Joe’s business partner, and they go to our church, and I was more comfortable with her than I would have been with a stranger. She kindly gave me an intrathecal so I’d get instant relief, and it was AWESOME.
She left, and the nurse checked me, and said I was at 8cm. Yes! This was going so much faster than Grace’s labor had. It was maybe 3:15am or so, and she told me that she would let me labor down a bit, get some rest, and then check me again in half an hour. When I was complete, she would have me do a few practice pushes, and when I did those well, she would call the doctor to have him come in for the real deal. I was okay with this, since I finally had some sweet relief. The intrathecal made me very itchy from the shoulders up, but I didn’t even care. When I had an epidural with Grace, my legs felt like lead, but this time, I could feel them enough to move them if necessary. Pleasantly painless.
The nurse left, and Joe took the opportunity to take a quick nap. I tried, but couldn’t sleep, so just watched TV for a bit. After a short while, I noticed that I was starting to feel some pressure from the contractions, even though I hadn’t before, when the epidural first kicked in. Weird, but I knew the nurse would be back in ten minutes or so, so I didn’t bother calling her sooner. When she did come, I mentioned it, and as she checked me, gave me a really surprised look. She then said, “Don’t cough or sneeze.” What? Joe and I chuckled a bit (wouldn’t you?) and then she very seriously said, “Don’t laugh! This baby is starting to crown!” She called the other nurse who was helping, who confirmed, and then they hustled to call the doctor and get everything ready. At one point, the nurse was standing in my doorway and yelled down the hall to the other nurse to tell my doc that he needed to get there stat and he wasn’t going to have time to change clothes. I was trying to stay relaxed, and closed my eyes and prayed Hail Marys as it really hit me that this baby was coming REALLY soon. Joe heard footsteps pounding down the hall, and my doctor burst into the room. He said, “I thought we’d have more time! Since the last one was so long.” As he threw on a gown, he made some comment about how he was going to tell the police where he was going. Apparently he ran a couple of red lights on the way. After just a few pushes (a couple? it wasn’t very many) Sophia was born. It was a bit surreal, since I wasn’t in pain then I felt like I could pay better attention to what was going on and enjoy it more. I remember talking to her and thinking (probably out loud) that this was who had been in there for so long. This was the little person who had kicked me in the ribs. She was finally here!
As she got cleaned up and her vitals taken, she had calmed down and just looked around with her giant eyes. I couldn’t believe it.