Grace’s Birth Story
I thought it was time that I actually got this down, since it’s been three years ago today that this got rolling and I didn’t want to forget even more details.
Grace’s due date was August 11, 2010. It had been a hot, hot summer, not the best time to have my third trimester. As the due date approached, I grew quickly grew tired of people telling me that they were ready for my baby to be born. Aug. 11 came and went, and still no baby. For reasons I can’t really remember, I really didn’t want to rush the process. My doctor scheduled an induction, but assured me that scheduling it would probably set me into labor… and then told me not to go into labor that weekend because he would be away. Right. I’ll see what I can do.
Sunday was the Feast of the Assumption, and I remember friends talking to us after Mass. They had been on baby watch for weeks, and were hoping I’d have the baby that day since it was a feast day. I felt uncomfortable all day, but nothing out of the ordinary- just your usual past-due pregnant lady in 90 degree heat and humidity. That night, a friend was asking how I was doing, then told me she’d offer her rosary that night for me to go into labor- then reminded me: “Ask and you shall receive” which was a running joke since high school for whenever we wanted things. I felt increasingly uncomfortable, but didn’t think anything of it as I went to bed. I woke up around 1 am having contractions, and knew it was the real deal. I woke Joe up and we hung out and timed my contractions all night. He called the OB wing in our hospital to give a head’s up that we may be coming in soon, but the contractions never got regular enough. I was scheduled for a non-stress test that morning already, and I was still having contractions as we were walking in the hospital and in the elevator upstairs. August 16 that year was my sister’s 21st birthday, and I had been teasing her all summer that I would have my baby that day and everyone would forget about her birthday in the excitement. As we were heading over, I remember telling Joe that maybe they actually would share a birthday.
I got all hooked up for the non-stress test and suddenly the contractions stopped. The nurses were kind enough not to say much, but I saw the knowing smiles as they kept coming back and seeing… nothing. I finally had one after almost an hour, at which point they told me to go ahead and go home. I don’t remember much about that day after that- I was probably trying to sleep between contractions since I had been up all night.
The contractions picked up again that evening, and finally got to the point where I thought we could go to the hospital. I took a quick shower (good decision!) while Joe threw some things together and I got checked in around 1 am. The nurse checked me and found that I was at 2 cm (I had been at 1cm for a month) and I was so relieved when we got word from my doctor that I could stay. I labored all night, and sometime that morning (maybe around 8?) I was finally allowed an epidural. I had no aspirations for a drug-free birth because I’m a wimp and I was just so freaking tired after a second night of not sleeping.
Oh, at this point I’ll throw out there that my dad was visiting from New York. He had come the week before, hoping to meet his first grandchild, but settled for some good family time and being around for my sister’s birthday instead. He was supposed to leave, but when I realized I was in labor I made an early morning call (the guy gets up crazy early, especially when he has to drive 18 hours.) Plus, my brother and sister had to leave for college in Ohio on the 18th, so it was decided that Dad would drop them off on his way.
I labored all day again on Thursday, and Joe and I enjoyed the chance to watch some HGTV (we love it but don’t get it at home) and I tried to sleep once I had some sweet drug relief. Why is it that hospitals are the worst place to get rest? There always seems to be someone coming in the room. I knew it was taking forever, and it was frustrating that this baby was keeping so many of us waiting. I found out later that my aunt was starting to get concerned because it was taking so long. There weren’t really complications, Grace just really didn’t want to be rushed. At some point they broke my water to try to help speed things along. I really don’t remember if it helped or not. Probably?
I made slow progress throughout the day, and that night, as I got closer, the doctor decided to let the epidural wear off, to my dismay. His logic was that I would do a better job of pushing, etc. if I could feel what was going on. I was not his biggest fan at that moment. My nurse knew I was crazy tired (this was about 46 hours after labor first started) and felt bad for me, so she was encouraging me to see if I could push before the medication wore off. I don’t know if we were hoping against hope or what, but the medication wore off and I was still pushing. Apparently, the baby was stuck and couldn’t get around my pelvic bone. Great. I know my aunt was really hoping that I would be yelling and swearing at Joe (she asked him to report back to her if I did) but the only thing I really remember was whimpering to Joe that I couldn’t do it anymore. After what seemed like forever, the doctor asked if I wanted some assistance. Um, YES. He warned me that I would still be doing 95% of the work, but all I cared about was getting a bit of help. I had to have an episiotomy, and he used the plunger-like tool (can’t remember the medical name, you know what I mean) to help guide the baby’s head out. If that didn’t work, I’d have to have a C-section, which I desperately didn’t want to do for the sole reason that I knew it would take awhile to get everything ready for surgery and I didn’t think I could physically last that long. A few more pushes, and the next thing I knew, the doctor tossed a very angry baby onto me and said, “Were you expecting a girl?” After 48 hours of labor, the last 2 pushing, Grace Christine was finally born at 12:40 am.
The rest is a bit of a blur as my body’s adrenaline finally crashed. I remember that Joe almost cut the cord too soon (the doc kept telling him to wait), that I gave my doctor the most annoyed “Owww” ever as he stitched me up, and that as they got Grace cleaned up and took her vitals, she calmed down when I talked to her. I was really hungry (I’d barely eaten in two days, oh, and just gave birth) and asked for toast, but I don’t think I even stayed awake long enough to eat it.
After some rest, we gave my family the go-ahead to come visit. They came, held Grace, snapped some photos, and literally left for Ohio/NY from the hospital.