I wanted to write about Alice’s birth story. Not because it’s particularly interesting or novel, but because it highlights a very important theme: having confidence in your body.
Lucie was 8 days late, so I knew I would probably go late with Alice too. Fine, no problem. I mentally added another week to my EDD; a special “bonus week,” if you will. But when Day 10 post-EDD came and went, I was getting really, really cray-cray (see this post). Each trip to the OB’s office was like the movie Groundhog Day: my cervix was posterior, completely closed up, uneffaced, blah blah blah. NOTHING was happening.
On the bright side (and please don’t think I take this for granted), Alice was doing just fine in thar’, with four very long NSTs to prove it. So, there was no particular hurry to get her out (medically, that is, ahem).
On Day 11, I woke up and cried. I was convinced she would nevvvvver come on her own. Plus, I had family here waiting. Just sitting around. Staring at each other. And the calls, texts, and emails: “What’s taking so long??” I’d be lying if I said these external pressures didn’t contribute to my angst: they did. That, and I was just completely effing miserable.
That day, I took my OB’s hand and said, “PLEASE, for the love of Jesus, induce me tonight. Please.” He agreed, and within two hours I had a date at the hospital. Woo hoo! I was stoked to get the show on the road. Just really, really… excited. I felt like I had waited so long.
They put the Cervidil in at 6 PM and would give it 12 hours to ripen me up a bit. I hardly slept a wink that night because the shot of morphine they gave me to “help me sleep” made me trip my brains out. Come 6 AM the next morning, I was exhausted and guess what? The Cervidil didn’t take; it was still Groundhog Day!
“Phil?! PHIL CONNORS? It’s me, Ned Ryerson.”
You know the script. We were back to square one (technically, we had never left it to begin with).
Upon receiving this news, I broke down and cried like a baby. I cursed everyone and everything, especially my cervix. I seriously lost my shit; it was not one of my finer moments in life. The nurse turned on the pitocin drip as I sobbed quietly into my pillow: this was NOT going as planned.
All I could think was: great, I’ll get alllll these painful contractions, I won’t dilate, I’ll get an epidural to ease the pain, which will further slow down my non-existent labor. I’ll become exhausted from lack of food and sleep and I’ll agree to a C-section just to end it all. Yes, this was my little L&D Doomsday scenario (not to be dramatic). But seriously? This happened to soooo many women I know. Like, all. Tha. Time. I’ve seen this movie and I know how it ends.
An aside: Look, some people are indifferent or even happy about getting a C-section. More power to them for being flexible and open-minded. Me, however? Not so much. When faced with that proposition, I kinda freaked out. I just really, really, really didn’t want to be filleted like a fish because of my own stupid decision to be induced. It made me feel terribly guilty and selfish.
From 7 AM to Noon, I got some regular contractions, but they weren’t “real.” In essence, it just wasn’t working. Exhausted and afraid of what was next, I just wanted to go to sleep, wake up, and go home. Just… check out, leave, and try again later.
After agreeing I wasn’t in “real” labor, the nurse turned up the juice a bit. Great, I thought, this will either work or it will be an epic disaster.
After two hours of really painful contractions, I went to pee and — hey! I lost my plug. That’s something, right? I called the nurse in to tell her the good news. I needed her on my team.
At that moment, I decided it was go-time. Come hell or high water, I was gonna get this baby out. After all, the thought of going home still pregnant was about as repulsive as leaving bait in a cooler in the sun for a week (ahem). I turned the Pandora station from Nora Jones to the Black Eyed Peas: it was go-time, bitches.
Determined to dilate some more before getting pain relief, I put on my mental war paint and went to work. I looked at baby pictures of Lucie to stay motivated. The nurse came back and finally checked me. When she told me I was 4 cm dilated, I grabbed her and kissed her on the face. She looked at my contractions and said it wouldn’t be long. Excuse me? In three hours, I had gone from totally despondent to “it won’t be long.” Hot damn!
I did another hour or two of the shittiest contractions ever. They were coming fast and furiously with little time in between to recover. It was like being pummeled by big waves and not being able to come up for air in between them. When the nurse heard me utter, “I… can’t,” she got on her walkie talkie and said something like, “Anesthesia to Room #12, please.” It was music to my ears.
She went out and fetched the delivery tray and began to unwrap it. Seeing all those shiny tools made me realize it was really happening!
This was all such a shock because, you see, I had already given up on myself that morning. I had surrendered and declared defeat. I think I gave up to protect myself from the constant disappointment I had been experiencing for the previous month.
The story ends unceremoniously: a couple more hours went by until I was fully dilated. By that time, I was in epidural happy-land. I was so tired, I could barely put two words together. I didn’t even care, I was so happy. I pushed like hell for about 30 minutes and out came Baby Alice, healthy and happy.
In retrospect, it was a wonderful birth experience. I just wish I didn’t spend 85% of it in the bitter barn.
Bottom line: Have faith in your body. It knows what to do (unless it doesn’t, in which case I’m terribly sorry).