I am woefully behind on weekly recaps but I thought in honor of Labor Day it would be appropriate to finally share the meaty part of Lukas’ birth story. Part 1 talked about my nesting craziness and finished with us leaving for the hospital. Beware. This is a bit graphic.
We drove to the hospital, chattering a bit here and there, thankful that the driving conditions were good (winter in Minnesota+being very pregnant = constant fear of being unable to reach the hospital). Jason Mraz’s Beautiful Mess was playing as we pulled into the parking lot. We walked in through the ER and I excitedly told the attendant, “I’m here to HAVE A BABY!!!” He didn’t share my enthusiasm and gave us a nod and an eyeroll. We headed down the hallway, made a quick bathroom pitstop and pressed the buzzer that would let us into the secure birthing center. We were led into a monitoring room. By this point I was pretty familiar with these rooms as I’d spent 20 minutes in them every other day for the last two weeks. The nurse checked me and confirmed that I was about 3 centimeters dilated. She said she was going to call our doctor and she thought that we would be admitted soon.
Unfortunately that was not the case. Instead the doctor decided to send us home. The nurse didn’t seem very confident about that decision but we opted to head home. They gave me something that was supposed to help a bit with the pain (it didn’t. Skittles would have worked better.) It was around 11:00pm by this point and we weren’t too thrilled about leaving. We got home and Bjorn took a nap on the couch. I tried to lay down but it was impossible. I bopped around on an exercise ball, watched an episode of Real Simple and eventually ended up in the tub. The contractions were getting a lot closer together and much more intense so we called the hospital and they said to come back. Time starts to get a little fuzzy for me here, but I think it was around 1am.
Of course our luck with the roads had run out on our first trip. The winds had picked up and there was blowing snow. The drive was quite a bit slower and I was much less patient. No Jason Mraz this time around. I was a lot more tense and just wanted to be up moving around. Sitting in the car was awful. My only reprieve was quickly opening and closing my legs at the knee. Really classy, but it was the only thing that worked. I leapt out of the car when we got back to the hospital, took my turn rolling my eyes at the desk attendant and pounded the buzzer at the birthing center. This time they took one look at me and directed us into a labor and delivery room. A quick check revealed that I was at 7 centimeters. I was also shaking uncontrollably which the nurse said meant I was in transition. (I have to say that our nurses were nothing short of fantastic. Just incredible.)
They worked to help ease my pain. I told them that the tub had worked at home and that I was open to pain meds and an epidural. I didn’t have an official birth plan, opting instead to see what happened and respond to it in the moment. As I mentioned things were pretty fuzzy here. I was exhausted – at this point I’d been up for almost 24 hours and the pain was really intense. When contractions came I would stand facing Bjorn starting with grabbing onto his shoulders and eventually putting my hands in the pockets of his sweatshirt and practically tearing them off. I overheard the nurse say what I thought was, “She’ll have to have two bags of IV fluids before we can give her anything for the pain.” I started to cry because the thought of waiting for TWO IV bags just seemed unbearable. The contractions were coming one right on top of another and I was miserable. Fortunately it was two IV bags before the epidural. They were able to give me Nubain right away. Well, once I was able to sit still long enough for them to get the IV in. That took awhile. I never did make it back in the tub.
The Nubain made me really, really loopy. I was laying in the bed so grateful to finally have some relief but Bjorn was giving my medical history and I kept yelling at him (mumbling) that he was getting it wrong. He wasn’t. I was mishearing all of the questions. At some point in here I’m pretty sure I fell asleep. Then it was time for the epidural. I was a little afraid of the idea of a needle in my back, but it wasn’t bad at all. Bjorn took the opportunity to call our parents and conveniently leave the room during this part.
Bjorn and I both took a short nap after the epidural and the next thing I knew, my mom was leaning over saying hello. My dad had sent her as soon as they got the call. Initially I wanted just Bjorn with me, but as soon as I saw my mom I was so thankful she was there. I guess no matter how old you are, it’s always nice to have your mom when you’re hurting. My water still hadn’t broken. I had been waiting and waiting for it and figured that they would have to break it for me. Surprisingly, my “bag of waters” (I hated that term in our birthing classes) came out intact. This was enough of an oddity for the nurse to place it in a towel and take it to show all of the other nurses.
Around 8 it was time to start pushing. Honestly, I kept my eyes closed through most of this. I think it was a combination of the drugs and the fact that I hadn’t slept. While I’d had an epidural I still felt quite a bit of pressure and some pain. I was able to tell when I was having contractions.
A quick word about pushing. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when people tell you it’s like pooping a watermelon? They aren’t kidding.
After a few contractions, Lukas’ heart rate started dropping. They had me get on my knees (not supposed to be possible after an epidural) and hang over the head of the bed. Bjorn was doing a great job counting, but when he would look down to check on the progress he would slow down. I only had to yell at him once to FOCUS! We all got a little comic relief when he told me to “Do it for your ANKLES!” I hadn’t seen my ankle bones in weeks thanks to all of the swelling. This over-the-bed position was really uncomfortable and I wasn’t making much process so they rolled me back to my back. Lukas was still in distress so we needed a vacuum-assisted delivery. I thought this meant he was big.
The vacuum slipped off twice. The doctor told us that if it didn’t work the third time we would need to prepare for a c-section. Thankfully the third time was the charm. Out he came. All 6 pounds, 6 ounces of him. He had the umbilical cord wrapped around him three times – feet, belly and neck. They quickly placed him on my stomach and I looked into his eyes.
This was the first time I had opened my eyes since I started pushing. My very first thought was, “Hey, I know you.” And that’s the first thing I said to him, “I know you.” As fuzzy as my memories are of a lot of the experience, this is crystal clear. I didn’t anticipate feeling that automatic connection. It wasn’t overwhelming, just…comforting.
Lukas wasn’t crying. I thought that was a bad thing and related to the rough delivery. Turns out he just wasn’t much of a crier. He gave a few little bleats, like he knew we were expecting him to make some noise, even if he didn’t feel like it. Due to the cord and distress Lukas was whisked away for testing. They pricked his feet, gave him chest x-rays and ran a bunch of other tests. He handled it all like a champ, not even a whimper. There was concern that he might have had a collapsed lung but fortunately that wasn’t the case. I didn’t see any of this, I had closed my eyes again and was busy being fixed up.
We were incredibly lucky that there had been a scheduled c-section for twins earlier that morning. The team that had been in charge of the surgery came to our room to help with Lukas’ delivery. At one point there were 11 medical personnel in our room. I didn’t see a single one of them. It was only later when talking about the assistant that helped with my stitches that I found out how scary things had actually been. My mom commented that, “The Asian doctor looked a little uncomfortable.” My response was, “Asian doctor? What Asian doctor?”
I know there is a lot of debate out there for natural vs. drugs and I don’t fall squarely on either side. I can see the benefits to both. I will say that I am glad that I had them for Lukas’ birth. Not necessarily because of having my pain eased, but because they numbed any fear that I would have experienced as a result of his rough start. Instead I was able to rest, marvel at what had just happened (When my dad asked me how I was doing, I just kept repeating, “I can’t believe I actually DID that”) and think about hisLukas’ tiny, tiny body and beautiful blue eyes.
The wait was so worth it.