|Surprise! We're having a baby today(ish).|
At the hospital, an ultrasound confirmed that my water had broken and the baby was very much head-down. Aaron and my cousin Shannon arrived soon afterward with snacks, and we settled in for whatever was in store. I was still in the triage area at this point, and soon I had a few contractions. When I told the nurse my labor history, she quickly got me into a room and got an IV going. I was given a large dose of magnesium to stop the contractions, and a shot of steroids to help mature the baby's lungs. I'd never had a magnesium drip before, and although the nurse tried to prepare me for how it would feel, words can't really do it justice. Magnesium has a relaxing effect on smooth muscle tissue, including blood vessels. In high doses, it causes rapid and intense flushing. What it actually feels like is something I can only imagine is similar to being set on fire from the inside. The nurse had filled a basin with icy water and washcloths prior to administering the magnesium, and I tried to lie very still and not panic while I directed Aaron to place cold washcloths on the parts of my body that felt most incendiary: "My feet, my feet! Okay, now drape a couple across my calves. Now my Adam's apple, wtf?!" It was a fun game for everyone. Luckily, the most unpleasant sensations only lasted 25 minutes or so, then the dose tapered down to one third of the initial bolus. My contractions stopped, I sent Shannon home until further notice, and gave Aaron a list of things to go buy(diapers, a car seat...).
I proceeded to have contractions slowly and sporadically, sometimes three hours apart, never closer together than 20 minutes. They were mild, like bad period cramps, but came just often enough to keep me from sleeping at all that night. I was also hooked up to a fetal heart rate monitor which kept slipping out of place every time I moved, so the alarm would start beeping and then my nurse would have to come in and try to re-position the monitor until it could read the baby again. Magnesium slows the baby's heart rate and I was high-risk anyway, so taking off the super uncomfortable monitor wasn't an option.
The next morning, my OB's partner came in and checked me. I'd had some bloody show, so it appeared that labor was still progressing albeit slower than my usual pace. I was 4 cm dilated, so the doctor decided to keep the magnesium drip going in an effort to get a second dose of steroids into me(given twice, 24 hours apart). Meanwhile, a neonatologist came down from the NICU to prep us for what we might expect once our as-yet-unnamed baby was born. He told us that babies born at 33 weeks have very good survival rates with generally few complications, but they usually need to be in the hospital until they reach 38 weeks. He went over the various forms of oxygen supplementation our son might need, and explained that some premies find touching too stimulating, so there was chance we might not be able to hold him. Upon his birth, there would be an immediate assessment and if he seemed stable enough, I could hold him for 20 minutes or so before he'd go upstairs to the NICU. I told Aaron that if there was the slightest sign of trouble, I wanted him to baptize our son and made sure the doctors knew about this plan. Then we waited.
I made a labor playlist, and we discussed names. I tried unsuccessfully to sleep, so instead I talked to the baby. "Baby, mama needs a favor. I know you're little, but I need you to be a fighter. Daddy and I want you to be strong and healthy, and we want to take you home as soon as possible. So I know you're not even supposed to be born yet and it's a lot to ask, but please, be our little warrior."
Around 9 p.m., I was still only have 2-3 contractions per hour, and I could still talk through them. They felt slightly more intense than they had the day before, but didn't yet come all the way up to the top of my uterus. However, I was beginning to feel surges of adrenaline in my legs, a feeling I recognized as transition. I hit the call button and asked the nurse to check me. She said they generally try to avoid stirring things up in women whose labors they are trying to stall.
"I know, and I appreciate that, but I have two concerns: one is that I'm still 4 cm and contracting just often enough to prevent sleep, and I'm coming up on 40 hours without sleep. If I'm still 4 cm, I want an epidural so I can actually rest before having to birth a baby. My other concern, the one I suspect is more likely the case, is that my lame contractions are, in fact, accomplishing something and I'm further along than anyone suspects."
She agreed to check me. I was 7-8 cm. Sneaky uterus. The on-call OB came in and said "You don't want an epidural; you're going to deliver this baby within the next four hours, and your recovery will be so much better without one." (spoiler alert: he was right)
|Chatting, like you do.|
"I need a chair," I said.
"For what?" my nurse asked.
"For lunges," I replied. "I'm going to do lunges and get this baby under my pubic bone."
|I actually said the words "Pants-off Dance-off!"|
That was a mistake.
I should've waited for the Pitocin to kick in more, because once I got the baby's head approximately halfway out, I ran out of steam and didn't have contractions to help me. So the baby just paused there, head halfway out, not moving.
And that's when the screaming started.
With Jack, I remember grunting a lot during the pushing phase.
With Matteas, I was quiet and focused and barely made any noise at all.
With this baby, I felt like I was going to lose my mind if I didn't getsome relief from the terrible burning that felt like my entire body was being ripped open with a dull butter knife.
"Don't push," my doctor said.
"Then cut me open and get him the f*** out!!" I screamed. "I can't not push, I need him OUT!"
We named him Lochlan Rafael. Lochlan means "warrior," and Rafael means "God has healed."