I think I fell asleep somewhere around 4am on the couch Sunday morning. Allen aroused me from my overnight nap at 6:20am. I was already exhausted. But it was Easter Sunday and I was excited. I love Easter, love what it signifies, love the memories, love that it reminds me of my mom. But mostly, on that Sunday, I loved that it was the day I was going to become a singular human being. Forget about being a momma to a second little boy. I WAS GOING TO NOT BE PREGNANT! If there was ever a reason to shout HALLELUJAH, this was definitely it.
Allen and I snuck out of the house before Henry woke up, knowing it would be hard for him to see us and then say goodbye, and headed out for breakfast before calling the hospital at 7:00am to make sure they had room. It was a little more challenging than we expected to find an open restaurant at 6:45am, but we found a staple local place to have very traditional eggs, meat, and potato breakfasts. I excitedly called the hopsital at 7:02. I was legit proud of myself for waiting 2 whole extra minutes to call because I didn’t want to seem too eager.
“Hi, this is Heather Eastlund. Dr. Olson told me to call to make sure there was enough room before coming in at 8:00 for an induction.”
“Uh. Yes. One second….actually, can you call back in an hour?”
WHAT THE HOLY HELL WAS THAT?
“Oh… yes. Of course.”
ARE YOU F#(%$ING KIDDING ME?!
I seethed. I was mad. I was so mad. I teared up. I was deeply disappointed. And wounded. I reported the news to Allen who immediately went into comfort mode after I went into worst case scenario mode. I tried to calm down. An hour? I could do an hour. No big deal. I meditated on the wise-words of Elmo and Common, “When your monster wants to throw things and your monster wants to shout, there’s a way to calm your monster and chill your inner monster out.” Belly breathe. And so I did.
We casually ate breakfast and went to hang at the hospital. Hey, it was only going to be a 15-minute wait until we could call again and might as well go. We didn’t know where else to hang out. 8:12am. Again, congratulated myself on giving them MORE time. Hanging in the hospital lobby.
“Hi, yes. May I speak to Dr. Olson’s charge nurse?”
“Is this Heather?”
“We’re really busy. Can you call in two hours?”
Tears. Uncontrollable tears. This was going to happen all day. No baby for me today. Let’s just go home. I begged Allen to take me home. I just wanted to see Henry. I longed to play with him, hear his laugh, and see his smile. Allen would not take me. He said it would do more harm than good. I was mad. More belly breathing.
We called some good friends we knew would be up at 8:15am because they, too, had a toddler. We chilled out, chatted, laughed, drank some very calming tea, and I soon realized that things were going to be okay. That Allen absolutely made the right call by not taking me home and that there was still a lot of time left in the day in which to have a baby. We were okay. I called at 10:00am and was given the all clear to come in at 11:00am. Relief. Sweet sweet relief.
We arrived at the hospital and started getting friendly with the nurses. We were excited and ready. Before being induced I had to have two hours of IV antibiotics. As with all things hospital-related, it just takes a lot of time to get settled and set up. Though we arrived at 11:00, the IV wasn’t placed with antibiotics flowing until nearly 12:30. Those antibiotics BURNED. The funny part is that Mary, my nurse, who ended up switching a shift with someone to stay with me through delivery – I love her, she was amazing, the afternoon would not have been the same without Mary, mentioned to me that some people report burning at the IV site because of the concentration. A few minutes later I said, “I don’t even know if you have started them yet, but I can already feel the burning.” Yeah. No. She hadn’t started them. Brains are silly things.
And once she started them I certainly knew it because the burning was intense. It seemed worse if I moved my arm, wrist, or fingers in any way. I did my best to keep that arm dead.
Mary asked me some questions including, “Why are you being induced today?” To which I replied, “I apparently have a very active cervix.” She asked me what I was at and after I told her she said, “OH MY. Yes. I guess so.” I never did ask if it was uncommon to get so far along without being in labor.
Dr. Olson came in around 2:45 and broke my water. No plans for pitocin, which was great by me. I could hear her break my water but there was no accompanying feeling of any kind. There was a good gush, I was informed, and no problems with the cord. She checked me then and I was dilated to 5cm. My body made it to 5cm without being in labor. I was at 5cm when I arrived at the hospital with Henry after TWELVE hours of labor at home. Go body.
So after a rousing conversation about why Allen and I should like basketball, we were left to wait for labor to start. Mary recommended I get up and walk around – let gravity help out. So, I walked the halls for a half hour wondering if I’d remember a real contraction when it hit after weeks and weeks of braxton hicks. Unequivocally, YES.
Real contractions began around 4:00pm. They were 4 minutes apart. I knew that they would be more intense after my water was broke, but I don’t think I was actually prepared for how that might feel. I very quickly knew that I would want an epidural and asked Mary to prep whatever needed to be done to make that happen. I needed a full bag of fluids, which would take 45 minutes on high speed, before I could be given an epidural. The fluids increases blood volume to help with blood pressure issues. (Side note: turns out epidurals COMMONLY mes with blood pressure, like, they are known to do so. Why is it that Kansas could not seem to figure out what was going on with me? …Kansas. SMH.) It took about 15 minutes for Mary to get the fluids read and set up. And then 45 minutes more for the fluids to be done. Then about 15 minutes after that before the anesthesiologist came in and asked me a billion questions and could place the epidural.
Within about 20 minutes of my first contraction, the contractions were coming every minute to minute and a half. I was in agony. I have never felt such searing, body-wrenching, nearly made me pass out pain before in my life. Maybe it would have been okay if they were spaced out a little, but the contractions were right on top of one another. I was getting maybe at 15-20 second break before I was gripped by another contraction. I had to start vocalizing the pain. Yelling helped. I think. Or focused my brain. I’m not entirely sure which. I squeezed Allen and Mary’s hands and swayed and yelled and my head lolled from side to side as it felt like my body might implode. Allen became worried that they were not going to be able to give me an epidural. He didn’t say that until later.
Then the anesthesiologist came in and asked me a litany of questions that I could not answer because my body was being tortured by itself. It was all I could do to barely shake my head enough for her to gain my consent. As my body convulsed she warned, “You’re going to get a contraction while I am placing the needle. You CANNOT move.” Yeah, sure, no problem. I won’t. That’s the easiest thing anyone has ever requested of me. We had to pause through two contractions as she was placing the needle, but I had to keep hunched over like a cat and keep as still as possible. I just kept thinking that it was going to be over soon. Relief was coming soon. She finished and started packing up. To my horror. I felt another full-fledged contraction. I nearly burst into tears as I exclaimed, “I CAN STILL FEEL THEM.” Mary took my hand, “Honey, it can take up to 30 minutes for the full effect to kick in.”
But with every passing minute they got better. And better. Until I could feel the pressure but no pain. And I smiled. And laughed. My body relaxed. It was a little after 6 at this point. Then plan was to let me labor down and get that little boy as low in my pelvis as possible before I pushed. So Allen and Mary positioned me and we waited. After 40 minutes Mary came in and wanted to shift me. She said it was good for the baby. After looking at my belly she said “Oh my goodness! LOOK AT THAT?!” I was slightly shocked – what in the hell is she talking about? Teddy had balled himself really far up and over on my right side. It was absolutely bizarre looking. You could see his entire body outlined in my skin wedged up on that side. She made Allen come and see. They remarked that it looked like an alien. Mary grabbed another nurse to help reposition me because… body was dead from epidural… and made her look at Teddy, too. It’s fun to be a sideshow sometimes.
So Mary and the other nurse helped to get me on left side to push Teddy’s body to a more central location. He was already engaged in my pelvis, but needed some straightening out. I quickly started yelling that it was uncomfortable, that I could not close my legs. They brought in a birthing peanut which was extraordinary. It kept my legs far apart while laying on my side. Mary and the nurse tried to reposition the fetal heart monitor and spent 5 minutes fussing and could not get Teddy’s heartbeat. I started to panic. They didn’t. They knew he had been fine and weren’t worried, but still needed to find him. They fussed and fussed until Mary put the monitor very low, maybe a few inches above my vagina. There was his heartbeat. Mary was surprised. He was RIGHT THERE. He was in such an awkward position that they couldn’t really keep the fetal heart monitor on him. So instead Mary came in every 5 minutes or so to check on him.
I could FEEL Teddy moving, turning. I could feel that he had hair. I knew he would have hair before I saw him. The sensation was so weird. No pain, just pressure, and furry feelings from a turning head. A couple of times I told Mary that it felt like he was coming out. She said he wasn’t and that Dr. Olson was on standby for whenever I was ready to push. But I never got an URGE to push. There was pressure, but I didn’t feel like I needed to relieve it. And then I worried I was overthinking it and that maybe I did feel like I had to push and was denying myself the sensation. I just wasn’t sure. Mary came in to reposition me so Dr. Olson could check me out. As she turned me over she said, “Can you hit your cal button up there?” I did. “Yes. This is Mary, can you send Dr. Olson in? His head is here.”
WHAT? I told you he was coming out!
Dr. Olson came in and chuckled (I adore her, she was the perfect doctor for me). She put her hands on her hips and said, “Well then, sooo… wanna push?” And then she made Allen come and look and got another nurse to come and look because it is apparently unusual to have a baby’s head half hanging out of a vagina without a mom pushing. So, Dr. Olson stood next to me, no stirrups, no change of the bed, and said, “Give a push. I don’t think it even needs to be a big push.” I did. Like a really light half-assed push. His head was out. She told me one more. So I gave a bigger push, but I’ve definitely struggled far more with countless bowel movements than the push that expelled Teddy from my body.
1.5 pushes. And he was out. It was easy. There was no struggle. It was beautiful.
Teddy was immediately placed on my tummy and Allen and I welcomed him into our family while the staff cleaned me up and made sure that Teddy was going to cry. I clutched him and told him I loved him, remarked at ALL THAT HAIR (told ya!), and marveled at his little face. 4 hours of labor and we had our second little boy. I would take those 4 hours again over the 25 hours of agonizing boring labor from Henry. Everything about the experience was better. From the hospital staff to how I felt. Despite the torture of feeling real contractions, this was the way to go. I was lucky. And happy.
We all guessed at how big he would be. I guessed 8.8 because I knew he and Henry were on track to be about the same size and Teddy was 10 days later than Henry. Everyone else was guessing low 8s or high 7s. So when he weighed in at 8.10 and 21 inches there was a lot of surprise. Dr. Olson visited us the next day and was shocked to hear his stats. “He hides his weight well!” He’s just such a long guy. He still looks lanky, not chubby. He’s perfect. 8 days in and we are in love with him and figuring out this family of 4 business.
More on that in the next day or two…
For now, know we are all happy and mostly healthy (I developed a uterine infection, but am already on the mend).
Here, enjoy some baby pictures.