You know why it's taken so long to write Bo's birth story? Because it's boring. And a little anticlimactic. It's not boring to me, but out of the pool of interesting birth stories, this one is definitely wearing swimmies in the shallow end.
I did manage to piss off my roommate on the night Bo was born with this story but in my defense she asked and I was high on the adrenaline of the whole experience and she asked and how was I supposed to know her own experience may not have been so smooth and she was a raving lunatic*?
Anyway, I'm telling the story because I never get sick of it. I don't think it's boring and it's within my rights as a mom to regale any and all with it's awesome unremarkableness.
We went to the doctor for my regular 38 week appointment on April 16 fully anticipating that he would decide to just send me across the street to Labor and Delivery for an induction. Even though we were totally expecting it - my hospital bag had been in the car for weeks - I tried to downplay our excitement. I kept saying that the doctor may decide that I'm not ready and send us home for another week. Frank said either I would be admitted to the hospital that day or the doctor would. After weeks and weeks of contractions and bed rest and false alarms, we were ready to get the show on the road.
Thankfully, after checking me the doctor declared that I was 100% effaced and even though I was only about 1 1/2cm dilated he thought it was best to get me admitted and induced because he wasn't going to be on call over the weekend when I would most certainly go into labor on my own - to which we said woohoo! He stripped my membranes a little - which wasn't as bad as I thought it would be - and sent us across the street. He called ahead to Labor and Delivery with specific instructions to admit me directly (without an exam) and that the midwives were not to come near me until he got onto the floor in the afternoon. He didn't want them waving sticks over my head and reading their tea leaves and neither did I.
We got to the hospital and got settled into the delivery room which freaked me out a little because there was the scale and the warmer and all the tiny hats and blankets. Like a baby would be in this room soon. It was just suddenly so real. We had been waiting for him for months and months, getting more and more impatient every week and then it seemed like it would be so soon. The feeling of excitement and anticipation (and not a little panic) was overwhelming.
They hooked me up to the pitocin drip and we tried to get comfortable. It was about 12:30 and we weren't expecting to see the doctor again until around 3pm. Frank had been up since 4am for work and I hadn't really slept in weeks so we tried to nap but it was all too exciting so we emailed and texted and made phone calls and updated our Facebooks to let people know it was for real this time.
Right around 3:30 the doctor came in to see how I was doing and I didn't have much to report. I was having contractions but they weren't any worse than the ones I had been having for months and I wasn't uncomfortable so I hadn't asked for the epidural. The doctor broke my water - such a weird sensation, like a fountain is all of a sudden coming out of your business, a fountain you have no control over - and then suggested that I get the epidural. Unless I wanted to know what active labor felt like. I was not interested in that experience and agreed to just get it. It had been my plan all along to get it as soon as possible. Getting the epidural and avoiding pain was pretty much the extent of my "birth plan". The doctor left to order the epidural and the little anesthesiologist came in right away. Getting an epidural is a strange and not terribly comfortable experience as you sit there with your back exposed all the way down to your ass and you receive injections and a catheter into your spine but it wasn't really that bad, especially when your anesthesiologist is a little Italian man right out of central casting who talks to you about Pedro Almodovar and Spain the whole time.
The epidural had an almost tranquilizing effect on me. I was finally able to really relax and sort of sleep. Frank was starving but didn't want to leave my side in case he missed something. I promised him I was only going to sleep for a while and that no babies would be born while he was inhaling a cheeseburger. He eventually left to get some lunch in the hospital cafeteria. I just kind of drifted in semi-consciousness for a while, not really sleeping and watched TV. The moms showed up around 5 or 6 and we chatted and waited. We listened to the Phillies game on Frank's Iphone because it wasn't on the hospital television. The nurses kept jacking up the pitocin a little at a time and I felt nothing. Frank kept watching the contraction monitor and asking, "you really can't feel that?". I felt nothing. Not even pressure.
What I did feel was effing hungry because even though I knew I was most likely having a baby that day, I didn't bother to eat any breakfast before leaving for the doctor's office. Because I'm a genius.
Eventually, maybe around 8pm, Bo's head came all the way down and I could really feel it. There was about an hour of skull on pelvis, bone on bone, pain. I tried breathing and staring at a fixed spot (the polka dots on my boppy), but that was some intense pain. There were tears and some serious squeezing of Frank's hand. The nurse came in and saw my face and called the doctor. He came in ordered some kind of epidural booster shot. He said he'd give it 10 minutes to work after which it would be time to push, and either the booster would work or I would just have to push through the pain. Thankfully, the booster worked like a charm and I was back to blissful numbness. So much so that the doctor had to put my legs in the stirrups for me because I couldn't feel them to move them. It was like they were asleep. It was awesome.
Then it was time to push. It was really more of a conversation interrupted by occasional pushing. We talked about how we love Disney World and drinking a beer in every country at Epcot. Push. How Frank puked on the grass in Epcot during Illuminations last summer. Push. The doctor told funny stories about women pooping on his shoes during delivery. Push. This went on for about 45 minutes and then Bo was out.
There were some small issues after he was out but I can't really remember. He didn't breathe right away and the cord was around his neck one time. but then he cried and screamed and everything was wonderful and perfect. They put him on my chest and I cried and kissed Frank and stared at my son. And holy shit I had a son.
The rest is kind of a blur as the pediatrician came in and they cleaned Bo up and weighed him and gave him his Apgar tests (8 and 9). Frank hovered around the edges, taking pictures and listening closely to the language the doctors and nurses were using. Meanwhile, I was getting sewn up from the medium episiotomy the doctor performed to get Bo's giant head out.
After we were all fixed up and presentable, they let the moms back in. They could have stayed for the delivery. Hospital policy allows three support people in the room but I didn't want anyone there but Frank. My doctor, in his awesomeness, kicked them out for me. I didn't even have a chance to ask the nurse to get them, they were practically beating down the door to be let back in.
After about a half hour of phone calls and pictures and tears, they took Bo to the nursery to get cleaned up for real and they wheeled me to the postpartum recovery floor, which is the only part of the story that sucks.
It's a very busy hospital all the time because it has a high standard of care and a good reputation, especially for maternity. It's also one of only two hospitals in the Philadelphia metropolitan area with maternity wards so it also draws moms without health insurance who use the emergency room for prenatal and primary care. On this particular day it was super busy for having babies. They had women in labor in the hallways because they were so short on beds. So of course having a recovery room to myself was not going to happen. Added to the indignity of having to share a room in the first place, the bullshit is that when you have a roommate, your partner/support person can't stay the night and has to leave by 10pm. "Hi, brand new mom and dad! Congratulations! Get out." Since it was almost midnight by the time I got to postpartum, they let Frank stay for a half hour. Bo wasn't even back from the nursery in that time.
A little while after Frank left they brought Bo in and gave him to me. They also gave me a turkey sandwich and some graham crackers which may have been the greatest food I ever ate in my life. I ate it with one hand, holding and staring at the boy the whole time. That night, I couldn't sleep. I was too exhilarated by the whole experience. I just held Bo and stared at him and cried off and on and watched the sun come up. The first of many sunrises we would see together.
*The roommate gets her own story because DAMN.