Today is Otis’ due date. I’m getting all sorts of emails from various newsletters I’m subscribed to letting me know that I’m 40 weeks along and not to pace the floor waiting for your little bundle of joy to show up because first babies are rarely early.
Yeah, about that…
On that note, let’s get on with the story of how Marshmallow became an Otis.
Last Monday night I spent a good portion of the evening doing what many call “nesting”. Mark and I just moved into a new place and Otis’ room was not quite finished. I know that that is insane. Most people have nurseries ready before the ultrasound tech can finish telling them if their having a girl or a boy. What can I say? I live on the wild side.
It was just about midnight and as I finished tying the crib bumper into place I felt something… wet.
“Mark, I think my water just broke.”
And then a gush.
I won’t go into details, but just imagine someone installing a faucet between your legs and leaving it on. Full blast. That’s water breaking.
After getting cleaned up and sending a call into the midwife, Mark and I headed to the car. My delivery bag was packed and ready to go, the car seat was installed and the grandparents were called. I was feeling amazing. Wet, but amazing.
The midwife called me back right as Mark started the car. I told her my water had broken, there weren’t any labor pains and we’d be at the hospital lickety-split.
Go to sleep, she said. Since contractions hadn’t started and the water was clear I should go back inside and get some rest until labor starts because I’d probably be having this baby in the next 24 hours. I’ll want to be rested.
Go to sleep? Did she just tell me, an about to be first time mom with a raging waterfall between my legs, to GO TO SLEEP? That’s like telling a 12 year old girl to just go to sleep the night before she gets to meet Justin Bieber. That’s just a little too much excitement to sleep on.
But I’m obedient, so Mark and I went back inside to “sleep”. And by “sleep” I mean Mark really did sleep (easy to do when thoughts of humans crawling out of your body aren’t disrupting your REM sleep) and I laid on the floor (like heck I was going to potentially ruin our mattress with the River Runs Through It action going on) bouncing through every emotion known to man.
The next morning we went to our appointment with the midwives. I was sure that once they saw that I was serious about the whole broken water thing they’d send me straight to the hospital. So I texted pretty much everyone I knew that we were going to have a baby later that day.
Not so much. The midwife said that everything looks fine and that I can just hang out and wait to go to the hospital whenever labor pains started or at midnight (which would be 24 hours after my water had broken), whichever came first. If labor didn’t start by midnight they’d have to induce me because the possibility of infection was increased because my water had already broken. With the midwife we decided that we’d wait it out until 8pm and we’d go ahead and check in then if labor hadn’t started.
So we went home. To wait. And sleep. But not a lot. Again, 12 year old excitement of meeting Justin Bieber going on. It was going to be a long day.
Part of our long day included dinner at Olive Garden with both of our parents. One of my biggest fears about going into labor was that they’d send me to the hospital on an empty stomach. They don’t let you eat once you’re checked in, and I hated the idea of having to go through the whole thing hungry. Getting to enjoy a favorite meal with my family before doing the scariest thing in my entire life was a true blessing.
Since labor never started we went straight to the hospital after dinner so that I could be induced.
Part of me cringed at the idea of being induced. I wanted this to be natural. I knew every time a chemical was added to the process the likelihood of a C-section increased. I didn’t want a C-section more than I didn’t want peanut exit strategies simply because that’s serious surgery. Serious surgery scares me.
But induction was the plan and the midwife that I was working with that night, Lisa, was fabulous. She calmed me down, gave me a hug and assured me that I was going to be ok. She also wore cowboy boots which is so Nashville and so awesome.
They got me set up in the room and gave me a pill that would help my cervix soften. It would take 4 hours for the pill to do its job so we’d simply wait to see how I responded and go from there. So for 4 hours my cervix softened and I had what felt like 4 hours straight of menstrual cramps. It wasn’t necessarily painful, just unending.
During this time I had to go to the bathroom which is difficult considering the IVs and whatnot that I was attached to. The nurse helped me get set up and get back to bed. Once I returned to bed they reattached me to mine and Otis’ heart rate monitors. Otis’ heart rate had dropped. Like a lot. Enough to scare my nurse and bring in another nurse. They had me move around in bed until we got into a position that, I guess, Otis approved of, as evidenced by a happy heart rate. Each of the nurses commented on how temperamental my little man was.
After 4 hours the cervix was satisfactorily softer and we were ready to move on to the next part of my induction. Foley’s catheter was then used to help open my cervix up. This is where things got intense. I don’t know what it is about the word catheter, but it scares the pee out of me (heh). The catheter was inserted and Lisa warned me the rest of the procedure would be just as painful and that this would be a great time to do the epidural thing, if I wanted.
A lot of things played into my decision to go ahead with the epidural. First, the catheter thing hurt. Second, there was no promise that this labor was going to be quick and I really didn’t see the point in wasting energy on dealing with pain that could last for the next 24 hours.
Once the epidural was done (which wasn’t painful at all), I was about as happy as a 12 year old girl who got to make out with Justin Bieber.
“This thing is awesome,” I told Mark, “I think I’m going to name our baby Epidural. Otis Epidural Oates. Yes, that’s his perfect.”
Because I was blissfully comfortable I was finally able to get some sleep. Sleep until I was woken up by the horrible feeling that I had to pee. Which was impossible because not only did I have a labor inducing catheter, but I also had a regular bladder catheter because of the epidural.
“Should I feel like I have a full bladder? Because I want to pee really, really bad. And it’s uncomfortable.”
Yeah, that full bladder was the two catheter balls rubbing together. And Epidural doesn’t stop you from feeling pressure. Bliss had left the building and I wasn’t going to be relieved until the Foley balloon dropped.
Once the balloon did drop (the relief from that was euphoric) it was a good sign that I was about 5cm dilated and we’d get serious with the Pitocin, the contraction inducing drug. I already had the epidural and I had conquered the Foley balloon so I was pretty sure that I could handle the contractions.
And I could. Why? Because epidural is amazing.
Mark and I watched my contractions on the computer monitor and basically just hung out. More waiting. Yay.
Around 10:30 on Wednesday morning my new midwife (there was a shift change), Erin, came in to check how dilated I was because my monitor was showing that it looked like Otis was descending (whenever my contractions peaked, his heart rate would lower at the same rate). Her face lit up and she let me know that we were about to start pushing.
Let me tell you that there were many times during the evening where I seriously thought, “Can I just go home? I don’t need to have this baby, at least not tonight. Can we try another night?”
Hearing that I was about to start pushing was one of those times.
This part was the most intense part for me. Pushing was hard and I felt unsure that I was doing anything right. Mark, my husband, the man who felt queasy watching a video that showed nothing even close to graphic, was cheering me on. And not just cheering from the doorway or something, but right there next to me and able to see all the birthing details.
An hour into pushing I started getting discouraged. Otis was “sunny side up” and wasn’t getting past my pelvic bone. I couldn’t do it. I just knew that I couldn’t do it.
Erin, the midwife, however wasn’t buying it. She insisted there was no reason I couldn’t deliver this baby. If only he would flip over…
She stared at my bottom half for a minute, and I swear she scratched her chin thoughtfully, before she basically dove elbow deep into my body to make Otis turn over.
That’s right. Another human was inside me with the purpose of making a completely different human turn around.
I thought I was going to faint. There was nothing painful about it, but mentally? My mind was blown.
A few pushes later (and a midwife yelling “Stop pushing!” because I was tearing), at 12:58pm, I was holding the most “beautiful” baby I had ever seen. I use quotation marks because Mark and I both described him as looking like a blueberry covered in lard, which may not be the traditional definition of beautiful, but to us? Otis was quite the masterpiece.
So, yeah, that’s The Labor Story and how Marshmallow became Otis.