Well, we had to wait a day longer than planned, but it was worth the wait. Even though my fourth pregnancy was, by far, my toughest, the delivery was the easiest. And at the end of it all, we got to meet my new little man, Zachary.
I almost feel guilty sharing how easy the delivery was, especially with people like my sister who went into the hospital after her water broke not dilated at all, then spent almost 24 hours in labor. We headed in first thing Wednesday morning, and walked back to our room by 7:45. I changed into a hospital gown, hopped into bed, and they started my IV while I talked to the nurses and anesthesiologist. I was already 4 cm dilated and at least 50% effaced when they first checked me, so at least all those miserable contractions the past few months did a little something. They started the Pitocin at 8:30, and I began having stronger, more regular contractions soon after that.
Around 9, the anesthesiologist checked in again, and asked how my pain level was. Considering how uncomfortable I’ve been for weeks, it didn’t seem too bad, but he asked if I’d like to just get my epidural sooner rather than later so I didn’t have to be in pain. Sounded good to me, especially after waiting until 8-9 cm. to get one with Jack! So at about 9:30, I got the epidural.
Getting the epidural is probably my least favorite part of the whole process, because my husband has to leave the room, and I just have to not think about what they’re doing back there. Thank goodness it’s in my back and I can’t see anything, because just the thought of it freaks me out. But knowing what I know about non-epidural contractions, and the difference it makes in my ability to just relax and enjoy the delivery, I knew I wanted one, and this one worked like a charm. I could feel the pressure of each contraction, but no pain at all. My blood pressure didn’t bottom out as badly as it did with the other kids, so I didn’t have the yucky I-might-pass-out feeling or the shakes either. If there’s such a thing as the perfect epidural, I think I managed to get it.
The doctor came in to check me late in the morning, I think around 11, and I was at about 7 cm and most of the way effaced. My water hadn’t broken yet, so he broke it for me, and he predicted that would help things progress the rest of the way fairly quickly. Since I was pretty comfortable, they just left us alone to have contractions for a while, and we watched TV, talked, and laughed. It was almost surreal how we just hung out, watched the contraction monitor, and passed the time until it would be time to push a baby out.
As we flipped through the channels on TV, I stopped at TLC; Baby Story was on, and there was a woman just starting her labor at home, with no less than 15 of her closest friends hanging around to help. She was moaning and groaning, and when her midwife checked her, she was 1 cm. dilated. For some reason, this struck me as hilarious, because I knew how far she had to go, and the drama level was already through the roof. So we spent the next half hour watching this woman’s labor and delivery: as they moved from home to the birthing center, as she was in and out of the birthing tub 85 times, captured in all her pregnant, naked glory on film for the world and her entourage (which by then had grown to at least 30) to see.
Hey, different strokes for different folks, but that’s not the way I want to have a baby. I’ll do mine in a bed, in a hospital, covered from the waist up, with my husband and a few medical professionals, and with drugs, thank you very much. This lady finally gave birth, in the tub with 20 other people in the room, including a random 18-year-old guy who was taking pictures. The whole episode struck me as hilarious at times, and I laughed so hard it shook my belly monitor and made it go all crazy. Finally, my nurse came in to check on me, and said, “What the heck are you doing in here? You’re not pushing out that baby, are you?!” She showed me the computer screen with my contraction readings, and with all the laughing they’d gone from steady, repeating hills and valleys to sharp, jagged mountains that lasted for minutes at a time. That just made me laugh harder, but once I settled down we promised we’d try to behave ourselves.
The next few hours passed pretty comfortably, and by about 2 in the afternoon I was getting close. They emptied my bladder for me, and that was the last thing keeping the baby from being ready to be born. At about 2:30, they broke down the bed, turned on the big lights, and it was showtime. On my first push, we found out our new little one had hair. On the second one, his head came out, and the third one finished the job. At 2:37 p.m., we finally met Zachary, and my long pregnancy was over.
I almost hate to admit it, but as they held him up for me to see, and I realized I was done pushing, my initial thought was “That’s it?!” I couldn’t believe how easily he came out. Thankfully, there was no tearing either, which really helped my recovery after the fact. I got to hold Zachary right away for a few minutes, then they took him over to the bassinet to clean him up a little. The doctor and nurses commented that he was big, but he didn’t look nearly as big as Jack, and he came out so easily that I knew he weighed less. We didn’t get the official weight and length for a few hours because of all the other deliveries that afternoon, but he weighed in at a respectable 9 pounds even, and measured 20 ½ inches long. To most people, a 9-pounder is a big baby, but to me it meant that my gestational diabetes diet was reasonably successful: the sacrifices saved me from another freakishly large baby, and my few indulgences didn’t cause any irreparable damage. Just the right size, if you ask me!
My parents brought Gracie, Max and Jack to meet their brother after Gracie got home from school. They loved watching him get his first bath, and holding him for the first time. They were so proud of him, and so happy to finally meet him. Jack was especially adorable, talking in a sweet, high-pitched baby-talk voice and telling the baby how “cwoot” (cute) he was. He’ll be such a good big brother, and he looked absolutely huge holding his new baby. All three kids couldn’t wait for their baby brother to come home, and we couldn’t wait to get home to all of them.
He’s finally here, and he’s beautiful and wonderful, and looks just like his three older siblings, who love him to bits. Now we figure out how to settle back into our routine with four kids under 5 and a half. Wish us luck!