Today I celebrate my oldest child's fourth birthday. And because I was up late decorating the house and busy this morning decorating pink princess cupcakes, I completely spaced the blog. So I thought it would be fitting to give you a work-in-progress piece I'm calling "Meeting My Daughter," a little flashback to four years before today. Look for my next post in two weeks for the end of the story. But here's a picture for a spoiler.
Meeting My Daughter (part I)
“Are you going to get an epidural?” I got this question more often than “Is it a boy or girl?” Of course I was going to get an epidural. I wanted to love my baby when she arrived, and I figured an epidural would help me see past the blinding pain. Plus, when your father-in-law is a nurse of anesthesia, you get laughed at when you consider the possibility of going natural.
Getting an epidural was plan A. But being induced was plan Z. I had heard enough horror stories about induced labors, and I didn’t want to take my chances.
A week before my due date, I had my final check-up. My husband sat on the chair in the corner of the room while Dr. Watson examined my progress. “You’d never know this was your first one. You’re body’s ready to have this baby. You’re already dilated to a three, and you’re 97 percent effaced.” Unfortunately, this was my first, so nothing he just said made any sense to me. Apparently, before you can deliver, you must be dilated to a ten, 100 percent effaced. Dr. Watson continued, “I’d be surprised if you didn’t meet your little peanut here in the next day or two. Come back to see me on Thursday if I don’t meet you in Delivery before then.”
A day or two? Was I ready for that? I was counting on having another week to prepare. But I could meet my . . . daughter? Tomorrow? I’ll admit, the thought was intimidating. But I wanted so much to be rid of the aching pain in my lower back. I wanted to sleep. Well. I was so tired, but I could never get comfortable. My hands and feet looked like stuffed sausages, and my whole body felt that if forced to stretch any further, I really would pop. A day or two? I was ready.
Thursday came, and I still hadn’t felt one single contraction. I went in to see Dr. Watson, once again with my husband. Dr. Watson examined me again and told me there had been little progress. He was convinced I’d deliver that weekend on my own, and then delivered the bad news.
“I’m going out of town this weekend. And your blood pressure is reaching an uncomfortable high. So you’ve got a couple of options. One, we could break your water, which will probably naturally stimulate your contractions. If it doesn’t we give you some Petocin and you’d be holding this baby tonight. Two, you wait for your body to just do things on its own and Dr. Prince will deliver your baby. He’s excellent. He’s my colleague, and I trust him completely.”
I hadn’t seen any other doctor my whole pregnancy. Dr. Watson felt as much of a part of this as my husband and me. He did the ultrasound that told us we were having a girl. He measured her little head and listened to her heart beat and felt her roll her knees across my tummy. I wasn’t ready, this late in the game, to trust someone new. And I had gotten my hopes up for “one or two days.” We were going on three.
I looked at Aaron. Plan Z? “Let’s do it. Let’s induce.”
“Excellent. I’ll call over to Madison and see when they can get you in.” Dr. Watson left.
Aaron and I looked at each other. No more guess work. We really would be holding little Evelyn or Lillian tonight. We still hadn’t decided on a name. I had butterflies in my tummy. Crowded.
Dr. Watson entered the room and told us to be at Madison Hospital at eight o’clock. There, he’d break my water and get labor started. Aaron and I left the Clinic holding hands.
I tried to sleep, but the butterflies, the baby, and my body wouldn’t settle down enough to let me rest. Eight o’clock came too slowly. Before walking out the door, Aaron gave me a blessing. We grabbed our overnight bags. And the car seat—empty now. For the trip to the hospital, our baby sat with me.
I got to the hospital and Dr. Watson came in to see me. He told me I was dilated to a four now. Good progress. Then he broke my water. A plastic bucket caught most of it at the beginning, but over the next hour, fluid kept draining out of me. It was very odd. Every time I laughed, or twisted to one side, more warm fluid would leak out, saturating the towel I kept pinched between my legs. I wondered if this was what being old felt like. Not able to control the fluids leaving your own body. Bizarre.
A nurse came in to check on me. She wore pink and purple scrubs. She had blonde hair tied back in a pony tail. A mother of two. She was very pretty, and made me feel at ease. I promised myself I’d remember her name. I don’t.
She hooked me up to an I.V. and wrapped a fat rubber band around my baby bump. The rubber band had a black box attached to it which monitored my baby’s heart beat. About an hour later, an anesthetist poked me in the back with a needle as long as a number 2 yellow pencil. Between the rubber band, the black box, and the I.V.s, I felt more like a toaster oven than a human being.