I’ve heard it said that no pregnancy is alike, not even for the same woman. I’ll be honest with you, I thought it was a load of bunk. I mean come on, are you telling me that Michelle Duggar has had 18 completely separate experiences? I just doubted it. I was wrong, of course. So I will join the masses and tell you that my two pregnancies were not at all similar. In fact the only thing they had in common were in the way they were made. This wasnt enough to ready me for how different my deliveries would be. And boy howdy were they.
It was a regular Thursday just puttering around the house doing chores and working on my to-do list, nothing interesting at all. At some point in the late afternoon I noticed a fair amount of mucus streaks, no plug or chunks, just yuck. I move along hardly taking notice. A few hours later I was feeling wet so I changed my undies and again, moved on. I had done a lot that day and chalked it up to just that. A little later I needed to change again and add a liner, and then a pad. I started to notice, wondering if this was too much. I tell Mike before bed that I’m on my 3rd pair of underwear in a few short hours. He gives me the husband look of why exactly do I need to know this.
It’s 6am Friday morning and the cat’s belly alarm starts sounding as he meows for his morning meal. I waddle down the hall and feel a little gush, still? I think out loud. Gross, I don’t like this. I sit to use the bathroom and see blood. Crap! It’s not that much, it’s more like “bloody show”. I shake it off. No way in hell, I just did too much yesterday. I go back to bed, the dr will be open at 8, I will call then.
I join Mike and Nate in the kitchen with the phone and tell him why I’m calling, he’s not phased and neither am I. Blah, blah,blah- go to L&D, see if your water has broken and make sure you’re not having contractions. “It hasn’t! I’m sure of it and I’m not-this is my 2nd- I would know if this were real.” –“I know but we have to take care of you and we can’t do that if you don’t come in so lets just be sure.” Okay, I groan and I call the sitter.
I take a quick shower and again meet the boys downstairs. “Where’s your bag?” “Bag? I’m not bringing a bag, I’m not in labor.” I toss my camera in my purse, I know my denial runs deep in serious situations, I can live without the contents of my bag but I cannot get a re-do on a birth, so the camera comes with. I kiss Mike and Nate goodbye and head to the hospital with my eyes rolling the whole way. Thoughts of bed rest and 5 weeks of My Mother send shivers down my spine.
Mike goes to the office and I drive myself to L&D which is just across the street from Mike’s work, I promise to call if something is up or stop by before I head home. Sure I will be stopping by, I’m not in labor. I would know. I check in and lay down, man, it is hot in here. I’m sweating, I look at the thermostat, it’s 83 in there. I’m not nervous, it’s hot I say to myself. I immediately start to worry, as if in that moment the gravity of the situation hit me for the first time. 35 weeks 1 day, that is early, too early. Are his lungs ready, my mind starts going a mile a minute.
A resident comes in who looks 10 years younger than myself and explains what I’m in for. Easy stuff, a pelvic to do a culture to check for a bag rupture and an hour on the strip (contraction and baby heart rate monitoring.) I am to stay put and hahah, relax. “Can you turn the air on, please?” She can’t, she promises me it will make it hotter. I’m so glad I’m wearing 3 shirts today. I completely ignore the fact that I’m forcing down the nervousness and that is why I am sweating. Whatever, this is no big deal this is not your birthday I tell my belly while rubbing what I think is his foot.
The resident comes back in with the student and a bag of tricks and we talk a little more about what they will do and look for, the fluid should fern when they look at it on a slide if it does my water has broken, if it doesn’t then I’m just having a gross pregnancy symptom. The exam is just beginning when the residents head pops up and says “Oh, its pooling your water is broken.”
“MY WHAT HAS WHAT?” She smiles and says hang on this will only take a minute and I’ll leave the door open, you will be able to see me at the microscope from here. “OKAY!” (yes, I was yelling, I was freaking out.)
I’m sitting half up not caring about my business hanging out with the door open when she turns and looks at me. “False alarm” she said and I took what must have been my first breath in three minutes. My next thought was I wanted to kick her where she’d just checked me for freaking me the (^&8 out. You really shouldnt say that you know?
She comes back in the room and decides to check me, you know,for fun. “Awesome.” I say sarcastically as I flop back on the bed. 2 centimeters 70% effaced. “WHAT THE WHAT?” (I really am this eloquent) Again she smiles,”yes, there’s some progress there.” “BUT I DONT WANT PROGRESS THIS BABY IS NOT DUE FOR 5 WEEKS!” I go on to tell her the last time I heard these numbers I had a baby in my arms 48 hours later. She’s not fazed, I am not amused. She calls my OB and they release me. No restrictions, no pelvic rest, no bed rest they don’t even give me a freebie and say not to run the vacuum. Just make sure not to miss my next appointment.
I leave feeling intense relief but also in a bit of a huff. How can I be progressing with 5 weeks to go and have it be okay to just go about my daily life. Don’t they know how crazy I am? I will till a garden pregnant, not that I would tell them but still. I’m not smart, you have to tell me not to do things. I get annoyed, I’m pregnant not handicapped. Anyway, I head over to tell Mike we are good and the relief on his face is obvious and then I really let myself relax. It was over. I head to the grocery store on the way home to get us what we need to get through the weekend. They didn’t tell me to take it easy but I decided to for a few days, just to be safe. I can put my crazy aside for the health of Olive.
I make it back and send the sitter home and Nate and I have lunch and take a nap. Later we are having a snack and he’s monkeying around and I’m on the phone with my sister when I complain to her about the cramps I’m having and I forgot how uncomfortable it is to be checked. “Christina, you were checked a good 6 hours ago, you shouldnt be cramping anymore.” “Well I am so……” We go on talking, yeah yeah I’m still “leaking” blah blah- she’s really annoying me, can’t we change the subject? Then I have to ask her to hold on while I have another “cramp”…”CHRISTINA!! Those are not cramps, they are contractions.” “Would you shut up, they are not.” Then she gets all high and mighty on my (contracting) ass- she’s had three kids she reminds me, and I swear she was talking but all I heard was Charlie Brown’s teacher because SHUT UP this “cramp” hurts. She lectures me a while longer because she knows me and my level of real situation denial and keeps on until I hear her. I agree to track the “cramps” for an hour but only because my discharge papers say to call the Dr. if this happens. She wants me to promise to call the Dr which I will not do, I only tell her that Mike will be home when the hour is up, if they continue we will talk about it.
Little Shit, she calls me 30 minutes later and wants me to read her my list! Apparently she has done this a few times and is totally on to me. It was real and seeing this list of contractions 6 to 4 minutes apart was sinking in. More Charlie Brown speak and we hang up.
Mike comes in the room and takes one look at my face and asks what was going on. I tell him I’m calling the Dr. and that I’m expecting them to tell me to go back to the hospital. They do and again I’m totally annoyed. I just need a shot so they stop, I’m sure they will just give me a shot.
because I am an idiot I don’t pack a bag or take one of my 3 shirts off and and we bring Nate because I’m just going to come home in a bit anyway.
All the way there Mike and I talk about how this isn’t real, it’s nothing like with Nate. I have no clue what this is but we agree, not the real thing.
By the time we are to the hospital 15 minutes away I start to get a little scared. I really don’t understand what is going on with my body. I don’t know why this is happening or what is happening even. I do know that the contractions are getting stronger and I small gushes of fluid with each one.
We make it up to the 6th floor and I see a couple a little younger than Mike and I at the intake counter. He has a large backpack over his shoulder and his wife is seated next to him, he leans down and rubs her lower back and is breathing with her. I start to choke up, they are going to meet their baby soon, what an amazing day for them. The receptionist takes them back and on her way tells me she will be with me in a minute and to hang in there. Hang in there? Why,I’m fine. I don’t need to hang,,pfftttttt.
I don’t know where she came from but I lift my head and open my eyes after a contraction and she is standing in front of me. “Having a baby today?” “NO!” I snap at her. “I just need a SHOT!” She smiles ( I swear these people are trained to smile at the crazy people) and gets me checked in and puts on a bracelet that I will wear when I deliver my son.
I get to the triage room and know the drill so I pee in the cup and put on the gown, leaving all 3 shirts on and the nurse straps me in and I wait for the Dr. And wait. And wait. And wait. While waiting Mike and Nate go to get dinner and I open my eyes only to check the godforsaken thermostat because it is Africa hot up in here and to look at the clock when a contraction starts. They are 4 minutes apart. I’m in the room alone for well over an hour and am doing well, I remember what they told me when I was laboring with Nate. Let my uterus do the work and relax the rest of my body, I do it, I breathe through them and concentrate. If you ask me I’m totally kicking false labor ass; too bad it isn’t real, I just may go natural.
The Dr finally comes in after 2.5 hours and is a bit abrasive and I don’t care much for her. “So, what, your water broke or something?” “I don’t know, I was here at 9 this morning (its 9pm now) and they said it hadn’t but I’m still leaking and now I’m having contractions every 4 minutes.” She checks the strip to confirm and then checks me with the worlds largest speculum as if I’ve already had the baby and that mo’fo will fit. I tense up and she tells me to relax, I love that. “There’s no pooling, I doubt is broken. I’ll go look at the slide if its broken I’ll be back if it’s not sit tight I’ll send the nurse in to discharge you.” Oh, there are so many things wrong with this I think, there’s no pooling? This morning there was pooling, where’s mah pool? Wait, do I even want a pool? Is a pool bad? You can only come back IF it broke? You can’t come in and tell me yourself I just have to camp out longer? Discharge me? Not without my shot, I need a shot.
Mike and Nate come in and Mike is over this. Nate is begging to go home he is so tired but I tell him I know nothing and am still waiting when the Dr comes back in. “Your water is broke.” She tells me and I’m more annoyed by her grammar than by the news she just delivered. “Wait, what?- No it’s not,it wasnt broken this morning.” “It probably was they just missed it.” “HOW DO YOU MISS IT?” I yell in my head.
Then? Then I get frantic. I’m telling Mike what to do, what I need what to do. We have no idea what to do with Nate, clearly he cannot stay for this. This, dude, this, this is a baby coming. I beg him to hurry, that I can’t do this without him and that I will kill him if he misses it. KILL. He kisses me goodbye and I give Nate the biggest hug of his life and tell him I will see him tomorrow and he can meet his brother then. “Okay, Mommy, be safe!” I cry, my god I love that kid.
I’m in the twilight zone, I must be. I’m lying in a hospital bed that is being wheeled down the hall, I’m alone, I’m evidently in labor but it’s not time and where is my husband. This is just not right. I am really uncomfortable.
The nurse pushes me into my room and it is identical to the space where I delivered Nate and I have a deja vu moment and am suddenly calm. My delivery nurse asks me the intake questions and tells me I need a 4 hour dose of antibiotics since I didn’t have a strep B test (which is done later in pregnancy) so they will treat me as if I am a carrier and that ideally it will be complete before the baby is here (I do the math no way in hell will this take that long) and we get to talking about the baby, what I am facing and what it means to have a baby pre-term. She tells me most things are unknown until he is here but there will be a team of pediatricians in the room for delivery and best case he goes to the NICU for a few hours and they send him back down. Okay, okay. And in that moment I truly let go and let god. I don’t do that in real life, I worry and fret and make lists to do everything I can to control a situation but not this time. This baby was either ready or he wasnt but there was nothing I could do to help now, I may as well sit back and feel these contractions because this is the last time I will ever be lucky enough to experience this.
About feeling these contractions; I was in hell. H.E. double hockey sticks. Hell. This hurts I kept saying and my nurse, again with the damn smiles. “I know, I have 3.” “I clearly have labor amnesia!” “There is no way it hurt this bad with Nate.” (yes it did) My goal was to make it without the epidural untill Mike got back. I really wanted to wait for him and I wanted to get to a solid 5, I was at 5 with Nate, I could do 5 with Ben. They check me after the intake and I’m a 2, well that’s rich considering I was a 3 in triage. “She must have thin fingers.” she tells me. Great. I’m at a 2 and this hurts and my tail bone is killing, where is Mike? I tell my nurse I want to wait and wa talk about getting the epi too soon and she says that’s not an issue if I am good at communicating with my anesthesiologist. If I don’t use the button I will be able to monitor how well it’s working and as labor progresses and I feel more he can adjust the dosing and we can keep that up all the way through to the end. I like this, this sounds good. Now all I have to do is wait for Mike.
I press the nurse call button. “I’m ready for my epidural.” I can’t wait to not feel my tailbone not to mention the contractions.
My nurse comes back to be with me for it and Mike finally makes it back around 11:20 and I am so exhausted. I’ve been having contractions since 4 and alone the whole time. Keeping my own head on straight is a lot of work. He asks me how I’m doing and all I can do is shake my head “No” he holds my hand quietly. He’s scared but wont say so until later. The tall drink of water comes in pushing a cart that I swear to me looked like an island with a lounge chair, an umbrella drink and he was my cabana boy. “Bring it!” I told him.
My contractions are 3 minutes apart and he tells me this will take about 10 minutes and I will need to stay still. I assure him I can and in the same breath ask for a bucket. Deja vu #2 I start throwing up exactly as I had with Nate’s delivery. To be sure and make a liar out of myself I cannot stay still, I am moving all of the pain through my feet and can’t keep them still, I’m puking my guts out and having contractions. To make matters worse he wants me to push my spine toward him but I can’t do that either, I can’t do anything he wants. All I can do is shake and puke. He is annoyed. I needed to lean on Mike like I did last time but this Dr was so tall that the bed was too high for Mike to help. Mike could help hold me still and keep me in the right position, I needed help. No help was to be had. He tells me to arch out and take a deep breath I do and then PAIN- I pull away. At that point he asks why I am wearing all of these shirts (to minimize the back fat and muffin top, Doc.) and asks the nurse to help him remove them, they are in his way. I tell them it’s because I wasnt in labor, I just needed a shot and I’d be fine. They both laugh. He watches the contraction monitor, when it goes down he tries again and I pull away. This happened 4 times him putting the tube in and then pulling it out. I almost say forget it and go natural,this is so insanely horrible I don’t think I want it anymore. But then my head cleared,”I’m ready.” I tell him and he believed me. I screamed, I cried, I threw up again and had another contraction but I never moved. When it was over I saw the blood bath behind me. Nice work, jackass.
Five minutes later I am in love with Mr. Epidural. My feet are all warm and tingly and ohhhh, its moving up to my legs and then I am good to go. Warm and relaxed. My head clears a bit and the nausea subsides. The dr comes back for a check and I’m at 2.5. FOR REAL?
Mike and I are alone in the room and we talk about how different this is. Nate was so text-book and even tempo and this is just slow and strange and it’s like the first time all over again. We don’t know what to expect or when it will end, it’s all new and neither of us are comfortable with that.
The Dr comes in and flicks on the lights, it’s been awhile since I got the epidural so she checks me. I’m at 3. Good Ness this is taking 4-evr. She says she’s going to check in with my dr and be back in a few. When she returns she says that she wants to start the Pit. I shake my head and tell her I don’t like that idea, I tell her that I stalled out after my epi with Nate but things regulated on their own. It wasnt up to me, we started the pit.
I can’t hear the heart rate monitor so when the Dr rushes back in I don’t know why. It’s not working well enough, she needs better readings and wants to use the scalp electrode. “Damnit! I don’t want it but if you think I need it than okay.” She, the Dr who I didn’t like much in triage put her hand on my shoulder and made a promise, “I won’t do anything that it’s completely necessary for you or the baby.” “Okay, do it.” She nodded her head and got to work, “I’m going to check you again while I’m here.” “SEVEN!- WHOA, someone call her OB.” Once it was in place it was as she feared and I ended up on oxygen and my right side. Deja vu I’m thinking it’s very odd that this is sharing things with Nate’s delivery and yet so very different. Little did I know that these similarities would end here.
The crew arrives and is hurrying to get the room ready while I lie comfortably on my side sort of ignoring the commotion. And then it felt like a freight train was hurtling downward and I started yelling and asking what was going on. My epidural was perfect until now, I could move both of my legs well and feel the contractions but not the pain. Now? Now it was all pain and a shit ton of it, and pressure like I couldn’t have imagined. It was instant, I had to push right now. I’m pushing and I cannot stop. I hold my breath but my body is its own force and I cannot connect with it.
“Don’t push whatever you do don’t push!” “WHY? WHY? TELL ME WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I PUSH BECAUSE I”M SO TOTALLY PUSHING!” No one answered me and I swear I couldn’t stop. Another Dr comes in and waves hello and starts to introduce her self and I yell “OMG I don’t care, get this fucking baby out of me!” She keeps going and me with the mouth “OMG you, I point, YOU with the talking stop talking!” She was apparently trying to help me breath and to not push because that was when Mike got 3 inches from my face and started breathing the way I was supposed to so I copied him. I worked a little but not enough. They are breaking the bed down and finally taking me seriously, this kid is a comin’- make way! Then they say okay, you can push. “NOW?” I beg “Now.”
I was at the top of the bed all balled up and in a terrible position. I needed to scoot down but I couldn’t move all I could do was push. No one was helping, no one was counting I wanted the count. My head was screaming count to 10 for me, my eyes were begging and no one could see me. There was no waiting for a contraction to start there was just pushing and primal screams while I tried with all of my remaining mite to get this being out of my body. I needed him out but I needed to move and I needed to count and I needed to move but I couldn’t speak so I just kept pushing, and pushing and screaming oh my the screaming. And then it was over. Only it wasnt.
They held him up so I could see him for half a second and he was blue, the room was silent and suddenly I was alone on my side of the room and all of the attention was on Benjamin. My son who I wasn’t holding. I was asking the questions but no one would answer me all I had to gauge on was Mike’s face and it wasnt good. His arms were crossed and his body was rigid, he was biting his lip and shaking his head. “Is he breathing? He’s not breathing is he? Michael, tell me dammit he isn’t breathing is he.” “He looked at me with eyes full of tears and shook his head no.” Lucky I couldn’t think, I just layed there while the Dr who I didn’t like and then I did wiped my lady parts with coarse sand paper to look for tearing, if there wasnt any there sure as hell was now. I just lie there staring at the ceiling waiting for something to happen unaware of anything outside of the sandpaper.
I started talking to keep myself from processing the reality on the other side of the room. I apologized profusely to the woman I told to shut up and swore at (she promised it wasnt the first time that’s happened) and then we all laughed about my “lifetime” delivery and the screaming and the horror that splatter those in the second row when the placenta came out that was apparently acting as some sort of cork. And my actual OB arrived and she ribbed me for speeding and missing my delivery. All the while I was shaking uncontrollably with nerves.
Finally I heard a little peep. The tiniest noise of a newborn baby I almost missed it and I took a deep breath inside my oxygen mask. A few minutes later Mike waked back over to me holding our son all buttoned up with the slimy eyes and the hospital issue hat and put him in my arms. It was then all of the fear, the emotion and the love came spilling from my body and I cried so hard I lost my breath. I only had him for a minute before they took him away again, he needed to go to the nursery and I wouldn’t see him again for 5 hours.
The nursery, not the NICU. The nursery. These were beautiful words. He was over 5 lbs which was our first of many hurdles we would face with a premie in the following days but he was big enough he didn’t need the NICU. That was a start.
I was taken to my room in my wheelchair alone, I was supposed to have my baby in my lap for this trip. I felt myself well up again. The nurse took me to the window so I could see him he was lying naked under the heat lamp all spread out as if he were sunbathing. She promised me he was doing well in the hour or more since they’d taken him. I would later learn she was lying, bless her. He needed oxygen a few times, he wasnt able to maintain his temperature himself and his blood sugar was low. When he was breathing it was so labored he squeaked.His nerve endings were (are) underdeveloped so he would quake randomly, his feet and hands were a deep purple and his apgar score was a 2. He didn’t know how to eat and we had dump formula down his little tiny throat until he had 3 good sugar readings. It was a rocky 24 hours but he improved rapidly. Eventually we got his sugar to stay up and his squeaky breathing improved. And sometime around 3 in the afternoon when my Mom had arrived and Mike was back with Nate I realized we were all going to be okay. All of us and that I may not have been ready but here we were. Our dream of our family had its own plan but in the end we got what we always wanted. Our party of 4.