and other lies I told myself.
On a dark, stormy, Monday night last summer, I took a shower, gave myself a heparin injection, set the syringe and vial on the table, and felt a pop. Sure enough, at exactly 9pm, immediately after doing my evening heparin injection, my water broke.
I called my mom (who had just driven home and was an hour away), called L&D, took another shower and went down to the hotel lobby to have them call a taxi. Thinking back, I don’t know why I didn’t call the taxi myself. It really was like a scene out of a movie. People checking-in at the front desk, young guy nervously offering a bottle of water to the visibly pregnant woman surrounded by hospital bags.
In the end, the hotel employee suggested their driver take me to the hospital, so the Hilton shuttle driver grabbed my bags and we went out to the parking lot. As I was getting in the van, I noticed a USA Today newspaper in the backseat. I sheepishly suggested that perhaps I should sit on it. Much to my relief, the shuttle driver and his wife have 6 children, so he understood. During the short ride to the hospital, he had very comforting things to say. When we arrived, he insisted on carrying my bags into the hospital. Since it was getting late, I had to be admitted through the ER. I thanked the shuttle driver, who again, offered some kind words, and started to walk toward the admit desk. While I had fortunately stayed dry during the ride to the hospital, I was not so lucky while standing at the admit desk. I asked for the ladies room as I dropped my bags, and ran.
After a very quick admission process, I took the elevator up to L&D. They started the fetal monitor, and told me that I was ½ a centimeter dilated. Fortunately the doctor on call was one I had previously seen and really liked. In addition to OB/GYN, he’d done an RE (reproductive endocrinology) fellowship. Ironic, no? I told the nurse there was no reason to have him come in, to let him sleep, and that I would wait for my regular doctor to arrive in the morning.
At midnight, 6am in Dublin, I called my husband to tell him the news. I could hear the disappointment in his voice, as he knew he’d miss the birth. I tried to be strong and remind him that we knew this was a possibility, and it was just part of the Foreign Service life. At that point, the plan was that my OB would arrive around 6 and I’d have the c-section shortly after that.
My mom had arrived at the hospital by then and I told her to go to my hotel and get some sleep, since her house is an hour away. The hotel was fairly close, so she’d be in the area and ready to come back for the c-section in the morning.
I started having contractions and the nurse thought I might be more comfortable walking around, so I did a few laps around L&D. A bit later I felt like something was really happening and asked her to check me again, 4 centimeters. She said I wouldn’t make it until morning and that she was calling in the doctor and anesthesia team; she was also going to call my mom and tell her to come back for the c-section.
As soon as the nurse came back into the room, I asked her to check me again. She said she didn’t want to because she had “just checked me and there’s no need to risk infection by checking too often". I told her I really wanted her to check, so she reluctantly did; I was at 9. I called my mom and told her to come back ASAP.
The OB and anesthesia team arrived a few minutes later and things got busy. I obviously couldn’t have the c-section because I still had a ton of heparin on board, so they said it was going to be a med free, vaginal birth (there wasn’t time for any drugs, plus the heparin was still in my system, so no epidural either). They said if there were more time, I could have a c-section under a general, but I obviously didn't want that, plus she was coming too fast and the OR wasn't ready. I thought my doctor was going to faint when he heard that the OR wasn’t prepped.
I had been admitted into one of the old rooms, used for overcrowding and c-section recoveries, so they had to move a labor and delivery bed into the room. The new bed was too big for the room, so they had me switch to the other bed and announced we were moving to one of the nice, new, big rooms. Yay, as if I cared at that point ;)
My mom came running down the hall as I was being wheeled into the new room. As soon as the bed was broken down, I was told to push. Pushing was difficult since I didn’t know how to push (I skipped the labor and delivery chapters in the books since I was supposed to have a scheduled c-section). The anesthesiologist ended up holding one of my legs since she was already there with nothing to do. There were two other doctors, the nurses, and my mom in the room. I just kept looking down at the OB saying “I just want to go to the OR”, “I wish I could have some drugs”, and “I don’t want to tear.”
Forty-three minutes after I started pushing, baby girl was born. She was absolutely perfect. The doctor told me it was the “most awesome birth he’d had in a long time” and kept telling me to tell my other OB that it was “awesome.” He also said I was very polite because I always said please and thank you, didn’t swear, yell, or call anyone names, and then he asked if I was a perfectionist. Err, yep. He said he was too, which was a relief because we were having this conversation as he was stitching me up. The nurses also commented on my polite nature and thanked me for not calling them names. Do people really do that?!?!
Unfortunately because I was full of heparin and everything happened so fast, I lost a lot of blood. One of the nurses commented that it looked like a crime scene, which I didn’t appreciate (more about my post-partum care in another post). The other thing I just want to mention is that a lot, most as I’ve found, people think that fast labors and deliveries are a good thing. This was actually listed as a complication on my delivery report, “precipitous labor”. Apparently it’s very uncommon for a first delivery (less than 1%) but knowing my history, should we have expected anything other than uncommon? I was also told the contractions during a precipitous labor are a lot more intense and painful, but since I have nothing to compare it to, I’ll just say that yes, it was intense.
9:00pm: water broke
2:47am: nurse called my mom to tell her I was at 4cm (though it was around 2:30 when she actually checked me)
2:57am: I called my mom to tell her I was at 9cm
3:15am: started pushing
3:58am: My sweet girl was born!
It was suggested that I also add my initial reaction. When she was put on my chest, we just looked at each other like, WHOA, what just happened? (I have some great pictures of our expressions to each other). I just looked at her and said, "Wow! You were worth it". And she definitely is!