(Not for the squeamish or easily embarrassed… may contain references or language about any or all of the following: childbirth in all it’s glory, leaky boobs, various other body parts & fluids, how babies are made, etc. etc. Also very, very, VERY long and for my own recollection in the years to come. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
From the moment we decided to try to get pregnant, things happened very quickly. Uh, very quickly meaning… there was not much “trying” involved! We had often heard that “it takes an average of 6-8 months to get pregnant, and don’t stress if it doesn’t happen right away”, so we figured we’d start trying now and it would happen eventually. Needless to say it was quite the surprise when the very first time we didn’t use any contraceptive, we got pregnant! Knowing how infertility and problems with conceiving are very difficult and common issues for so many people, we were definitely grateful for this pregnancy and the little babe that was growing inside me (however surreal it seemed… which in case you are wondering was totally and utter surreal!). I had a pretty good pregnancy, with various minor complaints, but nothing major. I was pretty darn uncomfortable by the end, and was more than ready to finally meet this little person who had taken over my body. I wrote about my pregnancy on my blog, so I won’t bother with all that here. Fast forward 9 months after that surprising positive pregnancy test, and Isaac’s birth story really begins on September 15th, 2008…
I was 41 weeks pregnant (the doctor gave me a due date of September 8 based on the 12 week ultrasound, but the due date was actually September 10 based on my own dates, of which I was quite sure). So I was 41 weeks pregnant (give or take a day or so, but for the sake of simplicity I will just go with Sept. 8 for the rest of this story) when I saw my Ob-Gyn, Dr. Adrian Brown. Like most overdue pregnant women, I was gigantic, exhausted, and so very ready to get it over with. It was Monday, September 15, and I was one week overdue. Dr. Brown had told me previously that he doesn’t allow pregnancies to go more than 7-10 days overdue, because studies have shown.. blah blah.. etc. I didn’t care why, I just knew I could cling to the hope of not being pregnant forever (which I may have been, if Isaac had his way). So I went in to that appointment, and he told me that he wanted to induce me the next day. “Holy crap I’m having a baby tomorrow?!” was my reaction. While there, he also “stripped my membranes”, which can can sometimes get labour started. Basically he reaches into the birth canal, and moves his finger around the baby’s head, separating the placenta from the wall of the uterus (or something like that). All I know is that it hurts like crazy, and I thought it was weird that he touched the baby’s head before he was even born.
After the appointment was done, I was told to go home, and then I would get a call from the hospital sometime that evening to come in and get Cervidil put into me, which is a gel/hormone thing that softens the cervix to prepare it for labour. So we went home (Chris was with me – he came to all of my pre-natal appointments with me), and waited. At around 5:00, we decided to make some supper. Just when we dumped the pasta into a pot of boiling water, the phone rang. Of course it was the hospital, saying that I should come in now to get the Cervidil. We left the pasta, turned off the stove, and off we went. So we got to the hospital, went to the assessment room (the room where you go when you’re in labour), and waited. They put in the Cervidil, and it didn’t really hurt. Actually I was bracing myself for it to hurt more, like an internal exam or like that membranes stripping thing, and when it was finished, I was so surprised. I then had to lie there for 2 hours, so they could moniter the baby, since some babies react badly to the stuff. Then the cramping started. It was like period cramps at first, and then they just got more and more intense. After the 2 hours was up, they sent me home (the Cervidil is supposed to be in you for 12-24 hours in order to work). Apparently it “sometimes” can start labour for “some” people, but not usually. I was to come in the next morning to start on Pitocin in order to start contractions. Well within hours I was in full-blown labour…
When we got home, I tried to go straight to bed, but the cramps were worse, and had turned into contractions by then (although I didn’t realize it). I had asked in the hospital when I was having these very painful cramps if they might be mild contractions starting, and the nurse said no, they’re just cramps, and it’s normal. I don’t know if she actually checked, or if she just assumed, but anyway by 10pm that evening when I was trying to lie down and sleep for the night (I was supposed to arrive at the hospital at 7am the next morning to continue being induced with the Pitocin), I could not sleep at all. The pain was getting worse, and it was starting to be more regular and intense. I felt like it might be actual contractions, but I was scared that it was “just cramps” and that I was just being a big wimp. Lying down was too painful, so I tried to rest in the lazyboy chair. Chris dozed off and on, and held my hand. As they got worse, we started to time them. They were six minutes apart or so, and then all of a sudden they were like 3 minutes apart and getting more intense. It was around 1:30am at this point, and Chris said that he thought we should go to the hospital. I was so unsure, as I was still nervous that it was “just cramps” and that we’d just get sent home. But we both sort of had a gut feeling that we should go “just in case”. So off we went, with our hospital bags all packed, and we arrived at the hospital at around 2am. Got into the assessment room, got hooked up to all the moniters, and the nurse came in to check on me. There were a few different ones, but the one I remember most was named Anne, and she was so incredibly nice and encouraging. She wore hot pink crocs, and told me I was doing amazing. She came in, checked the moniter, and I asked if they were indeed real contractions (thinking “please God don’t let labour actually be more painful than this”), and she was like “oh yeah, definitely!”. I breathed a large sigh of relief, and then promptly freaked out. I was officially in labour!
I laid there on the little hospital bed in the assessment room for several hours. I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes. It’s funny how this works, but I can’t actually remember what the pain felt like, I just remember that it was the most painful thing I have ever felt in my entire life. I went for a walk around the labour ward for about 20 minutes, leaning on Chris for support during the contractions, and he rubbed my back, held my hand, did anything he could to try to help. I tried sitting in a few different positions, and Chris rubbed my back, doing the different things he learned during pre-natal classes to help me. After several hours (which felt like an eternity, let me tell you), I was getting tired. I had been having strong contractions for about 6 hours by then, and they were so close together that one would hardly be over before the next one began. That was really hard on my body, and after 6 hours of that, I decided I wanted to get an epidural. I didn’t want any narcotics, so I basically was left with an epidural as my only other option for pain medication. I had said before I went into labour that I wanted to try to do it without any drugs, but that I was going to reserve the right to change my mind if I felt like it. Well, I sure changed my mind! When I said I wanted to get the epidural, that’s when they moved me to a birthing room. I was dilating pretty slowly, and was only at like 3.5 cm, but that was good enough (they want you to be around 4cm for an epidural I think they said). The nurse was going to put the IV in (they have to do that before giving an epidural), and I asked about the jacuzzi. When I asked if I could use the jacuzzi tub with an epidural, she said no (you have to stay in bed since your legs are numb), but that I could try the jacuzzi before getting the epidural if I wanted to. So I did, and it was really great. Those tubs are so cool – they are specially designed for the hospital – they have a little door that opens, and they go up and down (like a hospital bed) to make it easier to get in and out. I got in, and it felt so good. The nurse even came in every so often to change the water and make it hot again. Really, it would have felt like being at the spa if it weren’t for those pesky mind-numbingly painful contractions. Anyway, it took the edge off the contractions, and allowed me to relax just a little. I laboured in there for about an hour, and then felt that I wanted to get out and get the epidural. It was just after 6am when I got the epidural, and I had been labouring without drugs for around 8 hours (with contractions 1-3 minutes apart). It took about half an hour to fully take effect, but when it did – it was amazing. Absolutely amazing. I am a fan, to say the least. And it honestly barely hurt. Actually the IV that the nurse put in my left hand hurt way more than the needles in my back. They do local freezing first, I discovered, then they do the rest of the freaky giant tube needle thing in your spine (or whatever it is they do). Thankfully all I felt was a few pricks for the freezing. It only took a few minutes, and Chris was there to hold me steady while the anaesthesiologist did his thing. Anyway, I could still move my legs, they were just numb, like when you get freezing at the dentist. They also had to put a catheter in, which totally grossed me out, but at least it didn’t hurt (I was so sure it was going to, but it really didn’t). I was also started on pitocin through the IV, which is a drug that stimulates contractions. I was already having enough of those on my own, but it was to make mine more regular, since mine were not as regular as they needed to be.
At this point, Chris started making a few phone calls, to let our families know what was up. My mom arrived at around 8am (I had asked her to be there with us during labour and delivery). When she got there and hugged me, we both were teary-eyed. The rest of the morning was a blur, as I was able to sleep a bit and rest, as was Chris, in the chair next to me. He was amazing, and continued to be there for me in every possible way, as he had been all along. I wasn’t allowed to eat except for clear fluids, so I had lots of water, juice, jello, and a cup of soup broth, which tasted amazing at the time. A nurse came in to examine me sometime in mid-morning, and I was only dialated to like 4 or 4.5. We figured we had quite a few hours to go still, and the nurse booted my mom and Chris out to get some lunch downstairs at around noon. They got back rather quickly (I guess they didn’t want to stay away too long!), and then a nurse came in to examine me again, at which point she said “you’re fully dialated!”… and I went “WHAT?!” Apparently I dialated pretty quickly at the end! At this point I burst into tears and got a little terrified. I said something like “wait, who said I was ready to be a mom?!?”, between sniffling and looking frantically at the nurses. This part is sort of a blur in my mind, but I know that at this point Dr. Brown was there but he was about to go into surgery (a c-section). He made an on-the-spot decision to postpone the surgery, and stay to deliver my baby first. He went out to make a phone call, and nurse was like “Tell him to hurry up or he’s going to miss it! She’s ready to push!”. He comes in, and I started to push. It was one of the most intense feelings I’ve ever had. With the epidural it wasn’t as painful as it would have been, but it was still painful. I think it was just the amount of pressure that was there. Apparently I’m a good pusher, because I had pushed him out in less than 10 minutes. As his head started to come out, I was able to touch it, and I think I said something like “it’s so slimy”. I asked if there was hair, and my mom told me that yes, there was lots of dark hair (I totally called that one). It was a sensation unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, and thinking back it’s pretty amazing. Chris was taking pictures from where he was standing (at my head), which will not be seen by anyone but Chris and I and my mom, but I’m really glad I have them. They are absolutely amazing. I guess it’s probably different when it’s your own child being born, but I didn’t think it was as gross or messy as I thought it was going to be. It is such an incredible thing – the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. When he came out (we didn’t know the gender yet), someone (I think the doctor?) said “it’s a boy!”, and I was just shocked. Not that I thought I was having a girl, but I think I was just in shock that I just had a baby at all. It was just totally surreal. I’m really glad we waited until he was born to find out the gender. It was totally worth it to wait, and it was such an incredible moment.
When he was out, they put him on my chest right away, and he was all slimy and stuff, but I barely even noticed. Actually I remember that in those initial few seconds I kissed his forehead, slime and all. Until that point, I had felt that it was just totally surreal that I was actually having a baby – I just couldn’t picture it. The first thing I said when they put him on my chest was “He’s real!!!”, and then “He’s beautiful!!!”. That was an amazing moment, and one that I hope to never ever forget. While he was on me, Chris cut the umbilical cord, and I pushed once or twice to get the placenta out (that didn’t really hurt). I just stared at him, and he laid there on me, not even crying. After a while, they took him and weighed him, cleaned him off a bit, and then gave him back right away. He stayed mostly on my chest for the first 24 hours, skin-to-skin. I started to breastfeed him within a few hours, and it was amazing. I was always a little scared that it just wouldn’t work for me, maybe I was defective or something. But it worked, and it was incredible. It was (and still is) such a powerful feeling, knowing that I was all he needed in the whole world to survive.
After an hour or so, they moved me into a different room, where we stayed the rest of the time. Once I got into that room and got settled, the rest of the family got to come in and meet him. Our parents and siblings came in first… then our friends. All in all, Isaac had 15 visitors on his first day in the world (Grammy and Grampy Carter, Nana and Nonno Ricci, Auntie Becky and Uncle Dennis, Uncle Stephen, Auntie Laura, Jason and Katrina, Stephen and Sharon, Sam and Bonnie, and Marion… Naomi came the next morning, and Mat met him a day or so later). We were only in the hospital for just over 24 hours (after he was born that is). He was such a beautiful baby right from the very first hour. Everyone knows that not all newborns are the most attractive at first, but he really was (and still is) gorgeous. I know I’m obviously biased, but I really do think he’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in the entire world (in addition to his daddy of course!).
The initial 24 hours after I gave birth were physically pretty painful, but definitely managable. I had these disposable ice pack things that are meant to go in your underwear like a pad, and they were wonderful. The whole “area” was extremely sore (obviously), but I didn’t have it as bad as some women. I had only first degree tearing, and not even any stitches. It still took about 2 weeks for the sharp-stabbing-knife-like pain to subside though. That was not nice. Now, at almost 3 weeks post-partum, it’s definitely much improved, and hopefully I’ll feel 100% again soon.
Since I was in a semi-private room, Chris wasn’t able to stay overnight with us. He went home and got some sleep (he had been up all night the night before of course because I was in labour). He came back in the morning, and it was so nice to have him back. We are now a family of three, and it feels amazing. I’m cuddling him right now as I type this out (it’s been written over several days actually), and it’s a feeling unlike anything else in the entire world. He loves to sleep on my chest (chest to chest) right where I can kiss his head and whisper in his ear that I love him. When I have him skin to skin we both get kind of hot and sticky, but I don’t even care. It’s almost like when he was in my belly for 9 months. Now that he’s out in the big world though, I can’t always have him close to me. When someone else holds him for a couple hours, I miss him. I miss having him close to all the time, so I’m enjoying this time with everything I’ve got… every fiber of my being, because I know it won’t last for very long.
The first few weeks of parenthood are so far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I don’t think there is any way to prepare for it… and it’s probably a good thing too. To be perfectly honest, if I knew what those first few weeks would be like, I may have opted to wait “just a little longer” to have a baby. But I’m surviving, and even better I am delighting in the new life that Chris and I have created. Every moment is certainly not delightful (ie. being pooped on and peed on, spit up on, sleepless nights, wailing baby, frazzled nerves, boobs that leak milk like a leaky faucet, round the clock feedings, and missing talking to my husband about non-baby related things), but now that I have him, I wouldn’t give him back for the world.
Ah, parenthood… We’ve been thoroughly initiated, and I hear it just gets better…
Isaac Aidan Ricci… (the love of my life along with his daddy)
Born on September 16, 2008, 1:35pm. 8lb, 0oz. 20 inches long. Beautiful, amazing, and God’s gift to us.
Last night as I was trying to get comfortable in bed, trying to fall asleep, I was having a conversation with myself in my head. Yeah. I know you do it too, don’t even try to deny it…
Anyway, so I found myself saying the following to myself:
“Tomorrow I’ll be six days overdue. That’s a really long time. I know, many women have gone longer than that (like 2 weeks… or 3 if you’re my mom and pregnant with me). Nonetheless 6 days is long. Especially when all you’re doing is sitting at home, bored, without plans. Because who would make plans for 6 days after they are SUPPOSED to be giving birth? People with divine foreknowledge, I guess.”
“Anyway, I don’t even think that this baby is going to come on his or her own. I think the doctor is just going to have to induce my labour, and get this baby out of me, because it’s not like I’m going to go into labour on my own. I simply don’t believe it’s gonna happen. Yup, I’d be shocked, astounded even, if I went into labour right.. NOW…”
3 or 4 seconds pass…
“Oh my word. I can’t believe I just tried to do reverse psychology on God. Yeah, I was totally hoping that He would hear my thoughts (since he’s God and all, he does that), and see fit to prove me wrong and show me how powerful he is by making me go into labour at that very moment. Sorta like “oh yes I can make you go into labour, here… I’ll prove it to you right… NOW!”.
Now don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t like I laid down to sleep and thought to myself “Well walking, spicy food, and raspberry leaf tea haven’t worked, so I think I’ll try doing a reverse psychology bit on God to bring on labour.” I just realized what I was doing after the fact.
And then I felt very silly. Obviously God knows my thoughts better than I do, and He even knows the future. He even knew I would write a blog post about this. Weird. Yeah, He obviously doesn’t need to prove Himself to me…
Oh goodness, He must totally be up there laughing at me right now. I mean giggling uncontrollably at my seriously ridiculous ideas.
I get the feeling He does that alot.
Filed under: Waiting
Apparently dear sweet baby of mine didn’t get the memo that today was the day to vacate the premises. Will this baby ever come out?
All I got last night from the curry was heartburn that woke me up in the night.
Come out baby, come out!!!
There are what, 4 days left? My brain is a bit fuzzy these days. I just wanted to note that it’s so nice to have encouraging comments (see previous post’s comments) from friends. It’s the small things sometimes, really.
I’ve been having slight pains and aches and cramps the last few days, especially today… every single one of which makes me wonder if it’s early labour… or just aches and pains that go with being nearly 40 weeks pregnant. I wish I knew what my labour pains will feel like… hopefully it’s true that I’ll just “know” that I’m in labour when it happens… (?)
I’ve been drinking red raspberry leaf tea, which people say can help bring on labour, and tonight I had curry for dinner. Perhaps that will work… who knows.
Waiting (as patiently as I can)…
Filed under: Waiting
I am due this Monday. Not that that means anything, since less than 15% of women actually deliver on their due dates. But it’s gonna happen sooner or later… I just hope it’s sooner.
I am sooooo tired… and it’s a depressing thought that I will be even more tired when baby is here. Shall I just resign myself to the idea of not being rested again for the next 20 years or so? (This is where I try really hard to think positive thoughts)…
I think I’m gonna go take a nap.