Again I found myself with a hugely bloated belly and a week past my due date. I don't know what it is about my babies, but they were both big and both took their sweet time gracing us with their presence!
I had prayed hard that my baby boy would be different then my daughter and come early even. I particularly hoped he would be born a week early so that he would share his birthday with my sister Nicole, as well as my great Uncle Mike, and my great Grandma. It was a particularly sad time because my uncle had passed away the day before his birthday, so I was anxious for the joy my little guy could bring. But that week passed and Zachary continued to kick from within me.
Then the next weekend came and went, with my close friend who shared my due date now having a beautiful baby girl in her arms instead of her belly. I felt jealous as I impatiently waited for my turn. I continued to hear surprise from others that I hadn't 'popped' yet as I was even larger then I had been with my daughter- gee, thanks for pointing that out. Simple tasks like taking care of my older child truly became chores as my energy was diverted to just being able to move around with my expanded middle.
I went in for a check up just after my due date, and finally to schedule my induction. Unfortunately there were a lot of pregnant moms closing in on their due dates and in the tiny Guam Naval hospital there were only 3 labor and delivery rooms available. One always had to be kept open for that mom who would spontaneously go into labor, apparently some babies do come out in their own time! So I was left with the earliest date available, a week and a half after my due date- which by the way we were positive of because I knew when we had conceived our surprise baby since we had only had the chance to be intimate once in all the stress surrounding out move to Guam. I have since gotten over this, but at the time I was devastated that of all the dates, I was now scheduled to have my baby on one of my 3 sisters birthdays, the one I least got along with. In the past year I like to think things have improved between us, but at the time of Zachary's birth we still fought like cats and dogs! I did NOT want my child to share her birthday!
Jon and I tried everything we could think of in the week and half leading up to my scheduled induction to get labor to happen naturally. I took Evening Primrose oil, we spent lots of awkward moments in bed attempting my husband's favorite method to induce labor, and I walked, A LOT. Even the doctor's had begun 'stripping my membranes', a very pain process, a month before my due date. But Zachary was not about to budge.
With my daughter, I had had the typical fears of a first time mom going into childbirth. I didn't know what to expect then, but I did now, at least when it came to labor itself, unaided. Now my fear was of the hard and intense labor pitocin would bring on, that could potentially lead to a c-section if my body didn't respond properly by dilating and effacing. I had been only barely 2 cm for the past month with no effacement- with my daughter it was the same 2 cm that haunted me for a month though then I was more hopeful because I was also effaced almost completely the last month as well.
The night before I would meet my son I did not get a wink of sleep. Our wonderful new friends from church were kind enough to have Natalie come over that night instead of worrying about dealing with her as we prepared to be at the hospital around 6 am. With maybe 3-4 hours sleep, I woke up and watched the clock count down to 5 am, when I had been told to call and check that there was room for me to come in. Each day they scheduled 2 woman to be induced, but if others had come in, rooms would get filled and there may have been room for only one or neither of us, but I was determined to be the first to call in that case. And thankfully I was told to go ahead and come in.
We waited down the hall, me on the edge of the seat, barely able to sit still, as they prepared my room. I was so anxious and nervous I hadn't eaten anything before we left, something I quickly regretted! Once I was hooked up to the monitors, and the IV in, it was a waiting game until the doctor arrived around 7:30. The nurse had already advised me that I was only allowed 'easy' foods, like jello or popsicles- as long as they weren't a shade of red. Of course there was nothing close to that available in either the hospital or the mini mart beside it.
After the doctor arrived and came in to tell me what was going to happen, the pitocin was started at around 8. It didn't hit as hard as I expected, it sort of came on gradually. My husband patiently waited at my bedside, looking tired from the lack of sleep he too had suffered. I remember asking him over and over in between my building contractions "Are you okay?". What a turn around from how irritated I remember feeling with him during my daughter's birth! At some point he finally asked why I was so worried about him when I was the one in pain. But I continued to be overly concerned with his state for some reason and every time I heard him sigh or yawn, again I inquired of him how he was feeling.
The doctor came in to break my water around 11 am. I was around 5 cm, and had been checked regularly by the nurse, though with very slow progress. It felt so strange to have my water broken by hand. With my daughter it hadn't happened until after I was enjoying my epidural, so I could only barely recognize the gush of fluids. This time the doctor, sitting on the edge of my bed, talking casually to me as if having this conversation over coffee, had to keep pushing around to get all the fluids out, and they just kept coming. He even noted it was a lot more then usual, as I felt a little hope that my huge belly had just meant lots of fluids verses the possibility of a big baby. The demeanor of my doctor was so casual, which honestly made it all the more awkward for me. He wasn't just my doctor, he was a regular attender of my church. I wouldn't just see him for appointments and have a purely clinical view of him, I knew him personally- though we never saw each other socially really- and he knew me a little too much if you know what I mean! I value my modesty, and this was definitely not making me feel very modest.
He advised me to hold off on my epidural for as long as I could stand to. He said it would be its strongest at the beginning and fade by the time actual pushing began if I got it too early. But being the wimp I am, 45 minutes later I was begging for it! Out of nowhere the contractions had gotten very intense, and I didn't want to wait anymore, I didn't understand how the epidural would 'fade' when with my first child it had been in for hours and hours before I had my baby.
I was much more informed though this time, that much was true. With my daughter no one had sat down to tell me how things would happen. Now though both my doctor had explained to me all about the different possibilities that could happen, and then the anesthesiologist had come in to tell me exactly what he would be doing. I wasn't really thrilled with this, I just wanted to move on. When the anesthesiologist had finished explaining he asked if I had any questions, I was very quick with me 'no', though Jon had piped up to some unimportant curiosity of his own to ask. I just remember looking at him and saying "I will tell you if you have any questions- and NO you don't!!" After all, it was happening to me, and I wanted that epidural that moment. That was the only time I was even a little unkind to Jon during Zachary's birth, and I quickly went back to being concerned about his well-being over mine as I laid in the hospital bed. It was even easier after the epidural.
This time the epidural was not nearly as strong. I could still feel the contractions though very mildly. The next few hours passed quickly, though I was starving the entire time. I honestly was having trouble thinking of anything else. Unfortunately when the doctor had arrived that morning I had been told I could only have ice chips, but as I was so desperately hungry and wasn't sure how much longer this labor would last, around 3 pm, Jon was ready to head down to the nearest grocery store to grab me some jello. I was hesitant about him leaving, worried the minute he was gone things would start happening fast, so I asked the nurse to check my cervix before he went. She was in on it, and knew where he was going and was playing dumb about it so I could have a little food in my belly. But as she checked my cervix, we discovered I was 9 cm. It was time to call the doctor in. It didn't take long for me to hit the 10 cm mark, and once I did I felt the oddest sensation. With my daughter, as numb as I was I had never experienced the feeling of needing to push. I pushed when I was told that time, but now I had the strongest urge to push very hard. The nurse asked me to wait- she must've never given birth, there was no holding it in! The best I could do was not put all my effort into the push that was coming like I was stuck on auto pilot. My body wouldn't give me an alternative. Luckily the doctor didn't take long and I was allowed to unleash the full force I had been longing to put behind the uncontrollable urge to push.
It was almost 4 in the afternoon, and I was excited and filled with anticipation. Despite the mild pain I was feeling, I was actually enjoying childbirth! I also, even in the heat of the moment, continued plaguing Jon with my questions about how he was doing, how funny I must've sounded to the doctor and nurses! I think I was beginning to irritate him honestly.
The baby's head was almost out, but according the monitors with each push his heart rate was dipping just a little. And my blood pressure was on the lower end. So with both of us in mind, not wanting anything to get worse, the doctor pulled out the forceps. He assured me we weren't in danger, he just didn't want it to get to that point. So with the help of forceps and one big push from me, my son was born at exactly 4 pm, weighing 9 lbs, 10 ozs and 21 1/2 inches long.
So much was happening all at once. I remember asking if he was okay because unlike his sister, Zachary had not come out screaming. The doctor assured me he was fine, he even scored an 8 & 9 on his APGAR (same as his sister) though I never remember him crying very much. As soon as he was out, Jon pulled out the 2 bags of cookies I had packed and I quickly devoured them. I felt awful. My son was just born but all I really was worried about was food!!
After my hunger was satisfied, I couldn't take my eyes off my boy. He looked exactly like Natalie, and I felt much more of the love I had expected then verses when Natalie was born- another fact that plagues me with guilt. And while Natalie had barely even opened her eyes in the first day of her life, Zachary was wide-eyed and taking it all in. Even now, he is my little curious George, my observer and doer.
*Note- for those who read Natalie's birth story and are wondering- yes this time they waited to stop the epidural until after they stitched up my minor tearing- not even a first degree tear. And I could only feel the tugging of the needle, not the needle itself, thank goodness!!*