My first child is almost 21 months old, and I have yet to write down how she got here. Not so much the conception part as the labor and delivery part. I figure I better record it now before I a) start forgetting the details and 2. have a second child’s birth story to confuse Lexi’s details with.
Sunday, April 29th, Elian and I left church around 12:30 PM and headed to my parents house for lunch. I felt like I had a stomachache. We ate lunch, and I tried to use the bathroom to no avail. My parents wanted to take a drive to a new subdivision of mammoth houses that were still under construction. A Vreeland pastime is traipsing through almost-finished houses, checking out floor plans and noting what we like and dislike about each house. I’m not good with estimating square footage, so I’ll just say these particular houses were between 5,000 and 10,000 square feet. Huge. With many staircases for a pregnant lady 1 week away from her due date to be plodding up and down. I enjoyed looking at the houses, but I still felt like I needed to have my colon cleansed.
The feeling continued into the evening, and I began to get suspicious around 8 PM. I pulled out pregnancy books, literature from classes we had taken, and searched through pregnancy websites, looking for information on signs of labor beginning. I found big lists of typical symptoms – water breaking, painful contractions – most of which I was not having. But “intestinal discomfort” was on the lists. Finally, I tried to lay down for the night around 10 PM and decided the discomfort was too distracting to rest. I called my OB’s nurse on call, and she said I could be in the beginning stage of labor and recommended going to the hospital to get checked out. So we packed our bags (no, we did not pack our bags 2 months in advance and have them waiting by the door) and headed to the hospital.
We arrived at Baptist Memorial Women’s Hospital in Memphis around 11 PM. We casually strolled into triage. I really didn’t believe I was in labor and was fully expecting to be sent home. I gowned-up, the nurses took blood (why, I still don’t know), started an IV, and put 2 belts around my belly – one for monitoring the baby’s heartbeat, and one for recording contractions. I still remember the shock I felt when the nurse said, “Yep, you’re having contractions.” I remember thinking, “Really? I expected horrendous pain, not mild discomfort.”
They gave me a drug to try and stop the contractions. This drug also made me quite loopy and sleepy. At one point I remember telling Elian, “This may be the drugs talking, but if this is all there is to contractions, I can do this without pain meds.” Remember that statement.
Around 2:30 AM the nurse came to check on me. I was still having contractions despite the meds, but I remained only 1 cm dilated. She gave me the option: I could go home and wait until the contractions got more painful and closer together, or I could be admitted and induced in the morning. I chose the second option, mostly because I hate having my arms poked and prodded for IVs and whatnot.
Elian and I were put in a room and told to rest until 8 AM. Elian quickly fell asleep on the plastic sofa, but I was too excited/uncomfortable to sleep. I wasn’t in any pain, just uncomfortable. We called our parents at 3 AM to tell them we’d been admitted but advised them to not bother coming to the hospital until the morning. At 5 AM Elian’s mom came in our room. She was too excited to sit at home, so she sat in the waiting room.
At 6:30 AM a doctor came in to check on me. I was in the same state I had been in when we were admitted, so he went ahead and broke my water. I felt like I was peeing all over myself. Nice. They also began a pitocin drip shortly thereafter. Then the real fun began.
If you ever have the choice, get the epidural before you are induced. Pitocin, as it turns out, makes your uterus writhe and cramp much like a sponge being wrung out by a very angry giant. I quickly called for an epidural. Unfortunately, the first epidural “didn’t take”. I guess it is not unheard of for the needle to miss the minuscule mark the anesthesiologist is aiming for. I spent about 30 minutes in put-me-pit-of-my-misery pain before the anesthesiologist returned, assessed the situation, and decided to redo the epidural. Thankfully, the second time worked instantly. I was completely pain free the rest of the day. The nurse had to tell me when I was having a contraction (via her machine) because I literally could not feel a thing. It was heaven. My family came in my room and hung out for the next 3 hours. We watched TV and chit-chatted, oblivious to what was going on inside of my body.
Around 11:30 AM the doctor came to check on things. Unbeknown to me, I had gone from 1 cm to 10 cms in 3 short hours. They kicked everyone except Elian out of the room, and I began the mysterious exercise of pushing while being unable to feel anything from my chest down. It was very odd. I was in no pain, and I was being told to push as if I were pooping. I would grunt and turn red but would still have no idea if I was just pushing with my mind or if my body was actually following suit too…
After an episiotemy that I never felt, additional tearing that I never felt, and one hour of something that resembled pushing, out came a baby. Elian saw her dark hair first as the doctor pulled her out by her armpits. She let out a croaky, hacked off cry. Elian cut her umbilical cord. My first question was, “Is it a girl?” We had been told that’s what the ultrasound predicted, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to have to repaint the purple room waiting for her at home. They let me see her for a moment before they whisked her over to the heat lamp.
While she was under the light, they cleaned her, cleared out her nose and mouth, put medicine on her eyes, gave her a shot of potassium, gave her oxygen, took her footprints, put on her bracelets, and otherwise pissed her off. All I could see from my vantage point was one little foot in the air. Her toes were spread apart the exact same way Elian’s toes are. And she let out her first sneeze on that table.
When all was said and done, Alexis Marie Levatino was born at 12:26 PM on Monday, April 30th, 2007. She weighed 7 lbs, 9 ounces and was 19.5 inches long. We took her home 2 days later.