How It Started
It was Friday, February 24th and the end of a very long week of preparing for baby, which was after another week beforehand of putting the house back together after a 2.5-month renovation period in which our house was picked apart and reshaped. Baby clothes and gear were rediscovered, re-sorted, and washed, Maxon’s new room got dressed up, and kitchen well-stocked in preparation for expected guests. In what was to become our last supper as a three-member family, I noticed a new kind of discomfort that literally brought me to my knees. I had been enjoying a fairly easy pregnancy that didn’t slow me down too much to continue playing in the toddler world so it surprised me when all of a sudden walking from the dining room to the kitchen, it felt like my pelvis was being wrenched in two different directions. Attributing that to an active day of running errands, cleaning, and an ill-advised high step up to the front porch with Maxon, I assumed the interesting twist was going to be a new companion for the rest of the pregnancy. Little did I know that it would be such a short-lived relationship.
After going to bed after midnight (a sarcastic thank-you to the Beast for pooping on our bed and having to deal with that), I awoke at 2:30 with a customary nature call. Thinking that my potty training had failed me at the last second, I did not want to believe that it was my water breaking and leaking. I went back to bed and stared up at the ceiling, willing sleep to take over but instead denying my first contraction 30 minutes later. I spent the next hour and half first refusing to believe they were real contractions then accepting them as they were as they shortened to 10 minutes apart and the time in between trying to figure out the logistics of how we were going to take care of Maxon for the day. We did actually have a plan in place that depended on daycare during the workweek, the staggered arrivals of grandparents, and the expectation that the baby would not come early. As it turned out, Saturday, February 25th 2012 was the one day that all of our shrewd planning would be useless. Daycare was not an option and the first grandparent would not arrive until that afternoon. At that point, I was ready to call in for reinforcements and reluctantly woke Mike up so that we could face reality together.
The first order of business was to put a call into my OB to give a heads up. Contractions were closer to five minutes apart but seemed to be weakening but since my water had broken, the clock was ticking. She recommended staying at home until the contractions were more painful and less than five minutes apart. Remembering how quickly things progressed with Maxon after my water broke, I was hesitant to wait too long and not have time to drop Maxon off with willing and able (and at this time, unsuspecting) friends. I decided to drive myself to the hospital while contractions were far enough apart and not painful, leaving Mike to wait for Maxon to wake up and getting him ready to go… somewhere. If proper care for Maxon just wasn’t in the cards, I was mentally prepared to do what I had to do on my own, even though that would leave Mike in limbo of either caring for his first-born or missing out on the birth of his second-born.
I checked into Labor and Delivery at 6:45am and waited for a more godly hour to arrive before calling in serious favors from friends. Luckily, contractions had slowed down a bit so I knew we had some extra time. Even more luckily, I received a very enthusiastic “YES” from my friend Natalie after asking if she was willing to run a daycare for the day as we had some very important business to attend to. Natalie’s daughter Lucy is one of Maxon’s best friends and Maxon has always been super comfortable with Natalie and Ben. Breathing a grateful sigh of relief, I knew that Maxon was in excellent care and company and that I would have nothing else to worry about on that end of things.
How It Stopped
With one huge obstacle resolved, another one popped up. What I thought was luck in the slowing down of contractions turned out to be the next problem to resolve. Since my water had broken, my OB did not want me going past 12 hours before getting the baby out and I was already 8 hours in and my contractions had slowed down to every 15-20 minutes. If my body couldn’t get started up again, then I would need a little help by the way of a low dose of Pitocin. When I first arrived, I actually enjoyed the relatively relaxing solo time in the labor room. I felt like my entire pregnancy had flown by without much pause for reflection (or week-by-week belly shots) and the slowdown gave me a chance to think about what was about to happen and how much our lives were going to change. And then after all that reflection, I watched some lame TV. And then I got bored. Mike had finally dropped Maxon off at his friend’s house and was in the labor room with me at this point. My nurse had a theory that my body had slowed down and was waiting for Mike to show up and perhaps there was something to that as shortly after he arrived, my contractions got back down to every 10 minutes. I started bouncing on the birth ball and taking several laps around the labor floor as well as walking up and down the three flights of stairs. Nada. At about 1:30pm, I finally resigned to the fact that this was yet another part of the birth process that was not going to go according to plan and okayed the Pitocin push.
Kicking It Up a Notch
Both the nurse and my OB seemed fairly confident that I would not need much Pitocin to knock some sense back into my contractions. The drip started about 2:30pm and took about an hour before things got interesting. I was getting consistent contractions that were getting closer and closer together and with more intensity. I went from yukking it up with the nurse to stopping to breathe through contractions to finally putting all joking aside. At this point the nurse thought that the baby was face-up, making delivery a little bit more difficult, so she recommended getting on all fours to rotate the baby in the right position. As contractions reached intense levels, I started thinking that my plans for a second epidural-free labor were really stupid and asked the nurse what my options were at that point. It sounded like anything I wanted was still on the table. I decided to have them check how far along I had progressed and if I was in the finishing chute, then I’d try to tough it out but otherwise, I was open to some relief. The doctor confirmed I was already up to 8 cm, fully effaced, and the baby was not face-up. Game time.
With pain levels at the highest I could stand and a Herculean grip on the bedside rails, I hyperventilated and moaned to 10cm and was finally given the okay to push. With my first push I could feel the baby moving down so fast I was actually told to stop (what?!?!) so they could get everyone and everything in position. With my second push, the last of my water broke and the baby’s head was visible. The doctor said with my next push, she would place the baby on my chest. With the finish line and prize so close at hand, I gave my final push and felt the baby’s release.
Cooper Jackson Guzek was born at 4:54pm, weighing in at 6 pounds 12.5 ounces and measuring 19.5 inches long and with a full head of dark brown hair.
My recovery so far has been pretty amazing. I was able to walk around that evening relatively normally and pain was at a minimum, although the latter was probably kept at bay due to prescription-strength ibuprofen. Cooper proved to be a total natural at nursing with his first successful attempt about an hour after his birth. Nursing overall has been a better experience with both my brain and body having remembered what to do and I think that has dramatically decreased any of the anxiety I felt from the first time around. None of this went according to plan but I don’t think I could have planned it any better.
To my labor nurse, who so thoughtfully jotted down the timeline of the last few minutes of labor:
• 4:40pm – asked for epidural
• 4:48pm – confirmed dilation and effacement and epidural turned down
• 4:54pm – Cooper was born
To the Tabers, who didn’t hesitate to watch Maxon at the very last minute and treated him like a member of the family. And for the very detailed log of Maxon’s activities, down to the last diaper and goldfish cracker.
To the upcoming revolving door of grandparents, from whom I promise to ask for help.