Warning: this story is long and very detailed. I want to be able to remember everything–even the not-so-pleasant details 🙂
I am happy to say that my sweet baby Gabriel came into the world a week ago. And what a week! But before I can write posts about some new topics (eating, pooping, and sleeping being the main things lil G does), I first want to share the story of my son’s birth.
Gabe was due Jan. 20th (but my estimated date was the 13th). We convinced the Dr. to induce labor so that we could have enough time to bond with Daddy before he flies to the States, and time to spend at home before we ship our household goods. I went to the doc on Friday the 14th and he said that the baby was definitely ready to come. He estimated Gabe’s height/weight at 21 inches and 7 lbs, 4 oz. I was really excited–we were about to find out in person his real height & weight! Dr. L told us to report to the hospital the following morning from 8-9 and we would begin the induction through the use of a pill called Cytotek (the same that he gave my friend Renee). I was aware that her labor took awhile, so I braced myself for a whole lot of waiting around in the hospital that weekend.
Javi (my husband, or J to make it easier to type) and I planned ahead, and brought tons of snacks, Scrabble, movies, and CSI NY, so we stayed busy enough while we waited. The pills were given every 4 hours, and a max of 4 a day, and at each time I had to be hooked up to the machine that measures the baby’s heart rate and my contractions. For an hour and a half each time. Super boring! I was so looking forward to just getting the show on the road!
After spending all day Saturday waiting for something to happen, we finally had to just go to bed and hope the next day would bring our baby! The midwife told us to come at 6 AM and we’d get started early. I was fine with that! I managed to sleep thru the night, and woke up at 5:50 to get over to the delivery area (right around the corner from our family room in the hospital). As I walked to the room with the heart rate machine, I saw the other American couple there who checked in right after us, and she was also getting induced at the same time as me. The man was holding a bundle, and I asked if they had their baby, and he said yes, she delivered over night. While I was extremely happy for them, I thought: When will it be my turn? We got induced at the same time, and I still wasn’t getting anywhere 😦 It had been almost 24 hours, and no sign of Gabriel.
The Waiting Game
Thus ensued more waiting. The pills they gave me on Sunday were twice the size of Saturday’s, to try to make contractions begin. I took the 6 AM pill and the 10 AM pill with no luck. I began to get very, very irritable and grumpy. I thought, I’ll be damned if I have to wait ANOTHER day to meet my baby!
The midwife, Sabine, suggested we go for a walk down by the Neckar River, right outside the hospital a few blocks away. I grabbed a quick snack, a leftover taco from dinner the night before, and I put fire sauce on it, trying to get the spicy factor that could also induce labor. (Is it just me, or is fire sauce not hot at all? It was barely spicy!) As we walked, we talked about how long this process was taking. I was super grumpy because of it. After all, I’d been waiting for months and months, and it’s not easy carrying around all that extra weight! We walked as long as I could without having to stop to pee, about 40 min, since my bladder was being crushed by the baby.
It was about 1 PM by this time. J and I watched another episode of CSI NY, then took a quick nap before I had to report back to the midwife at 2. At 1:50, I woke up suddenly and had to pee. Something felt weird, so I looked down and saw what I had been waiting for: drops of blood. Then I felt a little movement, like a trickle, (that’s the best way I can describe it) and realized that I wasn’t peeing anymore but there was still liquid. My water finally broke! I yelled the good news out to J and we headed down the hall quickly.
The midwife assessed the situation and told me that I was 4 cm dilated. WOW & Yessss! I was so pumped to get going. She gave me the next pill just to ensure the labor would progress. Did it ever! She told us to go back to our room and come back at 5 to see her. We did, and I started to feel really crappy. Then REALLY crappy. Then REALLY CRAPPY. My back hurt, my stomach hurt, and I could. not. get. comfortable. AT. ALL. I kept feeling like I had to go poop but I didn’t. This must be what back labor feels like… ugh. At this point, I doubted my intent to deliver naturally. The contractions were awful, and I knew this wasn’t even the worst of it. Finally, at 4, I told J that I couldn’t take it anymore and we went back to see Sabine. She hooked me up to the machine again (this is to continually monitor the baby to make sure he’s ok and not in distress), and she confirmed that my contractions were the real deal. I knew for a fact they were, because I could hardly stand the pain–I was almost in tears. Sabine ran a bath for me in the tub down the hall, and that made the contractions easier to bear. They were only a few minutes apart by that point, so J poured water on my belly while I tried to breathe slowly in and out. We did this for 20-30 minutes and it was time to get into our delivery room.
I think by this time I was 8 cm and it was about 6 PM. I asked Sabine how long she thought it would be. She told me that I dilated very quickly, so maybe two more hours. I was so encouraged by this, but my back was still killing me. I had requested the epidural while in the bathtub, as I was unsure if I’d be able to handle the pain. The water birth sounded great, but after dealing with painful contractions for 3 hours, I was ready to be numb for awhile. Plus, I knew the baby had a larger-than-average head, and I had some concerns that I’d be able to push it out. I’m glad I went with my gut, because of what came later…
The anesthesiologist came with her assistant, and they prepped my back. I had to lean forward and be very still. I didn’t want to even see the needle because I knew it would freak me out. Once it was in, they gave me a dose of medicine, and we waited. And waited. I started to get concerned that something was wrong. They gave me more meds. They kept asking if I could feel my legs, and I still could. Finally, it took effect, and I could no longer feel the awful contractions.
At this point, I felt pure elation. The pain was gone, I was going to meet my son in a few hours, life was good. I was emailing with friends on J’s blackberry, and they probably thought I was crazy, but it was a great distraction and helped pass the time. Sabine came in around 7 and said her shift was over, and I would have Regina now. I was sad to see Sabine go, she was a great midwife who really took care of me. I remember her breathing with me and saying “When the mouth is open, the cervix will open.” Indeed, she was right, because I was at 10 cm and ready to push by 7:30, just 5.5 hours after my water broke.
Push It Real Good
Regina came to ask me if I wanted to begin pushing. I said yes hesitantly, because I didn’t know how exactly to push, and didn’t feel any urge to push either. She told me to get up because being in a standing position helps, so I did. The contractions became stronger immediately, and I began to push while hanging onto the rope suspended from the ceiling. The epidural was no longer making me numb, but it lessened the contractions, which slowed down labor. That is the main drawback of the epidural, but I knew that going in. Regina began coaching me, and she said I wasn’t pushing well enough. She told me to try to pee, and I tried and couldn’t. She had to use a catheter to help me out, which thankfully didn’t hurt.
Try, try again
We kept trying to push, but since I couldn’t feel the contractions fully, I was a pretty ineffective pusher, and Regina was not an inspiring coach the way Sabine was. We finally got to the point where she could see the baby’s head, but I was very close to exhaustion. Each time I pushed, she told me to hold my breath, so each one left me tired and winded, and we seemed to be getting no where. Regina said she would call Dr. L and they would help get the baby out.
Thank God for Dr. L.
Sometime around 8:30, my awesome doctor showed up. He was a much more motivating coach than the midwife (no offense to her), and I was able to push the baby a bit further with him guiding me. I was in a lot of pain, so Regina gave me the rest of the dosage of meds for my epidural. Thankfully it made me partially numb, but my back was still in so much pain. I had been actively trying to push the baby out for a good hour and a half and I was so tired, but not giving up. J kept giving me water, like a boxer and his coach during a fight. Dr. L. said “Mrs. Forbes, we’re going to help you get this baby out.” Ok, do whatever you have to, I feel like I’m dying!!! I wasn’t even looking at what he was doing, but he used both the vacuum extractor and the forceps. All I knew was that it hurt SO badly, and Regina was pushing on my belly with all her weight (it seemed) which hurt terribly and made it even harder for me to breath. All 3, Regina, Dr. L. and my dear husband were yelling at me to push, and I pushed for all I was worth. J told me later that Dr. L. was at muscle failure trying to pull the baby out–and this man has some big muscles! It’s all a bit fuzzy to me now, as I was exhausted, but eventually, through teamwork, the yelling stopped and I heard “He’s out!” I had felt so much pressure and pain, and there was finally relief. I glanced up and saw the baby, but I was panting so hard that I could barely breath so I laid my head back down. The doctor scooped up Gabriel and put him on my chest. He was crying, but in a few minutes he stopped. I first noticed that he had so much hair, and his ears were folded over, and his nose had lil white bumps (milia I think it’s called). His leg had some, uh, gunk on it, so I thought I must have pooped and not known it. Turned out to be his poop. Go figure 🙂
Dr. L. began fixing me up immediately, as I had quite a bit of damage, unfortunately. He had to do an episiotomy, and the baby’s head had torn the wall of m vagina. I didn’t even care; our baby was finally here! Papa Bear and Momma Bear finally got to meet their baby bear, and it was a really wonderful moment. The room was dim, it was about 9:40, and I remember the umbilical cord glowed a bright red. We held Gabe for 15-20 minutes, then the midwife asked J to cut the cord. She clamped it, but when J cut, it sprayed blood all over Gabe and me. I really didn’t care, it was my own blood and there was already blood all over anyway. Regina took Gabe and brought him to get cleaned up, and they took his height and weight: 8 lbs, 1 oz (so their estimate was quite a bit off) and 20.5 inches (about right on). Javi dressed him in the clothes the hospital provides, took a few pics, then got to hold him.
Meanwhile, I was still getting stitched.
It took nearly an hour for Dr. L. to finish. He told me it was pretty bad but it would heal up fine. I thanked him profusely; I never thought I’d be so grateful to a person, but Dr. L brought my son into the world safely, and I will be forever thankful for that. It was kind of a traumatic experience, but he stayed calm, and I was able to concentrate on pushing instead of worrying if things were ok (J, on the other hand, said he was really worried. I can’t imagine having to watch all that!) Regina went to get my hospital bed, brought it in, and helped me to sit up. I told her I felt really dizzy, so I laid back down. We tried again, and I was still really light-headed. The next thing I knew, I was looking up at J, and I said something like “That was weird, I was just having a dream.” He told me I had fainted twice. Regina and J helped me finally get to the other bed, and they gave Gabriel to me, and we went to the recovery room. We had to wait there for 2 hours. I told Regina I wanted to try to breastfeed, so she helped me get going, and Gabe was a natural! I was so happy about that 🙂 J went to get me some food and drinks so I wouldn’t faint again, so I ate while Gabe ate. Afterwards, J held Gabe and had some bonding time.
We finally got to return to our room. I was in pain but so thrilled that Gabe was finally here! I felt so tired yet couldn’t sleep for a long time. Gabe slept soundly by my bed, and J was snoring in the next bed over. It was quite an experience, something I will never forget, but it was all worth it. We have the most beautiful son, and I couldn’t be happier!
Here we are, one week later!