Fiona is 6 weeks old. 6 WEEKS!!!! Time is flying much much faster than anticipated. In this short lapse of time, she has become much more alert, is following objects with her eyes, learned to hold up her head, outgrew newborn clothes, and even started to smile at her dad’s funny faces. She’s growing and changing so quickly that I decided today is a good day to put her birth story down in writing, before the details start to escape me… like the fact that the winter of 2015 was terrible and Boston broke its all-time record for snowfall, but the day she was born was sunny and beautiful.
So here it goes:
Jeffrey’s and my family can be quite different about some things. For example, his likes showing up extra early for flights, while mine has been known to go through airport security only after our last name has been voiced over the intercom… So it became a running joke to try to guess which side of the family Fiona’s entrance into the world would resemble most. Well, our little girl—quite intelligently—decided not to take sides. On my very due date, my water broke.
I always hoped it would happen that way… my water breaking first as a surefire sign that I would be having a baby that day (as opposed to wondering whether I was feeling real contractions or not and trying to decide when to go into the hospital). But with my obstetrician quoting that only about 10% of women’s waters break prior to going into labor, my hopes were low. Well, I was part of the “lucky” few.
I woke up that morning wondering if it had broken. Yup. It can be… ummm, a “confusing” experience. So Jeffrey promptly googled “water breaking” and started reading various women’s hilarious anecdotes aloud to me. Suffice it to say that one good laugh later, it broke. And I was VERY glad I was at home in pajamas instead of at the hospital examining a patient.
After notifying the OB and confirming that we would indeed be having a baby within the next 24 hours, we called our parents. As expected, the grandmas-to-be freaked, and thus ensued the frantic search for last minute flight changes from Texas to Boston so they could all get in as soon as possible to meet THE FIRST GRANDCHILD.
I was in no pain. As a matter of fact, life proceeded that day much as it otherwise would have. Jeffrey and I came down for breakfast and we enjoyed our morning coffee together. I finished working on a few patient notes. Then came shower, hair, makeup, putting on my pearls (it’s what my mom and I always wear on special occasions, and for good luck), a few selfies in front of the staircase, etc. etc. etc. When by 3 pm it was clear I was not in labor, I called a phone consult to my dad. Should I wait around all day and night for it, or go in to be induced? Papi suggested going in early so when the pain started, I’d be in the near vicinity of an anesthesiologist. And because that was clearly the most brilliant possible advice, two hours later we “laborlessly” headed to the hospital. But first we ate some cake. I was craving cake.
Many people asked me during my pregnancy what my “birth plan” was. Birth plan? What on earth is a birth plan? My only plans going into this were to let the obstetricians be obstetricians, and not pretend like I knew more about birthing babies than they did. I also decided that I had absolutely nothing against (early) epidurals, and that having our baby in a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit was a must. With work, I didn’t really have time for much other planning. We did not take birthing classes, and I have no idea what a breathing exercise is.
We arrived at the hospital around 6 pm, and by 7 pm we were checked in and ready for the night. We looked more like we were going on vacation rather than the labor and delivery ward, but honestly, that is kind of how it felt. My outfit was promptly replaced by the classic blue hospital gown, and monitors strapped around my belly. Fiona’s heart rate? Perfect. Contractions? Mmmm, negative. Maybe a few pathetic ones of the Braxton Hicks variety. Dilation? 2 cm.
Impatient, at 9 pm I asked them to please Pitocin-me the heck up. By 10 pm I told Jeffrey, “Hmm, my back is starting to feel uncomfortable.” And by 11 pm it was pretty clear that I had been successfully induced because HOLY CRAP, WHY DID IT FEEL LIKE MY SPINE WAS BEING RIPPED APART FROM THE INSIDE OUT EVERY 3 MINUTES?! Between 11 pm and midnight, I progressed to feeling like my pelvis was being ripped apart. And when it got to the point that I was pretty sure my tailbone was about to snap off, I asked that they kindly call the anesthesiologist ASAP, and remind him to please bring his opiates. I didn’t purposely wait that long before asking for my epidural, but things moved along so fast I hardly had any time to think.
It turns out that little Fiona decided at the last minute to turn face up (towards my abdomen) instead of face down like she’d been for the last few months. Therefore, with every contraction, her back pressed against mine, resulting in the dreaded “back labor” that I experienced (and which I didn’t know was a thing). Between contractions I was fine—enjoying the 2015 Academy Awards even. Because seriously, wasn’t Lady Gaga’s tribute to The Sound of Music the most amazing thing you’d seen in a long time?! But then again, every 2-3 minutes… let’s not talk about it anymore.
The anesthesiologist came almost immediately, and 5 minutes later, my lower half was total, painless, beautiful dead weight. (Especially my right leg. That thing stayed awkwardly dead long after the rest of me regained sensation and mobility.)
People often hold off on getting an epidural “until the very end,” so they can continue to walk around the room, use the restroom as they please, etc. But seriously, why on earth would one be walking around the room when they’re in labor?? I’ll tell you what. There is nothing more amazing than not feeling pain with your contractions, being told that your induction was so successful that you are now 5 cm dilated, and then taking a refreshing 4-hour nap while your body runs on autopilot.
Over the course of the night, the pain slowly started to come back. The anesthesiologist came back in to increase my dose and, shortly afterwards, the OB came in to recheck me. And you know why the pain was coming back? Because by around 5 or 6 am, I was 10 cm dilated, 100% effaced, and 3+ station. It was go-time. Fiona was practically here!
So I asked for a mirror and fixed my hair. Because PICTURES!
I pushed for less than an hour. 30 minutes? 45 minutes maybe? I don’t know. It went by fast and Jeffrey and I were very excited and GOD I LOVE EPIDURALS.
At 7:46 am, a vigorous, screaming, healthy little girl with an awesome sideways cone-head was placed in my arms, where she almost immediately stopped crying and opened her eyes. 7 lbs 7 oz and 19.5 inches long. She was pink, strong, and came out knowing how to eat.
I don’t think I could have have hoped for a better labor and delivery. I mean, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, and she definitely wreaked a fair amount of havoc in the process. However, at that moment, Jeffrey and I were able to truly be in the moment and enjoy (almost) every second of our daughter being born.
The grandparents arrived from Texas some time later. And while it would have been wonderful to have the four of them right there in the waiting room, it was so special to get to spend time together just the three of us. Amazingly, while while Jeffrey and I were busy getting to know her, she acted like she’d known us all along.
Welcome to the world and into our lives, Fiona! You are already the best thing ever!