Monday, November 17, 2008

Thoughts on Labor

(Pregnant bellies of niece Kristen, me, and niece Ashley at Ashley's recent shower)
Oh labor labor, where are you? I am now past the 37 week mark -- which means, for those of you who don't know, that I am now considered "term." I won't reach my due date til 40 weeks, but once you hit 37 no one gets worried about you going into labor. "Go ahead," they say, "See if we care." Yes, that is what the doctors say. They won't try and stop you.
Of course, I won't be going into labor. Not yet anyway. My kids don't believe in early arrivals. Well, that isn't totally true; Abe believed in it by a few measly days, but the rest have all preferred the fashionably late entrance into the world.
I shouldn't be complaining because I am not one bit ready for this baby. I need every last minute of letting Penny be the baby; no Christmas shopping is done; we haven't even gotten the car seat, cradle or any baby clothes from our storage unit; I have a long list of organizing and cleaning I want to get done; AND, I have talked my sister Megan into running the Thanksgiving day "Turkey Trot" with me -- which, coupled with a Thanksgiving feast, will put me in labor -- and why ruin that fun? (Side note: no amount of running or other craziness has ever put me in labor -- people will tell me how they took a vigorous walk to go into labor and I am like, "HUH?" My body, or perhaps it's my baby, just won't be tricked).
So, as I said, I shouldn't complain, but once one has reached that official "go ahead and have your baby if you want" stage, it is really really hard not to start thinking about it and getting excited and, if nothing else, thinking, "Why can't I be fun and surprised by suddenly going into labor now -- when I least expect it?"
If nothing else, it certainly has me reminiscing about my past labor experiences -- and being a little nervous -- I've had my last two with-in about an hour or two of getting to the hospital, which is great, but I don't want that hour to shrink to no hours and a baby on the boulevard! Of course, that would make a good story. My friend gave birth this last week and got to the hospital with no time for an epidural, so that has made me more nervous!
Abe's labor was quite perfect. I woke up around 2:00 am with closely spaced contractions. By 4:00 am we were off to the hospital -- in pain, but certain there was no way I could really be in labor! I was dilated to a 5 when we got there though; so I was quickly admitted, numbed up, and a few hours later (much of that time being spent pushing -- much to my dismay) Abe arrived with the widest screaming mouth Mike and I had ever seen.
Daisy's labor . . . I do adore that girl, but . . . to this day remains one of the worst experiences of my life (except of course for the end -- when I had the little one in my arms). Unlike with Abe, I had contractions all night -- never quite close enough to go to the hospital, but much too close to relax or sleep. When we finally did go, I was dilated to a 5, but once I reached a 6, my body decided it was done with laboring and everything pretty much stopped. It would have been no big deal normally, they would have given me a nice boost with pitocin and we would have been on our way. But, I had decided to go natural that time and I was determined that if I was going to go natural I wasn't going to have synthetically induced contractions. (I wanted to be certain I was dealing with the pain my body was forcing me to deal with and nothing else). I wanted my doctor to break my water to see if that would get things going again. He wouldn't (a huge frustration to me then and still today when I think about it). I wanted to go home. They wouldn't let me because I was so far dilated. Finally, by the end of the day, I'd given up. In tears I told them to just give me the pitocin, but I wanted an epidural if I was going that route. Contractions immediately began coming one on another. As I tried to sit for the epidural I was in the most horrible pain I could have imagined. Unbeknownst to me, this was because I had already dilated to a ten and was trying to hold still for an epidural when Daisy was ready to come out. Before it had any effect, I was pushing and pretty much felt like I was sinking into a deep black pit that no one else was aware of and that I coulnd't possibly be saved from. It really was terrifying. At the end, I was shaking so awfully I could barely hold Daisy. I later read some little sanskrit proverb that said something like, "In giving life, death holds your hand." It made me shudder because it rung so totally true to me.
After that, you'd think I'd give up on natural labor, but I was so disappointed in my last experience that I was determined to have one more go at it. And truly, as far as a natural labor goes, it was perfect. I had a great nights sleep, started contractions in the morning. Hung out with the kids and Mike -- doing random little things to keep me occupied. Got to the hospital at about 3:00 pm dilated to a 5 as usual. Goldie came an hour later -- surprising us all -- particularly the nurses who had to deliver her since my doctor hadn't yet arrived. A bunch of nurses had come rushing in and it seemed to get everyone all excited to have the unexpected quickness. They all kept complimenting me on how well I did, and I think all I said, over and over -- about 50 times was, "I'm so glad that's over! I'm so glad that went so fast! I'm so glad that's over! I'm so glad that went so fast!" I'm probably more of a wimp than some, but truly I think the last bit of labor and delivery can only be described as utterly terrifying. I'm glad I had the experience, and it does give you almost something spiritual to think about, but I'd proved whatever I'd wanted to myself, so . . .
With Penny, I was back to the joy of an epidural. I went into labor around 2:00 am, was at the hospital a few hours later ready for that pain relief. I think I was even less patient than I might have been otherwise because I knew and was scared of how much worse it could get (when the usual early dilation stages are already miserable pain). They took waaay too long getting me checked in for some reason, but once I was up to my room the anesthesiologist was there quickly. He was about the most unfriendly soul I've ever come across. He pretty much ignored any comment I made or question I asked. I think he said about two words of instruction and nothing else. But, bless his little heart, I'd have Mr. grumpy and taciturn again and again and would say nothing against him as he put the epidural in quick as a wink with out giving me a moment's pain. He was an epidural expert. And I was glad he was so quick because a short 20 mins. later I was at an 8 and about 30 mins. after that Penny was born. My only regret is that I didn't push that darn little pump thing enough, so it was a little uncomfortable again at the end -- not bad mind you, but I was ready for dreamy oblivion!
So, those thoughts keep going through my head as I think and wait for this next experience. Of course, they are much more sentimental, detailed and significant to me than portrayed here, and I wish I had my pictures available so I could have a little picture of each tiny newborn next to their tiny story!
P.S. I don't trust this blogger spell check. It just flagged "unbeknownst" and gave me "Unbeknown St." as the only possible option. That would be a cool place to live.


Tia Juana said...

Oh Nancy, I read your little scenarios with such attentiveness and excitement over what will soon be yours! Remember how it was not so long ago that you were telling bloggerdom that you were feeling a little under the weather and we were such new friends and I wondered, wondered, if you could be pregnant but nah, you had a little one so very young still and then like a day later you announced to all that you were preggers and wanting, what was it? Potato Salad? Yes, I think it was potato salad because then we went into the whole comment conversation about all the in-laws and their aversion to mayo. But now as I sit and contemplate all that will be yours in a few short days/weeks I get all excited for you and not the least bit anxious about your labors because really, all I can think to say is that I would birth my babies 10 times over than to have to deal with the being sick at the beginning part!

And I'm just saying now that if you go into labor from all your turkey trotting, because as you have just stated very poinginatly (and that is not at all how to spell that but I don't care) things are not always the same for you so if you do go into labor after trotting around on Thanksgiving are you going to name the baby Thomas - as in Tom Turkey? Assuming it is a boy of course.

So I want to know how much all your babies weighed? I'm big into knowing the weights of babies because I've birthed some serious Amazonian children - size wise.

jami said...

oh i so feel for you - and i'm so amazed and in awe that you did the natural thing not once but twice. thinking about going without some sort of drugs during labor makes me shake. i'm going to cross my fingers that this little one is going to surprise you and come early - ready or not. :)

can i just also say that i think you and meg are nuts for turkey trotting? sheesh. you girls are too ambitious for me ... although i do remember seeing your cute little prego self running around n.o. when we were neighbors and being jealous of your runner self. :)

my favorite - aside from the great stories - are those cute prego bellies ... :)

Perla said...

i have known these stories but loved reading them again and am very interested to see if this little one comes as quickly. and of course i am so excited to see if it is my niece or nephew. i'm so glad its coming so soon!

Nancy said...

Thanks Tia and Jami, I don't know why, but I can always tell you guys genuinely like me and are happy for me in your comments and it makes me love you.

And Tia, I agree with no hesitation, that I would take a natural labor with all its misery to keep my perfectly unsick first tri-mesters. Ooohh, I am so sorry for you sick ones!! (Jami, why won't you tell us if you are sick!!)BUT, I would run a full marathon any day over a natural labor (assuming of course you were rewarded a baby at the end of the race).

As for babies size, mine have luckily only all been around the nice 8 lb. mark. I do mean luckily, because Mike's sisters all have 9 and 10 pounders and my own mom had some whoppers herself.

And yes, Tom Turkey will be his name.

Whatever, Jami, if you were here, you know Megan would force you to run it with us like it or not!

Nancy said...

Oh, a comment from you too Shan! Well, thanks also. You only just appeared this moment. I still like that it is now a little question as to who will know the gender of their baby first out of the two of us!

jami said...

nancy,if i were there megan would have to push me in some sort of cart because as much as i want to do the running thing, i just can't. i think it stems back to a bad middle school p.e. running experience. (ok. maybe not, but i can hope that's why i don't like to run. :) )

Women Afire said...

Good stories. I don't have much to compare - as I didn't feel anything for any of my babies (hello C-Section!). Though, did have a bit of a scare on the last one - but even with that - I was oblivious to everything until the emergencies were done with and I woke up. So nice. Poor Jon was a mess, but I was all bright eyed and cheerful saying, "Hey babe! How are ya?" And he was like . . . ."Ummm, 4 hours of not knowing if you were going to be okay kinda sucked." So - I love childbirth! And can't help but get teary eyed when they hand me that baby!

Women Afire said...

Additionally - While a lot of people think that "natural birth" is craziness - I think it's awesome!!! I wish I could have done it. In fact, when I found out that I wasn't allowed that option - I cried (silly much? Maybe). I think it's pretty cool that you have had that experience and that in such things - you hold hands with women of the past. Pretty neat. I also love to think of all those who are with us in such times - on the other side of the veil - helping the doctors, nurses, family members, spouses, the new baby, etc. Such a special time.

Mugsy said...

O that is such a cute picture. And speaking of a fun journal ebtry for your kids to be all like I did what I weighed what ?
Anyway, don't be wishing that baby to come to soon. I have to be there!!!!
Josh told me with Layla that he would break my water if I didn't go into labor while his mom came to help with the kids, because my DR. was all anti "starting".
Well I about killed my poor husband when he fessed up at the chosen time that he didn't know how to break and my water and felt it was to dangerous.......I was one angry achey heavy pregnant girl.....

Krissy-loo said...

Don't ya just love good labor stories? I do! You remember our friend Rachel who came with her new baby to Ashley's shower? She DID get to the hospital too late for her epidural, and she was so panicked when the nurses said she couldn't have any pain relief. She found out she is a screamer. :) So doesn't that sound fun. But tell me honestly, Nance, is the end, the actual pushing out, awfully horrible? When I was laboring with Ethan, my epidural only took on one side, and even though kind Joe Torman kept coming back and adjusting things, it wasn't until right when I was about to push that I actually felt full relief. And afterwards I thought, that wasn't too unbearable, feeling all those contractions, maybe I could go natural on my next one. You know, I kind of just want to know if I can do it. But I didn't have to feel all the pushing part, and maybe that's the worst, so maybe there's no way I could do a totally natural birth. What are your thoughts? It's pretty likely my mom will be here for the birth, since Ashley and I aren't planning to let her leave after she comes to visit for Ashley's baby, so I would have the best ever birth coach, right? One who's done natural 5 times. Could I do it, or am I crazy?

Nancy said...

Jami, I totally have a jogstroller that you can hop in if you're willing.

Marz, I agree, I am glad I had the experience, and I totally agree that the veil seems thin with the whole connection between two places happening. AND, I'm so glad also you survived your last scary experience! You've always been so positive and grateful despite how things went down.

Kristen, that is a good question. I think your mom said that pushing is a relief -- maybe because you can actually do something besides mearly cope -- you can work with contractions. I still found it to be quite awful, but I think, maybe, it is really the very last bit of dilation and the very beginning of pushing that is the very most terrifying. Once you are focused on the pushing maybe it's better. BUT, you could do it natural of course. Women have forever and you would have the best coach in your mom, and while it is very super awful, it really is interesting and empowering, and seriously somehow spiritual (more later) to think about the connection between our world and where this baby is coming from and the struggle to bring them here -- for both of you. My main advice to anyone would be that it is worth it ONLY if it is something you really really feel like you WANT to do because I also think epidurals are for certain a blessing from heaven!

Nancy said...

P.S. And, just to clarify things, I have never screamed. No, no screamer in me, and none of that yelling or annoyedly pushing my husband away. I think I am far to focused inward and the only thing that comforts me outwardly is Mike super super close doing whatever very strong counter pressure things he can to distract me.

Karen said...

Yep....I can say with out a doubt that labor scares the h*ll out of me. I have never experienced it myself but have witnessed it as outsider many times. I was even there when two of my kids were born.

I will be praying for a speedy, easy and safe labor for you.

Nance said...

Okay, so you just commented on my blog and it showed up in my email and I was son confused about how I'd commented on my own blog without remembering it. Then I realized it was SOMEONE ELSE named Nancy. I've only come across one other Nancy anywhere near my age, most are about 60 now, so this is a treat.

As for labor... our experiences seem similar, except I've never been lucky enough to have an epidural, at least not one that worked. But I did have a jerk anesthesiologist, unfortunately he wasn't good at administering epidurals and mine didn't work, he chewed me out for being a wimp and wouldn't believe me that I was no longer numb. My second kid was too quick for an epidural and was almost delivered my nurses if my doctor hadn't walked in just in time. My third was about the same except my doctor knew number two had come fast so she got to the hospital as soon as they called and stuck around waiting. Good luck with this labor/delivery. And stop thinking about the past ones in detail. That would totally freak me out. Just think "I've gone this before. I can do it again. I will not die." That's what I do.

Nance said...

Ignore all those typos in my last comment (and there are lots). I'm typing fast and not paying attention to what I'm typing.

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