I promised several months ago to post my birth stories, and with another birth impending, it seems to be the right time to start. I figure I'll do one a week, which will take me nearly to the next birth story. :-)
Kelly and I found out we were expecting our first child in April of 1996. We had been married almost 3 years at that point. I was weeks away from graduating from college. Kelly graduated at the end of the summer session in August and received his commission as a "butter bar" lieutenant in the Air Force at the same time. We had orders to move to Oklahoma City the first of October. My due date was December 23.
When you have a baby in the Air Force, you are required to go through an experience that is unrivaled in civilian life - the orientation. In order to be able to see a medical professional for the first time you are required to attend a several hour long class with other newly pregnant moms, so they can cram as much info into you as possible, about how the system works, how your appointments will be handled, what to eat to avoid morning sickness and for a healthy baby, etc. In other words, a total waste of time - it's all in every pregnancy book. The reason I bring this up is that it was rather funny in my case because I still had to sit through the orientation class once we got in-processed at Tinker AFB. But by this time I was 7 months pregnant, but it didn't matter. Since I had never been to an AF orientation, I had to attend before seeing an OB. Glad to get that info on morning sickness though.
When we got to the last couple of weeks around my due date, it was also close to Christmas time, so the flight Kelly worked in went down to skeleton crews - minimum manning as so many of them took leave during that time. And with Kelly expecting a new baby, they didn't schedule him for any work time at all. Which sounds like a good thing, but we were seriously driving each other crazy. At home, waiting for the big event, no money to go do anything to take our minds off of it. We went on a lot of walks, usually in malls as it was cold up there, trying to get things moving.
On the Friday after my due date, the doctor checked me and said I was already dilated to a 4, and nearly completely effaced, so I should be going anytime now. We were elated. But he did offer to induce me on Monday if I didn't go into labor before then. Kelly joked that it would be great as then the baby would be born before the end of the year - tax deduction! I was just tired of being pregnant. I wanted my baby, and was sick and tired of looking at the empty crib. So we agreed. We were to call on Monday morning at 6 am to make sure they weren't too busy. If we were given the ok we could come in.
Of course nothing happened over the weekend. So Monday morning we ate breakfast, got our bag, and after calling, we went to the base hospital. It was very leisurely, and not a little surreal - nothing like I had pictured labor and the trip to the hospital. When we got there we were shown into a labor room, but told that they had two delivering and one in active labor, and there would be no induction for a while. They did hook me up to all the monitors just to check me out. A little while later a nurse came in and asked me, "You're having contractions about every 15 minutes, aren't you feeling them?" Well, no I wasn't. They really thought I'd pick up on my own without their intervention, so they finished with the ladies who were already in active labor.
But in the meantime, Kelly and I played cards, read, did anything to pass the time. It was a long morning. I was reclining in a hospital bed, and my rear end was killing me. But every time I shifted position, a nurse would come in and gripe at me because moving caused the monitors to slip out of position. (Remember, I wasn't even induced or in active labor at that time!) I could get up to go to the bathroom, but it was a real imposition to the nurses to unhook me so I could go.
Finally about 1 pm, the doctor comes in and announces, "OK, this is it, you aren't going home now without your baby." He broke my water, they put an IV in my wrist (yes, the side of my wrist, THE most uncomfortable place to have an IV). Then they left me, because with my water broken, contractions, and already dilated to nearly a 5, I should start on my own. But now I could not move at all, not even to go to the bathroom because they broke my water. I felt tied down.
My contractions did pick up, but soon petered out. So of course I got pitocin. Alot of it. The contractions went from nothing to hard ones about every 5 minutes in no time flat. They were soon more than I could bear. And this was my first labor, so of course I thought I had hours and hours still to go. So I finally asked for an epidural. It took a while to get the anesthesiologist to get in there. Holding still while they put two different needles in my back was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But pretty soon the pain was much less, except for a window where I still had sensation on one side of my tummy. I made the mistake of mentioning this to the anesthesiologist, so she gave me a second dose of epidural.
So now I could not feel anything. Zero. No pressure, no sensation. It was like I had had the lower half of my body amputated. It was very funny to see the contraction monitor peaking when I felt nothing. While this sounds like a good thing, it came back to haunt me. By the time I got the second dose of medication, it was 4:30 pm - ish. I labored for while, and then about 6 pm, a nurse decided to check my progress. I was a 10! Completely effaced, baby at zero to +1 station. Birth was imminent. So the doctor and several nurses came in and I was told to start pushing.
Push? I couldn't feel anything. How do you push with muscles you can't feel? I couldn't even bend my knees - Kelly and a nurse had to do that for me. So for about 40 minutes, I pushed as hard as I could with not one bit of sensation to tell me whether I was doing it right. Finally, someone figured out I should have made some progress by now - evidently the baby hadn't come down any further at all. Then a nurse asked if it could be my bladder.
See, they'd been pumping my IV full of fluid since 1 pm, and I hadn't been to the bathroom since. My bladder was so distended that is was blocking the baby's descent. So the doctor quickly catheterized me, they wheeled me across the hall to a delivery room, and I was told to start pushing again. They hung a drape across my middle so I could not see a thing, but by that time I guess I had figured out how to push enough that she was born just 5 minutes later (6:46 pm), after the doctor gave me an episiotomy that he didn't tell me about until later.
It was really quite a weird experience. I was so elated that she was here, but I had a hard time believing it. The drape had kept me from seeing anything. I couldn't feel anything because of the epidural. And I only got to see her briefly until about an hour later. After she was born, the doctor clamped the cord, Kelly cut it, and they took her over to do the preliminary exams at the isolette while they finished attending to me. After a few minutes, they wrapped her in a blanket, and literally came and waved her in front of my face a couple of times (the nurse even said, "Here's your daughter.") and then they whisked her off to the nursery. They did offer for Kelly to come, and he did. This is also when he started calling parents and family and friends. He took pictures, while I was still getting stitched up.
After awhile, I was wheeled back into the labor/recovery room and was left alone until Kelly was through. Then when she was about an hour old, they finally wheeled in Kora's isolette, and I was able to hold her. I remember just staring at this baby I had so longed for. She was so cute - no misshapen head like many newborns have. But she was still a little bit of a stranger, so I started to get to know her. I started rubbing her cheeks, her nose, I took her hat off to see her hair. Then the nurse interrupts me and asks a little impatiently, "Aren't you going to nurse her?" Well, of course I was, I was getting to it, but this was the first time I had even held her, and I was savoring it. I figured out later that the nurse couldn't leave until she helped me get her latched on, so I guess she wanted to get the ball rolling.
During the next two days, I had to share a room with another new mom, and that was not pleasant. I couldn't wait to get home. But I ended up coming back a few days later as I had so much trouble getting started nursing, especially once my milk came in. On Friday, I came back up to see the only nurse who was a lactation specialist -also a L&D nurse, so I had to wait until she wasn't delivering a baby. But she helped us get that straightened out, and we were finally able to go home and enjoy becoming a family.
Box score stats:
Kora was 8 lbs 12 oz., 19.5 inches long, dark brown hair (that soon fell out), blue eyes
Born December 30, 1996 at 6:46 pm
Labor total: 5 hours 46 minutes