I can not believe that Parker is turning a year old this Sunday. I know that most parents say that, but I think the parents of preemie’s say it with more… oomph. Granted, he was a big 32 weeker, but still.
April 24th started off as a typical weekend day. We decided to head up to my hometown (90 minutes out of Portland) and visit with family. I was feeling pretty worn down, and noticed some contractions on the way up. They weren’t strong, and they died off, so I didn’t ring the alarm. (When you’ve had 5 kids, and 4 were born prior to 35 weeks, you get used to preterm labor) I slept most of the way home that day, and was still so tired that I decided to turn in early to try to sleep off the blahs. Try, being the operative word. Sleep never did come that night. I laid down at 9pm-ish. I got back up a handful of times to get water, pee, stretch the leg cramps out, etc. Ryan asked once if he should stay up with me, but I told him to go back to bed. Insomnia is also pretty typical when you’re on pins & needles over every stomach twinge for 3 months. I figured this was another round of annoying Braxton-Hicks, or I was dehydrated, or just tired from the drive. I took the hottest shower i could stand until the hot water ran out. I watched TV. I read. I stayed up waiting, trying, desperate to fall asleep for 6 hours.
The contractions were coming and going, nothing to severe, none too long. Not at all like the 3-5 minutes you’re supposed to wait for. I had called the OB earlier that evening, who of course told me to come in if they got worse. I ignored him. I know the routine. Go in. Get checked. Get hooked up to fetal/contraction monitors. Drink 4 gallons of water. Wait an hour (or three). Get checked again. Get a shot of Terbutaline. Wait another 45 minutes (while the nurses, docs, and hospital staff slooowly get your discharge instructions ready). Go home.
So you’ll understand if I didn’t feel like doing that at 10pm. Anyway, I finally had enough of the barely-there contractions. I woke Ryan up (who slept very peacefully & soundly through all of this, BTW) and told him it was time to go in. This was at, oh, 4am. Awesome. So I’m exhausted, frustrated, pissy, and pregnant. And he has to stop and make coffee. Lemme tell ya how happy THAT made ME. After getting the kids ready (because we didn’t have anyone to stay with them, they had to come.) and calling the hospital, and getting my bag ready (but forgetting it), we left for the hospital.
As predicted, it was check-monitor. The contractions were getting stronger, and coming more regularly. Enter terbutaline shot #1. Waited 40 minutes, contractions didn’t even slow down for a second. Enter shot #2. Nada. And I had dialated from a 1 to a 3. The shots were doing nothing. There was nothing that was going to stop this labor. The nurse called the doctor, and the counseling staff.
It was time to have a baby. At barely 32 weeks. A full two months early. Not. Good.
Ryan came back in the room (he waited in the hallway with the kids while I was being checked, thank GOD). The nurse left… He says, “Well?” and I said, “Are you ready to have a baby boy?” to which he promptly started crying. And frantically calling friends we had in the area to see about them taking the girls.
6am. They wheel me up to a labor room. I hate those set ups. You know, where you go to triage, then labor/delivery, then recovery? The girls were all born at an AWESOME hospital where I never had to leave my room. Ever. The only thing that made me happy was the labor nurse I had. She rubbed my back. She rubbed my feet. She distracted me, talked to me, and stayed with me for the next 10 hours.
Parker’s labor was the hardest out of all 5 kids. Because I was already 4cm, (and Savannah was born in 91 minutes, start to delivery) they got the anesthesiologist in to give me an epidural. I thought, he’ll be here in a couple hours. WRONG.
At some point, the a member of the counseling staff came in to terrify counsel us. She told us of every possible thing that could happen with a baby born at this age. She told us of babies who were in the NICU until the due date. Babies that were only the size of a 12oz can of soda. That he would weigh around 3lbs. That he would be sick. Babies who had severe and serious developmental delays. Babies who caught diseases. She told us of babies who didn’t make it. That he wouldn’t be allowed to meet his siblings while in the hospital. He would have monitors, sensors, and electrodes covering his body. Of jaundice, eating issues, and breathing problems. RSV. Pneumonia.
They took out the standard basinette, and brought in a NICU bed and a resuscitation kit.
They scared the hell out of us.
I was terrified. I didn’t want to progress. I didn’t want my son to die. I also didn’t dilate at all for the next 4 hours. I didn’t progress for the 4 hours after that, either. I kept telling everyone that I HAD to sit up. I HAD to move. I could NOT keep laying flat, on my side. I HAD to get him out. Nobody listened. Apparently here is something about a woman in labor that makes her vocal communications to others hard to hear.
3pm. The nurse left to take a quick break, after checking me & finding that I was now 6cm dilated/70% effaced. She went to find the drug doc to redose my epidural that had begun to wear off. Funny thing… About 3 minutes after she went out the door, I tilted the foot of the bed waaaay down, and the head waaaay up, to make it so I was effectively standing in bed. I sat up a little.
And then I yelled at Ryan (who was sleeping again…) to page someone. He starts walking to the door, going to find someone. I screamed at him to use the pager, and he wasn’t quite comprehending waht was going on. “Who do you want me to get? The doc? The nurse? Who?!” he plead… And in all my labor filled furry, I yelled soemthing along the lines of “I don’t effin care who you get! Get someone IN HERE NOW!”. Sweet, huh? Yeah, I know.
See, I went from contractions in the 30’s on the TOCO to around 90. And he was moving on out. The nurse comes back in, and somehow I told her what was going on, and she checks me, pages the doc, and the room filled up with people.
Gah. People in coats and scrubs and masks EVERYWHERE. The doc broke my water. Turns out that the reason it took SO LONG to go from 4 to 10 was because I had a ridiculous amount of amniotic fluid, and Parker’s teensy little preemie head wasn’t heavy enough to push through it. Like, so much fluid that the doc thought it was astonishing. (At least that explains why I looked 12 months pregnant!)
Here comes the funnest part yet…
The epidural was worn off. More power to the mamas that forgo medication– I am NOT one of them. I am a baby, I do not tolerate pain, and if there is a cure, by golly, I’ll take it. The previous four deliveries were heavenly compared to this. Having wisdom teeth pulled, root canals, a tonsillectomy, kidney infections… All pale in comparison.
My back was out. I couldn’t sit up without wrenching pain. I couldn’t move without my hip burning. And pushing. Man, the pushing. Up until now I considered my self a “good” pusher. The girls were born within 3 pushes each. Olivia, the oldest– one push, and she was born.
I pushed and pushed and screamed and pushed and cursed for almost an hour. It killed. Seriously. Thought. I was going. To die. I wanted to kill someone. I wanted to pass out. I wanted it to be OVER. One last blood-curdling scream.
He was here.