The Day We Became Parents: Chapter 2

 

Me on the bouncy ball after being admitted to the hospital on 8/14/16.

Me on the bouncy ball after being admitted to the hospital on 8/14/16.

(This is Chapter 2/2. You can find the beginning of our birth story here.)

The nurses disconnected me from the fetal monitor and moved us into our room. It would be the room where we’d be delivering Triscuit (our name for baby before arrival). It felt surreal. I couldn’t grasp the notion we walked into the hospital as a married pair and we would be walking out in however many hours/days as parents with a baby human in tow. Science… Sheesh! It boggled my mind (and it still does when I look at LG and think he grew those little toes, long eyelashes and blue eyes inside of me).

The room we settled into was enormous and fit for a mom about to have quadruplets. There was a bathroom, a huge window overlooking Irmo, S.C., and a lot of space for me to move around. I hoped to stay active as long as I could. By that point, it was close to 2 o’clock.

We had a couple nurses who were taking care of us. They explained what would happen over the next few hours and encouraged me to try different positions as the contractions/hours progressed. I really liked the bouncy ball. I sat on it a bunch, bouncing up and down in between contractions. I was hooked up to the IV drip for fluids so if I had to move anywhere the machine on wheels came with me. It wasn’t a problem moving from the bed to the bouncy ball, but it was a bit of a challenge when I had to go to the toilet.

The contractions had picked up in intensity only a little bit. I’d say for the first few hours, on a scale of 1-10, they were a 4. Moving around was still comfortable and helped to break up the day. I forget what time it was, but a few hours in, I felt what I believed was my water breaking. It wasn’t what you see in the movies where one minute the pregnant star is standing up and the next she’s looking horrified and perplexed at a puddle between her feet. I felt a small, sudden trickle down there and realized, aha! That’s what that feels like. I alerted the nurses and they informed me this was a good sign that labor was progressing as it should.

About a half hour later, my doctor came to check on me. She’d heard my water broke and she wanted to make sure it had broken entirely. Apparently you can partially break? I had no clue. She gave me a brief warning before sticking a Q-tip up my vagina.

“There we go. Now you’re really broken. Is there a reason why you’re putting off the epidural? You want one, right?” She asked.

“Yes, DEFINITELY. I just didn’t want to be paralyzed for eight hours,” I said like a total ninny/birthing rookie.

“Girl, I got mine at like one centimeter. Just sayin’. It’s going to take about an hour from ordering it to it kicking in so you may wanna keep that in mind.”

I appreciated her sarcasm and passive-aggressive suggestion. What she really meant was, “Fool, you best get the epidural now. You shoulda gotten it 30 minutes ago!”

Cue the orchestra of violins.

The contractions, again on a scale from 1-10, quickly went from a level 4 to a level 1238947. Now when they came I keeled over, gripping the bed linens, screaming and writhing in pain, and praying for the down time to come quickly. I would stare at MainMan in shock. Daggers were coming out of my eyes and fire was coming out of my nose and ears.

I remember shouting at him, “I CAN’T DO THIS! I CANNOT @{#$)/?&{\$% DO THIS!”

Luckily, MainMan counters my crazy with calm and cheer, so he just assured me it was OK and I was in fact going to be able to do this. In the earlier stages of labor he was giving me gentle massages to try and keep me relaxed. The nurse who led our birthing class suggested lacrosse or tennis balls in socks made good massage tools so we had a few on hand in one of my bags. But suddenly, we’d entered the get-your-hands-off-me-don’t-even-think-of-touching-me phase.

I was in shock. Why had nobody warned me this part hurt so bad? I thought the painful part was surely the pushing part, not the contractions!? And how did four women around the world do this every second (yes, I looked up that wacky stat)?

The nurses made me feel like a rockstar, even though I knew I was being a huge wimp. I continued my pitiful chorus of, “OH. MY. GOD. I CAN’T KEEP DOING THIS. I CAN’T. I CAN’T.”

The contractions hurt like hell. Nothing I did eased the pain, either. I practiced the ridiculous breathing exercises we learned in the birthing class. Screw Lamaze (even though I learned on our pregnancy journey that this breathing/birthing method is outdated and no longer practiced). All the books I had read about breathing quelling the pain were utter and absolute bullshit. I get it. Mind over matter. Pain is temporary. No pain no gain. I tossed all these mantras around in my head. I am a former Division I athlete and no stranger to visualization techniques. But this was just unbearable. No matter what fun things I could think of (Disneyland? our honeymoon in Tahiti?) and no matter how much I tried to focus on the baby we were soon to walk away with, and after all the heartache we’d been through to get here, I couldn’t mentally overcome the pain.

About five minutes later I pinged the nurses.

“Get me the epidural, please!”

When the doctor arrived who would be administering the epidural I nearly laughed in her face. She looked like a teenager. And she was going to be injecting a 12-inch needle into my spine? Oh, brother.

After a year or so of fertility treatments and injections with all types of needles, the needle wasn’t the hard part. It was calming myself down enough in between or during contractions to have the needle safely inserted that was difficult. It didn’t help that the doctor looked like a doe-eyed kid who was still using a fake ID. Even if she was a doctor she must have just graduated from med school two months prior.

Once she’d given me the epidural I was instructed to lay on my back and sit tight. It would take about 15 minutes for it to kick in. She started rubbing alcohol swabs on my thighs, “You’ll feel cold here. If it’s working properly you won’t feel the cold down by your ankles.”

She rubbed the swab down by my ankles. Guess what, honey. I feel cold by my ankles.

“I don’t think it’s working.”

“OK, let’s give it a few more minutes.”

Same rigamarole.

“I don’t think it’s working,” I said again.

“I don’t think it’s working,” my nurse chimed in. “How long until we try it again?”

“Let’s give it a few more minutes…”

I am not one to hide my emotions very well. I’m sure she saw the disgust on my face. I wanted to say go hang up your scrubs and bring in a REAL DOCTOR, but I stayed civil.

Finally, after what felt like a lifetime, and a few more cold swabs of the alcohol on my lower extremities, I sat up for round two of needle in the spine. Oh. Joy.

I teased, “Who does this happen to?! I mean, are you kidding me?!”

She informed me, true or not, that about 25 percent of the time they have to re-administer the epidural. I’m so glad I was that one in four lucky women. Classic.

This time the damn thing worked. I laid back and slowly lost control of the lower half of my body.

By now, it was probably 6 p.m.

At some point there was a changing of the nurses. They’d come in to check on my dilation periodically and it wasn’t until 9 or 10 o’clock that I was finally all the way there. Ten centimeters dilated.

Cha-ching!!! LET’S GO! Or so I thought.

I was informed by one of the nurses they were going to sit me up in the bed so the head of baby was really set in the lower pelvic region and ready to come out as quickly as possible once we started pushing.

Throughout this time it wasn’t the contractions that were bothering me anymore — thank you, epidural — but it was my back. I had some minor aches that made any position uncomfortable. They continuously adjusted the angle which I was lying in bed to make sure the drugs were hitting the right spots for when I did push baby out.

I was so ready to be done with this. Come on, Triscuit!!!

I couldn’t believe we made it to midnight. Nearly 12 hours of being in the hospital and still no baby. We had to be close. For some reason I was most terrified of the pushing part, as if it could get any worse than the contractions. One of the nurses tried giving me a pep talk, but her words were more frustrating than helpful (by the end of the night she became one of my favorites so it must have just been me in the thick of it not wanting to hear someone other than my husband telling me to buck up).

I started pushing. It was about 12:15 a.m. The epidural was working because it didn’t feel like anything was happening down there. I was sitting up and breathing and pushing on the nurses’ cues and they kept telling me good job and they could see the baby’s head and I thought, really?! Already!?

At one point we had to pause because it was going so well they needed the OB to wake up and come deliver the baby. The same doctor who had questioned my not taking the epidural right away walked in and she was noticeably irritated the nurses had called her already. She must have thought it was too early. Then after a couple pushes she realized we were on a roll and this baby was coming.

The nurse who tried to get me amped up before this all started offered me a towel to pull as she pulled it in the opposite direction. This was extremely helpful. The muscles I used to contract and pull that towel were the very muscles that helped to push Triscuit out. One OB who we’d seen leading up to Triscuit’s birth had told me you have to push like you’re taking a poo. She said nobody knows this, but that’s how you have to push. They had me breathing in for a 3-count and initially pushing out for 10. After a few rounds, they realized I was winded by 10 so they shortened the pushing to an 8-count.

At one point the OB said, “You’re almost there. Give it one big huge push. Let’s do this.”

“Can you really see the head?” I asked, in disbelief this was really happening.

“YES!” everyone yelled.

“Husband, do you want to look?” one of the nurses asked MainMan. He was at the end by my feet, but kind of off to the side and not IN IT, if you know what I mean.

He actually did want to look and he remembers thinking, “And there’s a skull coming out.” There was a huge mirror on the ceiling and I had the option of looking myself, but I had absolutely no interest in seeing anything that was happening down there.

MainMan kept his cheering up, “Come on, honey. Almost there!” The best part was MainMan had a nurse assigned to him in case he passed out at the finish line (or before). They wanted him to have a chair behind him so he could fall into it, but he insisted he’d be OK. Back in the day he was an EMT so we knew he’d be fine with the icky parts.

I breathed in for three like the nurse told me and pushed for 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8—–9. I could hear the joy and excitement in everybody’s voice.

I saw a round, chubby red face and this glob of wet, slippery skin and limbs start to flow out of me like soft serve at Pinkberry. I remember thinking, “My god is it all out yet!?” Triscuit was long!

MainMan was in charge of announcing the sex and one of the nurses had to nudge him. “Husband, your cue!”

“It’s a boy!” He yelled with laughter and a smile I’ll never forget. It was 12:41 a.m. The nurses asked me how long I thought I’d been pushing for. I said an hour plus.

“More like 30 minutes!” One said. “You rocked it, mama!”

They put our son in my arms right away. This warm, soft, cuddly little boo was ours. Forever. Finally! A wave of joy and relief came over me. And pride. Looking back at the photos of me in the hospital bed with him, I see a mix of glowing happiness and disbelief. Surprisingly, there were no tears. I just have this grin that’s saying, “Are you sure he’s really ours? We did this!? I did this?!”

He laid on my chest for a few minutes before his designated nurse took him aside to measure and clean him up a few feet away from us (he weighed 9 lb. 15 ou.). MainMan was next to me and equally in awe of what had just occurred. I did my part, and he certainly did his. Not only did he do a great job announcing and cutting the cord, but he stood by me when I was at my worst. He kept rubbing my head and holding my hand. We were so excited.

I’d given MainMan my phone so in between telling me what an amazing job I did he was taking photos. We have a great collection of baby’s first moments. All you see is a red puffy little face with his eyes squinted shut. And his arms out as if to say, “What have you done with me? Put me back in the warm darkness!”

There was a brief period of time in between Triscuit’s arrival and sharing the news with our parents because we were undecided about his name. We didn’t want to send a nameless update. We had narrowed the names down to a few we liked. One I thought was my favorite going into labor was not my favorite once he’d arrived. Weird how that works. We kept saying the names over and over in our head and out loud to each other. After a brief back and forth the decision was clear. Harrison Nista Fike (LO, or little one, is the commonly used acronym for babies on social media, but I’ll be referring to our son as LG, or little guy, from here on out).

One of the nurses took our first family photo as MainMan held LG for the first time, all cleaned and swaddled, before he had to hand him to me to begin breastfeeding. It was the photo we then shared with our family and closest friends (before blasting it out on Facebook a week later). The nurse barely knew the significance of what this photo meant to us. It will forever be stamped in my memory as one of the happiest moments of my life.

I can’t wait to bring you on the rest of our journey. But LG is up having an irresistibly cute conversation with himself in his crib and I’ve got to go…

 

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