A close friend has recently informed me that she believes this baby will arrive early - her guess is on or before October 20th. I really don't feel ready... Thinking about getting ready for another labour and delivery, however, has me remembering all of the details surrounding Clara's birth and wondering how much will be the same and how much will be different.
I remember asking people what it would be like if my water broke, and one thing I heard repeatedly was that 'You'll DEFINITELY know when your water has broken'. I was told to expect a deluge, basically. This wasn't the case for me.
It was a Friday afternoon, December 10, 2010. My due date had been on December 6th, and so I was already 4 days late. I had an induction scheduled for the following Monday, December 13th, if the baby didn't arrive over the weekend. The date was based on when my doctor was available, I believe, and hadn't been my decision - in case anyone is thinking I was a little bit too induction-happy. Anyway, Friday afternoon...
I'll go ahead and be graphic, I have no secrets...
Brian was at work, and I had already been at home for a few months - pregnancy having made me much too exhausted to keep working full-time. I started having to run to the washroom to pee with a sudden amount of liquid that I seemed to be able to control the flow of at least until I was on the toilet, but it still didn't seem quite normal for pee. It also only came in small amounts. I called the hospital where I would be heading if I had to go in and just asked if they could explain to me how to tell if my water was 'leaking', or if the baby was just jumping violently on my bladder... the woman on the phone said the only way to tell - really - was for the hospital to run some tests on the liquid to see what it was. She said I would have to go in to the hospital. Sigh.
Brian got home within that half hour, and I had experienced a couple more 'running to the bathroom' incidents. I told him what the nurse had said, and we casually packed up our stuff and started heading to the hospital. I stacked a couple of beach towels on my seat in case the 'deluge' actually happened, and we started driving - through rush-hour traffic - to the Emergency room. We had arranged for someone to come and look at our old 2-door car, which we were selling, and I called them to explain that we wouldn't be home because I 'might' be having a baby :), and so we had to arrange for my father in law to go and show the car for us. I casually made all of these arrangements from the car while we were waiting in traffic. I also probably called my parents to inform them of what we were doing... just in case.
Honestly, though, I expected it to be a false alarm. We got to Emergency, I checked in and they gave me a wheelchair and everything - and the whole time I expected that we would find that the baby was simply jumping on my bladder (it had happened to another friend of mine a few weeks earlier), and they would send me home after about 6 hours of waiting.
They strapped me up to monitor the baby... here's an amazing and flattering picture of me waiting for the results...
At some point after this, I got up to go to the washroom, and as I was standing in front of the sink washing my hands, the 'deluge' (or so I thought) came. Suddenly liquid was splashing down my leg. I realized at this point that we probably wouldn't be leaving the hospital without a baby in our arms. It actually struck me as strange and scary that we would never walk into our house again as just 'a couple', but would be a family of 3... I think I had a little cry.
The nurse came back as I was standing by the door of the bathroom, and as she walked in I said 'I think I know the results', and she smiled and nodded. She informed us that because I couldn't determine when the 'leaking' had begun exactly (it could actually have been more than a day earlier) they would have to induce. It was about 6 or 7pm by this time, and they said they were just waiting for a labour and delivery room to open up at this time.
At this point we contacted our family members to inform them that we wouldn't be coming home that evening...
By 9pm, we were in a labour and delivery room. In the meantime, Brian had brought us a bit of a snack from the cafeteria since we hadn't eaten supper, and had gone back to the car to get all of our bags, etc. They started a pitocin drip at exactly 9pm, and we spent the next three hours waiting. They kept checking me, and I think I remained at about 5-6cm dilated during this time, and no contractions started. Until this point, I still had no idea what a contraction would feel like.
By midnight, when still nothing had happened, the... doctor? nurse? resident? some woman off the street? she was nice, anyway... came in and 'finished breaking my water' (whatever that means). THEN the deluge happened. A waterfall erupted from my body like I had no idea was possible. This was when the pain started. It happened in waves, and I was trying to reconcile what I had heard about contractions with what I was feeling, but it just felt so different than I had ever heard it explained. The only thing I really remember is that the pain was indistinct - it wasn't located in a specific place, but seemed to wash over my entire body.
At about 1:30, I had an epidural. I don't remember this hurting at all, but in comparison to the labour pain it really didn't bother me. I was told it would probably take between 5 and 20 minutes to take effect. I watched the clock closely for 20 minutes to pass and was extremely disappointed when after 20 minutes I had noticed no change in the level of pain.
The hospital had a jacuzzi bath for labour, and I spent some time in one of these while I was waiting for the baby to lower - she was still too high in my body because I was unable to relax. I didn't find it overly relaxing...
After about four hours, I was given another epidural since I was still clearly not relaxing and the baby wasn't lowering at all.
The doctor was in and out of the room, checking in with the resident and nurses. I was told later that there were about 30 babies born in that hospital that night - and our hospital really doesn't have that many resources. I finally dilated to 10cm (I think...), and the doctor came in at around 6:15 and said we would start pushing at 6:30. At exactly 6:30am, the doctor rushed back into the room (didn't say a single word to me, my husband noted afterward), and the nurses guided me to start pushing.
First, I pooped on the table. It happens, just gotta say. The nurses were wonderful and didn't say a word...
The doctor pulled out a scissors and gave me an episiotome. She then reached for the vacuum and shoved it in to make contact with the baby's head. The vacuum going in hurt like crazy...
I remember at some point during labour feeling as though I would never, never again have a baby. Any future children would have to be adopted, because I was not going to willingly subject myself to this sort of pain ever again.
Then, at 6:35am (seriously, all of this only happened in 5 minutes) out came a baby. The doctors put her on my belly, and I remember trying to see past the umbilical cord to see what 'it' was. I finally asked, and the nurse told Brian to tell me. "It's a girl" he pretty much squeaked. Brian cut the umbilical cord, and the nurses took her to weigh her, etc. The doctor had already disappeared at this point.
This was the first picture taken of my baby girl. I remember watching this happen and thinking 'That wasn't really so bad... I could do that again...'. I could literally feel the brainwashing happen...
I don't remember when she started crying, but I do remember being surprised that she didn't cry longer.
It was important to me that Brian hold her before I did. I had spent months feeling her move inside me, and I wanted to give them a few minutes together before I took her back. I don't know how long he held her, but she was the first infant he had ever held, and just as he predicted - it wasn't at all scary for him because it was his own child.
Shortly after the nurses handed her to Brian, she stopped crying and seemed absolutely fascinated by the world around her. Her eyes were huge, and she seemed to just want to take everything in. I had heard it said that birth is a traumatic experience for babies - if it is, I think they forget it in minutes, because only a few minutes later Clara was certainly not showing any signs of trauma - just fascination.
We had initially decided on 'Gwyneth Elena' as a girls' name, but after she was born I confessed to Brian that I was having second thoughts about it... he said he was feeling the same way. We had created a list of five names to show people (so that we could get opinions without giving away our final choice), and I asked Brian what his 'second' choice would be - and he said 'Clara Faith', which was exactly the name I was thinking of also.
I called my parents - and now I'm glad that my Dad answered, since he won't be able to answer the next phone call - to tell them they had a granddaughter. Brian called his parents simultaneously to inform them. Everyone was shocked we had had a girl, since Brian's family is all male going back three generations, and my family is predominantly male also.
I hope that this time I will be able to go into labour naturally - maybe even feel what a true contraction feels like. I also hope that no induction will be necessary, and no episiotome or vacuum. Hopefully, but in the end - a healthy baby is what really matters.
I can't believe how close it is!