The night of the 6th I felt strange disturbances in my abdomen that I had never experienced before. As it was close to my due date I figured they might not be Braxton Hicks. In excitement I stayed up all night walking around and bouncing on the birthing ball hoping to make it happen. It didn’t happen. But in the early hours of the morning I had a sudden hankering for raw salmon. I started looking for a 24 hour sushi store online. It took me 1 hour to find it.
The cool thing was it was right up the next block. There certainly are advantages to be living in the ‘happening’ area.
So I gently woke Mike by whispering “Sushi!” in his ear. It was 6am. I thought that was more reasonable than 5am.
Mike, stalwart warrior that he is, mumbled “Give me 10 minutes.”
As we walked back from the Sushi place, resplendent with raw fish happiness, the curious movement in my abdomen became markedly regular, like hiccups regular, but more as though the inside of my belly was trying to turn me over, so that I had to stop walking every time it came around.
So we grabbed the partum and postpartum bag I had prepped, and hopped (or waddled) into a taxi.
Once we got there, the nurse put us into ‘observation’ for half an hour, where I was strapped to a monitor that graphed baby heartbeat and contractions. They looked very regular to me, once every 5 minutes. The doctor poked his head in at one point to check on us. Later the nurse tells us that the doctor considered the contractions irregular. Apparently you are not supposed to count between the contractions, but from peak to peak. I was only 3 cm dilated.
She said we could stay if I wanted to be induced.
Feeling threatened and only slightly silly, we went home. Mike went back to bed, and I, after pottering about for a bit, fell asleep on the divan timing myself (they really were somewhat irregular).
When I woke several hours later in the afternoon, I was contraction-less and wondering if perhaps today was not our day. Contractions started again soon though and, timing myself, I felt it to be more regular. Not enjoying the sensation, we went to the hospital again.
The nurse put me on the monitor for half an hour again, during the time which the contractions were flatlining on the top of the chart (b/c there was no more space there). She checked and said I was 5 cm dilated.
I was finding it slightly more difficult to joke at this stage (as we did in the morning) and just wanted to focus on the contractions as they came about. During which, I sometimes didn’t hear what Mike was saying. The nurse came in and said I was ready. I asked for the Labor and Delivery Room, which Angie, our douhla, said was nicer (they don’t have to move you to the delivery room).
Before they showed me to my room though, they had to have me fill out several forms, sign consent letters…etc. The nurse seemed very well trained and tried to explain some of what I need to fill out to me, but at that point I wasn’t really in a mood to hear. I was hardly able to read anything she told me to sign as well. Mike was told to go downstairs and pay. I was grateful that we happened to have gone to a hospital that had experience dealing with foreigners. They streamlined the process pretty well so that he didn’t need to ask too many questions. Though that’s still a far cry from total comprehension (thus I, the incapacitated one, had to sign all the consent forms, without the capacity to read them anyway).
Mike mentioned, later, how they should just allow parents to bring all the consent forms home to read and sign from one of the checkups.
At one point as I was leaning laboriously on the very inadequate desk they had for me to sign on, I felt this very strong and sudden urge to pee. (Note: This was not an unusual occurrence during the last month of my pregnancy) Despite the indignity of having changed into a frock that opened in the back, I was not going to add to it by peeing in the hospital hallway (though, in retrospect, I expect the nurses have seen that and more. It would certainly show them how unwise it was to have the mother fill out forms at that stage.) So I asked for the bathroom. Mike seemed to have gotten back at that point. I’m not very sure. For when I walked into the toilet (thankfully, only a few feet from where I was standing, and it looked clean), rapidly conducted my business and stood up, I felt a gushy sensation. The idea of what had happened actually made me giddy. For It was going as was said, and I didn’t need to have a hooked instrument poked into me to break the water, which I really didn’t want. Immediately I said, “I think my water broke.” And Mike, perfectly, called for the nurse to do something about it.
It is so awesome having him there.
He helped me to the L&D room. I think. Nothing else seemed to matter at that point. Because it HURT. I couldn’t imagine it having hurt more than before. But it did, and then it did some more. I thought I could stand it. Then I thought about how long delivery is said to usually take. I imagined that it would get better. Then I remembered how I’ve never heard of intense contractions like this (after the water broke) slowing down again unless something strange was happening. I’m not quite sure what I was thinking. The nurse had asked earlier during the signing whether I wanted an epidural. I told her, with confidence, no. But then I asked to be sure that I could change my mind later on.
Mike was holding my hand. I looked towards him during and interval and said I might want an epidural. I think I had screamed a few times during contractions. He said something to the extent that “this too shall pass.” and “you can endure.” Which I found incredibly annoying. I considered cursing him for bringing this upon me, but saw how little sense that sort of accusation had. Alas, even in such pain I cannot act against my reason.
The nurse was asking me questions. I think one of them was: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how intense do you rate the pain you’re going through?”
I found the question incredibly stupid. What am I supposed to compare that to? To get rid of her, and thinking that people who have been professionally tortured must go through the worse pain and surely I should not rate natural childbirth to such, I said 7.
She went away, satisfied. I think she went away and came back. There were a few nurses walking around I think, not being very useful. I don’t know. They weren’t giving me an epidural or anything and they were chitchatting and they seemed to be tittering or tsk-tsking about my screaming so I thought they were not being very useful. Mike asked me a question or two too, I think, though his were less annoying than the nurse’s. I think he was trying to ask questions for the nurse though, because I couldn’t hear her. I’ll need Mike to clarify what happened during this time because I don’t really remember.
I asked for an epidural at this point. I made myself ask with dignity and politeness so I wouldn’t sound like I was begging. The nurse said “But it’ll cost you an extra XXX.” I said I wanted one. She said she’d call the anaesthesiologist. I didn’t want one before because I didn’t want to sit up and hold still while the needle was inserted in my spine. I didn’t know how I was going to do that now. Then the nurse came back, checked me, and said it was too late for it. They rolled an unpleasant looking chair over and made me scoot my butt onto it, then my feet into undignified stirrups. I didn’t like moving and it was hard to. I was squeezing Mike’s hand and screaming. I had determined before that I wouldn’t scream but hey we surprise ourselves. I’m sure his hand didn’t hurt because they’re so huge and my hand strength is pathetic.
The doctor came in. He immediately sat down in front of me and told me to focus my energy on pushing, not screaming. He was holding my vagina open with his hands and he was very brisk about it. I think it was at this point that he gave me an episiotomy. We had talked before that we didn’t want one. He just did, Mike saw and he wasn’t given an opportunity to stop it. The pushing was nice. Gave me something to do. Well no it wasn’t nice but knowing that it was truly in progress was a welcome change.
And then the most curious sensation. The entire thing had been very painful to that point so I didn’t really feel any extra pain from the cut, or the ‘ring of fire’. But I could definitely feel sensation of physical movement, thus the rummaging by the doctor, and something being pushed out.
Once the head was out the rest of him came very quickly. He made some cries. They cut the cord and took him away to wipe him up a bit and do a quick check. Mike was looking a bit startled. Mike comforted me then went to take a few pictures. I was incredibly relieved. They came back and put the infant on my chest, guiding him to my nipple so he could immediately start to suckle.
He was much better looking than I’d expected. It’s nice to have low expectations. I was told they’d be all wrinkly and grimy. In fact, he was just all red with a slight silver tinge. I made sure to ask Mike to take a picture of the placenta. I would have wanted to explore it with my fingers if I wasn’t otherwise preoccupied. I hope the hospital people did something useful with it, like take samples for lab experiments, make makeup from it. The ultimate utilization being to eat it. I hope they used a good recipe.
And yes he grew on me.