I was nervous.
I'm usually not nervous when giving birth. Not really, anyway. I was crazy confident with our 7th, but this time I was not. Reasons why:
*I still didn't know why I wasn't supposed to do a home birth. Every test, every blood pressure check, every sonogram pointed to a very healthy baby and a very healthy me. There were zero complications. No reasons why I couldn't have given birth at home. Why did the Spirit tell me not to? What was going to happen during labor/delivery?
*This pregnancy was difficult; my body was exhausted. Giving birth is hard, hard, hard --how could I do this, again, when I was so tired?
*I remembered how I felt when I had pushed out number 7. As soon as she was born, I said to myself, "I am NEVER doing this, again!" And here I was, doing this, again.
*I hated being induced. (I've been induced 6 out of 8 pregnancies, now, and I still hate it.) I hated the monitors, I hated the pitocin, I hated feeling out of control. Why was I being induced, again? Why did I choose this, again?
They started me on the tiniest bit of pitocin and around 9:30AM (I think?) the doctor came, checked me (I was a 4) and broke my water. Contractions weren't very strong.
More pitocin, More contractions.
I was doing okay, until the pitocin pain kicked in. The difference between regular contractions and pitocin contractions is the sharpness of the pain. Regular ones don't have pain-pain --they're not a sharp pain. They're more like... achy, tight, focused pain. Does this make sense?
More pitocin, more contractions.
Around 2pm? 1:45pm? I was not doing well with the pain. The nurse checked me and I told Brandon that if I was an 7 or 8, I could probably do this. But if I was a 5 or 6, I was seriously considering the epidural.
This is huge, dear reader. I haven't had an epidural since my second baby, and that didn't even kick in until after the baby was born. I hate epidurals. I hated how helpless I felt being so numb from the waist, down. I've been anti-epidural (for me) since then, and I was proud of myself for never needing one. To even be considering an epidural was emotionally overwhelming for me. Maybe you like them, dear reader. Maybe you are thinking that I'm crazy and silly for even feeling this way, but this is me. I'm an unmedicated-prefers-homebirth kind of birthing mama. To even entertain the idea of an epidural went against all my philosophies and goals for myself.
Well the nurse checked me and guess who was barely a 6?
She left us alone so I could make a decision about the epidural. I cried and cried and told Brandon that I wanted it. He was so supportive. He would have gone along with anything I wanted and I was grateful for his confidence in me.
The epidural lady came in and it took two tries to get it in right. The whole time I'm leaning forward on a pillow, the nurse holding my hand, my hands locked on her arms, feeling pitocin contractions, trying to keep my back rounded, doing everything I can to keep still, and tears just streaming down my face from all the pain.
There was so much pain.
When the epidural was done and I laid back down on the bed, I felt immediate relief. The pain of contractions were gone. I could feel my legs and feet. In fact, I could still even feel my cervix expanding and it was surreal how much I felt --without pain! I decided, within the first ten seconds, that I had made the right decision.
The doctor came in about 2:45pm or so. I told him I was starting to feel some pressure, but nothing alarming. He asked if he could check and what in the world -- I was at a 10! Already! I'd had the epidural for only about 20-30 minutes at this point, so it felt wrong that I was suddenly ready to have the baby. But he said, "Okay, let's do this!" and they got everything ready. Then he told me to do a practice push (and I laughed because his psychology was pretty impressive. It wasn't a "practice" but for sure I can see how that would help other women to think they were "just practicing" when it truth, they were making progress!).
I only pushed about 3 times before he crowned; the shoulders were very difficult to push out. It was so hard, dear reader. For perspective, I pushed out my 7th in 20 seconds. The fact that I had to focus and push so much more with him is evidence that he was much bigger. Still, no stitches needed (go me!). He was born at 3:15PM.
He weighed 10 pounds and 12 ounces and was 22 inches long!! He was my biggest baby by more than a pound. No wonder he was hard to push out!
Brandon and our oldest daughter were there, helping and supporting my legs. I was grateful for both of them and their calmness in the face of everything.
I kept baby boy on me for an hour before they weighed him. He nursed; he was perfect! Delivering the placenta was the greatest feeling of relief, and honestly, within two hours, the epidural had worn off completely. I was able to walk to the bathroom when the time came. I was so impressed with the nature of the epidural --they've gotten better in the last 18 years! Who knew? My only complaint was the difficulty of putting it in.
The next day I made an important discovery. I suddenly knew why I wasn't supposed to do a homebirth.
Because he was so big.
I was induced one day before my due date. With homebirth, I would have gone over, since I usually do. Because I was so healthy, there would have been no real sign of his size, other than my big belly, but I also have a history of large placentas --we would have deducted that this was the reason for size. I would have continued to be pregnant for up to two weeks afterward. Then I may have had a 12 pound baby --maybe bigger. I may have had to be transported to a hospital. I don't know if I could push out such a large baby. Perhaps it would have caused complications.
I will never know. But I felt, very strongly, that this was the reason we were supposed to be in a hospital --so I could be induced when I was, so he could be born when he was, so the complications would not even exist.
(PAUSE: I'm so grateful my mom was here. She and my dad are serving a mission in Salt Lake City right now, and she left for almost a week to come and be with me and my family when baby boy was born. She was amazing and helped so much! I'm just sad her visit had to be so short.)
I wish I could say that everything after that was fine. It wasn't as easy as I had hoped. He had to be tested for blood sugar (he was fine). His bilirubin was sky-high --they kept him in the nursery under lights for 24 hours, only to bring him to me for nursing. We had to go back for two more testings the first week before they deemed his bilirubin levels low enough.
Nursing was horrid for a while. You know, dear reader, I had struggles with my first baby and nursing (took about a month to figure that one out) and then nothing but pleasant breastfeeding experiences with the next 5 kids! I had to get a lactation consultant with my 7th and it looked like I might need to with baby boy... I was horrified and determined to fix it before it got too bad. So, with a lot of determination, research, trial & error, pumping, supplemental feeding, and discovery of some really awesome cream, I was able to fix the latch, heal, and nurse my baby enough.
For almost 2 weeks, though, I thought I was going to have to give up nursing. The pain when he would try to latch was excruciating. And then I got thrush.
But like with most things, the pain, the time, and the struggle was expounded and felt so much harder and took so much longer than was probably true. Reality is difficult to gauge when you are in a frustrating loop of physical and emotional pain. I cried a lot, every single day. I didn't know I had so many tears inside of me! I'm sure the hormonal fluctuations had a lot to do with it, but I don't think it would have been so much if I hadn't been struggling so much. However, like with that epidural, once the pain subsided, the relief was stronger than it would have been had I not experienced the pain in the first place.
Thus it is with opposition. It teaches us what true joy, true relief, true gratitude feels like...
We've had other struggles, too. My healing was not as quick; my energy lagged a lot. The nursing issues compounded other physical problems. Not to mention the stress of getting Christmas all ready and wanting to sleep whenever I could.
BUT! We are on the other side of the most difficult parts, I hope. He sleeps fairly well (although wants to be held all the time) and nursing is finally pleasant. I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to keep on top of life when the kids go back to school this week, but for now, we're surviving just fine. The older kids and Brandon have been wonderful and it's so nice to have big kids who can hold baby so I can shower, and who can take care of the other kids, too. It's hard having a lot of kids, but it's nice knowing they are willing to take care of each other when mom needs them to.
And I love this baby boy. Love him. I'm so grateful God sent him to us, surprise and all!
Photos to get you up to date:
Best labor and delivery dress of all time!! You can find it here.
Oldest daughter drew this.
Isn't he the cutest baby of all time?!?!