I totally had a baby about a month ago.
I was wrong, it didn’t last forever.
It might have though – who knows? – had I not been induced at 38w 6d….
Lemme take you back…
All the way back to Thursday, May 12th, 2011.
Picture it. In sepia tone if you will. Or don’t, you don’t have to.
It was a normal morning like any other. I hoisted myself out of bed, slipped on some clothes, and blearily made my way to work. I’d just settled in, the morning bell had rung, and I was preparing to take the kids to the library to start on their projects before I left on maternity leave. My cellphone rang, loudly. “Whoops! Sorry, that must be the doctor’s office calling me back…I’ll just turn that off.” I apologized to the kids. We headed down to the library where they dug into their new research projects with gusto. For the purposes of blogging about teaching experiences – I was really excited about this particular project. I was putting some of my “Project Based Learning” training to use, and had just created a research project which would require students to provide solutions to some of the current problems with the healthcare system. I was excited, the kids were excited, they had tons of questions, and I was ready to see where they’d take the project. Unfortunately, as I’m about to explain, I wasn’t able to continue the project with them… I was helping a group of students formulate a research question when one of the school’s computer techs motioned to me with a very serious look on his face. He was on the phone, and he was indicating that the phone was for me – but that the person would be calling back.
“Seriously?” I asked.
He nodded while still talking into the phone.
“Oh, who is it? Your mom? Your wife?” I rolled my eyes, thinking he was playing some joke.
He put down the phone and it immediately rang again. I answered.
“Hello? Mrs. Whitley? This is Janet, from the doctor’s office…”
“The doctor’s office…Janet…”
“I’ve already called your husband. Dr. Goodnight and I have reviewed your tests and, we want you to come in today. You’re going to have your baby.”
“I’m what? No…I’m not..”
“No, I mean, we want to induce you today. It’s not an emergency, but we’d like you to come in, just to be on the safe side. Would you like to meet your baby today?”
This was an interesting question. I was stuck between “OF COURSE! I WANT HER OUT OF ME!” and wanting to do what was actually best for the baby – and I was worried that a non-emergency induction would harm her. Or me. Or both of us. Then again, I worried that being overly cautious could lead to hypertension that would harm her…or me…or both of us. Janet was still waiting for an answer. My kids had begun looking at me with concerned looks. Apparently the front office new what was going on because Bobbie, the librarian, Randy, and Harry, the “tech guy” were all looking at me expectantly and preparing to watch my class for me.
“Mrs. Whitley…” the voice said. “You should probably call your husband to let him know that I’ve gotten in touch with you.”
“Umm..okay, yeah…let’s have a baby, I guess.” I said. The kids who’d heard me looked shocked.
I hung up the phone and called The Boy. He sounded just as stunned as I must have. We decided to get some lunch before heading to the hospital. Our last day of freedom before welcoming our baby into the world. When I came back from talking with him I turned to the group of students I’d been working with. “So..it looks like I’m going to go have a baby now. I guess I’ll see you guys later?” The students cheered and congratulated me in advance – and everyone rushed to shoo me out the door, as if I was going to actually have the baby right then.
I left school.
Met The Boy.
We cleaned a bit and then got some lunch.
Then we headed to the hospital – calling parents and De’Wana.
My mother and Angelica arrived shortly after we’d gotten checked in.
Everyone else came and went for a while.
They stuck a catheter in me to widen the cervix.
Then they put me on Pitocin…all night…I wasn’t allowed to eat.
The next morning, we took a short Pitocin break for breakfast.
Then they put me on Pitocin again.
I’d been having some contractions pre-Pitocin…but they went away…
And then they came back…but they were manageable.
Even Jeremy’s family drove down three hours just to hang out and wait for the Pitocin I’d been hooked up to to start kicking in. The doctor came in and broke my water, and I sat around feeling gross and disgusting for a while – alternately waddling around with a thick pad between my legs and hopping up and down on a birthing ball. Still, the contractions were okay and I didn’t want a painkiller until it became bad. When it finally became bad, we all knew it. I had no breaks in between contractions, and was having a hard time breathing through them without moaning and actually, at one point, crying out audibly. At about 4:00 I was still not sure whether or not I wanted an epidural. “I’ll wait about half an hour,” I’d said to the nurse. At EXACTLY 4:08 (I know, because I looked at the clock) I raised my hand and said “I’ll take the pain killer for 100, please…” When the nurse moved a little too slow I, according to my mother, said “The epidural, I mean. I want the epidural. Thank you.”
Placing the line seemed to take forever, with me shaking and holding Jeremy’s hands the entire time. “Breathe! Breathe!” he kept telling me. “Stop saying that!” I snapped. “I AM trying…to breathe!…I can’t…catch my breath!…You guys…keep saying..breathe…but I CAN’T!” He patted my hands reassuringly and told me that I had to try to breathe anyway. Holding your head still during the middle of a womb-ripping contraction is nearly impossible. When they finally did get it in place, it only took on one side – which they seemed to not believe me about, as they kept trying to test my feet with ice to see whether or not I could feel it. I could. Okay…so we finally get the epidural in and the contractions became more tolerable around 6:00.
Around 9:00 Jeremy’s parents came in and said that they had to leave, but they’d be back in the morning.
At 10:00 it was time to push.
The nurse (who apparently is the daughter of the man who was my father’s best man during his wedding to my mother…weird!) came in and said that now that I was 10cm, I could try pushing whenever I felt like it. I most certainly felt like it. With very little fanfare, my mom, my husband, and my sister Angelica, armed with a cup of ice chips, set up to begin pushing the baby out. My stepmother popped out to make a few phone calls.
I remember thinking that this was it. There was no turning back. I pushed for all I was worth and my mother kept telling me to push “to the butt.” In fact, it became her whispered mantra, and as much as it made me want to chuckle, it was really helpful for me to focus on pushing downwards. Once her head was finally crowning, they called the doctor in. She suited up and then the pushing began in earnest. My stepmother came back in and lifted be my shoulders. My mother was on my left, my husband was on my right, and my sister was…somewhere in the back of the room avoiding the carnage.
“I see her head!” my mother said, as I looked at the clock. I had about an hour before the 14th – and I did not want to spend another day in the hospital. I bore down with all my might, pushing “to the butt”, and felt her body emerge – with 45 minutes to spare. The doctor picked her up and handed her to me, and I immediately began welcoming my baby to the world. Zuri, for her part, looked very suspicious of the whole thing, and very inquisitive…and then slightly disappointed as she wrinkled up her face to let out a cry. I could have lain there, with her tiny body pressed against mine all night, but I knew that eventually other people would want to hold her – and that she should probably have some of the vernix wiped off. (See baby at left…click on the image for a link to her official two week old baby photos).
The rest of the moment was a blur, as my fathers and siblings came in to welcome the newest member of the family. Then, once they’d all left, and Jeremy and I were alone, we were transported up to the next floor to begin the long and arduous task of getting to know our sleepy newborn. And figuring out how to breastfeed.
But THAT is an entirely different struggle.