On August 30th 2004, I went in for the stress test, the one where they hook your belly up to a machine to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and your contractions. All I remember was that I had to pee so badly, and I was terribly uncomfortable lying on my back. I also had an ultra-sound. Abby was so squashed in there it was hard to make out her different parts. The Doctor wanted to induce. He left the room for Scott and I to talk over our options. There weren’t many at the time induce or cesarean. I didn’t know there were others.
I was scared. Scott looked terrified. We agreed to the inducement. 6pm that evening we were to go to the labor and delivery ward at Howard County General. I was told to eat a hearty dinner. It would most likely be my last for a while. Chinese sounded so good, but once it was in front of me I had no appetite. My nerves were all over the place.
Scott checked me in at the hospital, as the nurse got me settled in bed and hooked me up once more to the fetal monitor. Abby’s heartbeat filled the room and was comforting to hear. Scott held my hand as the first step to the inducement took place.
Allyson and her mother, Claudia, stopped by to see how I was. I remember she came by to pick up the house keys. The cats needed to be fed. Claudia said I had a contraction, did I feel it? No, I didn’t. It must have been a really small one. I secretly wanted them to stay. Allyson always makes me feel better.
Later in the night the nurse came by with something to help me sleep. I think Scott slept on and off through the night on the pull out chair bed. The sleeping pill made that night spacey. Drifting in and out of sleep, not really awake not really asleep. Hearing the nurses laugh and talk at the nurses station, some one telling me to get some sleep. I was trying.
In the morning, the doctor did step two of the inducement, a Pitocin drip. Forever, I would be connected to an IV. I readied myself for the violence of Pitocin induced contractions. I watched TV and tried not to think of them. Soon they were all I could think about.
The contractions came so fast, so aggressively, I couldn’t think. I could only concentrate on how white my knuckles were while I grasped the bed rail and my Grandfather’s knuckles. My Mother told me one evening my Uncle Joe had wanted to watch a TV program. My Grandfather had said no and Uncle Joe put up an argument. For talking back, Uncle Joe was sent to his room where he whined, “I want to watch my TV program” continuously. My Mother said my Grandfather’s knuckles turned white as he gripped the couch to control his anger. I always think of those white knuckles. How one’s knuckles turn can turn white.
Around dinnertime, Scott left to get a meal. I don’t remember him leaving, only returning with food. I looked at my saline drip. A nurse checked my cervix, 4cm. I was riding the pitocin waves, yet my labor was as slow as a snail climbing up hill. The doctor broke my water. I felt relief as the warm fluid ran down my legs, then a brief moment of panic, where was the fluid going? No one seemed concerned, so I let it pass.
Abby’s head pushed hard against my cervix with the next contraction and my hips felt like exploding into pieces. I was tiring. It had already been 12 hours since the strong contractions began. I needed the epidural to rest, but first I needed to empty myself. Scott helped me to the bathroom. I cried.
The anesthesiologist asked Scott to leave for the epidural. The nurse held me as I sat at the edge of the bed riding through another unbearable pitocin induced contraction. The epidural let me sleep, so did Scott.
My cervix wasn’t dilating evenly. The nurse helped me change positions every once in a while to let gravity do its work. She told me to talk to Abby, to ask her to help. Abby needed to rotate just a bit to get my cervix where it needed to be.
The nurses had a shift change. It was 10pm. The doctor said around 1am I would be ready to push, and I was. I pushed and pushed. Pushing was the only thing that stopped the feeling like I was going to explode. I needed to push. Scott held my legs the way the nurse instructed. She left us alone in the room. I began to get terrified. Why did she leave? Where did she go? What if the baby pops out? Who is going to catch her? Scott watched the monitor. Breathe. Breathe. Push 1, 2, 3… Where’s the nurse Scott? She came back and checked the monitor, corrected my breathing, and left. Scott said he could see hair. I was scared. He was happy, smiling, watching me open with every push. I see hair! I see hair! That’s the top of her head! Yes. Don’t let go of my legs!
This time the doctor and the nurse both came back together. The doctor watched me push a few times and then told me the baby wasn’t moving down. All my pushing was doing nothing. It was 3am. I was done. He decided to do a c-section. Scott began to get our things together and left to put scrubs on. The nurse shaved me. I closed my eyes.
I remember we were shown the recovery room for mothers who have c-sections during the hospital tour. The room was so white and barren. A narrow bed in the middle surrounded by monitors no room for any chairs. I didn’t want to end up there. I thought about that room as two nurses wheeled me into the operating room.
Somehow I was on the operating table, a bed with wings. Shivers rattled my teeth together and my legs shook. A nurse said it was the anesthesia. I was worried that my shivers would cause my insides to spill out once I was open. I kept my fears to myself.
The nurses helped me roll to my side so the anesthesiologist could perform a spinal tap. He couldn’t find any spinal fluid. I needed another epidural. A spinal tap wasn’t going to work. Once on my back, a nurse laid a heavy warm blanket across my arms and chest. It felt so good. All that warmth spread over my chest, I felt so helpless I just closed my eyes. I didn’t care anymore what they did to me. I just wanted it over. I wanted my baby.
A radio was playing popular music. A nurse came back with a pin and was poking my belly. Did I feel anything? Yes. Five more minutes. Do you feel anything now? No. Ok. Scott finally was allowed in, and he sat next to my head holding my hand.
I felt a tug. Is the baby out? No. Slight chuckles from the nurses and doctors. I feel another tug. Is that her. No. This time I see the nurse stand up above me, and then I feel extreme pressure and pain. I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I see Scott move out of the way as the anesthesiologist injects something into the IV bag by my head. I know I screamed and I feel embarrassed, exposed. Here she is! She’s out! Baby girl! I don’t see her. Scott was taking pictures with his mother’s digital camera and showing me Abby on the screen. I was too tired and in too much pain to cry. I smiled. I closed my eyes. It was 3:52am. Madonna’s Material Girl was playing.
When I came to I was in the recovery room. Abby was in the little plastic box. I felt better. The nurse put Abby in my arms and asked me to nurse her. Abby was still wet, naked, red and swollen. Her eyes watery and bright, she looked at me. I kissed her and held her little body against my breast. The nurse tried to help us nurse, but Abby was too sleepy from the drugs I was given. She took her to the nursery while I slept.
At 8am in the maternal child ward, Abby was finally brought to me clean and swaddled. I never let go of my sweet nursling from that moment on.