March marked the last month of my pregnancy, which I spent feeling enormous. it didn't help that all of my co-workers told me I looked huge or imitated my pregnant waddle when they saw me walking down the hall. I didn't measure any bigger than normal, and in fact I kept the weight gain down to a reasonable 25 pounds for the whole pregnancy. But I carried it all right in front of me, like I was smuggling a fit ball under my shirt. That kind of physique doesn't lend itself to comments on how slender you might be.
That last month, I had lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions regularly. Sometimes I even had real contractions that would last for the better part of a night or a day. Everything ached, everything was uncomfortable, and once in a while if I was lucky, I got 4 hours sleep in a row. But if the 4 hours started when I passed out on the couch around 9:00, I would spend the early morning hours surfing around the net or looking for something good to watch on TV, and then I would show up for a full day at work totally exhausted.
Life as a very pregnant lady is not that much fun.
About 2 weeks before my due date, I found out I was 4 cm dilated. So that explained a lot of the pain and the contractions - I was making progress. I got excited, and I cleaned the house and got ready to have the baby any time. In fact, I packed my bag and carried it to work with me. Every single day I took that bag to work, and every night I put it by the bed. I was ready to go, just in case something happened at work.
About a week before my due date, I spent the better part of a Saturday morning timing contractions. They got to 6 minutes apart - nothing terribly strong, but definitely the real thing - so I woke Brian up, and called the Amazing Babysitter to come over and watch the girls while we headed to the hospital.
It was a bust. Still at 4 cm after 2 hours, they sent me home. They said I needed to be at 5 cm to stick around, and to come back when the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and a lot stronger - or if my water broke.
After a week of no progress, we set up a planned induction for Monday the 22nd, and I powered through a to-do list on my last day at work. That weekend I mapped out my big house-cleaning push. I split up the chores over Saturday and Sunday, so I wouldn't wear out too much.
Saturday night I woke up around midnight with a contraction. Eventually I worked out that they were about 15 minutes apart, and at that point I was wide awake, so I picked out a movie to watch. About 3:30 am, I went to the bathroom, and at that moment, my water broke. Wow. Talk about having been there, done that! I yelled for Brian a few times, and he finally heard me from the bedroom. Since our Amazing Babysitter was out of town that night, he called our backup - Brian's fishing buddy D., and D's girlfriend. To their credit, they arrived swiftly. In the meantime, my contractions got a lot stronger, and a lot closer together. By the time we pulled out of the driveway, they were really painful, and they were about 3 minutes apart. To top it off, every other contraction lasted about 2 minutes. So it felt like I really wasn't getting a good break, and that the baby was definitely on its way. I crossed my fingers that it wouldn't happen in the car.
On the way to the hospital, I decided to go ahead & get the on-call OB awake and on her merry way. Turns out, there was a very nice guy on call that morning, one that I'd never met. Great. I told the answering service what was going on and where we were. They asked a couple of questions, and told me the doctor would call back.
Brian dropped me off close to the door, and another contraction hit me as I was walking into the lobby. I parked my butt on a couch just outside of the admitting office and yelled for the staff to let them know I was there, while Brian was parking the car. It took them a while to realize I was yelling at them. Since the contractions weren't letting up, they got a wheelchair to pull me in. I spent a total of 20 seconds being patient while they tapped around on a keyboard, trying to pull up my information. Finally, I snapped. I was going to have a baby in that lobby if they didn't get their act together. So I very loudly spelled my last name. I figured out it was being rude when Brian tried to shush me. The on-call OB called us back at that point, and I got on the phone and told him where we were and what was happening. Then I told him this was my 3rd baby, and I think that snapped the gears into place for the staff. Suddenly, I had my wristband and I was being wheeled off to triage.
We got to the triage desk, and the nurse was on the phone asking someone about me. Turns out, the on-call OB had called ahead and told them I had to skip triage - do not pass go, do not collect $200, send her straight to a delivery room. And oh, get the epidural in her, now.
Thank god for that OB. I hadn't met him yet and I already wanted to hug him.
We got into a room, and although I was still having some contractions, I got on a hospital gown and got on the bed. I kept asking about the epidural. I did not want to miss out on that. I had gotten to about 7 cm dilated with Helen but it never hurt this much. Oh my lordy, the pain. The contractions were absolutely murdering my resolve to keep it together and focus. I was panting like a mad woman. The nurses had to tell me how to breathe - apparently I was huffing & puffing so much, they were worried about me hyperventilating and passing out.
They asked me a few questions, which I felt was entirely unnecessary at this stage. But I tried to cooperate. When they asked me about my water breaking, I told them yes, it had, and it was kind of green - that got their attention. Apparently that means there's a baby who has pooped in my womb, and that could be an issue if she breathed it in during delivery. So they got a special tech and some of the NICU nurses on standby.
While we were waiting, they put in my IV and told me they were giving me a lot of fluids in order to spread out the contractions a bit, so that they would have time to do the epidural. I didn't notice much of a change. Still very painful, and I was not handling it well at all. I kept thinking of all the women who chose to do this childbirth thing naturally, or the billions of women who managed to give birth without epidurals before, and questioning why in the world anyone would sign up for that much pain at once.
Eventually a woman showed up to give me the epidural. It was probably only 10 minutes or so of total waiting, but it felt like much longer. I had to stay still while she prepped my back, lying on my side for two contractions. That was difficult, but the delivery nurse held my hand and chattered through the whole thing. Focusing on her hand, and focusing on staying still, and knowing that sweet blessed relief was coming, I was able to hold it together for that magic shot.
We had a different on-call OB since I was so close to delivering. The one I spoke to on the phone was on his way, but hadn't arrived yet. The one in the room was there to catch the baby in case I had to push. Clearly he had been awoken from some deep sleep, because I remember his hair was sticking up on one side, and he was apologizing for that when he came in the room.
In the meantime, the anesthetist must have loaded up on my epidural because once it hit, I was more numb than I can ever remember being for Helen or Alice. They also gave me an oxygen mask - apparently all that heavy breathing that I wasn't doing right was a big worry for the baby, too. A few contractions later, I felt a lot of pressure and burning, and they said I could start pushing. On the first push, the on-call OB showed up, so he and the other doctor switched places. I was so numb - I knew how to push but couldn't feel anything. I kept telling them, I don't know if this is working. They assured me it was fine and that I was doing a good job.
Apparently it was fine, because the baby came out on the 3rd contraction. Seriously. Maybe 5 or 6 minutes of pushing? That's it. She was ready to go.
So Jane Anne Wyatt was born at 5:21 a.m. - less than 2 hours after my water broke. Most of which was spent waiting for the sitter, driving to the hospital, and praying I would get that epidural in time.
And I did, but just barely.
She came out so quiet, and I know they don't want babies to suck in air or cry until they get all of that fluid cleaned up and out of her nose and mouth, but I started to worry. Suddenly, she gave a big wail, and I knew everything was fine. The NICU nurses cleaned her up and handed her to Brian.
One more happy, healthy baby.