**This is really long… You don’t have to read it all…. But it’s about time I got it written all in one place.**
Three years ago today I was a week overdue and, DH and I took a trip to Wal-mart to pick out an exercise ball. This was at the recommendation of a Labor and Delivery nurse who insisted that using one was a good way to help posterior babies turn and to urge babies along in general. On the way into Wal-mart I said to Husband, “If anything is going to get this baby to come, it’ll be this: Going to spend money on something to use until she gets here. She’ll show up tonight just to be obstinate.” I guess I had a hunch about Little Miss, what can I say?
We came home and made waffles for supper, and watched West Wing, which happened to be airing on one of the local channels on Sunday evenings. Serendipitously the episode that aired was the one where Toby’s twins were born and he tells President Bartlett that, “They come with hats.” I sat on the ‘magic ball’ for a few minutes. Afterwards, I hopped onto the computer to check email. All of a sudden I felt and heard a huge *GUSH* and looked down to see that I was soaked. It was seriously the classic, “Honey, my water just broke,” scenario.
I showered, called our doula, and we headed to the hospital. We wandered around the halls for an hour or so trying to get things started. Then the contractions got serious. We turned on West Wing (we brought all 3 seasons) and settled in to the business at hand. At around midnight, we called the doula and told her that I was starting to need some assistance in getting through the contractions. She hurried to base only to be stopped at the gate. Despite the fact that we’d taken care to get her on the list explaining that she was sponsored by us and should be permitted onto base, Andy was called to escort her. That meant he had to leave me, the laboring wife. Truly military intelligence at its finest.
I spent a lot of time in the shower in the room moaning. The nurses didn’t particularly like that. They kept telling me it would wear me out. I wanted to tell them that the noise gave me a place to put the pain and they should leave me alone, but…. I didn’t.
All night the contractions came at less than 3 minutes apart. When the doctor came in the next morning to check me, I expected to hear that I’d made quite a bit of progress. When the doctor stood up and told me that saying I was two centimeters dilated was ‘being generous’ I decided it wasn’t a good sign.
When the nurses changed shifts the same nurse who suggested the exercise ball became my ‘labor Nazi.’ My plan regarding medication was to labor for as long as I could without, but to be open about the possibility of getting an epidural. Despite the fact that I wasn’t ready to ask for the meds yet, she was very concerned about my being ‘informed’ about the option. Since I hadn’t attended HER classes to prepare myself for labor, she felt I didn’t know what Epidurals were all about. I figured I had a handle on the situation…. Big freaking needle in my back. Makes me feel better. Means I can’t move. Nazi nurse didn’t think that was an adequate understanding and to ‘keep all of my options open’ she insisted that I watch a video about Epidurals. While I was laboring. With contractions three minutes apart. And THEY TURNED OFF MY WEST WING FOR THIS!!!!!!
The night drug on and Husband took a nap. I tried not to be too jealous of his peacefulness. This, I decided, was why we had a doula.
I was checked again and still wasn’t progressing. My doctor had a very concerned look on his face when he delivered the news. I didn’t like that. I told him to leave the room and get a new face before talking to me. He was not amused.
It was suggested that I get an IV of Fentanyl to ‘take the edge off’ so that I could relax since I’d been up all night laboring. It was explained that it would last only about 30 minutes. So, I figured, “What the heck!” I guess maybe it relaxed me…. More than anything though, I remember not being able to anticipate the contractions as a result which made them hurt more and made me more panicky about them.
I was starting to get a little discouraged and was looking to my doula and L&D nurses for direction. ALL of them were fabulous (even Nazi nurse). They suggested I get on the exercise ball again. I didn’t want to. They got me to try. And IT HURT this time. A LOT. But I rocked and did what they told me.
I had prepared myself for the long haul and up to that point it had been nothing but (very painful) contractions 3 minutes apart for all night and all morning with no progression. I was pretty excited to find out that I was to 5 centimeters after sitting on the ball. I went back to the bed to relax a little bit.
And then all of a sudden, I *KNEW* I had to push. The doula said not to–I was only at five. The nurses said not to. I was only at five. I told them I *NEEDED* to push. They checked me. Sure enough, it was time (and by the way…. I didn’t ever get the epidural. There wasn’t time. Sure wish Nazi nurse would have just let me keep watching my West Wing).
So the doctor came and everyone got into place and I pushed and pushed. I remember the baptism of fire feeling when her head was born. I remember the feeling of her wriggling out into the doctor’s hands. And then I met my baby girl…. They took her away to do their medical stuff, while I was stitched up. It seemed like it took forever for them to bring her back to me. When they did, I unwrapped her little feet, I found her arms and hands, and I drank in the sight of my little 8 lb. 1 oz. baby girl.
The first call I made was to my Mom. She was sitting in an infusion room 2000 miles away in Illinois getting chemo. I don’t remember any of what either of us said, but I remember that she was really, really happy–especially when she heard that Little Miss was named after her. I think I told her that I wished she was there with us…. And I know she wished that too. She’d planned to be there. Before she was diagnosed we’d even discussed hotels for her and Dad to stay in. She was supposed to be there, and she couldn’t be. But we took joy in what we had, even if it wasn’t the way we imagined it. Eight weeks later Mom finally got to hold the little girl that we pinned the world upon. I’d never seen her smile like she did that day.
I remember that I felt euphoric. That it felt so right to have this beautiful little being in my arms. I felt empowered. I was amazed at what I had done–what my body, and my will were capable of.
I became a Mama that day…. And Little Miss began her journey in this world. From the very beginning she was a beacon of hope and light and joy and she still is. She is inspiring and challenging. Stubborn and spirited. Loving and nurturing. She is my beautiful little girl. And I am so grateful for her.