Well, I thought it would be interesting for me to recount the labour and delivery from my perspective and compare it to Karma’s version. Although very similar (as we were both right there) this might be helpful to some who want to have a natural, drug-free labour and delivery and for those intended parents and gestational carriers/surrogates out there.
Monday my wonderful in-laws, Mary and Neville, came down and were staying with us so they could be with our kids, Emily (5) and Gavin (3) when we went to the hospital on Tuesday morning. I didn ’t get a lot of sleep on Monday night, not due to nerves but just the normal lack of sleep and discomfort that comes along with being very pregnant. Tuesday morning D’ Arcy and I got up very early, got ready (and of course shaved my legs, painted my toenails although D’ Arcydidn ’t fully get that one but really, a girl’s toes need to look nice), kissed our kids goodbye and off we went. We arrived at the hospital around 7:20 a.m. to find out they had tried to reach us at home and tell us not to arrive until after 9 since they were so busy. We didn ’t mind since Dr. Loosely- Millman had told us to come by her office at 8 if they were too busy in L&D (labour and delivery) so she could try to “get things going” herself. After she checked me out and did what she could naturally, she decided that it would be necessary for us to use cervadil to get me ready to go into labour. As an aside, if you don’t do this and simply try to force your body into labour, it definitely increases your chances of a very difficult and long labour and a much higher chance of C-section. I was disappointed since it was not in my “plans” to go back home and wait and we were all very excited and just ready to get things going but I definitely did not want a C-section as that would drastically change my recovery and my ability to return to work and be an active mommy as quickly as I would have liked.
So, down to L&D we go and we wait until I can get into a room. We were actually sent to the “waiting room” since there were two C-sections being done right then and there weren ’t any nurses to get the room ready or doctors available to do the procedure. So we wait….and wait…and wait a little more. It got to the point where Karma needed to pump and I was getting impatient as I knew our OB wanted us back at 7:30 pm and the longer we waited until I got the cervadil inserted, the less time it had to do its job. I let them know this and they got us in within ½ hour after that. It took an hour to get monitored, have the cervadil and then they monitor you and the baby for another ½ hour before they let you go home.
On our way home we decided to go out and have a nice lunch together. Again, it was tough as so far the day felt like a “hurry up and wait” day and it was only lunch time! When we all got to our house we went into the basement and watched Indiana Jones while Adam and D’ Arcy napped, Karma had a cat nap and I sat on an exercise ball since sciatic pain had begun as Addie began to drop into my pelvis. Near the end of the movie I decided to go up to my bed and try to rest and then D’ Arcy and I went for a walk. It wasn ’t a very comfortable walk as I would have to stop and stretch out my left hip and bum to help with the sciatic pain but I was bound and determined to do what I could to get things going. Once we were back we had a full house—my dad and step-mother, Bob and Brenda, the kids were home, Graham (D’ Arcy ’s younger brother), Mary and Neville (my in-laws) and Karma and Adam (of course). I continued to sit on the exercise ball as that was what was most comfortable. We got the call from L&D around 6:30 pm confirming we could come back for 7:30 pm as things had quieted down—finally, something going our way!
Once we were back at the hospital, they took us in and I got to get changed into the beautiful hospital gown. Dr. Loosely- Millman checked me out and was happy with the progress I had made. We decided to break my water and see what we could get going. I was only 3 cm dilated at that time but was hoping things would go faster and let me tell you, Dr. Loosely- Millman was “vigorous” in her attempts to aggravate things into active labour. After baby and my contractions were monitored for 15 minutes I got up and began the hall walking. I remember Karma saying, “this means we are having the baby within the next day right?” which I was quick to confirm—yeah! Karma, Adam and D’ Arcy all took turns doing laps with me and I would have to return to have the baby’s heart rate checked out every 30 minutes or so. I was having contractions, although could talk through them and the sciatic pain had definitely increased so just after 9:30 pm our OB and I decided that a little pitocin to really kick things up a notch and help thin out the last bit of cervix would be a good idea. I needed an IV for this which I had mixed feelings about but I was determined to have this baby sooner rather then later.
After getting fluids for a ½ hour for hydration, they began the pitocin VERY slowly as we were hoping I wouldn ’t need much. I started walking again and had to return so the nurse could check baby’s heart rate every 15-20 minutes with a doppler. The pitocin got started around 10:30 pm and I decided it was time for the tub around 11 pm after they turned up the pitocin a little bit more. I’m not exactly sure what time I got in the tub but was there for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. It’s difficult to describe these crazy whirlpool tubs but it helps soothe the contractions and keep you relaxed. My contractions were definitely getting stronger and there was a constant feeling of low grade to moderate nausea but I was able to breathe through them. By close to 12 a.m. my contractions were only 1-1 ½ minutes apart and sometimes 2-3 right on top of each other so they switched off my pitocin as my body was in active labour on its own. I was getting way too hot at this point so decided I was done with the tub and headed back to my room to get checked.
Well, still only around 4 cm dilated but we knew things should go more quickly now as my cervix was completely thinned out and Addie’s head was right down where it should be— yipee! Finally we were into the world that I knew and was good at! I was going to try to walk but my contractions were way too intense at this point and I actually didn ’t even have time to get off the bed to start walking between contractions. I was having back labour so being on my hands and knees was the most comfortable for me and rocking forward and backwards, breathing through it and having D’ Arcy push as hard as he could with his thumbs into my low back helped me get through each contraction. My body began to shake on and off, a sign that you are in transition, started happening and my body started wanted to push a little during the contraction. The nurse checked me and I was only 4-5 cm so I tired to do quick blows through my body wanting to push but when you aren ’t medicated, your body just starts doing what it is supposed to do. Adam began helping D’ Arcy push on my low back and everyone gave me words of encouragement, especially after a big contraction. D’ Arcy is my rock and his quiet support and somehow knowing what I needed or following my directions so quickly was truly amazing.
After a few more intense contractions my body started trying to push more then once per contraction and I was having more trouble blowing through them so I didn ’t push. It’s a guttural deep push that your body does as it feels the baby is right there and ready to come out…really, it’s pretty amazing that your body knows what to do! The nurse checked me again and I was 7 cm and she decided it was time to get Dr. Loosely- Millman there as I was going fast and if history was to be our guide, once I get to this point, the baby is not far behind. Dr. Loosely- Millman arrived very quickly and after checking me and watching a contraction got me to flip over so she could hold the last little bit of cervix get out of the way while I gave 2 pushes to allow me to get to a full 10 cm. She is incredible and very relaxed and I remember her saying to Karma that she better get ready. Karma was shocked as this was all happening so quickly but this baby was about to be born. D’ Arcy held my hand and quietly supported me and I pushed and was very focused. You are almost in this altered stated of concentration and intense focus. Dr. Loosely- Millman was amazing at telling me what she needed to and quietly supporting my labour all the while making quick, funny comments to Karma about getting closer to the bed because “how long did she think the cord was?”.
I am a very efficient and strong pusher, which is also much nicer when you have complete control over your body and the situation. It’s not like a TV show where people are counting and need encouragement to keep pushing, really I didn ’t have a choice but to push and you have an incredible amount of energy and strength at that time. The great thing is that I was in total control the entire labour and the pushing and, although intense, it is an incredible, empowering experience. I pushed about 4 or 5 times (2-3 times to get the head out nice and slowly) and then had to wait just a tiny bit and 2 more pushes with Karma holding my leg for these pushes to get the shoulders and the rest of her out! They laid her on the end of the bed and wiped her off as Karma helped and Karma climbed on the bed with me. Immediately after she was born I was relaxed and completely focused on how Addison was, how Karma and Adam were and how incredibly lucky I am to have such a supportive, amazing husband! They then proceeded to put Addison on Karma’s chest and they snuggled while Adam got ready to cut the cord. It was an incredibly wonderful, intimate experience for all of us. Luckily it wasn ’t too busy on the floor so Dr. Loosely- Millman got to spend a lot more time with us and even weighed Addie Mae herself! Not once did it feel like I had just delivered my own baby and the look of complete joy on Karma and Adam’s face was all I needed to see. How lucky am I to be able to be part of something that can give so much joy to others!
I am unsure if this was too much information or boring to some but I hope that it helps those who were wondering what it was like from my perspective. As an aside I would like to say that I never once felt like Addison was mine or a longing for another baby but I will touch on that in another post. All I felt was complete joy and peace that we could help create our niece and allow Karma and Adam to finally reach their goal of having their own family and, I have to admit, some relief that the pregnancy was done and that my job was complete. I also have to thank Adam’s family for their kind words, flowers and gifts in recognition for my contribution to their niece and granddaughter, my in-laws and parents for their wonderful support through this entire process and my amazing husband and kids for all they do for me every day. My patients and friends have also been incredibly supportive and I just want everyone to know that I appreciate them all.