Since I've shared some of the other bigger moments in my life on the blog, I'd love to tell you about Sloan's birth story.
On February 4th, four days before my due date, I woke up feeling a little different. My regular cramps and aches were certainly still present, but I had a new tightness that hinted labor might be close. I had anticipated that I'd feel really nervous, but instead I was uncharacteristically calm when I told G that morning in bed. I then called my mom, who was in yoga class (we joked the entire pregnancy that when it was time to answer "the call" that she'd miss it), then dialed my dad immediately after. He said he'd pack up the car so that by the time she got home, they could leave right away.
My parents arrived later that afternoon, at which point I'd started to question whether I'd jumped the gun. The cramping I'd experienced earlier in the day seemed to simply be Braxton Hicks contractions, which I'd been having for the past few months. That evening though, my mom and I went on a long walk and the contractions, which had been uncomfortable at most, started to get a bit painful. I hadn't really noticed any sort of consistent pattern, until my mom began timing them. When they were about twelve minutes apart I realized I miiiight be starting the early stages of labor, so I called G to have him order in dinner (a girl has her priorities) so that if we had to go to the hospital, at least I'd be well fed.
Later that night, the contractions got stronger and closer together and I didn't sleep so that I could time them. They never occurred closer than seven minutes apart, which meant I wasn’t quite ready to be admitted to the hospital. The next morning I had my weekly doctor's appointment already scheduled, so I figured I'd wait until then, at which point she'd let me know what to do.
By morning, I felt woozy and was in a good deal of pain, as the contractions intensified and were happening about every five minutes. The drive to my doctor's office, which is only three miles away, took nearly 45 minutes because it was in the middle of rush hour. I felt every bump in the road and tried to distract myself by taking deep breaths and closing my eyes. My doctor examined me and said I was about 3 centimeters dilated and if I wanted to, I could head over to Labor and Delivery and possibly be admitted. But she suggested that if I could handle the pain, I should try and go for a walk to get things moving. So G, my mom and I walked over to Robertson Blvd. (I half-joked about going into the Chanel store since that would be a pretty epic place to have my water break) and had a light breakfast before heading back to the hospital.
Once we arrived, they measured that I was four centimeters dilated and admitted me into a delivery room, with a stunning view of hills. I had previously decided to get an epidural, which a friend had advised to get immediately, but since I heard it could potentially slow down the onset of labor, I opted to wait until I couldn't handle the pain any longer (big mistake). I walked/squatted/lunged around the room in a daze and was shocked when I saw that several hours had passed. When I told the nurse that I was ready for the epidural, she informed me that the anesthesiologist was with another patient and it might be a while. After over an hour, I still hadn't gotten the shot and my pain level had become unbearable. I couldn't form words, my vision became blurry and I began to doubt if I'd even be conscious by the time they were ready to give me the shot. The epidural itself was painful - it took a few times for them to get it done correctly, but as soon as it started to work, I was flooded with a tremendous sense of relief.
A few hours later, not much changed and I asked G to take my dad to dinner, since he had become an emotional wreck, while my mom stayed with me in the room. A midwife came in to break my water (I could barely feel it, which seemed so anticlimactic) and gave me a small dosage of Pitocin, a drug used to help speed up labor. It made me feel nauseated, an unsettling feeling since I had no use of my legs and was confined to a bed, so I tried to reposition my body. Within seconds, several nurses rushed into the room. I didn't think much of it at first, until one, without saying a word, strapped an oxygen mask on my face. I had no idea what was happening, but knew that something was wrong with either the baby or me. Suddenly the room was filled with close to fifteen nurses and doctors and they were hoisting me into different positions, onto my back, one side, then the other, onto my hands and knees, while their eyes were glued to the monitors. I remember at one point looking at my mom, unable to speak, with complete terror coursing through my body. She held my hands and kissed my forehead and whispered that everything would be okay. Soon after, a nurse came by my side and said that the baby's heart rate had dropped dangerously low and were prepping me for an emergency C-section, but that they had gotten it back to normal. It was at that moment that I realized how little I had cared about my own well being, and that I'd only been concerned that my baby was going to be okay.
After everything calmed down a bit, at around 1:30am, they measured me and told me that I was nine centimeters dilated. I was so exhausted, but exhilarated knowing that I was going to be meeting my baby soon. My doctor came in, along with my favorite nurse (I'd had three throughout the course of the day) and I was surprised by how calm of an experience it was - the exact opposite of what I'd always envisioned or seen in the movies. The lights were dimmed, G put on a Coldplay Pandora station and I felt focused and ready. I’d been in labor for close to 30 hours and was ready to be done. My doctor instructed my mom "grab a leg!" while the nurse took my other one (I still couldn't feel either) and G strategically put ice packs on my forehead, behind my neck and on my chest and told me how proud he was of me. When it was go time, I pushed for seven second stretches and after each one, I thought I'd be too tired to do another. But everyone was so encouraging that I found strength in their cheerleading and in half an hour, she was crowning. I gave one final push and she slipped out. My doctor had me take her, and I held her to my chest. I hadn't slept for two nights and yet when she was born, I had never felt more alive.
We spent the next couple of hours skin-to-skin, relaxing in the labor room and recovering from the physical and emotional shock of it all. Even though I'd hardly had any experience with babies and had no clue what I was doing, it all felt so natural, since she belonged to me. I never went to sleep that night and was released from the hospital the next day. I was so jittery and excited to bring her home and when I was wheeled out and held her close to me all bundled up, I'd never felt more fulfilled.