I don’t want to be a mommy blogger. I have nothing against mommy bloggers and in fact quite enjoy reading the blogs of my friends who are moms. There’s just something about the term that feels so matronly. Yet with a whopping six plus weeks of motherhood under my belt, the mommy blog – like SUVs, a short haircut and sweat pants – is something I am beginning to understand. I need to do something to feel like a human again and since I love to write, this seems like a good option, if I can find the time. (I’ve been working on finishing this post for over three weeks.) At the moment, there isn’t a whole lot to say about the baby – meaning she’s not doing much yet except exuding cuteness – but no time like the present to write down and remember the birth experience. The awful, traumatic birth experience.
First off, let me express my disappointment in the books and information available on labor. It is extensive and I read all of it. And all of it does come with the footnote/addendum/citation that every woman is different and every labor is different. But I wasn’t prepared for how different my labor would be. I would have been more prepared had I gone into the whole thing blind.
Books and childbirth classes are very concerned with the 5-1-1 rule. When your contractions are five minutes apart, lasting for one minute and this pattern has been going on for an hour, then, they say, you may go to the hospital. I started having contractions about 3:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, the 17th of September. I wrote them off and tried to go back to sleep, but after I realized they weren’t going away I started timing them. I wasn’t timing length because my alarm clock didn’t have a second hand, I was just trying to see a pattern. 5 minutes apart. 7 minutes apart. 3 minutes apart. 5 minutes apart. No pattern whatsoever. After another hour or so, I stopped timing and started watching TV (old episodes of 30 Rock on Netflix, actually.) By 7:30 in the morning, I was still in pain and unable to handle it myself anymore, so I woke up my husband.
Another thing I paid particular attention to when researching how to recognize the start of labor was what contractions felt like. A pain that starts in your back and radiates around to the front. I was
having none of this, either. My pain was solely in my back. Back labor. But I wasn’t going to have back labor, I heard that was really painful. So, unconvinced I was really in labor, I called my friend and doula Cammy to check in with her. I didn’t want her to come all the way over here for nothing, so we agreed to wait to see what the next hour brought. Well, they brought more random contractions – now being timed by my husband with a Windows Phone App – and more pain. After the next hour, I summoned Cammy to the house. While waiting for her to make the drive (about 45 minutes plus time to drop of her kids at their grandparents’ house) things got really intense. At some point Shaun convinced me to take a shower, after which I inexplicably shaved my legs. I was starting to freak out though as the pain was becoming unbearable. I almost called Cammy from the road to the hospital, but she arrived before we could get out of the house. I tried a couple of pain relieving techniques with her, but it was not long before I wanted to go to the hospital.
At this point, in addition to the pain, I had no idea what was going on and that was disconcerting. I had expected to know exactly what was happening after all that reading and I was confused. The contractions were
random in time and length and I did not have much time in between them to recover. So off we went to the hospital, which was surprisingly only the second most uncomfortable car ride of my life.
When we arrived, I was 4 centimeters dilated. The hospital nursing staff said that meant I could stay. I did not realize there was any question on whether or not I would stay. I was in agony. The nurse asked me if I would like an epidural and my doula piped in, saying she thought I wanted to continue as long as I could before getting the epidural. I immediately shouted, “No, I want one now!” To be fair, it was the plan to go as long as I could and I had.
And yet, it was another TWO hours and two centimeters before I actually got the epidural. Apparently the anesthesiologist had come by after an hour and we “weren’t ready” for him so he left. I’m not sure how on earth we weren’t ready for him, but that was just one of several mysteries that occurred over the next 24 hours.
It was about 2:00 p.m. when I got the epidural and things were much better (at least for a while.) The next 10 hours or so were spent conversing and trying to rest. At some point the doctor wanted to speed things
along with Pitocin, which I was dead-set against after all that reading I did. (Pitocin speeds contractions but also makes them more intense, which can lead to a vicious cycle with the epidural, which slows things down.) She agreed to break my water first to see if that sped things up before administering Pitocin. That worked and I did not need any Pitocin, though that was probably the only thing that went according to my plan.
Late in the evening, some of my back pain returned. Attempts to up the epidural were not having an effect, and this one spot on my back would not stop aching. At one point right after a nurses’ shift change, I broke out crying, and the new nurse (my favorite of the night – young, friendly, empathetic and well-spoken) asked what the tears were for. I said that I was in pain and had been for a couple of hours and I couldn’t take it anymore. Sadly there was nowhere left to go with the epidural but luckily there wasn’t much farther to go. The previous nurse had me start pushing, but for some reason the way she described how to push – not the easiest thing when numb from the waist down – didn’t make sense to me and as far as I am concerned that push didn’t count. The good nurse explained it much better and I was off and running. Pushing took some of my focus away from my back, and eventually when she moved down I wasn’t in quite so much agony.
I don’t remember how long I had to push, but I do remember that around 11:30 p.m. I realized the likelihood of a birthday on the 17th, which I had been anticipating for 20 hours or so, was not going to happen. It
was going to be the 18th, and for some reason that seemed weird.
Sonja Faye Scott Jackson arrived on the 18th at 1:23 a.m. It was the first time in my life I pulled an all-nighter, except maybe that time in college when I flew back from London. I say that if I had not been awake for the delivery I would not have believed that the baby was mine. She looked peculiar to me – kind of flat, dark and square – and though I didn’t have a clear picture in my mind of what she would look like, she just didn’t seem to look like me. Now of course I think she has some of my features and some of my husband’s but I’m just glad I was conscious because otherwise, on top of other new mom worries, I probably would have been fearing a switched-at-birth scenario. Which would have only been fueled by all the confusion we encountered in the hospital, from the nurses not knowing the proper admittance procedure to finding out I was in for a difficult recovery only minutes before leaving the hospital.
So that is the story of Sonja’s foray into the world and even if I don’t want to be a mommy blogger and even if you’ve got your own life and could care less about mine, I hope that at least she will find this story interesting some day. It’s no longer about you, dear non-existent readers. It’s about her, and that’s the best reason for doing anything.