I was writing for Babble Pregnancy and feeling like my pregnancy would never end. I had gone in for the 37 week, three days, 11 hours and 45 minute check-up (Okay, slight exaggeration. I wasn’t counting the minutes yet.) and was told nothing, zip, nadda was happening down there. No effacement, no dilation–I was going to be the first human woman to be pregnant forever. My husband and I decided to get buck wild in the bedroom. I’ll spare the details.
Four days later I’m in my interminable non-stress test for my gestational diabetes. We’re not halfway through the ultra sound and the doctor’s asking me if I have my hospital bag with me. Apparently, my amniotic fluids were drying up. Not good. What?! Huh?! No, I had a billion things to do and my oldest kid was star of the week. The doc gave me an hour and a half to get to the hospital when I needed a day and a half to get ready.
From the car I called my husband, sister, mom, neighbors, my other sister and lord knows who else to rearrange pick-ups, play dates, overnights, errands, bills and a million other things. The hub’s first job was to pick up some family photos I ordered, which he thought was insane, but he happily obliged and met me at the house with photos.
He walked in and I was frantically cutting and pasting (like with scissors and glue, people), trying to get my daughter’s star-of-the-week book finished. I grabbed the photos and continued. He pointed to his watch. I kept writing my daughter’s life story of fabulousness. Hand written, because the printer was out of ink. Hubs asked if he could put my bags in the car. I had to tell him there were no bags, I would get to that after the book. The infant car seat wasn’t installed so I sent him off on that chore.
I finished the book, threw some stuff into a bag (I’m a very minimal hospital bag packer), grabbed baby’s going home outfit and stopped. I took a breath, looked around my home, my kitchen, my family room; it would never be the same, it would never look like this to me ever again. My life was about to change for a third time. Tears welled up as I reminisced about my two older kids. How I played with my 3-year-old boy and his monster trucks on the floor, the dance-offs with my 7-year-old girl. My husband came back in the house and I started crying as I saw him and wondering how our lives, his and mine, would handle another child in our house of chaos. Panic crept in as I began to doubt my decision to have a third baby. Little late, Lady.
I insisted on stopping by both kids’ schools for a final farewell. I managed to hold it together until they couldn’t see my tears or hear my cries. I made one more call to mom. She was getting in her car and driving down to meet her new grandson. Don’t worry, it’s not like she’s down the street. She’s 12 hours away in Oregon and I’m in LA! Nothing was stopping her from driving down at that moment, although I did manage to get her to stay the night halfway at her sister’s house in Sacramento.
We finally arrived at the hospital (only an hour late) and the Pitocin began. It seemed to go on forever. It was 8 hours until I had had enough and asked for the epidural. By 2:30 AM my newborn son, Atticus, was in my arms and my vagina was intact! No, this doesn’t mean I have a loose, flappy vag; it’s just my third kid and my body knows what to do. (I’m sure some of the buck wild and perineal massage with rose hip oil helped. Also, the baby was two weeks early and only 6lb 12oz.)
It was my first birth without tearing and I gotta tell you, it was nice. That first trip to the toilet was a piece of cake; no stinging, no numbing spray. My first shower and washing myself, it all felt fine and dandy. I was still tired as all hell, but I didn’t have the added trauma.
What I did have was horrible knock-you-on-your-booty headaches. My mom kept telling me to call my doctor because it must be a side effect from the epidural. I just ignored her and rolled my eyes at her hippy “natural home birth is the best way” thinking. After 3 weeks of killer headaches, I finally spoke to my doctor and sure enough, mom was right, it was the epidural (not that I would ever admit my mom was right). I guess a very small percentage of women can get a leak on their spinal cord from the epidural, which leads to excruciating headaches. The doctor suggested going back to the hospital to have a blood patch. I said forget it. It’s basically when the doc draws blood and inserts the blood into the area where you had the epidural, sealing the leak. The headaches were beginning to fade, and there was no way I was going through a blood patch to possibly have further complications. Yes, the headaches were horrific, but I would still get another epidural and I recommend them. I guess it’s kind of weird that I would rather have a few weeks of the worst migraines ever than a few hours of feeling my vagina shredded.
For the first month, I just dealt with the headaches and avoided my computer and writing. That’s when I fell off the face of the earth–there were unanswered emails and zero posting. Not only was I trying to recover from all that is childbirth, but I was (still am) trying to find some kind of balance and schedule for working and being a mom of three kids.
So here I am, ready to share my baby stories, advice, help, failures and just commiserate with all you moms of new babies out there.
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