"She looks like an alien", Mr. Bear announced....
Thursday morning (September 17th 2009), 3:00 AM, contractions began. At 5 minutes apart I knew that it was the day. "Do you want to have a baby today?" I asked Mr. Bear assuming that we would wait through the day, go to the hospital that evening and...you know...have a baby. We waited...and waited and waited and waited, called my mom over, waited some more.....and that evening, when it seemed that contractions were about 3 minutes apart consistently and I was in significant pain (can I tell you about back labor now?) we headed to the hospital. After a frustrating, painful, uncomfortable, miserable hour at the hospital I was told that my day of labor had not progressed my cervix any further than I had been a week before. They gave me a shot of morphine (heavenly in retrospect but at the time I hated how it made me feel)and sent me home. Sleep, they told me. Had they ever experienced back labor before?
Friday, September 18th. Drowsy from the morphine and the pain there is nothing more to say other than I endured an entire day of 2 1/2 minute long, hideously painful back contractions. All day. ALL DAY!!! I moved from the couch only to use the bathroom. Everything hurt. Breathing hurt. Although my contractions were varying between 2 minutes and 9 minutes apart they were so long and so intense The Bear and my mom insisted we make the trek back to the hospital late that night. Equipped with more pillows than the night before (the delivery rooms might as well have been a sterile room with a metal bed they were so uncomfortable), and ready to insist that we stay no matter what, we checked in and began our hour wait. Inside I was crying. I knew the contractions were too irregular and they would send me home again. "How can I do another day of this?" I thought to myself. Next to me Mr. Bear and my mom waited, wondered, but I knew, I knew we were going home again, and my body was ready to give up. I felt defeated. Was it supposed to be this difficult? The nurse came into the room and watched as I endured a nearly 3 minute contraction, curled up in what was surely the most uncomfortable bed in the WORLD. I explained that this is what I've been dealing with since Thursday morning. Could she hear the pleading in my voice? "Please, just tell me I can stay and have this baby, please". Still, there was almost no progression. My heart sank. She left to call my doctor and as the time passed, minute by minute by minute 20, 30, 40 minutes, I began to hope. She returned with the words I had been waiting to hear. I could stay. I could stay in this awful place, in this awful bed, with this awful pain! I could stay and have my baby.
Back labor, it was hell. I couldn't remember what it was like to not be in pain. Epidural, broken water......still my progression was too slow. Alien was posterior....which by definition means she was causing me incredible amounts of pain with absolutely no result. Without help this could continue for another day, or more, who knew. It was at this point we named her Little Shit and began writing "I owe you's" on her behalf. They started a very light pitocin drip and shortly after we could see that it was enough to make the difference. I wouldn't be in labor forever, it was a relief despite the disappointment I felt with myself at the need for the drugs to get to that point. Time passed and exhausted I lay in the bed, a prisoner attached to monitors, IV's, and tubes, making no noise, just waiting for it all to end.
I don't recall what time it was when I rolled to my side and felt an excruciating pain in my neck. It was paralyzing and continued to get worse. There was nothing they could do for this pain, they told me. "This isn't normal", I moaned to my mom. Hours passed. There is no way to describe what these hours were like for me. I couldn't move or even lay still without the pain taking my breath away. Nearly 3 hours later, as Mr. Bear held my body up in the bed while I cried from the extreme pain, after being told time and time again that the pain would go away on it's own, someone recognized that I could not continue and a pain reliever was administered via IV. I'm not sure if I just imagined myself yelling at them, telling them I couldn't continue any longer in this pain, or if I was just crying loud enough to frighten the entire labor and delivery floor but I was grateful someone had heard me and saw my suffering as more than an over dramatic laboring mother who couldn't handle a little discomfort. The pain dulled just enough for me to lay my head back on pillows without crying uncontrollably as I had been for the last few hours(out loud or in my head, once again I'm not sure).
It was almost 9:00 AM on September 19th when I began to push. I was determined. I had not suffered the past 54 hours to fall short in this moment. I silently begged my child to turn into the correct position for delivery, and as if she was apologizing for the last two days, she complied. Unfortunately she began to feel the stress of our labor and her heart rate started to drop after each contraction. The nurse said that although I was pushing brilliantly the doctor may need to use a vacuum extractor to speed things up if her heart rate didn't return to normal. We had an hour to bring her into this world. A time limit. I forgot the pain in my neck. I forgot my fears. I concentrated all my energy into this little one trying fitfully to join her father and I in that hospital room. "Are we close?", was my continuous question. We were close. At 10:45 AM on 09/19/09 she arrived. My memory of it is mostly a blur. They put her on my stomach and I had my hands on her wrinkly, wet, little body for only a moment before they whisked her away. A respiratory therapist was in the room waiting to check her due to the possibility that she had swallowed meconium during the birth process. The Bear watched over her, camera in hand, just as I had asked him to. "She looks like an Alien" he called over to me.
Cleaned and swaddled they placed her in my arms and explained that she had swallowed too much meconium (she swallowed 7 milliliters we were told later that morning) and needed to take a trip to the NICU. Something about a CPAP machine. "Don't let her out of your sight", I said to The Bear. My heart ached as they rolled her out of the room, only minutes after she had arrived. She spent nearly 5 hours away from me. Mr. Bear sent us pictures and called me to give me updates. He loved her. She was his and she was beautiful. That afternoon he finally handed me our sweet baby girl. I snuggled her close, inhaled her sweet scent, kissed her rosy cheeks and I loved her.
The next day we named her Madeleine. Or, Baby Bear as she will be known going forward.