So what follows is Parker's birth story. If ever there's a time to over-share about the cringey stuff, this is when it's going to happen. Be warned, I will be using the term "leaking" an awful lot. If you can handle that, though, I recommend grabbing a snack before jumping in. I recommend some sort of baked good and an iced coffee. This might take a while to read. Your call.
Drop it like it's... a baby?
Parker carried really low throughout my whole pregnancy. From the time I was about five months pregnant he hung out on my bladder most of the time. This meant that I didn't look as big and round as most people, that I constantly had to pee, and was generally really uncomfortable. It also meant that when he dropped I kind of thought he might have, but was kind of just guessing. Everyone says you'll definitely know when the baby drops, but they have no idea. I think he dropped the Friday before he was born but the only thing I noticed was that I could actually hear my stomach gurgling under my ribs for the first time in months and that I was getting uncomfortable and crampy. After comparing a couple belly pictures it looked like he may have dropped a little bit, but it was hard to tell.
The Monday before he was born I started having signs aside from crampiness that maybe baby might come early. I'll spare you the details. It was supposed to be my last week at work but I had a few sick days banked so I was going to see how things went. I was so uncomfortable that I couldn't imagine another 40 hour work week. My co-workers were pretty sympathetic, and when our receptionist commented on the fact that I was starting to waddle a bit (it's okay, she's truly delightful and it was true) I knew people would understand when I decided that I'd stick out Wednesday morning then just call it a week. They were having an office potluck/bbq in honour of me and a couple other people's big life events (a wedding and a departure) Wednesday afternoon. My goal was just to make it to that lunch.
I had my 38 week (and 4 day) check up with my doctor over my lunch break on Tuesday. He informed me that I was 1 cm dilated and, in parting, said that he hoped to see me before my next week's appointment. I was excited. A lot of people are dilated for weeks before they actually have their babies, but my doctor's words gave me hope. I could be one of those rare first time moms that wasn't ten days overdue!
A couple hours later I was chatting with a co-worker and looking at pictures of his 1 1/2 year old when I suddenly felt like I'd peed myself a little. Except, even though there was an enormous amount of pressure on my bladder, I was pretty sure I hadn't just become incontinent. I wrapped up our conversation pretty quickly (read: walked away mid-sentence) and thanked the clothing gods that I had decided to wear navy blue pants instead of tan ones that morning. My water had most assuredly just broken while talking with my co-worker, and he hadn't even noticed. File that one under awkward encounters with everyone.
I called my doctor's office, totally unsure of what to do and thankful that it was still business hours. The nurse that answered checked with my doctor and informed me to go to Labour and Delivery after heading home, showering if I wanted, and getting my stuff.
I phoned Karl and my parents, my dad already being on his way, and told them that we were going to have a baby soon. My mom wasn't supposed to be out for another week and a half, so right away she started changing her holidays around.
They say that only about 15% of women have their water break before they're in actual hospital labour. I imagine a good chunk of those that do have it happen in the comfort of their own homes, too. They also say that it doesn't happen like it does on TV and that it's not a big dramatic gush all over the place. I was grateful for that. I had the chance to say my goodbyes to my co-workers and not one of them noticed that I was walking around in soggy pants, intermittently leaking.
Karl beat me home, and we went about packing everything up. I went through a couple pairs of leggings, trying to determine exactly how much liquid I needed to anticipate coming out of me and eventually accepted that it would be a lot. Bring on the massive hygiene products. How much amniotic fluid does one person's body actually hold? And how long does it take to all come out? Forever. The answer is forever. It never stops coming out until the baby's head plugs its exit route. At least I think that's what the nurse said. When we had that conversation later on I was a little preoccupied.
We got to the hospital feeling really good about ourselves. Driving across town to the hospital in rush hour, during construction season, was our worst nightmare. Except we weren't in labour and were feeling really good. There was no panic, just a wonderful sense of anticipation. It was 10 days to my due date! Way to go, baby boy!
When we checked in at Labour and Delivery we let them know my water had broken and my doctor had told us to come in. Just as they were about to send us to sit tight in the waiting area to be assessed things got real. I had my TV worthy water breaking moment. A veritable tsunami of fluid came gushing out of me, all over my last pair of clean leggings and the floor. Karl was horrified. I was embarrassed, having essentially wet myself in front of the nurses. Apparently they're used to that kind of thing there, though, and they just shuffled me off to lay in a recovery bed while we waited to be assessed.
They hooked my stomach up to some monitors and informed us that it was going to be a bit of a wait to see a doctor because they were full up. We hung out for five hours, waiting, anticipating, and leaking (me, not Karl). A nurse came by fairly early on and asked us about our birth plan, informing us that we'd likely be given the option to be induced if we wanted it. We were all over that. I was so tired of being pregnant, and did I mention the leaking?
We were close to Labour and Delivery room 5. Karl and I both got the uncomfortable giggles when we could hear the poor woman in there wailing her way through labour. My big fear was that I was going to lose my dignity by using all the swear words I know and being nasty and mean. My second big fear was that I was going to become one of those panting, wailing, moaning women we saw in the video in our pre-natal class. A wailing woman just like the poor lady in Labour and Delivery room 5. So we laughed at her for lack of anything better to do. But eventually we heard the sound of a screaming baby and it was one of the greatest sounds ever. Soon that would be our screaming baby!
Eventually a doctor came and assessed me, told us that my doctor wanted me to be induced if I wanted, but that we'd have to go home because they were too busy induce us. Another nurse informed us that we would likely hear from them around 8 a.m., or earlier if we were okay with a middle of the night call. If we hadn't heard from them by noon we were to give them a call. She let us know, though, that if we didn't get induced the next day we'd have to come in for a non-stress test and possibly an ultrasound to make sure everything was okay with baby.
I had always been under the impression that if your water breaks they want that baby out in the next 12 hours because of the risk of infection. In reality, if your strep test (the dreaded Q-tip test) came back negative they're happy to let you wait for labour to start naturally, you just have to count baby's movements every two hours and take your temperature every four. Most people have labour start within 12 to 24 hours of their water breaking. Most people also don't have their water break while they're at work. Spoiler alert: I'm pretty sure that if I'd waited for labour to start naturally I would probably still be pregnant.
We got home around 11:30, snacked, and went to bed. While we were kind of disappointed that we weren't coming home with a baby, we knew that it was likely going to be our last night ever to get a good night sleep so we took advantage of it. A morning induction would be the best thing, because we'd be bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready for life's next big adventure.
The call never came. Just before noon the next day, I called the hospital and was informed that they were still quite busy but we'd probably get called right after lunch and wasn't I waiting for labour to start naturally? I informed them that, no, I was waiting to get induced because that's what my doctor wanted.
We went to my office's potluck that afternoon. We had missed dinner the night before and I really wanted to eat as much and as well as possible before baby go time. My office is also a five minute drive from the hospital, so we were ready for their after lunch call. When it didn't come we went home, did some laundry, and took a nap.
We phoned again just before dinner time. I had done an excellent job of planning the week's meals (for once) and wanted to know if I'd have time to actually make a proper meal. Once we established with the nurse that I was waiting to getting induced, per my doctor's wishes, and not waiting for labour to start naturally (because it really wasn't) I was once again informed that they were still very busy and that they'd have to call me back around 8 p.m.
As you can imagine, we were getting tired of waiting and were gearing up for another night at home. The waiting was brutal. I was uncomfortable and the baby was starting to put more pressure on my insides. Also, we'd just finished watching Friday Night Lights so we didn't have anything good to watch. I was starting to lose my patience.
At 8:30 we got in touch with the hospital again. I informed the nurse that we were waiting to get induced, not for labour to start naturally like she thought. Finally, we were told that they had room for us and we could come get induced. The only catch was that my doctor wasn't on call that night so depending how quickly things happened he might not be there to deliver. I asked the nurse about getting a non-stress test or ultrasound and she said that we could come get the test if we wanted, but that my doctor would have to schedule the ultrasound the next day. I asked her if we should come in for the non-stress test and she said it was really up to us but that she probably would. I then asked if we should get induced or wait until the morning and she said it was also really up to us, but that they couldn't predict whether they'd be busy again in the morning. We decided to go in for the non-stress test to make sure everything was still going well, and would decide from there how to proceed. Off we went to the hospital again.
During the non-stress test there was either a problem with the monitor they used on my stomach or Parker's heart rate was dipping a little bit, they were never quite clear on that, so, instead of the usual 20 minutes, I was hooked up to the machine for an hour and a half. Eventually we got the go-ahead that we could go home and keep waiting for labour to start naturally (are you sensing a pattern here?). It was getting late, and we were a little worried about baby's heart rate so we decided to stay and get induced. How quick could we actually expect labour to be anyway? My doctor would probably be back on call by the time I was ready for him anyway.
The doctor that came in and checked my progress was a nightmare. She brought in a med student, but, much to my surprise, he wasn't the problem. Where he was as gentle as you can be when feeling a baby's position and checking dilation, she was like a bull in a china shop. My china shop. She must have been punishing me for correcting her when she said that we had changed our minds from waiting for labour to start naturally. I'm almost positive she wanted to see if she could manage to make me give birth through my mouth with the amount of force she used to check me. One thing I knew was that I did not want that woman to ever touch me again, so when she asked if she could show the student something and use me as a further teaching opportunity I didn't even feel bad for telling her no. Besides, the student thought I had gone to 2 cm, but she said I was still only 1 cm. What a jerk.
My dad got into town while we were getting the non-stress test and we needed him to bring some paperwork to the hospital so I got to see him for ten minute before heading into my room. It was surreal knowing that the next time we saw each other there would be a new little Morton with us.
I was assigned to Labour and Delivery room 5. The humour of it was not lost on us.
At 11:45 that night they started me on the oxytocin. It was a long, uncomfortable night. I didn't get much sleep because I was still crampy and uncomfortable. The difference between spending the night getting induced and spending the night at home in your own bed is that you're hooked up to a bunch of monitors and can't move around very much. Also there are apparently certain positions that your unborn child doesn't like you to lay in. Every time I thought I was comfortable I would start to ache another five seconds later. My hips were like fire, and sleep wasn't really on the horizon. Both Karl and I tried to nap and I think we may have managed a collective hour or two.
Our night nurse was amazing. Seriously, I have this little daydream where we bump into each other in Superstore and become BFFs.
I'd gone into labour with no real birth plan. We wanted to have a health, happy baby by any means necessary. I wasn't afraid of being induced like so many people are, and even though I didn't want a c-section I wasn't about to fight against one if it seemed necessary. Modern medicine seems to have its act together (nurses pushing for waiting for labour's natural start not included) and I'm not a doctor. I'm happy to defer to the experts.
As far as pain management went, I knew I wanted to labour in the tub, on the ball, and try using laughing gas to get through contractions. With its excellent reputation, I was really looking forward to giving the laughing gas a go. Initially I'd thought I'd wanted an epidural but the more I learned about them the less sure I was. I wasn't afraid of my spinal cord being hit or anything, but I was worried about the terrible headache that people sometimes get from the removal of that little bit of spinal fluid. As a migraine sufferer, I really didn't want my nether regions to be ripped and torn with a really bad headache to top it off. That said, I wasn't about to be an unnecessary hero so I was still open to the idea one.
I spent a little time on the birthing ball to ease my discomfort but it only served to put more pressure on my insides and I found I was more comfortable in bed. Well. I knew before the oxytocin even kicked in that I was going to want an epidural. Since the birthing ball did nothing for me with just regular cramping and I was already so uncomfortable with nothing having even started, how was I going to survive what lay ahead?
When we said goodbye to our night nurse we all joked that we hopefully wouldn't see each other again that night, but the way things were going we probably would.
Our day nurse was really good, too. I informed her and our departing night nurse that I was hoping for a really easy labour where the baby just kind of fell out of me with one, maybe two pushes. I was really afraid of tearing and there wasn't going to be any of that going on either. Things were going to go really well. The birthing ball hadn't worked so maybe the power of positive thinking would. The nurses all thought I was hysterical, but our day nurse high-fived me. Again, I knew we'd be great friends.
My doctor popped his head into the room at some point to check in and say hi. He asked why I'd gotten induced the night before when he'd told them he didn't want me to be until he was on call. Naturally.
After ten hours of being induced with nothing happening, I heard that the woman in the room next door had less than half the oxytocin going and her contractions were two minutes apart. I was happy for her, I guess, but jokingly wished that she'd have tearing. I think I was joking.
My nurse suggested that maybe getting in the bath would help with my discomfort. At first, the tub was amazing. Why hadn't I taken more baths at home throughout my pregnancy? I was really uncomfortable still so Karl rubbed my back through the worst moments. I then proceeded to projectile vomit all the blue Jello I'd eaten (a lot) into the tub with myself. Then things got real. Like the Jello had been what was holding me back, things started to move forward. And by things I mean pain.
I got back into bed, convinced that the agony I was in meant that labour had finally started, but what felt like contractions weren't registering as anything. Still just cramping. My nurse had already thrown around the idea of an early epidural and I told her I was ready. There was an hour before the anaesthesiologist had a scheduled c-section so I was hopeful that I could sneak in there first.
Even though it didn't register on the monitor as anything, what I felt was like a constant contraction. The pain didn't let up much at all. Except it wasn't a contraction and I wasn't in labour but, oh, it freaking hurt. Then they checked my progress and determined that I was only 3, possibly 4, cm dilated. They estimate for every 1/2 or full cm of dilation it takes about an hour to get there. I knew I had a long road ahead of me and that drugs were going to get me through it.
I was informed that the c-section had gone in early so I'd have to wait for my epidural. I asked for laughing gas, knowing it was going to be my new BFF. Except apparently I don't like laughing gas. It made me nauseous and I had to take several big hits for it to do anything else. I could still feel my non-contractions clear as anything but I wanted to puke and everything else went numb. Crushing disappointment.
The next big disappointment came when I was informed that there was an emergency c-section and I'd have to wait another hour or so to get my epidural. At this point, I had become the moaning woman of Labour and Delivery room 5. I only dropped one little curse word the entire time and only Karl was in the room to hear it. So at least I wasn't the cussing woman in Labour and Delivery room 5, too.
I kept telling the nurses and Karl that I couldn't do it anymore, and couldn't understand why anyone would have more than one child. And I wasn't even in labour. The nurse told me that I was, in fact, doing it so I totally could. Easy for her to say, she'd never had a baby. I kept asking how long it would be before I could get my epidural. Knowing it was just another defined amount of time helped me get through it.
I'd been told earlier that sometimes people have to be induced twice. I'd initially thought that would be the worst thing ever in the entire world, but I didn't even realize that they had turned my oxytocin off until I started to fall asleep between non-contractions. Apparently I'd been in so much pain that my eyes were rolling back in my head. Karl kept having to remind me to breathe while I dozed between the painful moments but sleeping was just so much more appealing, especially after over 12 hours in that darn bed.
Finally, the anaesthesiologist was done with his c-sections and came to see me. It was a beautiful moment. Although I'd hardly noticed it at the time, I was glad they'd stopped giving me the induction drugs so that I could rest. Non-contractions are no joke, especially when they don't have definite breaks between them.
I was excited to get my epidural and get some sleep. I requested that my nurse give me a catheter, too, since I had no interest in making anymore bathroom trips. I just wanted to sleep and let labour eventually start without me even knowing it.
I'm sure the anaesthesiologist is the most popular person in Labour and Delivery. Things had calmed down enough that I was able to appreciate him coming in and joke with him. He gave me a really generous sized dose of whatever they put in there and I felt better almost immediately. The nurse was impressed by how much he gave me. My toes were tingly and mostly numb, I couldn't feel the fire in my hips anymore, and cramping? What cramping? I don't remember his last name, but if we hadn't had a name already picked our Parker might very well have been named Mark.
Once the epidural was in they put me back on the oxytocin, starting my induction all over again. My doctor came in and he checked my progress again. It had only been about four hours since my last check, so when he said that I was fully there and ready to go we all looked at him like he was lying to us. I'd would have told him not to lie to a not-quite labouring woman, but I was so comfortably numb in the lower part of my body that I really didn't care if he was joking with me or not. Except he wasn't. He asked if I wanted to push and I said no, so he said to call when I did and figured he'd see us in an hour or so.
The nurse told me that contractions were finally starting to register on the monitors. They weren't regular or anything, but something was definitely happening. Cheers to Mark and his fully loaded epidural! I couldn't feel anything, but apparently I'd become relaxed enough for things to start moving forward. Contrary to popular belief, epidurals don't always slow things down.
My nurse told me that she could see Parker's head and, when I asked, that he had hair. Apparently my low-sitting little boy was slowly making his way out on his own, just like I'd predicted.
After a while she asked if I was ready to think about pushing and I thought I probably was. I could feel a bit of pressure, like I maybe needed to go to the bathroom, but aside from that nothing.
When the doctor came back to the hospital we had a great time. The worst moment was when he told me I might need an episiotomy. That's when I prepared myself for a rough recovery because episiotomies aren't really done that often anymore, the preference being for more natural tearing. So if he was suggesting that? Well, thank God for my epidural.
They monitored my intermittent contractions and told me when to push until I started feeling more pressure and could feel for myself when it was time. Giving birth is really a lot like pooping. You use the same muscles to push the baby out and, at least when you've got that epic epidural, all that pressure just feels like maybe you've waited a little too long to go to the bathroom. Too much information? Well, I wasn't leaking anymore, in case you were wondering.
Karl sat back and ate an apple while I pushed. Neither of us wanted to see what was going on down there. No mirrors here, thanks very much.
I was feeling so good that my doctor put on some music. We started our 45 minutes of pushing to Weezer's Island in the Sun. It was kind of the perfect happy song after so many hours of waiting. The hardest part was not letting my doctor make me laugh while I pushed. He commented that he hasn't had many people giggle between pushes before.
I surprised myself by wanting to see Parker's head when given the opportunity. It was that or close my eyes. His head looked like some sort of alien rock or egg, all slimy and grey, nothing like a little boy's skull. I didn't see when his head came out because that push required a lot of concentration, but I did see his body come out.
When they put his slimy little body on me I couldn't believe that he was ours. Sure, I'd seen him come out of me, but it was still so surreal. So tiny and so perfect. And had Beverly Hills been playing in the background? No one had been quite paying attention.
He slid right out of my child-bearing hips a perfect 6 lbs 10 oz, at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 28, our little Parker Karl Morton.
Stop. Hammer time. Break it down.
My doctor had been right about my good hips and smaller baby. He was wrong about my episiotomy, though, because after seeing how things went I only had some internal tearing. Where first time moms usually have second degree tearing, two hours of pushing, and go late, I had only first degree tears, 45 minutes of pushing, and a baby eight days early after my water broke. And I didn't even get a catheter. Boom.
(Side note: 1st degree tears = internal, 2nd degree = external, 3rd degree = to the pooper, 4th degree = you're ripped completely in half)
The only downside was that my doctor informed me I likely won't be able to get an epidural next time around considering how quickly things progressed. The joke's on him, though, because I'm going to ask for one as soon as my water breaks again (in line at Walmart probably, knowing my luck).
We did see our night nurse again, but only long enough for her to get some Parker snuggles in and send us to our new room. She had the fun jobs.
Not a poop!
It's been three weeks and I'm still in disbelief that this little boy is ours. We love him so much, even when he pees on us, eats non-stop, or shoots milk into our faces out of his nose (he's very advanced). It's hard to believe that this child is the little ninja that lived inside me for so many months, or even that he's the wiggly little bean that peed in that first ultrasound six and a half months ago.
Long story short, we had a baby and are going to keep him forever. Because we luuurve him.