My nine months of pregnancy were, as far as pregnancies go, wonderful. Like most women I had mornings (and afternoons and nights) of yacking my guts up, living on crackers and Tums, and sleeping like the dead. I also had to fight various problems with my hips during the last 8 or 9 weeks. During that entire time the fear and uncertainty of labor and delivery loomed like a freight train that you know is coming but you ignore until the whistle blows.
And then it happened...
Around 4:30 in the morning on December 31st 2007 I went into labor. Being the comatose sleeper that I am, I thought I was dreaming! I would wake up about the end of a contraction and think "What was that?? Stupid pizza before bedtime" and then just roll back over. About 6:58ish my water broke. It was not this dramatic thing that you see on TV where a woman is in the produce section and then a monsoon sized puddle apears on the floor between the fruit table and the bags-o-salad. It was more like a strange popping sensation. No gush, but rather I thought that Patrick had somehow kicked me in the tail. I closed my eyes, and then my alarm clock went off at 7:00. I rolled over to hit the snooze, and when I moved it came. Again, no gush, but more like I had peed the bed. I knew that the time that I had been looking forward to and dreading all at the same time was here. I was much calmer than I expected. I gave Patrick a little nudge and said "Honey get up and grab a towel; my water just broke." Patrick, who had taken the day off to have a super long weekend since New Year's Day was on a Tuesday went from dead to the world, to leaping out of the bed like a gazelle. He ran to the closet in the hall, grabbed a towel and then he began cleaning the house! You never know how you will react in situations like your wife going into labor, but nesting was not what I expected Patrick to do.
I called the doctor, and she said that I should head into the hospital. I got in the shower, gave my hair a good scrub, got dressed and prepared myself as best I could for what I knew was going to be a very long day. As soon as Patrick finished packing a few things we hit the road. I called Rebecca, she made the calls to "the list" and then I called my mom.
We arrived at the hospital and I checked in at 9:00. They got me into a room while Patrick moved the car and brought in our bags. My nurse Tara (pictured here, who I was FAR from thrilled with) hooked me up to lots of monitors and started my IV. And by starting, I mean stabbing me in the arm with a huge hot needle and then digging around for a while. After her failed attempt, she got another nurse to come and start in IV in the other arm. That nurse (who's name I have forgotten) came in and PRESTO!
The first of my two doctors, Doctor Jennifer Linfert (right) came in and checked my cervix. I was dilated to 3cm, and well on my way to having a baby. My contractions were like clockwork, and as the crowd grew, everyone monitored them on the computer screen beside my bed.
Now every woman has expectations of labor that are based on the experiences of other women in their lives, things they have seen and read, and the occasional warning from the old lady at the bank, but once you go into labor you realize that it is just as individual as fingerprints. I thought I would scream or cry or cuss, but as my labor progressed I did none of those things. With each contraction I closed my eyes, turned my head to the left (away from the visitors in the room), focused on whatever song Becca was playing on my laptop, and took huge deep breaths. This went on until about 3:00 in the afternoon.
I knew from the get go that I would get an epidural, but up until that point I was OK. Then it hit. The most blinding pain I ever dreamed possible. Cameron must have changed positions, and my labor pains went into my back. Pain is such a small word for such a dramatic feeling. I looked at Patrick and begged him to go get the anesthesiologist. In the meantime the nurse gave me some IV pain meds to "take the edge off." It was about as effective as putting a Band Aid on a severed leg (with about the same pain control). It was a little more than an hour before the epidural. It felt like forever, but as with the start of labor, I just grabbed the side of the bed and silently held on tight. How tight you might ask. Well it wasn't until a few days later that I realized how hard I was holding on the arm of the bed. My hand hurt and was so swollen that I couldn't get my wedding ring off! Two weeks later it was still puffy!
Right before they administered it, they had shift change. My second doctor, Dr. Lauren Painter, came in and checked my progression, and to my utter terror the words "You are dilated to 3 cm." WHAT!!!! I had been in labor for 12 hours and I hadn't progressed ANY!! I nearly lost it. I had this overwhelming urge to run. I looked at my mom and I had the first notion that I couldn't do this. I look at my mom and said just that. "Momma, I don't think I can do this," and then for the first time I began to cry. My mom looked at me and with loving kindness said "Yes you can baby. You are doing it now."
As if from a white steed, the anesthesiologist (who is pictured to the right as I remember him) came in and gave me the most wonderful thing that was ever known to woman. As soon as it kicked in I went from unbelievable pain to back to the world of the living. At this point the Nubane (IV pain med) kicked in and I fell asleep. I woke up about an hour later when Dr. Painter came and checked me again. She asked "How are you feeling?" to which I replied "I am doing much better after the epidural." She said, "You are not kidding! You are at 10 cm!" I could hardly believe it. Twelve hours of HARD labor and nothing, and in one hour I was at the finish line. If I had only known that, I would have had them do the epidural as soon as I walked in the door.
They sat me up in the bed, and I "labored down" (fancy for sitting up and letting gravity do its work). About 9:00 the epidural began to wear off, and the back pain was back. They gave me a little extra juice. It worked (sort of) because I couldn't feel my feet, but my back was still on fire. Dr. Painter said that pushing might help with the pain, so we got the big show on the road. The room was cleared of the loving supporters (My mom, Patrick's mom, Faye, Becca, and Leigh Ann are the ones I really remember being in there, but I knew that Mr. Bill, Mr. Luther, and Mr. Larry were in the waiting room) and Cameron's troops came in. I really thought about it ahead of time on how I was going to push. "Keep the energy in your bottom and not your head" I kept telling myself. I pushed through 3 or 4 contractions with Patrick and Stacy counting "1,2,3 ... 10." Dr. Painter and the delivery room nurse Stacy said "Honey, you are doing so good." I replied "I bet you tell that to all the girls." Stacy looked at me and said, "No I don't! We are about to have this baby in the next few minutes!" They broke the bed the rest of the way down, and 3 contractions later Cameron made her big entrance at 9:54pm on December 31st. That's right, New Year's Eve! She stretched her little lungs as she gave us her first solo. There is nothing sweeter than a baby's first cry, but when it is your little girl's cry, there is nothing like it. Patrick did a wonderful job cutting the cord, and then she was whisked away and Dr. Painter and Stacy finished up with me. The gory details I will leave out.
According to those that were watching Cameron (and thank God not me) told me that she passed all of her tests with flying colors (did you have any doubt?).
The next few hours seemed surreal. Rebecca and Leigh Ann came in, Rebecca snapping pictures left and right (thank goodness!). I remember lots of flashbulbs and then Leigh Ann handed Cameron to me, and it was overwhelming. Then the rest of the family came in. Momma, Mr. Larry, Mrs. Noonie, Mr. Bill, Faye, and Mr. Luther got to welcome our little wonder in the world. I couldn't believe that this little person who we had been waiting on for nearly a year was finally here. When they handed her to me she wasn't crying, and was SO alert. Her eyes were a slate gray color, and she was soaking in everything around her. It was amazing. I could have held her forever. We were allowed to keep her in the labor room for about an hour or so. I tried to breastfeed her (it was the blind leading the blind!), and then the nurses came and took her to the nursery. Patrick and the crowd went with her. Dr. Painter and Stacy helped me get ready to move to the postpartum room, and while Cameron was in the nursery I was able to take a long awaited and much needed rest. The hardest work I have ever done had paid off more than I could have ever dreamed, and she was only a few moments old. She is my magnum opus - my great work.