It’s another big day in the Madhouse. Rian turns 15 today. I can hardly believe it. In honour of her special day I am going to share her birth story with you.
Warning: not everyone will enjoy this, but her birth wasn’t as potentially graphic as Alexi’s.
My first born was due on December 31, 1997. I was 22 and so excited at the prospect of having a New Year’s baby! But New Year’s came…and went. So did January 2nd, 3rd and 4th. It was a new year and I was still pregnant. The doctor booked me for induction on Wednesday, January 7. I was excited that I was going to have the baby, but disappointed at the same. I was going to miss out on the excitement of having my water break and rushing to hospital because the baby was coming (obviously, I have watched too many movies and have romanticized the concept of going into labour on your own, I understand from other women it’s not nearly as wonderful as they make it out to be).
The OB/Gyn advised me to get a good night’s rest because I would need all my energy the next day for the birth. Yeah, right. I was worse than a kid at Christmas. I tried to go to bed early. I tried to sleep, but I didn’t need the alarm to wake me that day. I was so excited to go and finally meet my baby. The one who had been kicking me from the inside for the last 9 months (she was a very active baby).
We arrived at the hospital for 7am. The nurses set me up in the birthing bed. They did all the checking and I was not dilated at all. They proceeded to hook me up to various beeping machinery. They put an elastic band around my expansive waist explaining it was attached to a monitor so they could keep an eye on the baby’s heartbeat. They pointed out a comfy chair for Rian’s dad and turned on the TV for him (it certainly wasn’t for me since it was all talk shows and game shows – yuck!).
We waited about an hour for the doctor come and start the drip. It didn’t take long at all for labour to start. By mid morning I hated that elastic band around my waist. All my labour was in my back and that stupid band was making the pain worse! (ok, I don’t know that for certain, but I’m sticking with that story) By 11:30 am I had yelled at a nurse (I had to pee and she wanted me to pee on the bed rather than unhook me – I got to use the toilet, thank you very much) and forced my was-band to shut off the “stupid, friggin’ talk shows” (I really don’t like talk shows). The contractions had been constant since the drip had been effective. Every 5 to 10 minutes, with no break from the pain, from the start. I was getting just a little grumpy from the pain (ok, little is a relative term, there may have been some death threats in there, I have no clear recollection of that morning).
My family doctor was doing rounds that day and checked in on me a few times. I think he was hoping to be there for the birth, he loves babies. Around noon the nurse told me I was only about 4cm dilated and recommended I take a shot of Demerol (I was exhausted). I was dead set against having an epidural, I knew a woman who had a very bad experience at the same hospital with one, but I was so worn out I consented to the Demerol. Within moments I fell asleep. During labour. No epidural. I remember sleeping and feeling the contractions. I remember the nurses taking my blood pressure. I remember the nurse waking me up to push. I remember trying to go back to sleep.
The nurse turned to my was-husband and asked if the height and weight info on my chart was accurate. She feared she had given me too much. He assured her the info was correct, but since I wouldn’t even take an aspirin for a headache I had no tolerance to medication (ahhh, the good ol’ days). I was sitting up, hands on the squatting bar and the nurse kept hollering at me, “Holly, you gotta stay with me. You gotta stay awake.” I remember pushing, I was told I pushed for about 1/2 an hour, but it wasn’t until the baby’s head crowned that I really woke up.
That must have been when I squeezed my was-husband’s hand. I must have been feeling the need to share the pain because I squeezed so hard I broke the blood vessels in his hand (served him right). I also tried to put his finger in my mouth because I desperately wanted to bite down on something but he was having none of that (smart because I probably would have bit his finger off).
It was then the nurse advised her co-worker to call for the doctor, telling her casually, “He doesn’t need to rush”. The other nurse had barely left the room when I pushed again. My main nurse ran to the door and yelled down the hallway, “Make him run!!” She returned to the bed and held the baby’s head in. She told me not to push. I wanted to push so badly and she kept telling me I couldn’t until the doctor arrived.
It felt like hours had passed since the nurse had left to call him but I’m sure it was less than 10 minutes. He entered the birthing room, put on his gloves and quickly consulted the nursing staff. I was finally able to push and have never felt such relief. I pushed once and my beautiful baby was born at 5:35pm.
We didn’t find out the sex of the baby before hand. I had decided at the beginning of my pregnancy that I was in for 9 months of pregnancy, and unknown weight gain (over 40 pounds) and unknown hours of labour (around 9) there needed to be a happy surprise at the end. And there she was, my happy surprise. All 8 pounds, 9 ounces and 20 inches of baby girl. Lying on my chest, staring up at me with her brand new eyes.
She was amazing. And very hungry. The nurse showed me how to breast feed while the doctor gave me a few stitches since I’d had some tearing. And then he was gone. I think he was in the room for less than 15 minutes. I have to say the nurses were the real stars for me that day. The doctor had a cameo appearance, but the nursing staff were true professionals.
One thing I clearly remember was how hungry I was. I was starving. The nurse called down to the kitchens and begged for some food since it was after hours. I wasn’t the only woman on the floor who was famished, and they kindly obliged – with green Jell-o. Even the nurse was disgusted, “Who sends green Jell-o for a bunch of pregnant women?” I think my mom brought me a sandwich from Tim Horton’s. It was the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten.
Back to my baby girl, she was perfect. Ten little fingers, ten little toes. Perfect button nose. She was beautiful, and still is. My family doctor came to see her the next day and pointed out that her head was perfectly round. She didn’t have the pointy head most newborns do (this happens in order for them to pass through the birth canal easier – that would have been nice). I told him I knew that, I had a very clear recollection of exactly how it felt. He laughed.
There was one thing about my baby girl that wasn’t perfect – she cried, non-stop, from the moment she was born until she was about 6 months old. While I was on the maternity ward I hardly slept because she didn’t sleep. She cried. On my second night one angel of a nurse came down to my room and asked me if she could take Rian for a couple of hours. “It’s against policy, but you need to sleep.” She was my hero.
When I was discharged from the hospital 2 days later the nurse asked me how many pain killers I needed. I looked at her, dumbfounded, “I can have pain killers?” She looked at me, “You haven’t had any pain killers?” I shook my head. She walked out of the room saying, “You don’t need them. You’re tough.” I should have taken the pain killers. They may have helped both of us sleep.
But here we are, 15 years later. Rian is no longer that colicky newborn. She’s still as beautiful as ever. She still amazes me. I’m stilled awed that this beautiful, young woman came from me.