My contractions began around lunchtime on Saturday, January 5th. They were not strong and irregular and would. They would stop and start, being weaker or stronger, but always irregular all day Sunday. I awoke Monday, January 7th, around 4am to a couple of stronger contraction, but they were irregular as well and within two hours or so were gone. They would start and stop all day. That night, I had slept only about 2 hours when a stronger contraction woke me. I would try to go back to sleep and finally fall asleep for about 15 minutes before another one would wake me. By 3am, I was tired, I was frustrated, I wanted to know if 3 days of random contractions had done anything, I was physically cold, and I was physically shaking. My doctor would later suspect that, having done this 4 times before, my tired body was kicking up the hormones a bit early and that was causing the shaking. James stayed up with me as we watched Married with Children reruns through random contractions. I fell asleep again around 5:30, woke to a contraction at 5:45, fell asleep again, woke to a contraction at 6am, fell asleep again woke to a contraction at 6:15am and James and I agreed we should go to the hospital. The shaking had stopped when I was dozing in and out, but once I got up again, I was freezing and shaking again. Having done this 4 times before, even I couldn't make heads or tails of everything that was going on and I didn't like it.
I was told I was 80% effaced and dilated to 4cm. We were told we could go home and see what happens, but James and I were hesitant to do that knowing how tired, cold and shaky I already was and not knowing how much longer labor would go on. We decided to stay. The triage nurse tried to put my heplock in my left arm... twice.... I'm still greatly bruised from her first attempt, so I'm grateful she gave up and let the labor and delivery nurse, who was a pro, put it in instead.
The contractions got stronger and closer together, so I was really disappointed when they checked me at 1pm and I was still 5-6cm. Tired and not progressing, I asked for an epidural. I spent the first part of the one o'clock hour answering the standard questions from the anesthesiologist. The contractions became stronger and very close together. I shifted positions and finally felt like I was making progress standing up. What made things worse was that the baby monitor simply couldn't keep the baby on its radar so the nurses were pushing and prodding me with the monitor trying to pick up the baby's heartbeat right where the contractions were strongest. Their pushing on my abdomen was not only made the contractions more painful but was distracting me from relaxing through them. Double strikes on every. single. contraction. James was surprised, and has even said he wishes he had a picture of my face because it was so "awesome", when I finally snapped at the nurses to leave me alone.
The nurse offered to get the doctor to check me before I got the epidural to see if I had progressed any. Ever preferring not to have the epidural if I really didn't need to, I jumped at the chance. And I even told the nurses that I was feeling like I might be able to push. She checked me. I was 7cm. I wanted to cry. And the doctor turned off the bright overhead lights and began to leave. But then something happened. 7cm or not, the only contractions I felt were pushing contractions. So I did the only thing my body was telling me to do, with or without my 3cm, I began pushing. About 4 pushes later, at 2:13pm, Brigid Lucia was born. They placed her slippery little body on my chest and I couldn't believe how small she was. I really thought I was carrying a baby closer to 7 1/2 pounds, maybe 8 pounds, and even the nurse in triage had thought it was about an 8 pounder. Only my doctor had guessed closer to the truth. For reasons I don't understand (Baltimore is weird), the hospital weighed her in grams and we had to figure out what she weighed in pounds, but it came out to 6 pounds and 11 ounces. I still don't understand how, even while in labor, her little 19.7 inch frame could be pushing down enough to cause me pelvic pain while getting a foot up under my ribs, but she managed.
James and I had no idea whether we were having a boy or a girl, but we knew if we had a girl, her name would be Brigid after Saint Brigid of Kildare. I had previously purchased two children's books on St. Brigid and have found her to be just a wonderfully surprising fascinating saint. She was baptized by and friends with St. Patrick. She founded convents all over Ireland and miracles were reported throughout her lifetime. We were unsure of the middle name, but when we saw her, we knew Lucia was the perfect fit. St. Lucy is an early church martyr and her name is listed in the canon, alongside the patron saints of our other daughters (Cecilia, Felicity, Agnes, and Mary).
We remained in labor and delivery a couple of hours and got something to eat. My only complaint during this time was the number of fundal checks the nurses *had* to give me. 1 every 15 minutes for the first hour and then 1 every 30 minutes for the second hour. Before even going to postpartum I'd had a nurse push on my abdomen 6 times. I wasn't thrilled.
On the way to postpartum, they took Brigid to the nursery for a bath. James stayed with her. In postpartum I was told I needed to watch two videos, one on shaken baby syndrome and one on putting a baby to sleep on his or her back and always alone. I was also told I needed to fill out a postpartum depression survey, the birth certificate form and sign the insurance forms. This, I was told, was my "homework" (which I found a bit condescending) and then I was given another fundal check. Brigid still hadn't made it to my room, so I went to her. She had had her bath and her body temperature was great, but the nurse still insisted she stay beneath a warmer for 30 minutes simply because she had had a bath.
Now, I don't judge or blame anyone who wants their baby in the nursery, but I think of myself as a mama bear. She is my baby. I want her with me. Period. And if it meant standing in the hall outside the nursery waiting, I would. And we did, until they finally released her and I brought her back to my room. I pressed the nurse for the fact that the survey and videos were not required but only "strongly encouraged" and did not do them. I'm all for providing a video on shaken baby syndrome, but I've seen them before and while I understand postpartum depression can be very serious, I've never had it before and, if I did develope it, would share that with my doctor, not someone taking a survey at the hospital. Since I have coslept with every one of my children during their first year, I simply took offense at the other video. I realize there is a right way to do it and a wrong way, but don't tell mothers that they just shouldn't cosleep.
Before falling asleep that night I was given yet another cursed fundal check, but Brigid and I did manage to get about 4 hours of sleep that night. Added to my 3 hours the previous night and I was impressed I was doing as well as I was! The lack of sleep was partially the nurse and all the vitals checks they just have to do every 4 hours or so and partially the fact that Brigid was simply hungry as a horse and wanted to nurse from about 11 until 3.
The next morning my doctor came by, understood I wanted to leave as soon as possible and gave me her all clear and then gave me her fundal check. Just after she left, the nurses switched shifts again and I got my 10th fundal check since giving birth 18 hours prior. Is it any wonder I was sore in places I couldn't even explain otherwise for several days afterwards?!?! We spent the day hanging out and trying to get done all the tests we needed to get done to get released from the hospital. Brigid passed her hearing test and was given a thumbs up by the hospital pediatrician but they couldn't do the oxidation, bili or PKU tests until 24 hours after her first feeding and since I had guestimated that to have been around 3:30 the previous day, we were stuck waiting. James said her first feeding was more like 2:30, but when I tried to correct it I was told 3:30 was already in the they do with the baby they *need* to do in the nursery) and I asked about the oxidation test since it was new since I last gave birth and she mentioned that it became required about a year ago but she had done it on Brigid the day before "just because she wanted to know." So apparently she liked doing that test on the babies twice. I hope they don't charge for it twice. She was a bit of a piece of work. In 4 children I have never seen anyone do a PKU test the way she did ... she didn't hold the piece of paper up to the baby's heel to get the blood but used a small tube to gather just a couple of drops at a time and then put it on the paper. Fortunately Brigid didn't mind but I was just stunned by how tedious and, frankly, stupid it was.
Anyway, she passed all her tests and James and the girls came to take us home. We were escorted to the car by the nurse - must be a Baltimore thing as that never happened to us in Virginia before. Baltimore scares me.
The next day, our pediatrician saw Brigid and she was down to 6 pounds, 3 ounces but doing well. She went in for another check up yesterday and was up to 6 pounds, 13 ounces. She had actually slept 5 1/2 hours the previous night before I got nervous and woke her up. And she is beginning to spend more time just hanging out looking around.
She is absolutely precious, and, so far, with regards to size and temperament, is reminding me most of Felicity. When you consider Felicity laid claim to being this baby's "second mommy" months ago, there is something very sweet about Brigid taking after Felicity. I don't know yet if Brigid has her blue eyes yet though.... will have to wait and see. :)
Overall, I was not impressed with my hospital and I'd prefer to never go back. Getting admitted took a ridiculously long time and the nurses in postpartum seemed to live by the system with little to no regard for the patient and no respect for the fact that I had done this 4 times before and never once had any medical problem to cause concern. I can completely understand why some women opt for home births.