I have a twelve-year-old son and the news of this baby's upcoming birth was a welcome surprise. Everyone in both of our families wanted a girl since we have an abundance of boys, and I wanted nothing more than to know the sex of our child. As luck would have it, the umbilical cord was in the way, and we couldn’t tell the sex of the baby. I was disappointed and excited at the same time. I’m the kind of person who's a snooper at Christmas-time, so you can imagine how not knowing the sex of our baby tortured me for months!
Our due date was December 15th, and we wanted to be as prepared as possible for the Christmas holiday. We anticipated that I wouldn’t be in much condition to do all the holiday-related tasks once the baby arrived.
I remembered well the delivery of my son and knew exactly what I did and did not want this time around. We were prepared; we had a written birth plan and had talked about the details with the doctor and nursing staff. I had my heart set on a natural delivery and did not want to be induced at any cost. I was explicitly clear about what I wanted, yet at the same time, I understood that babies sometimes have their own delivery plan, so I was also ready to throw the birth plan out the window should circumstances require that.
I planned to work until my delivery. I gained a lot of weight but remained healthy right up until two weeks prior to my due date, when my blood pressure skyrocketed. I gained ten pounds in one week! My hands swelled to the point that they tingled and I couldn’t close them, my feet were so huge my arches rounded.
My doctor prescribed a water pill, hoping to alleviate some of the pressure over a three-day period. No luck! He then started me on blood pressure meds three times a day and required me to see him every other day. I continued to go to work, arriving late, accomplishing minimal.
On December 10th, I wanted to pick up a few more Christmas gifts and my son and I went to the store. I felt horrible and was exhausted. We left without buying anything. I was too tired and didn’t feel well so dinner was meager.
Around 10:30 p.m. I was relaxing in front of the TV when I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. No big news there, I was consistently going every 20 minutes anyways, but this time when I got up it was different. I felt like I was leaking, but it wasn’t the gush I remembered with my son. I waddled off to the bathroom and the leaking sensation continued while I took care of some laundry.
My boyfriend, Stephen, worked second shift and was scheduled to be home by 11:30 p.m. I didn’t want to call and alarm him, but after talking to my doctor who insisted I go to the hospital immediately, I phoned his work and asked him to come home. By the time we checked into the hospital and were in our birthing room it was 12:30 a.m.
By that time, I was having mild erratic cramping but nothing that I couldn’t sleep through, except we were so excited that there was no way we could sleep. The first thing the nurse did was test for amniotic fluid with that little strip of paper that turns colors. She had to try several times to get the color required before she would believe that my water had broken. The IV was set “just in case”. I wasn’t allowed to get up to use the bathroom for fear of causing a prolapsed umbilical cord so I was forced to use a bedpan for the first time in my life. What a horrible experience!
My sister took my son to his Grandpa’s for the event, and my best friend, Rhonda, arrived at the hospital around 7:00 a.m. Other family members came and went, checking in on our progress but Rhonda stayed. We joked around and laughed, and had a great time waiting for the labor to start.
The doctor came in to check my progress and fully rupture the amniotic sack, hoping to get labor started. The fetal monitors were not producing an accurate reading. The doctor attached a monitor to the baby’s skull through the birth canal, completely eliminating any hope I had of moving around. Nothing happened.
At 10:30 a.m. the doctor ordered a Pitocin drip. Remembering clearly how much more painful the contractions were with Pitocin when I had my son, I discussed the options of pain management with the nurse. She convinced me to give it a shot without pain killers. By 12:00 p.m. the pain was so intense I was in tears with no break between contractions. I had only dilated to 6 cm. and the baby still had not dropped. I ordered the epidural.
It was 12:30 p.m. by the time the anesthesiologist made it to my room and began the epidural, but by then the pain was so intense I was unable to communicate. After suffering through the pain of labor and the pressure of the epidural, the epidural was ineffective.
It was 1:00 p.m. by the time the anesthesiologist was done setting the needle in my back. I had progressed to a full 10 cm. and was told to begin pushing; in a frenzy the birthing room transformed into a delivery room.
The pushing was nothing like I remembered with my son. It was incredibly painful, I could feel a searing sensation with every push, and I became scared to push because of it. The doctor performed an episiotomy to assist me, but the baby had a long way to go and exhaustion was setting in. My blood pressure was being checked every five minutes and I was on oxygen.
When I finally delivered my baby it was 1:56 p.m. I remember asking, “What is it?” and the doctor holding up our baby girl for me to see. Her daddy had been in tears for a while, but I cried too with the joy that we had a girl.
Our beautiful blessing, Clarisse Elizabeth, joined us on December 11, weighing eight point two pounds, and measuring twenty one and a half inches long.
For all of the misery I endured through the pregnancy and delivery, she is the happiest, most content baby any parent could hope for. She was sleeping through the night by the time she was five weeks old, always waking with her morning smiles.
Perhaps the old saying that childbirth is the quickest forgotten pain isn’t all that accurate. Oh I haven’t forgotten nor will I be forgetting soon, but I’d suffer through it again for the reward. It was just a few short weeks after Clarisse’s arrival when her daddy and I started talking about the possibility of a little sister or brother for her.
And all of that anticipation, not knowing what we were having…made her arrival that much more meaningful and significant in all of the lives she has touched.