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Lapsed anthropologist-turned-burlesque performer and post-modern punk housewife/homesteader living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a hunky husband, gorgeous daughter, adorable corgi, fluffy rabbit, and three clucking fabulous chickens.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

This is the first day of my life...

At 3:00am on July 5th, I rolled toward my sleepy husband and said "Mr. Bear?"
"Hmm?" came the drowsy reply.
"I think I'm having contraction contractions..."
Instant alertness. "Contraction contractions like we're gonna have a baby?"
"Contraction contractions like we're gonna have a baby."

We agreed I should call my doula, who was out of state with her family. I explained that I thought I was in labor, and that I was having contractions that lasted about a minute and they felt fairly close together, though I hadn't been timing them.
"You sound pretty lucid to me," she said. "I doubt they're really contractions, try to get some sleep and call me back in the morning."
I laid back down and tried to fall asleep, but they kept coming, and kept hurting. I starting tracking them with an app on my iPhone, and after about eight(including one particularly painful one that had me gasping), Mr. Bear asked if I just wanted to go to the hospital. I did.

We grabbed the bag he had packed with everything we thought we'd need, based on research and helpful friends, said goodbye to the dog, and piled into the car. At the ER, a stray puppy tried to follow us in to the hospital from outside, smacking into the automatic glass doors. He seemed friendly and had a collar, I hoped someone would find his person. By this time it was 4am and I'd had 18 contractions.

The triage nurse on call checked my blood pressure multiple times and took a urine sample. After about half an hour, she said "Your contractions aren't quite as regular as we usually like, but you have several symptoms of preeclampsia, so I don't think you're going back home at this point."

I was taken to my birthing suite and made to understand that no, I would not be laboring in the big jacuzzi tub or walking the halls or sitting on a balance ball or delivering squatting down. I would be in the hospital bed and I would be lying down. My midwife arrived and explained to me that she wanted to break my waters, that delivering was the only way to lower my high blood pressure. Breaking the waters was the most painful part for me, and Mr. Bear had tears in his eyes watching how much pain I was in. There was meconium in my amniotic fluid.

I received an IV and some lovely pain killers which dulled the pain but made me loopy in a way I didn't like. My mother, grandmother, and close friend came to keep me company, after Mr. Bear sent out the mass text telling everyone I had been admitted to the maternity ward. My mother and friend both worked on little felt figures they were making for Juniper's mobile. 

After laboring a few hours, I spoke to the anesthesiologist about getting an epidural. She said she's been placing epidurals for nine years and explained the procedure to me. When it came time, I barely felt a prick on my back. The epidural numbed my legs, but not completely, and I couldn't feel the contractions in my abdomen, which made me much more comfortable. Everyone except Mr. Bear left, so that I could try to sleep. Periodically someone would come in to check my dilation. I stalled out at 5cm and they wanted to give me pitocin.

I had been pretty adamant about not getting pitocin, Mr. Bear and I had talked it over, and I was concerned about the increased risk of needing a cesarean. Ultimately, I was swayed by my midwife explaining that my blood pressure was still high, and they really needed to get the baby out sooner rather than later, for both our safety. I let them push the pitocin, which made me vomit, but it started things moving. Eventually I could feel the contractions in my lower back, and they were coming fast and long. 
The midwife returned and said it was showtime.

I was instructed to push through the next contraction, my knees pulled up to my chest. I wasn't emotionally ready, but there was no turning back. I pushed hard, three times, and felt something give. Mr. Bear was holding my hand and trying to help me keep my knees pulled up, while the midwife said one more contraction and we'd have a baby. I pushed three more times with the next contraction, and there was a feeling of something large and slippery squeezing out. I asked Mr. Bear if it had happened, and he said yes. I let them take the baby while my midwife started stitching me up. 
It was 3:36 in the afternoon.

Mr. Bear came over to me, crying, saying "She's so so so beautiful!" 
They held her up from across the room, she was pink and awake and alert, bright dark eyes open, a head of thick black hair. Oh my god...
We heard a bell chime, the one that rings throughout the hospital to announce the birth of a new baby.
"Is that for us?"
"Oh, no, you'll get to ring the bell yourself!"

I have no idea how many stitches I needed, only that it was a lot. Twice, a nurse had to be sent to get more sutures. There was a lot of blood, and while holding my baby didn't completely distract me from it, she certainly helped. I held her to my breast and she latched on, everyone cleared out and it was just the three of us. Finally, I gave Mr. Bear the go-ahead to let my family in the waiting room know to come back. Kate came in first, smiling and cooing over Juniper. After a few minutes my mother came in, and immediately burst into floods of tears at the sight of her. "She's perfect!"
My grandmother was more composed.

Eventually they wheeled me in the bed(I still couldn't feel my legs) to the post-partum suite, and Mr. Bear got to ring the bell, announcing Junebug's arrival in the world. We settled into the room, and doctors and nurses cycled in and out, giving Juniper all her tests, bringing me water. We received some visitors, some who brought Mr. Bear food, and took some naps. By the evening, it was just us left, and we watched her sleep in the incubator by my bed. Mr. Bear bought us cinnamon rolls in the middle of the night when I got hungry. We made note of when 3am came rolling by again, 24 hours since my contractions started. 
Best day of my life.

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