Saturday, February 19th…
Our day started very early with getting Claire out the door to head east to her Dad’s house for the weekend. She and Grandma Trudie left about 7:30am. I wasn’t having any contractions at that point, but as always they were both going to keep their phones close by. Then I attended a birthday party at my sister’s house in the afternoon, for her boyfriend’s son who was turning seven. We walked over to Mt. Scott Park from their house, about three blocks away. I was having very mild contractions at that point, but nothing consistent or more serious than what I had been experiencing the past week off and on. Before I left my sister’s, I sent Mark a text message saying that I was heading home. He asked me to stop and pick up some soda. As I pulled into the turn lane for Safeway, off of 82nd Avenue, my phone rang. I looked and saw that it was my Mom calling from my grandma’s house in Arlington, and I knew that if I didn’t answer she would worry. So I answered and told her that I was driving, but as soon as I did that I heard sirens and saw a cop coming fast behind me in my rearview mirror. I was already stopped in the turn lane, so I just stayed put (because isn’t that what you are supposed to do?). But then realizing that my Mom just heard sirens, I quickly explained they were not for me as I pulled into the parking lot and turned off my car. Next thing I know, that cop is sitting behind me with his lights on. So I tell my Mom I have to call her back. He told me that he had “pulled me over” because I didn’t get out of his way (so apparently I was supposed to cross over in front of him to get over to the right, even though I was at a stand still and he was going 50+mph towards me. I think I made the right decision by staying put, if I would have moved he would have hit me. And he also pulled me over for being on my cell phone while driving. Long story short, the cop had absolutely no sympathy for my story about how the whole scenario was just really poorly timed, or that I was overdue and didn’t want my Mother to worry since she was out of town, or the fact that I don’t talk on my cell phone while driving, and I wasn’t talking when he passed by me despite what he thought he saw. The most frustrating part is that very fact. I do not talk on my cell phone while driving, I used to – don’t get me wrong – but since we have two very impressionable daughters at home who both are cell phone owners, Mark and I made a pact that we would not text or talk on our phones while in the car. We have to set the right example. So for me to get a ticket for this very thing, it was super frustrating and sad. I cried. I don’t like getting in trouble and I was feeling very defeated at that point. So I went into Safeway and got some soda and a big box of chocolate donuts (to make me feel better, of course), and then headed home.
When I got to the house I explained my crazy afternoon to Mark, and then cried some more while he held me and cursed out the cop to himself. I had felt some leaking while I was driving home, so I went to the bathroom but couldn’t really tell what was causing it. We had some dinner and then about 6pm my contractions started to get a little stronger and more consistent. We timed them for awhile but then realized that it was pointless to do so, because my doctor’s orders were that “if the contractions were painful” then we needed to head to the hospital. We watched the movie Scott Pilgrim and then the outtakes, which were pretty funny. And then my contractions sort of stalled. I text my friend Sascha, who I had asked to be my Doula during the delivery. She suggested that we take a few laps around the block, as the walking would surely inspire the contractions to start again. So we bundled up, as it was about 35 degrees out, and walked a brisk pace around our block twice. The contractions were not any closer together, so we went back in the house. I remembered how the laughing seemed to make them more intense, so we decided to check out the website “damnyouautocorrect.com” about how Iphone’s will autocorrect your text messages sometimes, and it doesn’t always know what you are trying to say. They get pretty silly and before I knew it I was crying from laughing so hard. But my contractions were still not painful enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. By this time it was close to midnight, so we decided to go to bed. No sooner had I laid down then I had a contraction that was more intense than I had felt so far. Then aanother, and then on the third one I felt a “pop”. So I told Mark and we decided to get up again. When I stood up out of bed I felt more leaking and then realized that the pop sensation was probably my water breaking. So I called the hospital and they suggested we come in. My contractions continued to be intense as we gathered all of our stuff together and headed downtown. We got checked in and settled into our room. The nurse got me all set up with an IV, since I was going to be delivering VBAC they had all these precautions. My contractions were getting stronger and I was trying to stay comfortable. Mark had called Sascha to alert her that we were checked into the hospital and that he’d call her when he thought it was time for her to come in. After a couple hours, I was starting to feel intense pain with my contractions and I was questioning my decision to do it without pain medication. So I asked for the IV pain medication that would “take the edge off” a bit. I can’t really remember if it worked or not. If it did, it wasn’t for long. Then I started to realize that I didn’t want to keep going through the pain, when I didn’t have to. And that’s when I started saying things like “Why am I doing this again?” and “Who am I kidding?”. So Mark grabbed his phone and called Sascha, letting her know that he thought it was time she came in. She was there in no time at all, and was able to coach me through another couple hours of intense contractions. She immediately gave me the instruction to “go as low as you can go” with my breath. So I started to moan really low during each contraction and visualize moving my breath down trough my uterus and this helped me tremendously. But it was still very intense and when they checked and told me I was dilated to a 6, I immediately asked for an epidural. I knew at that point that I was progressing more than I did when I was in labor with Claire and I didn’t have the fear of the epidural slowing me down. This is the point where time sort of slowed to a crawl, because with each next contraction it felt like it was hours since I asked for the epidural. It was really hard to get through them, but knowing that there was relief coming soon, I held on. Mark was next to me the whole time, and I squeezed his hands as tight as I could with each contraction. When I finally got the epidural, it was like a total 360 degree change. I could relax, I was smiling and I was able to actually start thinking about the bigger task that lay ahead of me – pushing!
Our family had all gathered by this point, in the waiting room at the hospital. My best friend Brandee had driven down from Tenino to be there with me. I was feeling so much more social now that I had the epidural so I was able to say hello to my family for a minute. My doctor was out of town that weekend, but the on-call doctor, Dr. Murray, was fabulous and I wasn’t worried about anything. She knew of my plan to have a VBAC and I could tell she was going to rally for me to be successful. I was fully dilated by this point but my cervix was being a little stubborn. I was completely effaced on one side but not the other, so they had me lay in a couple positions where they thought it would help me progress. And then she would say “I will come back to check on you in an hour and if you haven’t progressed any then we will probably have to do a cesarean delivery”. But she would come back in two hours instead, as if she was trying to give my body as much time as it needed. Around noon she checked me again and to my surprise (I had already accepted that I might be delivering him cesarean like Claire), she announced that I was completely effaced and it was time to push! This totally overwhelmed me and I suddenly felt very scared. I wanted to have a vaginal delivery, but now that it was time to actually do it, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to. Thankfully, my “birthing team” of Sascha, Brandee and most importantly my amazing husband, were there to reassure me and encourage me.
I won’t give too much graphic detail, but I will say that it was three and a half hours later before the little guy actually was in my arms. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through, and I could never have done it without my team. They each played such an important role in my delivering Enzo and I will always be grateful. Sascha was such a wonderful coach, she knew exactly what to say and she was my voice with the doctor and nurses when it came to trying different techniques during the pushing stage. Mark was brilliant and patient, and I am sure he was having a hard time keeping it together because towards the end he got very emotional. It was lovely to see how excited and happy he was that Enzo was almost within our grasp. And Brandee, my beautiful friend, who didn’t think she’d be any help during it all, was more support than she’ll ever know. She held my hand, she kissed my cheek and she cried alongside me but never made a fuss. I could feel her love for the both of us and it was awesome.
When my nine pound bouncing baby boy finally was placed on my chest, there was a lot going on! Suddenly our room was full of other nurses, and there was a lot of things happening to me, down there, but I could focus on only one thing. His beautiful eyes. I couldn’t talk for what seemed like minutes, but was probably only seconds. Mark was talking to him instantly and telling him how much he loved him. The second I said “Hi buddy!”, he tilted his head and his eyes met mine. I will always remember that moment. It was so special and he looked at me like he knew exactly who I was. That meant more to me than anything!
I love him so much. I am so happy to have him in my arms.
Welcome Enzo William Ronald Ritchie, you are very loved.
(my apologies for this post taking me as long as it did to write (3 weeks!!) I have been a bit busy!)