July 23, 2006: This evening I was slightly motivated to clean my kitchen and bathroom a little deeper than usual. I commented to Jon about how strange it was that I felt compelled to clean the baseboards - "I'm not going to be putting the baby on them, so why do I feel that they should be so frickin' clean?!"
July 24, 2006: I woke up that morning feeling really tired, a little queasy and fat. The only thing that sounded somewhat appetizing to eat was PB&J on crackers. And my hip was hurting a little more than the past couple of days, which struck me as odd but I didn't think much of it. I shuffled around the house doing my usual Monday routine, until about 2:30pm-ish, when my uncle-in-law picked me and Natey (my son) up to take us to my OB appointment at the Hassler Center. They waited in the car while I checked in and waited for my name to be called. The nurse did the usual urine, weight and vitals check, and then I was given a gown and told to "wait for a moment, Dr. Drazdik is just a little behind on appointments today."
So I waited, and waited... and waited. It felt like forever I was sitting in that drafty-ass gown on the table. I was starting to feel a little apprehensive. Instinctively, I removed all my jewelry, put it all into my purse and began my relaxation exercises in an attempt to keep from panicking. Finally, I got up, wrapped the sheet around me toga-style and opened the door to go out to ask the nurse how much longer, when --
"Hi, there! Been waiting awhile?" My doctor asked as she walked in and closed the door.
"Yeah... but it's okay." I began to feel my panic slowly dissipate. She asked all the usual questions, and then proceeded to get prepped for my internal exam.
She paused for a moment after she found my cervix.
"Is something wrong?" I asked worriedly.
“No.” She paused again, and then asked, “Would you like to have the baby today?”
“HUH-what?! Have the baby... today? Um... I don’t know...” I started to laugh nervously.
“Well, you see, you’re really dilated today, and she’s locked and loaded... I don’t really want to let you go home because I have a feeling that you’ll be back in here tonight and we would have wasted all this time.”
“Uh... can I call Jon and see what he thinks first? I don’t want to leave him out of any of this.”
“Sure... but, if I were you, I would let me do this. And your cervix is already highly agitated just from this exam... you should start feeling some mild contractions soon.”
I was feeling some cramps, but I didn’t want to admit that, not yet anyway. She let me get dressed and call Jon, but I wasn’t allowed to leave the clinic and ~ I wasn't allowed to sit down. She told me that she had a couple more patients to see, and then she’ll check back with me to get our answer. I picked up the lobby phone and called Jon.
After a couple of rings, Zach (his supervisor) answered. "Hello?"
"Hey, Zach, it's Jeannette." I winced and continued. "Is Jon there?"
"No... He went out for a minute. He--"
"Omigod... are you kidding me?!"
"No... Why? What's wrong?" Zach immediately picked up on the panic in my voice. "Are you having the baby right now?"
"Well, no... I mean, not right now, but--"
"Uh, hey, Nette, he just walked in." Zach put the phone down and hollered, "Jon! Get your ass over here - now! Nette's having the baby right now!"
In less than 5 seconds, Jon was at the phone. "Hello?" He asked, and I could hear the slight nervousness in his voice.
"Hi, honey... Um... do you want to become a daddy today?" I winced again, the cramps getting a little more painful and harder to conceal. The receptionist smiled at me, as if she was in on the whole thing. I tried to smile back, but all I could manage was a grimace with a brief flash of teeth.
"What? Uh... are you in labor right now?"
"Well, not really. I'm still at the Hassler Center. Dr. Drazdik told me that I'm really dilated and that I should let her naturally induce me. So, what do you think? Should I let her do it?"
Jon paused. "Yeah, go for it. I'll be there as soon as I can."
I sucked in a deep breath, trying to stay calm. "Okay, but hurry. But be careful. But... just hurry. I love you." I began to feel panicky again.
"I love you too. See you soon. Bye."
"Bye." I hung the phone up slowly. Suddenly, I stood up straighter. Oops! I forgot to go outside to let Kenny know what was going on! I turned to the receptionist.
"I just remembered," I breathlessly said to her. My uncle and my son are outside. I forgot to let them know what's going on. I'll be right back, I promise."
The receptionist looked a little uneasy about letting me go outside, but she agreed.
I got to the van and Kenny spotted me and rolled down the window. "Ready to go?" he asked.
"Uh... no. My doctor wants to induce me."
Kenny blinked. "Woah... really?"
I relayed to him all what had just transpired, and he offered to take Natey home so that he would be out of the way and distracted by his cousins Rusty and Dolly (the cutest lil redheads I have ever seen in my life). I thought that we should wait until Jon got there and let him make all the decisions right now since I felt that I was in no shape to do so anymore. So Kenny got Natey out of the van and they decided to wait in the kids' waiting room so that Natey could stretch his legs and play with some toys for awhile. Jon finally got there and found me waddling painfully around the waiting room. He agreed that Natey should go home with Kenny, and so I gave Natey hugs and kisses and told him to be a good boy for his aunt and uncle. He wrapped his arms around my neck and cried, "Nooooooooo... I stay wif youuuuuuu," but Kenny was able to get him out of there without too much trouble. Shortly thereafter, I was called back into the exam room. We told Dr. Drazdik that we were ready for her to induce me, and she didn't have to do much because I was already in pain and even had a contraction right there on the table. Afterward, she told us to start timing contractions. She explained to us how to do it, but I was so uncomfortable that I couldn't pay attention to anything she said. Jon told her that we would go to Walgreens, pick up a watch and then come right back. She agreed to let us go, but told us to stay within a mile of the hospital and absolutely no farther and meet her at 7:30 in front of the clinic (since office hours were now over and the cleaning crew was already trying to lock up by now). But if it got too intense for me and I couldn't wait until then, she assured, I could just head over to the Birthing Center right away and get signed in. The staff there will then page her and she'll be over there ASAP. We agreed and temporarily parted ways.
I was officially in labor, and terrified shitless.
Technically I could tell people that I went into full-blown labor in Walgreens. And it was the last bit of rush hour, which made it a very bad place to waddle around with contractions that were coming harder and faster with each passing moment. I literally held onto Jon as we made it to the aisle where Jon found a watch that met Dr. Drazdik's criteria for contraction-timing for a dollar (Jon is ever the frugal one, no matter what!) and I bought a small bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice. Dr. Drazdik had banned me from eating anything, but she told me small sips of something light would be okay to quench thirst. We wobbled up the counter, paid for our purchases. The cashier and other customers gave us strange looks at the way I was clutching Jon with one hand and my other hand on my belly and grimacing, but soon we were back into the parking lot.
After we got back into the van (yes, van... I had to literally climb into it while in labor!), I told Jon, "Fuck the watch, take me to the Birthing Center now ~ I can't wait until 7:30... And Lil Girl doesn't want to wait either!
Jon made the half-mile drive down the street in seconds, it seemed. He helped me out of the van and we headed for the Birthing Center as fast as my legs would allow. When we got to the front desk, the receptionist looked up.
"Yes? May I help you?"
"Uh... yeah," I panted, "I'm here to have my baby."
"Your name, please?"
"Hedenberg, that's H, e, d..."
"Oh!" She cut me off, and grabbed a nurse by the sleeve. "Take Ms. Hedenberg to L&D now, she's in labor and I will now page Dr. Drazdik." She turned back to us. "I'm sorry to interrupt you like that ~ Dr. Drazdik told us to be on the lookout for you and to page her immediately as soon as you got here. She said there was a good chance you would be here before 7:30. Are you okay?"
"Yeah... thank you, ma'am," I grunted as the nurse escorted us through the swinging electronic doors. The nurse offered me a wheelchair, and I refused, explaining that I was not permitted to sit.
"Oh... one of those births, eh? You're a tough one!"
Whatever. It was on my birth plan that I wrote that I would like to be "free to walk around as I choose" ~ so I was sticking to my plan. Sitting down would only delay the inevitable even further, which was not my goal at all.
We were shown into an L&D room, where the nurse handed me a gown and after I was dressed (Jon had to help me due to not being able to bend over without a lot of pain), my attending nurse came in. She took my blood pressure and tried to make small talk. Suddenly, Dr. Drazdik appeared.
"Hey, guys! Been here awhile?"
"No, we just got here," Jon replied.
"Oh! Great! How are you doing, Jeannette?"
Dr. Drazdik smiled knowingly. "Okay, folks, I'll be right back, I'm going to change into my scrubs and come right back. Don't have that baby without me, now!" Excited, she practically floated out the door. Mere moments later, she was back... head to toe in dark turquoise scrubs and kick-ass gym shoes ~ I kept staring at them thinking how they looked a lot like track shoes.
Just then, the "code blue" message was blaring on the loudspeakers and the lights started flickering like crazy.
"What the..." Dr. Drazdik muttered, looking around. The attendant nurse stuck her head in the hallway to find out that there was no "cold blue" ~ the button was malfunctioning for some strange reason at that moment. The lights went back to normal, and Jon and I began to chuckle softly.
"What's so funny?" Dr. Drazdik demanded.
Jon explained to her that crazy shit happened when I was in labor with my son (the clock's hands spinning and whatnot), and that was (we believe, anyway) our dearly departed relatives' way of telling us that they were here to make sure everything was okay.
Dr. Drazdik is a very open-minded woman, so this explanation didn't surprise her at all. That was when a nurse knocked and opened the door to tell us that a Ms. Laux was on the phone wishing to speak to her daughter. Jon picked up the phone first, spoke with his mom for a moment to explain what I could not, and then passed the phone to me. Trembling, I took it.
"Hey, Ma..." I began, wincing more and more by the minute now.
"Hey! How are you doing?! You're in labor now, huh?! How's it going?! What's going on?! How are you feeling?!"
"Yeah, I'm having the baby right now, but I'm fucking scared! I don't know if I can do this! It hurts so bad! Mom, I'm scared!"
She laughed gently. "Honey, you gotta do it... there's no turning back now. You can do it, I know you can. And you're going to be fine, you're in good hands, you know."
"Yes, I know... Dr. Drazdik is awesome (Dr. Drazdik looked up to grin a "thanks" at me) and I'm not afraid of anything about that." I explained about what just happened with the "code blue" alarm malfunctioning and the lights going wonky.
"Oh, that's just my mom, my sister, your Godmother and your mom letting you know that it's going to be okay and they're there to help you."
"I know, but it's weird, Mom! I didn't think that I would have another wacked-out birthing experience, though." Everyone laughed at this comment.
"Honey, you're not in a normal family now... get used to it. You're going to be just fine."
"Okay, well, I gotta get on the medicine ball now (Dr. Drazdik was motioning me to get down off the bed), so I'll talk to you later." We said our goodbyes and Iloveyous and I handed the phone back to Jon. He began giving Mom the play-by-play and held my hand, which I began gripping tighter and tighter with each contraction.
The medicine ball was an interesting idea, so when Dr. Drazdik suggested I try it out, I complied. Since the labor was free of complications so far, the nurse removed the monitors from my belly and helped me stand back up and shuffle over to the ball. I sat down and gripped Dr. Drazdik's hands, who was now squatted down to be at my eye level. From there, she was able to see the acute fear and pain my eyes, but still maintained eye contact with me and coach me to breathe through each contraction. Due to the intense pain, I was barely able to speak. Most of this is a blur to me now, but I don't think I was on the medicine ball for a long time. I do remember a brief bout of nausea overwhelming me, but I think that was due to me panicking a bit.
"I need to check our progress now, Jeannette," Dr. Drazdik said once I was able to crawl back onto the birthing bed.
"Oh, no- okayyyyyy..." I whimpered.
The nurse briefly laid the monitor on top of my belly and we heard Lil Girl's heartbeat, sure and strong. After a very strong contraction, we heard the heartbeat speed up with a couple of thumps from Lil Girl. It was if she was saying, "Yeah, I'm still in here, get me OUT!"
"Jeannette, would you like me to break your water now to speed up the labor? Everything is going fine, but I don't want you to be in any more pain than you need to be, and the baby's doing great. It's up to you," Dr. Drazdik said.
"Uhhh... yeah, go for it," I whispered. Instantly, I felt was it was like... a roaring rush of water, a short burst of relief followed by even more intense pain. The doctor remarked to the nurse how the fluid was nice and clear, which slightly reassured me.
"The doctor just broke the water, Mom, it won't be long now," Jon said, clutching the phone in one hand and my hand in the other. He tried to hand me the phone to talk to her. I balked.
"I can't talk to her right now!" I squeaked, almost hysterical. "Please, don't make me talk!"
"Mom, she can't talk right now... she's in a lot of pain. Okay, I'll talk to you a lil bit."
I think I got back on the medicine ball again, and this time I was leaking fluid everywhere. I don't remember feeling the least bit embarrassed about it though. Gripping the doctor's hands tightly again, I begged for an epidural, saying something to the effect of "Please... epidural... now... the pain... it hurts so much." The nurse got on the phone to page the anesthesiologist, and informed us that I was third in line. I tried to stay calm as I painfully and slowly crawled back onto the bed. The nurse laid the monitor on my belly again and doctor checked my progress again, and announced everything was still going just fine, and that Lil Girl was crowning.
And that was when, to my horror, the door swung open. We all looked up, "WTF?!" written on our faces. It was a group of interns, interested in viewing a live birth. I freaked out momentarily, but my doctor kept her cool.
"Hey!" she yelled, "Get out of here!"
"But, doctor, we were sent here to view a live birth--" the leader of the group began to say, but Dr. Drazdik cut him off.
"NO! Not this one! Go on down the hall - you'll find another birth there, I'm sure. Leave, NOW." The group immediately fled and the door clicked shut.
"I thought that was the epidural..." I whispered. The nurse paged the anesthesiologist again, only to be told that we were next in line. I was reassured at the thought that soon the pain will be gone. Dr. Drazdik checked me once again to find that Lil Girl wasn't crowning anymore, so I had undilated a lil bit, so an epidural would still be okay.
Moments later, the anesthesiologist arrived, but it was too late - Lil Girl was crowning once again. I tried to grab the anesthesiologist's hand, begging her, "No... Come back... the pain..." She smiled, gave me her encouragement, but had to leave to get to the next laboring woman on her list.
It felt so good to finally be able to push - it didn't take many pushes until finally, a squawking cry was heard. My heart skipped a beat. At 8:39pm, Katelyn Christine Louise, our daughter - was finally here! The nurse exclaimed, "Oh, she's a peanut!" but Jon was so overcome with emotion that he was rendered speechless. Dr. Drazdik clamped the umbilical cord and offered to let Jon cut it, which he proudly did. Katelyn was then lightly wrapped in a thin blanket. All of this was done in less than a minute and then, Katey was deposited into my waiting arms. Looking up at Jon, I felt so much awe and love for him and our baby girl that I thought I would burst.
"She's so beautiful..." I said, blinking back tears of immeasurable joy. Jon nodded as he picked up the camera and proudly began taking pictures. He then handed the camera to the nurse so that she could take pictures of Jon holding Katey, and then of Dr. Drazdik holding Katey, looking as if she too, would burst from pride and happiness.
After awhile, I was able to deliver the placenta, whole and intact. (This surprised me, because with my son's birth, the midwife had manually removed the placenta from me. When I told my doctor about this, she was horrified, to say the least, declaring that my body, as well as any woman's body, was perfectly capable of doing the job itself. If the placenta refused to budge after at least a half hour, then I would have to go to D&C immediately. Luckily, this didn't have to happen. My uterus did give a lil bit of trouble after this, so I was given a small shot of Pictocin - piggy-backed into the saline IV that was put in sometime during labor - to encourage the uterus to behave itself and begin contracting back down. And that did the trick, and I was finally done.) The nurse cleaned me up as I was holding Katey, completely oblivious to everything else. Katey didn't really cry much after the initial "Hey, I'm here!" squawk, and now that she was in my arms, we couldn't take our eyes off of each other. It was as if she was looking into my soul, locking herself firmly into the roots of my heart.
About an hour after Katey was born, the nurse asked me if I had planned to breastfeed. I looked down at my precious lil girl and said, "Well, I feel pretty good and everything went well... sure, I'm gonna do it!" She helped me get Katey into position, and once Katey was latched, I instantly felt a strengthening of our bond. She blinked slowly as she ate, and even gripped one of my fingers her lil fist... and our hearts were cemented together. I never felt more complete than I did that very moment... I felt like I was on top of the world.
After I was declared able to be transferred to the maternity ward, Dr. Drazdik came back in to congratulate us again. She had my file in her hand and began searching through it, found my birth plan, held it up and began cheering, declaring that it should be framed, because EVERYTHING went exactly as I had written it. She did inquire as to why I wrote in for the umbilical cord to not be clamped and cut until it stopped pulsating, and she had a bit of a chuckle when I told her that I didn't know, it just sounded good to throw in at the time.
The nurse helped me into a wheelchair (I don't remember if I was holding Katey or not, I think she was off having her first bath or something), and Jon had to run home to pick up some clothes and stuff for me and to post a birth announcement on Livejournal. The nurse helped me (I was practically able to get up and walk around unassisted, but it was hospital policy to assist me at least twice after the birth to prevent any injuries) get into bed and asked me if I needed anything. I told her I was really hungry, so she paged a nurse to bring me a sandwich tray (it was now around 10pm). I'm not much of a sandwich person, but that turkey sandwich tasted like the best sandwich I ever had! I even drank the carton of milk they gave me (I rarely drink milk - I prefer to eat my milk in the form of ice cream and cheeses).
I barely slept that night... I kept cuddling with Katey, never wanting to let her go. She didn't feed much that night, but I still wanted to hold her in my arms. I spent most of the night talking to her, telling her how beautiful she was and how I and everyone loved her so very much. I told her about how she has a big brother who just can't wait to see her. I told her about how proud I was to be her mama, and that she has made our family perfectly complete. I told her how proud her daddy was to have such a beautiful princess.
I could write forever about this, but I think the best way to end this recollection is with pictures.