Friday, May 9, 3:15 PM: I go to my doctor's office for my routine bi-weekly non-stress test. The baby is still performing beautifully, but when the technician takes my blood pressure, it's 155/110, which tells her that my week of ordered bed rest hasn't done anything to lower it (nor has the increased dosage of medicine).
3:45 PM: I see the doctor for my regular appointment, and she seems worried -- very worried. She seconds what a different doctor told me earlier in the week -- that I look a lot better on paper than I do on my medical chart. She checks my cervix, and I'm 2 centimeters dilated. She tells me she's going to go consult with one of the other doctors on staff. When she comes back, she says, "Well, it looks like you're having a baby. There's no more reason to keep you pregnant, and we should nip this in the bud before the baby starts to be affected by your blood pressure. I'll call the hospital and let them know to expect you this evening." I'm surprised -- shocked, actually; I thought I'd at least have until Monday, and I tell her as much. She just repeats, "There's no reason to wait. Go home, get a few things, and head to the hospital. And good luck!"
4:15 PM: I get into my car and call Joe, who's at work until 4:30. I'm sobbing as I tell him, "You need to meet me at home. We're having the baby today."
6:15 PM: After sitting in rush hour traffic and doing some last-minute packing and home preparation, Joe and I head to the hospital.
7:00 PM: We complete our registration and are taken to our labor and delivery room. My nurse comes in and explains that, since my blood pressure is high and that's a sign of preeclampsia, I need to be on magnesium sulfate to prevent seisures throughout my labor and for 24 hours after the baby is born. This means that I'll have to be hooked up to an IV for that entire time, and I'll need a catheter since I won't be able to get out of bed. She takes a couple of vials of blood to test for preeclampsia, and says that even if I don't have it the magnesium is still necessary. I'm a little bummed, because the last thing I wanted was to be bedridden through the whole thing.
8:00 PM: They hook me up to my IV and start the magnesium sulfate, penicillin (I was positive for Group B), and the pitocin.
Saturday, May 10, 12:00 AM: At midnight, I'm 4 centimeters dilated, and one of the residents on call comes in and breaks my water -- an altogether unpleasant experience and really nothing like it's portrayed in the movies. The resident says there's a little bit of meconium in my amniotic fluid, which means that the baby went to the bathroom, but that it's very light so it's nothing to worry about at this point. My nurse tells me I should start feeling contractions more strongly now that my water's been broken. She says I'll probably be ready for my epidural by 4 AM.
12:05 AM: Aaaaaaaaaaand I start to feel the contractions, mostly in my back, and they are painful.
1:00 AM: I tell my nurse to get the anesthesiologist -- I'm ready for the epidural.
2:00 AM: The anesthesiologist arrives to administer the epidural. The actual application of it isn't as painful as I thought it would be, and it offers almost immediate relief from the contractions. The only problem is that once it's been in for about an hour, even though my right side is still totally numb, I'm starting to feel the contractions again on my left side.
3:00 AM: I tell my nurse about the one-sided epidural, and she calls the anesthesiologist, who performs a touch test and realizes that yes, I can feel everything that's going on on my left side. Unfortunately, they need to have up-to-date blood work that's been drawn in the last 4 hours before they can administer another epidural. So, my nurse draws blood, and I wait impatiently and painfully for the results.
4:00 AM: Blood work is good. The second epidural is administered, which numbs my entire body from the collar bone down. Joe and I try to get some rest.
8:00 AM: I'm 8 centimeters dilated, and the contractions are becoming gradually stronger and more resistant to the epidural. I'm not feeling them in my back anymore; now they're lower in my pelvis. My nurse informs me that the epidural is only designed to numb contractions from the top of the pelvis to the top of the fundus, which is something no one told me before. So I breathe like a champ and chomp endlessly on ice chips and try to ride them out, but I'm really hurting at this point.
9:50 AM: 10 centimeters, at last. Time to push. Joe sends a text message to our family to let them know that I've started pushing, that the baby is imminent! Surely within the hour! At first, it feels so good to push...to be able to go with the pressure I was feeling to move that baby. Eventually, though, things start to get really sore, and I'm feeling exhausted.
11:00 AM: ...Still pushing. Joe sends another text message to that effect.
12:00 PM: ...Still pushing. Starting to feel delirious from the pain. The doctor comes in to check the baby, and he hasn't moved at all. I picture the little guy in there, his arms spread out wide on either side, screaming, "Noooo, bitches! You're not taking me without a fight!" The doctor says they're going to give the baby a little "help," and he leaves the room. When he returns, he comes with a team of eight or nine doctors and nurses and a tray of scary-looking implements.
12:15 PM: First, the doctor tries to force the baby down manually. That doesn't work.
12:20 PM: Next, he tries attaching a suction thingy to the baby's head. I push, he pulls, there are people pressing hard on my stomach trying to force the baby out...and still, he doesn't move. I feel like I'm going to pass out from the pain. There are people all around me, telling me I can do it, just one more push, just a little bit harder, but I block them all out and concentrate only on Joe, who has one hand on my head and one hand in mine while he whispers in my ear, "You're doing great, baby...I love you so much, you're doing great."
12:25 PM: Forceps. Excruciating pain. And still, no baby.
12:30 PM: The doctor tells them to prepare me for a C-section, because this baby absolutely refuses to come any other way. Joe changes into surgical scrubs as I'm given something that, blissfully, numbs me completely. I'm wheeled to the operating room.
12:45 PM: The operation begins. Joe's sitting beside me, but he's watching what's going on with a kind of fascination. (Later he tells me, "I saw your guts.") I think I tell my doctor that his voice reminds me of David Schwimmer's, but again, I'm kind of delirious.
Saturday, May 10, 12:58 PM: Andrew Joseph is born, and he starts to cry while he's still inside of me. As soon as I hear him, I completely lose it -- tears are pouring down my cheeks, fogging my glasses until I can barely see. It's such a cliche, but suddenly, it is all worth it -- every little bit of everything I just went through. I look at Joe, and his eyes are bright with tears, and I can see him beaming behind his mask. It is the most perfect, beautiful moment of our lives.