[warning: this is a very long, detailed post about the actual birth. some of you may find it interesting, but i wrote it for my own records.]
the easiest thing to do, of course, is to wait at home until the very last moment possible and then rush to the hospital. that's essentially what happened to us:
after the ob appointment on thursday morning i started to think that this girl was just going to take her time in arriving. my regular ob was on vacation last week and i had met with another ob in her group that i'd never met before. after informing me that i was 2cm dilated she didn't mention anything about signs i should watch for or to call her if i started feelings contractions, and she said i should come back in a week. so i just went home to get on with my day and lead a "normal" life until the time came.
i went to target to buy diapers (and the new 'star wars' dvd), i blogged, i helped the boy with his homework, made roast chicken for dinner, and settled in for a night of movie-watching with the boys. while watching 'revenge of the sith' my friend JM called. she's my best friend from japan who recently moved to jakarta. she and her family were visiting los angeles for a few days to go to disneyland and we were hoping to meet up during her brief visit. i informed her that nothing had happened with the baby so we could meet on saturday. i then half-jokingly said that i'd try my best to get her out while she was at disneyland so she could meet the girl.
the boy fell asleep part way through the movie, but JR and i finished watching the movie. i even did the dishes. sometime around 9:30 we started watching 'pirates of the caribbean,' which was on tv. we were just hanging out, enjoying each other's company and relaxing. but then at 10 my stomach started to really hurt. i mentioned it to JR and he was the one who insisted we start timing the pain if it returned. he didn't trust me to make the right decisions about whether the pains were contractions (i have a certain history of thinking my contractions are not real). the second pain came about 15 minutes later. the next one was 8 minutes later. it hurt, but it wasn't unbearable; it could've been gas for all i knew.
i decided to go to bed at a little after 10:30 but the pains continued. i tried to lie down but i couldn't hold still during the pains. JR was convinced these were contractions and i was starting to think the same. i became convinced when i felt like i had to go to the bathroom. that's what happened with my labor with the boy too; i felt like i had to have a bowel movement. so i was running in and out of the bathroom for awhile while JR continued to watch the clock and start finishing up the hospital bag packing. if i wasn't in the bathroom i was roaming between the bedroom and the living room, breathing hard during the pains, and grabbing anything i could to get me through the pain.
JR called the ob sometime after 11 (at this point i wasn't in any condition to watch the clock) and left a message with the after-hours service. but the ob never called back and i was hurting. we decided to just go to the hospital. we had called my mother-in-law to get the boy and she arrived at midnight. we took off for the hospital and arrived 20 minutes later. during the car ride my contractions were four minutes apart. i was pretty scared that we weren't going to make it to the hospital on time because during my last visit to the toilet before leaving the house i had a huge urge to push. that got me off the toilet right away -- i wasn't going to have my baby on the toilet! i even contemplated telling JR to pull into the firestation on the way to the hospital because i thought i wouldn't make it.
but we made it to the hospital and checked in at the maternity ward. the nurses were pretty casual and weren't in any rush to get me checked. maybe i looked okay because it was between contractions but they took their merry old time getting me into triage. the nurse wanted me to give her a urine sample before changing into a gown, and i was like "i don't think i can give you any pee at this point!" but i tried and again had a huge urge to push while i was in the bathroom. i had a contraction and when the nurses heard me grunting and moaning through it, i think they finally realized that i was farther along than they realized. they checked me and when the nurse saw that my water bag was about to burst she really kicked into gear. they were going to move me to labor and delivery, and the second i sat down in the wheelchair my water broke in a huge gush and i had another contraction. that's when they started to run down the hall towards the l&d room.
when they got me there the nurses rushed around getting me hooked up to a fetal monitor, an iv, and an oxygen mask. they kept telling me to breathe deep for the baby and i tried so hard during the contractions not to push but it was incredibly hard not to. i focused on a sticker on the light on the ceiling and grabbed on to JR's hand. i remember JR's hand being cold and slightly damp. he wasn't saying much but i could tell he didn't know what to say because he was worried. [actually, according to JR, he was more scared of me than for me. during my labor with the boy i snapped at him a lot because he was bugging me and he didn't want to repeat that performance.]
then i had a huge urge to push and when i did, i felt something starting to emerge. but since the nurses had been telling me to keep breathing, i thought i wasn't supposed to push so i sort of stopped. but at that point JR said, "you're doing it" and the nurses said to push so i exhaled hard and finished the push and felt something slip right out. "you did it. you did it." i remember JR saying that twice.
without asking us, the nurses cut the umbilical cord and whisked the baby off to the heat table. i heard her healthy cry and i just felt tired at that moment. i held JR's hand and closed my eyes. i'd been hooked up to the fetal monitor for seven minutes; it was 20 minutes after arriving at the hospital. there was no time for a epidural. there was no ob there. it was just me, JR and the nurses.
[i almost forgot that the afterbirth was possibly worse than the actual birth. the nurses wanted me to keep pushing to get the placenta out. i was making noises and trying to push but i could tell my abdomenal muscles were done working for the night. so the nurses starting pushing on my belly really hard to get it to come out. it was quite painful since the nurse kept jabbing at my belly button over and over and over again in the same spot. i still feel bruised there. meanwhile, another nurse showed us the umbilical cord: "look how long and curly it is! it looks like a telephone cord!" the nurse found it pretty amusing and kept holding it up to show us. JR didn't get a picture of that!]
the ob finally arrived about 10 minutes later. she didn't really say anything to me, which was weird because she had been quite chatty during our appointment that morning. one of the nurses mentioned that i tore a little during the delivery. when the ob checked i heard her say, "that's not just a little!" and so she started the whole process of "sewing up my bottom," as she put it. i think the stitches took longer than the actual delivery, probably because of my "impressive hemorrhoids" that the doctor had to work around. while i lay there JR got to hold the girl and show her to me. just looking at her newborn face and talking with JR helped me to relax during the stitches. once the doctor was done, she said congratulations and left. that was it. crazy, huh?
[i finally got a chance to hold the girl after the ob left. she felt so tiny and soft. i was startled at the amount of hair she had. it was so black -- much darker than the boy's hair was at birth. she definitely looks like me because she's much more "asian-y" with that shock of black hair. but at this point it's hard to say who she "really" looks like. i got to breastfeed her for a little while before the nurses took her to the nursery for her tests and bath.]
JR got a chance to call my parents during the stitches. i hadn't had the time or energy to let them know we were going to the hospital (my mom was supposed to come with me) and i felt bad that they missed the birth. they were good enough to come out to the hospital to see me while i recovered. i'm also thankful to my in-laws for watching the boy that night and making him feel special as the big brother.
[story to continue ...]