Last week was, by far, the most intense week of my life. Boomba was two weeks past her due date, and after reports that my amniotic fluid was low, my doctor recommended that I induce labor in order to prevent some really scary stuff from happening. I didn’t love the idea of induction…but I loved it more than the idea of something happening to Boomba–so Monday evening Jason, my parents and I went into the hospital with suit cases, cameras and birth-ball in tow. The nurses checked me before beginning the induction. Alas, I was not dilated at all. It was disappointing. I had spent the last two weeks obsessively looking out for signs of labor with no results. Boomba did not want to budge. The nurse put an IV in my arm to begin the process. It felt weird taking a drug after ten months of being totally drug-free. The nurse placed monitors on my belly to measure contractions and Boomba’s heart rate. The sound of her heart beating became the sound-track to the next 26 hours of labor.
Throughout the night, the nurses came in every hour or so to check in on me. I had to get up to pee about every 20 minutes. I was beginning to feel the contractions, a tightening of my abdomen, a crampiness, nerves. I tried to relax. I was awake to watch the light of the sun begin to make it’s way into the hospital room. They checked my cervix and I was two centimeters dilated. Not exactly the steep progress we had hoped for after being hooked up to machines all night long–but it was still progress. My doctor decided to give me pitocin to help move the process along. She then broke my water bag.
It was not the dreamy ‘water-bag-breaking’ story you see in the movies. She used a tool that looked like a crochet hook and I felt a small gush of warm water trickle down my leg.
They put internal monitors inside me to monitor Boomba’s heart and the contractions.
I had a band on my arm that squeezed my arm tightly to check my blood pressure every five minutes.
A little clip on my index finger measured my pulse.
I had so many wires and chords coming in and out of me at this point that I felt like a cyborg.
The minutes passed and the contractions softly intensified.
The hours passed. The pain increased. Three centimeters dilated. Four. Five.
The pain, at this point, was no longer tolerable. The pitocin intensified the contractions and also ensured that they came really close together, giving me no break in between each flash flood of agony. Jason stroked my arm and help me to change positions, to breath, to focus elsewhere like we had learned in the many prep courses we had taken. He fed me ice chips. We listened to Bob Marley. My mom and dad took turns holding my hand, helping me to breath.
By the time the nurse asked me if I wanted the epidural, knowing I was facing five-six more hours of these contractions, I said yes. The six inch long needle in my back felt like a mosquito bite compared to the pain of the contractions. I was beyond relieved once the pain subsided.
I told the anesthesiologist that administered the epidural that I wanted to kiss him.
I began to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
They put in a catheter and at last, I was able to take a breath and listen to Boomba’s heart beat. I was now dilated between seven-eight centimeters and I took comfort in the knowing that soon, I would get to meet my little Boomba. I could still feel the highs of the contractions, but the pain was subdued.
After a few minutes, the shakes creeped up on me. My whole body began to convulse. My jaws clacked together, I began to sweat.
I had a fever. The nurses added antibiotics to the buffet of drugs that were being fed to my veins.
Boomba’s rhythmic heartbeat began to beat erratically: Fast, then slow. Fast, then slow.
They checked my dilation and the previous reading of seven to eight cm. was incorrect. They informed me that I was actually more like six cm. By this time I had been in labor for 24 hours.
To say I felt disheartened would be an understatement. My doctor informed me that at this point, with the baby’s heart-beat as erratic as it was, in order to avoid risk of brain-damage and other really frightening things from happening, she recommended a C-Section.
One million things ran through my head at this point–but the most pressing, was that all that mattered was that Boomba came out healthy. So after talking it over with Jason, they shaved me and prepped me for the OR.
As I lay on the OR table I waited for Jason, stared at the enormous aluminum lights above me, and sobbed uncontrollably. I was scared. And exhausted.
The doctors numbed my me and I asked Jason to just talk to me in my ear to drown out the voices of the doctors and nurses that were chit-chatting about taco bars and kids’ birthday parties.
I felt nothing from the waist down and then, after what seemed like about twenty minutes, I heard the sound of my baby cry. It was the sweetest cry I’d ever heard. More time passed and they called Jason over to cut the umbilical cord. I waited. I waited some more. The anticipation of meeting my daughter in that moment, was like nothing I’d ever felt. Finally, the nurse placed a little swaddled baby-doll on my shoulder, just a couple of inches from my face. My eyes crossed to try and put her in focus. I could smell her baby smell and once again the tears began to flow–but this time, tears of wonder. It was so surreal to see her for the first time already all clean and swaddled–I didn’t get to see her covered in blood or with her umbilical cord attached–so despite the many months of pregnancy and the many hours of labor it almost felt like she appeared like magic.
Jason and Boomba left the OR to get her tests done. I heard the doctor dictating that she was breech, the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, and she had meconium in her mouth–all signs that pointed to the fact that a vaginal delivery would have been very tough and very risky for her.
As they sewed me up I practiced my breathing and my patience. I had to wait a whole hour before I would get to hold my daughter, see her sweet face, share in the joy with my husband and my parents.
By the time I could wiggle my toes again, Boomba was brought to me. I removed her from her tight swaddle to feel her skin on mine and Jason and I were so full of love and joy and relief. It was the best nightmare of my life. And she was there, and healthy. The rest was just details.
Jason and I decided to name her Ida Sky. Ida was my great-grandmother’s name–we were very close an she brought an abundance of love and joy into my life. The name Sky I love because it gives me the feeling of endless possibilities. So her name is rooted in both the earth, (with ties to her family tree) and the heavens.