The Birth Of Lucky Jai Eilola-Bastek
Before my due date of Saturday, October 27, 2007, I tried several techniques to induce labor. I seriously questioned this decision after I actually went into labor. It was crazy to try to hurry things up. I tried eating a lot of pineapple, walking, sex, mixing two tablespoons of brown sugar with warm water to drink, and even going to an Italian restaurant whose menu boasts an eggplant Parmesan that has sent thousands of women into labor within 48 hours. I ate the entire dish and ended up feeling even bigger than I was, but still pregnant.
On the night of Wednesday, October 24th I woke up in the middle of the night feeling what I thought might be a small contraction. I was so excited and nervous that I couldn’t sleep anymore. I laid on the couch all night so I would not disturb Stan, assessing every little movement inside my body.
The following morning I noticed that my underwear were consistently damp. I wondered if my water would break soon. We had a doctor’s appointment at 3:30. Since I did not get any sleep the night before, I was exhausted and emotional. Stan got off work early and picked me up for the appointment.
At the appointment, I told the midwife about my damp underwear and she did a quick test. She swiped a little piece of paper in my vagina and told me that if it turned pink, it meant that my water had broken. It turned pink. The midwife responded by telling us that we needed to go to the hospital as soon as possible. We asked her if there are any other options, and whether we could go home to get the bag we had packed for the hospital. She said, “No, you have to go to the hospital immediately. We don’t know how long your water has been broken and there is a risk of infection.” We left dumbfounded and scared. As we checked out, the receptionist asked if we wanted to make our 6-week postpartum appointment. The idea of my pregnancy coming to an end made me cry. I was angry at the way my last prenatal visit went. I was also disappointed because I pictured my labor beginning in a way that I would notice, a strong contraction or a big gush of water for example.
As we sat in the car after the appointment, Stan took out a jewelry box. For months we had been searching for a locket that I could put Stan and our baby’s pictures in. He found the perfect locket and gave it to me at that very emotionally-charged moment. We decided that we did not need to rush to the hospital, which is right across the street from our OBGYN, and that we would go home, get our bags, and grab something to eat before heading off to the hospital. I was not in labor yet, and rushing to the hospital was not how I had pictured my labor starting. We felt that the midwife had been too cautious in telling us that we had to rush to the hospital. I had planned on relaxing, taking a bath, using pain management techniques that Stan and I learned in our yoga class, and enjoying the early stages of labor.
It was rush hour in Atlanta. We were on the highway dead stopped. I got scared. My mind started racing with terrible thoughts. “What if something happens to the baby because we did not follow the doctor’s advice and go directly to the hospital? What if this is the wrong decision?” After thirty minutes, we were still closer to the hospital than home. We finally got off the highway, only to confront another traffic jam. I was hysterical. I told Stan to turn around and go back to the hospital. He was unsure whether he should be strong for the both of us or follow my command. As he turned the car around he tried to calm me down and reminded me that most women do not have the labor and delivery that they anticipate.
Thirty minutes later we were at the hospital, no bags, and nothing to eat. They checked us in and the midwife on-call examined me. She then explained that one of the outer layers of my water had broken and that your “water” is actually like an onion with many layers. She gave us two options: she could break my water and see if I went into labor, or, they could get me started on a drug called Pitocin and hope that I would go into labor. We chose option two, which would give me the opportunity to try to relax while Stan drove all the way back home in rush hour traffic to get our stuff. They put an IV in me and started the Pitocin while I watched Top Model. I was not having contractions but my mind was racing, and with Stan gone, it seemed nothing was going as planned.
It seemed like Stan was gone forever. He finally arrived back at the hospital almost two hours later. I did not feel any different from normal, other than having a lot of tension and feeling uncomfortable from the IV. I still had not gone into labor by about midnight. I was not able to eat or drink anything since they started the Pitocin. I had not eaten since well before our doctor’s appointment and I was very thirsty and hungry. The midwife again gave us two options: break my water, which would probably start my labor, or turn down the dose of Pitocin throughout the night to try to get some sleep, then break my water in the morning if necessary. We chose the latter and asked if they could take me off the medication all together so that I could eat and drink. They reluctantly agreed. I drank some water and ate a tiny bit of tortilla with spinach and hummus on it.
I thought I slept through the night but Stan told me I woke up at least once an hour to go to the bathroom, and he had to help me wheel the IV. Moving was very difficult with all the cords and plugs. It seemed to take longer to get to the bathroom than to go pee, and at nine months pregnant, I had to pee a lot. In the morning we were exhausted.
A new midwife came in to check me in the morning, and she was much more perky and intense than the last one. While she was checking me I felt a gush of warm liquid. When she was finished I asked her when she would break my water. She said, “Honey, I just did.” I was shocked that she didn’t tell me before she did it, but I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t realize what was going on. Stan had a look of shock on his face but tried to be reassuring.
Several minutes later I felt the most consuming pain I had ever felt. It did not go away. I was moaning really loudly, trying to use the sound techniques that I had learned in my yoga class. “Ahhhh, Ooooo, Ahhhh, Ooooo.” The contractions did not build, peak and then subside like they normally should. My contractions would immediately peak, stay peaked and then drop slightly but not fully subside. It was not easy to go from having no contractions at all to having such high-intensity contractions in seconds and with no warning. After about five minutes I had had enough; the pain was overwhelming. I told Stan that I needed an epidural. Like we had practiced, he asked me if I could wait 20 minutes and then make a decision about the pain medication. I told him that he was crazy and that I had never been so sure about a decision in my life. My labor was turning out to be nothing like I expected. I anticipated having a birth free of intervention and it was discouraging to have so many interventions. However, I kept in mind that the unexpected is part of labor and delivery.
I got the epidural and Stan remembers this as being the scariest part of the labor and delivery for him. He said the needle was huge, but I did not flinch due to the labor pains. I didn’t feel anything except for the constant contractions. They stuck the huge needle in my spine and almost instantly the magnitude of the pain subsided, at least for a few moments. The pain of the contractions was so great that I did not even notice the actual administering of the epidural. After the epidural I could still feel a grinding, gnawing pain in my back. Later I would find out that this was from Lucky being in the posterior position. His head was being pushed into my spine during each contraction. They sometimes call this position “sunny side up”. I don’t think there is anything “sunny” about it. This went on for hours. My contractions were still not peaking and subsiding and the stress was taking a toll on my body and emotional state. Throughout my entire labor I maintained these difficult contractions.
Finally, eight hours later, I had dilated enough to start pushing. This was the beginning of about two and half hours of pushing, although to me it felt like fifteen minutes. The nurse told me to push and I did. She taught Stan how to prop one of my legs up and put pressure on my feet to help open up the birth canal and make the pushing more effective. After awhile, the midwife came in and asked me to push some more. After about a half an hour she looked at me from between my legs and said, “I’m sorry Honey, but I don’t think this is going to work,” implying that I would have to have a C-section. I knew this would not happen and when the next contraction came, I pushed as hard as I could to prove to the midwife that a C-section would not be necessary. I proved it. I looked in the mirror that was positioned behind the midwife so that when it was time, I could see his head crowning. I did not recognize my body as it was stretched out and puffy and quite honestly scary. I told them to get the mirror out of the room NOW.
The midwife changed her tune and began to prepare the room for delivery. She called in the team that has to clean and check Lucky out right after the birth, and she got suited up in her scrubs. The midwife had both of her hands inside of me as she attempted to twist Lucky out of the posterior position with each push. Stan and the nurse were on either side of me, ready to thrust my legs back into position. During the next push, Stan had the opportunity to touch the baby’s head as he was crowning.
I gave a great big push and the midwife performed a 3rd degree episiotomy, which means she made about a half-inch incision from the bottom of my vagina so that Lucky could finally slip out into the world. At eight pounds, three ounces, he needed a little more room than I was able to provide. The moment he was born, that moment he went from being a part of me to a part of the world, was incredible. Stan was sobbing and came up to hug and kiss me. He kept saying, “We did it, you did it.” I told him to go see Lucky and make sure he was okay.
After he was born and the cord was cut, the nurses had to take him right away and check him out. After they determined he was fine, they placed him all bundled up and crusty in my arms. He looked at me with an expression I had never known. After all the chaos of labor and delivery he looked at me as if to say, “It’s all going to be okay mom.” This was unquestionably the highlight of my life. I sobbed out loud for what seemed like hours with him in my arms.