Go Eva, It’s Your Birth Day

by Angela on September 19, 2013 · 11 comments

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

 

I’ll admit it. Part of me secretly hoped Mike would show up for baby girl’s delivery heaving with sweat in his Pumbaa costume, perhaps with Nick (in Timon greenery, of course) in tow for good measure, with some backup singing, lamaze coaching, and general hilarity. Just for fairness sake! Why should Max have all the fun of a Vegas revue plus a newspaper article to boot, for his day of birth into the world? Poor, spurned Eva, already the forgotten second child.

On July 3, I checked into Penn State Hershey Medical Center with some alarming bleeding and mild contractions. I was 36 weeks along, and early labor had indeed begun. Once the doctors determined that the bleeding was harmless, but believed I would deliver imminently, Mike jumped on a last-minute flight from Tulsa (where The Lion King was performing) to Harrisburg.

It was an $800 round-trip last-minute ticket that proved futile. You know how some people at the airport are met with bear hugs, bouquets of flowers or name signs? Mike was met with my stalled cervix. Yup — I had dilated quickly to 4 cm, but then while he was up in the air, labor just kinda … stopped. Petered out, if you will. So dishearteningly so, I wanted to name our baby girl Peter.

Naughty girl, already making her daddy run in circles!

So Mike headed back to The Lion King in Tulsa, and then the production moved to Cleveland. And for ten days, I walked around town at 4 cm dilated. For real. Girl, stop being coy and just come out!

July 13. It was the day before Max’s 3rd birthday party, and Jan (my stepmother-in-law) was furiously preparing the Annville house for Mike’s siblings to arrive with their families. Still having those bearable early-labor contractions (we jokingly referred to them as “Toni Braxtons”), I had gone out to the Hershey Pantry for brunch when it happened. My water broke.

Well, it more like leaked. It wasn’t a deluge like you see on TV where the woman (usually in the supermarket/black-tie gala/other kid’s recital) gasps at her soaked shoes while everyone gapes at her in horror; instead it was barely a trickle, but one I definitively felt. I called Mike to start driving from Cleveland (“This is it, I swear!”), and he made it a few hours later. Contractions ramped up. We headed to the hospital.

Then guess whose cervix still refused to dilate more? This gal’s! Thinking that it would still be hours to go before active labor would kick into gear (which officially blasts off at 5 cm), I sent Mike away to meet his family at Troegs Brewery, about 10 minutes away from the hospital, because he had not seen his brothers in over a year, and they would only be in town for the weekend. Yes, I sent him away due to my guilt that family made the trip for Max’s birthday and we weren’t there to receive them. Yes, I am insane.

So, still stuck at 4 cm, I asked the doctor to go on in and really break my water — the outer layer of the amniotic sac called the forebag — instead of administering pitocin or other labor-inducing drugs.

[Side note: if you can at all control Fate, do not, I repeat, do not go into labor in the beginning of July at a teaching hospital. All the trembling, newbie first-year medical residents have arrived and you can spot them a mile away, with their eager smiles, eyes wide with fear and their gleaming, sensible shoes. The attending doctor instructed one such newbie to break my forebag, and I’m not sure what was more excruciating: feeling her forage around my coocheroo with that dull plastic pick, or watching her confused, painfully embarrassed face as she continued to not break my water. After about 5 minutes, the attending had to step in.)

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

 

So, the husband had just been sent away. My forebag had finally been broken after much rootin’ around. And I immediately fly into labor.

The contractions start hitting like a full-speed wrecking ball. I had barely enough time to catch my breath and try to relax when another contraction would hit, pummeling me with sheets of both achy and piercing pain. It was the type of pain you can hear slapping your face, if your face were your uterus.

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

 

My doula Sue (who was actually once a labor/delivery nurse at Hershey Medical Center for years, and now nurses at the Women’s Clinic) took over. She told me to call Mike back in, and started coaching me to breathe. “Lean into the contraction,” she would chant into my ear. In response, I fiercely dug my nails deep into her arm in hopes that she’d shut up.

Mike made it back about 20 minutes later, just as I was screaming (quite theatrically I’m told), “Give me the drugs!” Just like on TV. My nurse hastily scrambled to start an IV, which was necessary in order to administer the epidural, but I was thrashing and shrieking as the contractions hit, and she kept poking straight through my vein. Twice. So not only was the devil himself throwing an all-out rave in my nether-regions, I had blood spurting out of my arm. Another nurse rushed in to successfully insert the IV. My eyes rolled back, much like Sigourney Weaver’s while she was possessed by Zuul in Ghostbusters. A gutteral, otherworldly voice jumped from of my throat. “GIVE. ME. THE. DRUGS.”

“There is no Angela, only Zuul!”

The anesthesiologist (let’s call him Dr. Feelgood) scurried in and started to open his bag of equipment just as Sue checked my cervix. She blanched, then scanned the room with urgency. “She’s complete.”

She then looked at me and said calmly, “Angela. Baby is coming, now. No time for the epidural. You have to start pushing.”

Time suddenly halted, mid-contraction. The room went awkwardly silent. My heart leapt into my throat. No drugs? I croaked. Dr. Feelgood started packing up his things, and I vaguely recall pleading for him to stay. “Dr. Feelgood, don’t go. Don’t go.” My hand went to grasp despairingly for him like I was a street urchin in India. I think I even tried to shove my husband aside to wave DF back towards me. Mike tells me that I “looked like a wild animal. There was this primal fear in your eyes. Like you were prey being threatened.”

Oh stay, Dr. Feelgood. Please, stay.

Sue stepped in and usurped the attending doctor and her flock of trembling residents, as well as the nurses. It was kind of amazing — the doula is suddenly in charge! She began counting out the breaths and shouted for me to push. I couldn’t help but think she was a coxswain, and I was the one-woman crew team (gone mad). I started pushing with the ferocity of just getting the dang baby out so that the f*&#ing pain would stop.  And the doctor had to tell me to take it easy; her exact words “We don’t want the baby to shoot out across the room” made me want to cannonball her out all the more, just on principle.

I bared down, and pushed as hard as I could. My insides were burning, twisting apart, ripping asunder. I felt enormous pressure let up, and for a moment I thought, Glory! It is done!

Sue then said, “Good job, Angela, her head’s halfway out.”

Just her head?!?! Halfway?!?!?

With a final heave, I let her go — feeling every centimeter slide through — and she was. Is.

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

Eva came out, perfect and oblivious to her mother’s ranting and cussing moments before her arrival. The doctor placed her immediately on my belly and chest, and she gave a few cries in greeting.

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

Well hello, gorgeous.

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

All told, once my water was broken at the hospital, active labor lasted one hour. One hour. Eva’s got a need for speed, evidently.

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

Let’s get cleaned up, shall we? Pretend like we’re at the salon…

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

Getting poked and prodded and tested is no fun, but you won’t remember a thing, sweet girl…

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

Daddy’s kiss makes everything all better.

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

So you might be wondering how I was doing, after the oh-God-I’m-not-getting-my-drugs meltdown and the ensuing natural birth? Well, I was so pumped with endorphins that I was able to carry on regular conversations immediately — although it didn’t help that the attending doctor gave me an over-kind smile when she told me, “You did tear, just a teensy-weensy bit.  We’ll sew you up now.” Both residents nodded in a sympathetic grimace, which made me want to punch them, to truly give them something to grimace about. Then they proceeded to stitch me, and I even felt that (despite an injected local anesthetic). See what’s going on in the background below?

I may not be able to walk right for a few weeks, but it doesn’t matter. You are my spitting image, girl.

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

Mike got on the horn to let family know that Eva Ling was born at 8:10 pm, weighing in at 7.2 pounds and measuring 20 inches.

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

Eva (barely one hour old) and I even got to Skype with my sister Eileen, my brother-in-law Frank and niece Maya in northern California.

Photo by Bellies to Babies.

The next day was Max’s birthday party at Jan and Mike Sr.’s house in Annville, so I took the quiet time to sleep (hopped up on some major painkillers, thank you very much!) while Mike was with family at the festivities. After the party, he brought Max in to the hospital to meet his new baby sister. I’d love to say that he swooned like we did; he was dutifully sweet but generally unimpressed. Yes, it will take some time indeed. But here it is! Our family. Just the four of us.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

ANGELIQUE September 20, 2013 at 8:31 am

YES!!!! WHATTA BEAUTIFUL BABY! NICE JOB MOMMY, AND WAY TO GO WITH NO EPIDURAL!!!! CONGRATS!!!!

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Angela September 24, 2013 at 2:57 am

Thanks Angelique! Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend the no-epidural thing… but I’ve recovered quite nicely :)

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Steven September 20, 2013 at 10:01 am

Angela, you had our family rolling on the floor with your story. Now you can say you can withstand any pain. Congrats to the whole family.

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Angela September 24, 2013 at 2:57 am

Glad my pain is everyone else’s pleasure! LOL!

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Beth Eisenberg Schwartz September 20, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Ang, thank you so much for sharing this story. I wish I could write like you. I delivered my first with no drugs, which was how I wanted it. (4 hours start to finish, but on bed rest since 31 weeks with contractions) With my second contracts started at 24 weeks (Braxton Hicks my ass!! (They really hurt) At 36 weeks I had to be induced with Pitocin due to Preeclampsia. 19 hours into labor later, about an hour after my water was broken, I caved and got the epidural. HUGE MISTAKE. I should have had them check me first. THEY should have known to check me first. The anesthesiologist let my room and headed straight into a C-section. Before he even made his first cut, they tried to call him back to turn off my epidural. So there I waited for about an hour, to get my pain meds removed because I could not feel anything no matter how hard I tried to push my baby girl out. The midwife was very entertained with my forceful face as I pushed. She still loved to talk about it more than 2 years later. Finally, I started to feel again and out she came in about 4 pushes. I tore with both, felt the stitching up with both. I felt like I deserved a parade or something after going through all that. Cannot believe that we women don’t make a bigger deal of what we accomplish to bring another life into this world. Loving motherhood and sending love your way. Hope things on the road as a family of 4 is just as exciting as it has.

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Angela September 24, 2013 at 3:00 am

Wow Beth, you definitely deserve a parade after all you’ve gone through! My goodness. Do you have any photos of the faces you made? I bet a collection of those could fill a really great coffee table book. I know you must be a great, funny mom, and you should always tell your 2 kids their birth stories in mixed company, just to keep it real. xoxo Angela

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Janeen September 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Mazel! She is gorgeous! You all look so happy!

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Angela September 24, 2013 at 3:00 am

We are pretty much in (exhausted, overwhelmed) bliss everyday Janeen! Thanks so much :)

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Ron September 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm

God bless you, Hollicks! I think Angelique said it best and I agree with Beth that bringing a child into this wold must be turned in to something super duper with a parade–but I think we do that with our tears of joy and news breaks to family and friends and with celebrating the little ones for their entire lives. Okay, enjoy your second precious bundle of joy, together!

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Angela September 24, 2013 at 3:02 am

Thanks Ron! Please keep us posted on how Katrina is doing, and we can’t wait to hear the birth story of your second one on the way! And please thank Katrina for helping me with Eva’s Chinese name. We will be in LA over the holidays with The Lion King and I hope to make it up to the Bay Area for a visit… we hope to see your family! xo Angela

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Jes October 5, 2013 at 11:35 am

tears and a giant smile on my face as i finished this post…you’re an amazing woman, ang, thank you for telling this story. and i don’t think eva will have any envy of max’s birth pics (even if they were in the paper!), these photos are gorgeous, so intimate and lovely. xoxo

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