It was the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend. Even though I had been to the doctor the previous Friday and found out I was 3 cm dilated, I had made up my mind that this kid was going to wait until after the holiday to be born. It was either that or stay home all by myself while Workaholic and the girls enjoyed the beautiful weekend to come. Not exactly my first choice. Workaholic had been working even more than usual, trying to finish up some jobs he felt he could not hand off when the baby was born. He had worked full days, overnights, and then another full day without any sleep. I felt really bad for him. Which is why I was so nervous to tell him I was in labor. Besides the fact that I knew this kid was coming just as a nice three day weekend was starting.
So around 4am on the 23rd of May, I woke up my dear husband, about a half hour before his alarm was set to go off. I told him we needed to go. I wasn't in a lot of pain, but I knew that the contractions were starting, and seeing as how this was my third kid, I felt pretty confident in my decision. He hopped out of bed and off to the hospital we went. On the way, he called one of his employees (poor guy) to tell him the news. And to give him instructions for the jobs that this kid was now responsible for. As I was laboring not so painfully in the passenger seat next to him, he talked. All the way to the hospital. And since it was 4:30am, while he dropped me off at the ER entrance. And even as I was checking in, he paced outside the doors while he finished talking. I took my seat in the wheelchair for the long trip across the hospital to the 7th floor. This being the fourth time I have gone to the hospital in labor in the middle of the night, I felt like a confident old pro.
I was taken to one of the aftercare rooms, which is where I had all of my NST's done. It is smaller than the delivery rooms, and I knew that they would check me and then walk me down to the actual room I'd be in for the big event. The nurse seemed a little...shy? Unsure of herself? Maybe just quiet? I think I shocked her when I just dropped my pants to the ground in front of her and hopped up on the bed. At this point I asked her to call the doctor on call and the anesthesiologist. She checked me and I was still at a three. She asked me my pain level, which I gave as a three. Which was a lie because it wasn't even that bad. It was more discomfort at this point. I realized later I SHOULD HAVE LIED MORE.
She wandered off to call the doctor on call to tell him about me, and I was excited for my epidural. This was going to be cake. Workaholic sat down on a couch and looked at me and said, "Well, what do we do now?" I said, "She'll come back and move us, so don't get comfortable." HA!
When she came in a few minutes later, I could tell that the contractions were starting to intensify. She said that the doctor on call wanted to "monitor" me for an hour. (The thing is...I know damn well that doctor is sleeping down the hall. The hospital had recently enacted a policy where an OB-GYN had to be in the building 24/7/365.) Keeping this in mind, I figured that if it got worse I could just tell her to go wake him up and order the damn epidural. So I said "OK" and she asked my pain level and then wandered off again. I SHOULD HAVE LIED.
Within a half hour, my labor was really starting to intensify. The back labor was starting. I had not mentioned it before to the nurse because I really hoped I would not have it this time around. She came back to check on me and I again asked for the epidural. She paused, and said, "Well...he really wanted to monitor you for an hour. What is your pain level?" Again, I SHOULD HAVE LIED. As she left the room, with no intention of waking the doctor, I looked over at Workaholic, started to cry and told him. "This is going to get bad."
I'm going to go ahead and blame lack of sleep and his feeling that he is not an expert in birthing babies as to why Workaholic didn't jump up then and chase down the nurse. Actually, I might have made him, I can't remember. When she came back she could tell I was in more pain, and when I told her back labor had started, she said "oooh." She checked me, I was at a four, (only a FOUR??) and she proclaimed that I could now be moved to the delivery room. WELL NO SHIT. I never had an intention of leaving that hospital without a baby...I should have made that extremely clear from the beginning.
I again asked for the epidural. By this time it was 6am. I knew shift change was coming. And so did my lovely nurse. She put me off by saying, "Well, we have to get you set up and get a liter of fluid in you before you can have it." By 6:50, shift change was happening, I was in MUCH more pain, and two lovely young ladies came in to be my nurses. One was shadowing the other, she was a new hire to the hospital, but had been a labor nurse before. I took comfort in that there were two of them. I listened as the night nurse rattled off my case to her and heard her mention the epidural. The comment was "We can wait for her doctor to order the epidural...it's only ten more minutes."
The doctor didn't know I needed my epidural NOW???? After I am obviously in pain, dilated to a four, and have asked for it multiple times? You have got to be fucking kidding me. If I had not been in the middle of a contraction and unable to speak I would have started screaming right then. Once my 2nd contraction passed, (Yes, I have contractions two at a time instead of just one before I get a break. So that is just awesome.) I asked the nurse again for the epidural. I'm not sure what happened at this point, it all is blurred together. All I know is at some point I was checked and I was at a five or six. WHERE IN THE HELL IS THE GODDAMN ANESTHESIOLOGIST???
I remember when they said that he had arrived and was getting his drugs together. After an eternity, they said he was mixing the drugs. I think at that point I looked at the clock and it was shortly after 8am. After another eternity I heard him wheel his little drug cart into my room to help me. I could not look at the clock since I was sitting on the side of the bed anticipating his arrival. I was also too busy trying to crawl up the bed on my hands and knees in an attempt to run away from the pain. Since I was in full blown labor with two-at-a-time back contractions, I had a little problem holding still for him. I guess he got annoyed because the nurses assured him that I was indeed having a contraction. But then, finally, FINALLY, he was able to stab me in the back with a needle and put an entire roll of tape on my back so it did not fall out.
I should mention that at some point in the past hour, I had realized I needed to poop. Like, REALLY poop. The pressure was unreal. I was assured that I would still be able to feel the pressure once the epidural kicked in. And I could. I knew that nothing was going to take away that feeling. Except either pooping or having a baby. After a couple of minutes I asked the anesthesiologist if he went into that particular field because he knew that he would be the most popular guy in the hospital. He smiled. Everyone else laughed. I thought it was hilarious. I love anesthesiologists. They are my knights in shining armor.
A little bit later the doctor showed up from his office and asked if he had time to change clothes. Everyone said yes...but I was thinking "I really really need to poop." When doc got back, I asked if I could push. Since I really couldn't tell when I was having a contraction, I just decided to push. And I just kept pushing until I ran out of breath. I actually ASKED if I could take a break and everyone was like, "Yeah...whatever you need." It was during that short break that I heard my doctor say ever so quietly "meconium". I knew exactly what that was...and I knew this kid needed to get out of me, and fast. So one more long push and Penelope was born!! (For those of you not lucky enough to know what meconium is...it is when the baby has a bowel movement in the womb. Breathing in that poop can be fatal.)
And then there was silence. She was whipped off to a team of three nurses I had not noticed slip in the door. They worked on her in the warming bassinet a few feet away from my bed. I switched my gaze between my doctor working intently on me and at Workaholic as he stared at Penelope and the nurses. They kept saying reassuring things.... "Oh she's beautiful, Oh she's going to be OK." and phrases like that. There were suctioning sounds and a loud smacking sound as they whacked her with this soft hammer thingy. I wondered why my doctor wouldn't look up from what he was doing. I didn't think that was a good sign, then reminded myself that he was not a pediatrician. I asked how much she weighed and they couldn't tell me because they were still working on her. Eventually I heard a little squeak. And then another. And then another. What a great sound...that little squeak.
My parents and Workaholic's parents and Sam and Charlie and our nanny came and visited while I just laid in my bed relishing the fact that I was supposed to be doing nothing. It is seriously the greatest feeling in the world. Well, that plus the epidural. And, as it turns out, there was no need for me to be nervous about Workaholic and his work since he had finished everything he needed to do the day before. Cue the burden lifted off of his shoulders.
The next two days were fantastic as I stayed in the hospital with a baby who never cried and slept all the time. Plus, even though the food kind of sucked, it was delivered, so I can't complain. And Workaholic stayed with me the whole time. While we did leave the hospital with a name, it did take a day and a half for us to decide on Penelope Kate.
At 7 pounds 15 ounces, she is my biggest baby so far. The first two weeks she was the easiest newborn on the planet. As soon as I declared that on Facebook, she decided to do an about face and start crying. She cried for roughly the next 9 weeks or so. A combination of gas, reflux, constipation and sister torture turned out to be the cause. Poor baby. While I did switch her formula, I think that the biggest contributors to her current success were gas drops (BEST THING EVER) and probiotics (ALSO BEST THING EVER). Basically, drugs that help her fart and poop. This is my life now.
At 13 weeks exactly, she realized that all the cool kids sleep through the night. Which means that she has been sleeping 11 hours straight for three days now. Keep it up kiddo!! Now that she is sleeping a lot more, Sam is in kindergarten(!!!), Charlie will be starting preschool next week, and I am back to work...well, the whirlwind continues. I'm trying to learn to slow down and take a deep breath. And not yell at the kids so much. Even when Sam argues with every. single. thing. I say. And touches the baby when she is quiet and makes her start crying. But Sam does have a magic touch sometimes where she sings and dances and Penelope stops crying. That part is amazing. All in all, having three girls is pretty blissful right now. I seriously, honestly, truly cannot imagine my life any other way.
This is when she was still the easiest newborn that ever lived.