4:30 am: We drop some very wide awake and excited brothers and sisters to be off at their very sleepy mother's house.
5 am: We are seated in the waiting room at St. Luke's/Roosevelt hospital. The dripping in the bedroom was only a gentle, discreet preview to the flooding that happens here. Water soaks the back of my pants, my shoes and socks, and much of the waiting room floor. They don't even bother to test whether my water broke--there is just no doubt. Which is good, because part of me still sort of wondered whether maybe I was just suddenly incontinent.
10:30 am: My doctor, Dr. Feder, finally checks my dilation, which they hadn't wanted to do too many times since my water was very well broken indeed, and there was a chance of infection. And here is where the labor, which up to this point has been all blissful and fun, gets a little less fun. I am still at 1 cm. Maybe 1.5 cm, if we're being generous. And the contractions show no sign of picking up.
11 am: They start me on pitocin.
11:15 am: This labor thing sucks. The pitocin works immediately, and the contractions get harder and harder.
11:30 am: Jocelyn, the nurse in charge of me, goes in search of the anesthesiologist.
12 pm: The anesthesiologist arrives. Just in time, as far as I'm concerned, because the contractions have now reached the point where I'm wondering if I'll live through them.
12:30 pm: Sweet Jesus relief. The epidural is in, and it's working. I had been afraid of the needle, but it was nothing. The epidural is just the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. Seriously. My left leg--and only my left leg--goes numb, which is kinda funny, but then everything feels funny at the moment.
2:30 pm: Contractions are happening, but I can't really feel them. They aren't as strong as they were before the epidural, but they occur. I've dilated to 5.5 cm, the baby is at -2 station, so we are on our way. Dr. Feder tells me to stop pressing the button on the epidural, as things will most likely start moving along pretty fast now, and I'll want to be able to feel to push.
3:30 pm: Still at 5.5 cm.
4 pm: Still at 5.5 cm, and the epidural has worn off. I push the button. They up the pitocin.
5:30 pm: Still at 5cm, and the baby has retreated back up the birth canal. Worse, the baby is showing signs of not liking the pitocin very much. Her heart rate becomes frantic during a contraction, and then drops off drastically after one is finished. They back off the pitocin.
6 pm: Situation remains the same, and Dr. Feder starts talking about the possibility of a C-section. I haven't pushed the button since 4, figuring that if the epidural was slowing things down, then the hell with the epidural.
6:30 pm: They turn off the pitocin entirely. The contractions essentially stop, but the baby continues to be in distress. Dr. Feder notices that I'm in pain, tells me I'm a crazy person, and to push the button. We wait an watch for another half an hour.
7 pm: Dr. Feder calls it. It's time for a C-section. I sign some papers, and Dave is taken away to put on some scrubs. I am wheeled into the OR--which is complete and utter chaos. There are about fifteen people in there, all of them running around screaming things to each other. Dr. Feder and somebody I don't recognize are trying to set up a giant machine, and the machine falls on Dr. Feder. The anesthesiologist is getting me hooked up, telling me that she's putting me on morphine, but since I've had the epidural, it would be doing most of the work. The hysteria is making me hysterical, and I really want Dave to come back. The anesthesiologist is set, and Dr. Feder nips me with something and asks, "Can you feel this?"
"Yes." I say.
They wait a few moments. "Can you feel this?"
"Yes." I say.
Because I'd stopped pressing the button on the epidural, I'm not completely anesthetized, and the morphine hasn't had a chance to kick in. But they can't wait. Dave comes in, and asks me if I'm okay. I'm starting to cry, and murmur "No, I'm not okay!"
They cut. It doesn't feel like a sharp pain, but it hurts--a lot. I feel myself being stretched and tugged apart, and things being rummaged in. I'm crying and yelling (I feel like I was screaming, but Dave says no), and Dr. Feder is apologizing. Dave just grips my hand and tells me he loves me and that it will be over soon.
Later, when the anesthesiologist is holding her up so I can see her, I ask: "Can I touch her?"
The anesthesiologist laughs and says "Of course. She's yours."
I'm hooked up with more cords than I understand what they're for, and I have a shockingly hungry baby on my hands, considering she's been fed intravenously for all but the last 20 minutes or so. Can somebody, even somebody this small, really be hungry 20 minutes after eating?
Dave and the baby and I are safely ensconced in a room with a woman who never turns off her tv, not once not even at 4 am, which while yes, I was awake anyway, was still insane but that's neither here nor there. Dave has a couple more hours before he has to go home, so we just sit around and admire.
She doesn't look like I expected, if I had expectations. I've heard she looks like me, I've heard she looks like Toaster. But as I look at her, I love her tight little ears--flat against her head!--her somewhat oily-looking blue-grey eyes that I know won't stay but are lovely for now, her hair-colored hair, and her big mouth, which is certainly Dave's.
And over the course of those couple of hours, Dave and I come to the realization that this is Willow, this is our daughter, and we love her--a simple enough realization, but somehow incredibly profound.
Oddly enough, I want to take Dave someplace to go make out. Or would, if I could, you know, move at all, or was less than completely exhausted, or if I could stop staring at Willow.
Which I haven't managed to do yet.