The Story of Elliott Richard – L&D

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So…we left off with Elliott Richard making his grand gesture toward freedom…a slow leak in my bag of water. I woke up on Friday, March 3rd, 2006 at around 9:00am. I remember thinking then, “I think I’m leaking fluid.” However, I had experienced similar sensations throughout the pregnancy and each was a false alarm. I was determined to be certain that I was leaking before I called anyone!

So we spent the day as we had spent the few before it…walking the local Wal*Mart trying to get my contractions closer than 20 minutes apart. We walked and walked and walked. Then we picked Gavin up from school. Finally, after all that walking and steady trickle I finally called Dr. D’s office. It was around 5:00pm. I called my mom and made arrangements for her to get Gavin. While Rob was on the phone with Dr. D’s after hour nurse. After we had everyone situated we grabbed my bag and headed off to L&D.

We left the bag and cameras and whatnot in the car because we honestly didn’t think it was the real deal. I also didn’t stop at Wendy’s like I wanted to because I was so sure that we would be released. I figured I would just stop on our way home. Big mistake!

We got there. They checked me – not dilating. (Surprise. Surprise.) Then they “humored” me and checked to see if my water had broken and was leaking. Although they made it clear that they felt it hadn’t. Imagine everyone’s surprise when they came in and confirmed that I was leaking. (lol) The time to be enduced had finally arrived. (Woo who?)

Then came the mad scramble.

I was being admitted to the hospital. They were arranging for an actual delivery room. Rob was calling family and friends. I sent a text message to Sam telling her that it was in fact time. (She and Rob were my coaches.) She called me and asked if she had enough time to stop and eat. I said yeah she should be fine. Rob went and grabbed the bag and cameras from the car. The staff moved me to my actual L&D room and the fun began…

My IV was started. Pitocin was on board. As was an antibiotic because I had tested positive for Strep B and because my water had most likely been leaking since 9:00am that morning (it was now around 7:00pm) and that increased the chance of infection for both me and Elliott Richard. Once the pit started my contractions finally became more frequent and slightly stronger. From about 7:00pm (when the pit was started) and midnight, I was handling everything pretty well. I was laughing and joking and talking through the contractions. I had to stop and pause with a few of them but they really weren’t too bad. Especially compared to the contractions I had with Gavin while on pit. Those were nasty.

At around midnight, they came in and completely broke my water. I had been leaking up to this point but just small amounts. In order for labor to really progress my water needed to be completely broken so that my uterus could fully contract. Once they broke my water completely, I was begging Sam to kick everyone out of the room. I just couldn’t hold up the “happy go-lucky pregnant woman in labor” song and dance anymore. Shortly after she sent everyone home I got my epidural. (I’m a huge fan of the epidural!)

Even with the epidural, I was feeling most of my contractions. My legs were numb and tingly and next to impossible for me to move, which made me slightly panicy. But the contractions were still there. They checked me at about 2:00am, I think, and I was something like 6-7cm dilated. At that point, everyone was guesstimating a late morning delivery. Rob and Sam tried to make themselve comfortable in very uncomfortable chairs and get some sleep. I tried to sleep but there was no point. I was still feel too much of the contractions to make real sleep possible. So I sat and watched TV. (For what it’s worth, this is when I realized that “late night television” aside from Jay Leno et al is simply “day time television” all over again. Huge disappointment for someone desperately looking for a distraction.)

I think I dozed off and on for a little while. Then at about 5:00am I woke up. And I mean, I.Woke.Up! The contractions were pushing right through the epidural. I suddenly felt really funny too. I could describe it. I don’t remember feeling that way with Gavin. I just felt…panicy and “off”.

I tried to wake Rob but he’s a pretty heavy sleeper and he was out! So I woke Sam up. I vaguely remember her asking me what I wanted her to do and I said I didn’t know but something had changed. She left to grab a nurse. The nurse checked me (I think it was more of a technicality than anything at that point.) and was shocked to find me fully dilated, fully effaced and ready to go.

It was time! And I was terrified.

Sam woke Rob up. The nurse grabbed Dr. D. They prepped Elliott’s bed. The funny thing is that all of this is going on. I’m feeling the contractions and the need to push but I have to wait because they weren’t ready. And what I really remember about those moments, was the intern. (lol) Prior to my delivery Dr. D and I had discussed interns and med students in general. I said I would permit them to check my progress during labor but that when it came time to catch, they weren’t allowed in the same room. Period. (This stems from Gavin’s delivery.) I only permitted them to check my progress so that Dr. D could sleep and whatnot. Well, here we were… go time. And Dr. D’s shy little intern comes over and asks if I will allow him to stay. He said he wouldn’t touch anything, he just wanted to watch because he hadn’t seen a vaginal delivery yet. I said he could stay. He could watch. He touched nothing!

I don’t really remember pushing. I don’t remember the pain of those contractions. I just remember being amazed that I had managed to push him out so quickly.

Elliott Richard was born on Saturday, March 4th, 2006 @ 5:20am. He weighed 7 lb 8oz and was 19 inches long.

In those first few moments after his birth, my emotions ran the gamut. I was thrilled. Then I was crushed. When they handed Elliott to me he didn’t cry so much as grunt. I tried to calm and soothe him. But I couldn’t. He just kept grunting. I thought for sure it had to do with me. It devasted me.

Rob held him. Sam held him, I think. We took gobs of pictures and video. We introduced Gavin to his baby brother. And then Elliott to his grandparents. Then the nursery staff took him from us for a bath and testing.

After I was all cleaned up and stitched up they wheeled me to my private recovery room. I remember my Grammy and Auntie Sharon visiting. Sam went to her father-in-laws to sleep. And the neonatologist came in.

He said they were concerned about Elliott’s breathing and wanted to take him to the NICU for observation. I was drugged, exhausted, hormonal and completely taken off-guard. Luckily, my Auntie Sharon had the presence of mind to ask (well, it wasn’t so much as request as a demand) if I could hold Elliott before they took him to the NICU. The neonatologist hesitated and she pushed forward. He said I could hold him for a few minutes but then he really needed to go.

I’ve always been blessed in that I seem to bond emotionally with my children from the start. I bonded with Elliott in those first few moments before they took him away to the NICU. In those moments, I knew that all of the injections and hospital stays had been worth it.

After they took Elliott to the NICU my nurse let me eat and sleep. Then she brought me a breast pump so that I could pump for Elliott. I admit in those moments, I wanted to “rebel”. I wanted to scream and cry. I wanted to call my nurse back and tell her that I wasn’t pumping. The plan was for me to nurse not pump! And she couldn’t make me.

I didn’t do any of those
things. I pumped. And then I labeled the containers with stickers the NICU sent to my room. Stickers that didn’t even have his name on them. They all said “Baby Boy G”. I held those containers as if they were a lifeline when Rob wheeled me to the NICU for that first visit. They were the only thing I was allowed to do for Elliott in those first few days. That stupid, painful breast pump that I hated more than anything else (it had become my “scape goat”) and those containers were my sanity and the only ounce of control I had. And I clung to them for dear life.

Honestly, what choice did I have?