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Marian Ella Bryson
Born Feb. 25, 2006, at 12:58 p.m.
10 pounds, 1 ounce and 21 inches
The proud parents: Catherine and Anthony Bryson
Anthony and I met through a mutual friend about five years ago. We hit if off pretty quickly. We got a house within the first year of dating, and Anthony asked me to marry him the day he closed on the house. We got married a year later.
How it all began
About three months before the wedding, we decided we weren't going to try to prevent getting pregnant any longer. A little over a month after we married, I found out I was pregnant.
I woke up one morning feeling different. I was only one day late for my period, which is not abnormal for me. But I knew something was different.
Anthony had already left for work. I went to the store and picked up a pregnancy test. As soon as I got home I peed on the stick. After five minutes I looked. And looked hard. There was definitely one line, but the second line was faint enough to make me wonder if the test was a dud. I waited a little longer, looked again, but it was still faint. I called my sister and asked her about it. I could tell she was smiling from the sound of her voice.
I called my husband. I didn't want to tell him, but I had to ask about insurance. Since we hadn't been married for very long, I hadn't found a doctor through his insurance yet. I couldn't just tell him I needed to find an ob-gyn, so I ended up telling him about the pregnancy test.
My sister picked me up and we went to Planned Parenthood for another pregnancy test. Planned Parenthood came up with a positive as well: They said I was about four weeks along.
When I got home I called around and found a doctor. We had to wait another four weeks. I went alone the first time, peed in another cup. They came back with a little bag of prenatal vitamins and coupons, saying, "You are pregnant!"
Anthony and I both went to the second appointment and had the ultrasound. Our daughter was a little bean with four buds, twitching away.
By the middle of the second trimester, I had gained about 10 pounds more than my doctor wanted – over the course of the pregnancy I gained an extra 30 pounds. My blood pressure stayed high through the second half of my pregnancy, but by the 35th week we discovered that my blood pressure was fine if I lay down. I was never put on blood pressure medicine, however. I worked up until 35 weeks, when I was put on bedrest. By that point I had dilated 2 centimeters, and all was good to go.
I was beginning to feel tired. I was ready to have the baby. At our 37-week checkup, I asked my doctor if it was stupid to ask to be induced. I had gained so much weight, my blood pressure was not going down, and I was measuring at 44 weeks! The doctor said it would be all right, and in fact, she was on duty that weekend.
That Saturday morning we showed up at the hospital at 6 a.m. and I was hooked up with Pitocin by 7 a.m. Time after that gets kind of fuzzy. I remember feeling gassy-type pains, then asked the nurse about Stadol. She gave me some, which made me really hot and then super sleepy. I remember my family coming in. By about 10:30 the Stadol had worn off. My water still hadn't broken, so my doctor broke it. Until then I had wondered how so many women couldn't tell whether they had peed or their water broke. Now I know. And then of course my Dad made me laugh... By 10:30 I was 7 centimeters dilated.
They had to tape a monitor to my thigh, since the ones on my belly kept sliding off. I couldn't get up to walk because of my blood pressure – I was able to get up and pee once.
Somewhere between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. it all really started. Everyone had left to go smoke, wander around, have lunch, make calls. It was just me and my husband in the room for what seemed like forever.
It's like one minute I'm sleeping, and the next I'm gripping the side rail of the bed with my left hand and my husband's hand with my right. The contractions are coming in waves, each one getting more intense, making me speechless. At one point, my husband's mom and sister walk in during a contraction. It passes, I begin to say, "Hello. If you look there, that's my contra-" and Anthony quickly shuffles them out of the room.
It seems like hours pass. I'm starting to get over the "No epi for me!" idea and begin pushing the nurses' call button. I'm begging for an epidural. They say they'll check on me first. So what seems like another 30 minutes pass, and then a nurse walks in saying something like, "So, your contractions are stronger now?" – which was the most ridiculous question to me at the time.
About then I feel a spasm from what seems like my bottom. My first thought is, "What the H#$%!" For a second, I think I'm going to poo. Then I feel something small and hard at the very top inside of my thighs. Meanwhile, the nurse is still looking at paperwork, monitors, whatnot. I say, "I think I NEED TO PUSH!" And she says, "Oh well, let's have a look!" It wouldn't have surprised me if she had been whistling.
I'm trying to cooperate as the nurse tries to get me to lie on my back, but I'm also trying to close my legs for fear the baby will shoot out. Finally the nurse says "OH! I see a head!" And I'm thinking, "No s%$t!" After that there was a bunch of people coming in with stuff, adjusting the bed, trying to get my doctor in as quickly as possible.
Finally I'm in position, knees up to my cheeks, husband on the left, sister on the right, doctor where she should be, my eyes closed. All got quiet for me. The only people I heard were my sister, husband and doctor. I pushed about five times. My doctor asked my husband if he wanted to look at the baby's head – I felt his head shake no, a lot. He stayed bent down, focused on my face. The doctor asked my sister and she took a quick look.
I pushed two more sets of five. I never made a peep. I was concentrating too hard on getting that baby out! I did reach a point right before she came out where I felt so tired. Not like I couldn't do it, but I was just tired of pushing – like, where's the pause button, please.
Some great advice I was given by a friend: You push on top of your contractions, not with them. I think that helped me focus and got her out more quickly.
I don't know how to describe what it felt like. I'm sure someone could. I can still feel it even though she's almost 2 years old. Like something slimy and hard squeezing out. You know those little balls that are all squishy, really gross in a way? They are slimy on the inside and if you squeeze them you feel something hard give beneath your fingers? That's the only thing I can thing of to describe it. And then feeling her legs just slip right out. My doctor was greeted with more water right after Marian came out – I heard it hit the floor. I don't recall feeling the afterbirth.
After the contractions and pushing out a 10-pound baby, the thing that really hurt was when my doctor was stitching me up. I actually said, "Ow!" – the first word I spoke since yelling that I needed to push. My doctor laughed at me – not a bad laugh, though.
They passed Marian over to the table first -- her arms weren't moving enough. I don't even recall her first cry. Her first whimpers, yes. She was okay, no problems. As each nurse took her they were guessing at her weight. One lady even said 12 pounds – ack!
I remember holding Marian for the first time. She seemed so heavy for a newborn, and very warm. She had her little bottom lip out in a pout, one little tear by her one little eyelash. She had water weight, like I did, so she seemed puffy to me. I had heard all those stories about newborns looking like wrinkly old men, so I was surprised to find this unwrinkly, chubby baby in my arms. I fell in love with her from the very beginning. I cannot think of one word that would correctly describe what I felt. What I still feel.
After the delivery
My husband went to the nursery to watch them clean and weigh her. While he was gone with Marian, they cleaned me up. Room-temperature water is not warm. That was a shock.
Getting up to pee was interesting, too. I said "whoa" and the nurse chuckled at me. She had to leave the bathroom because I was having performance anxiety.
Family came in and out. I tried nursing within the first hour, to no avail. I was flustered, Marian was hungry. There was no lactation consultant at the hospital that weekend. When I asked for nurses, a few of the nurses looked at me like I was an alien. So Marian got formula right off the bat – later, the lactation consultant was irritated by that (not at me).
The nurses tried to persuade me to leave Marian in the nursery, but I said no. They gave me whatever drugs they give you. Supposedly they help you sleep? Not me. I did decide the first night, while holding Marian against my chest, that I wanted a hospital bed at home. I was super comfy in that thing.
Exactly 12 hours after Marian was born, I got up to go to the bathroom. And I bawled my eyes out.
I finally got down the whole ritual for taking care of your nether region after birth, though I never got used to the weight of the ice pack. About six hours after Marian was born, a nurse asked if I had taken a shower yet. I wondered for a moment if she was really serious. As I was getting dressed after finally taking a shower, I could hear my husband: "Oh God, it keeps coming! Geez, how much poop can a newborn have? Oh, there's more!"
We were given the okay to leave after the first night, but I wanted to stay an extra day just in case. We finally saw the lactation consultant the day we left. My boobs were hooked up to the pump. That was weird. My milk hadn't come in yet.
The weeks that followed entailed the cats running under the sinks every time Marian cried. Which was every two hours, then three. We took shifts of sorts. I didn't want to put her down. I cried again on the first night home, too.
Five words to describe it all? Amazing. Wonderful. Scary. Beautiful. Tiring.
No one told me that the umbilical cord can bleed a little after it dries up. Only after calling a nurse at 1 a.m., crying because I thought I had hurt the baby, did I find out it was normal. In hindsight I remember hearing about contractions after giving birth. But it freaked me out when I had them.
I wasn't surprised by a lot. My sister had just had her second kid almost two years before, so a lot was still fresh with her. She did tell me she heard that newborn girls sometimes bleed. Marian never did, but she did have some discharge.
My husband found out the hard way about checking for poopy diapers: He stuck his finger in one once. He got to change a lot of poopy diapers in the beginning – she always pooped when he held her. He's also the one who got peed on a lot.