Continuing to play a little catch-up on posts since we had our Little One (Lo for short!)
Lo’s Birth Story
Let’s back up to the day before her birth. On Friday, July 3, we were both home – me relaxing and Sean working. I hoped Thursday was my last day of work and that I would go into labor over the weekend! I didn’t feel comfortable driving anymore with my big ‘ole belly, so I asked him to take me to get my nails done while he ran errands. I paid for an extra foot massage in hopes it would help spur labor…hmmm, maybe that helped! Then we took a nap late in the early evening. It must have been our bodies saying, this is your last chance to sleep for a long time!
I made dinner: brats with sauerkraut! I know that sounds gross to some but it was one of the things I was craving. I sort of messed them up (don’t ask: blame it on pregnancy brain) so we ate really late, but we still wanted to take our nightly walk. We watched a few episodes of The Office and finally went to bed around 11. I noticed some different things going on with my body, and was hopeful they were the first signs of labor, but I thought, “maybe that means she’ll come in a few days and I won’t have to be induced!”
Around 1am on the 4th, the contractions started. They were not painful but were enough to wake me up, so I began to time them using an app on my phone. They were about five minutes apart and were not going away like they did the night before. I called my doctor’s office at 3am. I had to listen to this incredibly long after-hours message before getting a hold of the dispatcher who paged the on-call doctor. I remember thinking, “This is way too long for someone who may be in labor to wait to talk to a person!”
One was Calm, Another was Not
Who do you think was more nervous at this point? Sean folded and put away two loads of laundry, washed the pans from dinner and baked the cookies we planned to give to nurses. I straightened my hair, got dressed and waited patiently on the couch for the doctor to call me back. I double checked that I packed ALL of her red, white and blue outfits I bought because I was in stunned that she may actually be born on the 4th!
It was pouring down rain as we drove on an empty I-285 to Northside Hospital. We were a little scattered, understandably so, because this was all new to us. Waze would not work on Sean’s phone but I wanted to use my phone to track contractions. Why did we need GPS to get to the hospital that we’ve been to a million times before? Good question! I still don’t know. And when we arrived we couldn’t figure out which driveway to pull into because they all looked the same in the dark. Anyhow, the hospital was pretty empty as I checked in and signed a few forms I was supposed to read. As I felt stronger and stronger contractions, all I could think was, why do they make you do this when you are in labor?!
Room 4 on the 4th
Once in the room, Sean and I were both trying to remain calm, but we were nervous, excited and scared. I changed into my hospital gown but wasn’t sure if I should get in the bed, so we both awkwardly made ourselves at home in the room and unpacked some things. I cried out of the fear of pain that I was about to experience. It was overwhelming. I was in the bed by 4am. The nurse put an IV in my left hand to administer fluids, and she hooked me up to monitors so we could see contractions on the screen. Contractions were increasingly getting stronger. I was in a lot of pain and trying to take deep breaths each time contractions came. My water broke on its own at 5:30am. The intensity of the contractions really picked up then. Sean and I decided to wait to text family and friends until 7am because we didn’t need them to wake up in the middle of the night. I think he was really excited to finally text all our family who were eagerly awaiting any news of labor in the weeks leading up to July 1.
Going into this, my birth plan consisted of three things: 1) getting an epidural, 2) trusting the nurses and doctors, and 3) put her skin-to-skin as soon as possible after the birth. I really didn’t believe in an elaborate birth plan, so that mentality will help you understand the rest of this story.
Bring on the Drugs
Per the advice of the nurses, I had two doses of an amazing painkiller that instantly made me feel loopy. The idea at this point was to dilate on my own before they administered the epidural. Unfortunately the drugs wore off quickly, and I was in tears and could not bear the pain by 9am. The nurse on the next shift, I think her name was Molly, put it this way: if you stop dilating, we’ll give you Pitocin to help you dilate, so you shouldn’t suffer unnecessarily. That’s all I needed to hear before I asked for my epidural around 9am. It was like night and day before and after the epidural. I was a new person. I could not feel a thing! Everyone said getting the epidural is painful, but I could bare anything to get rid of the pain of those contractions. All I could say afterward is, why in the world would ANYONE want a natural labor?
The nurses laid me on my side, propped me up with pillows and ensured I was comfortable. Every few hours they checked my dilation and turned me onto the other side. I slept 15-30 minutes at a time. We watched Wimbledon on TV to keep us distracted, but I couldn’t tell you who was playing. I was on my phone once or twice to text for a distraction, but for the most part, I didn’t want to talk to anyone except Sean and the nurses all day.
The Final Push
My dilation grew slowly buy steadily. One nurse predicted I would push between 3-4pm. By 2pm I was either 9 or 10cm and they called Dr. Cherry back to begin the pushing. My practice was not even on call because it was a holiday, so the sister practice doctor delivered her. Frankly, I prepared myself from the beginning to be totally comfortable with any doctor who would deliver my baby. Dr. Cherry explained we would wait for a contraction, then I would take a deep breath, count to 10 pushing with all my strength, then exhale. Repeat that for a total of 3x each contraction. For the pushing, I was told to put my chin to chest and curl my abs in like I’m doing a crunch. Gosh I had not done a crunch in months!
It took me a round before I really understood how to hold my breath, push, etc. Sean and I laughed because I am so bad at holding my breath. The nurses and Sean were so encouraging; telling me how good of a job I was doing each time. They told me how close we were to meeting our baby and that they could see her head and she had a head full of hair! Each time I pushed I just kept thinking, is this it? Is this the push that will finally deliver our sweet baby? I kept my eyes closed for the most part during those pushes but I remember focusing on Sean’s face a few times and listening to his encouraging words to keep going, keep holding my breath and pushing hard.
I pushed five rounds for about 30 minutes. It went by so fast. It was not painful as I just felt “pressure” although I’m certain my elation or adrenaline took over. I felt a huge physical relief when she was delivered and we heard her cries. The doctor put her on my chest immediately and nurses started wiping her down. It was so surreal. I was crying and I’m pretty sure Sean was too. I was so amazed that this wonderful, slippery little baby was actually who I had dreamed about and imagined for so many months.
Expect the Unexpected
After the initial reaction, the first moments of her life are not at all what I imagined. I wasn’t sure what was normal but because the nurses were a little frantic and the moment was intense, it scared me. The doctor and nurses said she had some fluid left in her lungs. A few other medical personnel rushed in, and the room seemed very full of people all of a sudden. I kept praying and thinking surely she is going to be fine and this is just precautionary. They put her in a swaddle on my chest for a few pictures and took her to the NICU with Sean.
Sean returned with her pictures, footprints and official measurements. She weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces and measured 21” long. They took us to our recovery room to get settled. After two hours we were allowed to go see Lo in the NICU. With all the cords attached, it was so hard to hold her but I cherished those moments regardless. I cried a lot because I wanted her to come back to our room with us so bad it hurts to even think about now. The feeling of not being able to hold your new born baby and not even being near her or in the same room is one of the worst feelings ever.
At some point that night, we finally slept in our room. I don’t even remember talking to friends or family as I was completely wiped out, physically and emotionally.
The Hospital Stay
My sister, niece, brother and aunt visited while we were in the hospital. We didn’t have a ton of visitors because a lot of friends were out of town for the holiday, but that was a good thing for me. I couldn’t handle interacting with any more people than I already had to between the nurses and staff on our floor, in the NICU and then later in the special care nursery. It was exhausting being at each feeding every three hours, trying to pump myself in our room, and somehow, trying to rest between all that. She was the cutest little baby and I couldn’t believe how delicate and perfect she felt in my arms. When we returned to our room on Sunday night, we saw a big fireworks show over the King & Queen buildings. I have no idea why they were not put off on the 4th. Maybe it was raining? Nonetheless it was a nice surprise to see them and I thought of Lo as each one went off.
After a stressful Monday of uncertain tests, Lo was finally discharged on Tuesday morning! I literally burst into tears when the doctor told us the news. I finally got to get rid of my dreaded hospital gown! I hated that thing so much by the end. If I had to do it all again, I would bring some larger t-shirts and boxer shorts, and buy a larger, longer and thicker robe. The cheap one I bought was too short to wear on its own (I guess I underestimated my size!) and it was too thin to be appropriate in the hallways. But of course, I didn’t expect to have to be out and about so much.Going Home
By noon we were on our way home as a family of three! I was so happy to finally take Lo home. The first time I got to hold her without cords attached was in the last 15 minutes we were in the hospital. I got to put a brand new outfit on her for the first time, and I held her in my arms as a nurse wheeled me out of the hospital in a wheelchair to meet Sean by the car.Sean drove ever so carefully home! He took side roads vs. the interstate; it was so cute. Once home, we took Lo upstairs to her nursery right away and she slept for a while as we got showered and situated.
Knock, Knock, Who’s There?
Grandma Libs and Grandpa Rick were not far behind us. They stayed for three nights and we never lifted a finger in the kitchen. They cooked lots of comfort food and gave us a ton of wonderful moral support. They absolutely loved holding you and getting to know their 11th grandchild! They said you are going to be an “easy” baby because you are easily consoled.
In the following weeks we also welcomed Grandma Honie, my other sister and her family, Papa Tim and some of our friends. You are the first granchild for Grandma Honie and Papa Tim, so it was exciting for them to hold and love on her. We really appreciated the extra help with meals and around the house as we got used to being a family of three.