December 29, 2014 - Tuesday - 39 weeks and a few days.
|The day before Mary's birth day. I think she's trying to kick out!|
I tried going to work this morning, but I just felt awful: tired, weak, and congested. So I took care of some patients, and told the office manager I was done. I was too uncomfortable and tired, and I was ready to start maternity leave. I slept most of the rest of the day. Mom woke me up to eat, and we went to get the car seat safety inspected. We ordered Chinese food that night, but I was almost too tired to eat.
December 30, 2014 - Wednesday
I woke up around 4 am with what felt like mild period cramps. After they came and went for a few times, I realized they could be contractions. So I started timing them. Sure enough they were coming every 7-8 minutes and lasted about a minute. I still wasn't sure this was it. Then my gut decided to empty itself (a common sign of labor), and had my "bloody show." I cried then because I knew I would soon be holding my little girl. I continued to time contractions with a stupid grin on my face until everyone else woke up. I told Chase when he started to stir around 6 am. “You’ve been in labor for 2 hours and didn’t tell anyone?!” As I was walking down the hall, my parents were just waking up. Mom asked me how I felt, and I replied “I think we’re having a baby today. I’ve been having contractions since 4 am.” Needless to say, they were very excited and ready to go straight to the hospital! I wanted to stay home as long as possible. I'm pretty sure I overheard mom on the phone say "my stubborn daughter" at one point. I had a nice breakfast of cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, and clementines. I regret eating the clementines… By 11:00 am, contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes and lasted about 1 minute. My parents kept urging me to go to the hospital, but I wanted to stay home for as long as possible. I didn’t even feel like I needed the doula by that time.
|This one is feeling a bit stronger...|
Contractions started feeling stronger around 1pm and were still coming every 3-4 minutes, and I had to start trying some coping techniques and positions. We called the doula, and once she arrived headed to the hospital. My parents were very uncomfortable with me waiting any longer. Mom said she didn’t want to deliver the baby at home. I was paranoid that I wouldn't be far enough into labor and the hospital would send me home.
|Contractions in the car on the way to the hospital. No fun! It's hard to focus on breathing in the car!|
We got checked into the hospital, and I was very worried I wouldn’t be dilated enough. I did NOT want to get sent home. The doctor checked me in the triage room, and I was at 5 cm. I was at 4 the week before. The doctor said “I see no indication that you’re NOT in active labor, so we can admit you if you like.” So I got moved to a delivery room. The hospital already had my birth plan on file so they printed a few copies for the nurses and staff. I have to say, they followed it to a T!
They placed a catheter with a heparin lock (no fluids), and the anesthesiologist discussed an epidural just in case I changed my mind once things got intense. I never saw her again, and no one mentioned medications after that. It was part of my plan that no one would offer pain meds unless I asked for them with the code word "Jelly Bean." I continued to labor through the day. We dealt with contractions with breathing, moaning, and trying different positions. I tried slow dancing with Chase, and that worked for a few contractions.
|Slow dancing with Chase (and our doula, Alyssa)|
Other positions we tried: birthing ball (nope), hands and knees (nope), and some others (nope). Eventually I settled on side-lying as the best position for me to deal with contractions.
|Transition phase! OUCH. Mom is rubbing my back, Alyssa is stroking my hair, and Chase is holding my hand. All of them are encouraging me to hang in there!|
At some point in the mid-afternoon, I started to lose energy and threw up multiple times. Chase said I started saying things like “I can’t do this,” but I have no memory of that.
I remember people had been rubbing my back, but I asked everyone to stop touching me during transition phase. Our doula suggested a warm shower, and that was heavenly. I felt so much better with the warm water being sprayed on my belly. Chase came and stood by the shower and directed the stream of water at my stomach. Once he started feeling tired and dizzy, the doula stepped in. As I sat in the shower, I started to have little twinges of feeling like I needed to push. The urge to push feels like your need to pass a bowel movement. I have no idea how long I was in the shower, but when I was ready to get out things started moving quickly. Chase and the doula kept cold compresses on my neck and forehead. Shortly after getting out of the shower, my water broke. I remember feeling a distinct pop and then a gush of fluid. The pop didn’t hurt, but was very strange feeling - like something just disconnected and there was less pressure in my stomach.
Around 7:30pm, I really felt the need to push. I remember saying "I need to push! I need to push!" Dr. Hecker assumed the position, and the labor nurse joined us as well as an OB/GYN resident. At that point, I really wouldn't have cared if they invited an entire class in to watch, I just wanted to push! I remember joking with the nurse that “I guess it’s too late for an epidural” once I started feeling "the ring of fire." Yup definitely too late. Lol. The poor nurse took me seriously forgetting I had a code word of "Jelly Bean" if I seriously wanted pain meds. I never once wanted some "jelly beans." I started out pushing in the side-lying position, but felt like I needed to move. The doctor told me that part of my cervix was a little swollen from being on my side from most of labor, and that changing positions might help a little.
So the nurse dropped the second half of the bed down, tilted the head part up, and placed what looked like a roller-coaster bar for me to grab. The squatting position felt the best.
The nurse and Dr. Hecker were so incredibly encouraging during the pushing phase. After every push, I would ask if you could see her head yet. Once she started to make her appearance, Dr. Hecker said “She’s got a head full of hair!” At one point, the nurse took my hand and let me feel her head. That's a crazy feeling! Once her little ears emerged, the rest of her rapidly squirted out (8:56pm). So what did pushing feel like? It's a lot like having a bowel movement... even without actively pushing, my body still contracted to push Mary out. You just can't resist the urge to push. It was pretty cool, because I could feel the pressure moving lower and lower with every push. I knew I was making progress! Once she started to crown, it felt like a ring of fire - lots of stinging. At that point, I was VERY MOTIVATED to push! My own pushing efforts became a lot more effective as I was determined to get that baby out and stop the burn. My mom said I pushed for 2.5 hours, but it felt like much less than that to me! After she was born, I felt the most intense relief! My body just felt so much better. It felt so good to NOT be pregnant. Mary, on the other hand, was sputtering and purple.
|Look what I pushed out! She's a pretty purple baby.|
They placed her on me for a few seconds, but she still was having trouble breathing. So Chase cut the cord, a nurse took Mary to get suctioned with Chase holding her little hand. Dr. Hecker stayed with me to assess the damage. I tore. A lot. I could see Chase and the baby in the other room, and the nurses assured me they were fine.
|She's starting to look more pink and cry. It was clear she knew daddy's voice. I saw her crying then turn her head toward Chase when he spoke to her.|
Pretty soon they brought a pink and crying baby back and placed her on my chest. She was bright and alert and the prettiest baby I’ve ever seen. Chase stayed right next to us, and we spent my hour of skin-to-skin wondering at the little miracle in my arms. Meanwhile, Dr. Hecker went to work repairing my torn tissue. I had a partial 3rd degree tear in the shape of a Y. I could tell even my non-squeamish mom (nurse for 30 years) was upset by it. Maybe it's a good thing I couldn't see what was going on. Chase said he heard Dr. Hecker order a line of pitocin and the word "hemorrhage," but I heard none of that.
|After they were finished repairing me, grandpa came back in to meet his first grandbaby!|
That first hour went so quickly! They weighed her at 8 pounds 11 ounces and 19.75 inches. She was bigger than we expected! She passed her subsequent exams with flying colors: 10 fingers, 10 toes, normal joints, normal everything! Yippee! I didn’t accept any pain meds during labor, but I certainly took them as soon as Mary was born! By the time Dr. Hecker was done repairing me, we were ready to move to the next room. With the nurse's help I got up and she started to help me put on a new gown, and I started to pass out....but we got it all done and I rode on up to the next room.
Those next 2 nights I was as weak as a kitten and just so exhausted and HUNGRY. My goodness I was hungry! I was so glad that room service was included in my hospital stay. I had a sandwich at midnight, and an omelet as soon as the kitchen reopened that morning. Over the next 2 days, the nurses helped me get back on my feet and learn the ropes of caring for a newborn. The nurses helped with diaper changes and teaching me to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is not as easy as it looks!
That's my labor story! Looking back would I still have done a natural labor? Absolutely! It was hard, but I loved experiencing it! It wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it would be. However...recovering from a tear...that's not something I'd wish on anyone! That caused me more pain and trouble than any part of labor. I feel like my recovery would be going a lot faster if it hadn't been for the tear. I'm still sore and move gingerly. The good news is both my doctor and the specialist I went to said I'll make a full recovery probably with no lasting consequences. Most importantly, my little Mary is as fit as can be!
We left the hospital as a family of 3 on January 1st. What a way to start the new year! My mom stayed with us for about 2 weeks helping us with the baby and around the house. I can’t believe we’ve had her for a month now! She grows so quickly! We weighed her yesterday and she was 10.6 pounds! Her newborn clothes are too small. Taking care of a little baby is exhausting, but oh so wonderful. She’s for the most part an easy baby - content to snuggle with whoever will hold her, but she gets a little fussy every evening. Chase hasn’t quite got a job lined up after he graduated in December so he’s been able to just focus on being a dad. He’s wonderful at getting her to sleep! That little girl loves her daddy! The hospital told us to feed her every 2-3 hours even at night until her jaundice cleared up and she established a good pattern of weight gain. At her 2 week check up, she was doing fabulous so we got the go ahead to feed her at her whims instead of by the clock. Hooray! She still doesn’t sleep well through the night, but she doesn’t really cry - just wakes us up when she’s hungry. Then she snuggles right up and goes back to sleep. I just love her to pieces, and I can’t imagine life without her now.
While I was pregnant, people told me all about the bad things. Get your sleep now (ha…as if I could when I was that huge). Go on dates now because you’ll not be able to soon. Etc etc etc. What they could never fully describe is how your heart breaks into a thousand little pieces the instant you first see your baby. Everytime I see my little daughter snuggling up with Chase, my heart melts into a little puddle on the floor. I love my husband more now than ever. Yes I’m tired, but I don’t mind. This little creature needs me, and I need her. Becoming a mother is best feeling in the world.
|Seeing her little face and holding her in my arms = WORTH IT ALL!|