Sunday, May 22, 2016

Eleanor's Birth Story

I'm going to give you an option.

You can read Alex's version of the birth story, or you can read mine. If you like things to be short and sweet, I suggest you stick with Alex's. If you like reading about birth stories, I go into a bit more detail ;).

Alex's:

We went to the hospital, doctor said push, she (Ellie) came out.

Mine:

At my thirty-nine week appointment, I asked them to check to see if I was dilated. I was convinced Eleanor would be born BEFORE her due date of February 29, 2016. I was dilated a whopping 1 cm. one stinking centimeter. Seriously? I was fully expecting to be checked and then told to go check into labor and delivery across the hall. Nope.

I walked up to the front desk to make my forty week appointment to which I explained, "I'm just making this appointment just in case. I probably won't end up needing it."

That next week, I checked in and waited to see the doctor.

I didn't even ask to be checked. I hadn't been having ANY contractions and I didn't want to get my hopes up (or be extremely disappointed, which I knew was more likely the case). He measured my belly and then we talked about potential induction dates. My appointment was on a Thursday and my mom was coming the next day.

We scheduled my induction for Tuesday, March 8. That would make me 41 wks, 1 day pregnant.

It was a little disappointing that my body hadn't gone into labor sooner. I cried every day from weeks 39-41 because I just wanted our baby to be here. It seemed like everyone around me was having their babies (women due at the same time OR after me).

On Monday night, Alex and I took care of all the last minute things we could think of- double checking the hospital bag, laundry, tidying up, etc. I was feeling completely fine with minor cramping. Maybe a little cramp once or twice an hour. We ended up going to bed around one in the morning. (I think it was nerves). I woke up a two-thirty in the morning with intense, shooting pain. It would last for about a minute, go away, and then come back five minutes later. (I, of course, had a contraction timer on my phone :)) I called the labor and delivery until around 3 am under Alex's advisement---he had woken up from me squeezing his arm and moaning in pain ;). Because I was scheduled to be induced that day anyway, they told me to go ahead and come in.

As we drove there, my contractions were coming 2-5 minute apart. I was then convinced she would be here by 10 am. I wasn't experiencing what I read I would probably experience, you know, the contractions that start 10-15 minutes apart and then progressively come closer and closer together. From the get-go, I was having INTENSE contractions VERY closely together.

We checked in around 3:45 am. The doctor there said she wasn't going to start the induction process because my doctor was scheduled to be there around 7 am and she didn't want to start something that he may/may not want to do. They started the IV of fluids and measured my cervix. After the morning I was having, I thought FOR SURE I was at least 3-4 cm. Nope, still 1 cm. I knew I was in for a loooong day if that's how my body wanted to do this whole labor process. (I finally got an explanation for the intense pain with seemingly little progress later in the day)

The doctor offered a painkiller that I initially refused. It was waaay to early to even think about an epidural and because I was so early in the process, it was still safe to give me without harming the baby. After tossing and turning and trying to breathe through contractions coming 2-3 minutes apart, I decided to take them up on their offer around 7am. I finally was able to get some sleep, and around 9:30 am, the midwife came to check me. In those two and a half hours, I progressed to about 3-4 cm. I was so excited. This was MY BODY doing this without pitocin---something I was open to, yet I really wanted to go into labor on my own. When the doctor came in to see me, he said he wanted to let this progress naturally as long as we could and that he didn't want to rush things along if he didn't need to. I really appreciated that,

A little while after that, the anesthesiologist came in to discuss with me the benefits and risks of the epidural and asked if and when I wanted to get it. (I had expressed to the nurses that I was open to getting an epidural-I'm happy with my choice, just like others are happy with their choice to do it all natural :)) She made a good point--if I already had my mind made up that I wanted to get one, there is no point in waiting all day in pain to get it. For whatever reason, I told her I wanted to wait.

Around 11:30am, I decided I was ready and the nurse called her up. When she came in, she told me she was thinking I would call her any moment because she was watching my chart and said my contractions were going crazy. (The painkiller I had earlier completely wore off by this point).

Around 12:30pm, they checked me again and decided they were going to break my water to which they discovered that there was no water to break. Because of that and because he didn't know when it broke, he decided it was time to start the pitocin (of course I agreed with that decision) to keep things progressing and to minimize infection. I then remembered the "pop" I heard that Sunday before...sometimes your water breaks and you aren't sure. That lack of fluid was part of the reason my contractions were as painful as they were (the other reason was because contractions are painful ;)).

I know the nurse came in frequently to check my vitals and to see if I needed anything, but from about 1pm-4pm, I had a glorious nap. The doctor woke me up because he wanted to check me again because he said my contractions were starting to spread to 5-8 minutes apart and he was worried we would have to do something else to move things along. He checked me and I was at 10cm,  fully effaced, and ready to start pushing.

They sat me up and were starting to get everything ready for me to start pushing. I started shaking uncontrollably and feeling incredibly nauseated. I had to chew peppermint gum (my first trimester helper) and hold a bag in case I was going to get sick. The nurse assured me that those symptoms were normal and that I was just in transition. While I believe it's a normal process my body goes through during labor, I'm also convinced I was having a minor panic attack---it was all becoming real. The thing my body had been preparing for for the last 41 weeks was about to happen. Before I started pushing, I asked my mom to pray over me and that was a sweet, tender moment. During the actual delivery process, my mom left the room. Alex and I wanted it to be a special moment for just us two for this baby.

I pushed for about 15 minutes for the midwife (she called them "practice pushes" in the hopes they would actually be real pushes ;)) until she decided I needed to wait a little longer for my body to be completely ready for it.

At around 5:15-5:30pm, my doctor came in (the midwife's shift had ended) and I started pushing again. Alex was holding one leg, the nurse was holding the other, and the doctor and a med student in residency were doing other delivery stuff ;). Alex was also my counter...he would count in 10 second intervals 2-3 times each contraction for me to push to.

Pushing is such.hard.work. I thought I would pass out a few times. I felt like I couldn't do it at other times. After a while though, I didn't have to wait for them to tell me when a contraction was coming to start pushing, I kept feeling the urge to push and would tell them I needed to. I was also happily present during the whole time I was pushing. We were exchanging jokes and life stories between them.

After about an hour and thirty minutes of pushing, the doctor told me that her head was stuck underneath my pubic bone and started talking about what he typically does in that case - the vacuum. He said he likes to wait until it's absolutely necessary to use it and that he would give me 10 more pushes to see if we could get her head out. 20 pushes later, she was still stuck (he kept letting me try...), so the vacumm came out. A few pushes later, out she came. (6:53 pm) Luckily, she had no bruising or complications from it.

She weighed in at 9 lbs, 5 oz and was 22 in long. They were initially worried because right before pushing, they checked my temp and I had a 101 degree fever, so naturally they had to make sure she was okay. Luckily, she was perfectly fine and she loved skin to skin time and snuggles.

The hardest things for me were the uterus "massages" and the first week or so of breastfeeding (ouch!). I was expecting breastfeeding to initially hurt a bit, but NO ONE told me about those "massages." THEY DO NOT FEEL LIKE MASSAGES EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE CALLED THAT.

I love my birth story. Every story is unique just like every baby is unique. I'm a big believer that mom's should support and embrace EVERY story, even if it's not necessarily what they would have done. I think it's beautiful the sacrifices mom's will make to ensure their baby gets here as safely as possible.