April 10, 2015

Miss Hazel's Arrival: Our Birth Story

When I was pregnant I loved reading people's birth stories. The more detail the better because I was trying to prepare myself for all different situations that could happen. I also find them incredibly interesting. I love the whole process and I don't get tired of hearing about it, so I knew I wanted to share mine for others to read as well.

This is it! Our birth story... though I have edited out some of the gory and painstaking details :) I'll keep those for myself otherwise this post could go on for days. The written version I have for myself is SOMANYPAGES!

However, this will still be very long and pretty detailed, so if you don't want to vividly picture a baby coming out of my vagina you may want to skip the text of this post and go straight to the slideshow at the bottom (Don't worry, it's full of cute pictures. There are no graphic images of birth).

Just a warning ;) Here we go...

You all know that I was overdue. We were waiting and waiting for baby to show any signs that she was coming. March 4th had passed and we were approaching the 42 week mark. The plan was to induce on the 17th or 18th if nothing happened before then. I was aiming for a natural birth and I knew the chances of that happening with an induction were much smaller, so I really wanted her to come on her own.

Saturday, March 14th was promising. For the first time I started having consistent pain with my contractions. We were scheduled to go into the hospital that day to do a non-stress test to check on the baby. We went in and as soon as I was hooked up to the monitors she passed very quickly. Good news! We could see my contractions registering on the monitor too!

After leaving the hospital we went out to lunch and went for a walk around our old neighborhood to see if we could get things to pick up a little bit. Sure enough my contractions got more painful as I was walking. It was exciting!! After we got home I was worn out and thought if things kept progressing I should get my rest now, so I took a nap. However, in the course of my nap the pain went away.

I woke up in time to head to our doula, Shannon's, house for a St. Patty's party. I felt great the whole evening, I didn't feel like I was in labor at all. Darnit!

Sunday morning we woke up and I wasn't having contractions. We tried to sleep in and soak up all the rest we could. When we got out of bed it was beautiful spring weather outside and we decided to work on the yard which we had neglected since the fall. I started having contractions like the day before around 10am. I took on the task of raking the leaves out of our garden beds and as I did, the contractions became stronger. I would do a few swipes with the rake and pause for a contraction.

After doing the front beds, I was worn out and needed to break. But the contractions only got stronger and closer together once I went inside. By 12:30 they were between 5-7 minutes apart. Tyler was still out blowing leaves, and finally I went out and let him know that he should head inside soon because things were picking up.

He came in showered and started getting everything ready to go. This was it!

I decided to take a hot bath. It was lunchtime and I wanted to get some food in my system before things got worse. Ty offered to make lunch, and out of all his suggestions, mac and cheese sounded the best. So while I was bathing he brought me a big ol' bowl. I have never eaten mac and cheese while taking a bath before, but let me tell you, it was very luxurious feeling (even with the contractions). I enjoyed it so much I ate all of the mac and cheese, which I immediately knew was way too much.

We asked Shannon to come over around 2:30 and we continued laboring at home. Yes, we did see the mac and cheese come back up again in the process.  We walked around the yard while laboring with the yoga ball and I plopped on it every time a new contraction began.

Around 5 we made the decision to head to the hospital. The pain of each contraction had increased and I was dreading our ~40 minute drive. I didn't want to go in too early, but I really didn't want to be confined in the car with contractions that were worse than what I was having.

The car ride was HORRIBLE. I had been managing the pain without much noise up until that point, but once we were in the car things changed. I was belted in and couldn't move through the pain like I had been doing, so instead I started yelling through it. I  wasn't focused on anything but my body so the drive actually went by faster than normal (though I'm not sure if Tyler was speeding or not), but it was still AWFUL! As we were pulling in to the hospital, I confessed to Tyler for the first time that I didn't know if I was going to be able to do it without pain relief.

He offered to drop me off at the emergency entrance, but I really didn't want to be away from him so instead I had him park the car and we walked in. I was having a contraction as we tried to sign in and they got me a wheelchair. Apparently, my groaning was simultaneously scaring a young boy who had walked in behind us with his dad. They decided to wheel me directly to labor and delivery and worry about getting us checked in once we were there.

We got there right before a shift change and Tyler was greeted by name by the charge nurse (who he had met at a closing a few weeks before). It was a good sign! The nurses that we ended up having were SO GREAT! I had been really worried about being in the hospital trying to avoid unnecessary interventions and avoid being confined to the bed, but I ended up having a very positive experience.

After we were in our room, Tyler and Shannon commented that the nurses seemed very excited. I was one of two people in L&D at that moment, and the fact that I was trying to go natural actually seemed pretty exciting to them.

I got hooked up to an IV right away to get antibiotics, but I didn't have to stay attached to it. Then, we had to get baby on the monitor for a while, but after they got a good reading they let us take them off and we only had to do intermittent monitoring. They also checked my dilation and I was at 4 cm 100% effaced.

I spent a lot of time laboring on the birth ball burying my head into Tyler's stomach and having Shannon rub and put pressure on my back.  It was a great system and I don't know how I would have handled the pain without it! Occasionally, Shannon would suggest some other positions, but I think the majority of the time I was on that ball. I know the whole process had to be tiring for them as well.

When it was time to be monitored again, the nurses even got down on the floor to hold the monitors on my stomach  instead of making me get back into bed to strap them on. I was so appreciative of that.

This went on for a long time, although I had pretty much lost all perception of time. When I looked at the clock at one point and saw it was night time, I remember being surprised it was already so late.

Meanwhile my pain kept increasing and pressure was building. I was doing a lot of low moaning/yelling along with the pain. For someone who is a little more quiet this surprised me, but at that point I didn't care at all! As the pain got worse and worse I remember it being harder to keep my voice low and I would lose control and shriek a little bit. Sometimes I wanted to push. I definitely wanted to cry, but I just couldn't. I don't think my body wanted to waste the energy on tears.

It seemed like ages before they checked my cervix again. I remember wanting to know how far I was but I was too scared to ask, because I knew if I hadn't made a lot of progress (like almost completely dilated) I would be extremely disheartened and it would make it much more difficult to keep laboring without an epidural.

Luckily, when they did finally check me again I was 9cm with only a lip left! I was almost there! Eventually, they had me get back in bed to get another dose of antibiotics, get baby on the monitors again, and they let me do some practice pushes. The pushing was great!

I was originally scared of the pushing part because I knew my little one was big, so I knew that it was going to hurt and possibly do some damage. But once I got to that stage it was just relief. Tyler and Shannon were holding my legs, and with each push it took the pain of the contractions away. It took me a couple practices to get the hang of it, but soon I was effectively pushing.

They brought out a mirror so that I could see my progress. However, I wasn't wearing my glasses so when they kept asking if I could see the top of her head I kept saying, "no." And then with the next push they'd say, "Look! There's her head right there."  But to me it was pretty much a blur, until I was able to look down and see her squishy, HAIRY head coming out. I was able to touch the top of her head between contractions. Tyler asked if he could feel it and I told him he could as long as he didn't push her back in! Yeah, I still had a sense of humor. :) Everyone giggled at that. One of the nurses said I was the first person she had seen who was smiling between contractions. I was so happy to be at this point. The pain was NOT as bad as the contractions had been, and the end was in sight. I would be meeting my baby soon.

It got to the point that my pushes were a little too effective. They wanted to give me more time to stretch and the doctor wasn't there yet, so the nurses told me NOT TO PUSH with the next contraction. Do you know how hard it is NOT TO PUSH, when your entire being is telling you to push?! That was the most excruciating part of the entire thing. I couldn't do it a second time (and I'm not sure I actually succeeded in not pushing the first time either). For the next ones they at least let me do little pushes that I could breath through. I really don't remember quite clearly, but I think I was supposed to do this until the doctor got there, but I don't think I listened very well.

I had been pushing for about an hour (or less?) I am really not sure. On one of the pushes her head just popped out! The doctor still hadn't made it in the room and although the nurse was suited up and ready to catch the baby (we think she was really excited she might deliver it) she was yelling at the doctor, "Get in here! Now!"

Her cord was wrapped around her neck and it looked like the nurse was possibly going to cut it, but then the doctor came in. He grabbed gloves and was starting to put them on until he saw the scene in front of him and tossed the gloves over his shoulders and jumped right in. Tyler says his face was pretty hilarious when he got into the room. He gave her a little help to get her shoulder and arm out and the rest of her followed. She was born! This all happened in a matter of seconds.

She let out a few little cries and then she was on my chest! All squishy and new. Her eyes were bright and alert. Tyler got to cut the cord. It was such a beautiful moment. I was exhausted and feeling a little shocked from the whole experience, but finally being able to kiss her squishy little forehead was bliss. She was healthy and scored 9's on her apgars.

I hung on to her looking deeply into her eyes while the doctor delivered my placenta. I was lucky to have such a cute distraction because I had membranes that didn't detach with the placenta and he had to remove them manually, which hurt a lot and was a little scary. There was a lot of blood. But I tried to focus on my new baby instead. I was so surprised she had so much hair. She had big hands and feet and blue eyes. She got my birthmark too! We even did a little bit of nursing too.

Then there were the stitches.... I don't even know how many there were. I had at least 2 second degree tears. I know there were at least 8 stitches, but I think there were more than that. It took him a long time to fix me up, but by this time the air in the room was light and there were quite a few jokes being told. When I asked the doctor how many there were, he jokingly said 60 and never gave me an actual answer.

Eventually, it was time to weigh the baby and do the first checkup routine. Tyler got to hold her for the first time at this point! Everyone was guessing how much she weighed and we were all somewhere in the 8 lb range... we were all wrong because she was 9lbs. and 21 inches long.

She got her footprints taken and got all cleaned up, and then I got her back to try breastfeeding again. She was born at 1:40 am and by this point I think it was almost 5 in the morning. My parents came by to say a quick "Hi" and "Congratulations!" before heading off to get some sleep.

I was so tired I couldn't even see straight when I eventually put my glasses back on. I got to take a shower and eat some food before they transferred us to our recovery room. There, we had new nurses and got our vitals checked. Finally, around 6:30 we were left alone to get some rest. However, at 7am the shift changed and we had people coming by for morning rounds and the bustle started all over again. I was EXHAUSTED but the whole experience was so EXHILARATING that I was having a hard time winding down from it anyways.

I really did feel like a superstar for accomplishing my baby. All of her. Growing her, birthing her, and finally holding her in my arms and nourishing her. Women's bodies are truly incredible!

We stayed in the hospital until we were discharged on Wednesday 3/18/15. We were hoping that when we met her we'd just know which of our two names fit her best, but that was not the case at all. I think it made the decision even harder! Tyler even started polling all the people who came to our room to see what their reactions were to each name. It took us until the wee hours of Wednesday morning to decide to name her Hazel. Tyler finally said, "I think she is Hazel." And that's all I needed to hear. Hazel Irene!

It's been great bringing her home and getting to know our little human better. She is the new love of our lives and we couldn't be more happy or proud to have her in our family.


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