Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Birth Story

Warning: Quite long and rather detailed

I suppose I should write this now, before I forget too much about it, or maybe it is better to forget if I want to have more children. Although, I have to say, compared to a lot of people and the nightmare stories I heard about labor, I think I was very lucky.

Once I made it to Houston, I had my first doctor's appointment with my new doctor. Thankfully, it was a really great experience and I felt at ease with the doctor, office, and staff for the first time in my pregnancy. At the first appointment, when I was 38 weeks, I was 50% effaced and 1 centimeter dilated. This was happy news as a first time mom, especially since my family has a history of not going into labor on time...or ever. I was rejoicing, thinking I'd have the baby early and would not have to be induced.

But then the week came and went and I found myself at the doctor's office again, still pregnant. At this appointment, 39 weeks, they said I was 2 centimeters dilated and 60% effaced. Progress! I could have this baby any second! The doctor even gave me the names of the doctors on call that weekend because she thought it was fairly likely I would give birth in a few days.

But then the week came and went and I found myself at the doctor's office again, still pregnant. At this appointment, my due date, I was dilated 3 centimeters and 70% effaced, but still not having regular contractions. My doctor doesn't like for babies to be more than a week past their due date, so we started talking about inducing me. I didn't want to be induced because I heard awful things about pitocin, but if I wasn't ever going to go into labor on my own, I wanted to be induced sooner, while my mom was still in town and able to help out with the new baby. We talked about me being induced on Tuesday (the appointment was on a Thursday) when the doctor was at the hospital. When I left, the doctor said she would check with the hospital and call us with whatever date they had room for at the hospital. Apparently, they were very busy that coming week.

(Proud daddy with baby Clark)

So, Todd and I left the appointment and stopped at Einstein Bagels on the way home. While we were there, I got a call from the doctor's office. They said that my induction was being scheduled for Friday morning at 6:30 am - TOMORROW!!!! They asked if I could go to the hospital in an hour to do pre-op registration and stuff. So, off we went and got ready for the big day. Todd was really excited. I was mostly nervous.

I didn't think I'd be able to sleep the night before, but miraculously, I did. We got up that morning, brought all of our bags, with lots of entertainment options, and headed to the hospital.

(This is me not being happy about being attached to IVs and being in labor and being photographed.)

Once I got hooked up to all the monitors (the IV was the worst. I wanted it out from the second they put it in), they waited to start the pitocin for about a half hour. I was having contractions without it, but they were random and not very strong. They started pitocin and a little while later the doctor came in and broke my water. The idea of the doctor going in with some pointy object and basically popping the sac around the baby freaked me out, but it actually didn't hurt at all. Then I just waited for the pitocin to kick in and do its job.

For a while, I could feel the contractions, but they didn't hurt. My belly just tightened. Then it started to feel like I couldn't breathe very well and I needed to sit up very straight every time I had a contraction. Gradually, I started to feel them lower and they got more and more painful. And they hurt, but it was only for about 20 seconds and then it didn't hurt anymore. However, when they were coming about every two minutes, that started to become less manageable.

(Nana holding baby Clark - we miss her already!)

I had sort of planned on getting an epidural, but I wanted to wait and see what it would be like without one. I kept pushing it back, not wanting to get one as long as the pain was fairly manageable. At this point I was dilated to about a 6 or a 7. I feel like I maybe could have handled the contractions without an epidural, but I really didn't want to experience pushing the baby out without an epidural. So, I ended up asking for one sometime that afternoon, I'm not really sure what time it was. Todd knows the details more.

I think that about the time I got the epidural, I felt the worst. The contractions were frequent and painful, I was really nervous about getting the epidural and the catheter that necessarily follows, and Todd couldn't be right next to the bed - they only let the nurses help with the epidural. Luckily, everything went well and the epidural worked the first try. However, it was a little strong or to the right or something because my right eye got droopy and out of focus. I also shivered a lot, even though they piled warm blankets on top of me.

The epidural was wonderful because it took the pain of the contractions away, but it also made me feel like I was ill and bed-ridden because...you are bed-ridden until it wears off. From that point on, I just tried to relax, but I felt shaky and nervous.

Eventually, they checked me again, I think it was around 5:30 pm, and they said that I was dilated to a 10 and it was time to push. It took me a while to get the hang of pushing, but eventually I could feel where I was supposed to push. It was really encouraging when Todd said, "I can see his hair!" And that was after not a lot of pushing. I was expecting pushing to be really hard and painful, but it wasn't. I guess the epidural is to thank for that.

(Another sweet one of daddy and baby)

I was doing really well and progressing for a while, but then they said I had sort of stalled and wasn't moving much. The doctor left at that point. They had me try pushing in several different ways - again, it didn't hurt and I wasn't too tired at that point. I just felt bad because the nurse on my right side really had to hold up my right leg because it was totally numb.

At some point, I turned a corner and all of a sudden, the baby's head was much closer. I could also feel that the pushing changed - I could feel myself stretching and how I needed to push to get him out. At the end of one contraction, I could feel him right about to come out and that was right when the doctor showed up again. When she saw where I was, she practically yelled, "Stop pushing!!" She didn't think she'd be able to put her gown and gloves on in time to catch the baby. I replied, "It hurts not to push!" And truly, I wanted nothing more than to finish and push that baby out. Those 30 seconds or a minute until I could push again were awful.

The doctor and nurses were scrambling around trying to get the bed or stirrups prepped before the baby came out. The stirrups never quite got in the right place, people were just holding my legs. And then I pushed and his head came out and about a second later his whole body just slid out too. It was incredible! I couldn't believe how fast it was! I mean, they said I was pushing for an hour and a half, but it didn't feel that long. And especially it wasn't long once his head was out. Before I knew it, they placed him on my belly and I could hold and touch my beautiful boy.

Just a few notes about recovery:

  • I did have a second degree tear which the doctor stitched up right away. I was glad to have Clark on my belly so I could focus on him more than on the stitching that was going on. I was starting to feel stuff.
  • When I was getting cleaned off and ready to go to the recovery room, I almost passed out. It turns out that I was severely anemic going into labor and then after losing so much blood, I was even more anemic. They said I was at the point they were considering giving me a blood transfusion if I didn't start to feel better. Luckily, I didn't have to have that, but the doctor prescribed me to triple my iron supplements. Yikes.
  • Nursing hurts. Here's to hoping it gets easier.

Monday, March 10, 2014


Ever since I've become a mother, and actually the day before I became a mother as well, I find myself constantly counting. When I was in labor and starting to feel the contractions, I would count through them. I'd count the seconds till it was over, or I'd count the number of breaths I took to get through a contraction. Or sometimes I'd find myself counting by twos for no apparent reason.

Then it was time to push, and the nurse would count for me. Deep breath in, then push for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times. Or 4 times.

And then my beautiful boy was here and there was more counting. Count the seconds he is old. Count the amount of tries to get him to nurse. Count the minutes he actually nurses. Count the hours between feedings. Count the diaper changes. Count daddy's footsteps as he paces the hospital room floor, rocking baby back to sleep. Count each breath of the baby in the bassinet, each grunt, each rustle of the swaddling blanket. Is it time to count another feeding?

So much counting that it replaces sleeping, replaces eating. We come home from the hospital and I count the minutes of the car ride. And now I'm walking and mobile and I count the seconds, the minutes as I rock baby back to sleep. I look at the clock and count down to when he'll wake next. Only 2 hours at best. And the cycle continues.

I love my baby boy. He is precious and sweet and innocent and perfect. But I find myself consumed with worry and counting, every day. Even when I can get past the hourly counting, I find myself counting with dread to his next pediatric appointment when he'll get more shots, to his circumcision appointment when I'll have to try to console and comfort him. Will I be able to? Will I know how?

I look forward to the day when I can let myself relax a little and not worry so much about each little decision. I guess, until that happens, I'll be counting the days.