Birth Story: The Kraken

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When I last left you, I was waiting for The Kraken to arrive and preparing to follow Cabin Girl and move into my parent’s house across the state.  We thought for sure that, since Mr. Monkey was 5 days overdue, this baby would make its debut no later than September 5th.  We were hoping to have the baby, give me a few days to get out of the hospital and start healing, then move the rest of us across the state so we could have a week to settle in before the Captain had to leave to start his new job.

I was having lots of early labor signs, so a few days before my due date the midwife stripped my membranes.  My parents were visiting for Labor Day weekend so we figured it would be a great time to have a baby and, on Friday night, tried inducing with Castor Oil.  In the wee hours of Saturday morning I thought I had a bloody show and was having consistent contractions 8-10 minutes apart.  Knowing how my last labor had gone, I decided to lay down and try to sleep.  My contractions fizzled out… after we had told my mother in law to make the drive across state because I thought I was in labor and didn’t want her to miss it.

We took lots of walks, used a rebozo, tried another dose of Castor Oil (Sunday night) and crawled/baby dumped a lot, getting contractions but nothing became consistent.  Tuesday rolled around and, being 3 days overdue with on and off contractions, I went in for a progress check.  Not quite 3 cm and about halfway effaced, I went home planning on trying Castor Oil for the third and final time and continuing our walking/baby dumping regimen.

Wednesday went by with nothing changing and Thursday I woke up feeling no different.  Time was seriously running out.  We decided that if I hadn’t progressed any more that we would pack up and haul ass to my parents’ house.

Well, absolutely no progress.  I was now 5 days overdue.

On our way home we picked up a Uhaul and a couple of great friends came and helped us load it up.  We officially went from ‘Make labor happen’ to ‘Keep labor from happening’ mode, so I wasn’t allowed to do a whole lot, which was fine, because one of our helpers brought his baby girl who I happily kept occupied.

We made plans for my best friend, who is also my doula, to haul ass in the big car with the kids and I while Captain and his mom packed up the last few things and clean up a bit and then follow us.  With all the hospitals mapped out along the way and very few potty stops, we made it through a 5 hour drive without having a baby!  Success!

Once everyone was out at my parents’ house, we went back into ‘Make labor happen’ mode and decided to spend the next day at the county fair.  8 days overdue, lots of walking and greasy fair food should do it, right?!

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WRONG.  Since no labor was forthcoming, we drove my friend to the airport, said an incredibly difficult goodbye, and headed back to my parents house to wait for my appointment, with the Dr. that delivered Cabin Girl, on Monday afternoon.

He was stunned that I was back, having known that I had moved across state since he’s also my mom’s Dr., and amazed that I had made it 9 days past my due date with my 4th baby.  I had still not progressed passed almost 3 cm, so we discussed having my water broken that night, at the hospital I had delivered Cabin Girl.  We went back to my parents’ house to settle the kids in and wait for the hospital to call us in, which didn’t take long.

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7:30 found us walking into the hospital and my water was finally broken at 10pm.  It took forever to get my records sent over from across state.  We walked the halls, bounced on a yoga ball, and I slept while I could.  6 am found us with still no progression.

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By 10 am, Captain and I had gone through all the information and suggestions from the Dr and nurses and decided to start pitocin.  After a teary phone call with my doula, we were hooked up and settling in for a long afternoon of being plugged in to the IV and monitors.  Thankfully, my nurse knew that I wanted to labor and deliver as naturally as possible, so she encouraged me to use the labor ball and checked my progress without insisting I lay on my back.

By 1 o’clock I was at 6 cm and the contractions were definitely making the transition into hard labor.  It only took an hour to get to 8 cm, at which point the nurse turned off the pitocin like we had discussed, hoping my body was finally in charge and ready to have the baby.  I took the chance to lay on the bed for a little while, which ended up being detrimental; An hour after turning the pitocin off and I was still at an 8 so we turned the pitocin back on and I got back onto the birthing ball.  My mom and mother in law had arrived by then to support us since my doula couldn’t be there.

3:30 was another progress check because I started feeling like I needed to push.  We weren’t 100% complete yet, so I went between sitting on the ball and leaning on the bed while Captain rubbed my back and sitting on the edge of the bed and leaning against Captain.  He, as always, did an amazing job of supporting and encouraging me.  Around that time my dad also arrived, which my mom told me, but it didn’t register until after baby had arrived.  My contractions reached a peak that had me crying out like I had never done before and I hit the point that I was sobbing for pain relief.  Exhausted and just so, so, so done being pregnant and in pain, I asked the nurse to request a local for me, because I knew the hardest part was still to come.  As soon as she finished talking to the Dr on her walkie-talkie type phone I felt the baby shift and knew that it was time to push.

I climbed onto the bed and tried to hold still while she checked me again.  She left her hand inside me to prevent my pushing while she spoke to the on-call Dr again.  Something along the lines of “Get over here NOW” and another call to the nursing desk “We’re having a baby!”

She removed her hand and with the next contraction I felt the baby surge down, exclaimed “That Dr isn’t going to make it” and hollered at the top of my lungs while the baby’s head crowned.  Nurses swarmed into the room and I pushed again, still yelling, feeling slightly panicked until Captain got my attention and told me to stop pushing.  Focusing on him, I was able to hear the nurses tell me when to push again and our second girl and final baby was born, blue, into the hands of my nurse.

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The cord had been wrapped around her neck, which is why they had made me stop pushing.  We only had a few moments of concern before she started breathing, but there is nothing more confusing and terrifying than having a nurse place a blue baby on you.

The Dr came to deliver the placenta, declared that I needed no stitches, congratulated me, and left.  I had never seen him before that moment, and will likely never see him again.

The nurses gave me a double dose of cervidil and emptied the remaining pitocin into me to stop my massive bleeding.

itsagirlThe Kraken was born at 4:02 pm on September 10, 2013. She was 8 lbs. 12 ozs. and 20 1/2 inches long.

After I was cleaned up and she was weighed, measured, and wrapped, we were able to finally start getting to know each other.

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Now, our family is complete, and we are all smitten with our stubborn little Kraken.

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Birth Story Celebration: From Meredith To Mommy

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Welcome to the 13th post in a series of birth stories that will run from August through September, Birth Story Celebration.  Keep checking back on Tuesdays and Fridays for new, awesome stories of the miracle that makes us parents!  Today our featured story is from Meredith.

Meredith is a mom of two little girls and writer of the blog From Meredith to Mommy. She shares stories and anecdotes about their life: the sweet, the funny and everything in between. Besides attempting to raise two little girls to be decent humans, she wastes time on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

From conception to birth, our second daughter kept us guessing.
First off, she was a (welcome) surprise. We weren’t planning on number two for another year or so.
Then, she was conceived a twin, and became a singleton at the end of the first trimester. Because of this, I was considered “high risk” until about halfway through. Lots of ultrasounds as we measured Twin B, and made sure that everything was ok.
As I entered the third trimester, her position started to be an issue. She was breech. Really breech. We tried all kinds of tricks to get her to flip, but she stubbornly refused. All that seemed to do was give me contractions.
With only a few weeks to go, we gave in and scheduled a C-section. Although I was pretty disappointed, since my first birth was as good as I could have ever hoped for, I tried to find the silver lining.
We could arrange for care for our older daughter.
We could set up help for those first few weeks.
And, maybe not the most important, I now had NO chance of a Leap Baby.
She was due February 28…or 26, depending on which ultrasound you chose to believe. In 2012. Leap Day was a definite possibility, and despite every acquaintance telling me how awesome that would be, I was not a fan.
With a C-section, I had no chance. In fact, my midwives and doctors were pretty sure that I wouldn’t even make it until the scheduled date. They were pretty sure that with all the minor contractions I was having that I would go into labor early.
Two weeks before that date, I had a stupid accident. I was getting my classroom ready for my sub, and in my rush, I tripped over my big pregnant feet and did a pratfall, directly onto my big pregnant belly. Naturally, the administration at my school started freaking out. They examined my room for any signs of wear in the floor. They took my blood pressure. They had me resting, feeling the baby move. Finally, they insisted I call my doctor.
And I ended up in the hospital for a night, being monitored, because I was – surprise! – having contractions. Baby seemed fine, still very breech, so after being chained to a fetal monitor for 24 hours, they cut me loose to go to my pre-op consultation.
And guess what? She’d flipped.
C-section canceled, and off I went to wait for labor – at home, since my midwife and OB decided that my klutziness at school could no longer be trusted.
February 26? Nothing.
February 28? Nothing.
February 29? Woke up crampy.
Since it was snowing, we decided to call my mother-in-law, and have her spend the day, and possibly the night, with our older daughter. My first was a very quick labor – I woke up crampy, went to the doctor in the early afternoon, and was deep into the 90-seconds-apart-dear-God-I’m-never-getting-any-breaks by rush hour. I got to the hospital, got my epidural immediately, and was pushing two hours after that. Thirty minutes and there she was.
I was betting on the same time frame this time, with one tiny exception. They’d warned me that second babies come faster, so to call the doctor slightly earlier.
One problem. The midwife on duty that day didn’t really buy that wisdom. She checked me in the late morning and determined that yes, I was probably in early labor, but nothing close to where she’d be ok admitting me.  Second babies didn’t always come quickly.I was “handling” the contractions far too well. She told me she’d be on call overnight, so she expected she’d probably see me the next day, but of course to call with any questions.
I went home, ate some lunch, took a shower, prepped my mother-in-law, all while enduring contractions at 5 minutes apart. By late afternoon, the weather was starting to turn, so my husband called again. I was still solidly 5 minutes apart. We spoke to my OB this time, who determined that since I was “in labor” as of that morning, and he was at the hospital, that we should head in. Great.
My plan was to get settled, get the epidural, and pray that I could hold on until midnight.
Well once we got the hospital things didn’t go according to plan. My midwife still didn’t think I should be there yet and did not want me checked in. Before she finished the admit, she sent my husband and I on an hour long walk around the hospital, finishing with some dinner. She told us that it didn’t seem like baby 2 would move as quickly as baby 1, so she’d probably be sending us home.
Of course, it was sleeting, so our walk was literally around the hospital. Any unrestricted hallway was visited, at least twice, while I stopped periodically for contractions.
Then she sent us home.
Of course, I was given an option. According to her, I was almost four centimeters dilated and my water was “bulging”. But she told me that I was far too calm, handling contractions far too well for it to be advanced labor. She gave me a very mild sleeping pill and advised me to go home, take a bath and have some tea and light food. She expected us sometime in the wee hours. But she told me that if we stayed, if I hadn’t progressed in a few hours, they’d have to give me Pitocin, and may end up needing a C-section, and she didn’t want that if we didn’t need to.
So we went home.
I was frustrated. I was annoyed that she was downplaying my labor (seriously, should I have been screaming?), and I felt pretty patronized. I was nervous because my OB was certain that this one would be a fast birth. But I was relieved that my Leap Day birth wasn’t going to happen after all.
We got home (still contracting every 5 minutes), filled my mother in law in, kissed my little girl and put her to bed. I took the pill, drank some tea, and took a bath.
At around 10:30, my husband came upstairs and asked me how I was doing. I was still awake (contractions were not conducive to sleep, pill or not) and told him that things were still 5 minutes apart. He asked if he should try to sleep, or go brew some coffee. I told him to go to sleep.
Then all hell broke loose.
Within fifteen minutes of that conversation, I went from 5 minutes apart to constant contracting. No breaks, no chance to catch my breath, ripping me apart contractions. I moved around. I leaned over the bed. I tried to stay quiet, moaning softly, until I just couldn’t bear it. A little after 11, Adam was rubbing my back, trying to get a grip on the situation, as I said,
“She’ll probably say to take a shower. I think I want to shower”.
He looked at me and said, “Um, no you are NOT. Give me your effing phone”.
He called the midwife and told her I was pretty much afflicted with the everlasting, unending contraction. She said she’d meet us at the hospital, and jokingly asked if I could hold out until midnight, since I had made it clear that I didn’t want a Leap Baby.
Since the hospital was about a half hour drive, Adam was certainly hoping I could.
The snow and sleet had turned into frozen roads and endless freezing rain. Adam was driving as quickly as he could while I contorted myself in the passenger seat, crying out in pain.
About 15 minutes from the hospital, my water broke and I was feeling intense pressure, like the baby was coming right then. Adam asked if he should start speeding and hoping for a police escort and I remember saying, UNLESS YOU WANT THIS BABY BORN IN YOUR CAR, GET ME TO THE HOSPITAL NOW!!!
We parked in emergency, since it was so late, and immediately started dealing with the least excitable emergency staff I could have ever imagined.
In retrospect, they probably thought I was crazy, completely exaggerating how bad my labor was, and was auditioning for some documentary. I told Adam to go down and tell them the story once everything was done.
First, I could barely get myself out of the car. I was in a crouching position, fairly sure that the baby was going to be born right there. Somehow, Adam managed to get his hands on a wheelchair and hauled me out (my first daughter was a fast but messy affair and I think he was truly concerned for his car). Then there was the ER valet, who painstakingly wrote out a form for Adam, and the orderly, who waited calmly with my wheelchair while I kept crying that I had to push. Rather than bring me up, the orderly brought me through the ER to the regular admitting desk, past a group of chatting med students who were obliviously in the way, and then admissions staff who started asking questions like “Pediatrician’s name? Doctor’s name? How far apart are your contractions?”
Seriously?
Finally, after Adam yelled at them, they called up before finishing the paperwork (what was the point of preregistering if they basically did it again anyway?) and my midwife was anxiously waiting, wondering where we were. So I got an elevator ticket immediately, while someone followed us, finishing the forms and slapping my bracelet on.
I remember being helped from the wheelchair and my sneakers and sweats taken off and the midwife’s eyes widening and telling me that the baby was crowning.
Adam knew how much I’d enjoyed the epidural last time, and very politely asked “Is there time for pain relief?”
The midwife all but laughed at him as she said, “She’s having this baby now. That will be her pain relief”.
Three pushes later, in my t-shirt and hoodie and socks,with no pain management or even time to gather my strength, in the triage room, suddenly my daughter was there. No monitor for heartbeat or contraction strength, no measure of dilation, no IV, no blood pressure check, just “ok, go ahead and give in to the need to push”.
11:47 pm, February 29. Less than 10 minutes after entering the hospital.
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That girl wanted to be a Leap Baby, and no matter what, she made it happen.
And she’s kept me on my toes ever since.

 

Birth Story Celebration: When Crazy Meets Exhaustion

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Welcome to the 12th post in a series of birth stories that will run from August through September, Birth Story Celebration.  Keep checking back on Tuesdays and Fridays for new, awesome stories of the miracle that makes us parents!  Today’s story is from Stephanie!
Stephanie, wife of one, mother of two, English teacher of many, rants about parenting, education, and stupid people over at her place, WhenCrazyMeetsExhaustion. She would like to thank her husband for not leaving her, and her entire family for providing enough writing fodder to last a lifetime. Follow her crazy on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

The morning of July 25, 2009, a day passed my estimated due date, I awoke very early to what I thought was just more back pain. The previous night, we had celebrated my brother’s birthday at the Hofbrauhaus and I was blaming Germans and their hard wooden benches for my discomfort. (Pregos are allowed to be irrational, don’t judge me). When Zach woke around 6 am, I told him that I didn’t think he would be playing in his golf tournament that day. He immediately started doing stuff to keep himself busy: he SCRUBBED the kitchen floors, he finished packing his hospital bag, and before he left to take the dogs for a run, he made me a contractions chart, insisting that I was tracked every twinge. I’m not joking:

After a few hours, we called the doctor and I was really bummed to learn the ONLY doctor I had not met was on call the entire weekend, but I tried telling myself it was no big deal. I labored at home, mostly in water, from about 4 am – noon. Finally, as I was sitting backward in a chair, trying to focus on my breathing while Zach put counter pressure on my lower back, the pain and  anticipation got the best of me. In retrospect, I think it was more the excitement and wanting to meet my surprise baby (we never found out if we were having a boy or girl!), and I wish I had stayed home longer. But because we are an hour from the hospital and we knew we were driving right into construction, we opted to leave around 12:30.

My brother came with us because my parents were already en route to a graduation party that they would soon leave to join us at the hospital. I parked my pregnant self in the back seat and positioned a softball between my tailbone and the seat, hoping it would give me some relief. It didn’t. Ouch.

I was 5 centimeters when I was admitted, and although I had dreams of a natural child birth, my back felt like it was splitting in two. I never had “normal” contractions; all of the pain was in my lower back and butt. At one point I remember thinking, “I’m going to vomit all over this nurse.” I accepted the invitation of the epidural shortly thereafter.

Hindsight is 20/20: I wish someone would have slapped some courage into me and suggested I wait a little longer before getting the pain meds. I couldn’t feel a THING. My nurse, who was very lovely and helpful at the time, kept telling me to hit the button. So I did. Huge mistake. My labor slowed, and I didn’t know if/when I was ready to push. At this point, it was nearing 9pm. I thought I felt pressure, so I asked if I should push. I was told to wait until the doctor checked me. I waited for an hour. The doctor finally came in, checked me (I was 9 centimeters), and then informed me that she had to perform a c-section on another patient. I was told to wait for her before pushing.

After another hour, around 11pm, I begged to begin pushing. My less-than-stellar doc came back, announced that she hadn’t even started the other patient’s c-section, and I told her I could not wait. She checked me again (“Just about 10 centimeters, but not quite”) and, to appease me, said I could “practice pushing.”  This made me angry: practice?! What if the baby was ready and the doctor wasn’t? My nurse assured me it was perfectly safe, so we practiced pushing. FOR THREE HOURS. Turns out premature pushing is not a good idea; in fact, it can swell the cervix and after 180 minutes of it, necessitate an emergency c-section…

When Doctor of the Year returned, it was 2 in the morning and she was YAWNING. The nurse told her I had been pushing and without another thought, doc emphatically stated, “We’re going to have to perform a cesarean.” My first instinct was to punch her; I felt like she had let me down and completely betrayed my birthing wishes which, of course, she knew nothing about because she didn’t know me from Eve. Instead, I cried. Our families came in to wish me luck, and I remember feeling like they were bidding me their final goodbyes instead. Totally freaked me out. My brother looked terrified, my dad had tears in his eyes, and then this walked into the room:

That’s my husband lookin’ all creepy in his scrubs. At least it gave me a good chuckle before being cut in half.

I was pumped so full of meds that I barely knew my own name. I was shaking so badly on the operating table that Zach later confessed he thought I was going to die. Apparently I was pretty pale and the nurses kept calling for help and asking for more medicine in my IVs. Poor guy. Fortunately, I did not die and this, our first family photo at 3:30 on July 26, 2009, was the end result:

Please excuse me, there was no time to powder my nose.

I had a son! This was mind-blowing because the entire 9 months I carried that child, I called HER Mia Rose because, obviously, I was having a beautiful girl with beautiful dark hair and beautiful olive skin and that was going to be her beautiful name. I had all the classic “girl” symptoms: I was ginormous, my face broke out, the ever-reliable Chinese gender predictors all pointed to GIRL. Those old wives tales got nothin’ on me. When the doctor announced it was a boy, I yelled (loudly and inappropriately), “LIARRRR!” I never did do well on meds…And here HE was: Brady blond hair, blue eyes, and porcelain white skin. Shut. Up. He was perfect. And he was mine.

– See more at: http://whencrazymeetsexhaustion.com/birth-stories/#sthash.WtsN2I2S.dpuf

Birth Story Celebration: Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic

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Welcome to the 11th post in a series of birth stories that will run from August through September, Birth Story Celebration.  Keep checking back on Tuesdays and Fridays for new, awesome stories of the miracle that makes us parents!  Today’s story is from Janine!

Janine Huldie is a certified, licensed teacher who currently manages a home and family, all while trying to keep peace and balance with minimal meltdowns from all.  She is a wife to Kevin and a mom to her two little girls, who are 16 months apart.  Her oldest, Emma just turned 4 and her youngest, Lily will be 3 years old in November.  Her days are also filled with her love of writing and passion for design, too.  You can find her at Janine’s Confessions of A Mommyaholic and J9 Designs, too.

Saturday, November 20, 2010:

I woke up and when I got out of bed seemed Ok, but I sat down to do something and when I got back up my back was in excruciating pain. Apparently, the baby had moved on my sciatic nerve and I could barely sit or lay down now. Standing seemed to be the only semi-comfortable option. But at 39 weeks of pregnancy, what woman wants to stand all day long?? And guess what this lasted all through the weekend. Plus I kept losing mucous plug and contracting off and on, too. Fun times, not!!!

Monday November 22, 2010:

I had an 11:45 am appointment at my OB and was told officially that I would be induced at North Shore at Plainview Hospital at 6 am the very next morning due to the fact that I was already contracting, 3 cm dilated and in such pain from the baby indeed still being on my sciatic nerve. At around 8:30 pm that night, my doctor called me to tell me that there weren’t beds at Plainview and wasn’t sure about being induced there at this point. He said to page him at 5:30 this next morning. I went to bed and barely slept, because of how uncomfortable I was from the back spasms and contractions, too. I got up around 3:30 and decided to take a shower figuring if I was to go to the hospital today at least I would be clean.

Tuesday November 23, 2010:

At 5:30 am, I did as I was instructed and paged my OB and he called back to say that he had delivered two patients during the night at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre and that Plainview was definitely out and wasn’t sure about Mercy Medical Center. He told me to stay on a liquid diet and to call him back around noon. About forty-five minutes later, he called me back to say that I could go to Mercy and as soon as I could get there he would start my induction. We left Emma, who was just waking up, with my mom and dad.

We arrived at Mercy at around 8 am and they started me on the IV and monitors within the hour. My doctor arrived in the meantime, examined me, and found that I was still 3 cm dilated and but now I was also 75% effaced.

As I was being monitored, the nurses noticed that I was contracting regularly on my own and told me I was definitely in early labor and that if I was not being induced that day, I would have most likely gone into full blown labor anyways. So I would have been here one way or another apparently. They did, however, start me on the pit and was only on a 2 and was having contractions one on top of the other.

The contractions were very strong and as I said on top of each other that at around 1 pm, I finally requested an epidural. Once I got the epidural, I was more comfortable and was then checked again, where I was found to be 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced, now. They broke my water at around a little after 3 pm. just as my doctor returned from his daily appointments (he would not let them do this until he was there, because he figured being my second delivery this would be quick and didn’t want to miss it) and then my epidural pretty much wore off. Because of this the contractions were real painful again, could feel the baby kicking my ribs with each one, and there wasn’t any time to top my epidural off.

Then, I started to feel a ton of pressure and knew immediately from my first delivery that it was time to push (or have to take a massive poop sorry but that is exactly what it feels like). But the nurse truly thought it couldn’t be, because I was just still only 4 cm. dilated only in the last half hour. However, my doctor came in and said, “I bet you any amount of money she (meaning me) is right, because she has done this before only 16 months ago and don’t think she has forgotten what it feels like to have to push!”

Sure enough I was 10 cm. dilated, 100% effaced, the baby was right there and I was definitely ready to definitely push. On the first push I was able to push the head completely down. After a set of 3 pushes, I got the baby’s head out. After 2 more pushes, the rest of my baby was now out and born. “I delivered this baby before! She look just like her older sister.” These were the first words Lily heard out of my doctor, followed by “Happy Birthday Lily Ann”, by my nurse.

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I was allowed to hold her on my chest and we even had pictures taken of us with her. She stayed with me for about an hour after delivery, before they took her way to clean her up. I had visitors, including Emma who wore her ‘Big Sister’ shirt that night and couldn’t believe I now had two babies.

When they did bring Lily back to me it was after visiting hours were over and all our visitors had indeed left for the night. It was now 10 pm and in walked the night nurse with this beautiful baby girl wearing the most gorgeous, white knitted hat all swaddled like a burrito. I swear she looked like and angel (and not just saying this because she was mine). She stayed with me for hours before they took her back to the nursery. Then was returned to me the following morning to spend the whole day with Kevin and I.

All-in-all, I had a very quick and uncomplicated delivery. I didn’t need an episodomy, didn’t tear at all, minimal bleeding and felt great afterwards (even my back finally began to feel better). The baby and I were discharged the following evening (Thanksgiving Eve.) and were able to be home for Thanksgiving the next day to celebrate Lily’s very first Thanksgiving.

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Birth Story Celebration: Raising Wild Things

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Welcome to the 10th post in a series of birth stories that will run from August through September, Birth Story Celebration.  Keep checking back on Tuesdays and Fridays for new, awesome stories of the miracle that makes us parents!  Today our featured story is from Mackenzie.
Mackenzie and her husband have three children, ages 5, 3 and 1. When she is not busy deejaying dance parties, fighting off ferocious dinosaurs or changing diapers, Mackenzie spends her “free” time working as a freelance editor, attempting to keep up with the dishes and laundry, and chasing the ever elusive dream some may know as sleep. She also writes about the hilarity and sometimes missteps of raising young children on her blog, Raising Wild Things.  Besides her family and friends, some of Mackenzie’s favorite things include serial commas, cheese, chapstick, Brad Pitt, flip flops, and pretty much anything having to do with vampires. Some of her dislikes include snow, folding fitted sheets, matching socks, running, the phrase, “just sayin,” and toilet paper rolls hanging the wrong way.

I come from a very fertile family, plus if you’ve ever seen me in real life, you know I have the hips to birth some babies. So I was surprised  when I still wasn’t pregnant after 3 months of trying. After 6 months I got worried. And after 9 months I was downright scared. My dreams of becoming a mommy seemed to be circling the drain before my very eyes.

After nearly 3 more months of testing, and testing, and more testing–with nothing seemingly abnormal with either myself or my husband–and then finally a teeny bit of medical intervention, I got pregnant.

I will never forget the morning I found out. It was about a week before I was due to get my period, and figured I’d start the every-other-day testing until my period showed up. Because I had been doing these tests every month for about the past year, and because every single time they came back negative, I was expecting more of the same. So I took the test and set it aside while I hopped in the shower to get ready for work.

I had actually nearly forgotten about it until I was heading out the door. So when I grabbed it and saw the plus sign on it, I nearly keeled over right on the spot. I couldn’t stop staring at the test. It was probably a good 10 or 15 minutes before I regained a semblance of composure and was able to call my husband. Before he could even finish saying “hey” after answering the phone, I whispered, “I think I’m pregnant,” hands shaking as I tried to keep the phone from dropping to the floor.

“What do you mean you think you’re pregnant,” he asked? “Did you get a positive test?” I could tell he was nervous, too.

“Yes, but I’m not sure I trust it.” And I didn’t.

“Well, call your doctor and call me back.”

So I did. I went right in and had a blood test. And then on the way to work I bought three more tests. All different kinds. And I took them all. And they all came back positive. But I still wasn’t convinced until my doctor called to say it was confirmed. “Hallelujah!” To say my husband and I were excited would be an understatement.

Aside from a few small things, my pregnancy was rather uneventful. I never had morning sickness, and I seemed to be following along the 8,001 pregnancy books I was reading to a T.

And then around 28 weeks, I had some weird stuff going on down below. I went to my OB to get checked out, and she assured me everything seemed fine. I wasn’t dilated or effaced. The only thing she said was that I was carrying very low.

Fast forward to a week later. My parents were in town for the weekend to celebrate my birthday. We decided to do a little shopping and then go out to dinner. But when we got to the mall, I wasn’t feeling that great. My back was suddenly killing me and I didn’t feel like walking around. So I sat on a bench and sent everyone on their merry way. Once shopping was done, we went out to dinner. Even though I couldn’t fit too much in my stomach those days, I ate a ton. And then I felt even worse because my back was still hurting and I was over-full.

When we got home, I still wasn’t feeling great but figured all I needed to do was go to bed to rest my back and get some sleep. And let the baby feast on the meal I had just inhaled. But of course, I couldn’t sleep. I kept having this nagging stomach tightening. It finally got to the point where it was 2 am and I still couldn’t fall asleep. Finally, I called into the answering service for my doctor’s office and they said I should head into the hospital to get checked out. Thinking it’d be a quick trip in and then back home, I let my husband sleep and instead woke up mom to have her take me.

When we got to the hospital, they hooked me up to all the monitors and then did an exam. “Do your contractions hurt?” asked the resident. Contractions? What contractions? “Well, Mrs. Lawrence, you are 2-3 centimeters dilated, so we are going to admit you to try and stop your labor.” My labor? I started panicking.

“How can I be in labor? I have 11 more weeks to go!” I said.

My mom called my husband, and he and my dad were at the hospital in record time. I was moved to another room and told I’d be confined to the bed for at least the next 36 hours while they put me on magnesium to try and stop my labor. Oh god, oh god, oh god.

Those next 36 hours were hellacious. The magnesium made me sick, I was catheterized (ok, that was kinda cool not having to get up to go to the bathroom), and I was so uncomfortable. I was already pretty huge with baby belly, even being 11 weeks away from my due date, and being confined to a bed with only one or two positions to move to brought me to tears. Not to mention all of the various testing I underwent–blood tests, urine tests, ultrasounds, an amniocentesis–to try to figure out why I was in labor so early and how mature the baby’s lungs were.

Plus, I was scared. Scared for the little baby that I was growing. Although apparently not doing such a great job at that since the baby was trying to make a great escape. But my fears were put at ease some when we met with the neonatologists. Yes, our baby was going to  have some struggles, but if he or she decided to join us at 29 weeks, we were far enough along that the doctors were very reassuring about our outcomes. Nevertheless, they prepped us on things to expect: incubators, feeding tubes, heart monitors, breathing monitors…it was all very overwhelming. Thankfully, my husband and parents and mother-in-law were constantly at my side helping me through it all.

At the end of my 36 hours on magnesium, the doctors determined I could come off. My contractions had stopped and I hadn’t dilated any further. Things were looking on the up and up. They were even talking about letting me go home, which was great, because it was my birthday. And then my water broke.
At this point, after taking everything into account, the doctors determined we should move ahead with delivery instead of trying to hold it off any more. With all of my exams, and now with my water broken, the chance of an infection was great, so we wanted to get the baby out as soon as possible. So, I was started on pitocin, and the waiting game began. It was about 8 o’clock at night, so the doctors guesstimated we’d be ready to go the next morning.

Belle had other plans. 15 minutes into my pitocin, my contractions were so bad that they had to cut it down some. 15 minutes after that, I asked for my epidural. And then 15 minutes after that, I felt really funny. I had my mom get the nurse, and when I described what I was feeling, she looked skeptical but checked me out. Sure enough, I was completely dilated. Within 45 minutes I went from 3 cm to 10 cm. They couldn’t believe it.

And then it was like someone switched on the fast forward button. The nurses were so worried I was going to deliver right then and there that they started wheeling me out of the room before I was disconnected from my IV and monitors. I was told I’d have to deliver in the ER in case there were any complications. So my husband was rushed into his scrubs, and after I was successfully disconnected from everything we headed for the ER. And we were met by a swarm of nurses and doctors–OBs, neonatologists, pediatricians.

Things got real very fast. Not an hour ago I was sitting in my bed wondering when this baby would come out, and now I was being told to push. It’s sort of a blur to me, actually. I remember pushing, and I remember one of the pediatricians coming up to me to tell me that I wouldn’t get to see my baby right away–they needed to take him or her immediately to do an exam and determine what needed to happen. My husband wouldn’t get to cut the umbilical cord, and I wouldn’t get that moment every mom dreams of of having their newborn placed on their chest. We were sad, but we understood.

Then after 15 minutes of pushing, the baby was out. “It’s a girl!” my doctor said as she passed her over to the pediatrician. I didn’t even see her face before she was rushed into the next room. But I did hear her crying–she had a strong cry, a fierce cry–and from that moment, I just knew in my heart things were going to be alright. I sent my husband to the next room to be with our baby. Our daughter. And then I just cried. Tears of joy. And tears of relief.

A few minutes later, my husband was back at my side along with one of the pediatricians. She looked me right in the eyes and said, “Mrs. Lawrence. Your baby is doing beautifully. She’s been breathing on her own this whole time and looks amazingly healthy.” Then she put the tiniest baby I had ever seen in my arms. “We need to get her to the NICU, but I wanted you to see her and hold her before we go.”

I couldn’t believe this tiny little baby was mine. All 3 1/2 pounds, 17 inches of her. Mine. And the fact that she was doing better than anyone could have ever imagined. My husband and I were just in awe. Here she was. Our Belle. We couldn’t have been happier.

We got to hold her for a few minutes before they finally had to take her to the NICU. I didn’t want to let her go, but I knew I had to. After Belle was gone, my husband bent down and whispered, “Happy birthday, hun. I am so very proud of you.” Oh my gosh. It was still my birthday. Our birthday! I got to share a birthday with our daughter. And there were more tears.

I wanted so desperately to go to the NICU as soon as I was moved out of the recovery room, but it was past midnight at that point, and the weight of the past 3 days finally hit me. I hadn’t eaten anything or slept much, and I literally passed out. Three times. So we all agreed that I should stay in bed through the night to get some much needed rest and build up my energy. My husband stayed in the NICU while I slept.
The minute I woke up I begged to go see my daughter. The nurses put me in a wheelchair and my husband wheeled me down to the NICU. I wasn’t prepared for it. Our daughter, who only the night before was wrapped up in just a blanket and resting sweetly in my arms, was now in an incubator with tubes coming out from everywhere. She had an IV in her belly button, a feeding tube in her mouth, and monitors attached all over. Seeing her like that was so overwhelming. My heart ached for her.

The good news, they said, was that she was still breathing on her own and never had to go on oxygen. She seemed to be doing amazing given how early she was, and the doctors and nurses were nothing but reassuring about her prognosis.

Belle spent 5 weeks in the NICU. During that time, my husband and I became experts as NICU parents. We knew what the terms apnea and bradycardia meant, our hands were so dry from all of the washing and sanitizer we had to use, and we became pros at changing Belle’s diaper and getting her dressed while making sure all of her tubes and monitor leads stayed in place. We graduated from only being able to touch her through the holes in her incubator to knowing how to disconnect her from everything, pick her up, and hold and feed her all on our own.

And during those 5 weeks, Belle was learning a lot, too. She quickly moved from her incubator to a regular bed, she was taken off her feeding tube, and she gained about 2 pounds. Everyone kept saying just how amazed that were at her progress. We did have a few setbacks, like her small brain bleed and some apnea issues, but all in all, Belle just continued to thrive.

The day finally came when the doctors told us they thought she was ready to come home. We were ecstatic, but surprised and nervous. She was still so tiny (only about 5 1/2 pounds). And she was still 6 weeks away from her due date! (This is fairly unusual, as preemies typically stay in the hospital until at least their due date.) We rushed around like crazy to get the house clean and ready for her arrival (after all, her room was still a guest bedroom when she was born).

And then the day arrived when we were able to take Belle home . . . we were now responsible for this little life. Saying goodbye to everyone at the hospital was tough, but we were ready. Ready to be in our own home.

A new family now.

This story was edited from the original post here.

Birth Story Celebration: The Next Step

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Welcome to the 9th post in a series of birth stories that will run from August through September, Birth Story Celebration.  Keep checking back on Tuesdays and Fridays for new, awesome stories of the miracle that makes us parents!  Today our featured story is from Lori.

Lori is a mom of 3 girls, two being twins, and she blogs about their lives over at The Next Step.

When I found out I was having twins, it was the shock of my life. Thankfully I was blessed with this phenomenon in 2009, and not forty years ago when the shock would have come as the doctor was elbow-deep in my hoo-hah muttering something about “another head in there.”

At 30 weeks, I was scheduled for weekly non-stress tests to be performed at the hospital where they had more than one fetal-heart monitor.  I was admitted to the hospital each time, dressed up in the finest fanny-flashing gown they had, and strapped into all kinds of devices.  They hooked up two fetal-heart monitors to my giant belly to measure the heart rates of the twins at rest over a 20 minute period, and a device I liked to call The Seismograph to measure whether or not I was having contractions.

For a couple of weeks I had been having severe discomfort that felt like one of the twins was stretching to her full height pushing her feet against my lungs and jamming her head into my cervix. During the second non-stress tests, this happened three times and I tried to explain it away as one of the twins stretching, but the nurse monitoring the earthquake going on in my belly suspected pre-term labor.

All manor of violations were done to measure stuff in centimeters, first by the nurse, then by my doctor, who declared me in labor and told me to expect to spend the night.  They got busy shooting steroids into my ass and pumping multiple layers of labor-stopping fluids into my arms, while I made frantic phone calls to my husband.  He came running with a bag full of essentials like phone charger, laptop, and barrettes to keep the hair out of my eyes, but he didn’t bring the camera because we were NOT having the babies that day.

But every time the OB came to check on me, she looked more and more prepped for surgery.  First she was in street clothes and white coat, then she was in scrubs and sneakers, and the next time I saw her she had on the paper hat and booties to match!  She claimed it was because she was currently juggling me and a couple other scheduled c-sections.

As 3 different methods of stopping the labor failed, the true fear set in.

What if they came today?  Is it too early?  The due date is still 7 weeks away! Will those steroids do anything to help develop the babies’ lungs? What if something is wrong with them? What if…

While my husband argued with the neonatalogist on the fine points of the medical releases needed to perform radical procedures on the babies should the need arise, my OB said, “Could you take this in another room?  She’s progressing like a freight train and we need to get to the OR right now!”

Oddly enough, I laughed at the “freight train” comment and felt like I was in good hands.  Humor has always been my fall-back when I am scared, nervous, or feeling like I need a pick me up.  So when they wheeled my freight train self into the OR and jammed more people in there than in a clown car, I started the nervous joking.  It helped that they started pumping me full of drugs to prepare for the c-section – then I was SUPER hilarious.

It started with me asking “What’s with the condom?” and pointing to a rubber sheath someone had put on a large phallic handle on the giant operating lamp that hung over me.  Several people laughed and informed me that was to keep everything sterile.  I couldn’t help but laugh at the “condom” and “sterility” combo platter that was just served up to me. Could be it was just the drugs that made it funny.

When the fanny-flashing gown was all but tossed aside for the c-section to begin, someone noticed a small VT tattoo on my left hip (that stands for Virginia Tech, not Vermont) and asked for clarification that I was indeed a Hokie.  “Yeah!” I said throwing my fist in the air, at which point the doctor with the scalpel in her hand announced she had gone to University of Virginia, (our arch in-state rival) for undergrad and Duke for medical school.  I told her I wouldn’t hold that against her, and to please not hold it against me that my team had beat hers in football 10 of the last 11 times they met on the gridiron.  She laughed, and I swear held that scalpel just a little higher to let it glint in the light from that giant OR lamp.

Another person on the delivery team chimed in that they went to the University of Maryland, and yet another announced their alma mater was Boston College.  At which point I assured my husband that everything would be fine because we had “the ACC teams in the house!”  And they all cheered.  And commented that this was already the most fun they had ever had in an emergency c-section.

The chatter died down as incisions were made and Baby A popped out so fast the doctor said, “Whoa! I think she JUMPED out of there – it was all I could do to catch her!” (Years later after the twins personalities developed, our theory is that Baby B actually PUSHED her out.)

A mere 20 seconds later and Baby B is handed off to the neonatalogist and his team.

As my doctor struggles with my leftovers, all the pressure on my stomach sends up something for my husband to catch.  Thankfully this is a common enough thing that they had set him up in advance with a barf bag, and clean up was minimal.  I had terrific aim, even under the influence of morphine, and I shout “Nailed it!” after I finish heaving.  Everyone laughs again.  I think, “I’m on a roll! I’m HILARIOUS!” (again, could have been the drugs.)

My doctor commenced closing me up, and our attentions were turned to the twins and their vital statistics and Apgar scores.  Both girls weighed in at over 5 pounds each – which is a pretty terrific thing when they are 7 weeks early and had been sharing nutrition for so many months.  The doctors all exclaimed what a great job I had done in getting their birth weight up (the number one thing that helps premies avoid birth complications is a high birth weight).

I put one hand in the air, waved it like Miss America, and said in my best Oscar-winners voice, “I’d like to thank Ben and Jerry for this accomplishment.”  Which put the delivery team in stitches again, and made me smile and relax for the first time since being told I was definitely in labor.

We got a quick glimpse of the girls before they were whisked off for their mandatory stay in the NICU until they reach 35 weeks gestational age.  No breathing problems, no heart problems, no eating problems – my girls rocked their NICU stay!  I was able to breathe easy myself, enjoy the pain meds, and joke with the nurses about not checking out until I pooped. (Motherhood is glamorous, right?)

Birth Story Celebration: The Golden Spoons

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Welcome to the 8th post in a series of birth stories that will run from August through September, Birth Story Celebration.  Keep checking back on Tuesdays and Fridays for new, awesome stories of the miracle that makes us parents!  Today’s story is from Lisa!

Lisa is a former preschool special needs teacher who has been working as The Director Of Household Operations in the “Spoon” household for the past ten years.  She has three daughters ages 11, 8, and 6, and a husband who works in sales and travels quite a bit for his job.  Lisa started her blog, The Golden Spoons, over three years ago.  She enjoys writing and has enjoyed the personal connections blogging has created.  She also enjoys a good cup of French Vanilla creamer with a little coffee added in, belting out her favorite songs when she is alone in the car, and trying new recipes that her family will most likely not eat.  She is not crafty, but she is organized (most of the time) and is a church/school volunteer extraordinaire.

The Baby That Made Me A Legend

At our house, we go through what I call the “Birthday Blitz” every August. My hubby, my oldest daughter, and my youngest daughter all have birthdays within a five day span in early August. It is crazy. And, it is only natural, I think, that during this blitz I reminisce about the births of my girls.

I will always be indebted to Emily, the youngest, because, through her birth, I became a legend.  Only for a day or two and only in a very small circle of people, but still, a legend.  You see, Emily August is pretty hot, humid, and torturous here in North Carolina (even if you are not hugely pregnant and responsible for two other children who were, at the time, 2 and teetering on 5).  I was terribly uncomfortable and, really,  just plain miserable.  I was more than ready to have my third and final child. So, once again, we headed to the hospital one Saturday morning to be induced four days past my due date. (All three of my girls chose to arrive late and all three needed a little extra coaxing to finally enter this wonderful world.)  My labor was fairly easy (thank you sweet epidural) and quick.  At 5:05 pm, Emily was born.

During the delivery, the midwife made a comment about being glad she had just returned form a conference on shoulder dystocia and seemed, briefly concerned. Very soon, though, and without much difficulty my sweet Emily was born. Immediately, the medical staff and my husband started commenting on how big she was.  To me, she just looked like a beautiful newborn baby girl, especially since my other two were not small potatoes either.  As is the standard procedure at the hospital where all my girls were born, my husband went with her to the nursery where they weighed and bathed her.  When he returned to the delivery room where the nurses were still working with me, he had a smirk on his face and said to everyone, “Guess how much she weighs.”  Some guesses were made, mostly in the 9 pound range. I didn’t believe any of them.  However, everyone was amazed when he announced the answer: 10 pounds 2 ounces!  Yep  – 10.2 pounds – that is not a typo!

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She was the biggest baby anyone remembers being born on either side of my family.  As far as I know, none of my friends have had a baby that big.  In fact, she was the biggest baby the nurses remembered being born at that hospital in quite some time.  The next day, a nurse actually came into my hospital room and asked to check my incision, assuming I’d had a C-section.  She couldn’t believe I hadn’t.  One or two other nurses came in just to take a peek at the baby that had everyone talking.  Friends and family went on and on about her size.  And I, the mother who gave birth to her, became a legend (albeit briefly and mostly in my own mind!).

Emily came home from the hospital in size 1 diapers and size 3-6 month clothes.  The first thing I had to do was remove all the tiny newborn clothes I had so carefully placed in her nursery furniture drawers and replace them with larger items. 

That sweet big little girl is now six years old!!!  She has a huge personality that commands attention.  She is the baby of the family – she knows it and uses it to her advantage whenever possible.  She keeps us on our toes and makes us laugh.  She gives out hugs and kisses like they are going out of style.  She is the girliest girl of the bunch and loves all things princess. I am certain that her size at birth was simply an indication from above that she is destined for big things in her life.  I look forward to seeing what is in her future; I just hope it doesn’t all go by as fast as the last six years have gone!

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Birth Story Celebration: Life on Three Sides

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Welcome to the 7th post in a series of birth stories that will run from August through September, Birth Story Celebration.  Keep checking back on Tuesdays and Fridays for new, awesome stories of the miracle that makes us parents!  Today’s story is from Stacy!

Stacy is mama to one amazing almost 2-year-old and wife to an awesome firefighter. She spends her days wrangling munchkins in her in-home preschool and squeezing in blogging moments at Life On Three Sides between dishes and diapers and recess. She loves writing, coffee, sarcasm, attempts at gardening, and overshares with a bit too much honesty.

It sounds very cliché, but I have dreamed of being a mama my entire life.  It was the one thing I was determined to do right by my own terms.  When we were ready.  We finally got to that place early in 2010, and started trying.  One year later, we found out we were pregnant on January 11th, 2011.

life4It was a fairly uneventful pregnancy, and only at the very end did I have high enough blood pressure that my midwife was concerned.  I was monitored Wednesday and again on Friday, and she determined I should go on bed rest, 1 week before my due date.  Well, I disagreed and knew there was no way.  I had a school in my house, and couldn’t afford to have my teachers take over for me one day before I needed them to.  So I spent the weekend relaxing and getting the last few things ready.

One of my good friends was giving us a beautiful bassinet.  We met for lunch and then I picked it up from her house on Sunday.  It was the last thing we needed to get ready.  I got it home, set it up next to my side of the bed, and we were ready, for whenever our daughter was ready.

It was like she knew.  Like she was waiting.  Waiting just long enough, waiting for the last piece to fall into place, and for the most beautiful moon.  I finished arranging the blankets in her bed “just so”, and tucked myself in my own bed at about 10:30pm.  I was sorta drifting, the usual 39-weeks-pregnant uncomfortable-ness preventing me from a true ability to fall asleep.

Everything started that night at 11:30pm.  I woke up to my first contraction, and it hurt!  It surprised me a bit.  It wasn’t too bad, but when they say, “you’ll know when you’re in true labor”, they are kinda right.  At least for me.  The other contractions I’d felt were truly practice ones, and this one definitely meant business.  It was the only one, so I dozed off a bit until 12:15am, when I was hit with the next one.  45minutes apart, nothing to wake my husband up for, yet.  I had 5 more over the next 45 minutes, walking the hallways and worrying that this was false labor and I’d be one of the moms that showed up at the hospital and they sent home.  By 1:20am they were 5-6 minutes apart, and pretty painful.  So I started thinking it wasn’t false, and woke up my husband and told him if he wanted to shower before we go, he better do it now.

Under the light of the harvest moon, we headed out the door just before 2am.  By this time the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and painful enough I almost threw up a few times.  Every bump on that drive was so painful, and needless to say I did NOT get a chance to enjoy that moon!  I expected the pain to be brutal and worse than I could imagine.  What I was NOT prepared for, was that it would STILL be so painful between contractions.  You know, they say 3 minutes apart and last 1 minute, I figured 2 minutes of rest between.  NOT THE CASE.  Oye.  That was the most brutal discovery for me.  (So far.)

So we got to the hospital just before 2:30am, of course not having called our midwife OR the hospital.  I got the slightly skeptical face from the desk girl, and she sent us to Labor and Delivery.  They got us tucked into a room right away, hooked up to the monitors, and the contractions were about 2 minutes apart at this point, and coming on fierce.  Just before 3am, the nurse checked me and I was dilated to 8cm.   life2

The nurse went to call my midwife to let her know we were definitely on our way to having our baby, and I had my husband call my mom, who lives 2 hours away, and leave a message to let her know because I wasn’t really up to talking.  We didn’t want to wake anyone else.

My husband was so encouraging, I’m not sure I could have made it without his support.  And I’m not sure I would have made it all natural (if I’d had a choice) without his helping me to be strong and it going so fast.  My midwife arrived and checked me at 3:40am and I was fully dilated.  She broke my water, and 5 minutes later I was ready to push.  It was not a prim and proper little birth, but after 50 minutes of pushing, our daughter was born at 4:35am on Monday morning.

 

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It happened so FAST.  5 hours from first contraction to birth.  Anything that happens with that kind of speed is bound to have it’s effects, and let’s just say I can say with first-hand experience what the “ring of fire” is (2 years later and I still remember what it felt like), and my midwife stitched up a 2nd degree tear and two smaller tears.  I was kind of in shock and exhausted from all the pain, and it took me a minute to be able to open my eyes.  When I did, the most perfect little being was laying on my stomach.  7 pounds, 12 ounces, 19.5 inches long, a thick head of dark brown hair and blue eyes.  My husband got to cut the cord.

 

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It wasn’t exactly how I might have imagined our birth to be, but it was just perfect.  Because it went so quickly, it really was just my husband, my daughter, and I, on this journey together.  She slipped into this world quickly, on her own terms, with a sense of humor and a fierce determination, and she has continued in just the same way for her almost-two years of life.

I called my best friend at 5am, and she was the first person to know she had arrived, and her first visitor.  We got ahold of the rest of the family around 7am, and the next day and a half was a blur of visitors.

I was very much in shock about the whole process, and I think still in disbelief that after waiting my whole life, I was finally a mother.  We couldn’t decide on a name, so we had the social security guy call back the next morning.  It was in that moment, though, when my husband answered the phone and forever bestowed a name to our daughter, that the reality of it all hit me, and a few overwhelmed tears slipped out.  I was a mama.  Forever and always it would be the greatest thing I’ve ever done.

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Birth Story Celebration: Finding Vanilla Octopus

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Welcome to the 6th post in a series of birth stories that will run from August through September, Birth Story Celebration.  Keep checking back on Tuesdays and Fridays for new, awesome stories of the miracle that makes us parents!  Today’s story is from Sharon!

Sharon is a stay-at-home mom and referee to three babies, all under the age of three. She tries to cram in time for her blog, Finding Vanilla Octopus, as best she can in the midst of all of the chaos, for love of writing and the opportunity to share her amateur photography attempts.

As with my second child, I experienced pre-term contractions with my third pregnancy from about 32 weeks on, and prodromal labor from about 36 weeks. I was hospitalized overnight with Amelia exactly one month before she was born after showing up at my 36-week appointment dilated to 4 cm and contracting every 4-7 minutes. After showing no signs of imminent progress, I was released, only to live the next four weeks in fear of when active labor would suddenly set in, since I couldn’t differentiate early labor from my everyday experience at that point. Having had a 10+ lb baby as my first, and a two-hour active labor with my second, who was smaller, I knew this third labor was bound to be quick, especially since all indications were that Amelia would be smaller than her older sister, as well. However, I never did figure out how I was going to get myself to the hospital in time to have her there once it became clear that it was “time to go,” especially with two children at home to make arrangements for.

Wednesday morning, March 27th, began much like any other I’d had in the previous few weeks. I wasn’t particularly more sore or crampy than usual; neither impossibly tired nor unusually energetic. I did note, after settling myself down in the basement with the kids, that I was contracting pretty regularly (every 4-8 minutes), but I’d long since ceased to take such episodes seriously, since they generally lasted for an hour or two before tapering off, and never led to anything.

Had the contractions slowly built in intensity, I may have paid them a bit more mind. But they continued on, barely strong enough to take notice of, never picking up in length or strength, or varying much in interval.

By the third hour, I was suspicious enough to consider mentioning them to my husband, Tom, before he walked out the door to make a grocery run with Abby after putting Michael down for a nap. For some reason, I elected not to. Why worry him, I reasoned, and further give myself an excuse to feed into my own false hope, when there was no solid proof that I should expect this morning to go differently than any other?

So, Tom and Abby set off to Wegmans, and I tried to take advantage of a brief opportunity to lie down. As I was resting, I had an unusually strong contraction, followed by a strange internal popping feeling. Startled, and beginning to wonder if my membranes had perhaps ruptured, I waited a moment, then stood up to see if I felt any leakage. I didn’t.

I did, however, begin to hear Michael stir from his nap, so I headed upstairs to retrieve him. Once I’d gotten him into his high chair, I made a move to start preparing his lunch, and was halted by a pretty impressive contraction. That one got my attention, but I was still unsure what to do. Just a couple of weeks ago, I’d had two of similar intensity, in a row, and then nothing. I decided to wait and see if another would follow. Five minutes later, one did.

Ridiculously, I was still not satisfied. Just one more, I vowed. Once it hit, and passed, I tried to call Tom. But by this time, fifteen (little did I know how precious) minutes had gone by, and at first, I couldn’t get through. Thankfully, he called me right back, and said he was in the middle of paying for the groceries, and would be right home. I was momentarily relieved, but in the next few minutes, a couple of things happened.

I tried to call my mother, so that she could begin making her not-inconsiderable way to our house to take charge of the kids, and she wasn’t picking up. Between contractions, I tried my father, who promised to keep ringing her for me. She made contact within ten minutes to confirm that she was leaving, but I began to panic, then, because I’d done the two things I knew I needed to do, and was now faced with the reality that I was all alone, and my contractions were suddenly really, really bad.

So bad, in fact, that I found myself vocalizing loudly. Somewhere in my mind, I think this was the thing that most signaled alarm. I knew that I must be pretty far along to be reacting so desperately. A near-animal instinct began to take over as I frantically tried to cope with the pain alone. In fact, as Tom walked through the door, I was on all fours on the dining room floor, wailing and stretching my arms in front of me.

Tom deposited Abby into her booster seat, and dropped to the floor to be with me. And thus began our furious dance. He ran to get a pillow for my head, then to pour some cereal for Abby, then to hold my hand, then to give Abby the graham crackers that she demanded, instead. And I wailed, and screamed, and kept insisting on a shower.

It seems silly, in retrospect, but it was of utmost importance at the time. The immediate need stemmed from my embarrassment at the thought of someone having to sit between my legs when I hadn’t had a chance to bathe that day, messy as their job was bound to be regardless. But I think, also, that I was responding to some primal resistance I was feeling to being moved from where I was. I didn’t think that I could make it to where we were going, felt terribly unsafe trying to do so, and was stalling.

I could see that Tom was getting flustered, but I was focused on my goal. As he continued to run circles around and between the three of us, I began to crawl into the bathroom on all fours. Tom told me later that he looked on in some amount of horror as I started my approach, because between the loose hair hanging over my face, my position, and the way that my pain was contorting my movements, I reminded him of that creepy girl from the horror movie “The Ring.” I still chuckle now, every time I recall his re-telling.

I have no recollection of how I got my clothes off, and barely a concept of how I got into the shower, but I sat down at the bottom while Tom used the hand-held nozzle to help me clean myself. For a few short minutes, with the warm water on my skin, I began to relax a bit. However, once I was finished, I had to figure out how to exit the tub, and the real chaos began.

I noticed that I had begun to bleed, so I had Tom find me a pad to insert into my panties. As I fiddled with trying to get a pair on, Tom was rummaging around under the sink. My awkward attempts to lift and swing my legs around, however, resulted in the breaking of my water, which started off in a smallish gush. It was a good amount, but not enough to initially convince Tom that it had happened. I was sure, though, and began to panic again.

Tom tried to calm me by assuring me that all that was necessary now was some towels for the car. But I was despairing of even getting myself successfully dressed, and began deliriously shouting out orders for pants, a sweater, a new pair of undies (I dropped the first pair in the tub and it got hit with amniotic fluid).

Cue a second burst of amniotic fluid as Tom came back with new undies and began to clumsily try to slip a pad in, at my direction. This time, he was immediately convinced. No matter, though, because my thoughts began to urgently turn to the the insane pressure that I was feeling between my legs. I had been noticing an uncomfortable amount for some time, but now, the meaning of it all was undeniable. Though I was too terrified to reach my hand down and confirm, I was suddenly certain that a head was making its way down, completely undeterred and all-too-subject to gravity as I stood there.

Tom was asking, “Should I call an ambulance?” As I tried to express agreement, all I could think to do was sit, as quickly as possible. No sooner had I done so than a head began to emerge like a blossoming flower, and I was consumed with pain. I screamed like I have never screamed before as Tom began his first attempt to dial 9-1-1. He waited. I continued to scream, even as I wondered, in an eerie, out-of-body sort of way, whether anyone would even be able to hear my husband over my screeching.

And there we each sat, the tiny seconds stretched out for an instant: I, contemplating how to help my daughter on her way into the world as her tiny head turned to the side, and her eyes searched the blinding whiteness around her- wanting to touch her and comfort her but paralyzed by my own fear and shock; Tom, trying to figure out whether he should try to dial again or leave me alone just long enough to grab my phone from the other room to use instead.

His phone offered to redial. He hit “okay.” I tried to push, with no result. I knew that I should wait for a contraction, but I was in so much pain that I couldn’t tell if I was having one. Thankfully, little Amelia kept her head- no pun intended- and took charge. As I looked on in amazement, she began to rotate her shoulders to improve her positioning within the birth canal. When I saw that she had finished, I pushed again, and out she flew.

Tom, who had finally gotten the phone dialing, rushed in to guide her exit, and grabbed her up just as the 9-1-1 operator got on the line. The words came out in an explosive jumble: “Hellomywifejusthadababyinthebathtubwe’reat______!”

I don’t remember much else that was said. I know that Tom looked down at his new child, announced, “It’s a boy! No, it’s a girl!” (Those tender, swollen bits can be confusing to interpret at first glance.) I know that at some point, he offered her to me, and I was still too shell-shocked to realize that I should take her. I know that for some time, we just lay there, she and I, our bodies against each other in a magical first meeting, as Tom rushed around for a clean towel to wipe out her mouth and cover her naked body.

Soon, the paramedics flowed in- at least eight of them. I don’t know how many emergency vehicles showed up, ultimately, but there were representatives from Emergency Services and Fire and Rescue, and they were all amazing. They cut the cord, gathered up Amelia, got her safely into a very, very warm ambulance. Tom joined her there.

Then, they turned their focus to me, as I lay shivering in the bathtub and wondering how I was ever going to manage to get out of it, finally.

Ultimately, it was a good twenty minutes from the time I gave birth before I was able to make my way to standing, with assistance, and hobble my way down the hall to the living room where the cot waited, umbilical cord still dangling between my legs. The placenta finally fell away, then, as I went to sit down on the cot, and it was collected up as I was helped into position and strapped in.

My mother arrived just in time to wave hello/goodbye to me as I was loaded into the ambulance. Unfortunately, she did not catch a glimpse of Amelia, who was already safely inside. Thanks to the fact that Tom kept his head, however, she was not losing her mind at the sight of all of the emergency vehicles; Tom had called her ahead of time to warn her of what she was about to encounter and to assure her that everyone was fine.

There were other adventures ahead: an exciting ambulance ride, an excruciatingly painful after-exam due to some suspicious levels of bleeding (all resolved now), and finally, a reunion with my precious new baby at the hospital.

But we made it through. Safe, together, and instantly in love.

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The original post of this AMAZING story can be found HERE.

Birth Story Celebration: You Are A Good Mama

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Welcome to the 5th post in a series of birth stories that will run from August through September, Birth Story Celebration.  Keep checking back on Tuesdays and Fridays for new, awesome stories of the miracle that makes us parents!  Today’s story is from Sara!

Sara blogs over at You Are A Good Mama to chronicle her growth as a mother and offer a place where moms can talk about the different parenting decisions they make in a supportive environment to celebrate the differences that make us all good mamas.

Like all first time moms, I had My Perfect Birth envisioned. My water would break at some point, and I’d chill at home until it was time to go to the hospital. We’d settle into our room, where the lights would be dim and I’d be free to do all sorts of non-medication labor techniques. My favorite tunes would be rocking, and of course Salt ‘N Pepa’s “Push It” would be playing as my son made his entrance.

And of course, the actual experience was the opposite of what I imagined.

sara1At about 38 weeks, my midwife scheduled an induction for a week past my due date. Doing it this early ensured she could schedule it for a day she was on call; if I had to be induced then we could almost guarantee she would attend my birth. She assured me that if we reached the date and both baby and I were healthy, I could refuse the induction if I wanted to go longer. Works for me!

My due date of Sept. 6 came and went. On Friday the 10th, I went in for my last OB check-up before the scheduled induction. The news? No progress since the last appointment – I was still only 1cm dilated. This was pretty disappointing. I know the end result is the same, but I had really hoped to go into spontaneous labor and let the baby decide when he wanted to come out.

All weekend, I debated about whether to go forward with the induction. I really, really wanted to go into labor naturally. However, my parents had flown to England for the birth and were leaving a week after the induction date. [Note of explanation: my husband is in the Air Force and we were stationed at RAF Lakenheath in England. It’s not like we were rich jetsetters or elegant expatriates). If I didn’t do the induction, there was a strong possibility they may not see their grandchild before they went back to the states. I didn’t want them to miss out on this. We did everything we could to get labor going that weekend, but my stubborn boy refused to budge. So, we went forward with the eviction.

The induction kicked off on Monday, Sept 13 with the placement of a Foley catheter balloon. This balloon is placed in the cervix and filled with water until its diameter is 4cm. The idea is that it mechanically opens the cervix to at least 4cm (at which point, the balloon falls out). It’s a very weird sensation – not exactly painful, but not the most comfortable thing to sleep with. I was very excited when it fell out around midnight that night. Whoo hoo! Dilated to at least 4cm finally!!

sara2The next part of the induction started the next morning. We arrived at the hospital on Sept 14 at 0630. I was so excited – that was the day I’d finally meet our baby! I got all strapped into the hospital bed, with a monitor for Colt’s heartbeat and a monitor for my contractions. They started my IV and got me all hydrated before starting the Pitocin at 0800. I was sure this was going to be quick – a friend had gone through a similar induction a few weeks before and had met her son before 1100! Once the Pitocin started, we sat there and waited for the contractions to begin. I also learned that I was dilated to not 4cm, but 6cm!! We started to get excited, hoping our little man would be with us in just a few short hours. However…

…the rest of the morning was actually pretty uneventful. My contractions did get more intense, but they were manageable. I had really wanted to avoid having an epidural, and I was pretty pleased with how I was doing with the pain so far. And then…my water broke. At 1:00, we heard a pop (Bryce even heard it) and then a huge gush of liquid. It startled me so much I almost started crying! Then, as my nurse was sara3cleaning me up, she kept making me laugh. Every laugh made more water spurt out, which then made me laugh more. She was a good sport about it, thank goodness (and soon stopped cracking jokes!).

My nurse advised me that my contractions would get more intense and painful, since I now did not have the amniotic sac to dull them. Boy, was she ever right. I tried to manage the pain with my breathing, but by about 2:30 I couldn’t take it anymore and begged asked for the epidural. In the middle of getting this pain-dulling drug, I seriously reconsidered my decision. In between contractions, I was getting poked in the back with needles and cords. The anesthesiologist had to do it twice because the first one only went down my left side, leaving me with lopsided, painful contractions on my right side. Because I had held out for so long (my midwife said I lasted longer than about 90% of women before requesting the drugs) and apparently have a high tolerance for pain, they had to dose me with quite a bit of meds to catch up to my pain. The result? Complete and total numbness from the waist down. It really messed with my head – I kept watching myself poke my leg and have a mini freak out when I couldn’t feel it.

sara4Anyway, besides spazzing me out about my legs, the epidural also rendered my contractions painless. Sweet relief! It also helped me dilate from about 7cm to 9.5cm in a few short hours, since I was so relaxed. At 7pm, they dialed the pain meds back because I started pushing! Since I couldn’t feel anything, it was hard to know if my pushing was doing anything. After about an hour, I started getting some feeling back and it made pushing easier. My husband and one of the nurses had to hold my legs for me, since I couldn’t feel them let alone hold them up!

After an hour and a half, I was really frustrated with what I perceived as a lack of progress. I swear, I thought my vagina was the length of a football field. The nurses kept saying, Almost there! And I’d be like, are you freaking kidding me? He feels like he’s miles from the exit! Thankfully, one of the nurses set up a mirror so I could see the action…and I realized I was much closer to holding my baby boy than I’d realized. I could see and feel the top of his head. This definitely helped motivate me.

At 8:59 pm, Colt Bryce McCall entered the world.

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Our boy was a strapping 10lb, 3oz and 22 inches long. How this man-child fit inside my 5’6″ frame, I’ll never understand. But I’m so glad he did, because he is absolutely perfect. He came out with a good amount of dark brown hair, and those heavenly, dark bluish-gray newborn eyes. I think he has my husband’s eyes and lips, and my nose and dimples. He wasn’t chubby, like you might expect from his birth weight. He was very solidly built and sara7perfectly proportional. We’re not sure where his size comes from, because there is no history of large babies or tall people anywhere in our family trees.

One part of My Perfect Birth that did happen was breastfeeding. About 30 minutes after his birth, the nurse said, “Let’s feed this baby!” I stupidly thought, Already? Luckily, I did not share this with the nurse and instead put my baby to the breast. It was the weirdest yet most fulfilling sensation I’d ever felt. Our journey had its rocky moments after that first time, but I loved nursing him and we continued until he was 27 months.

And the rest of My Perfect Birth? There are times I wish it could have gone differently. If we have another child in the future, I will do everything in my power to avoid an induction. Luckily, we are now back living in the United States, so we won’t have the shadow of international travel influencing our decision. But, I don’t regret how things went down. For me, the end result overshadowed the minor disappointment of not getting my way on a few details. My boy will be 3 next month and I fall more in love with him everyday.

 

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