Despite the circumstances being totally different, I could pretty much just repost Little Evan’s birth story here and go take a nap for the next half hour instead of writing Caroline’s. But the poor girl is already getting the second baby short stick in so many ways (a wardrobe of hand-me-downs! no baby book! unfinished nursery! I left her sleeping on the floor for 20 minutes last night while I checked my email went to the bathroom!) it’s not worth the therapy bills I’m going to be paying in 16 years. So here’s the story of how Caroline Noelle joined us.
I was NOT expecting to have this baby early, despite saying “Oh I think I’m having her early” about four bazillion times a day for the last 9 months. It’s one of those lies pregnant women tell themselves because it makes the pregnancy easier – like “Oh I’m sure this weight will come right off when I’m nursing!” I was REALLY not expecting to be induced, both because I had no problems going into labor with my first baby and because right up until the kidney stones/infection/hospitalization (and even during all that) Baby Girl showed no signs of distress or problems or largeness or any other reason for needing to make an early exit. I am excellent at being pregnant (despite the CONSTANT COMPLAINING but hey, that’s my right while I’m incubating another human – I’m pretty sure it’s in the Constitution and everything) and my blood pressure/weight gain/blood tests have always been right on track. The only time a doctor mentioned induction was a jokey “Don’t worry we can get that little tax deduction out before January 1st, no problem!”
So when I went in for my 38 week checkup on December 16th I wasn’t expecting to get the Concerned Face from my midwife over my elevated blood pressure, followed by orders for bloodwork and instructions to come back the next day for another check. I CLEARLY wasn’t expecting the next day’s appointment to land in me L&D all evening after my liver function numbers showed signs of pre-eclampsia and my blood pressure got even higher since I brought nothing with me besides my phone – not even knitting, and I never go ANYWHERE that might take a while without my knitting. After talking my way out of starting the induction immediately (it was scheduled for 5 pm Saturday) I spent Friday night and Saturday morning finishing as much last minute stuff as I could (including baking & shipping two kinds of fudge and two kinds of cookies for Madame Menu’s Holiday Cookie Swap because if there is one thing I’m dedicated to it is COOKIES) and staring dazedly at walls thinking “OMG I AM NOT READY FOR THIS!!” When my OB called Saturday morning to say she wanted me in ASAP instead of waiting until 5 I practically went into shock and flitted around half-finishing the four thousand things I suddenly felt an urgent need to accomplish. I finished exactly zero things.
At about noon on Saturday E and Little Evan dropped me off at L&D (by dropped me off I mean “came up to the floor and helped me get settled” – not “pushed me out the car door at laughed as they sped away”) so they could pick up Mom at the train station in Mystic at 3:45. All my nurse friends came in to say hi and congratulate me on being on the floor to have a baby instead of a kidney stone and I basked a little in my semi-celebrity status. It meant I got the biggest room, including the bathroom with a full sized shower rather than a teeny tiny corner nook, something I HATED when I was there for four days.
The floor must have been kind of busy (the rooms are REALLY soundproof so I can never tell) because it took a while for the nurse to come in and start my IV then a little while longer for the doctor to come in and check me to determine I was still at about 1.5 cm – the same as I was in the office on Friday, but soft and more than 50% effaced, which put me in pretty good shape to induce. They started me on the lowest level of pitocin right around 3 pm. My blood pressure was still high but I felt fine and was still mostly just annoyed that everyone was making such a big deal out of what was probably nothing. E got back to the hospital around 4:45-ish after picking up Mom and leaving her and Little Evan at the house. Then my lab work came back with the protein in my urine at 4+, which is the highest it can be and meant I officially had pre-eclampsia. So…not exactly nothing after all. Suddenly my doctor’s Concerned Face turned into a So There’s A Risk You Might Have A Seizure During Labor Face, which meant she was ordering magnesium sulfate in addition to the pitocin. Thanks to my commenters, I actually knew what that was (yah internets!) and was prepared for her suggestion. I also knew it was used to slow down labor which meant more pitocin was going to be ordered even though they’d been slowly turning it up for a while and I was definitely feeling the contractions.
Then several things happened at once – the OB broke my water to make things go faster, the nurse started the magnesium on a pump so I was stuck at a cord’s distance from my bed and they raised the pitocin to about a 12 (out of 20) which made it necessary for me to clutch my blankets and breath through each contraction instead of just squinting a little. I also had to get up and change gowns since the water-breaking resulted in what can only be described as a deluge that had both the nurse and the OB literally JUMPING BACK away from the bed. The words “it was like a fountain!” were used. I then managed to produce a series of smaller fountains pretty much every time I had a contraction for the next few hours. I’m talented. After I got back in bed, I spent some time contemplating the miracle of life updating Twitter and wondering how much longer I had to wait before I got my epidural, which by this point wasn’t so much something I was considering-if-things-got-there as something I-absolutely-no-question-wanted. The doctor checked and said I was at 3 cm would you like me to call the anesthesiologist? YES. PLEASE.
E decided he should probably go get some dinner while the chances of missing the birth of his child for a turkey sandwich were still pretty good. He came back about 12 seconds after they finished my epi. I think he timed it like that on purpose, although I don’t blame him – I’ve now had two epis and a spinal and still NEVER seen the needles they use. The anesthesiologist and the nurses and I messed around with pillows and blankets and tilting me to the side until the numbness evened out nicely – tingly legs, no pain and just a mild sensation of tightness during contractions. The super nice anesthesiologist even gave me a little extra loading dose to make sure it was going to stick.
At 8 pm my doctor’s rotation was over and I got another doctor from the practice. I was NOT super thrilled to learn it was Man Doctor, the same one who refused to believe my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, at least an 8 on the scale of 1-10, something is WRONG WITH ME PAIN was anything besides a pulled muscle. So, yeah, not thrilled. But after looking at my vitals for the last five hours (blood pressure still only borderline, no other symptoms) and my slow progression he decided if my next blood pressure was low he was going to pull the magnesium and stop the medications (and my body) from fighting against themselves so maybe I could actually have a baby some time in the next day. I decided to forgive him for the kidney stone. I got off the magnesium around 9 and at 10:30 E and I both decided to get some sleep. We drifted off to the soothing sounds of people drowning and freezing to death, thanks to Titanic (commercial free!) on our tv for background noise.
A little after 1:30 my nurse came in to do vitals again and asked how my contractions felt. I told her I had been sleeping so soundly I didn’t really notice them at all, which probably meant my epidural was up a little high since last time I could feel them better. She said “Well they’re pretty close together so just be sure to ring me if you feel the need to push – but don’t worry, I’ll be back in 15 minutes to check again.”
Which is why at 1:45 am I was sitting quietly in bed, reflecting on how amazing it was that I would soon be the mother of two and trying to enjoy a few more quiet pre-newborn minutes when I suddenly felt the baby’s head SLAM into my lady parts. Like, BOOM TIME TO HAVE A BABY. NOW. I was once again reminded why all those women on “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” end up giving birth on the toilet. (Interestingly enough, not once did I worry I might actually poop during labor and I certainly didn’t care if I did. That’s definitely a first-time-mom thing.)
If I had been sensible, I would have pressed the call button right then and there but I was so determined to finish all my reflecting and quietness and savoring of the moment that I just breathed really hard through the contractions and waited for my nurse. But when the breathing turned into clenching every muscle in my lower half as hard as I could so I didn’t end up DELIVERING MY OWN BABY I caved in a rang the desk to send someone in.
Of course, since I had just told my nurse I wasn’t feeling anything she didn’t really understand why I was acting all urgent about the situation and wandered off to find another nurse who was apparently the expert dilation checker. I somehow refrained from shouting at her that dilating was the least of my problems since I was pretty sure she could see the color of the baby’s eyes by this point. Expert dilation checker nurse took one look and ran off (apparently she wasn’t interested in catching a baby right then) but reappeared with the baby nurse and Man Doctor a few seconds later. I would have enjoyed a chance to be smug about my rightness but was way way too busy focusing on not pushing to muster up more than a tiny “I-told-you-so” face.
By 2:20 they were breaking the bed down into a labor bed and by 2:25 they FINALLY told me I was allowed to push. The nurses kept trying to help me arrange myself and my legs and adjust things but all I wanted them to do was leave me alone – the epidural was working to manage the pain but the stretching and pressure were VERY VERY present and I had no problems lifting my legs or scootching down so I could just please, finally, have my baby. Man Doctor said “So how long did you push with your first one?” and when I said “Seven times” he said “I think we might beat that this time”.
The nurse asked if I remembered how to push or if I wanted to practice. I told her I remembered. Two pushes later Baby Girl’s head was out and I felt SO MUCH BETTER. E told me later she was face down and the doctor had to turn her, which is why it took me three more pushes to deliver the rest of her. One of the nurses flopped her up on my chest and my first thought was “Oh my gosh, SHE’S HUGE!” They tried to clean her off and let me hold her for a minute but got kind of concerned when she didn’t start to scream – just a few tiny baby yells and some mewing. She was also really blue-ish (which ended up not being from lack of oxygen but from smashing her face into my pelvis on her way out) and only got a 5 for her first APGAR. Once the baby nurse checked her over and they realized she was awake and breathing and happy – just quiet – she got a 9 for her second. While they finished cleaning her off and wrapping her up Man Doctor informed me he was going to do one quick stitch but my epi was still on so I didn’t feel anything. After a nurse said Baby Girl was 8 lbs 5 oz he was pretty impressed at both my lack of damage and the short pushing time, but mentioned I shouldn’t grow the next one much bigger. Sounds like a challenge to me.
Once the baby was out they started unhooking me from stuff – first the monitors, then the epi (they had taken out the catheter before I started pushing), then they put a hep-lock on my IV and I was free. I could stand after about 30 minutes and they let me get up and use the bathroom (amazingly painlessly! a miracle!!) and get changed while E held the baby and we discussed her name. He was still pretty set on Piper but I think watching me give birth gave me the edge I needed to get him to cave on Caroline. She just looks more like a Caroline to me and after a few days with the name we can’t imagine calling her anything else.
I tried nursing a few times and she had a strong suck and a good latch but was too sleepy to last more than a few seconds at a time. I let the nurses take her down to the nursery for monitoring with strict instructions to BRING HER BACK if she made hungry noises or if they wanted her to try eating again and E and I both crashed – after all, 4 am is still 4 am, even if you just had a baby. ESPECIALLY if you just had a baby. They brought Caroline back around 7 and I got her to nurse for the hospital’s requested 15-20 minute stretch before we just hung out and cuddled and I admired the fact that I had grown not only another whole human being but such a totally adorable one. E slept until around 9, then went home to grab Little Evan and Mom so they could come meet her. The rest of my time on L&D was spent complaining about how much I HATE their stupid beds and asking when I could go home. Since all my pre-eclampsia symptoms disappeared after birth they couldn’t really make me stay so by 11 am Monday I was packed and ready and headed out the door so the four of us could start our lives together as a family of four. So far it’s been fantastic, really honestly fantastic.
So! There you go! Even with the unwanted induction and the Serious Faces and the magnesium sulfate and the Man Doctor I still think that was an excellent experience. The basics – 12 hours of labor, took a nap, woke up, short time pushing – were the same as with Little Evan. I guess technically it was even shorter in all because I started from not being in labor rather than regular timed contractions. Thanks to everyone who told me not to worry about induction – your reassurances kept me calm when I could have been super stressed. And thank you to everyone for all the congratulations, kind words and compliments on Caroline’s cuteness. I promise to provide as many Fresh Baked Baby pics as possible for the next few weeks!
Since THAT was super wicked insanely long, I’ll save Baby #2: The Aftermath for another post. Don’t worry, it’s not as terrifying as it sounds.