Posts Tagged ‘birth stories’

Welcome To The World, Finnegan!

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Introducing our fourth child…

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My birth story is decidedly average, with nothing super interesting or noteworthy happening. But since I like reading birth stories no matter what, I’m assuming other people do too.

My due date was August 28th, and although I’ve been preparing myself to go at least a week late (I did with both Evan and Linc) I was SO SO DONE when I got to my weekly exam on Monday the 29th. DONE. I had enough of the heartburn and insomnia and peeing every 20 minutes and sciatica and pelvic pain and throwing up (I was still throwing up every morning when I got out of bed) and being incredibly uncomfortable 24 hours a day. I had made it past all our vacations and commitments and E was back from his work trips and my mom had just gotten into town to help with the kids. So basically, everyone was sitting around waiting for me to have a baby but I was in too much pain to walk 10 miles a day to start labor.

I’d been taking evening primrose oil for a while, since it’s on The Internet’s List Of Things That Might Start Labor But Who Actually Knows. I’d also been drinking gallons of red raspberry leaf tea, eating all my food with extra hot sauce (and then crying myself to sleep because my heartburn was so bad) and doing as much walking as I could handle. I’d had a couple of evenings of steady, increasing contractions but they always faded away before I seriously considered going to the hospital. I had refused any checks to see how far along I was because in the past they’ve always been very discouraging, so when I went in at 10 for my appointment I didn’t know what to expect. OK, that’s not quite true. I knew I had either a UTI or a kidney infection. I knew my midwife wasn’t against induction. And I knew if she offered me one I would say yes.

I was right about all those things. My UTI turned out to be caused by e.coli, so I needed treatment. (Sidebar: it must be some sort of non-terrible e.coli though, because I wasn’t any sicker than I regularly am with a UTI. I wouldn’t have even treated it beyond cranberry juice and Tylenol if I hadn’t already been under a doctor’s care.) My blood pressure was high enough that it fell in the hypertensive range and I needed to go up to L&D for a non-stress test anyway. And my midwife could see how tired and stressed I was. Right after I got upstairs she came in and said “So do you want to have a baby?” Yes, yes I do.

If you had told me before I had my first child that someday I would happily and joyfully agree to an almost-elective induction, I would have called you a liar. And at the time I would have been right. But 3 births later, I was perfectly comfortable saying yes. I had a few moments of doubt when things got slow and I didn’t manage to have a baby by 8 pm (which had been my secret goal). I’m not someone who enjoys or longs for a natural, unmedicated birth. I think people who do are amazing and with my second pregnancy I briefly thought about giving it a try, but that one ended with pre-eclampsia and a definitely-medically-necessary induction. I used to think I’d like to know what it’s like to have my water break spontaneously, and then that happened with my third pregnancy, where I almost ruined our mattress and carpet. So this time, my only real wish was to get the baby OUT.

I went to the hospital around 3 pm. I hung out, E left to wrangle the kids and gather up the stuff I forgot, I bounced on the birth ball (I really loved the ball, I wish I had bought one for home), eventually they decided I was definitely progressing so they would start pitocin and break my water. A little later I got an epidural, hung out some more, finally agreed on a name with E, and waited. I ended up with a very slight fever (possibly the UTI, possibly something else?) and they stopped pitocin for several hours which let me get some sleep. But I woke up on Tuesday and felt like having a baby, so we started again. The doctor on call was one of the good ones, he was patient and trusted me to trust myself. Despite the fact that their monitors weren’t showing the contractions super close together, I could tell they were strong and if I were to try pushing things would happen. I secretly tried pushing. Things happened. So I told the nurse and the doctor and they did all the room switch-over stuff for birth and then everyone waited while I did a practice push to prove I could get the baby out. They were all very impressed with my pushing skills. It’s really the only part of birth I’m particularly good at. I was so good at it, my husband and my nurse forgot to help me hold up my legs and I remember thinking “this is nonsense, I don’t want to hold my own legs AND do all the work!” But everything happened so fast I didn’t have time to vocalize my complaint before I had a baby!

The doctor called him a bruiser. Everyone made sort of terrified faces at how enormous my baby was. My guess pre-birth was that he would be 9 lbs 4 oz AT LEAST and E said no more than 9 lbs, so even though they gave us lots of time to cuddle and nurse before they took him off to the scale, we really wanted them to weigh him. 9 pounds 13 oz is a LOT of baby. Plus also I was closer, so I win.

Because they had given me antibiotics while in labor, we had to stay for a minimum of 48 hours. Then his bilirubin levels came back high and they kept us another night. We finally got to come home…but right now as I type this E and Finn are back in the hospital so Finnegan can spend some time under the lights to help him get his bili levels down. I managed to pump so much milk in the past couple days trying to stay comfortable as it came in (I have oversupply issuses, which sound silly, because most people worry about undersuply. But let me tell you, oversuply is nooooo fun) that E can stay the whole 24 hours without me having to go back. I’m not going to completely abandon him – my natural urge to stay near my baby combined with the mom guilt of letting other people take care of him plus the fact that this breast pump is just NOT as effective as an actual baby means I’m eager to get back and nurse and cuddle and spend some time with Finn. But I really really reallyreallyreally REALLY really really appreciate that E is willing to do this part. He missed a lot of stuff after Linc was born because he had to go to sea (including a nearly idetical trip back to L&D for 24 hours under the lights) and the experience of doing it alone was really hard for me. It sounds silly to say “traumatic”, but the second I heard Finn’s bili levels were high I started feeling anxious and I’ve barely slept since then. I don’t like hanging out in hospitals.

Fingers crossed that 24 hours is all Finn will need and then we’ll just be done forever with the birthing center at our hospital.

I meant to do a really good job documenting this birth, but it turns out that’s hard to do. I felt very distracted and had no desire to pick up my camera at all until several hours after all the birth stuff was over. But I did take a few. I’ll have the official Fresh 48 photos up later this week too.

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I never made it in for a pedicure pre-baby. Now I probably never will.

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These cups full of crushed iced and water are the BEST part about the hospital. I love that ice.

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All the kids really love holding the baby. It’s adorable.

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Thank you to everyone for the well wishes!! We could not be happier to be a family of 6 and hope we will all be back under one roof again soon.


Birth Stories: Laura

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

To help fill in posts while I recover and adjust to life with a newborn AND a toddler I have some friends who have agreed to share their birth stories. Laura of the adorable And Two Became One kindly volunteered to be included in my week and I’m thrilled she did. Although I should tell you, if my new bebeh is already giving you baby fever, DO NOT click over to her blog and check out pictures of Shelby. Fair warning: it’s a birth story so it’s rated PG-13. And don’t get all shocked if someone says “vagina”.

Shelby’s Birth Story
by Laura Payette originally published on And Two Became Three

I really resisted getting Pitocin, mostly because I had heard so many horror stories about how it made your contractions really strong and hard to endure without an epidual. Also, that it had the potential to lead to a C-section, which I did not want. But my water had been broken for about 20 hours and I wasn’t making much progress. The fear was infection setting in, which really could have led to a C-section, so I caved and was okay with it.

I was relegated to my labor and delivery suite but not to the bed. In fact, I didn’t even get in bed. We realized pretty quickly that every time I even leaned over the bed or sat down on the birth ball my contractions would space out, so I mostly stayed on my feet swaying back and forth. I passed several hours like that, occasionally hopping online to pass the time. My contractions were really tolerable and I was beginning to think that a natural birth might just have been possible!

Then all of a sudden while Chris and I were playing a game of gin I felt something pop and drop, and the result was a huge burst of pain. Turns out it was the rest of my amniotic sac rupturing. I guess originally only the outer layer had been punctured. Now the whole sac was completely broken and Shelby had dropped a little bit. The contractions that followed were out of this world. I didn’t hold out long before I asked for the epidural. There was NO WAY I could’ve birthed her naturally based on the pain I experienced. Hats off to moms who go all the way. You are amazing.

Fortunately, the anesthesiologist came quickly and got the epidural in without any trouble. It was hard to hold still, in the perfect rounded position, but I did it. The relief was almost immediate, although it took a good 15-20 minutes for it to take full effect. When it did, my legs felt drunk. Seriously! You know that warm sense of well being you get when you drink? That’s exactly how I felt from the waist down.

They finally did a cervical check on me after the epidual was in. They had wanted to minimize those since my water was broken. I was at 5cm, so I had made some progress on my own prior to the epidural, but I still had a long way to go. It was about 10pm by this point and I was tired, but I knew there was likely little rest to be had.

I was now confined to bed, lying basically on my back, although I managed to lay on my sides some, but it was really hard to move even a tiny bit on my own because I was so numb. My doula was wonderful and helped me all through the night as I needed to change position and drink fluids. Chris was great, too, although he passed out for a while. At least one of us got some sleep! I can’t say I really got any, but I at least rested.

Suddenly, around 3:30 or 4am I had to vomit. It came out of nowhere, and my doula found me a bucket just in time. I hate throwing up and, believe it or not, this was the first time I had to my entire pregnancy. After that I started feeling some pressure in the lower right part of my back that persisted. It turns out I was fully dilated! The nurse on call had me do a practice push just to make sure I was really ready and then she went to call my midwife, who I was told would be there by 5:30am. This gave me a chance to rest some more; I actually fell into a light sleep for a while, which was fabulous.

My midwife was supposed to arrive by 5:30am, but she didn’t actually get there until a little after 6:30am. I had gotten a nice doze in, which I needed. When I came to and realized how much time had passed, I knew we needed to get things going. When the nurse came in, we told her we were ready. I had Simone, our doula, wake Chris up; he had been out like a light. He was totally startled and then, when he realized it was time, he jumped up and sprang into action, albeit a little dazed.

Pushing at first wasn’t that bad. I was pretty groggy, so for the first 20 minutes or so it was more like a warm-up. My contractions, which had been about 2 minutes apart, started to space out a bit, so I got some good rest in between. I was even making jokes and laughing. But as time went on, the pushing got serious. My contractions got longer, and my push cycles also got longer and more intense. Simone would hold one of my legs while Chris held the other. My midwife and the nurse would coach me. Oddly enough, it didn’t even phase me that all these eyeballs were staring at my vagina.

I tried a few different positions, but what worked best for me was to lay on my back and put my feet together, kind of like butterfly position when you’re sitting on the floor. Then, with help from my team, I would curl my neck up, pull my feet in, and push like hell. I would get one short cycle in of about five counts, take a breath, do a second cycle of 10 counts, take two breaths, do a third 10-count cycle and a fourth 10-count cycle after another desperate breath. Sometimes I even did another 5-count cycle or two. It was exhausting.

I lost track of how much time passed. I became immersed in the cycle of pushing and the relief of relaxing in between. I had no idea I had been pushing for hours until I realized how tired I was. I had five people (the charge nurse had joined the team) staring at my vagina and yelling, “Push harder! Come on, you can do it! Push! You’re so close! PUSH!”

Let me tell you, I WAS pushing! I was giving it all I had, but I was running out of steam. At least a half hour went by where my team was telling me how close I was. I wanted to swear at them and kick them in the face. I know they meant well, but I could NOT take it anymore! As long as I kept having to push, I was clearly NOT close as far as I was concerned, no matter what they thought. I needed to rest. They finally did let me skip a couple of contractions to get my strength back.

One of the reasons pushing ended up taking 3-3/4 hours is because I developed an infection as a result of my water having been broken for so long. The infection essentially made my uterus less effective and contributed to my exhaustion because I had started running a fever, which I didn’t even know. After being told I was so close for so long, I finally got Shelby’s head around my pubic bone and in mere seconds she slid right out! They put her on my chest right away and I didn’t even know what to think. It was so surreal! She was all slimy and goopy and yet amazingly sticky. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see her very well because she was right under my nose.

Right away my midwife and Suzanne, the nurse who actually had been a very effective coach as much as I had wanted to hurt her, went to work on getting me to deliver the placenta. It was not a pleasant experience. They started massaging my uterus from the outside, and I don’t mean that in a nice, relaxing way. I mean they went to town on it as if they were kneading bread dough. Hello, this was my body and it HURT LIKE HELL! I yelled out loud in agony as they did it over and over again.

It was only at this point that I was told they needed to get the placenta out so they could work on getting my bleeding to stop because it was at a somewhat dangerous level. So I focused on Shelby, but even that was hard. I ended up giving her to Chris after the cord stopped pulsing and he cut it. I had wanted to have lots of skin-to-skin contact with her, but I couldn’t tolerate it with the action going on to my body below.

Even after I delivered my placenta the rough massaging continued as Suzanne tried to staunch the blood flow. I had torn a little, so Cyndi worked on stitching me up. Fortunately, I didn’t feel the tear happen or the stitching that followed. I did, however, want to absolutely throw Suzanne against a wall and pummel her. I was in excruciating pain from the uterus massage. I understood it was necessary, but that didn’t mean I liked it. Chris said he could barely watch it happening to me because my reaction was so extreme. I thought I had passed through the worst, that being the pushing, but the worst was by far the post-Shelby activity.

They finally got me to a point where they were fairly certain I would recover okay, but there was talk of me possibly ending up in the OR depending on how well and how quickly they could get my uterus to contract. It wasn’t doing it on its own they way it should have because of the infection, so they had to put me on meds to get things going. I’m just glad I had Shelby as a distraction, although I still couldn’t focus on her very well.

It took quite a bit of time for me to get cleaned up. Chris packed up our things and transferred them to the post-partum room while I was tended to. I finally got the green light to move to a wheelchair, which was quite difficult to do. I could still barely feel my legs, so it was like standing on jello. Plus, I was wearing the equivalent of a diaper; it was super awkward. I got wheeled to our post-partum room to begin life as a new mom.

Random details I forgot to include:

I lost about 650 (mL? not sure the unit of measurement) of blood during and after labor. Apparently the average woman loses 200-300 during a vaginal birth. That’s why the nurses were so worried about me. They actually mentioned that if they couldn’t get the bleeding under control there was a chance I’d end up in the OR for a hysterectomy. When they said that, a few thoughts raced through my head:

  • I just had my first kid; that means I wouldn’t be able to have more!
  • Holy crap – that’s serious surgery!
  • I have to endure the external uterine massage no matter how painful it is

Once labor was over and I had been cleaned up, I thought I was in a different hospital room. For some reason the room I was in didn’t look like the one I had originally been admitted to. Maybe it was the lighting; I don’t know, but I felt fairly disoriented, which is unusual for me.

During labor, once I got my epidural, I went through a spell of serious shakes. It started as spaghetti legs (like when your legs are exhausted after a long run or a good workout) and progressed to the point that my whole body was shaking out of control. It was as if I was freezing cold, only I wasn’t. But my body shook so hard that my teeth chattered. Even trying to breathe deeply didn’t work, but finally after some time they passed.

I was starving by the time I started pushing. I hadn’t eaten in hours and had thrown up anything that had been in my stomach to give me strength. I was craving hash browns and scrambled eggs. I finally got them, several hours after I had been admitted to the post-partum room. By the time, though, I wasn’t really hungry for them anymore, but I’m really grateful to Chris for going out to get them!

Caroline’s Birth Day

Monday, December 27th, 2010

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.

Birth Stories: Brigid

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

To help fill in posts while I recover and adjust to life with a newborn AND a toddler I have some friends who have agreed to share their birth stories. Today is Brigid, the hilariously wonderful author of Now Showing! and one of the people whose blog I’ve followed before I knew “following someone’s blog” was a thing people did. Fair warning: it’s a birth story so it’s rated PG-13. And don’t get all shocked if someone says “vagina”. Brigid has a potty mouth, which I love about her so I’m posting unedited. If you can’t swear a little after childbirth, really, WHY HAVE FREEDOM AT ALL AMERICA?

Nikola’s Birth Story

by Brigid Keely

It started on Friday March 13th, really. The Braxton Hicks contractions had settled into a fairly routine but not painful pattern, and then they started hurting. Not hurting hurting; they felt like menstrual cramps only more so, and a back ache. I felt odd, too. Very alert, but wanting to conserve energy. I started timing contractions, and by the middle afternoon they were 4-5 minutes apart, pretty consistently. There were a few times where they’d slow down and have a twenty minute rest or so, but over all they were pretty consistent. I called Nesko and asked him to come home a little early. I didn’t think labor was imminent, but I wanted him near by. At this point, my mucus plug was intact and my water was entirely contained. Nesko called the birthing center and since this is my first kid, we were advised to wait until contractions were 3-4 minutes apart instead of 4-5. First babies usually are pokey babies, slow to come out. Lazy assholes.

Around 2:30 that morning (Saturday March 14th, Pi Day) contractions ramped up considerably. I took a very warm shower which helped and we timed contractions a bit more, then went to the hospital because they were very consistent and close together (every minute and twenty seconds to three minutes) and ramping up in intensity. I threw up before leaving, as I mentioned earlier. We live in Chicago, which gets terrible pot holes over the winter, and I felt every single one of them as we drove over them. So instead of speeding to the hospital we crept slowly along so as not to jostle me too much. This added maybe two minutes to our trip.

Nesko let me out in front of the hospital, I rang the special buzzer to be let in, and waddled slowly upstairs, stopping every two minutes or so during a contraction. I got to the nurse’s station and was all “I’m in labor, y’all. Contractions every 1-3 minutes. Ow. Wait. Ok. Sup?” And they were all “so is this your second baby? Third?” and I was all “Nope, number one.” And they were all “holy fuck you are so calm. Come this way.” And I was all “My husband’s on the way up. Do you need my insurance card?” “Naw, we’ll take that later.”

So I went into this tiny room and changed into a hospital gown and they poked around at me and found out that I wasn’t dilated at all. THANK YOU CERVIX. But I was contracting and the baby’s heart was thumping away, the way it does. They took my insurance information and moved me to a delivery room which apparently was the only delivery room that hadn’t been fitted with a DVD player yet. We hung out there all day. I spent most of the time lying on the bed with an IV hooked into my fore arm and monitors strapped to my belly. The pain was pretty bad. When I was finally allowed to get up, the pain was a lot less. My mucus plug started coming out and let me tell you, it’s pretty gross. Like my vagina had bronchitis. Contractions got less intense and less consistent the longer I was in the hospital.

That evening (I mentioned we were there ALL DAY, right?) my doctor came in and was all “In the past kabillion hours you have dilated to 1.3 or some petty shit like that. We can give you pitocin and hope to ramp this up, but most likely you’d have a C-Section and you and I both want to avoid that. You can go home if you want, or we can start the intervention train.” He was more medical in his presentation, this is a translation. I elected to go home and wait things out.

IRONICALLY, had I tried the pitocin, I would probably have had a C-Section anyway AND had a baby born on March 15th which is the Ides of March. SORRY NERDY BABY.

I spent all of Sunday, March 15th, curled up on the couch watching “Myth Busters” while Nesko timed contractions. He kept asking how long it’d be until go time. I kept losing bits of my mucus plug. Contractions got closer together and stronger. We went to bed around 9:30 or so but I couldn’t really sleep because things were getting painful. Around 11:30 or so, I think, I started getting the urge to go stand in a hot shower thinking it would maybe ease the pain. I put off actually getting up because I was very tired and the bed was very comfy, despite the pain I was in.

Then my water broke.

I swear I heard a popping sound, or maybe felt it, but it was like a giant water balloon exploded in my pants. Fortunately I had been sleeping on a waterproof pad JUST IN CASE and scurried into the bathroom leaving a trail of water all over the floor, which Nesko cleaned up (he was a cleaning machine those few days, let me tell you. He became very intimately acquainted with all kinds of my bodily fluids.), and sat on the toilet to drain a bit. I glooped amniotic fluid and mucus plug both into the toilet, felt really gross, and took a shower. Contractions kept coming. We got dressed and headed to the hospital yet again.

Once again, he dropped me off, I buzzed, so calm, how many babies, etc. This time I was taken straight to the delivery room (the same one we’d been in before, which had no DVD player). I was once again tethered to an IV (in my RIGHT fore arm this time) and fetal monitors and confined to an uncomfortable bed. Nesko tried to sleep. So did I. My back muscles felt like they were being pulled apart. If you’ve ever shredded chicken or beef for tacos or pulled pork for barbecue sandwiches, that’s what it felt like my back muscles were doing. I asked for a shot of demerol so I could sleep; I’d been told by several people affiliated with the hospital (including the hospital tour) that demerol was the drug they use. I’ve had demerol before and it works for me. I was told that no, they do not use demerol, they use something else I hadn’t heard of (stadohl?) and they can only give two injections of it. I asked for an injection and they jabbed my thigh. It dulled the pain slightly, but only for two hours.

I wound up asking for an epidural.

I don’t really remember them putting it in. I think it hurt. My legs went numb and that was really weird. I’d try to move my feet and just… couldn’t. There was nothing. Not quite nothing… it was almost like static between tv or radio stations, if that makes sense. I couldn’t feel the contractions any more unless I really focused on them, and even then it was kind of like when you get a filling at the dentist and you can feel sensations and pressure but not actual pain. I slept a lot, but it wasn’t a refreshing sleep. Somewhere along the line an internal fetal monitor was put in (which I really didn’t want before this all started) and a catheter (no longer having to get up to pee? sounds great in theory, but…).

Several hours later I had progressed to… wait for it… 2 cm dilated! Holy FUCK. THANK YOU CERVIX, YOU LAZY JERK. Pitocin was started to speed things along. Contractions were still strong and frequent, just… nothing was happening. Around 7:30pm I was fully dilated but Nikola hadn’t descended much at all, so we made a bunch of jokes about him being a lazy bum or just too comfortable where he was. My doctor suggested a C-Section. I agreed and was wheeled into the OR which I remember as being right across the hall, but I don’t think it really was. It’s all pretty blurry, frankly. I had to wriggle (numb from the waist down) from my bed onto the operating table, which was crazy narrow and had these like wings for my arms to go on, all spread out. Like Jesus. A fat, pregnant, paralyzed Jesus. They strapped my legs down and erected a curtain. I knew Nesko couldn’t handle the OR and called my mom in (she and my dad were there, well, were in the cafeteria eating). She arrived soon after I’d been strapped down and the epidural increased. It was freezing going in, and let me tell you, it’s creepy to have someone poke your arm and say “can you feel that” and you can, and then poke your stomach and say “can you feel that” and you can and then say “can you feel that” and you didn’t feel anything. I felt so removed from my body.

I fell asleep on the operating table. It was pretty boring. I wasn’t wearing my glasses, so when they put Nikola on the counter under the warming lamp and cleaned him up, I couldn’t see anything. My mom narrated how big he was etc but I wasn’t really paying attention. The entire operation took an hour and was held up some because I’m fat and this caused some problems stitching me up (they had to clamp bits of me out of the way). After the operation they took me back into the delivery room and once again I had to wriggle my (even number, but now with additional stitches and severed muscles) self back onto the bed. Nikola was in the room already and people were clustered around him because he is just that cute, he attracts groupies like honey attracts flies. He was naked under the warmer, I guess, but I was really out of it and didn’t really get a good look at him until the next day.

Numb from the waist down, catheterized, de-babied, I lay on the hospital bed. It felt like I was lying in a pool of blood, but I don’t know if I really was or not. I was told someone was going to come in and clean me up, so maybe I really was bloody, I don’t know. I felt the urge to fart, and several people had told me that farting is important after a C-Section (seriously, it is), so I farted. Only it wasn’t a fart. I shit myself. Two, maybe three times. I just couldn’t control it. I am embarrassed to say this, but hey. I’m trying to be truthful about what childbirth can be like (vomit! poop! uncontrollable sweating that wakes you up!) so other people aren’t taken by surprise so there you go. I shit myself. You might also. Or you might not. I lay there in the bed, unmoving, in a pool of blood and shit and I turned to Nesko. “I am lying in bed in a pool of blood and shit, waiting for someone else to come clean me up. I feel so… Decadent.” He laughed. I laughed. Laughing was a mistake. Ow. Anyway, I started referring to this as The Incident in my head.

Several hours later, literally, some people came in to clean me up. They did a poor job, as I found out later. I was taken up to the recovery room which ALSO had no DVD player (allegedly it’s the only recovery room that didn’t have one. WHATEVER.) I was on a morphine drip (mmmm) and in a slightly more comfortable bed. At one point some nurses came in and removed the catheter and told me that “when I felt up to it” I should get up and walk around and use the bathroom. Then they left. It was dark. I slept. Nesko slept. Nikola was in the room with us and kept making monkey noises. I sweated an ungodly amount. UNGODLY. This is apparently normal, also. IT IS THE MIRACLE OF LIFE, Y’ALL.

Eventually the sun came up and I had to kind of pee. You know how it is when you sort of have to pee but it’s not urgent but you want to use the toilet before it becomes urgent? It was like that. I called Nesko over and he helped me haul myself out of bed and onto my no-longer numb feet. I held onto him and the drip stand, and took a few steps, and felt pretty ok to use the toilet. Then we discovered that the drip stand was plugged into the wall, and the cord would not reach to the bathroom. GOOD TIMES. Luckily for us, a nurse came in and was surprised to see me up. She helped me into the bathroom and also helped me clean up. She asked me if I normally “have a little bit of anal leakage.” lolwhut. It turns out the nurses who cleaned me up left poo all over me. May I point out that I’d just had MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY and also had poo all over me? Good one. This nurse cleaned me up very thoroughly and I walked around a little in the room and checked out the baby (so cute! so much hair! huge feet!) and went back to bed.

At some point breast feeding was tried. I wasn’t producing much of anything so mostly we did formula which the hospital supplied.

It was a long, boring, 3 day hospital stay with some mostly terribly bland hospital food (seriously, how do you fuck up mashed potatoes? SERIOUSLY.) and some very inept nurses (oh, hey, no, when I rang for the pain medication I was supposed to have received AN HOUR AND A HALF AGO I didn’t really mean it) and some kind of lax house keeping (my IV pulled out and I bled on the floor and it stayed there for three days; I took a shower and there was a dirty bandaid (not mine) in the shower) and some really kick ass nurses, and a vague promise to take me to a different room to show me a breast feeding video (never happened). We also had a lot of visitors, family and friends, including Brian who kept making jokes that made me laugh and OH THE PAIN but it was totally worth it. On the final day we were told we could probably go home that day as soon as my doctor said it was alright. “check out time” (whatever that is) is 11:00. We were told we could go home around noon-ish. We were finally approved to leave at 5:30pm, which meant we were packed and ready to go and cooling our heels for over five hours before being sprung.

We went to visit Nesko’s family for dinner, then picked up my prescription drugs including pain medication (NOTE: these events should have occurred in reverse order! DUH!) and then went home. I had hilariously awful problems getting in and out of the car, I was so stiff and sore. And then we were home!

That’s pretty much it. I would rather have done a drug-free vaginal birth, but a C-Section isn’t the end of the world, although I do think it’s interfering with my milk production (it was slow to come in and I’m still not producing a huge amount of it). A lot of stuff happened that I didn’t expect, or didn’t expect would happen to me (pooping! Asking for an epidural!) Several nurses remembered me (“You were so calm checking in! I thought you’d had like five kids!” “You’re the one who brought your own pillows! that’s such a great idea!”) which was cool. One nurse (the one who was an hour and a half late with my pain medication, and who kept asking me if I’d gone pee pee or poo poo) came in at like 2am and started asking questions about how many kids I’d had. “This is your second pregnancy? The first was an abortion?” Uh, no, it was a miscarriage, but THANK YOU for asking that in front of my mother or husband, I forget who was there, that’s a totally normal question to ask at 2am FUCK YOU. She came back at 5am with “discharge paperwork” but I yelled at her and she went away before she could ask about my pee pee and poo poo.

That’s pretty much it. I consider most of it uneventful. I had some bad experiences with some of the nurses who didn’t seem to know what they were doing or who violated what’s apparently normal procedure (apparently, normally, you remove a catheter only after someone’s recovered full feeling in their legs AND you help them to the bathroom. You don’t just leave them with vague advice to get up and walk around later when they’re less numb. Also, normally, when someone has an epidural needle or spigot or whatever removed, it’s also normal to remove all the tape and not leave it there. Oh, and epidurals? You can “ring” for more if you feel pain. Nobody told me that for HOURS, that I had my own push button for pain relief.). Other nurses were really great.

People have asked me if I’d do this again and yeah, I would in a few years.

Sorry if this is kind of garbled and confused. I was in pain and/or drugged up and my memory of a lot of stuff is cloudy.

PS it was several days after The Incident before I could poop again. Farting? No problem! Pooping? Oh man, constipation is usually a stranger to me. If you have a C-Section be prepared for poop problems.

Birth Stories: Brittany

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

To help fill in posts while I recover and adjust to life with a newborn AND a toddler I have some friends who have agreed to share their birth stories. Today is Brittany who blogs (not nearly often enough) at Germama – although she’s been doing so well the last few days! My Google Reader rejoices!  Fair warning: it’s a birth story so it’s rated at least PG-13.

Birth Story – Two Weeks Later

Originally posted on August 12, 2009 by Brittany

Much to my surprise, baby decided to evacuate the womb two weeks early. At 3:45 am on July 29, during my 37th week of pregnancy, I woke up and felt… moist. I had the foresight to jump out of bed before the deluge hit. As soon as I was on my feet, my water gushed out, soaking my shorts and running down my legs. I scurried into the bathroom to try to drain into the toilet, which seemed like the proper thing to do, and was really shocked at there being blood in the water. I know now that it’s normal, but it kind of freaked me out at the time. Once I got reasonably cleaned up, I woke up Ralf and told him my water had broken. I’ve never seen the man wake up so fast!

I called Labor and Delivery to ask about the bleeding. They said it was normal, and that if my water had broken we were welcome to come in anytime to get checked out. Because of our plan to go natural, I had originally wanted to stay home as long as possible to labor in a familiar place. But because this was my first baby, I started feeling really nervous and just felt like I needed to be at the hospital where I could know everything was ok. I was only having mild contractions at that point, so Ralf and I both took showers and he started gathering up everything we still needed to pack and get ready for the hospital. I scarfed down a cereal bar because I knew they weren’t going to let me eat once we got there. At this point I was under the impression that today was the day and I’d be able to eat more once she was born. Ugh.

At the hospital, they took us to a room where a nurse ran a test to make sure my water had actually broken. The Niagara Falls from my vag that happened earlier really left me with little doubt, but they wanted to check. Remarkably, that test was positive. Then she attempted to check my cervix and couldn’t even find it. Not cool. She called in reinforcements – another nurse came to check me and found that I was 1 cm. Basically, I was nowhere yet. However, since my water was broken they would not let us go home. Damn. So, we got moved into our actual room and got settled in. I would be in this room for a long, long time.

I was having mild contractions that were around 5-7 minutes apart. They needed to be 2-3 minutes apart to really be considered progress. Since we were going natural, the doctor was going to give us 24 hours to get to that point before augmenting labor with Pitocin. I was trying different positions, rocking around on a birth ball, and nipple stimulation. Yes, I was sitting in a hospital room while my husband tweaked my nipples for hours. Amazingly, this actually did make the contractions come stronger and closer. Unfortunately, it didn’t sustain anything and wasn’t really creating any progress. Around 11:00 pm or so, after about 20 hours, I had my cervix checked for the first time since we got to the hospital. 2 cm. TWO. After 20 hours. Balls. I decided to go ahead and start the Pitocin. I knew it would make the contractions more intense, but I was going to be in labor FOREVER if I didn’t help things along.

I had an IV port in my left wrist so the nurse connected up the Pitocin. Right after that, I started getting this huge bulge in my wrist. I asked her if that was supposed to happen. Uhhh, nope! My port had clotted off. So, she had to start a new IV on my right hand. Thankfully that one worked fine. The Pitocin definitely made the contractions stronger. I was using my Hypnobabies techniques to relax through them, and Ralf was right there by my side using the relaxation words and helping me through each one. Unfortunately, they had to keep upping the dosage to get the contractions to the 2-3 minutes apart point. With that much Pitocin in me, by the middle of the night the contractions were so intensely strong that I was becoming unable to relax through them. I was having horribly painful back labor and was having to whine and moan through the contractions instead of relaxing. A few times the pain was so immense that I was throwing up. Everything I’d read said that throwing up was a good sign because it meant you were in transition – around 7 cm and the baby was starting to move down. So I assumed I was in transition.

By 6:00 am or so, I was exhausted and in so much pain. I asked to have my progress checked so I could assess the situation. The nurse checked me and told me I was 4.5 cm. ARE YOU SHITTING ME?! 27 hours of labor, 7 hours on Pitocin, and I was still only 4.5 cm. That was really the last straw for me. I knew I needed to get some rest if I was ever going to have enough energy to push the baby out, if I ever got to 10 freaking centimeters. I knew I needed an epidural. Going natural was my goal, but at this point it was just not in the cards. I would have rather gotten the epidural than suffered through more hours of intense pain, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to push her out and I would end up needing a C Section. On the other hand, Ralf was terrified of the epidural and was worried that it would cause me to need a C Section. We discussed it and ultimately decided on the epidural.

I had to wait almost an hour and a half for the anesthesiologist to show up and put in the epidural. I was never so happy to see a small bald man (well, except for when I met Michael Stipe). He got everything put in and set up. I honestly didn’t feel a thing he was doing, despite knowing he was inserting a huge needle in my spine. I was just so happy to be receiving relief. It kicked in after maybe half an hour, and I was mercifully able to sleep for about two hours. A little while after I woke up, I was checked and found to be 7 cm. I visited with my mom and sister for a while. I was STARVED by that point since I had only eaten a cereal bar about 30 hours earlier. I remember eating some red and orange Jello, and had attempted to drink some of the hospital’s chicken broth, but it was super nasty.

At 3:00 pm I was finally 10 cm and was allowed to start pushing. At first they just let me do it on my own time, but I wasn’t really feeling the contractions so it was slow going. After a while, the epidural started wearing off so I was able to feel the pressure of her coming out, and the doctor came in and told me how to push more effectively, so things started speeding up. Eventually he came back in with a bunch of nurses, but I wasn’t really aware of what was going on because I had my eyes closed and was focusing on the pressure and getting her out. Soon, the doctor was down in my business with his hands, moving her head around and helping her to come out. Let me just say, that was incredibly unpleasant. Then he was telling me to push and breathe and push some more. At one point he said breathe and I assumed I should push again, but he ended up saying, “No, no, just breathe!” and I think that may have contributed to the sizable tear I ended up with. Ouch. But anyway, he soon said the head was out. I had to push some more to get her shoulders out, and at that point I was seriously growling like a demon. My sister was filming so I have evidence of this! Then, the doctor told me to look down and see my baby coming out.

That… that was crazy. There was this little person coming out of me; this slimy, writhing little thing was being extracted from my loins! It was bizarre and amazing and crazy. Then the doctor pulled her out and put her on my belly. I was DONE! Or so I thought… While Ralf and I marveled at this little creature we created, the doctor was down there extracting the placenta and repairing the damage. Ohh, was he ever not gentle. I was trying to just focus on my new baby, but all my feeling was back down there and he was stitching and blotting and OUCH. It hurt. On top of that, I was going into convulsions. Yeah, apparently that happens after you give birth. But eventually, finally, the doctor finished up, I was cleaned up and given my diaper-sized absorbent pad (oh, the glamorous aftermath of giving birth) and that was it. They had her weighed and measured and poked and whatever else, and
then we were alone. We had a BABY! Oh dear Jeebus.

SO… after 38 hours of labor… Rory Michelle was born at 5:26 pm on July 30. She was 7 pounds, 7 ounces, and 20 inches long. Her Apgar scores were 9 and 9, and she was a perfect little baby with all her parts. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to have her naturally, but it was ultimately the best decision for us. Luckily, I didn’t have any of the side-effects of the epidural and everything went smoothly. All of the doctors that came to see her told us how round her head was for being born vaginally, and how pink she was. One doctor called her a Gerber baby. Hooray, my baby has a round head and isn’t ugly and wrinkly like most newborns!

We have been at home for 11 days and are starting to get into the swing of things. Sometimes it hits me that we are responsible for this thing and have to raise her and keep her alive and the weight of that is sometimes immense. But hey, every day is another day we’ve kept her alive, so that’s a success to me. I hope you enjoyed this epic length story. I’m sure there will be many stories to come, most likely about how we’ve been pooped on.