Wednesday, January 10, 2018

James' Birth Story

James is 1 month old today! So, I figured it's time I share his birth story.

Ok-this post is going to probably contain some TMI and gross stuff because...childbirth. It's also kind of long because, quite frankly, it was a kind of long process. Totally understand if this isn't your thing and you choose to just ignore this and check back in a different day when I'm sharing some delicious recipe and not regaling you with the tales of how I expelled my son from my body.

Those of you who are still here-hiya! Ok, so, as everyone says: my labor and childbirth did NOT go as I planned. It was also, apparently, pretty rough. What's weird, though, is that it still didn't feel as bad as I thought it was hyped to be. It was all stuff I was able to get through. And, even though my plans didn't really work out, I am still so glad I had my plan and was educated because my ability to advocate for myself helped, I think. That said--I was also so dead-set that I think I struggled more emotionally than I needed to. Moral of the story: next time will probably be better/easier now that I know what to expect. And, even though labor is hard, it was ridiculously worth it.



The whole thing technically started Wednesday (December 6)-I started feeling some weird wet leaky situations and had a particularly large one mid-morning. I was planning on just asking my doctor about it (I had an appointment for that afternoon) but then I started to worry that my amniotic sac was leaking, so I called my doctor's office and asked and they suggested I go to the maternity ward at my hospital, just in case (fun detail: I found out then that they had the wrong hospital in my file so it's a good thing I called so they could send over my information to my correct hospital). Michael was, of course, conducting a training over an hour away that day (which is not a normal occurrence) so I asked my mom to take me. I got all my bags ready, took a shower, etc. --just in case. I had no real expectations of what was going to happen because I wasn't feeling any contractions so I felt like I could be kept or sent home, I really wasn't sure either way. My mom, however, was convinced they'd be keeping me (she had an amniotic leak with my brother). I started to get concerned that if my water was leaking they'd end up needing to induce me which could lead to a C-section...etc. This sort of worrying was a very consistent point of stress from my entire labor. Anyway, we got to the hospital (and I was also super sad that I was doing all of this without Michael, who was getting ready to come to the hospital as soon as he could get away and get there) and they put me in to check on me. Long story short--no amniotic fluid so that wasn't it (still not 100% sure what the leaking was but, as you'll read later, my bladder had some weird stuff going on during labor so my guess is it was related. Which is gross, I know.) However, I was apparently having some contractions (I couldn't feel them but they were on the monitor) and I was dilated to 1.5 cm, 80% effaced, and he was in a -1 position. All of that to say....it was going to be soon. They said probably within the week. So I called Michael and told him to just meet me at home and that was that.

Thursday, nothing really happened-we sort of just kept an eye on stuff. Then I woke up at 3 AM Friday with intense cramping pain. And thus began my noticeable contractions. I couldn't sleep any more because they hurt too much, and they were coming every 7-9 minutes. I sort of just worked through every contraction and rested in between, then I told Michael when he woke up what was going on. I kept trying to keep track of my contractions but they were always about 7-9 minutes apart (with a few outliers of 6 or 10 minutes). Michael had a last minute thing he needed to do at his internship location to finish up his master's degree and clearly nothing was changing so I told him to go but come home after. Over the course of the day the contractions started to hurt progressively more (still manageable, but distracting) and they were starting to range more like 5-8 minutes. Then it had been a little while since I'd felt James move, so I called the doctor's office again and informed them of the situation. They suggested, again, that we go to the hospital. Soo...we went to the hospital again. My doctor happened to be at the hospital so he came to check on me. Aaaand...I was still only like 1.5-2 cm dilated, now 90% effaced, and still in -1 position. And he told me I'd probably be in labor "soon". UM WHAT. I assure you I was in labor. Those contractions were not practice. I got sort of upset at that point because the pain was real and I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep that night (when I asked if there was anything I could take they said tylenol....not really helpful against contractions as it turns out). So I started to get a wee bit weepy and upset about the fact that I had no clue how much longer I'd be enduring the pain and lack of sleep. Michael set us up on the couch to attempt to sleep for the night (laying down made the contractions SO MUCH worse so I was sitting up instead.) I tried really hard to sleep but every single time I had a contraction it would totally awaken me with the pain, and for particularly bad ones I'd wake Michael up to help press against my lower back (fun fact: very possible I had back labor because my lower back killed me during my entire labor). Sooo--day two with essentially no sleep for me.


Saturday was pretty much just spent timing my contractions and dealing with the fact that they still weren't super regular or consistently super close together but they kept getting more and more intense. After awhile the intensity got pretty significant and we had some stretches where they were 4-5 minutes apart. Michael and I struggled with whether we should go to the hospital again or not--worried that they'd send us home again (more tears may have been shed about just how frustrating it was not knowing what was going on and worrying about how much longer this whole process would be). But, eventually, we decided to go in and crossed our fingers that we wouldn't be home again without our baby. This trip to the hospital was very evidently more painful for me (why do roads have so many bumps?!) and when we waited at the desk in the maternity unit of the hospital my contractions also distracted me much more than previous times-to the point where the one nurse actually watched me breathing through them and timed me and said "Yeah, I'm pretty sure we'll be keeping her. I'm going to get her in a room." Bless Hailey, she was the first of a few amazing nurses we had during our stay. Once I got in the room and examined I was like 100% effaced, baby was still in the same position, and I was....3 cm dilated. Which was like...bittersweet. It meant I got to stay and be admitted and was having this baby, but it also meant I WAS BARELY DILATED AND HAD SO MUCH FURTHER TO GO. UGH. My doctor wanted to start me on pitocin but I knew that would make my contractions so much more intense and then I'd be more likely to get an epidural and the whole thing could snowball so I requested to not and they said ok we'd see how I did on my own first and then reevaluate. Luckily, next time they checked me I was 4 cm, so I was making progress, and that's pretty much how things continued all day. Michael was amazing and was always there to help get me through contractions, and everyone said I did great breathing through them and such. They were not fun, they were definitely painful, but I still felt like they were bearable. Nighttime arrived and, once again, I couldn't sleep (we're now over 40 hours without sleep). And this time neither could Michael because I needed him to get me through the contractions-without him there to press on my lower back and sometimes my lower belly, I felt like it overwhelmed me so much more. Michael started struggling with the lack of sleep and I stalled out at like 8 cm dilated. Sunday morning, my doctor checked in and decided to break my water since I hadn't progressed, but he was also concerned after checking me because the baby hadn't moved down further and apparently I have a "narrow pelvis". So he said we'd see how breaking my water went and then after like 4-6 more hours if I hadn't made more progress maybe give me some pitocin but also he thought there was a decent chance my pelvis was just too narrow and I'd need a C-section. This is when I hit my breaking point: hearing that my body may be incapable of vaginal delivery, that for every child I would need a C-section, that I'd endured so much painful natural labor POTENTIALLY FOR NOTHING?! After breaking my water my contractions got EVEN MORE intense and pretty much gave me no breaks in between so here I am: exhausted, in pain, and feeling totally scared and hopeless. I really wanted to do this naturally but I hated the idea of enduring 4-6 more hours of that pain only to end up getting an epidural then or a C-section. I was crying and freaking out and didn't know what to do. Michael went to talk to the doctor and then we discussed things with our new nurse (the shift had also changed right around this time). Everyone seemed to say if I got an epidural and pitocin at that point it might help things along enough and I may relax enough that they could potentially help me avoid a C-section. So, at over 50 hours of labor, I conceded. And, bless them, as soon as that decision was made they moved on getting me my epidural! The anesthesiologist was super nice and apparently "had heard about me" (I learned I'd become something of a weird little legend during my time at the hospital, everyone was quite impressed with me going through such a long natural labor and everyone said if I had had a normal labor that hadn't stalled out and gone so weirdly slowly I would've breezed through it--that made me feel pretty proud, and I appreciated everyone saying all of that), he also was impressed I was able to speak to him and smile at him considering the pain I was obviously going through. Getting the epidural was insanely fast and pretty much painless and then I felt blissfully...nothing. My legs did get a bit more numb than I would have liked but otherwise I, ironically, had an ideal epidural experience. I literally had no idea when I was having a contraction at that point lol. Now, the other (kind of gross) part of getting an epidural is getting a catheter. Something weird that I'd been going through during my labor was difficulty peeing, I had to like lift my uterus out of the way and really push and it hurt SO BAD (and oftentimes would seem to bring on contractions) and I never really felt like I got it all out. Erm...because I didn't. When they put that catheter in I filled up that bag so fast, everyone was like, "Oh wow...this actually may have been the problem, a full bladder is like a cork when you're in labor." So I started getting hopeful that maybe this would help and I wouldn't need the C-section. Michael was just relieved that I wasn't in pain anymore and we both got to get a little sleep. Every time they checked on me after that I had made progress and, before I knew it, we were getting ready to push. First, though, we had to turn off my epidural because I still couldn't feel when I had a contraction and I couldn't feel when I'd try to push either. It was kind of funny, they were like, "Is that ok if we turn it off?" And I was like, "Yeah I intended to do this thing without it anyway." So, after my epidural had worn off enough it was pushing time. Everyone was very complimentary about what a "good pusher" I was and like...well yeah? If you'd been in my position wouldn't you be doing everything possible to get that baby the heck out of you as quickly as possible? Oddly enough, pushing didn't end up being as painful as I expected (not even the fabled "ring of fire", which don't get me wrong I felt but...not in a painful way? It's more like I thought to myself "Ah this is the ring of fire.")-more than anything it was just A LOT of work. I got super tired and very overheated but I just kept focusing on getting that baby out (I was so afraid that halfway through they'd tell me, "Nope, not gonna work, let's do a C-section," so I was doing my darnedest not to let that happen). It's kind of crazy, you can definitely feel what's going on: I felt like it took forever to get his freaking head out (I did get to feel his hair, though!) but once his head was out it was all over, one more big push to get the rest of him out and there was our baby! I WAS SO RELIEVED. And, obviously, overwhelmed because AH OMG THERE IS MY BABY. Michael and I were both just like, "Oh my god oh my god," and my first other words were: "He's so cute! I didn't expect him to be so cute! He has my cheeks!!" Seriously...he wasn't all blue and he was just cuter than like any newborn I'd ever seen, not alien-like at all! We got to have our skin to skin time and it was beautiful and magical and Michael and I just kept fawning over him (the nurses said, "Hm, I think they like him. I think they'll keep him." hehe).


And...yeah. We got ourselves a baby at 3:08PM Sunday, December 10th (almost exactly 24 hours after we got to the hospital and around 60 hours of total labor---counting from when I woke up at 3AM Friday with the contractions--oh and my contractions literally never got regular, right up to the time I pushed there was a range of how often they came so...yeah I guess I'm weird). He was 20 inches long and weighed 7 lbs 11 oz (which SHOCKED me, it was so much bigger than I expected! I was only a little over 6 lbs when I was born-full term-and Michael was on the low end of 7 lbs when he was born. And we're both small people. And I gained like 25 lbs total during my pregnancy so I did not expect him to be as big as he was!) Breastfeeding went pretty great from the get-go and everyone is obsessed with him. We think he's the cutest sweetest baby ever.


My take-away from labor? I'm happy I went natural for as long as I did, and I'm proud of myself. But I also have no regrets about doing the epidural when I did (pretty sure without it I wouldn't have been able to get him out). Next time I feel like I'd still try to go natural but I'd feel so much better about getting an epidural if I needed it and I would just, generally, have a better idea of what to do/what is going on.


Also...it was all totally worth it. ❤️

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