21 October, 2013
Birth and Beyond
I loved being pregnant. Knowing that I was carrying a precious life inside of me, every kick, all the hiccups. It is such a miraculous time.
That being said, my last week of pregnancy was miserable. It was hot, I was tired, and I was in pain. The baby's head was so low that every movement hurt. I was actually sent home early from work on Wednesday (a first!) and only went in to do the necessities on Thursday. I was so ready for the baby to come, that I was willing to do all of the wives tales ideas to get her out! I went for a long walk on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. But nothing happened. On Friday night Mike and I went to go see a movie, we ended up going to the theater again on Saturday. Our goal was a nice relaxing weekend-- I give up on walking the baby out!
When I woke up and Sunday morning my underwear was wet. I wasn't quite sure what's going on so Mike and I decided to wait it out a little bit. We opted not to go to church because I could not bear the thought of sitting in those chairs! Around 10:30 I called my doctor. she gave me 3 options: wait and see if my water broke or contractions started and then go to the hospital; wait until 9 pm and then if I was still leaking go to the hospital; call her the next morning if the leaking stopped.
We decided to still go to my parents house for the afternoon, mostly so I wouldn't be sitting around our house driving myself crazy waiting for something to happen. We put my hospital bag in our car just in case. By the time we got home from mom and dad's nothing had happened.
We walked into the hospital and checked in at the emergency room. An OB nurse came and got us and brought me upstairs in a wheelchair. She took us to a hospital room where I got changed into a gown. I got into the bed and she checked me for progress. However, the baby's head was too low, and it was too painful for me, so she was unable to tell if I was dilated. The nurse then hooked me up to a machine that monitored my contractions as well as the baby's heartbeat. The machine showed that I was having contractions but I could not yet feel them.
The next step was to find out what I was leaking. The nurse did a test where she tested the liquid on a piece of pH paper. If it was amniotic fluid, the paper would turn blue. Much to our dismay, it did not. The nurse went to call our doctor to find out what she wanted her to do next. The nurse came back and said the doctor wanted her to run another test, an amniosom, which would give us completely accurate results. The PH test could have been negative due to fluids masking the amniotic fluid. At 9:46 she ran the swab test and went to bring it down to the lab. I laid in bed watching the contraction monitor. I told Mike I had a feeling we were going to be sent home. He tried to get some sleep because if we went home he would have to work the next day.
After a while, I saw something come across the screen that said the amniosom was positive! I said to Mike, "does that mean what I think it does?" A few minutes later our nurse came back and confirmed that the liquid I have been leaking all day was indeed amniotic fluid! Our baby was coming soon!
By this time my contractions had started to become uncomfortable but not painful. Since my water had been leaking for over 12 hours I was told they would need to start Pitocin get things moving. The nurse tried checking me again and I was 2 centimeters dilated and 90% effaced. After all the pain I had been through the past week, I was shocked to find out that I had not dilated anymore and was only 10% more effaced than my last check up. My fluids and Pitocin IV was started at 10:30. Mike and I both called our parents to let them know that we would be staying in the hospital and their granddaughter would be born soon. We also contacted our employers to let them know we would not be at work the next day as well as a few friends we wanted to know that we were in the hospital.
We both tried to get some sleep at this point. Mike was successful but I was not tired. I tried to sleep but ultimately ended up playing games on my phone.
The nurse had started my Pitocin at 1 milliliter per hour. As time went on she increased the drip and my contractions got stronger and closer together. At one point I was receiving 10mL. (She did drop it down later when my contractions were coming too quickly.)
At 12:40 I felt a gush and then a lot of wetness. I woke Mike and told him that I had either peed myself or my water had broken. We called the nurse and she came to our room and confirmed that my water indeed broken. She helped me get to the bathroom to get cleaned up. Mike and I both laughed because I left a trail of water through the whole room! I got back in the bed and the contractions continued. A little after 1, the nurse suggested I eat something so I ordered a sandwich.
At 2:10 the contractions were strong and painful enough that I decided it was time for some pain medication. First the nurse checked me and I was still at 2 centimeters dilated and 90% effaced. Almost 4 hours and no progress... I couldn't believe it! The nurse gave me my first dose of Stadol-- it made me dizzy and my face felt really warm. But it provided almost immediate relief and I was able to get nearly an hour of sleep. I woke up again at 3:10, and the medication was starting to wear off. I told myself I had to wait until 4 for the next dose. By this time I was moaning and groaning, so Mike came to hold my hand.
At 3:50 I asked for my second dose of Stadol. Unlike the first dose, it provided absolutely no relief. My contractions were coming hard and fast so the nurse backed the Pitocin down a little bit. At this point, I told Mike I needed to do something other than just lay there. We decided to do some walking around the labor and delivery wing.
We did one slow lap and then the monitor that was keeping track of the baby's heart rate slipped. The nurse said she would meet us in our room so she could fix it. As she was adjusting the monitor I got very light headed and felt like I was going to throw up. I decided to get back into bed.
The nurse checked me again at 5:15, and this time I was 4 centimeters dilated. Finally, some progress! But, only 2 centimeters in nearly 7 hours. At this point I told Mike I wanted the epidural. The pain was unbelievable and my contractions were coming so close together that I had absolutely no relief. A short time later I felt another gush of water-- a good sign that labor was progressing!
The anesthesiologist finally arrived at 6. He was fantastic and I wasn't nervous about the procedure at all. At 6:09 he inserted the epidural and by 6:15, I was totally numb! It was incredible! The nurse checked me again at 6:40 and I was still just at 4 centimeters.
My parents arrive around 7, and Mike's mom came a little while later. (His dad was working so he would pop in every once in awhile.) We originally had planned to have our parents just wait in the waiting room, but ended up letting them coming to the hospital room. It was nice to have the distraction from labor (even though I was no longer in pain!)
Our nurses changed shifts so we had someone new at 7. We liked our day nurse as much as our night nurse.
At 9:30, we send our parents down to the waiting room so the nurse to check me again. I was so surprised when she said I was fully dilated! She said I could start pushing soon but for now they wanted me to labor down on my own for a while. Mike went down to tell our parents that their granddaughter would be here soon.
We waited nearly an hour before the nurse came back at 10:30 and asked if I was ready to push. My whole body was shaking with adrenaline and anticipation. She said our baby's head was very low and she didn't think it would take much pushing.
At 10:45, they called the doctor to come and I was allowed to start pushing. Mike and the nurse each held one of my legs up and coached me to push through the contractions. It took me a few contractions to get the hang of pushing, but once I figured out what I was doing, I felt great. They kept saying how well I was doing and how close I was getting to pushing the baby out. I was afraid the doctor wasn't going to make it in time, but she showed up at 11:30. She got changed and prepared all her equipment, and then got in catching position. The nurse and Mike continued to coach me.
Finally, they said she was ready to come out. (I wasn't sure I believe them, as they have been telling me I was "so close" for the past hour!) I pushed as hard as I could, and the next thing I knew my baby girl was laying on my stomach! It was the most incredible feeling I've ever experienced!
The nurses rubbed her down while she was on my belly. I couldn't stop staring at my baby! The doctor delivered the placenta and stitched me up while Mike and I marveled at our little baby. After about 20 minutes Mike got to cut the umbilical cord. The nurse quickly took our baby to measure and weigh her.
Summer Joy was 8 pounds 2 ounces and 19 inches long. Everything about her was absolutely perfect!
Before our doctor left our room, she asked if she could pray with us. She prayed a blessing over our new family. It was a powerful moment!
After an hour or so of marveling at our baby girl, Mike went to get our parents. We also took a few minutes to text some friends our big news! The grandparents couldn't wait to see Summer. They all got a chance to hold her. Everyone was instantly in love!
After a couple hours, they left (begrudgingly) so we could get a little rest. Then Great Grandma came to visit.
They finally took Summer away for a few minutes (though it seemed like forever) to bathe her. They brought her back all swaddled up and wearing a pink knit hat.
Jen and Tyler came to visit after dinner. And surprise, so did Nate! Summer's aunt and uncles were smitten too! Finally, our visitors left and we were left as a family of 3. Our night was exhausting as every sound Summer made woke us up. We didn't know what was normal and what wasn't (everything was normal!) or what her cries meant. We were able to get some sleep though.
Tuesday morning my parents came back...Tracy and Rich came too! Our day was filled with sporadic visitors: Jodi, Brett & Rachel, Jen & Tyler, Mark, Jen, Kaylyn, & Libby.
Mike asked if we could send Summer to the nursery on Tuesday night so we could get a little more sleep. I agreed, as long as the nurses would bring her back to eat--no formula and no pacifier. We still didn't get much sleep as she was back a few times to eat!
Nursing was taking us a bit of getting used to. But we had an "angel" nurse that night. She told us we should have been waking Summer up every 2-3 hours during the day to eat. We had previously been told that as long as she at twice in the first 24 hours, she was fine. Turns out she wasn't getting enough practice nursing, so that was probably why she wasn't wanting to latch on. Our nurse was so patient and showed me various positions and techniques to help both Summer and I. The sugar water really helped! We were so thankful for that nurse!
Wednesday afternoon we finally were discharged and got to go home. It was so nice to be in the comfort of our own home, but at the same time felt so odd to have a baby in the house. We had a rough first night, but it was more the dog's fault then Summer's! Every time she made a noise, he would whine or bark or scratch his cage. It was a long night for all of us!
Friday, we had Summer's 1 week doctor appointment. They were a little worried that she had lost too much weight, as she was down to 7 pounds 4 ounces. They suggested that we supplement with formula to get her weight back up. They also said that her bilirubin levels were too high, so we had to go down to the lab to have it checked.
The blood test showed that Summer was at a 17, and normal is 10 or below. We were told she needed to be on a biliblanket to bring her levels down. We also needed to have her levels tested every day. She peaked at 18 before slowly going down, and so she was in the biliblanket for 2 weeks. It was an inconvenience for us to have to have her constantly laying on the blanket, but it was important for us to get those levels down! Since she needed to be on the blanket as much as possible, we had her sleep in her Moses basket in the living room. The tubes and wires would be a pain to put in the crib, and her basket was easier. I slept on the couch next to her every night to keep an eye on her and the blanket.
For the first 2 weeks of Summer's life, we were at the hospital or doctor nearly every day for a bili test or a weight check. At her 3 week appointment, she weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces and we were told we didn't need to return until her 2 month appointment. Finally!
We began to settle into a routine--eat, sleep, poop. Life is great, things are going well, and we can't imagine life without our little Summer Joy!