Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Charlotte's Birth Story Part 2

If you missed Part 1, read it here!

PS- if you are easily offended by the gory details of labor and birth, you may want to stop reading now...  

When we left off I had been having contractions since Friday, but they kept dying down.  So, Saturday night I decided to get some rest.

I slept for about two hours.  At exactly midnight I drifted in and out of sleep trying to fight off some cramping.  I stayed in bed for another half hour as the contractions started to strengthen.  My husband came home and at that point I couldn't stay in bed any longer.  The contractions were stronger than they had been all weekend.  I decided that I needed to move.  I got on the exercise ball and bounced through contractions.  I would move my hips around and press myself down hard onto the ball when a contraction would come.  This felt good and took some of the pain away.  

As I was sitting on the ball and my contractions were becoming more painful (5/10) I started doubting myself more and more.  My entire pregnancy my ultimate goal was to do this birth natural.  I talked about it and talked about it, but even now I don't know if I ever believed in myself and my body.  With Liam I had an epidural and it was fantastic, but there was still something inside of me that had an urge to do this, to accomplish this in my lifetime.  Since we may not have anymore children I knew this could possibly be my last opportunity to try.  But, as my due date got closer and closer I became more and more worried about being able to manage the pain.  I was so disappointed in myself when I could barely tolerate the pain and pressure from the cervical exam that I almost gave up on myself and my strength.  In those few days prior to going into labor I told myself I would just wait and see how well I could tolerate the pain before I decided on whether or not I would get an epidural.  But, as I rolled around on that ball thoughts kept running through my head reminding me of how much pain I was in during labor with Liam.  Pain that made me puke it was so bad.  I didn't know if I could do it all again.  I even ended up googling how far dilated I would have to be before I could get an epidural.  I told my husband to get some rest, but as I did so I also told him "I don't think I'm going to be able to do this without an epidural."  

One way that I was hoping to manage the pain during labor was to stay in a labor position for as long as I could before I changed things up.  To me, the best way to pass the time was to think of things happening in actual real time.  If I could stay on the ball for an hour, then I could move on to something else.  An hour is a long time and keeping my mind focused on something for an hour would put me closer to the birth of my child.  Women deal with labor pain in many different ways, but for me it all came down to time- time in between contractions, time allowing myself to labor in one position, etc.  Another one of my goals was to labor as much as possible before getting in the shower (since this was my preferable way to labor).  Showering would help me get through the more painful contractions.  I was hoping that once I got in the shower it would almost be time for us to head to the hospital.

I stayed on the ball for about an hour until I started to have bathroom issues which I knew can happen during labor.  As it did with Liam, my body was cleaning itself out before the pushing stage.  I moved myself into the bathroom and stayed there for pretty much the remainder of my labor at home even once those issues subsided (luckily they didn't last long!).   The dim lighting and silence was perfect.  I had room to move and multiple options for laboring (shower, tub, floor).  Plus, I was close to the toilet!  I still wanted to wait as long as possible to get in the shower, so I turned down the lights in the bathroom, got onto the floor on all fours and labored like that, moving my hips in a circular motion or pushing my body backward and forward like I was stretching.  My contractions at this point were about 7-8 minutes apart lasting for about a minute.  My pain level was still about 5/10.  It was around 1:30 am.  

Again I felt like I needed to switch positions and I finally decided to get in the shower.  I turned the water up so that it was fairly hot.  I didn't time my contractions in the shower because I didn't want to get water all over my phone every 7 minutes.  When I would feel a contraction coming on I would allow the hot water to run on my back as I pushed my arms and my body into the shower walls.  The shower eased my pain significantly in the beginning, but then the contractions started to become even stronger.  The first one I felt like this made me throw up while I was in the shower.  From then on I changed things up and used the shower curtain rod above me to hang onto as I moved my body in a circular  motion while breathing and moaning slowly.  I ended up alternating between hot water and cool water because I didn't want to get over heated.  Plus, the change in temperature kept me comfortable.  After about forty minutes in the shower I decided to get out.  I wasn't sure if I would be able to stand up through the pain much longer.  

Without bothering to put clothes on (because clothes just made me feel even more uncomfortable then I already was), I got down onto the floor again on all fours.  I actually turned on a hypno birthing track from spotify to keep me motivated.  But, really at this point nothing was taking my mind off the pain.  I look back at my contraction timer and I was tracking my contractions at a 7/10 pain wise, which was actually the highest I would end up tracking them while in labor.  I think about it now and I can't believe I actually didn't rate them higher.  I think it was my mind trying to trick my body in regards to how bad the pain actually was.  But, I didn't end up tracking any contractions as we were leaving for the hospital because I really couldn't function.  Those definitely would have ranked a 10!

I've thought about how best to describe what the pain of contractions feels like, but it's so difficult to put those feelings into words.  At first they feel like a strong period pain that comes every so often.  As they become stronger, I'm not sure how to describe it.  The stomach tightens up and sometimes looks misshapen.  When the pain starts out you can feel it coming, rising to a peak.  Once it peaks it's the strongest it will be for that minute or so and then there is relief as it slowly fades away.  But, those peaks.  Oh.my.God.  It's almost as though someone is ripping you from the inside out.  It's pain that makes you shake and feel like you are losing control of your body.   A small break follows, but it doesn't last.  Then everything starts all over again.  Breathing through the pain does help.  For me, it was taking long deep breaths and letting myself moan through it.  This is how things felt BEFORE the transition stage.  It all got much worse when transition started. 

After laboring on all fours on the floor for only a short amount of time I started to feel different.  The pain intensified so much.  During contractions I could feel and see the baby move and push around in my stomach, but it was so painful!  I assume that her movement had something to do with her moving down into the birth canal.  I started to realize there was no calm before the storm, no relief between contractions.  Excrutiating pains one right after another.  I stumbled to pull some clothes on and half dressed I left the bathroom and moved to the rocking chair in our room.  I was given a very brief period to recoup, but then all the pain was back.  It was about 2:30 am and I debated waking Brandon at this point, but I was so afraid that I was just over reacting to the pain.  I wanted to put off going to the hospital for as long as I could.  I sat in the chair some more, noisily breathing through the pain.  

Little did I know, but I was in the "transition" stage of labor.  If I would have realized this I may have been able to manage my pain better AND I would already decided that we should head to the hospital.  Since the transition period is the shortest stage of labor, but also the most intense, I didn't have long to go until I met my baby girl.  But, I didn't know this at the time so instead I thought something was wrong.  I couldn't really sit down because it was so painful to try.  I was getting no relief.  My contractions had gone from 7 minutes apart to 2 minutes apart in no time.  I wasn't even tracking them now because I couldn't even function.  I was so confused and disoriented.  

Finally, I yelled to Brandon to wake up- it was time (or way past time), we needed to go to the hospital.  He jumped up and scurried around to get ready.  I had a contraction that hurt so bad I flopped onto the bed with tears in my eyes.  I buried my head into the bed sheets trying to breathe but also thinking I might suffocate myself.  I seriously thought I was going to die.  The pain was literally pulsing through my whole body.  I started to feel pressure.  I was scared.  I knew we needed to get the hell out of the house now.  I called out to my husband yelling that couldn't do this, something was wrong, I'm not going to make it through this.  The contractions were so painful I got sick again.  I ran to the bathroom but I didn't make it to the toilet and I vomited all over the bathroom floor.  I tried to clean up the floor as best And as quickly as I could.  We needed to get out the door, but I still had to get dressed.  I seriously didn't think I would even be able to put clothes on.  I threw something on in between contractions.  Luckily our bags were already packed in the car.  I rushed into Liam's room and told his sleeping self I loved him.  No time to get sentimental.  

Things are somewhat of a blur from there.  I spent pretty much the rest of my labor with my eyes closed.  I didn't think I would make it down the stairs.  I cried to my husband that I couldn't do it.  He insisted that I had to try.  He helped me keep my balance as we walked down the steps.  My father in law was waiting at the bottom.  We handed him the monitor for Liam, jumped into the car and headed out.  But, wait, my husband forgot his wallet and had to run inside to get it!

I decided I should probably call my OB's office.  I didn't know if I could even speak at that point, but I knew I had to say something.  When I got the voicemail of my favorite midwife I managed to choke out, "This is Sarah Magaha I'm having contractions really close together and really really strong.  We are heading to the hospital now."  I wanted to let my mom know what was going on but that phone call had almost depleted all my energy.  I knew I should have called her sooner.  We wanted her in the delivery room with us and she lives about 40 minutes away from the hospital.  When she answered the phone I blurted out, "Mama we are going to the hospital, I don't think you're going to make it."

We slowly left our subdivision around 2:55 am and I told Brandon (maybe yelled a little?) that I needed him to go faster.  We sped up.  I grabbed onto the handle above my head and pulled down on it so hard trying to ease the pressure that each contraction would bring.  I told Brandon I would need to push soon.  At least that's what I thought the feeling was.  I couldn't be completely sure since I had never experienced this feeling in labor before.  Even though I thought this, I still kept worrying that we would get to the hospital and it wouldn't be time to have this baby yet.

I spent the 15 minute car ride with my eyes closed, moaning, groaning, and vocalizing my pain through contractions.  I think my go to phrase was yelling "oh my God!" at that point.  I felt so hot.  I needed air.  I could feel the pressure and I started to believe that this was for real, that I definitely needed to push a baby out soon. With each contraction I became increasingly worried that we wouldn't make it to the hospital in time.  My husband sped down the highway and we got to the hospital in about half the time it would usually take us.  He called on the drive for someone with a wheelchair to meet us at the door- to which we were told there were wheelchairs available inside.  He insisted that he had a wife in labor who couldn't walk and thankfully at that point we were told someone would meet us at the door.  

When we arrived a security guard came up to meet us at the covered entrance.  I basically fell into the wheelchair.  The guard told Brandon that he could just leave the car there, but my husband said he would move it.  I yelled at him that he needed to come now.  There was no time!  We rushed inside.  Of course we had to register even though we had already pre-registered.  Being asked to find your license and insurance card while cringing in pain is horribly annoying. Luckily, we didn't sit there for too long and the next thing I knew my husband was flying me down the hall to labor and delivery.  

A nurse came out to meet us immediately.  We SLOWLY made our way to the room where we were greeted by a team of nurses.  It was around 3:15 am at this point.  No one knew anything  about me since my midwife had basically just gotten my call and had not been able to notify the hospital staff yet.  As we entered the room I gritted through the pain and demanded for them to give me the epidural.  The nurse replied "Oh, do you?  It doesn't work that way.  We need to do blood work, check you, get you in your gown and then we can talk about an epidural."  She then proceeded to tell me that they didn't know anything about me and that they weren't expecting me so there was still lots to do before the epidural could be ordered.  

I was instructed to get up out of the wheel chair and change into a hospital gown.  I could barely move.  As I steadied myself beside the bed I pleaded with the nurses as I said, "But I'm going to need to push soon!".  I was asked a million questions- my date of birth, pain level, and other health questions.  I didn't understand why they were making me do all this!  I felt like crying.  I felt like no one believed me.  I was asked if my water had broken yet.  I didn't think so.  I was taken to the bathroom and asked to pee in a cup- seriously?!  I couldn't even get anything out, I was afraid to push to hard.  I felt so uncomfortable.  The nurse helped me change.  She told me not to worry about the cup.  I stood up and I felt water running down my leg.  I thought at first it was the pee I had been trying to get out, but then I realized my water had just broken. 

Someone helped me onto the hospital bed.  Brandon told me later that my stomach looked weird as I was lying there because you could see that the baby had moved down.  The nurse went to check me.  She said I was "gooey" down there, which seemed to imply my water did just break.  She checked me and I swear she barely had to insert her hand in before she said that I was complete and that the baby's head was right there.  Wow!  Even though I had been feeling the need to push, I didn't think I would arrive at the hospital and start pushing almost immediately after walking through the doors!  So many emotions and thoughts were running through my head.  I was scared.  Apparently at one point I said I didn't think I could do it.  Everything was happening so fast!  Immediately I realized though that I was way past the point of an epidural.  One of the nurses said "well, no time for an epidural!  You're going to have to do this without one."  

Everyone was scurrying around prepping the room and getting me ready. Someone whipped the baby heart rate monitor on my belly and the blood pressure cuff on my arm.  I was frightened and excited at the same time.  Brandon was by my side encouraging me and telling me that I was going to get what I had wanted all along- a natural birth.  I was going to do it without an epidural!  I immediately felt more relaxed and motivated.  I looked at him and said "I'm going to get to do this all by myself!"  I was so happy.  This was what I wanted!

My midwife came in just around that time, about 3:20 am.  I was SO happy to see her.  Luckily she had already been at the hospital or she may not have made it to the delivery!  She joked about my voicemail and it actually made me laugh.  I thought about how I must have sounded insane in during that message. My husband called my mom and told her I was getting ready to push.  She was so excited, but was still about 20 minutes away.  She definitely wasn't going to make it there before the baby was born.  

My midwife asked me if I was ready to push.  I was.  But, I was nervous about how the pain of pushing would feel.  My contractions at this point felt so different.  There was still pain, but not as much as before, because the pressure and urge to push overwhelmed the pain.  I was reminded by the medical staff to try and relax and breathe.  It was SO difficult to relax.  I was instructed to hold my legs, though a nurse and Brandon helped hold my feet.  I swear there were like 100 people in that room, though really there weren't.  I was probably seeing double anyway.  Someone put a nice cool washcloth on my head and gave me sips of water.  That felt amazing!  

I was instructed to push when a contraction came, when I felt the urge.  I felt a contraction and I was ready.  I pushed, but could tell I wasn't doing it just right.  My breathing was akward.  Everyone kept reminding me to take a deep breaths and push/bear down into my bottom with my chin in my chest.  A nurse would push down on my stomach at the same time.  I had to basically hold my breath through each push, taking deep breaths in between pushes.  The pushing actually felt great.  It was relief, but it didn't feel good enough yet.  

In between pushes there was silence and glorious sips of water.  My eyes were shut most of the time from exhaustion.  After each push I would lay back on the bed, completely worn out, wondering if I would have the strength to push again.  Pushing is so exhausting!  My throat was becoming sore from the groaning and noises I was making.  Noises that I had never heard before were coming out of my mouth, though I wasn't screaming or loud at all.  

After pushing through about two rounds of contractions the pushing started to feel a little different.  It was like once I would push my body would surrender and give in to the push, I could feel the baby's head slowly moving out.  My midwife was using her fingers to stretch things out to help make room for the baby's head.  This was uncomfortable!  Soon I heard my husband say they could see the head AND that there was dark hair on that little head.  This was so motivating to know I was making progress!  But, it still felt like I had a ways to go.  

Then came the burning!  It felt like the baby's head was just stuck and it wasn't coming out.  I asked how much longer I needed to do this and was told we were almost there.  The only pain I could feel at this point was the burning, which wasn't even half as bad as the pain I had been dealing with prior to, but it burned like hell for sure.  The  contractions didn't even hurt anymore, I just felt pressure when each one came.  There was so much pressure I thought I would explode!

The nurses told me to grab onto some bars underneath my legs to control my pushing and give me more strength.  This definitely helped.  I pushed hard.  Next thing I knew I heard Brandon exclaim that the baby's head was out!  We were almost there!  The nurses put a blanket on my stomach so that Charlotte could be placed on it once she was born.  I knew we were almost to the finish line.  

Another push, a big one.  I grabbed onto the bars underneath me as hard as I could and I pushed.  I felt a give and a release, the release of my precious baby girl leaving my body.  I felt pulling as the midwife helped to pull her from me.  I immediately felt relief, no more pain.  The best feeling in the world.  It was done, over, I did it!  

After fifteen minutes of pushing, Charlotte Hadley was born at 3:41 am on Sunday, September 7th.  I heard crying.  I was searching for her, but couldn't see her yet.  Then, my baby girl was placed on my belly, squirming around with arms flailing.  She was still attached by the cord, so I couldn't pull her close to me just yet.  I put my hands on her and felt her warm and sticky purplish/pink body moving around.  Her little eyes were trying to open and then I finally saw them- the eyes of my little Charlotte!  In the moment, everything seemed so surreal.  It all happened so fast and now she was here!  

To me, she was so tiny!  I never expected to have a baby under seven pounds.  She felt small, so small.   I was so concerned about it that I asked if she was too small!  I still can't believe I asked that, but I was so worried there was something wrong with her.  But, she was absolutely perfect.  Not even a cone head for this baby!  The medical staff said she wasn't in the birth canal long enough to get cone head status :)

My husband cut the cord and I pulled Charlotte close to me.  There is nothing, nothing like the first time you hold your baby in your arms.  It's beautiful.  This little person I had been waiting on was now right here in front of me!  I studied her face and all of her features.  It felt like we were the only two people in the room.  

I am so glad my husband took pictures of Charlotte and I when she was first born.  I had told him many times in the past months that I wanted lots of pictures of those first moments after birth, but forgot to mention it again before we came to the hospital.  I'm so glad he took initiative and now we have beautiful photos of our first meeting together :)

Next, it was time for the placenta to make it's appearance.  Believe me I'm so thankful for all the hard work the placenta does for my baby and my body, but I hate the fact that I also need to push that freaking thing out too!  Luckily, it wasn't a long process and then it was time for the midwife to examine me for tears.  This was just annoying, though I know very necessary.  But, when you have just given birth and your lady parts are already tender, there's nothing more annoying than someone prying around trying to find out whether or not you have a tear!  

Thankfully, I only tore very little on the inside- totally a different place than where I tore with Liam and wayyy less painful!  With Liam I tore down, which made it excruciating to go to the bathroom for days and weeks after his birth.  My midwife numbed the area for stitches- which I was SO glad to have because one of my fears about a natural child birth was being able to feel the stitches!  I know, that's really lame, but it freaked me out!

Since I was so tender and cringed with every touch, the nurses asked of they could take Charlotte to wipe her down, weigh, and measure her.  I consented since it was so difficult for me to concentrate on her with everything going on down there.  I'm so glad that the entire time I could still see her and everything that was being done to her.  One thing I love about our hospital is that the rooms are not only huge single occupant rooms, but everything is done in one place.  We never had to be moved and Charlotte didn't have to be taken anywhere else to be tended to.

Charlotte weighed 6 pounds, 12 ounces and was 20 inches long!

Somewhere around this time my mom arrived.  I heard her and Brandon talking about who Charlotte looked like (the consensus is that she looked a lot like Liam when he was born).  My mom told me how proud she was of me.  This was great to hear since she had been one of my inspirations to have a natural child birth.  She did it with all four of her children! 

After I was all fixed up, I was asked whether or not I wanted to do skin to skin with Charlotte or have her in the "warmer".  Of course I wanted her with me.  Skin to skin was amazing.  I never had a chance to do this with Liam when he was born since he was taken to the NICU immediately, so this experience was something I had longed for.  Charlotte was at peace and so calm.  I kept her on my chest, just holding her for a little while until I decided to nurse her.  She latched on perfectly and I kept her with me for at least an hour before I gave her up to my husband and my mama.  

My husband sent out a mass text message to our family and friends.  Unfortunately everyone was still asleep, but they would awake to a nice surprise in the morning!  I find it so strange that with both my babies I have gone into labor in the middle of the night.  Definitely not the most convenient time, especially when all I wanted to do is scream from the rooftops that my little girl was here!

I was now on a birthing high.  After my mom left I tried get some rest since it was early in the morning, but I just couldn't.  I had so much energy even though I had gotten maybe 5 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours.  I felt amazing, confident, proud, and my heart was so full!  

Compared to giving birth to Liam I felt so much better after giving birth to Charlotte.  I got out of bed an hour or so after giving birth compared to not being able to walk for a couple of hours after Liam's birth due to the epidural.  I showered, put on makeup, and fresh clothes before lunch time.  This time I even took a nice little walk around the halls later that evening.  

Unlike with Liam I didn't feel nauseous or lightheaded when I stood up (I almost passed out after getting up once the epidural wore off with Liam).  The only pain I felt after giving birth to Charlotte was the after pains that came with nursing and they were totally manageable with the Motrin I was prescribed.  I didn't need the Percocet, which I was prescribed with Liam and did take to help manage my pain.  Also, since I didn't get an epidural I didn't have to deal with the effects from that.  With my first child I had horrible back pain due to the epidural, so much so that it hurt to lay on my back in the hospital bed.  I remember after I had Liam I sat in the hospital bed as the epidural wore off and I just kept thinking about how much pain I was in.  But, I do think a lot of the pain I experienced after giving birth to Liam was due to the type of tear I had as well.  Also, it was so nice to only have a blood pressure cuff on my arm and not have to deal with an annoying IV.  But, again things happened so differently with this labor and delivery compared to the last time.

There was a lot of joking around in the room with the nurses and my midwife about my frantic voicemail and my urgent request for the epidural.  It's funny to think now that I actually thought I would be able to get one when I was rolled into that delivery room!  

I wanted Liam to be the first person after my husband and mom to meet baby Charlotte.  I didn't expect him when he came through the doors around lunchtime with his Pappy, but hearing his voice and turning around to see his face made my heart melt!  He came in the room asking where Charlotte was.  When he saw her he said, "Aww she's so cute!".  Unfortunately he was still sick, so when he immediately asked to hold his baby sister I had to tell him he needed to wait until he felt better to hold her.  He was so interested in her.  Seeing how happy he was made my heart grow a hundred times more.  

Visitors filtered in and out throughout the day.  It's always such a proud experience to show your baby off to friends and family.  I slept maybe half an hour on Charlotte's birth day.  It was just so exciting!

When I was first asked whether or not we wanted to stay in the hospital for one or two days, I said two.  I thought we would be able to relax and have the support of the hospital staff to help us with the transition.  But, we ended up missing Liam so much that we decided to only stay for one day.  Since my recovery was going great and Charlotte looked well, we were able to leave by 3 pm the day following Charlotte's birth.  

Since we've been home things have been going well.  My whole pregnancy I was nervous about caring for two children, but that really went out the window when we got home.  I realized things will work out and the days may be even more busy, but we will make it work.  Liam has done so well with the transition at home.  We've kept up his daily routine, so that he won't have to deal with too much change at once.  

Baby blues hit a lot harder this time which made the first week a little rough.  After the first week though, I found myself feeling much better as things began to normalize.  I think the most difficult thing that I am dealing with is the change in relationship between Liam and I.  When we first came home I almost felt disconnected from him.  We used to do everything together, we had a nice routine going and now everything was different.  I do miss our time as just the two of us, but I know things will get better and now I have two babies that I get to spend my time with! 

Even as I recall Charlotte's birth story and I remember how much pain I was in, pain that made me think I would die, I would still do it all over again in exactly the same way.  If we ever have any more babies I will still set my goal for another natural birth.  I thought my body wasn't going to make it through, but it did.  My body, our bodies as women, are made for this!  

For sure, epidurals are amazing, I know this.  I mean, I still even asked for one this time around!  Honestly, I don't think I could have made it through Liam's labor and delivery without one.  Really, an epidural may have saved his life as it allowed me to be pumped with pitocin frequently and progress quicker than what my body was doing naturally.  If Liam would have remained inside me much longer we were told that things could have been much worse and we may have lost him.  

Every labor and delivery is different.  Every birth is beautiful.  Depending on the situation, my mind could have completely changed on what I wanted to do.  Charlotte's labor went so quickly once it really started that I didn't even have time to think.  Just over three hours from the time my contractions hit at midnight to the time she was born!  

Through both of my birth experiences I felt just as accomplished and proud of myself.  An epidural didn't take anything away from my body's ability to birth a baby.  But, having a natural birth was something I wanted to do so badly in my lifetime.  Even though I felt strong enough the first time I delivered a child I wanted to prove that I could be stronger.  I wanted to be able to say that I have experienced all the feelings of a natural birth.  And now, I can.  I am so proud of my body.  I worked hard for this.  I pushed myself through my entire pregnancy, strengthening my body for labor.  I do believe working out consistently by strength training, weight lifting, and doing cardio 3-5 times a week helped my body to prepare for this big event.  These were the only things I did to prepare.  I didn't read any books or practice breathing techniques.  For me, doing those things would have stressed me out more and I would have felt like I failed myself if I wouldn't have accomplished my goal in the end.  This was the greatest test I have ever taken with the biggest reward. Now I know that I am stronger than I thought I was.  I doubted myself so many times.  But, maybe that's good.  I knew I had options and I kept my mind open to those options at all times.  

I am so thankful for a healthy baby girl!  This pregnancy was much more difficult than the first.  There was a point early on that I sat, crying in the bathroom, thinking that I was losing my baby.  Thankfully, now she is here and she is okay.  I still can't believe she's mine!  My little girl who has been with me every minute for the last nine months is now on the outside of me, living and breathing.  I will miss her kicks and movements on the inside.  I will miss having her to myself at all times, but I am so anxious to watch her grow!  What a beautiful, memorable experience this has been!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Charlotte's Birth Story Part 1

My view at 39 weeks
It all started on Friday, September the 5th.  The date of our 5 year wedding anniversary.  Weeks prior we joked that we would have an anniversary baby and although we got pretty darn close, it just wasn't meant to be.  

I've wondered if I would have been at work that day if things would have gone differently.  I could have been working when those contractions started and I just know I would have panicked.  But, instead of being at work I was at home with my sick boy, who had been running a fever for the past 12 hours.  I kept debating calling out sick that morning.  I didn't want to use my precious sick leave that would cover me while on maternity leave.  But, I didn't want to leave Liam just in case we had to take him to the doctor.  I also had a nagging feeling that if I didn't go to work, I would of course go into labor and I wouldn't have that "last day" to finalize things before I had a baby.  But, my heart won the battle and I decided to stay home with my boy.

Although I had a guilty feeling about calling off of work, I was sure that I wouldn't be having a baby anytime soon.  I had a doctors appointment just two days before on Wednesday.  After weeks of putting off getting an exam to check my cervix, I finally decided to do so since I was 39 weeks pregnant.  I hate being "checked" and had been putting it off mainly because of what happened with Liam when he was born.  The doctors never knew why I had a placental infection that was passed onto Liam and caused him to stay in the NICU for a week.  But, I knew that cervical exams can cause infection during pregnancy and I wanted to avoid that at all costs.  So, after the most painful exam I've ever had (because the midwife had a difficult time getting a good feel of my cervix), I was informed that "baby's not doing much" and that I was "maybe half a centimeter dilated".  This was extremely discouraging to hear, especially since I had been working out so regularly during this pregnancy with doing body attack two times a week (up until I was 39 weeks pregnant!), walking, and still lifting light weights. The midwife did tell me that with second babies things can progress very quickly, which gave me a little hope.  But, I left the appointment feeling like I would be pregnant forever and although I absolutely love being pregnant, I definitely didn't want that.  Little did I know that would be my last appointment during this pregnancy, but luckily it was not the last time I would see my favorite midwife!  

At exactly thirty-nine weeks pregnant to the day I headed back to work.  I complained about how little progress my body had made and how this little girl wasn't going to show her face anytime soon.  I decided to head to body attack that night since I didn't have anything else to do.  Truthfully, working out made my body feel better than if I were to just sit on the couch and relax.  I didn't over exert myself, I enjoyed myself.  I slept well that night and was ready to tackle another week of pregnancy!  

The next day, Thursday, after talking to a friend and asking for suggestions to get labor started, I did about 100 squats throughout the afternoon once I arrived home from work.  I bounced on the exercise ball that evening as well to try and encourage labor some more.  But, still on Thursday, nothing.  I didn't feel any different, but I was content.  

So, there I was Friday morning, home sick with my son, in a panic and cursing the timing my body chose when after feeling crampy I went to the bathroom and noticed the first sign of a "bloody show" or the loss of my mucous plug.  Of course this was going to happen while I have a sick child!  Of course I didn't get another day at work to tie up some lose ends!  But, then the excitement sunk in.  I just knew we would be having a baby soon.  Maybe today?!  On our anniversary!  

My husband went out to run some errands.  I automatically grabbed my computer, sat down with Liam as he watched Paw Patrol and finalized some last minute work via email.  I checked my "before baby" to do list and there were still some things that I hadn't completed yet.  I went into the kitchen to start some freezer meal prep when I felt a strong cramp.  I thought it was a contraction, but wasn't too sure just yet.  I kept moving around.  At around 11:00 am I felt what I could definitely identify as a contraction.  I called Brandon and my mom to let them know things were happening!  

My instagram post on Friday.
I completed the remainder of things on my to do list.  I cleaned, I cooked, I ate.  The contractions were coming anywhere from 20 minutes to 40 minutes apart.  My pain level was only about a 1/10 and the contractions only lasted for about 20 seconds.  This continued throughout the afternoon. 

Around 3:30 pm I thought it would be a good idea to take a nap.  Luckily, I was able to nap for almost two hours without any pain that disturbed my sleep.  I woke up with more sporadic contractions but the intensity hadn't really increased, though the contractions were slightly closer together than they were before I had fallen asleep.  

I needed something to do.  I went to the grocery store and picked up a few things we might need in the next couple days and some snacks for guests that would be caring for Liam if we were to go to the hospital.  I drank lots of water, ate dinner, continued with my routine.  Liam's fever had subsided earlier in the day, but he was coughing and still feeling off.  I was so worried about having to leave him while he was sick.  I hate not being there with him when he's not feeling well.  I was so emotional. 

My father in law came to stay the night, just in case we needed to flee to the hospital.  We decided it would be best for my husband to take off work that night because we thought we would be having a baby soon.

Last belly pic- 39 weeks 3 days pregnant.  Taken in between contractions.
Before I decided to go to bed at around 9 pm, my contractions were about ten minutes apart lasting for 30 seconds to 1 minute, but my pain level was still a 1/10.  I continuously tracked contractions with the ctx timer app (free!) which I loved.  This app tracks the time in between contractions, produces charts, and you can rate your pain.  Being able to rate my pain was such motivation to me to try and tolerate it as much as possible and keep that number low.  I kept asking myself, "How bad is this, really?", before I would rank my pain level.  

I laid down to sleep with my phone on my lap to track the contractions and they were steadily at about 8-10 minutes apart throughout the night.  

My pain level increased to a 3 and then a 5 as the night went on.  I stayed in bed trying to sleep in between contractions, which I've found is really the worst way for me to manage labor pain.  There is absolutely no way for me to relax in a bed when I'm having contractions!  But, there was one point where I actually fell asleep for about an hour with no contractions logged into my phone.  

As the sun came up on Saturday, September 6th, my pain level was the worst it had been (5/10), but the contractions were becoming further and further apart at about half an hour in between pains.  I ate breakfast and sat on the exercise ball for a little bit until I decided that I could really get a significant amount of sleep in between contractions since they were becoming so far apart.  

I fell asleep from about 7:30 to 10:30 am, maybe waking once in pain.  I awoke from my morning nap disappointed and confused as to why this was taking so long.  I thought second babies were supposed to come a lot faster once things started!  Everyone else was confused too.  My husband was disappointed that we didn't have a baby yet.  My mom was shocked that it was taking so long.  Even though I was getting impatient, I also felt relieved that I had a little more time before this baby came so that Liam could get well.  But, I really didn't want this process to take much longer!  

I jumped on the tredmill and decided to try walking for a little bit.  *Note- time stamps on these pictures from my phone were taken days after, so times are not accurate.

Instagram post Saturday morning.
 I walked two miles and then took another nap afterwards, giving my body some rest since I didn't sleep much the night before.  I posted on Facebook my woes, to which I received replies from friends who had been in similar situations.  

At this point I was still experiencing major mucous loss.  So much so that it kindof freaked me out.  With Liam, I lost my "plug" about 3 weeks prior to his due date and it all kindof came out at once.  This time, there was so much.  It was blood tinged, but sometimes would be clear, and sometimes it was so thin I wasn't sure if it was my water leaking or not.  I called my ob office to which I found out that my most favorite midwife (the one from my last appointment) was on call.  She told me to walk around wearing a dress and no underwear- if I felt a drip, drip, drip going down my leg then it was probably my water.  The amniotic fluid would be the consistency of water and not stringy like mucous.  So, obviously I tested this theory and I came to the conclusion that my water had not yet broken.  

My father in law entertained Liam for the rest of the day as Brandon and I got some rest. We decided it would be best that my husband go to work that evening since things weren't really progressing.  My contractions were so irregular.  Sometimes I would have a pain every 10 minutes, but then it would die down and I would just feel one contraction in an hour.  I ate dinner, made some brownies, ate my most favorite ice cream, relaxed, and watched Dexter re-runs as Liam and his pappy went out on the town.  When they returned, I did the bedtime routine.  I felt tired but otherwise fine.  I waited for Liam to fall asleep and then decided at around 10 pm that it would be a good idea for me to sleep as well.  I kept thinking about how some of my friends had said that their labor had slowed, but then picked up full force in the early morning and their baby was born shortly after.  Something in my head just kept screaming at me to sleep before 12 am came around...
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