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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Coraline's Birth Story- TMI Warning, but not too bad...

Because I'm behind on so many things- those Christmas photo books I was going to make once a year of all our pictures from the previous year?  Yeah, those aren't finished...I decided I'd tick one thing off the list before I forget too many details.  So here I am about 6 months late finally finishing this up!

Cora's due date came and went (11/14) and I was doing really well at being OK with it.  Lots of people were asking when the induction would be and my standard answer "I'm just waiting until she's ready!" was serving me well.  Then we found out that hubs was going to be leaving for his annual training on the 29th (two days after the two week post-due-date limit we had set for letting things happen on their own).  I obviously didn't want to have the baby without daddy around, and also preferred not to end up going home to an empty house, so we amped up the "do this it worked for me" natural labor-inducing tactics as a possible induction seemed to loom ever closer.  I walked, ate eggplant parmesan from Olive Garden, ate dates till I couldn't stand them, drank Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, put Clary Sage in my bath, the list goes on.

My doc had decided to induce on Wednesday night so I'd kind of resigned myself to that plan.  On Monday I got up and headed to the gym to walk on the treadmill with Bradi.  We walked for awhile, then I headed home with the kiddos.  All day I had contractions, nothing major, just more of the braxton hicks I'd been having since 14 weeks.  Mid-afternoon there was some spotting, which kept up and got heavier throughout the day.  In my mind I was thinking - cool, induction will move quicker than last time!  No big deal.  That evening Bradi and I had scheduled a pedicure so we headed to Kim's and told the woman there to push every pressure point I had because I was overdue!  She said in a very cute Vietnamese accent- "Ok, you have this baby tonight!"  Didn't seem like she did much different from every other pedicure I'd had, little did I know...

After returing home from the pedicure my contractions continued but they were still very spread out and very irregular.  Around 11pm I think I realized that I was in early labor but it STILL had not sunk in that this would lead to true labor.  No one in my immediate family had ever had a baby without pitocin or a c-section, it honestly was not really on my radar (denial much?).  I tried to sleep, but couldn't, so I tried to settle into a long night with no sleep.  Andy went to bed not really knowing things were moving along- I didn't see the need to get excited.  Again I tried to lay down, took a bath, watched some TV, but after awhile even sitting was not comfortable.  Next I busted out the yoga ball and spent some time sitting/laying/rolling on that.  I think it was around 2am that I finally called my doula and said something along the lines of "ok, I'm having contractions but they aren't regular or anything so...just thought you should know."  I also asked her when I ought to call her if things continued to progress as I couldn't really remember what I was supposed to watch for.  She said once the contractions were 3-4 min apart, lasting a minute long, and had been that way for an hour, I should give her a call.
In my always-planning brain I figured I'd labor through the night, get the kids off to school, then head to the hospital to get settled as we already had people in place to pick them up at school (it was Grandparents' Day)!
I was timing the contractions on an app on my phone and they were anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes apart.  By 4am they were still not regular but sometimes they seemed to be on top of each other.  I was hesitant to call and wake up my doula again but I was VERY uncomfortable.  I told her my contractions didn't seem to meet the criteria but that I just didn't know how long I could handle this so something was happening.  After listening to me talk a bit she said she thought she ought to come to my house. At that moment I knew labor was happening but I still thought I'd be going all night and possibly through the morning.  However, something about picturing her at my house made me realize I didn't have that long (she lives about 40 min away) and I said "I don't think if I wait much longer I'll be able to sit in the car."  So we decided she'd meet us at the hospital.  At this point the contractions were 3ish minutes apart, then there would be two right on top of each other lasting only 30secs or so, then it'd be 5 minutes. I STIL thought we were going in a bit early but I couldn't sit down and when they hit I was moaning/crying loudly and could only stand on my tip toes bent over the couch or leaning on the wall.

I went and got Andy and told him what was going on.  We called his mom to come stay with the kids and started gathering our stuff.  Suddenly I KNEW things were moving (I swear I could feel dilation!).  At this point Elijah came out of his room and said "Daddy can you turn up my white noise?  Mommy is too loud."  Thanks for the concern son.  I called my mom to tell her we were headed to the hospital but could hardly talk so she told me to call her once we were in the car.  I also tried Bradi but didn't get an answer!

I'd started to feel nauseous so Andy grabbed me a bowl and I sat on the couch (kinda) until my MIL got here.  The ride to the hospital is a blur.  My mom called but I was screaming and couldn't talk, Andy was calm and drove through the snowstorm like it was no big deal! At about the S-Curve on 131 I started to throw up, which was great fun between the crying, screaming, and desperate desire to NOT be sitting AT ALL.  I got a little scared as I knew that typically women throw up during transition.  Turns out an apple fruit squeezie to give me energy was not going to be giving me much energy.

We got to the hospital but neither of us could remember exactly where L&D triage was so we went to the regular emergency entrance.  I was dropped off in a wheelchair and brought inside where I promptly told the triage nurse that I was "very" in labor while Andy parked the car.  Since I could not possibly sit any longer I stood up next to the wheelchair and held on for dear life while screaming in a room full of strangers.  I'm pretty sure I heard someone say "is she going to have a baby right here?!"  And the triage nurse was definitely making it clear to L&D on the phone that they needed to come get me- fast.

I was wheeled to Labor and Delivery triage and asked if I felt the urge to push- I said no, so they put me in a regular room where I told the nurse "if you tell me I'm a 3 I'm going to die!"  She laughed and said "I don't want to be the one checking you!"  When she was able to check me she paused and said "how does a 6-7 sound?"  Excellent.  Praise the Lord.  When Andy arrived I was crying and told him I didn't think I could do it, I wanted an epidural, Brenda better get there fast to talk me out of it.  He was sympathetic and tried to make small talk with the nurse about the beautiful new L&D triage facility...so helpful ;)  I kept begging to stand up but they kept telling me I'd be moving to delivery quickly and had to be on a bed to do so.  Honestly, I'd have walked up there if they'd let me, sitting was torture!

Everything again was a blur, it seemed like a few minutes before they had me rolling down the hall to the elevator.  Just as we got into the elevator I suddenly understood that whole "urge to push" thing.  The nurse told me firmly- "you cannot have this baby in the elevator, I don't even have any gloves!"  So I just went back to writhing, screaming and crying.  At one point I felt warm liquid all over me and told her "either my water just broke or I peed."  "Doesn't matter," she said.  Thank you for making peeing myself normal, because it was not my water ;)...

We arrived in delivery and I continued screaming like a crazy person as they wheeled me to my room. The contractions were nonstop and I felt like I had no time to adjust to each new level of pain.  Every nurse at the nurse's station was staring at me and I remember just staring back whilst screaming.  If this sounds like a whole lot of screaming- that about sums it up.  Things moved SO. Fast.  I was checked again in my room and was already a solid 9 with pretty much no ability to stop my body from pushing.  Telling a woman not to push is really pointless, I'd heard that before but had no idea how true it is.

At this point Brenda arrived.  There I lay on the bed, on my side, totally naked and not caring about that one bit.  Someone asked me if I wanted a sheet and I said "I don't care."  This was my standard answer because I was past the point of being able to care about anything other than getting. the. baby. OUT.  Dr. Edvenson, one of the OB's at my practice was on call and came in just as they were breaking down the bed and doing that magic thing where all the lights and equipment seem to appear from nowhere.  He still told me not to push yet- yeah right -and spoke super quietly so that I had no idea who he was mumbling to.  Turns out, it was me, but I had no clue due to my own constant yelling.  He asked me what my plan for pain control was and I managed a "nothing" while silently wondering what on earth he would have done if I'd demanded an epidural or narcotic...they hadn't even had time to do the normal blood draw let alone place an IV (the lab came in to take my blood and a nurse yelled- "too late, we're delivering here!").  I imagine he was hoping to make a remark along the lines of "too bad little lady" had I asked for one of these things because seriously- there was no time for that nonsense.  He hadn't even read my birth plan for crying out loud, hello!?  This stuff is important people!  Where was my diffuser with relaxing lavender oil?  My calming music?  My bathtub full of soothing water?  Instead I got "I'm going to just do an episiotomy now because I don't like tearing" and did not have the will to argue.  I can still see Brenda next to me going "uh, um...oh, nevermind" when I said "fine, do what you have to do!" in response (she can advocate for me but she won't argue with me so the fact that I said go ahead kind of nullfied my desire to not be cut (which of course was written neatly in my unread and discarded birth plan).  He even used a local anesthetic first, which was another thing I hadn't wanted but again, I just wanted that baby out of me and was willing to do whatever it took.

Finally no one was telling me not to push and things got real- as if they weren't before.  I was suddenly terrified of pushing, I had already muttered the classic "I can't do it" phrase indicative of transition (right Brenda?!) and truly felt like this whole thing was not possible.  I could literally feel her moving down, I had no idea a laboring mom could really feel that, but it was distinct.  I am truly amazed at how effective God made us in this process, it all just seems so impossible.

Throughout pushing I was pretty much in a haze.  I saw tons of nurses- it was a shift change so there were double the norm at one point as I think the ladies who had started with me kinda wanted to see what would happen with this screaming woman that almost waited too long to get to the hospital.  There was also a team from the NICU in there because there had been meconium in the amniotic fluid so if she'd had trouble breathing as a result they would have stepped in and taken care of her.  I wanted to (but was able to refrain from) crying out for my mommy, and had to be repeatedly told to breath deeply so I did not hyperventilate.  Andy and Brenda stood by my head and held my hands while I pushed desperately and with everything I had.  After about ten minutes of pushing (so I'm told, it felt much longer to me) Sweet Coraline was born!  The doctor had asked (barely audibly, as was his custom) if I wanted to know what her hair color was while I was pushing.  Being unable to answer I remember thinking "of course it's blonde of some sort" so when she was laid on my chest and her hair was dark it was a total surprise!  I also immediately noticed her long fingers and the little spit bubbles she was making (which she still does when she's hungry).  Again we go into blur mode, Dr. Taber arrived in time to stitch me up, (I already felt great and joked "Just in time Dr. Taber!") Cora was weighed and measured (8lbs 4oz, 21"), and provided a beautiful spread-toed footprint for the nurse.

Having a pain-med free labor is one of the coolest things I've ever done.  I am certain that had it not been my plan I'd have gone into the hospital sooner (although not much sooner since I was basically in denial), and if I hadn't known Brenda was coming to support me I'd definitely have asked for an epidural.  It was indeed the worst pain I have ever felt, it compares to nothing I've ever experienced, but it's amazing how quickly the pain passes when it's finished.  I was able to get up and shower within an hour (and got the fun surprise of seeing how many blood vessels I'd broken while pushing in the hospital bathroom mirror- that's what desperation will do for ya), nursing was easier, and I generally felt great.  Bonus- Andy did not have the heart to argue with me when I pulled rank and chose "Coraline" over "Natalie" which was our backup choice.  He loves it now but was unsure for a few days ;)

My mom and sister arrived pretty quickly after.  Apparently my mom had originally resisted heading straight to the hospital and thought crying at home was a better option until my dad asked her what on earth she was doing. :)  Bradi had decided to leave her phone plugged in in the kitchen for the first time ever and missed my call which is why she wasn't able to be there for the birth (Andy told me I sounded very angry when I was on the phone with her on the way to the hospital.  I said something along the lines of "If you want to see this baby be born you better get here NOW!" lol...hey, I was barfing in a mixing bowl, what'd he want?!)

All that said, for about a week I couldn't imagine doing that again, but now I look back and I seriously have to talk myself down from having another just to do all that again.  It is just so cool to actually experience childbirth.  I felt before like it was something I read about in history books (silly, huh?) and magazines, like it was something you just didn't do if you had any other option.  But choosing to forgo the epidural and deal with the pain was extremely empowering.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who even thinks they might want to give it a try.  There is no shame in having an epidural or other pain management aid, but for me, I am just so thrilled I was able to experience what millions of women before me have gone through.