Hadley’s Birth Story

On Monday, November 6 I was still very pregnant – and very over it. My OB and I had discussed induction once I hit 39 weeks because I was so uncomfortable, but she warned me that other pregnant women past forty weeks had priority for induction. My official and “final” due date was 11/11, so even though I was still a week to go, I wanted that baby OUT. I decided to send my doctor an email asking her to let me know if we could set a date, knowing it had to be scheduled a few days out. Initially I didn’t want a baby to be born via induction on Holly’s birthday (11/9), so that Holly could have her own day, but I knew baby could very well come on her own if she wanted to on that day. So, imagine my surprise on Wednesday morning when I got a call from the hospital labor and deliver department, letting me know I was scheduled for induction at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 9. After talking it over with Matt, we decided we should move forward, as I was swelling like crazy, sick of having fake contractions, and I was getting restless (After all, there’s only so much Netflix binging and Oreo eating one can do.) They’d be birthday twins, and that was that! I didn’t sleep much that night with excited anticipation, and woke up at 5:30 the next morning to shower. While I was in the shower I got a voicemail that I should wait a few hours and go back to sleep, since L&D was packed. I went back to bed, and we got the call at 8:30 that we could come in around 10.

Right before we headed to the hospital! 39 weeks and six days.

I checked in, donned my hideous hospital gown, and met my first two nurses, Harley and Nicole. I felt relieved because I gave them the “Full Alyssa” personality and we all jived well, which was important to me as these women would be getting up close and personal. I got hooked up to the IV and belly monitors, and once it was confirmed that Hadley was doing great, they checked me for dilation. Happily, the amount of contractions I was showing confirmed that I was already in early labor, which I had suspected the night before, but wasn’t getting my hopes up due to the days of false starts I’d been having. At first check I was dilated to a four, so we agreed to use Pitocin to get things moving, with me having naïve hopes that Pitocin would mean I’d be snuggling a newborn in the early afternoon. I call Pitocin the Pit Viper, because it amplified the contractions with Holly from bearable to massive pain very quickly – but maybe that wasn’t the Pitocin and was just labor. Basically, they slowly increased my Pitocin every couple hours, and at this point, I was waiting to get the epidural as the pain wasn’t that bad. This part of labor was pretty boring, and I chitchatted with Matt, texted friends, browsed Facebook, and even shopped on my Groupon app at one point.

One great difference between this labor and Holly’s was that I was allowed to have “clears” this time. It helped so much to have a full belly.

At 2:00, they started cranking the Pitocin faster, and I was bummed that I hadn’t had the baby yet. I had hoped that since this was my second rodeo, I’d basically lift my legs and shoot out a baby. Once the Pitocin was cranked, the contractions started intensifying. At 3:45 I requested my epidural, and I didn’t receive it until 5:00 p.m., and by then, I was ready. They made Matt leave the room which I wasn’t thrilled about, and my anxiety soared as the anesthesiologist fiddled with my back and laced me up. It showed in my blood pressure, which rose to about 160/90, but as soon as the anesthesiologist was done, I instantly felt giddy and calm. I asked if it kicked in that fast, and the anesthesiologist explained it was actually my dopamine levels returning to normal since I had been so nervous. Whew! They gave me a quick hit button to dose myself with more epidural drug, and I didn’t end up using it much until later on.

The next few hours were slow and relaxed, with my birth playlist in the background (lots of Fleet Foxes, Smoke Fairies, Father John Misty, and the occasional electropop song by peeps like St. Vincent.). At 7:00, we had a shift change, and my new nurse, Tiffany, came in. At 9:30, I decided to try to nap, since I had only progressed to a six. I dozed on and off, and at 11:40, I was finally ready to try some “test” pushes. I had accepted at this point that Hadley wanted her own birthday, as we were 20 minutes away from the 10th. The contractions were certainly more intense, but my nurse had warned me to start laying off the quick hit button as that could delay my progress. I wasn’t happy to hear that but agreed to reduce my reliance on the joy juice, and I was impressed how much easier pushing was than with Holly – my body knew what to do, and Tiffany was an excellent coach in guiding me how to breathe.

After a few test pushes, Tiffany gave me a choice – they could call the doctor in now (about midnight) and have me start pushing, but she warned because baby wasn’t exactly in “station” (the lowest position in pelvis), I would probably have to push longer – or, I could try and nap for a bit and baby would likely descend lower into the pelvis, and it would be less pushing.  I always prefer to embrace the lazy way when it comes to physical activity, so I agreed to try and nap, and miraculously, I did. At 12:45, the nurse told me the doctor was on her way, and at that point, I went from calm to “IT’S GO TIME!”. I was having a very hard time holding the baby in at this point – and it sounds weird to type it like that, but they actually had to take my legs out of the stirrups and tell me not to push because she was ready to come out.

Honestly, this was the hardest part of labor – feeling more than anything that I needed to push, but not being able to, and being told not to. At one point I told Matt he better get a glove on and get down there because the baby was coming whether my doctor was there or not. It was actually only 20 minutes between this point and when the doctor arrived, but it felt like eternity as the pressure on my lower back and legs was making me tremble all over.

Finally, my awesome doctor rushed in, threw on her scrubs and booties, and got into position. I took a deep breath, and PUSHED. Lord almighty, did I push – and I pushed HARD and with gusto, and boom – just like that, I felt the baby’s head come out, and summoned all my strength, breathed through the pressure … and felt Hadley descend through me, arriving at 1:14 am, after just one push.

The doctor lifted her up and I had two instant thoughts “Look at all that hair!” and “She’s big!” They put her on my chest, and the medical team noted she wasn’t crying – just looking around, calm and pink. Her tiny hand joined mine and I looked into her eyes for the first time, hers full of wonder, mine full of joy. I was overcome with relief and happiness, and we spent the next 30 minutes snuggling as my doctor delivered my placenta and checked me out. Hadley was 9.2 pounds and 21 inches of rosy-cheeked perfection, delightful little leg rolls, velvety feet, and wispy dark hair.

Happy birthday, Hadley Joy – we’re so happy you’re here.

 

Holly’s Birth Story

Hi y’all! I wrote this a week after I gave birth and while it’s deeply personal, I’ve shared it with close friends. They have encouraged me to blog it and after some deliberation I decided I wanted to share it here with you. As a warning, if descriptions of pain, female bodily functions, or the F word offend you, move along, pardner. Enjoy!

On Sunday, November 8, I was in a rotten mood. People kept calling me and texting me and Facebook messaging me to check in, and while I know intentions are always good, when you’re 39+3 days pregnant, you just want to be like “LEAVE ME ALONE, NO, THE BABY IS NOT HERE YET, YOU WILL KNOW WHEN SHE IS.” Also not helpful? People’s “advice” on how to get the baby to come. Guess what? She’ll arrive when she wants to. I slept in until 11 am that day, and then after I had breakfast, I was so exhausted I napped from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Matt and I putzed around the house, and then because I was feeling stir-crazy, I asked if he’d take me to Nordstrom Rack because there was an additional 25% off clearance sale and we had gift cards from Christmas last year. We went to Nordstrom Rack where I bought some random stuff I didn’t really need; a headband, some hair ties, and some new Haviana flip flops. We got home and I was feeling crummy so I headed to bed around 10:30 p.m.  I woke up at 12 a.m. and felt worse, so I wondered if I was hungry and ate three pineapple spears. Pineapple induces labor, you know! I guess in my case I can say it worked.

I was up more than usual to pee that night because the pressure on my bladder was insane. I think I woke up like four times to pee, and I felt restless, unable to sleep well because I was antsy. Little did I know my time was quickly approaching! At 6:00 a.m. I was awakened by strong cramping. I lazily stayed in bed another 15 minutes until I had another painful cramp. I decided to get up to use the bathroom and once I sat up I immediately felt a gush, then another one, then another one. I cautiously debated – was this pee or did my water break? Pregnant women don’t always have the best bladder control. I shifted in bed a bit and decided this was not pee, and softly said to my sleeping husband, “Guess what Matthew? We’re having a baby.”

I headed into the bathroom where I confirmed it was definitely not pee, and then I got into the shower. I shaved my legs (and noted that one of my legs was shaking uncontrollably), took a nice time exfoliating my face, and let the hot water massage my back. When I got out of the shower I decided on wearing my hair in pigtail braids, and I remember asking Matt if I had time to remove my nail polish (I wasn’t happy with the manicure I had given myself a few days earlier. Ha!). He said probably not and I went to get dressed. I had my “last meal” of Special K Red Berries (my fav cereal!)and a protein drink (you can’t eat during labor just in case you need an emergency C-Section). About an hour after my water started to break, we got into the car and headed to the hospital. We had a garbage bag and old towel set down in the seat. Matt dropped me off in front and I stood and waited at the check in desk, feeling remarkably calm and excited. Even the volunteers were like “You’re so calm!”  Matt brought in the suitcases and we headed up to Labor and Delivery.

I got into my ugly green gown and got into bed. The nurse, Michelle, was a lovely woman from Pittsburgh. They took my blood pressures and no big surprise, they were running high (148/90). Because I was Group B Strep Positive, I knew I would need two four hour sets of antibiotics intravenously before delivery, so my IV was set up and the fluids started going. I don’t really mind needles, so getting the IV placed was honestly no big deal. The worst part was having to shepherd the damn IV stand to the bathroom each time I needed to pee. I asked the nurse when I’d get checked for progress, and she said because my water had broken, they try and refrain from checking because bacteria can be introduced to the womb. My doctor instructed that they start me on Pitocin to help me dilate.  Matt made the calls to the family to let them know to be on their way because hook or by crook, Holly was coming!

The first four hours of Pitocin were a breeze. I was having contractions about 10 minutes apart, and while they weren’t comfortable, I could breathe through them. Michelle told me that I’d know when true labor begun because the contractions would become much more uncomfortable. All of a sudden my contractions felt like they went from bearable to “Holy fuck what the fuck is that pain in my body?!”, and I was asking Matt to squeeze my hand to help me count through them.  I remember our nurse coming in, seeing Matt and I together and saying, “Oh yes, labor has begun.” I swigged one more small cranberry juice (Matt was leery but consented to me doing it), and I asked if he’d let me cheat and eat something (he said no). At this point I asked for the epidural and they turned off the Pitocin until it was placed. My birth plan all along had basically been one word: drugs. I’m an advocate of better living through chemistry, and while I respect those who choose to have an un-medicated birth, that was not my desire at all. The anesthesiologist came in about 20 minutes later and I remember them asking Matt to come sit in front of me, because several husbands had recently passed out from seeing the needle placed in the spine. I sat on the edge of the bed, had numbing agent put in my spine, felt gentle pressure and fiddling, and that was it. I think I was so relieved the Pitocin was turned off that a snake could have sunk its fangs into my cheek and I would have been like, “Ok, cool, that doesn’t hurt.”

The epidural took about 15 minutes to kick in, and while initially I had some anxiety that I wouldn’t be able to feel my legs, I was quite delighted when a warm, toasty sensation spread through my lower body. I could still very much wiggle my toes and feet. They placed a catheter in me, which again, was not enjoyable, but fine, and then they turned the Pitocin back on and left the room so Matt and I could relax. We dimmed the lights and turned on the Smoke Fairies, some very calming folk music. I remember saying several times that an epidural was a joyous thing.  I honestly had the relaxed sensation of sitting by a fireplace loving the cozy feelings in my lower body. I tried to sleep but couldn’t with all of the hospital noises, so I just vegged out in my bed, chatting with Matt and the nurses. I had no desire at all to be on my cell phone or social media and was quite enjoying my little cocoon of solitude.

Cozy and toasty and drugged up in the hospital bed.

Cozy and toasty and drugged up in the hospital bed.

At about 3:00 p.m. they checked my progress (I was shocked how fast the day was going), and my cervix had dilated to a 5.  They pumped up the Pitocin, and I remember pressing my “quick hit” of pain relief on the epidural a few more times as the contractions grew closer and closer together. The weird thing about contractions on the epidural is at this point they were more pressure than pain. I had some nausea, so I was given Zofran, which is an anti-emetic that they give to chemotherapy patients.

Around 7:00 p.m., my parents arrived. I remember asking them to get me a baked potato when they came back later in the night to meet Holly, because at this point after 14 hours of labor with no food or drink, I was damn hungry, and some carbs with butter sounded AMAZING! The good doctor came in, juiced up my epidural again, and five minutes later; I felt intense nausea and threw up three times all over myself and my hospital gown. I remember feeling instant relief and then thinking, wow, this must be some bad nausea since I’m on prescription anti-nausea med and still upchucked! Now I remember that nausea means labor is very close, since that’s the transitional phase of labor. My parents decided to head out at this point and they went back to our house, where my Dad apparently slept on our couch and my mom anxiously tried to watch TV.

At 8:00 I was fully dilated and it was time to push! I got lucky because my night nurse was Jami, an awesome chick I had met at one of my non-stress tests and really liked. Jami showed me how to count through the contractions – one deep breath in, then hold it for a count of 10, and do that three times.  I remember at that point I was feeling really tired and hungry, and pissed that I had to essentially do the most physical thing I’d ever done with no fuel in my body (even harder than walking 60 miles in one weekend!). I begged Matt to sneak me some sips of his Coke in-between pushing and the nurse leaving the room, and he did, bless his heart.  After about an hour of pushing, I was in a lot of pain again, and they asked the anesthesiologist to come back and juice up my epidural again. I had started to feel a sharp sensation in my left butt cheek and lower leg, so I was paranoid it was wearing off – which apparently cannot happen, just labor pain becomes more severe so you need a higher dose of drugs.

I pushed for another hour and at this point the fatigue was really starting to wear me down. According to Matt, I was very calm through out my labor, and only let out a good “Fuck!” once. I remember feeling very lazy and wanting to cut down the number of pushes per contraction to two instead of three, and almost proposed it to the nurse, but I knew that might delay my progress. The nurse brought over a mirror so I could see Holly’s head, and that was really cool to know she was right there!

After two hours of pushing, the doctor was called in, and they started bringing in a table with tools on it. I knew I had to be getting close. At this point it was 11 p.m., and I was starting to get really grumpy and irritated that my 6:00 a.m. start of labor was still not over. The contractions were about every minute now, and while the Doctor chatted with the nurse about Dancing with the Stars, I kept breathing through the contractions and pushing. I remember feeling slightly annoyed that, HELLO, I WAS TRYING TO HAVE A BABY, and you’re talking about normal life stuff?! Of course now this just goes to show how delivering a baby is just another day’s work for doctors, because they’re chillin’ while women are squeezing watermelons out of lemons in their faces. It was around two hours and 30 minutes of pushing that I told the doctor I wanted a C-Section because I couldn’t do it anymore. Her response? “You’re the only one who can do it, because I can’t push the baby back up inside of you!” I accepted this fate and wearily continued pushing.

I knew at this point that it was do or die (no, not literally) and I needed to muster up every ounce of strength I had in my exhausted body to get this baby out. My forehead was covered in sweat, and I could feel my legs trembling with each push. I would bear down and the last three seconds of a push, I tried to imagine my legs pushing the stirrups off the bed as hard as I could. I was groaning pretty heavily at this point and had reached an ultimate focus and concentration. Finally, I felt the baby’s head push through me, lower, and as the doctor, Jami and Matt cheered me on and encouraged me, I heard the doctor say excitedly “That’s it! That’s it! That’s it! KEEP GOING!”

I pushed with all my might, quite sure that I would push off the lower half of my body, and in one beautiful, miraculous instant, I felt Holly slide out. “Look down!”, the doctor excitedly shouted, and then I saw my wrinkled, cheesy, tiny baby being held up towards me – a miracle of an infant that listened to my heart beat for nine long months.

AlyssaHollyBirth

They pulled my gown down, placed her on my chest, and I burst into tears, exclaiming that she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. People had told me there would be no feeling like seeing and meeting your baby for the first time, and they were right. Even though I had never seen her, I felt like I knew her. Holly suckled at my breast for a few moments and then as the nurse listened to her heart, they whisked her away to the warmer. The pediatrician and NICU staff on call rushed in, and all of a sudden, she had an oxygen mask on, and a tube placed down her lungs to clear her throat. I was being stitched internally and suddenly I had no interest in anything going on with me – I only wanted to make sure my baby was ok. After about ten agonizing minutes, Holly’s heartbeat stabilized and she was breathing normally, back to her rosy pink color. The doctors think the long labor, epidural, and three hours of pushing shell-shocked her in the womb, and when she came out to bright lights and noises, she essentially passed out.

I had also requested to see my placenta, and as expected, I was horrified at how big and nasty it was, but also impressed that my body grew that thing that grew my baby. (We have a picture of it for the curious souls. I left it out of here as a courtesy. You’re welcome.)

After all this, Matt and I got to spend a blissful hour with our new baby, holding her, loving her, and being amazed that two people created such an innocent, miraculous, beautiful little being. Happy birthday, Holly!