Briar’s Birth

Well, here it goes. Since my beautiful baby girl is now over 6 weeks old I figured I better get her birth story documented before I forget about it. (And in case you are curious, which I’m sure you aren’t, but I am able to blog while holding Briar in the Moby wrap and rocking back and forth to keep her soothed. This momma of a newborn thing, I’m getting it down. (Knocking on wood.))

**Forewarning, this post is probably TMI for some of you. Feel free to click that little red x and spare yourself the details.

Briar was due on December 25, Christmas Day. From the very beginning I hoped that she wouldn’t actually arrive on that day. It would have been cool and all if she was our first, but we knew that Odette’s world was about to be rocked in a big way and we really wanted to give her a special Christmas. Because in our family Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birthday, there wasn’t the possibility of faking an early or late Christmas.

When I was around 32 weeks I asked my OB if she would consider inducing on December 27 if Briar hasn’t made her appearance for then. We wanted the tax deduction were anxious to meet her before the new year. She agreed that that was probably possible but added that it depended in my cervix. Yeah yeah. In my eyes that meant a yes. Then as the days and weeks went on, I got bigger and bigger and more and more uncomfortable. I was sleeping less, irritable, not at all sure I would make it past my due date and remain sane.

This is one of the last pictures that includes my belly. I think they were taken about 32 weeks.

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By the time I went for my 36 week checkup I was asking if I could be induced on December 20. My appointment was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I was really dragging. I even joked some at work that I didn’t know if I’d make it till Thanksgiving. Between the excitement of my students, my exhaustion, and the preparations for Christmas that I wanted started early, I was feeling majorly over it. I could tell that over the weekend Briar had dropped and it almost felt as if she was going to fall out. In my delirious state I had decided that I had undiagnosed gestational diabetes and that our baby girl was already 8 pounds. At my appointment I asked the doctor about being induced even earlier and got the response about my cervix. She then asked if I wanted her to check my progression while she was doing the strep test. Because I felt like things were moving along I asked her to check. And wow was that uncomfortable. After my yelping was over she reported that I was 1 cm dilated and 80% effaced. She said it so fast that I had to ask her to repeat it since I knew my mom would grill me about it. I then asked what it meant. I laugh now thinking about her saying that it meant I could go into labor tomorrow or could stay that way forever. She did add that my cervix was up to my tonsils. Thanks for that visualization doc. Wow. I was pretty overwhelmed. We were going to have our baby before Christmas. Wow. Jeff was headed back to work and told him that I was going to go to Target to pick up some things that I would need for Christmas and for the delivery. I then called my mom and told her that she needed to go buy a Baby’s First Christmas ornament because baby girl would for sure be here to celebrate with us. I spent over 2 hours at that store buying the many things left in my list. Socks, nursing tanks, maxi pads, etc. that no fun stuff that I learned about on Pinterest. I bought the few things I needed for Odette’s Christmas gift and got an outfit for Briar.

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Little did I know that that would be my last solo trip to Target for months. Still waiting on that bit of mommy heaven actually.

I barely made it through work Wednesday and then we immediately loaded up the car and headed to our parents’ for the holiday. We were about an hour away when I became comfortable and chalked it up to being hungry started having contractions but didn’t recognize that was what it was. I got up on Thanksgiving and watched the parade sipping my decaf coffee. Then we headed to Thanksgiving with my side of the family.

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Our last pictures as a family of three.

Afterwards we were supposed to go to Jeff’s family’s house for round 2, but I just could not make it. I asked him to drop me off so that I could nap. I was feeling more and more irritable and exhausted. We were planning to head back to Indy that night but I didn’t feel up to sitting the car for 2+ hours. We got up Friday and went out to breakfast with my mom and I was feeling much better. I did tell Jeff though that as soon as we get home he needed to put the carseat bases in the cars. I napped while he took care of that and then we decorated our gingerbread house. I was determined to squeeze in as much as possible.

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We then ran out to pick up a few things, slippers for me to wear in the hospital and matching pjs for the girls. That was the least amount of Black Friday shopping that I’ve ever done. We came home and had hot cocoa by the fire and watched a Christmas movie.

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After sleeping well most of the night I woke up on Saturday, November 30 feeling different. I could tell that Briar had dropped and I was having to pee every 20 minutes. We had a friend coming over to finally wire Briar’s room for an overhead light and I asked Jeff to bring up the Christmas decorations for me to put out.

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I went about it slow and steady, and between sparkle candles and nativity sets (needing a little super glue), I found myself googling mucus plug. It seemed that I was in the process of slowly losing mine, but everything I read said that labor could still be weeks away. By noon the light was in and decorations were done. There was a point when I said to Jeff that I had just dusted the entire house and maybe that and decorating was my nesting. I ate lunch and took a nap. I still have no idea how I was able to actually sleep, but I did. Thankfully. I awoke to more tell tell signs that yes my mucus plug was out. After talking with Jeff, my mom, google, and child birth booklet, I decided I should probably call the doctor. Before I would call though I insisted that we place our diaper order on Amazon, wrap our Angel Tree gifts for church, and, oh yeah, pack our bags. The order was placed and gifts wrapped before I started bleeding. I became worried and again turned to google, Jeff, a friend, and my mom. All wanted me to call the doctor but I was determined that a little bloody show could wait and I had to pack my bag. I was mid packing however when I started to bleed more and finally worked up the courage to call the doctor. She told me that everything I was experiencing was totally normal for 36 weeks. I called my mom and told her that there wouldn’t be a baby tonight after all.

I took a screen shot of the doctor returning my call to document the times.

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As the evening went on, the bleeding became heavier and I started having “cramps”. For a while I thought I might have a stomach bug or food poisoning. I texted my friend and asked if she was available to watch Odette that night should we need it. It was ling before I realized that these were contractions and not cramps. I downloaded a contraction timer app and started timing them. I called the (on call, not mine) doctor again and explained that the bleeding was heavier and I was having contractions. I asked her how painful contractions would be and she asked if I took the class and watched the video. Did I see how uncomfortable those women were? It would be like that. Ok, not labor good. I kind of doubted her but trusted her at the same time. She did say that I was welcome to go to hospital if I wanted to. I tried to go about business as usual, but remember that at one point I jumped up from the dinner table in pain. After a few laps around the house I was fine and my “false labor” contraction was over. I was still on alert though that maybe this was the real deal. Remembering that everyone says to eat before going to the hospital I did snatch the last piece of Tombstone pizza before Odette could. After dinner I had another startling contraction and told Jeff that he needed to get Odette’s bag packed and ask our friend to come get her. She was not doing well watching me jump up and pace the house deep breathing. I continued timing my contractions and thought that they were pretty far apart, but I later learned that what I thought was a long contraction was actually many short ones very close together. Rookie mistake. Our friends came and while talking to them I mentioned I was having a contraction right then. She felt my stomach and said it would probably be harder if so. Once Odette was gone, Jeff brought our bags down and loaded the car. It wasn’t long at all after that I was contracting harder and faster and called the doctor to say we were headed to the hospital.

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I was sure that I would be sent home and was already feeling silly for shipping Odette off. I called my mom in the car to tell her we were on our way but had to stop mid sentence and hand the phone off to Jeff. That’s when it sunk in. I remembered from class that the second stage of labor means that you are no longer able to be social. Jeff was hilarious during this time. He had been freaking out all day as I told him about what was happening with my body, and my lack of freaking out made him even more crazy. I insisted he park the car in the lot and we walk in like normal. We went in the mothers in labor door and made our way up the elevator where we were greeted by a nice woman who took us to the triage room. Once there, I asked to use the restroom for the billionth time that day. The labor and delivery nurse came in during this time. They started asking for insurance and doctor information from us since my file hadn’t been sent over yet because I was just over 36 weeks. Once I was changed into the gown it was time to be checked. I told the nurse that I was 1 cm and 80% on Tuesday, just 4 days earlier, and her comment was for me to not be mad at her if I still was just 1 cm. She was pretty short with us until she checked me. Joke was in her. Suddenly she became sweet, and with a big grin hugged me and said that I was going to have a baby that night.

I was 4-5 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I told her that I thought for sure I was going to be sent home and she said she did too. Haha. They quickly brought in a different bed for me to move to and then I was wheeled into my room. She asked how much pain I was in on a scale of 1-10 and I said a 7. I did say yes when asked if I wanted an epidural. She said that I would need a bag of fluid first so she would start that ASAP. Jeff remembered to tell her that I needed a pediatric needle since I wasn’t really able to talk but was instead doing my invented gritted teeth huffing to work through the contractions. The nurse kind of snarkly said she would use as small as she could, and that’s when I worried about how this would go. The IV went in with no problem and the monitors all showed that baby girl was doing well. My contractions were every couple of minutes but I was able to breath through them and squeeze Jeff’s hand. Because my strep test was just days before and Thanksgiving was in there, the results of it weren’t back yet. I was going to need an antibiotic as a preventive measure. She said that it would burn while going in but I mistakenly doubted her. Holy cow did that antibiotic hurt! I wanted to claw it out of my hand. As the pain increased Jeff was whispering in my ear that this was just like the marathon. I could put one foot in front of the other and push through it. I was almost there. I didn’t hear most of it but instead was squeezing, breathing and refraining from flailing my arm in pain. The anesthesiologist was called and I was counting down until the fluid bag was drained and I could have some relief. I was reminded by the nurse that each contraction was one closer to the end. By the time the anesthesiologist arrived a little before 9:30 I wanted to beg her to put it in my arm instead. I could handle these contractions, but man did my arm hurt. I thought for a minute about not having the epidural after all, but worried about the pain of pushing and any possible tearing. I am so thankful that the anesthesiologist was awesome. She got my epidural in with no problem and Jeff was back in the room with me. It was just a few minutes before all pain from the contractions was gone. And thankfully the antibiotic was finished too. The nurse made sure I was all situated and propped up a bit on the side and she told me to take a nap to get a little sleep and she would be back in two hours to check on me. I texted family and friends to tell them that I was going to rest and that baby girl would arrive on December 1.

It wasn’t 20 minutes later that she came back in and asked if I felt like I needed to push. I said no, but she said that the baby’s heart rate dropped and she was ready. I couldn’t believe it. Part of me was disappointed because we thought we’d have a Christmas baby, but instead she was going to be born in the month of November. She asked the doctor to be called and updated and told us that because I wasn’t full term yet (37 weeks) the NICU team would have to be present for the delivery. That’s the first time that I started to worry about this early labor and what it could mean for our baby girl. By 11:00 I was pushing. It was surreal. The three of us, nurse, Jeff, and I carried on conversation of all sorts of small talk and every 2-3 minutes she’d tell me a contraction was coming and she’d count down from 10 while I pushed. Then I would take a breath and push again. I wasn’t sure what I was doing and couldn’t really feel much but it wasn’t long before she told us that the baby had hair. I asked for the mirror to be brought over so that I could see the birth but I wasn’t able to see much yet. I do remember the look on Jeff’s face when he caught the first glimpse of her. I laughed mid push. When I saw her head for the first time I had to ask what it was. It seemed too small to be her. At one point during the pushing process I said that we could have 7-8 of these because it was so easy. The nurse got a good laugh out of that. Jeff didn’t. The nurse suggested that I not tell too many friends about my experience because it was quite abnormal and my friends would hate me for loving the entire thing. By this point then nurse and I were pals. She was a great supporter and encourager.

The doctor was there by midnight and admitted that she too didn’t think I was really in labor. After pushing for a while they put me on pitocin because my contractions slowed down to every 4-5 minutes. Throughout this entire time we were all just talking away like it was just another evening making small talk with strangers. It was so different from how I imagined child birth to be. It was calm and quiet with no excitement or drama. So weird. It didn’t seem real to me. A little before 1:00 am the NICU team arrived and the doctor scrubbed up. It was just going to be a few more pushes. I just couldn’t believe it. I felt like I was watching from the outside and not going through it myself. On the final push that got her head out I started laughing. Jeff’s eyes got huge and I couldn’t help it. It was one more gentle push and she was out. It was just a second before she wailed but seemed like years to me. There was our daughter! She was placed on my chest and it was love at first sight. The NICU team left as quickly as they arrived, but not before congratulating us and adding that they’d never seen a delivery like mine. I was the first to laugh.

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My birthing experience was absolutely incredible. It was one of the most beautiful days of my life. It was not at all like I imagined it would be. It was so much better. Although not so good that there will be 7-8 more.

How appropriate for this to be posted today, my 31st birthday.

Sarah

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