Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mom: The Birth

Well, she finally came!  Thank you all for your prayers and kind words.  She is absolutely AMAZING.  I cannot imagine our life without her now that she is a part of it.  And truly, I forgot how semi-miserable (okay, let's face it -- pregnancy is not my favorite thing) the previous nine months were as soon as they put her in my arms.

So I went into labor around 9 p.m. on March 18.  Actually that entire weekend, I had a feeling she was coming soon because there were a lot of indicators.  Some of them are gross so I won't share them, but suffice it to say, I was getting my hopes up.  So when I laid down at 9 and felt the first uncomfortable contraction, I tried not to get too excited.  I laid there for about thirty minutes, and the contractions didn't stop.  So I decided to wake up Chris, and he whipped out the contraction timer app that he had downloaded onto his iPhone.  FYI for those of you who don't know, just like everything else, there are some awesome pregnancy and baby apps.  We used the Full Term app as our contraction timer.  Anyway, we timed them for an hour.  They were coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting about 60-75 seconds.  They didn't go away and they got more uncomfortable.  By 10:30, I was having to really breathe through them so I called the hospital.  I spoke to the on-call doctor who said that I could either come in and be monitored or start drinking water and see if they stopped (that's supposed to calm down false labor).  I knew I wasn't dehydrated because I had been drinking 12 glasses of water every day since The Great Fall.  So I told her we were coming in.

Yeah that's not gonna help.
 And yes, I then took a shower.  I didn't know when my next shower would be, plus, in case this was the real thing, I wanted to look cute for the pictures.  At this point, I still was not sure this was the real thing but I was hopeful.  Moving around didn't stop the contractions and I had to stop, breathe and concentrate every time I had one.  After I finished getting dressed (I did not curl my hair; I opted for the straightener to save time), Chris put Oscar up and we left the house.  It was a little after midnight.  We got to the hospital at 12:30.  On the way, I had my first "Um this really hurts and is not just uncomfortable" contraction.

After registration, they took us to a labor and delivery room.  I was put on the monitor, and the contractions were definitely painful.  And unless you have ever had one, there is no frame of reference for one.  They start as period cramps.  They are in the lower abdomen.  And then they start to HURT.  And there really isn't any way to describe the pain.  So I was breathing through them while they monitored how Susan was handling the contractions.  Then the nurse checked me and I was 2 cm! TWO CM!? COME ON.  I just knew I had to be further along than that.  I had been one cm about three days before, but still.  They made me walk around for an hour, so Chris and I walked the halls of the labor and delivery floor.  Me in my hospital gown, pausing and swaying and holding onto Chris every three minutes as the contractions got more painful.  An hour later we were back in the room.  By this time it was 3 am   Chris went to get some water, and I had a contraction and then felt this trickle run down my leg.  I knew I had either just peed myself or my water was breaking, so I buzzed the nurse.  The nurse and doctor came to check on me.  The doctor checked me again and said I was now dilated to 4 cm!  I was officially in labor!  She broke my water the rest of the way, and I requested my epidural.  I was hoping to wait until 5 cm, but no way.  The contractions were really painful at this point and I was not waiting any longer.  HA - little did I know I was going to be waiting another hour.

We called our parents and told them the news that I was officially in labor.  We decided a while ago not to call them until we knew I was staying because I didn't want anyone to make a trip for a false alarm.  After the doctor officially declared me to be in labor, they had to do a bunch of stuff before I could get my epidural.  I had to get hooked up to a drip, blood was drawn and then there was a lot of waiting.  And lying in a bed, writhing in pain every three minutes is not fun.

Now, I want to take a second to say something about the pro-epidural v. anti-epidural debate.  There is a saying that there are no awards given to those women who give birth naturally, aka without an epidural.  WELL THERE SHOULD BE.  An epidural was definitely the right choice for me and I pray that I am able to have one with my second child.  But a serious "YOU GO GIRL" to all women who have done it without one.  I really admire you.  Do I think it's a little foolish?  Sure.  Because let me tell you, after I got mine, I was a different person!  I was able to sleep and rest.  I could still feel the pressure of the contraction, but there was zero pain.  It was AWESOME.  So congrats to those of you who did it without, but since I ended up pushing for 3.5 hours and was in labor for 19, I am so thankful I had one.

They have trophies for 21-year-old boys who play football,
but not for moms who do this au naturel.
After the epidural, my parents arrived and came to visit for a little bit.  I was really in good shape.  The doctor came to check me again and I was still only 4 cm!  Ugh.  So they decided to start me on the lowest dose of pitocin to get things going.  About an hour later, they upped it a little.  Then, thirty minutes later, at 10 a.m. I was fully dilated.  And I could also kind of feel her.  But I didn't feel the urge to push, and my nurse could tell.

SIDE BAR - My nurse was amazing.  She encouraged me the entire time and made the entire long day a lot better.  Since I didn't feel the urge to push, they decided to let the contractions move her down a little bit on their own.  So at noon, she came back and said we were going to start pushing at 12:30 p.m.  When she left, Chris and I tried to predict when Susan would be born.  Both of us guessed around 12:45 p.m.  HA - I wish.

Right on schedule, I started pushing at 12:30.  Three hours and 14 minutes later, Susan Louise Cook finally came out, cord around her neck and that right hand right next to her head (that is what made it so hard to get her out).  Now initially, I didn't want to see anything and I didn't want Chris to look either.  But since he was holding my leg, he really couldn't help but look.  And hearing him encourage me during the pushes and telling me what he could see really did help.  And then, the nurse brought in a mirror to help me see what I was actually pushing.  And while it was all kinds of nasty (sorry, but seeing your HooHa like that is not beautiful), it did help me become a much more effective pusher.

In the end, when I was close, Dr. Avery came in.  She said I would have to have an episiotomy.  I won't go into great detail as to what that is, exactly (those of you who don't know can look it up).  Basically, she had to cut a little to expand my opening due to what turned out to be Susan's hand slowing things down.  Thanks to the epidural, I didn't feel it.  When her head came out, I had to stop pushing so they could clear out all the gunk and unwrap the cord around her neck.  One more push and she was out!  Finally!  And she cried immediately.  My first thought was how beautiful she was and then how big she was!  Chris cut the cord and then I felt another contraction, and delivered the placenta.  It was over! They placed her on my chest and started cleaning her up.  Chris held my hand and we laughed and cried.  I know its cheesy but it was a beautiful moment.  Then they took her over to the baby section of the room to clean her up, and the doctor began stitching me up.  Chris stayed with Susan and took pictures.  When they announced her weight, a healthy 8 pounds 14.2 oz (only two ounces shy of 9 pounds), everyone was impressed.

8 pounds, 14.2 ounces!

About thirty minutes later, we let our parents in to meet her.  They were all worried about me (pushing for nearly 3.5 hours is a pretty amazing accomplishment) but I assured them I was fine.  And I will brag a little here - NO HEMORRHOIDS!  I just knew I was going to get them after all that pushing.  Something like 75 percent of pregnant women get them.  Some get them during pregnancy but most get them as a result of pushing.  Well, I didn't!  I am pretty proud of that accomplishment.

Anyway, they all marveled at Susan while I held her and the nurse took a picture of us.  About an hour later, we were wheeled to the post-partum room.  And that was it.  That was how Susan Louise Cook came into this world.  I had planned to blog a little about these first few weeks and I will later this week.  But I needed to share my version of the birth before I did.  As a final note, I'll add that Chris was an amazing birth coach, partner, friend and husband throughout the entire 19 hours.


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