So I can't promise this won't turn out to be a mom blog :) I fully intend it to be more about our lives, but right now, this new little girl is our life! I have a few posts I'll be sharing in the next few weeks, but then I promise it won't always be about baby :)
I have been anxious to write about labor and delivery since being in the hospital! Mostly because I don't think I ever read anything about it, other than books, but I wish I had seen something more personal, more hopeful. This will be long so prepare yourself... Let's start from the beginning....
As I have mentioned before, out sweet girl was due during the worst possible time of the year in regards to both of our jobs. More specifically, she was due during the worst week for Derrick's job... RA Training. There is a camp they all go to for 2 nights during the first week of training. I had previously not wanted Derrick to go since it was past my due date and I didn't think he would have cell service, but since I wasn't making a ton of progress and it looked like Vera was staying put and it was really important to him, we decided to let him go. I would stay at my parent's house for those 2 nights. The morning he was getting ready to leave, I told him I'd go into labor as soon as he got settled into camp. As I was packing my clothes for my parent's house, I got a little teary, thinking I wouldn't be coming back to our house without a baby. But when you're 10 months pregnant, those tears don't mean much since anything can make you cry. Derrick made it to camp and got settled, and had great cell service. I had been out with my mom for some of the day and was getting home to eat dinner. During dinner, I felt something that got my attention. I made note of the time, but also tried to brush it off since at 10 months prego, anything makes you think it's time. However, exactly 5 minutes later I felt it again. I started to get nervous and during the 2nd one, my mom noticed. I continued to eat dinner and keep note of the time. Every 5-8 minutes, I was feeling contractions. The books say if you drink water, change positions, walk, etc. that they mat stop and they are false. I did all of the above... for nearly 2 hours before I called Derrick. I wanted him to know what was going on just in case they didn't stop, but I wasn't ready to be hospital bound yet. 3 hours in, I decided it was time to go. By this point, it was 9pm. They hadn't stopped and were getting worse. They were still about 5 minutes apart, lasting 30-45 seconds but they were taking my breath and getting stronger. Derrick met (aka drove like a maniac I think) from Cleveland to Gainesville to meet my mom and I there. My poor mom was excited but it also wasn't the best timing for them! My little brother had his first day of 10th grade the following morning, so she took me to the hospital and dad handled the first day of school :) The whole way to the hospital and really for the 3 hours prior, I kept second guessing it. I had envisioned Father of the Bride scenarios for weeks, where I went to the hospital multiple times and it be false labor. I really didn't want that to happen. And if it was false labor, I was getting concerned about what real labor may be like! I called my sister to let her know and Derrick called his family and everyone insisted on coming. Talk about pressure! I was really convinced they would send me home since everyone was coming!
When we first arrived, they put you in a small little room to monitor the contractions and make sure you are in labor. When I got there and admitted, around 10ish, I was around 1 cm. by 12pm, I was at 2.5 cm. It was really happening. I was nervous and excited. I was just so ready to be done being pregnant! They admitted us to labor and delivery and the show got started. Let me back up for one minute and just comment on the fact that everyone wants to give you so much information as soon as you change into a hospital gown. I had administrative people coming in and wanting me to sign consents and tell me tons of important information... all during contractions. I could not focus on anything they were saying! It was amusing but also frustrating. I'm signing consents about all the things that could go wrong while not hearing anything they are saying. That didn't stop the entire hospital stay. You'd just think there was a more appropriate time to discuss those things! Ok.. back to labor and delivery... In my head, I wanted a natural birth. I did not want an epidural, but I was open to it if I needed it but I really didn't want it. We had taken childbirth classes and had breathing patterns ready to go. I was planning on laboring in the jacuzzi as long as I could handle it, trying the birthing ball, anything to help with the pain and not have to use medication. For me, if medication was needed, it was epidural or nothing. I was not okay with narcotics. As soon as we got moved to the room and they checked on Vera, I asked to get in the jacuzzi. You're allowed to be in for 30 minutes and then you have to get out for the baby to be monitored for 10. I was planning on doing this for a while. After the first 30 minutes, the contractions were coming much quicker and much stronger. It was a struggle just to get out of the jacuzzi. Derrick helped me back to the bed and I found myself in a dilemma. I wanted to do the jacuzzi again but I was scared at how fast it had progressed me. I knew I couldn't handle the pain without getting back in but I was scared of what the pain would be like after another 30 minutes in there. At some point during this time, I started to get a little upset. I was hurting and I didn't know what my next step needed to be but I knew that the idea of an epidural was creeping in. I held out for a bit longer and couldn't take it anymore. After deliberating with Derrick, I asked for the epidural. I was sad that things weren't going as planned, but I was only almost to 4 cm and I knew I couldn't do 6 more cm without something. The anesthesiologist got there pretty fast and boy, was I glad to see her! By this point, it was only getting worse. Derrick was helping me breathe through the contractions and when I had to hunch over to get the epidural, it was like the contractions got even worse. Derrick was amazing in helping me get through that. He was making me breathe like we had learned, and the nurse and anesthesiologist even made comments about how they found themselves doing the breathing patterns too! He was a good coach :) The first epidural attempt didn't go in, so it took a little longer but the relief was pretty instant when it was in. I was so scared of the idea of an epidural, even in the moments of wanting it desperately, but at the same time, I needed relief. Once that happened, things calmed down drastically. I was stuck in the bed at this point, but I didn't care. Everyone was able to get some sleep. I didn't get a ton because I was so anxious, but it became much more relaxed! The epidural happened around 3am, so I made it 9 hours without anything. I'm proud of that fact :) At this point, labor began to slow down. I didn't know epidurals did that, but apparently they do. We sat there for the next 12ish hours, slowly making progress. Around 3:30 or so, I was fully dilated but they have this process of letting you labor down (aka, letting the baby drop). We sat there until about 5pm and then it was push time. I got emotional again, anticipating everything that was about to happen. I was scared and excited. For the next 3 hours, I pushed as hard as I possibly could. I tried numerous positions trying to get our baby out. I was exhausted but so wanted her out. After about 2 hours, things weren't progressing. Her head wouldn't move past my pelvis. They weren't comfortable using a vacuum or forceps since she wasn't even low enough for that. At this point, the nurse staff changed and we were back with the nurse we had when I was admitted. She was absolutely fabulous! We actually went to college together but didn't really know one another. Words can't express how thankful I am for her. She came in and was ready to do whatever it took to help me get this baby out! The last hour is when things got most intense. I was working so hard and giving it everything I had. She was moving down some but she was still stuck above the pelvis. I was on hands and knees, using the squatting bar, and a few other things. The one thing that was most motivational was the mirror. I had previously turned this down because who really wants to see that? I definitely didn't, but my nurse told me it was the only thing that got her son out. I gave in and told them to put it up. I have to say it was the best decision. To not get totally graphic, it wasn't the nasty scene I thought it was going to be and seeing Vera's little head only made me want to push more.However, it just wasn't happening. After another hour, they called the midwife and doctor back in to check and it was the same story... she still wasn't low enough to use anything to assist. The doctor began to explain that they could give me a little more time if we wanted it, but that we were putting ourselves at risk for an emergency c-section situation. I definitely didn't want to get either of us in an emergency situation. At this point, my world was slowly crashing. I had prepared myself for a lot of scenarios during labor and delivery but I had NEVER prepared for being fully dilated, pushing for 3 hours, and still requiring a c-section. I was so upset but Derrick and I had no choice. This baby was not coming out on her own and risking an emergency scenario was not worth 30 more minutes of pushing. I was pretty upset and got myself worked up over it. I remember my nurse being so encouraging and assuring me that it just wasn't God's plan for her come any other way. I can't believe I even remember her words but they really stuck out in those moments. I was being prepped to head back to the OR and was still upset. Planner me just couldn't come to terms with what was going down. I remember saying to the nurses, "I'm so excited to meet her, but she kinda sucks". Haha... sorry Vera :) The nurses seemed to appreciate my sense of humor.
In the OR, I was getting nervous. I couldn't breathe because I had gotten myself so upset and the combo of lying flat on my back was not helping. That's just cause I was 10 months pregnant though. No one can breathe like that. They gave me oxygen and were numbing me and I wasn't liking it. I asked to sit up but it was too late. I could feel myself getting really claustrophobic but there was no solution. The anesthesiologist could tell I wasn't handling it well and was trying to help me get a deep breath but I was struggling. I was lying there just praying that I could get it together. At that point, Derrick came in, scrubs and all :) I was happy to see him and get the show on the road. I thought I was still being prepped and I could feel the doctors pushing and tugging, although it wasn't painful at all, and before I knew it they were telling Derrick he could stand up and watch. She was finally here :) All the nurses immediately started talking about the size of her big head and how no wonder she wouldn't come out. My only thought was, "Why is she not crying?" I immediately asked that and the responses was, "oh, she will in a minute". In the next few seconds I heard those sweet cries and watched as they moved her over to start wiping her down and examining her. I was in awe. I was watching her and watching Derrick. I remember Derrick mouthing to me over and over "She's so beautiful". It was such a sweet moment. I wasn't worried about not being able to breathe anymore and was totally focused on our sweet girl. Then suddenly, I realized I hadn't counted her fingers and toes. From my position on the table, I began frantically counting and was able to count them all :) I have no idea why this occurred to me or why it was so crucial, as it wouldn't have mattered, but I needed to account for them all :) I have no idea how long all of this took, but I know her 9 pounds got quite the reaction from everyone in the room. Before I knew it, they were taking her out and Derrick was going with her. They immediately gave me something to help calm me down and apparently I fell asleep. Next thing I know, I'm waking up in the recovery room and see Derrick holding her. Another sweet moment. She breastfed (which is supposed to be a tender moment and I really don't remember it... again, sorry Vera :)) They bathed her, which I definitely remember. She wasn't a fan. But honestly, this whole hour is really a blur. A lot of it I don't remember and have pieced together since being back home. The absolute worst part of the entire process came at this point. Apparently, the nurses have to press on you abdomen to check on your uterus and to help expel anything still in there. This was the most painful thing I encountered all day. She had to do it every 15 minutes for that hour and it was just terrible. I was just so sore already and it hurt so bad. But that hour went fast.
The next few days in the hospital were so special. We had a lot of visitors but we also had a lot of time of just me and Derrick. He has been so great through everything, which I will blog about later. Those days mostly consisted of pain meds, sleep, and holding our girl. Our entire relationship as husband and wife changed, literally overnight. I have always been pretty modest in terms of gross stuff, and that's definitely out the window! I needed help in and out of the shower and changing clothes the first couple of times. The criteria after a c-section to be discharged it to be able to pass gas. That's romantic :) We had romantic walks down the halls to help get things going. So much for being modest!
While absolutely nothing went as planned, we could not have asked for a
better experience. We talk about it all the time. The doctors and
nurses, the stay, everything was so fabulous. Labor was not what I
thought it would be at all. I envisioned terrible, screaming, movie-like
scenes. While I was definitely in pain and the pressure I felt when it
was push time was painful (even with an epidural), it was not nearly as
bad as I thought. Labor and delivery no longer scares me. I can do that
part again, and I don't think it's cause I've already forgotten! Being pregnant was way harder for me! And the pushing on my
stomach post c-section, I could do without :) I just want other women to know that. Granted,
I can't comment on what the final pushes may feel like since I couldn't
get there, but everything else was seriously not that bad. Yes, it
involved some pain but for me, it was tolerable and when it wasn't
anymore, the epidural did it's job. Again, while nothing went as planned, on August 7th, at exactly 9pm, Vera joined this world, weighing in at 9 pounds even and 20.5" inches long with a 15" head :) Vera is here and healthy and that's all that really matters :)
EDIT: I completely forgot to comment on who was in the labor room. I'm only editing this because it's for me to remember :) Throughout the 25 hours (OMG!), Derrick's parents were in there, his sister, my mom and sister, and my dad came in to say hello right as it was about to be push time. However, they were pretty in and out and when I started getting upset they moved to the waiting room and held out there :) Anyways, my mom had planned to be in the labor room with us to watch Vera's arrival. I had also told my sister she was welcome to stay if she wanted to, but she had no interest. On the actual day, she did decide to stay. I am so thankful for everyone who was in that room. It really did take all of them. There was no standing in the shadows. For the majority of the time, if not all of it (some of it is a blur), Derrick was holding one leg and my mom was holding the other while I forced my sister to keep my handheld fan on my face. That is one thing for other moms to take note of! I was absolutely burning up the entire time. My mom and husband are both pretty hot natured and they were so bundled up the majority of the time! I think mom finally took her jacket off around the 1 hour mark of pushing. Ha... so anyone in that room should take layers! The fan was the best idea I had. I remember having to tell Leslie multiple times that she wasn't holding it right :) I also want to comment on the fact (and to have it as proof) that Derrick thanked me for being so nice during labor. ha... I think we both expected a lot different out of me. I only remember having to tell him to quit being so loud at one point. I don't even remember what it was over though. The only other thing I remember doing was telling my sister to quit counting so loud for the pushing and to hold the fan on me more :) And that's all I wanted to add!