Thank you all for the warm wishes on the announcement of Baby H's arrival! We are loving every minute with her and learning so much.
I had hoped to take my 40 week belly shot but I went into labor the day before my due date! And if I'd had my druthers, we would have taken one before leaving for the hospital, but that wasn't quite in the plan. So my very last photo of being big and pregnant was at 38 weeks.
I still can't believe that a week ago I was rocking such a big bump! Anyway, so onto Baby H's birth story.
Three days before my due date I was getting what felt like "real" contractions - pain that started in my lower back and radiated to a cramp in my lower belly. I'd also been losing my mucus plug slowly for about a week at this point, which I hoped was a good sign. After a few hours of these contractions, I went to bed thinking this could be it. And I woke up the next morning well rested and feeling great.
We had a midwife appointment scheduled - just shy of 40 weeks. She asked if I wanted her to strip my membranes, but I declined - it could wait until the next week if nothing happened. I'd lost a pound since my appointment the last week (finally got rid of that water weight in my feet and ankles by drinking a gallon of water a day!), and started having small contractions around noon during that appointment. Before I left the office, they had me schedule an induction for 42 weeks (just in case), and two non-stress tests (just in case).
Over the course of the afternoon my contractions got stronger but totally manageable. A friend came over for lunch, which was a great distraction. Things geared up into greater intensity as the afternoon went on. I tried watching some tv and relaxing. Mr. H and I both thought that these would wear off as they had the night before, so I just hung out and tried to distract myself. As evening came on I tried eating a small dinner and staying relaxed. It wasn't working.
Around 7 p.m. we decided to call our doula, Lauren. We'd been timing the contractions but couldn't find a good pattern. They were anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes apart, but lasting a good minute. Lauren said to relax, take a bath if I could and if I could sleep, even better. I tried a bath, sitting on an exercise ball, and lying down. There was no way I could possibly sleep through these contractions. They were getting more and more intense!
We called Lauren back around 9 p.m. to give her an update. At this point, I was really struggling and if someone had said "Let's go to the hospital," I would have been there in a heartbeat. But our plan had been to labor at home as long as possible. While Mr. H was on the phone with her, Lauren heard me having a contraction and how I was managing it. Since my "moan" through the contraction was really high pitched, Lauren encouraged me to go a lot deeper with my voice to help open me up and manage the pain better.
My contractions were still all over the place so we told Lauren we'd give her an update later on. First babies can take awhile, so we figured we'd have a long road ahead of us!
The contractions got worse and worse. By about 11 p.m. my water had broken. Fortunately I was in the bathroom for this! I think the water breaking was one of the worst pains. We checked the fluid and all looked clear, just tinged with a little blood. I was in so much pain, Mr. H called Lauren and asked her to come over. We also had a good friend come by and pick up our dog - poor pup!
Having the help of a doula was amazing support. I'm a people pleaser, so she could convince me to try positions that I wouldn't do for Mr. H (like hands and knees). She also knew how to hit the right pressure points and keep me focused. Mr. H was an amazing support person through everything, but having someone else support me was a help for him as well.
Friday - Leaving for the Hospital
About 12:30 a.m. - after being in labor for about 12 1/2 hours - I was very clear about my desire to be at the hospital. I was starting to feel what I thought was pressure to push, and I was just ready to be out of the house. Fortunately the hospital was only a 10 minute drive from our house. With how I was feeling it may as well have been an hour - getting into a car was a daunting thought at this point!
We had our bags packed, but everything was up in our bedroom. Mr. H was running around loading the car while Lauren helped me get dressed. I had imagined us calmly going to the hospital, snapping a few pictures as we left. Instead, we were racing around like crazy, I had a bizarre outfit on (large loose tank top, no bra, yoga pants, cardigan), and things felt flustered. Lauren called ahead to the hospital for us so Mr. H could focus on driving. I sat sideways working through urges to push.
After going through the after-hours security measures to get into the hospital (it locks down after 8 p.m.), we made it to the nurse's station. I think they thought I was crazy as I was literally clutching myself to keep the baby in through contractions. I threw my driver's license and insurance card at them and Mr. H took care of those details while they got me into a room. The midwife on call was the one midwife in the practice who we hadn't met yet. Fortunately, she was awesome!
I got into the bed and they checked me - 10 cm and ready to push! My instincts were right when I said that I needed to get to the hospital a.s.a.p. My plan was to avoid an epidural or any intervention, and at this point even if I had wanted drugs (which I secretly did), I couldn't have had them! I was going to have the natural childbirth I had wanted.
My midwife did find some meconium in my fluid, which we hadn't seen at home. They contacted the pediatrician who was on-call to be in the room when I delivered, and they let Mr. H know that he might not be able to cut the cord. This was scare #1 of the night.
Being able to push through contractions was the greatest relief. To actually be doing something as each one came on was awesome. I labored in the traditional position on my back, on a birth stool (which was great although intimidating at first), and in bed on my side. I pushed when I felt the urge to push and listened to my body as much as I could. I won't lie - I wasn't in a serene laboring state. There was a lot of "Get this baby out of me," and "How much longer will I push for?"
As soon as they could see the head, I was told she had a ton of hair. I touched it once but everything felt so squishy and weird, one touch was enough! I didn't feel extreme pain until she crowned - what I've heard others call the burning ring of fire. Burning is the exact way to describe it! Holy cow. I hoped and prayed that I was close to delivering.
Our midwife and the nurse lost the baby's heart beat so they rushed things as the end to just get her out. This was scare #2 of the night. The rush at the end resulted in a second degree tear (I had a total of two tears), but the tear was worth it. Once delivered, they saw that the cord was wrapped around her neck twice. Scare #3 of the night (cord around the neck was my biggest fear... that and the baby getting stuck!).
Fortunately, we saw her cough right away which was a great sign. Our midwife still cut and clamped the cord right away to get her to the pediatrician. While I didn't get the experience of having her on my chest right away and Mr. H didn't get to cut the cord, we were just happy to having her out safe. Everything with the pediatrician checked out fine - she was breathing great (no inhaled meconium!), the lost heartbeat at the end of birth was just because she was behind my pelvic bone, and the cord had only been loosely wrapped.
After scoring an 8 and a 9 for her Apgar, and getting the eye drops and the other "just born" things, they gave her to me for skin to skin while I was stitched up. During that time, I had delivered the placenta which they wrapped up for us (we had wanted to do placenta encapsulation after the birth).
We finally had our little girl! I labored a total of 14 hours, which included about an hour and a half of pushing. Born at 8 pounds 9 ounces, 21 inches long and a crazy head of dark brown hair with blond highlights, we were officially a family of three. It was 2:36 a.m. when she was delivered, and I couldn't believe just hours before I'd been casually eating lunch with a friend.
Friday - Recovery
Mr. H and I rested in the labor and delivery room with Baby H laying skin to skin on my chest. Hospital policy is to have you stay in the room 1-2 hours before you move to a postpartum room. A couple of hours after birth, my nurse wanted to get me up to use the restroom for the first time. As we got up and started walking to the bathroom I got extremely dizzy and blacked out -- literally hit the ground! I woke up to Mr. H calling my name and a huge group of medical personnel above me. They got me back to my bed, started a saline drip (I'd avoided any form of IV up to this point!) and drew some blood.
Fortunately my blood work came back fine, and my episode was diagnosed as dehydration. I took it easy for the rest of the morning and because I never actually made it to the bathroom, I was required to use a bed pan to show that I could "go" or they were going to have to insert a catheter. Let me tell you, making a bed pan attempt while someone comes into the room to deliver breakfast is not fun times.
We were moved to our recovery room at about 5 p.m. that evening - 15 or so hours after I'd had Baby H! After that, the three of us snuggled in for the night.
On Baby H's official due date we met with a lactation consultant a couple of times (wow breastfeeding is challenging at first - more to share later), tried to rest for a little bit longer, and around 3 p.m. were free to go. We were more than ready to head home, away from the uncomfortable hospital beds, bad food and the constant stream of people in and out of our of room.
I'm still so incredibly proud of myself for having the natural childbirth I was hoping for. It was a very trying experience, both physically and mentally and I honestly feel that if we were in the hospital sooner and had been offered an epidural, I would have jumped at it. I struggled with trusting that I could work through the pain, and had to really push myself to focus on meeting our baby girl.
While the meconium in the fluid and umbilical cord wrapped around her neck gave us a scare and caused our birth plan to change a bit, we are so blessed that everything else was absolutely perfect. We achieved the big picture items: a natural (and relatively fast!) birth, a healthy baby and surrounding ourselves with medical professionals and support who had faith in my ability to do things naturally.
Now we have so many adventures to share of life with our little Baby H!
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