My sister is only a couple weeks out from having her first baby. And my little man will be a year old in just a few days. Couple that with several birth stories I've read lately on blogs I follow and I've got babies and birth stories on my brain!
Caroline's birth happened almost 3 years ago. I tried to write about it once and I didn't feel like I was doing it justice and quit. But I'm determined to get it written down and recorded before any more time goes by and all the details get fuzzy.
As my due date got close, Aaron and I would go for long walks in the evening after work. On Monday we had walked 3 miles and Tuesday we walked 4. During the walks both days I would get light contractions during the walk that stopped as soon as I sat down to rest. After our walk on Tuesday we went to Five Guys to get burgers and fries for dinner and then we walked around a little more in the Town Center before getting italian ices and going home.
Aaron fell asleep on the couch while I read some blogs, checked facebook, got some stuff ready for our Kindergarten end of the year ceremony the next day, and then watched some TV while bouncing on my exercise ball. Around 9:30 I was sitting on the ball when I felt a pop (like a rubber band) and a small trickle of water. It was nothing like a gush that you hear about when people tell you that your water might break. But because of the pop & since the trickle didn't stop for a while I thought it was probably my water breaking.
I went and checked/repacked my hospital bag, took a shower, and got some other things in order. By about midnight I was having light contractions but they were pretty close together. I woke Aaron up from the couch and said, "I don't think you are going to work tomorrow." He was so confused and cute at first! We waited until about 2am & I called the doctor on call. He was not very helpful, but that could have been because I woke him up. I told him that I *thought* my water had broken & I was having contractions every 5 minutes but that they were not very strong. He said I would KNOW if my water had broken and if it had I should go to the hospital. So we went.
We had to go in through the ER and the receptionist ask my how my pain was on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being nothing and 10 being worst ever. In all honesty I was probably between a 3 and 4, but the number 7 jumped out of my mouth with no warning. They took me upstairs to L&D.
The L&D nurse did not believe that my water had broken. She hooked me up to the monitor and I was definitely having regular contractions but they were pretty weak. She checked me for dilation and said I was at 1. DO WHAT!? At this point it was early Wednesday morning and I had been to the doctor on Monday and he checked me and said I was a 3. Either my cervix was closing or somebody was messing with me!
She told me I could walk the halls for a couple of hours to see if I made any progress or I could go home. *Here's where hindsight is 20/20 and I would have changed my plan if I had been thinking clearly.* I choose to walk. And we did until about 5 am. When she checked me again she said I was a 4 and she would admit me! I was ecstatic about such progress! From a 1-4 in 2 hours - I was sure I was on the fast track to a baby!! She offered to let me keep walking or she would take me and hook me up to a machine & let me rest for awhile. At this point I had been awake for over 24 hours and I was exhausted. I should have gone home to rest when she told me I was a 1. I really think that getting some sleep then could have changed the entire outcome. (For some reason I had convinced myself that if I went home I would have to go to work the next day. I'm ridiculous! I know!)
My plan was to lay down and rest for a little while so they could monitor the baby & my contractions and then get up and walk or rock or do anything to help manage my pain better. Somehow that never worked out. Once I got in that bed & on that machine, I didn't get up again.
By this point the contractions were starting to get stronger but they were spacing out. I was resting between contractions - sometimes even drifting off. Aaron was sitting on the couch across the room between contractions and he was drifting off too.
I was feeling a little guilty that I would miss the last 3 days of the school year and especially our end of the year party with the parents. I was "dreaming" about my class when I drifted off. Aaron said that one time I woke him up saying, "I don't care who picks them up, but somebody better pick up these crayons!" It gave him a good laugh!
At some point the contractions were getting too far apart & the doctor said that we needed to start pitocin. It was really the last thing I wanted to do but I was too tired to argue (or form coherent sentences). And I was beginning to think that anything that would get the baby out faster was a good idea.
They started the pitocin and I hated having to be in the bed. I figured that if they could give me something to take the edge off I could keep my mind off the pain long enough to get some more rest. But the nurse said my blood pressure was not ideal and my only pain option was an epidural.
That was NOT my plan.
I hated being so weak in front of my husband. I wanted him to be proud of me. I wanted him to think I was strong. I wanted him to be impressed.
But I was giving up & getting the epidural.
That was NOT my plan.
I was upset.
I cried. A lot.
To add insult to injury, the epidural was a nightmare. I'm not a tiny person. The anesthesiologist had a hard time getting the needle in the right place. He stuck me literally 15+ times. No exaggeration. I cried the entire time. I'm so glad that Aaron got to stay in the room with me, because I know that is not the practice everywhere. The doc finally got it in and they laid me back in the bed saying I should be feeling immediate relief. And I was - on my right side. My left side was still feeling everything.
I'm not entirely sure that it was worse than being able to feel it full strength on both sides, but I do know that if I hadn't gotten the epidural I would have been able to get out of bed. Or move. And maybe I would have been able to find my own relief if I could have moved. But at this point half of my body was completely numb and half was in complete pain and I could not adjust myself at all to find relief. It was terrible.
The doctor, who I had never met before, came in to break my water around noon. He stuck the little orange peeler tool in there, fished around for a minute, then took it out and said, "Your water is already broken. It's not intact." I felt a bit of my spirit come back. I had been right! My water didn't gush, but it had broken last night.
Around 2pm the nurse came in and said I was an 8. I saw a dim light at the end of the tunnel. I had renewed hope that I could make it to the end.
Around 3:30 I thought I was feeling pressure and the pain had intensified so I ask to be checked again. This time the doctor came in. I was hoping and praying that he would say I was a 10 and the baby was ready to slide out! Instead he said I was a 6. SIX!? Are you kidding me!? Is it closing up again? Was someone really messing with me?!
He also said that he could let me go several more hours, but he felt the result would be the same. He saw this ending in a c-section. Then he ask, "Do you want to do this now or wait and do it later?" Leading question much? I told him to just do it. I'd been awake for 36 hours and hadn't eaten in nearly 22 hours. I was done.
I don't remember a ton about getting ready for the c-section, except more crying on my part. But I do remember having the shakes. I wasn't cold, but I couldn't stop them. They had to redo my epidural and may have given me a spinal. Either way, I didn't have any pain during the c-section, praise the Lord!
Aaron came in the operating room wearing the blue suit with our camera & video camera. He sat right next to my head and kept asking if I was ok as tears slipped out of my eyes and down my cheeks.
At 4:57pm the doctor pulled an 8 pound 9 ounce baby from my belly and said, "It's a girl!"
I looked at Aaron and said, "Are you sure?"
He said, "Yep, It's a girl!!"
What a complete and wonderful surprise! She had a wonderful set of lungs!!
After several minutes of tests and checks they wrapped her up for me to nuzzle. Then Aaron went with her as they headed to the nursery and I got stitched up.
I was in recovery for quite awhile. The nurse kept telling me to breathe deeper. Apparently I was really taking advantage of this time and sleeping which meant that I was not breathing frequently enough to please the machine I was on. I didn't get back to my room until 7pm - during shift change - the recieving nurse was not happy, and I felt bad, but she said latter that she was upset at the nurse who brought me back right at the most hectic time without even a warning.
During that time Caroline got hungry and the nursery staff fed her a bottle. (This was a huge frustration for me because I planned to breastfeed exclusively, but luckily she caught on and the bottle didn't do any damage.)
By the time I got back to the room, we felt like we really needed to call family right away and let them know we were all healthy. Unfortunately we jumped the gun and all the family got to our room before Caroline. I hadn't even gotten a chance to meet her - to hold her.
Aaron's parents & sister, my parents, and Dana & Michael came by that night to meet her. We were sort of mean and wouldn't tell any of them whether we had a boy or girl until they got to the hospital. I slipped when my parents came in though. Caroline had been taken back to the nursery for something and when they came in I said, "She's down in the nursery, but it shouldn't be too much longer." Mom caught it right away. So we went ahead and shared the name while we were waiting for her to get back.
I am beyond grateful that Caroline and I were healthy and that there really weren't any major complications. It may not have gone like I wanted it to, but I'm certain that God had a reason for the way things went and knew how it would turn out long before the journey started.
Even two and a half years later, I'm struggling with feeling like I missed something or that I haven't experienced all of womanhood because I didn't have a vaginal birth. I feel ridiculous even saying that because I was blessed to be able to carry 2 pregnancies (so far) and I have 2 beautiful children. What difference does it make how they came into the world. I remind myself constantly that I am thankful that I was able to have them at all.
Up next, Nathan's birth story. I've got baby fever BAD! :)