It's taken me so long to write for several reasons. The most prominent reason is that I "lost" my voice for some time. You may recall that I had come on and posted about experiencing some sad feelings and emotions right after giving birth. It's true - I had a really tough time once I came home. I wasn't in post-partum depression but did have a hard bout of baby blues. That, paired with my immense guilt over this whole TTC battle plus intense sadness over how the pregnancy ended and the birth unfolded, really prevented me from sharing and being open.
It was so bizarre; I wanted to speak/write but somehow I just couldn't. I would get stuck; I'd cry; I'd shut down. I'm over that hump now, thankfully, and really now much of the reason why I haven't been able to come on and post is lack of time.
So on to the birth story...(and yes it is LONG! You guys know I am known for writing book-long posts!!
The week of August 22nd was a hectic one. Monday started off with major stresses with me fending off lawyers who were forcing me to evict my tenant (I own a condo that I rent out) because she allegedly assaulted another resident. In an effort to avoid eviction proceedings (because I didn't want to deal with that while I was in my final weeks of pregnancy) I was spending much of my time negotiating between lawyers, condo association and tenant.
My stress level was elevated without a doubt...and then Tuesday arrived. I had errands to run in the afternoon and before heading out I decided to nap for a bit with the dog. I called her on the bed and within seconds I felt the bed shaking. I turned to check on the dog thinking she was possibly ill and heavily panting but she was as normal as can be. But the bed...it was still shaking...I looked around the room. Wait! Are the walls moving?? Holy crap - the house is shaking! Could it be an explosion? I immediately grabbed the phone and dialed 911. While my mind was thinking explosion what actually came out of my mouth as soon as the officer responded was "Are we having an earthquake???" The response was "We have no information at this time." I hung up and called the dog off the bed. I started making my way down the hallway, feeling the swaying, when I heard what sounded like church bells going off. When I got to the end of the hallway I realized it was the metal weight plates from my husband's gym equipment that were clanging together. Fearing they would collapse and injure me and the dog, I quickly shut the door. I then looked out the hallway window onto the deck and could see it swaying.
This was insane! What was going on?! I remember holding my belly. I was scared but didn't know what to do so I just went all the way down to the basement (yes I now know that you don't go into a basement for an earthquake!). I called my husband frantically telling him that I had no idea what was going on but that something CRAZY was happening because the house was shaking but 911 couldn't give me any info. I told him that I was sure I wasn't being some crazy pregnant lady imagining this. He, of course, had no idea what I was talking about. He told me to go outside and see if anyone was out there. I told him he was nuts - I wasn't about to go anywhere! I really think he was thinking I was exaggerating and he told me to just stay put and "see what happens because I don't know what to tell you; you already called 911." After a few minutes I went back up to the first floor, checked the website of the local paper but there was nothing there. I called my friend in a neighboring town. As soon as she answered I asked her if she felt anything by her. Nope. Had no idea what I was talking about. She told her husband to turn on the TV to the local news channel and sure enough they were breaking in with the story. It was an earthquake. Minutes later my husband was calling to tell me what I already knew. I was pretty shaken up the rest of the day and didn't leave the house.
On Wednesday I had my scheduled OB appt. Since I was hitting 36 weeks the following day, I was scheduled for the Group B Strep swab. The visit was routine; baby was still in good position.
Thursday arrived and it was the day my tenant was to be checking out. It was supposed to occur early that day but between one delay after another with her moving company it didn't happen to end of the day. I finally got through that mess of checking her out and had to rush to my dinner plans with a friend. It was supposed to be my last "girls dinner" as I entered my last 4 weeks of pregnancy. My goal was to spend the last 4 weeks completely relaxed on the couch and in a/c; I was fed up with the heat! We were both running late for dinner but we finally sat down and had a nice meal; she has 3 kids so is a PG pro. She passed down to me the old wives tale of having an orgasm to bring on labor.
Apparently it works for her.
I got home sometime after 9 and after decompressing for a moment I hesitated on taking a shower. I was so totally exhausted that I wasn't sure I could even get through a shower. But I desperately needed one so in I went. It was nearly midnight when I put my head on the pillow. Then the mental typewriter started tapping away. All I could think of was "things to do before leaving for the hospital". I was tired and wanted to have a clear head so I figured I should just run down stairs and write out the mental list in my notebook. I did. I titled the list "Before leaving for hospital" and wrote out 10 things. The 1st item was re: arrangements for our dog. The last item was to play the lottery.
I went back up to bed. I was dead asleep when I felt/heard a snap. It was around 3:50 am. I couldn't tell you if it was an actual physical sensation or an actual internal sound but a "pop" is what woke me up. I wasn't sure what was going on but since I was awake I went to the bathroom. I peed and went back to bed and fell asleep. Ten minutes later I woke up again but this time I felt some cramps. I went to the bathoom, thinking I needed to pee or something else, and when I sat down on the toilet bowl I felt fluid coming out...but wait, I wasn't peeing. Thinking maybe I was half asleep I paid close attention and confirmed that no I wasn't peeing; but there was something coming out! I wiped and there was light pink fluid on the toiet paper.
I went back to the bedroom and woke up DH and told him that I thought my water broke. He asked me if I had contractions and immediately started rattling off about how we needed to time them. I told him I'd call the OB. I went downstairs, all the while feeling contractions, sometimes bad and sometimes not so bad. The OB's office manager triaged my symptoms and told me I needed to go to the hospital. I laughed as I sat there looking at the list I'd written only 4 hours ago! Funny how the universe is...did I have a premonition and that's why I not only forced myself to shower but to also write out the list?! If I hadn't done either I would have been one stinky unprepared laboring gal!
I ran upstairs and told DH. He got himself together rather quick and started working on the list TO DOs while I got myself together. Luckily my bag had already been packed (although not the baby's outfit; that was supposed to be that very Friday's TO DO!). We locked down the house and arrived at the hospital around 5 am. When I arrived, the triage nurse had me go to the bathroom so I could pee and as soon as I pulled down my pants...more amniotic fluid gushed out. As she put it "yup - grossly ruptured." Just medical term for "hell yeah, your water definitely broke!" They got me on a bed and checked me in to the hospital bedside, and then prepped me for an IV line; aside from the actual contractions that was the next hell I endured. It took 3 people to finally get an IV going. They checked me and I was only about 3-4 cm dilated and about 70% effaced and my contractions were not consistent at all. They moved me from triage to L&D.
Not much action going on with me for a couple of hours. My L&D nurse checked me internally and I hadn't progressed much by 8:30 am. She called my OB who gave specific instructions that should I want an epidural to go head with it but that I should do my best to rest and sleep and for the nurses NOT to check me internally anymore and to NOT call him until I was ready to push.
By that point I was DONE with dealing with the pain of the contractions and requested the epidural. The anesthesiologist did a fantastic job! No pain whatsover. The only anxiety (other than anticipating the needle) was that he was so adamant that should I have a contraction while he's inserting the needle that I would need to breathe through it and NOT MOVE AT ALL! He might as well have told me to jump off a bridge because that task seemed so monumental at the time. How could I not move if I got a contraction?! Up until that point all my contractions were accompanied by hand wringing and leg writhing! But I got lucky! I didn't have any contractions throughtout the whole process. DH was not allowed to be in the room throughout the procedure but my nurse was great.
By 9:30 am I was pain-free and from that point forward DH and I just spent the hours watching the non-stop coverage of the impending hurricane. To say that we were concerned is an understatement. We left the house without any preparations for the hurricane. And the dog...well we left plenty of water and food out for her but it was going on 6 hours since she was last walked. We worked with the nurse on gauging my status, and DH was able to leave not once but twice throughout the morning and afteroon to go home and literally batten down the hatches and also take care of the dog.
The OB arrived around 4 pm. He checked me internally and I still hadn't progressed much. He started talking possible C-section; but he really wanted me to go vaginal if at all possible. He recommended a smidge of pitocin and I agreed. He said "We'll have this baby out by 9 pm". Of course I wasn't happy about that...I had been clock-watching the whole time because of the "2 midnights" rule. The longer I was delayed the closer I was to using up my first midnight.
Anticipating delivery soon, I needed to spruce myself up. It had been a long day and I wanted to look halfway decent throughout delivery and after. My nurse cracked up as I put make up on and even busted out the Ray Ban aviators. Actually the sunglasses were e true necessity! The sun was starting to come down and it was shining strong and straight my way, even through the window shade. We took some pictures with the nurse so we could remember the silly moment.
At 6:20 pm or so the OB came in to check me internally and apparently the pitocin worked well and quick. He helped baby's head turn and then it was time to push. The room had already been set up with extra equipment for baby's delivery since she was pre-term and the pediatric nurses were shuffling in and out for last minute equipment checks. The OB left the room, and my L&D nurse and DH started coaching me. I could see the whole process in the mirror in front of me. Unfortunately, my nurse's shift was ending at 7pm. A new nurse came on but my old nurse hung around hoping to be present for the birth. At 7:30 she couldn't wait any longer and left. It was so sad! I felt terrible that she had been with me the whole day throughout all the shenanigans and yet she'd miss the crowning (literally) moment. I didn't like my new nurse
Neither did DH. She was so pre-occupied with her own personal issue and it was all she could talk about to anyone, even during my pushing!
Anyway, despite all the pushing, baby just wasn't coming out. OB told me he needed to do an episiotomy right away or I would tear terribly. I panicked! I started screaming - yes screaming at the top of my lungs - "I'm going to die! I'm going to die!" Now, I didn't really mean that I thought an episiotomy was a life and death procedure; it was the intense anxiety over it that paralyzed me. But OB and nurses didn't know what I meant and they reassured me that I wouldn't die from this procedure. LOL! I gave the OB the go-ahead and while I didn't feel any pain from the procedure I was gripped by the sensation I felt as the OB made the cut. But no sooner did he cut me, that baby finally came out. That's when things turned into slow motion and I was gripped with fear.
It's been very difficult for me to talk about the moment of delivery. What I thought would happen and what actually happened were 2 entirely different things. I remember the OB pulling out the baby and seeing the baby. And someone saying it was a girl and my DH repeating it.
That wasn't the problem. The problem was that I didn't HEAR the baby. There was no crying whatsoever. The actual moment of birth was not the joyous moment I had envisioned. I imagined confident pronouncement of gender followed by hearty laughter and joyous congratulations and DH cutting the cord and baby on my chest right away and everyone just thrilled and happy. That's not how this was unfolding. I immediately panicked and started sobbing "I don't hear the baby crying; why isn't the baby crying?!" It's hard to describe but what followed was this surreal silence dotted with people shuffling around and low voices talking but no one really addressing my frantic questions. I know someone barely muttered "everything is fine". That didn't make a difference...I could see the baby on the warming table, being assessed, and each time the nurse would pick up the baby's arm and release it, it would flop down, like a lifeless limb. I was hysterical. I thought my baby was stillborn. I lay there in shock, thinking "is this how my story ends?"
It seemed like an eternity but we know it wasn't because the APGAR is scored at 1 minute post birth and 5 minutes post birth. At the time I didn't even think to ask what baby's scores were but simply felt incredible relief once I heard a few squeals and saw her spreading her tiny toes. She was wrapped up and brought to my arms and I was assured with my own eyes that she was alive. My little tiny one was healthy as can be. She weighed a healthy 5 lbs and nearly 10 oz (9.8 oz to be exact).
At one of the early pediatric check ups I remembered to ask the dr. about the APGARs. He said he'd definitely look them up for me but was curious as to why I was wanting to know since the scores had no relevance to the here and now. I explained to him how the birth unfolded and I was curious if my concerns were "real". He looked them up and it turns out that at 1 minute she scored a 5. That explained the lifeless limbs and the lack of crying. But my little one perked right up soon enough because she scored a 9 at 5 minutes. Incredible how those 5 minutes felt like a lifetime!
I know I already said "Thank you" but I wanted to make sure I said it to each and everyone one of you who posted to my original announcement. So I posted below.
Even while I was quiet I still came on the board every once in a while to check in. Now it's my turn to anxiously await the birth story of some ladies due soon, like Holleigh and Meg and Sch1star.
I'll post seperately on how life has been once we came home. As I recently responded to Crayo's post, we've also had some challenges on the home front. But suffice it to say that the peanut is delicious and healthy!
In the meantime, here are some pics.