Friday, September 4, 2009

Aimee's birth story

To wrap up my pregnancy story, I have to tell about the birthing process. Now I'm warning you, this whole thing is very detailed and a bit gross. I'm telling this story for the benefit of those who want to know what to expect in their labors, not just for entertainment.

For the last 2 months of my pregnancy I was ready for it to be over. Unfortunately I didn't get to choose the timing. Every day I would look for signs that labor was starting. I hoped that at my next doctor appointment he would tell me I was 3cm and already in labor. That can happen right? I mean plenty of other people have said that their labor was so easy that they didn't even know it was happening. Well, apparently I am not one of those people!

At around 36 weeks or so I started having Braxton Hicks contractions. It was weird because I would always get short of breath and weird feeling when one was coming. At one point I was having them 2 minutes apart for 2 days straight. I finally decided to go to the hospital and they just stopped. I was a little disappointed, why couldn't it have been that whole painless labor instead? After that, I would have them every now and then, but not nearly as much as before.

At about 37 weeks I started losing my mucous plug. I had thought it would be a one time thing meaning labor was near. So when labor didn't come day after day, and I kept losing more of the plug, I was a bit disappointed, again! Don't forget I warned you, too much information ahead! After a week of bits of green snot stuff it was like cups and cups of snot every time I went to the bathroom. I had pictured a plug like a cork in a bottle or the plug for the bath tub. So what the heck was all this junk? Pregnancy and labor are so gross!

At this point I had a doctor appointment once a week. He was also checking my cervix every time. If I remember right I was 1cm at 38 weeks. I hadn't really been that nervous about labor until that point. Every time he checked me it felt like he was putting his arm in up to his elbow. At the last appointment it felt like he was pulling and twisting. It hurt so bad and the pain lasted all day. (I later found out that he was stripping my membranes. It made me so mad to know that the doctor did that without asking me or even giving me a warning.)  At that point I started to get really nervous that pushing and the actual delivery would be really painful. Boy was I wrong!

On Tuesday December 16th I had my last doctor visit. He pushed and pulled and decided we could call me dilated to 2 cm. Once again I left in pain. As I went about my day I just felt a little different somehow. On Wednesday I had an eye doctor appointment. As I waddled out of the office the receptionist asked when I was due. I told her in 5 days. She asked if I was starting already and I said I thought so. Her response, "Oh you poor thing!"

I live 6 hours away from my Mom and she was planning on coming when my labor started. There was a huge snow storm coming and sometimes the pass is closed so no one can get here. My Mom had been home from work all week because Albany schools were closed due to an inch of snow. She had all her bags packed so she would be ready whenever. That morning she woke up feeling like she should just come. Also her husband’s bible study friends said they had been praying about it and felt like she should leave that day. So she skipped work and started driving. She arrived about 4pm and almost as soon as she walked in the door I got a really bad back ache. It was a constant sharp pain that wouldn't go away no matter what I did. Mom told me I was probably in labor. That was after she told me I was as big as a house and asked if I was having twins! I figured there was no way it was labor and we visited for the rest of the afternoon. About 9pm the backache just went away. That got me down a bit because I had started to believe I was getting somewhere. We stayed up late visiting and got to bed about midnight.

That night we had a blizzard and the next morning I woke up feeling a little bit off. My husband had to be up at about 4:30 to go coach the swim team. He would come home and go back to bed before he went to his main job for the day. About 6am I woke up feeling a burning sensation in my hips. It felt like they were pulling apart. I also felt a burning in my cervix and felt slightly nauseous. When he came to bed at 7:45 I told him that I didn't want him to go back to work because I just didn't feel quite right. He asked me to give him at least another 3o minutes to sleep before we did anything. I got up to go to the bathroom and as I started to take my pants off, I could feel a rush of liquid coming. There was more snot and a little pink. As well as some clear liquid that soaked my underwear. I thought my water had broken and I had been told to go to the hospital right away when that happened. I was positive for group B strep and would have to have IV antibiotics before I delivered. As soon as all this happened I started having contractions that were 2 minutes apart. Joe woke my Mom up and we all started to get ready. I took a shower and packed my bags since I hadn't done it yet. Mom made me some pudding and a granola bar. I knew I should eat before I went in but was terrified that I would throw up during labor so I ate light. At around 8:30 we headed to the hospital.

At the hospital they wheeled me to my room and had me put on the little gown. The nurse strapped the blue and pink sensors to my belly and we were ready for action. My contractions were still regular at 2 minutes and stayed that way for quite a while. I don't even remember how to describe them. At the time I thought they were pretty uncomfortable. It felt better to walk around or sit in the rocking chair. The nurse finally got around to checking my cervix. I was mortified when she said I was only at 2cm and she didn't think my water had broken. She wanted to know if I had brought my wet underwear so she could test it for amniotic fluid. How gross! Why would I cart around dirty underwear in my purse? None the less, my doctor finally came to check me and decided my water was still intact. Later on I found out the same thing had happened to my cousin. She was told that she had felt her plug liquefying.

After 3 hours, everyone agreed that I was indeed in labor and my IV of antibiotics was started. When I found out they had been thinking about sending me home, I was a little pissed. I told them it was a good thing they hadn't because I would have just sat in the cold car, in the snow, in the parking lot. If I remember right my contractions stayed at 2 minutes apart as they got stronger through the hours. I regularly took my getup of cords and gowns and walked the halls. I also made sure to pee every so often. At one point Mom told Joe and I that we should both try to get some sleep. Joe fell asleep on the little couch right away. I lay there listening to him snoring and tried to imagine that we were just in bed at home like normal. It put me to sleep almost instantly. It was strangely relaxing, especially since I usually hate his snoring. Just as soon as I drifted off, the nurse came to check me again. That was the only sleep I got until labor was over.

As the contractions got harder I had to really focus on my breathing. It helped to be up and moving. I would walk the halls every so often. I kept walking past the little kitchen at the end of the hall. I was so hungry from not eating all day. I just wanted a cheeseburger and a milkshake. All the nurses would let me have were 2 little cups of Jell-O. The contractions were getting so bad, yet somehow all I could think about in between was food! I think I actually cried out of frustration at one point.
 Thankfully my Mom and Husband had been nice enough to have leftover cold pizza out in the cold car so I wouldn't have to see them eat or smell it. Eventually though, the pain got distracting enough that I was able to get that burger off my mind.

Surprisingly the day went by really fast. It was 6pm, and before I knew it, the doctor was ready to break my water. It didn't hurt at all, but boy was it a huge rush of liquid! I don't see how they got it all cleaned up with just a few Chux pads. They checked my cervix again and I was at 6cm. Almost instantly the contractions were back to back and almost unbearable. There were a few times when I thought about giving up and asking for an epidural. When the nurse said the doctor was going to check my cervix again, I cried. I think that was one of my lowest points. I practically begged them not to make me go through it. The nurse explained that my doctor has really small hands and has to push and reach more to feel everything. She was understanding but we all knew I had to be checked. I saw the doctor walk in out of the corner of my eye. He saw me crying and walked right back out. When I was over my tear fest he did the exam.

At this point the nurse suggested I try sitting on the birthing ball. I made the mistake of leaving mine at home and had to use the one the hospital had. Unfortunately it was just flat enough that my hips sunk down too far and I couldn't stand the pain it was shooting between my legs. I could literally feel the baby moving down inside my body between my hips. (I know now that it was because she was so big. None of my friends had felt that feeling during their labors.)

All of a sudden the baby monitor on my belly stopped working. The nurse jumped down between my legs (I was still on the birthing ball) and spent 10 minutes trying to adjust it to pick up a heartbeat. It was so painful having to sit there and I was a bit worried about the baby since we couldn't find her on the monitor. They finally made me move back to the bed so they could attach an internal monitor to the baby's head. This was the beginning of the end for me. I was in so much pain trying to just lay there. Plus they had to reattach the monitor over and over because it kept coming out. It was so hard trying to get my body to relax between the contractions when there was always someone’s hand in my hoo ha.

The contractions started coming what had to have been no more than 15 seconds apart. They were so intense, I remember staring at the surgical light on the ceiling and sucking air in as hard and as long as I could and blowing it out with all my might. I have never concentrated so hard on something before. My whole body was so tense. I knew I just needed to let my hips relax for even a second. I finally gave in and asked for a dose of Stadol. The second it was through my IV I had an easy contraction. Unfortunately that was the only one. After that it seemed like the pain got even worse. I would rate it a 40/10. On top of that I felt like I couldn't keep my eyes open. It wasn't a relaxing feeling, just a frustrating, dumb feeling.

I started needing to hold Mom and Joe's hands with each pain. Before I knew it I was pulling my whole body up using their wrists. Joe had a permanent indent on his pinky finger from his wedding ring for months afterwards. Between the contractions the baby's foot was in my ribcage. It got so painful that I had to push it back down while my Mom pushed from my back. I was using the hand with the IV in it and left a huge bruise from pushing it into the side of my hand.

Around 9pm transition started. This was the worst feeling I have ever had in my life by far! The contractions were almost constant. My whole body was squeezing so hard that you could see the baby moving down into my hips with each contraction. With each squeeze my stomach would feel like it was turning inside out and I would almost throw up. I was making a horrible grunting noise involuntarily. My worst fear is throwing up. It has been a phobia since I was a little girl. At this point I had to concentrate with everything I had just to keep my stomach contents down. I actually think having to focus so hard got me through the worst of it. My Mom had the nurse give me some anti-nausea meds in my IV. I actually wasn't nauseous at all to begin with, but oh well. During the worst of it my Mom asked for the barf bag. That gave me a renewed since of determination. I informed her that I would not be needing it and was a little mad that she had the audacity to doubt me. 

I think I had been going through this for about an hour when they checked my cervix again. I was only at 9.5cm. The nurse told me I could practice pushing and see if the rest of my cervix would clear out on its own. Pushing was the best feeling ever! I think I got a few good ones in and they checked me again. I was still not to 10cm. The doctor said I would have to labor down. When I heard that I started crying and practically begging them to let me just push. The pain was a 50/10, the contractions were constant, and I was exhausted, scared, and ready to be done. 

After a half hour I was finally ready. They tried to have me use the squat bar while I pushed but the pain in my hips was too intense to even get all the way up. So instead they put my feet in the stirrups and gave me hand holds by my waist to pull on while I pushed. I got the hang of it quickly. The only problem was no one told me when to push. I kept asking them to tell me and just got blank stares. So I pushed as soon as I felt a contraction coming. Just as they would tell me to relax I would really get in the good part of the contraction and could push for another 10 seconds. At some point they gave me oxygen since the baby's heart rate slowed down. I remember they kept telling me "she's almost here", "just one more push". Strangely, I didn't really care how long it took. I was super motivated to push as hard as I could because it helped with the pain so much. 

At some point I felt a rush of coolness down there; my Mom told me it was the doctor giving me Novacaine. A few pushes later and she was coming out. It really didn't hurt that much at all. I felt a tearing sensation and said "was her nose sharp?" I guess it was the doctor giving me an episiotomy. After that she was out! It was the strangest feeling. Like a rush of stuff coming out of me and then emptiness. The nurse put my baby on my stomach and I patted her back and used the blanket to wipe her face clean. The doctor told me to push one more time and out came the afterbirth.

So at 10:11 pm on Thursday, December 18th, Amelia Dannielle Andrews was born. She weighed 9 pounds 10.8 ounces, and was 21 inches long. She was healthy and pretty happy.

The next hour or so is kind of a blur. I held my
 beautiful new baby for a few minutes and just stared at her face. Then the nurses took her to clean her up and do all the new baby stuff with her. They stayed right there in the room and Joe stayed at her side. He shielded her eyes from the bright lights and just watched her in awe. For the next hour I stayed in the position I had been in while pushing. The doctor took that long to stitch me up. I ate a huge tray of food and one of the nurses made me a milk shake to drink. She was so sweet! I also remember them putting a hot blanket across my chest. It felt sooo good. I remember calling my Dad to him he was a Grandpa. I also watched as Joe got to hold his new little girl for the first time.

After a while my legs fell asleep from being in the stirrups. The area being stitched really started to hurt and I could feel every thing the doctor was doing. Finally he finished. I was torn and stitched as far as is possible and took so many stitches that the doctor stopped counting. After he was done it was time to try nursing. A nurse helped me figure it out and it went very smoothly.

After nursing, I was told I needed to move to another room. This kind of sucked because we were in such a nice big room and all I wanted to do was rest and be with my new baby. So Mom and Joe packed up all of our junk and we moved down the hall. There I took a quick shower and got into a clean gown. I was in so much pain at that point from the tearing that I needed my Mom to help me dry off. Then the nurse showed us how to give Aimee a bath. We then got her changed into some clothes that we brought with us and settled in for the night.

I slept with Aimee in the bed with me. I propped her up in her boppy right next to me with the railing keeping her extra safe. As soon as we got to our room Joe pretty much passed out for the night. I was way to wound up to sleep though. So Mom and I sat up visiting for a few hours. I don't think we tried to sleep until around 3am. Every time I would fall asleep a nurse would come in to check on us or take blood or vitals. The whole night I lay there listening to Mom and Joe snoring away while I stared at my beautiful baby girl. I was just awe struck by her beauty. The rest of the hospital stay pretty much consisted of me nursing Aimee and trying unsuccessfully to get some sleep. Mom helped me with Aimee and she never had to go to the nursery. I think Joe was asleep pretty much the whole 2 days we were there.

 I was in so much pain from all the tearing that it hurt to even move. Every time I had to sit up to nurse or get out of bed to pee was agonizing and took at least 10 minutes. On the plus side though. We had such a pretty scene outside our windows. It had snowed at least 3 feet while I was in labor and the hospital sat at the top of a hill overlooking the town. We watched deer running in the woods out the window and I walked the halls looking at the view.

After our 2 day stay it was time to go home. We packed everything up. Including the 2 diaper bags, formula samples, and gift baskets the hospital gave us. We bundled Aimee up in her carseat and headed home. It was such a relief to be in my own house again. I instantly felt so much better. Mom and Joe took Aimee and made me take a nap. It was the first real sleep I had gotten in weeks. In the days ahead we got used to life with a newborn. I breastfed so there wasn't much anyone could do to help me feed Aimee or get more sleep. My Mom helped out a lot though around the house and taking care of Aimee where she could.

That's about all I really remember about the whole process. Aimee was such a good baby from the beginning and life just kind of settled by itself. And now looking back, almost 2 years later, I can't figure out where the time went.