Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Olive's Birth Story

When last I wrote before Olive was born I was feeling pretty low. And frustrated. That was Thursday, I was 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant, and my sister-in-law Heidi had asked if she could bring over dinner that night, provided we weren't at the hospital having a dang baby or anything. I had told her we were up for distractions for sure, and really I was just so sick of spending every evening in a perpetual state of wallow.  We definitely looked forward to the visitors. For the boys as well it was a huge treat to have their cousin Abby over to play on a weeknight.

Things snowballed a bit and Dan's mom ended up in the mix, and then my mom called as she was leaving work and I told her she was of course welcome as well. Dan's sister Kirsten lives just a mile away so I texted her and told her of our somewhat spontaneous little gathering and that there was plenty of extra food. So it turned into this whole great thing, and was the perfect way to keep our minds off the fact that a week before we would have fully expected to be at home with our baby at this point in time. 

I was feeling super crampy and pretty terrible Thursday night actually, after having my membranes stripped that morning and being told my cervix was already at 5 cm dilated and 50% effaced. We cleaned up the house that night after everyone left and went to bed not really sure if Dan should really go into the office the next morning, or if it was best that he work from home. I will say I wasn't feeling the most competent and prepared to spend the day with both boys at home, but I knew it was mostly all mental, because more than likely the cramping and pain would lessen after a night of "sleep". 

I woke up about 4:00 am with an actual real contraction which I was THRILLED about after all the pain I had felt the day before that I knew wasn't really anything. Of course after my two previous super quick labors, and the fact that I knew I was already 5cm, I was ready to get up and get going after that one contraction. I continued to lay there and waited it out a few more contractions, which were coming about every 8-10 minutes. Dan at that point was awake and we both stayed in bed dozing in between contractions until 4:45 when I said I was getting up. I had promised the midwife I would call as soon as contractions had started and I wanted to wake up my mom and give her a heads up. I was more than ready, obviously.  Let's do this thing.

When I talked to the midwife I told her we were planning on heading in, and would probably be there in about an hour.  Even though contractions were a little less than a minute long and still about 7-8 minutes apart at this point, I just didn't want to take any chances.  The boys were of course still sound asleep upstairs, the timing was right, it just made sense to go get my mom and get to the hospital.

However, I will admit that over the 20 minute drive there I felt unsure, worried that we shouldn't be going in already.  I knew I was in labor, but it sure as heck wasn't super active labor, and this went against all of the hippy dippy natural birth guidelines about staying home as long as possible.  But then on the other hand, I was also anxious about having a precipitous labor, and wanted to just get to the hospital and no longer have to worry about that anymore.  Certainly the whole process of getting to the hospital and checked in was much less stressful and frantic than it had been during Gus's and Louie's births.  We parked in the parking garage and trekked to the labor and delivery admission desk together, I even helped carry some bags and then was calmly able to sit and sign paperwork and do the whole shebang.  Clearly I was still doing FINE.

The midwife (Jessica) who had checked me and swept my membranes in the clinic the day before was the one on call, and she was excited to see us.  She had already delivered 3 babies overnight, which is pretty crazy, so of course she was exhausted, but happy to see us.  She told us about getting my call at 4:45 am, just as she had stolen away to finally go get some sleep after her marathon of working in the clinic all day and being up all night in the hospital catching babies.  OF COURSE we were coming in, she had thought.  Coffee to the rescue!

Anyway, she checked me and set me up to monitor contractions for a few minutes as a part of the admission process, and then some lab techs came to draw my blood.  It was about 6 am at this point, and we felt like first-timers, we had just never had any of these experiences before, used to bursting on the scene essentially in transition, ready to freaking push the baby out upon arrival.

I was found to be at 7 cm (!!) but contractions were still pretty spaced out, and really not that painful at all, so she asked me what we wanted to do.  She didn't want to send me home at 7 cm, but wanted us to know that it was an option.  Dan and I were both in agreement, that no, we're here, It's definitely still early labor but we were thinking that as soon as things started getting going it would be fast.  We wanted to stay, and Jessica totally supported that decision.

So we got organized and they prepared the big awesome room with the huge, beautiful water-birthing tub, since it was open and we were considering a water birth if it sounded like something I wanted to do when the time came.  (I was still wishy-washy about it.)  Jessica showed us the fancy-pants coffee machine and where to fill my water, and introduced us to our nurse, Barb, and we started to settle in to our room.  We ordered some breakfast and then decided to walk the halls for a while.  I really wanted to do SOMETHING to get this thing going, and actually was hoping to walk somewhere for some actual good coffee, but Barb scolded us and said we needed to stay in the birth center.  I tried to convince Dan to go out in search of a Starbucks or something, but he insisted on staying close.  I have a feeling he was thinking I might spontaneously give birth or something, considering our history, and didn't want to leave me alone.  (HAAAAAAAA!  Spoiler alert: that wasn't going to happen.  Not by a long shot.)

We walked the halls while waiting for our food, and I felt very much like a big giant pregnant elephant on display.  We ran into another dad on a coffee run who suggested that if we got bored we should head upstairs by the postpartum rooms and the nursery, that there was a longer loop for walking and the nursery added a little bit of variety to things.  Solidarity fellow dad.

We did quickly get bored and walked back to the room outside of which we found our nurse lurking and looking somewhat concerned.  I don't think she liked us wandering around... but dude.  Cannot just sit in that room and wait.  (Another spoiler for ya, a lot of sitting around and waiting was in our future.)

The lovely hospital food had arrived so we dug in, I ordered as much as I reasonably could so that we could both partake of the "free" (built into the hospital bill) meal, and since we were there, our nurse wanted to monitor me for a bit.  Even though we had asked for intermittent monitoring, our nurse took that to mean every hour, sitting in bed for 10-25 minutes.  Suuuuper annoying, and if I was having actual painful contractions I would have been pissed and said something, but whatever.

We watched lots of daytime television that morning, while I bounced on the birthing ball and snacked on trail mix and dried fruit.  Every single morning news program (along with half of my Facebook feed) was OBSESSED with the whole white and gold vs. black and blue dress viral phenomenon. Still today... I don't get it, but for the record, both Dan and I were team #whiteandgold. We heard A LOT about it from Matt Lauer and Al Roker and the whole Today Show gang, as well as everyone on Good Morning America.  That and two llamas that were on the loose in some quiet town in Arizona. So pointless and bizarre that those are two of the things I will now always remember from the day Olive was born, but I guess these are the times we're living in!

I want to say it was around 10:00 or so when our freshly showered midwife came back to check in. We talked about how my contractions still weren't any stronger, and maybe were coming every 5-8 minutes, but sometimes not even that.  Really, a whole lot of nothing happening.  She asked if I wanted her to sweep my membranes again and I said sure, have at it.  So she did said membrane sweep and FYI I was still at 7 cm, which surprised no one.  Whomp whomp.

Then we talked about some other things that could get things moving along, and she suggested binding my belly.  My response was pretty much, "Say what?"

So the whole point of binding the belly is to sort of lift it up and pull it in and encourage baby to get into an optimal position for birth, which would put more pressure on the cervix and maybe we would start seeing some stronger and more effective contractions.  Really it could end up doing nothing, or it could do something, but either way it wouldn't hurt.  She just needed a big taunt white sheet, which are a dime a dozen in a hospital.  ;)

I did as instructed and squatted, legs apart, belly in, pretty much a goddess pose yoga position, and lifted my belly while she took the big white sheet, wrapped it around my torso, and pulled it taunt and tied it in a big tight knot behind my back.  It actually felt sort of good, probably sort of like compression wear feels when pregnant?  It offered a lot of support.  Then while we chit chatted about Jessica's upbringing and baby names and hippy birthing stuff for about 20 minutes, I did lunges against the side of the birthing tub to encourage baby down down down.

I wanted to get out of the room, so we went out to the lobby/admitting area and did the stairs for more than an hour.  Up the stairs, circling around the little sitting area loft a few times, down the stairs, and a few more circles around that sitting area.  Over and over and over.  Good times, yes, good times.  At some point I sent Dan to the car to get the ear buds from his laptop bag, and he came back quicker than I anticipated after running into our nurse and being told they had a whole stash of them somewhere.  So a pair was found and I was able to listen to the local pop culture talk station as I did my rounds. I remember they were talking incessantly about something Kanye West did or said that required some sort of public apology.

The stairs definitely got my heart pumping (and my calves burning) and I was able to get contractions to consistently start coming about every 4-5 minutes, but they still didn't feel all that painful, in fact, they were frustratingly wimpy.  I definitely never had to stop for them, or take a break, so that tells you how effective they were.

My mom called me during my little stair routine, I think this was the 2nd time she had called, asking how things were going.  Gus was at preschool, and she was still at our house with my nephew Graham and Louie.  Supposedly Louie was getting anxious, and wanted to know if the baby had "popped out" yet.  My mom is SUPER impatient and antsy, so I'm pretty sure she wasn't just calling on Louie's behalf.  ;)  

It was really fun to talk to Louie, but it only reinforced how freaking annoyed I was that this was taking so long, or really seemingly going nowhere.  We were stuck in this damn hospital, and my kid sounded so cute and concerned and sweet on the phone and I just wanted to be able to tell him that his baby sister was here.  Or I just wanted to freaking be at home.  Definitely at this point second-guessing even coming in to the hospital.

I was getting tired from the stairs and starting to think maybe I didn't want to have ridiculously sore thighs and calves the next day, along with sore everything else from actually giving birth.  Also my back was hurting, partly due to the sheet tied tightly around my torso.  So we were about to head back to the room when our nurse came out to find us, looking stern again, and wanting to get me back to the room for some more fetal monitoring. She was really starting to annoy me actually.

She ordered me back to the bed, insistent that I needed to rest and relax a little, and said we'd do 10 minutes of fetal monitoring.  This is exactly the kind of thing I wanted to avoid in the hospital, and my midwife was okay with that, so it was somewhat annoying to me that the nurse wasn't really on the same page.

Of course the contractions started to space out again and got even wimpier once I was relaxing on the bed.  It was about lunchtime so I ordered more food and waited for it while bouncing on the birthing ball.  Both of us played around on our phones.  More daytime television, though at this point it had gotten REALLY boring, local news and soap operas and all that.

My mom texted.  No news, Mom.  YOU WILL BE THE FIRST TO KNOW I PROMISE.

I was trying to stay zen but was starting to get really nervous.  What is going on?  Is this even going to happen today?  Should I have gone home?  Are they going to force me into a bunch of interventions I didn't want?  I completely trusted my midwife, but also, we were in a hospital.  And I had a nurse who, despite being a very kind and sweet woman, was unintentionally extremely discouraging.  I swear every time she checked in on us I felt like I was disappointing her with my, "Nope, nothing... same story" response to her sing song, "Well... anything new?  Are they getting stronger?"

I didn't want to even look at her when she came in the room.  And I know she wanted us to do something, but I really wasn't ready to do something.  If it felt like my body was at least working on things I would have felt more confident in ignoring nurse Barb's obvious frustration, but she was getting to me.

Anyway, about noon we ate our lunch, I had ordered a BLT even though I wasn't all that hungry but THOROUGHLY enjoyed picking out and eating the bacon.  Mmmmm... bacon.  Nurse Barb left us alone for a while and I did more bouncing on the ball and in a fit of desperation I allowed my husband to do some stimulation of the you-know-whats. (I just cannot type that, too embarrassing.  And if you don't know what I'm talking about.. good.  Hint: boobs.)  It was super annoying and I just wanted to smack him at first but I forced myself to relax and it actually worked to increase the frequency of the contractions, but as soon as we stopped, the contractions stopped as well.

Over. It.

More of the same for the next few hours, bouncing on the ball, intermittent fetal monitoring, more unhelpful comments from nurse Barb.  I was feeling really down at this point.  And yeah.  I finally broke down and cried.  I couldn't stop looking at the clock, and I was feeling so much regret about even coming into the hospital.  At some point the stupid teacher heading up Gus's eval with the school district called and I stupidly answered my phone.  (We finally decided to get him evaluated with the school district to see if we could get any services to help with some behavior stuff.)  Well I've had issues with this lady and her methods from the very beginning and frankly just didn't really appreciate how she handled some things. But she had called to let me know she had been at his preschool today to observe him and had wanted to get in a few little fine motor tests that she hadn't been able to do one-on-one with him the TWO times I had brought him to her office.  So she freaking pulled him out of FREE PLAY TIME which is of course his favorite part of school.  He looks so forward to playing with his friends, and missing any of that time is just his worst nightmare. Well of course he had a big old meltdown after they finished with her exercises and was so sad and crying that playtime was over.  Ugh.  Whatever, not the end of the world, but I just felt terrible that he likely was already thrown off a bit because his mom was at the hospital having his freaking baby sister (ugh, I wish), and then this had to happen.  It of course wasn't the end of the world, but only made me feel even more regret about the fact that I wasn't there with him.  After our conversation (and setting a date for our final official meeting - read: multitasking), I texted my mom to tell her to give Gus some extra hugs because he had a bit of a rough time at school.  Of course she had known, he had already told her, and extra hugs had already happened. :(

So that whole conversation didn't help things with my psyche. (Why did I answer my phone?!) Overall I just felt trapped in this hospital room and frustrated and sad.

Finally at 2:45 or so my midwife came back (she had stolen away for a few hours of glorious sleep) and we had her break it down for us. What are our options? What are the pros and cons? How much time do we have once we start any of these interventions?

We could:

1. Go home.  Dan and I REALLY didn't want to do this, and she REALLY didn't want us to do this, not at 7 cm. She was worried that as soon as my water broke this baby would be born wherever we were at the time.

2. Get a line of Pitocin going.  See if we can increase the strength of these contractions. This would mean I'd have an IV and would have to drag a rolling buddy around with me wherever I went. This all sounded so... medical, which was just the last thing I wanted, and I was scared of what "artificial" contractions would feel like. I had had two babies before without medication and I knew I could handle normal contractions, but Pitocin contractions? I don't know. Just the idea of Pitocin terrified me, and that's probably irrational and stupid, but it's the truth. In my head, Pitocin meant an epidural which meant a c-section. I know. Talk about worst-case-scenario lady.

3.  Break my water. As soon as your water breaks, whether naturally or with a little help, there's concern over infection, so we would be on a time table. That was really the only downside. But I was ALREADY AT 7 CM. The hope here would be that as soon as the bag of waters was out of the way, my body would take over and we'd be having that baby in no time. But there was no guarantee of course.

We chose option number 3, seemed like a no-brainer.  Dan and I had been talking about this decision all day and we just needed a little push, which my midwife and the nurse happily gave.

And apparently, that little push was all my uterus needed as well. As soon as she broke my water, while sitting on the bed, I had two contractions just about 3-4 minutes apart that I actually had to breath through. I announced to everyone, "Yup! These are different!"

I was excited. FINALLY SOMETHING IS HAPPENING! So they asked if I wanted to get in the tub and I was like, "Sure, I guess, I don't now, maybe, I have to go to the bathroom."

They started filling the tub while I did that and I had a contraction in there that I had to bend over the sink and breath through.  When I got out I almost immediately had another one, and I bent over the side table next to the bed, rocking and breathing.

About two or three more of those and I was bearing down. Dan was kind of kneading my lower back like he did the last two labors when I was having back labor, which really helped then, but this time I wasn't having back pain. I think I told him, in the nicest way of course, to rub my back but to please stop squeezing it.

Holy crap. This was definitely happening. The midwife got me out of my skirt and encouraged me to push if I felt like pushing. They were milling around next to me talking about how the tub was still too hot, it was at 103 degrees or something ridiculous, and I remember hearing that and thinking, hell no was I getting in a hot tub. I was sweating profusely from like 5 whole contractions. Also I couldn't even speak to anyone, it was like they were all floating around me, ethereal voices, and I couldn't handle making any decisions about a water birth at this point. I could barely respond to anything anyone was saying.

Finally my midwife said, "Alicia, you're ready, this baby is coming, do you want to just get on the bed and have this baby on land, RIGHT NOW?!"

Yes. Yes, that is what I wanted.


And that is what I did. I don't know how many times I pushed, it's all a bit of a blurr, but it couldn't have been more than 4-5 times. I do know that it felt like more effort this time, and once her head was out she didn't just slip on out of there like I had remembered from before. Dan told me later that the midwife had to do a bit of yanking, her shoulders were stuck a bit. Nothing scary, but it all definitely felt a bit "rougher" than I had remembered. (Not that that part was necessarily a picnic during my prior births.)

Our baby girl was brought up to my chest and oh my goodness, I was so happy to see her. And so happy it was over, so relieved, a bit shell-shocked seeing as it had gone so quickly... once it finally started! My legs would not stop shaking for like ten minutes, it was a bit unnerving actually and I felt nervous that it meant something was wrong with me, but no one else seemed to be concerned when I told them. I actually asked Dan to take the baby pretty quickly because I just could not stop shaking and felt so drained of energy, I was worried I was going to drop her. Dan said there was a lot more blood than there had been with both Gus and Louie, so maybe that had something to do with it, but again, no one seemed concerned, or at least no one expressed any concern to us. They did give me the shot of Pitocin to help with the bleeding but that is standard protocol and no different from my prior labors.

We were asked if she had a name and I announced that her name was Olive Sylvia. (Sylvia is my grandma's name.) Dan seemed a little surprised, or maybe it was just apprehensive, which totally confused me. I thought we were on the same page and truly she had been Olive for some time. We had ceased any discussion about it long before, but I guess Dan felt that it was my right to change my mind after all I had been through, enduring pregnancy for a week longer than I had expected and being the one to actually give birth and all that. ;) He thought I would have wanted to name her Iris, which had been a favorite of mine for most of the pregnancy. He had always been very lukewarm on Iris and we both also loved Olive, so it wasn't that difficult of a decision when it came down to it. But goodness... if I had known that I would have this kind of almighty power when it came down to it, maybe I would have held out for Iris. ;)

(She is sooo not an Iris now, of course.)

Squishy puffy newborn sweetness!

Olive was born almost exactly 30 minutes after my midwife broke my water, and about 9 1/2 hours after arriving at the hospital, on February 27, 2015 at 3:32 pm.  We were so happy to finally meet her, so relieved that she was perfect and healthy in every way, and so excited to introduce her to her brothers.    


Nicole Tully said...

Awww, i just LOVE birth stories! And hers is amazing. Love how quickly it all happened after waiting and waiting. I can't believe you were just walking around at 7 cm and not really in active labor yet. That's CRAZY! I remember having the shakes REALLY badly after my precipitous delivery with Walker and feeling the same way - my body (and mind) was kind of in shock and I couldn't hold him or examine him in the way I wanted to right away.
Beautiful photos too - I love that first one of you holding her in the hospital bed. You look so beautiful and serene. Gorgeous! Congrats again on your sweet baby Olive!

Erin said...

yayyyyyy!!! This reminds me SO SO much of my birth with Luke!! Walking around the hospital being so annoyed that it wasn't going faster. I got there at 4, and a few hours later was only at 5-6, and at that point the midwife broke my water and then things picked up really quickly and I think he was born maybe an hour later?! I can't remember. This time I'm going to walk in and just tell them to break my water right away, ha :)

Lisa said...

Lol about the llamas news story. That's a gem to remember with her birth! Actually, it is the little random things that will be fun to look back on.

I guess every baby has the power to creating their own birth story, huh? Just when you expect things will go like they did before. She's your sweet little stubborn one. Who I'm thinking is also perhaps your most laid back one so far? What a trip.

Heather said...

Beautiful story! Looks like you delivered at Abbott? I did with Aden as well, and while we loved our overall experience there (so clean! so new!) our delivery nurse was a little nuts, too. :) I love how every birth story is truly different, and every mother has their own individual preferences. Awesome we live in a world where that can be the case. I had Pitocin with both of my kids as I was induced (plus had epidurals) and was stationed in bed the entire time. I loved it actually. It was so chill and relaxing before their births. Anyway, congrats again. Olive is positively squishy and so adorable.

Jodi said...

Yay, I LOVE birth stories! Thanks for the great read while up all night last night, haha! I am amazed your labor took that long and also annoyed for you that the nurses were so annoying - it's not like this was your first time or something, pretty sure you would have found your way back to the room if anything was truly happening! Sorry about the story with Gus too - I would have been a wreck thinking about that while in labor! Olive is such an adorable baby and such a cute name!

Navigating the Mothership said...

So glad you wrote this!!

Oh, that is torture that you were just hanging out waiting and yet 7 cm?! So crazy.

BOO HISS to that nurse and her monitoring and her tut-tut attitude about not progressing fast enough for her.

Water breaking (done by midwives twice and spontaneous with Ollie) was what had the babies flying out for me, too. It did take 1.5 hours between water breaking to birth for Bella but minutes for the last two.

And I shook horribly after every birth, usually for an hour or more and I did have blood loss each time. I was also very nauseous and never wanted to eat after labor which seems different from others who rave about that first meal. The way you describe it does sound like your blood loss would have played a roll - they don't count it as a hemmorhage until you lose 1 L but even only losing half a liter was hard on my system.

Glad your sweet baby is here and I love the name :)

Erin said...

Great story! They are all so different, aren't they. I love the detail about Dressgate happening that day she was born, that will be a fun story someday.

I also had the shakes something awful after I had Julius and just like with you, no one was worried even though it freaked me out a little.