Friday, October 24, 2014

Oh Baby, Baby!

Ummm, guys? Am I doing it right?

It's weird, I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy. Other than a few blips on the radar screen--a preeclampsia scare, a failed glucose test (I passed the second one) and a little bit of gestational hypertension--things went about as well as I could have hoped. Baby was healthy, I was healthy. I gained only 14 pounds(!) All of these things are awesome, but it somehow had me convinced I would have a hard labor and overall terrible experience. I will be honest...I was worried. 

On the evening of Monday, August 11th, I was on the phone with my dad and he had asked me how I was feeling. My answer was that I was, "over being pregnant, the heat was unbearable! Thanks Oregon for your 100 degree summer!" I was ready for her to come anytime. I told him since I was just over 2 weeks from my due date she was good to go and really just gaining extra weight at that point. The same night as I was confirming dinner plans with our friends Amy and Tyson via text message for Wednesday night, I made the joke I would try not to have her beforehand. The joke was clearly on me! Well played Audrey, well played. We went to bed that night having no idea that the next morning we would find ourselves officially awaiting the arrival of our little girl.

I woke up around 8:30 am the morning of the 12th. Nothing out of the ordinary. My routine was the same as every other day. I laid there checking Twitter and Facebook on my phone, delaying getting out of bed. Finally after about 45 minutes, I decided to get the day started. First stop the bathroom, then it was downstairs to let Belle out, make coffee and Chris's lunch. The only thing on that list that happened was using the bathroom. I made it almost all the way down the stairs, three steps from the bottom (there are 16) when all of a sudden I was stopped dead in my tracks with the initial thought my bladder no longer worked. Of course, that thought passed quickly and I realized what had happened.

My water broke! Crap/Yay!

They say it doesn't usually happen like in the movies or TV when all of a sudden you have a huge gush of water. Well it did happen that way, and thank God I was at home and Chris hadn't left for work yet! It was 9:20 AM on Tuesday, August 12th. This was it. This was really going to happen. This was going to be the day we would meet our daughter. Since December 17th we had been anticipating her arrival, and now it was right in front of us.

The next hour was a much calmer experience than I had ever thought it would have or could have been. You see...I'm a little insane. It's true. Just ask Chris. I don't do well with unknown situations, especially medical ones.

But in those first moments, I was cool as a cucumber.
Joe Cool.
Too cool for school.

I walked back upstairs and said to Chris, "uh honey, I don't think you're going to work today." He responded with "why?" I informed him that unless I no longer had bladder control my water had just broken. He got on the phone with his boss and me with my doctors office. Given my water had broken in the manner of a massive gush, we knew that was what it was and as expected they told me to head to the hospital and they would let them know I was on my way. Due to the fact I was not in labor, I knew we had time to get ready. So we both showered, took the dog out, left our key for our neighbors (they took care of Belle) and yes--even stopped at Starbucks on the way so Chris could get himself a quad shot caramel macchiato! However--I am very thankful we had packed our hospital bags on Sunday night. It really would have sucked to not have that stuff together.

Remember how I said I was expecting a horrible experience because my pregnancy was so easy?

Well, we arrived at the hospital in about 15 minutes, and Chris dropped me off at the front entrance so he could go park. I waited inside the doors for him. Remember--I wasn't in labor so it isn't like he just dropped off a screaming woman in pain and left me standing there! It was really stormy that morning, and the sky looked just awful. As I was standing there waiting for him, I heard this loud "BANG!" and everything went dark. All of the lights, everything was out.

I felt a slight sense of panic begin to set in.

This was it, the start of the horrible day I had been expecting.

Of course a few seconds later I heard the generators kick in and all the lights came back on. Talk about killing the dramatic effect of the panic that was starting to enter my mind! Chris--of course--thought this was funny when I told him what had happened. We proceeded to the elevators--except...they weren't working. When the elevator door finally opened, a guy stepped out informing us NOT to get in because he had just been stuck in there for 5 minutes! I was like, "HELL NO I am not getting in there!" Luckily, they stopped working again, so I didn't have to even think about it. To the stairs we went with a large group of other people. Once again--thank goodness--I wasn't in labor otherwise I am certain those 3 flights of stairs would have felt like 300. Once we were upstairs we learned that a lightening bolt had hit the hospital. Lovely. Only me!

It had been an hour since my water broke, and finally we were in triage. First was a urine test to confirm my water had indeed broke. Yep! (In fact, the triage nurse took us in to the lab so we could see the amniotic fluid under the microscope! It looked like a fern!) Next up was hooking me up to a monitor to check baby's heart rate. Once urine test confirmed what we already knew, one of the midwifes from my doctors office came to talk with us. Because I was group B strep positive, and because my water had broke she explained that they don't like to wait longer than 6-8 hours to get labor started if it hasn't already done so on its own. Clearly we wanted to avoid the risk of infection as much as possible for baby and for me, so we decided to wait till 3:30 pm and check where I was at.

Of course when 3:30 pm rolled around...nothing was happening. The doctor gave the okay to wait a while longer and we would make a decision at 6 pm. So we continued to walk laps around the labor and delivery ward to see if we could get it started naturally. Nada. The only thing I was feeling was how anxious I was to meet our little one. Oh, and of course the never ending pressure on my bladder forcing me to pee every five seconds.

So 6 pm came and went. Nothing. No sign this little one was about to get a move on. So we made the decision it was time to induce and hopefully get this party started sooner rather than later. In went the IV for my Penicillin (I was group B strep positive) and Pitocin. The drip was started very low...and so the wait began. I realize it had already been 9 hours since my water broke, but it felt like the real wait was just beginning...because I knew the Pitocin would--or at least should--send things in the right direction to put me into labor. The clock kept ticking and I kept feeling nothing. We watched the Mariners game, Chris was on his phone a lot, I was on my phone a lot. We were trying to keep people in the loop, but there weren't any updates! I was having very minor contractions (they were being picked up on the monitor) but I wasn't feeling any of them. Every once in a while my nurse reappeared to turn up the drip and every time I cursed her because I knew it meant things were eventually going to hurt. Audrey's heartbeat was steady and strong and she was clearly happy and cozy where she was.

Finally the clock hit midnight and suddenly there was what I had been waiting for since 9:30 that morning. OUCH!

Once I started to feel contractions--which were unfortunately mostly in my back--my nurse told me to let her know when I wanted my epidural. I told my nurse I wanted to wait as long as possible, because this brings me back to the fact I am insane. I do not like medical procedures, and the unknown has a knack of scaring me much more that it should. I spend all my time thinking of all the worst case scenarios instead of realizing how common most of these things are. I wasn't so much scared of the needle as I was the possibility of my legs being overly numb. If this were to happen I would most certainly panic.

For example, the first time I had an MRI these were actual questions I asked Chris on the way to the hospital: "What if the power goes out and I get stuck? What if there's an earthquake in the middle of my MRI?" Obviously the chances of these things happening at the exact time I am inside the machine are slim to none. Who has two thumbs and is an insane crazy person?? THIS GAL.

So we waited. The contractions weren't that strong for the first hour or so. The bigger issue at that point was every time I moved, the monitor that was tracking Audrey's heartbeat kept moving and my nurse had to keep coming in to readjust it. Audrey was being a little stinker and was in some weird position, so it took forever to find it. I was told if it kept happening I would need to have an internal monitor put in. Umm, NO thanks. Eventually I started to get pretty uncomfortable but I was still avoiding the epidural. So my nurse gave me some Fentanyl in my IV to try and tide me over for a little while longer. It was GREAT for about 20 minutes. Not because I think it was actually taking away any pain, but because it hit me so fast and hard I was high as a kite. Chris found this pretty amusing. Once that 20 minutes was up--regardless of how scared I was--I was ready for that epidural. I was over it and ready for the good stuff.

When the anesthesiologist walked in I could have kissed her. I was so very happy to see her, although I did briefly wonder if she was old enough to be doing that job. I swear, she looked like she was barely out of med school! The procedure itself was nothing like I expected. I most definitely expected it to hurt. It really just felt weird more than anything else. She had to do it twice, because the first one wasn't quite in the right spot. Finally, things were in place and she put the medicine into the catheter and gave me a little pump. If I needed more, all I had to do was hit the little button and more drugs for me! At this point it was 2 am, and Chris and I were both able to finally get some sleep...for about 2 1/2 hours that is. Around 4:30 am my nurse had anesthesiology come back up because I was starting to feel things again and that magic little button was NOT doing its job. I was given more stuff straight into the catheter in my back. It was a little better, but not as much as I wanted. They came back one more time and once again the same. The left side felt great, the right side had not taken all the way.

Frustration set in a little.

Where was my magical drug-induced labor where I felt nothing?

In all honesty, it really wasn't that bad. I was more uncomfortable than anything else, and I couldn't find a good position to lay in for longer than a couple minutes. Which was made worse when my nurse kept coming in and turning that pesky drip of Pitocin up. In her defense, they were just trying to get me to the finish line. They checked me around 6 am and I was only 4 cm dilated and still had a ways to go. A little while later they checked again and I was 6. I was frustrated at this point. Once more the drip was turned up and I got to the point where the only thing that relieved any of the pressure I was feeling was TO PUSH.

Chris was like, "I don't think you're supposed to be doing that!" Ha!

Well maybe not, but it was at the point I literally had no control over it. He went and told my nurse and she was like, "Nooooo don't do that!"

She came in and checked me again and still I was not ready yet. Aaargh!

But then--just a few minutes later--the doctor came in to check me, and I was fully dilated! She announces, "You're 100%!!" Everyone in the room was like, "YAAAY!"

It was 6:45 AM.

The next few minutes were a little bit of a blur to me. My nurse was getting the table of all the different tools for the doctor ready, and before I knew it the doctor who would deliver Audrey was in the room getting ready to go. She assured me the table of odd and perhaps scary looking items were only there in case she needed them. Of course, it wasn't my doctor who delivered Audrey, but it was one of her colleagues.

It was go time, no turning back and hopefully sooner rather than later we would be holding our baby girl.

Now, I hadn't taken any childbirth classes. The truth is, they seemed awfully pricey and nowadays you can learn everything and anything online. Which is what I did, I watched a class online for free. There was not ONE thing I was taught from watching that video that I didn't get walked through by my nurses and doctor. One of my nurses even said to me, "that's what we are here for." Looking back I am glad we didn't waste the money. So that was that, ready or not it was time to have a baby. I've never been a planner and have always sort of flown by the seat of my pants, so why should this have been any different?

My night nurse was off at 7 am but stuck around till 7:45. Every few minutes she would come check to see how things were going. I felt bad, because she worked her butt off all night taking amazing care of me and Audrey and she did all the heavy lifting, listened to my whining, and calmed me during the epidural. I could go on. She was awesome! I think we both wanted her to be there for the end result. Little Miss Audrey had different plans. The nurse that took over at 7 was equally as awesome. She was actually the mom and mother in law of friends of ours. How funny is that? I did know about her prior and had actually requested her (and my night nurse, for that matter) at the suggestion of our friends. She coached me through all my contractions, counted when I was pushing, kept me calm and so on. On the other side, Chris was the Ice Chip Champion, sometimes even over feeding me. He was right there the entire time and I could not have asked for a better coach to get me to the end result.

EVERY time I would say I was ready to push, the nurse and Chris (and later, the doctor) would get in position, and I would start pushing for like 2 seconds and be like, "Oh nevermind!" All three of them laughed at me when they figured out the first push was always going to be a fake! Only to actually need to push about ten seconds later, FOR REALS! Eventually they ignored me on that first one. Ha!

It was the weirdest experience in between contractions and pushing. I was laying there waiting for the next wave and hoping I had the energy to keep going. Then there was Chris, my nurse and the doctor just chatting up a storm having a great time. At first I was thinking, "HELLO! Remember me?!?!" But then I was thankful for their chatter and laughter. It kept me calm. I never had a chance to freak out about anything. After about an hour of pushing, Audrey was finally crowning. That was nowhere near as bad as I had expected especially given my epidural had not taken 100%. Don't get me wrong, it didn't feel great.

During this time my doctor exclaimed, "look at all her hair!" At which point she proceeded to play with Audrey's hair and exclaim she wanted to braid it. So funny! They asked if I wanted to feel her head or if I wanted a mirror. I was like, "HELL NO!" I know what was going on down there, and I didn't need the visual. That would have for sure made me panic. It had only been a half hour since her head started crowning but at times it felt like hours. I kept asking how much longer, the doctor kept saying "you're almost there," I kept asking "are you sure?" Ha! But she was right, with a couple of last big pushes she was out and on my chest. It was the most surreal moment of my life. There on my chest was MY baby. A tiny human that Chris and I created.

At 8:17 AM on August 13th, our lives changed forever.
She was breastfeeding almost right away, and during the 40 minutes or so the doctor was stitching me up, Audrey and I got to lay together. Chris and I both just stared at her a LOT. She was perfect. Finally they took her, cleaned her off all the way, weighed her and it was daddy's turn to hold his little girl. It was the coolest moment to see him hold her for the first time. She's had him wrapped around her tiny fingers from that moment!
There wasn't much that happened that took me by surprise. I felt that anything I was unsure of was explained to me really well. The only three things I would say really surprised me was the uncontrollable shaking before and right after she was born. Especially in my legs. The other thing was how HOT I was during labor. To the point I literally felt like I was going to start on fire. I don't usually sweat a lot, but...

I did not enjoy this.

Lastly, I could not believe the relief of pressure the second she was out. All of that pressure on my bladder and so on that had been almost unbearable the last few weeks was just gone. So awesome and weird.

Maybe I just had a good experience, but there was not one thing that happened that day that would discourage me from doing it again. It was surreal, painful, amazing, exhausting, joyful, emotional...pretty much the greatest experience of my life.

It was the day we met out beautiful baby girl. The day our lives changed in the best possible way they ever could have. We are thankful and blessed, and we are more in love with her everyday!