Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Birth Story : Margaret Jane

I knew I didn't grasp or comprehend what was about to happen to me.  I knew my life was about to change but I couldn't possibly understand what it would feel like.  For weeks in my pregnancy people asked if I was ready.  I nervously never felt ready until about 35 weeks or so.  By then, I had a detailed list of positive words or phrases Andy could say to me during labor.  I had a list of things I could try during labor to help me endure it.  I had a game plan of sorts.  I had read all the blogs and books and websites. I had dreams about breastfeeding.  I gave up on bending over.  My shoes literally didn't fit, my feet were so swollen.  I was done.  I was ready to throw all the "birthing plans" out the window and just have the baby.  I was no longer scared or worried, I was just done.

At 36 weeks pregnant, I really wanted an ultrasound since I hadn't had one since 20 weeks and thought it would be nice to confirm I didn't need any boy clothes.  I asked my doctor on two different occasions and he said he would next visit but that didn't happen.  SO an OB friend of ours kindly said he would check for us. There we found out she was indeed a girl, but also that she was breech.  At this time, I was 75% effaced and 2.5 cm dilated. I figured she would be coming soon, upside down or not.

I also knew my placenta was anterior and my fluid levels weren't the greatest so it would lower my chances of her flipping.  I went home that day a bit caught off guard.  My PLAN didn't have a C section in it. My PLAN was that I would get to push my baby girl out.  I dreamed of this scene for months.  I prayed that day. And felt calm. I knew I would do whatever I needed to do and whatever that was, would be just fine with me.  I embraced the thought of a C section and deep down knew then that that is what would happen.

For a week, I tried tricks to make her flip without being too drastic. I did an inversion exercise on the couch that felt like an olympic sport for my giant body.  I tried massaging her in a rotation to urge her to flip.  I put a cold compress on the top of my belly in hopes she would shy away from it. Nothing. Not even an attempt to budge.

The next week, at my 37 week appointment, I told the doctor right when he walked in that I thought she was breech. I told him to prove me wrong.  Again, he felt my stomach and said that bump by my ribs? Yeah, that's a butt. Panic ran through me at the thought that I would have to confess that I had an ultrasound done by someone else and I KNEW he was wrong.  But then he said he would check for my progression and would be able to feel the head.  He checked, I was still just 75% effaced and 3 cm dilated. He also said, "You know what--that doesn't feel like a head. Now you have me second guessing..." I asked for an ultrasound.  He did the ultrasound and there she was! My darling girl with her head in my ribs.  He said mother's intuition. heh.

Since I was 37 weeks, he said we needed to try for a version immediately. He said any later than now, I would likely not have enough space for her to move. I felt pretty nervous about the version and knew it would hurt.  I considered not doing it.  I asked him for his opinion on what to do.  He said it was definitely worth a try to avoid surgery. He made an appointment for me at the hospital for the next morning.

When we got to the hospital I put on a hospital gown for the first time in my life.  The nurse put the IV in which was pretty uncomfortable and then I laid there shaking, waiting for the doctor to come in.  I was insanely nervous anticipating how badly it would hurt.  I had watched videos of versions on you tube the night before while I sat in the bath, and though the videos seemed kind of peaceful, I knew it would be painful.

The doctor checked the ultrasound, laid me back, gave me meds to relax my uterus then tried to twist my baby out of her position with his hands on my stomach.  Nothing. I was shaking like crazy and he kept urging me to relax.  I had andy turn on Mormon Tabernacle choir to calm me and had him give me my essential oils so I could try to release my anxiety.  The doctor said he has never done a version to Mo Tab before.

Baby girl wouldn't budge at all.  The doctor said if the baby was going to flip, he would be able to do so fairly quickly and easily. I told him I have embraced the surgery and not to force her if she wasn't going to move easily. After about 10 minutes, he gave up and said it wasn't going to happen and was no longer worth torturing me over.  I ate a delicious hospital breakfast burrito, and went home.

I felt just fine going home, but later that day I began to lose my plug.  Contractions also picked up but they were not painful at all.  It was a Friday and I spent the whole weekend fading in and out of contractions that were now becoming painful. Each day, I thought it was THE day.  Monday morning I had an appointment to check on how I was doing. I was so sure that he would send me straight to the hospital that I packed our bags in the car and brought Andy with me. The doctor checked me, still 3 cm 80% effaced. ANNOYING. All my hard work and pain over the weekend for nothing! UGH.

I continued to labor each day and 2 or 3 nights that week I stayed up through the night in pain counting my contractions.  I was waiting for them to get to the magic 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long for an hour.  I would sometimes get down to the 5 min apart but then it would let up and go to 8-10 minutes apart.  It was exhausting and frustrating.

Wednesday night I was starting to give up on the contractions progressing me and went to get pedicures with my sister in laws even though contractions were 6 minutes apart the hour before.

I went to bed that night but woke up an hour later with consistent contractions again.  I tracked them with an app and breathed through them knowing they would end within a minute. They hurt so bad when I laid on my side and were getting closer together so after an hour or two I got up and showered. I shaved my legs and took my time.  Earlier that week a warm shower had stopped my contractions and I was curious to see if that would happen again.  The opposite happened this time, i stood in the bathroom rocking for a while and got ready as I worked through them.  It was about 4am at this point and I didn't feel quite ready to wake andy up and head to the hospital.  So I finished the dishes and did a load of laundry downstairs.  It felt much better to be up and moving or leaning on the couch as I worked through them. At about 5:30 I woke Andy up and told him we needed to go to the hospital but he could take his time showering and eating breakfast.

We left the house around  6:30 am and got checked into the hospital at 7am.  At this point I'm in pretty good pain and I pace a little while they get us checked in.  Finally I get checked and I am fully effaced and 4cm dilated.  The nurse says my waters are about to burst and we need to hurry since my contractions are on top of each other.  She said we should've come in way sooner! But all I was thinking was that I didn't want to be sent home and I didn't want to wake everyone up in the middle of the night.

Some nurse is chatting with me about paper work and I'm working through a contraction trying to pretend like I can hear her while I'm getting an IV at the same time.  I ask how long this takes and what the game plan is because I have a birth photographer.  The nurse says we need to hurry and I'm having this baby out in a half an hour! Another nurse comes into the room and says Dr Farley is on his way and we need to get going.

I start to get anxious but it was a pretty peaceful and exciting feeling.  I'm thinking, I have to get a spinal still, my body will be numb, I'm going to be cut wide open.

And then I realize,
I am going to meet my baby today!  My little girl! She is going to be here within a half hour! And I sob because I am so lucky.

After just a couple of minutes of being hooked up to the IV they wheel me into the OR.  I was nervous I would get anxiety at the sight of the OR room.  I thought the cold table or the smells would freak me out.  I panicked that I would throw up or the Spinal would hurt.  There are a lot of stories you hear of all these scary things.

but it wasn't scary at all.

The spinal didn't hurt even though I clenched the poor student nurse's hands so hard they turned purple. I asked her where she was going to school to distract myself. The nurses talked amongst themselves and I hummed.

The room wasn't scary, just a small doctors office room with extra tools.  I never noticed any smells or the temperature of the table.

After receiving the spinal (which just jolted me a little when it went in but it did not hurt), they laid me down on the table. Slowly I started to feel numb. They put my catheter in and I could feel it a little. It was not awesome. Then people started flooding the room.  My dr came in and the assisting doctor. They chatted together while he prepped me.  Nurses laughed about something. I tried to pay attention but I was nervous and excited for what was about to happen.  I couldn't believe it was happening. and it was happening TO ME! I laid on the table with my arms to my side and Andy was let into the OR. I hummed and distracted myself from everything and just wanted to get it over with.  I remember telling the doctor not to cut me until he was positive I was numb. He poked my ribs and I yelled to him that I could feel it and not to cut me yet! He promised he would wait until I was numb.

A couple of minutes later they are pushing around my stomach. I could feel my body being tugged at.  The doctor said OK we're going to get your baby out of here now! After some pressure and more tugging they exclaim that she is here! I hear a nurse say she is beautiful. I hadnt heard her yet so I asked if she was healthy.  I asked if she had two arms and two legs.

And then I heard her cry!

Oh. my. heart.

The BEST best best thing in the whole world. I spent months worried I would lose her and here she was pink and crying like a healthy baby!  Time just stood still.  Nothing else could ever matter more than my little girl. My heart just swelled.

They brought her around to me to see her but by that time I was crying so much my vision was blurred. I barely got a glimpse of her but I remember thinking she was so tiny!

They took her away and the anesthesiologist asked if I wanted something to calm me, and I said yes since Andy left with the baby and I was alone.  I listened to the doctors talk for a minute and tried to pay attention but I am pretty sure I fell asleep for a half hour.  I was grateful for the meds and to not have to be awake during that time.

When I got back to my room they brought my baby in to get to hold her for the first time.

As you can see, I struggled to get my big numb body up so I could hold her haha!

And just like that, I had a baby!

Margaret Jane was born at 8:08am on November 12th.  She weighed a perfect 7lbs 3oz and measured 18 inches long.  She was absolutely beautiful.  She was gorgeous.  I didn't have a vision of what she would look like at all so she kind of surprised me.  I didn't feel like she looked like me or andy at the time but she was so pretty!

I loved examining her little features and holding her close to me. I took my time nursing her and chatting with Andy.  I facetimed my family in California and sent photos to everyone.  I just loved having her here and healthy.

I felt like the luckiest woman in the whole world to be a mama and to have Andy by my side.  It was such a precious stay at the hospital and I loved every minute!

Recovery from my C section went as good as I could have hoped I think. I don't have anything to compare it to but it certainly was not as bad as people made me think it was.  The first 24 hours after delivery were the hardest, particularly that night.  That night they woke me up to take out my IV.  Then an hour later woke me up to take out my catheter.  Then it was time for me to start getting out of bed and that was really really hard and painful. And frankly, that was the only bad part of the whole experience.  Getting out of the hospital bed just plain sucked.  BUT 24 hours after that I was able to do it on my own and often and it got better from there out.

I was freaked out to have the catheter taken out but that didn't hurt at all. I barely felt it.  I also was shocked to finally look at my scar and see giant metal staples. I thought those DEFINITELY will hurt coming out. But they didn't at all.  My doctor removed them on my last day at the hospital and it was a piece of cake.

The whole C section was truly a great experience and nothing to dread or be afraid of.  I have had a lot of people respond to me like, "Oh no! I am SO sorry you had to have a C section! Bummer!" but there is nothing to be sorry about, it was awesome! Bringing my baby girl into the world and everything I endured made it all worth it!  I do not feel short changed or disappointed in the least! It was beautiful and special and I wouldn't change a thing!

Andy instantly became an amazing father! He was the cutest! He did all the diapers and clothes changing and swaddling since I couldn't move much.  He did such a great job taking care of both of us.  Andy rocked her and read "On the Night You Were Born" to her and snuggled her constantly.  She has him wrapped around her finger!

Andy was a huge help and supporter to me while baby and I learned how to breastfeed.  It was a great experience.  I knew it takes a minute to learn and for the baby to learn so I was not stressed at all about the experience.  I kept calm and loved feeding my little babe.

Breastfeeding has easily become one of my favorite things.  It is peaceful and I love looking into Margaret's eyes.  She is so pretty and sweet! She is a wonderful eater and has gained weight steadily.  Breastfeeding has been a really good and easier experience than most people portray it to be.  I feel lucky to have had Andy's support and patience as we learned and got a steady supply in.

After having Margot I realize not every woman's body nor every baby nor every circumstance is perfect.  Things will not go as planned in one way or another.  There is adapting that has to happen for every woman's birth story and experience and breastfeeding experience.  No experience is identical.  Having a healthy baby is the only thing that ACTUALLY is important no matter how they came or how they eat or where they sleep.  I think patience and an open mind are the best things we could do for ourselves as mothers or soon to be mothers.  Gaining knowledge is also important as you have to make a lot of decisions and how to adapt to taking care of your postpartum body and a newborn.  I'm grateful I have had such a great experience and have LOVED the newborn stage! I feel thankful everyday.


week 1: BLISS
week 2: PANIC because the meds are running out (NOOOOOOOO!  Called the doctors office crying because I ran out)
week 3: HORMONES wanted everyone to leave me alone and stay away, cried over every song and commercial, cried because I don't want people to touch her face and hands, cried over her getting bigger, cried because someday she is going to get married, cried, cried, cried
week 4: still crying, still want everyone to leave me alone
week 5: can move around really good and feel like I am almost fully healed
week 6: ran 2 miles and feel good! don't feel the sad hormones any more
week 7-9: feel great, breastfeeding is great, have her on a pretty good routine with good naps and sleeping, wear a pair of jeans for the first time!

images by Angela of Ivory Lime Photography