I know that it has been a very long time since I updated my blog...and for the 4 of you who actually read it, sorry about that. But, I wanted to share my birth story so that I could look back on it in case things started to fade from memory. Also, warning, this post is super long!! You're welcome...
I am going to go back a couple of weeks, just to show the progress made...and so that I can remember those details too!
I had an appointment with Dr. Skinner on Wednesday, August 10. I was scheduled to get my membranes stripped, and to check my cervix. The last time it was checked, I was barely open, and not quite a 1. So, at my appt, I was definitely a 1, and a little closer to a 2, but not quite. We decided to strip my membranes anyway. I was totally clueless when it came to this process. I told many people that I was going to get it done, and everyone just agreed that it was a natural step in the process...not a single person told me that it hurt like hell and was not very comfortable! And no one ever told me that it would be ok if I chickened out and didn't get a full sweep....bah! Well, as you can guess, I totally chickened out and didn't get a full sweep. It was not comfortable and it definitely hurt! After it was over, I called and updated my posse on what happened and all of them confirmed that it DID hurt and it was just fine that I didn't get a full sweep! WHAT THE HECK!! Oh well....
On Sunday, in the middle of the night, I actually woke up with some pretty strong contractions. I couldn't believe that they woke me up. I just thought to myself "oh crap, this is it!" So I got up out of bed, and went potty and drank a bunch of water. Then the contractions died down and I was able to go back to sleep, with no other incident.
My next appointment was scheduled for Monday, August 15. My actual due date!! We had considered getting my membranes stripped again, and since I was more mentally prepared for it, I was going to be brave and get the full sweep. Well, I woke up that morning and realized that if I was to get the sweep, then I might not make it until Wednesday, August 17, when my mom would be flying into town from Tennessee. So, before I even got to the appointment, Daniel and I decided that another membrane strip would not be a good idea. We had also decided that any other activities *cough*sex*cough* wouldn't be a good idea until mom came into town because we didn't want to risk anything!
At my appointment, I was already dilated to a 3! With 75% effacement. Dr. Skinner couldn't believe that I had dilated from a 1.5 to a 3 in just a matter of days. I should have taken that as a sign...but I was still convinced that we wouldn't have this baby before mom got here!!
Monday night, my sisters and I went to a bridal shower for our cousin Caroline. Caroline told everyone at the shower that it was my actual due date! All the women who have had babies reassured me that the first baby is always late! Caroline's wedding was August 17, and was begging me to have the baby during the ceremony so that everyone would remember her special day. HAHA
While at the shower, I kept telling Chalene that I was having mild contractions. She would feel how hard my belly got. It was actually a little painful for her to touch my belly, but I let her feel anyway. It made us more connected that way. I had been having mild contractions for a couple weeks now, but these ones felt a little more intense, and a little stronger. I was mentally keeping track of how far apart they were, and I was barely having 2 an hour. No reason to keep tracking...they weren't that close.
When I got home from the bridal shower, I got ready for bed. I got into bed at about 11:00 pm. At 1:00 am, I woke up to some pretty strong contractions. They made me feel like I needed to pee, so I got up and went pee and then realized that I was super tired, and so climbed back into bed. I decided to time my contractions using this app on my phone while lying in bed, and just see how close they were. At this point, I was awake enough to time two contractions, and they were 25-ish minutes apart. I rolled my eyes, shut off my phone, and went back to sleep.
At 3:00 am I woke up again to the contractions. Again, I went pee to see if it would help lessen the pain and discomfort. I, again, wanted to time my contractions to see if anything had changed. Again, I only made it through 2 contractions because I was super tired. Now, they were about 18 minutes apart. I grabbed the heating pad next to my bed, wrapped it awkwardly around my lower belly, and I rolled over and went back to sleep.
At 4:00 am, the pesky contractions woke me up, and I could definitely tell they were stronger. They felt like bad, bad menstrual cramps. The pain started down low, and worked its way up my belly. However, I didn't have a single ounce of back pain! That was what I was expecting because everyone talked about back labor and back pain and such. So, because of the lack of back pain, I was convinced that this was just false labor. I got up, went pee (see a pattern...) and came back to my room and just rocked back and forth on my legs while stretching my hips. I felt nice to just move and not lay in bed. However, I was still SUPER tired, and climbed back into bed to see if the pain would let up a little.
Now, it is 4:45 am and I am wide awake. The pain is not getting any better, in fact it is getting a little bit worse. I wanted to do something that would take my mind off of the pain, so I went in to the living room and sat on my exercise ball. The whole time I bounced on the ball, I had my phone with me and was timing the contractions. Between contractions, I was reading blogs and articles and anything I could about women describing their labor pains! HAHA Again, because of the lack of back pain, I am convinced it is just false labor. At this point, my contractions are about 6 minutes apart, and they are lasting anywhere from 45 seconds to 90 seconds. The rule that they doctor told us to follow was the 5-1-1 rule. Your contractions need to be 5 minutes apart, 1 minute in length, and it needs to have been that way for a whole hour. So, I kept timing them while bouncing.
After about 45 minutes, I realized that it may not be false labor, and we may need to go to the hospital soon. I didn't want to go on an empty stomach, so I grabbed two cheese sticks, an oatmeal cookie biscuit, and a gatorade and went to go rock in the rocking chair while enjoying my snack. While rocking, I kept thinking that I needed to talk to someone about what was going on. I didn't want to wake Daniel up yet because I didn't want him to worry, especially if it was false labor. I thought about calling my Aunt Jill, who was also acting as our doula, to see what she would say, but it was also 5:45 in the morning and I didn't want to wake her up for nothing. I thought about calling my sisters, but again, I didn't want to bother anyone if it was indeed false labor. So, I decided to call my mom.
It was now 6:00 am. I have been having consistent contractions for 1.5 hours, and they are now 5 minutes apart. Not every contraction lasted a whole minute. I would get a big contraction that lasted about 90 seconds, and then a medium contraction that lasted 45 seconds, and then again with the big contraction. Luckily, my mom was still in Tennessee, and they are an hour ahead of us, so it was 7:00am her time. I knew that she would either be getting ready to leave for work, or on her way to work. So I picked up the phone and called her. She was kind of surprised that I was calling so early, and the moment she asked me how I was doing, I burst into tears and told her that I was in labor. I didn't want to be in labor because she wasn't coming until the next day!! I was NOT supposed to have this baby before she got here!!!
Mom and I talked on the phone for 45 minutes. All the while, each of us were timing my contractions. They are still 5 minutes apart and getting more intense. I kept telling mom that I wasn't too sure it was time to go to the hospital. We were able to talk through a lot of things, and talking to her calmed my nerves and just made me more aware that this was probably "the time" that I had been anxiously awaiting for a long time.
I told my mom that I just needed to go on a walk to see if walking would make my contractions stronger, or weaker. I did NOT want to go to the hospital to be sent home because I wasn't consistent or in actual labor! Mom told me that I HAD to wake Daniel up and tell him I was going to go on a walk just in case I went into labor and didn't make it back up the stairs to our apartment.
After hanging up with mom, I snuck into our bedroom and climbed in bed next to Daniel. I woke him up, kissed him, and he asked me how I was doing. I asked him if he had his hospital bags packed yet! (PS: I had been bugging him for days to get his bag packed so that if I were to go in to labor, I wouldn't need to wait for him to actually pack it! LOL It was a running joke between us!) Me asking him that definitely woke him up super fast! He gasped super loud. I told him not to freak out, but that he needed to get up and get ready. I then told him that I wanted to go on a walk around the complex to see what it would do to my contractions. I wanted to walk for 30 minutes to see what, if anything, would change.
I got dressed, put on my shoes, grabbed my phone, and left the apartment. I walked around the parking lot and kept timing my contractions. The cool thing about my app is that when you hit the 5-1-1 rule, it would actually tell you to head to the hospital. So, as I am walking around in circles my contractions are now 4 minutes apart, and every one is lasting at least a minute. They are getting more intense and a couple of them made me stop in my tracks...But again, it had the same pattern of one stronger and one not as strong. The poor app kept telling me to go to the hospital, but I wanted to walk around for 30 minutes like I had planned, so I kept ignoring it.
After 30 minutes, I went back inside. Daniel had shaven his face, brushed his teeth, packed his hospital bag, and packed almost everything into the car. Including the car seat and exercise ball (our hospital has a rule about bringing your own if you want to use it during labor!). The only thing I needed to do was finish packing all of my toiletries and pillow and put them in the car.
We drove to the hospital, quite nervously, and called everyone on the way there. My sisters were both super excited and anxious to hear the news once we got to the hospital. Mom called Dad, and he texted us good luck. We called Aunt Jill and she told us that she would be ready to head down the second we gave her the heads up. (She had a 90 minute drive from her house to the hospital). We tried to call Daniel's mom LuAnn, and she didn't answer. Though when she got back to the house, she saw our missed calls and called us back right away. We got to the hospital and went up to the 5th floor, Labor and Delivery. It was 8:08 am when we checked in. We told the cute secretary that my contractions were 4 minutes apart, and lasting more than a minute. It had been consistent now for a little more than 3 hours! lol She got us all set up in labor and delivery room #28. (there are 31 rooms, and all 31 were full with women having GIRLS! That was a fun surprise!)
We started to get hooked up the machines. It took about 45 mins to get everything hooked up and started. I had the cutest nurse ever, Natalie. She really made me feel like a million bucks and really cared about what my wants and wishes were. She asked if I wanted an epidural, and I wasn't sure yet that I wanted one. I wanted to be able to labor as long as I could before I got it, if I were to get it at all. She was supportive of that and told me that she wouldn't suggest it and that it was my job to ask for it. I appreciated her willingness to give that power to me completely. After everything was hooked up, they checked my cervix. I was now dilated to a 3.5, 85% effaced, and a -2 station. That was a little disappointing to me because I was convinced that those 3 hours of contractions would have definitely dilated me to a 4...but alas, not so.
We made phone calls, updated all those waiting in the eaves, and told them that an hour later they would come and check my cervix to see if anything had happened. If I didn't dilate in that hour, then I would probably be sent home and asked to come back when my contractions were stronger. So...wait and wait and wait we did. Luckily there was a TV in my room and we flipped between a few shows while waiting. My poor mom kept calling and wanting constant updates, and we just didn't have too many updates to give her at first. While I was laying there, my contraction actually started to die down. I was super frustrated. I just KNEW that they were going to send me home now! Then about 5 minutes later, Natalie came back and told me that they needed to prop up one of my hips to help the baby a little bit. So they propped up my right hip with a towel and left. No lie, being propped up, my contractions started back up super quick and just as strong as before. That made me super happy!
After an hour, Natalie came back in and checked my cervix, I was practically dilated to a 4, effaced 90% and my bag of water was bulging more than before. Natalie told me that that was a really good sign, even if I hadn't dilated more. But then Natalie went on to say that McKinley's heart wasn't acting like it should. She described the a baby's heart should spike right before a contraction, then drop during the contraction, and then steady back out again. McKinley's heart wasn't spiking like it should, but it was dropping perfectly. So, Natalie told us that she needed to call Dr. Skinner and ask him what to do. She came back about 30 minutes later and told us that since I was technically overdue, and because of the heart situation, they were going to keep me! HOORAY! We were having a baby!!!!!
They brought in the IV, and the Pitocin, and started to make things official! They were going to start me on a super low dose of Pitocin, just because I was overdue and they wanted things to keep progressing. So, as Natalie was getting the meds started in my IV, we kept watching my contractions on the monitor. Then she told me that she was going to start the Pitocin. No lie, as soon as she said the dreaded "P" word (because Pitocin was the last thing that I actually wanted...) I got the world's biggest contraction!!! The nurse was surprised at how huge it spiked!! None of my other contractions had been that big before. Then it kept going...and going...and going.... Natalie asked him to roll to my left side to see if the contraction would subside...nothing. She then asked me to roll to my right side....nothing... We kept waiting and waiting and waiting for the contraction to subside. It kept going. I tried to remain calm during it, and practice my breathing, but man, it was a big one! FINALLY, the dang contraction subsided. Natalie was worried and told me that I couldn't do that again or they would have to rush things and get the baby here quick. That contraction really had a negative affect on McKinley. We went back and counted how long the contraction actually lasted...it was TEN MINUTES LONG! Let that sink in for a minute....10 minutes....one solid contraction that didn't let up once....
Whew, once that was over, we called everyone to tell them that I got to stay! It was really official that we were having a baby! It was now 10:35 am. I got checked again, and I was definitely dilated to a 4. Thank goodness the monster contraction did something good for us. Now, were just had to wait and see how the now hooked up pitocin would help move things along. Waiting got better once everyone started showing up. Emily and Chalene and Tim came together. We called Jill to tell her to come down and she told us she was already on her way knowing that we were going to stay! We called mom and gave emily the task of keeping her updated so I could focus on breathing and getting through the contractions. LuAnn told us that she would wait a little bit longer before coming to the hospital. We talked and laughed and I just laid there and focused on breathing. It was nice being able to keep my eyes closed and just listen to things going on around me. I didn't open my eyes too much, which definitely helped me to focus inward. Jill and Daniel were super nice and gave me massages. Emily kept mom updated, which was nice that I didn't need to. Daniel went and got the exercise ball out of the car for me. I wanted to get up and move around a bit to help with the pain of the contractions. I definitely got up and used the bathroom as many times as I possibly could so that I wouldn't have to stay laying in the bed the whole time. I got down on the exercise ball, and then the monitors strapped to my belly stopped working. The one keeping track of the contractions was just fine, but the one that was in charge of monitoring the baby's heart beat keep losing track of it. Poor Natalie had to come in several times to see if she could get the heartbeat back on the monitor. They said that it was most important to keep track of her heart because of what happened early with her heartbeat. Because of that, I had to give up the exercise ball and get back into the bed. That made me a little sad. So, I tried to make the most of the bed situation. It helped to lie on my side, and shake my foot every time a contraction started.
Again, Jill was there to remind me to breath deep and to focus not on the pain, but on the progress. Daniel and Emily took turns massaging my shoulders and back. I think that Emily had magical hands because every time she started to rub my lower back for me, my contractions would kick up super strong. Even if I had just had one, they would start the minute she put her hands on my back. I couldn't handle the pain of contractions and the sensation of being touched, so I would have her stop rubbing. Then my contractions would subside a little. Repeat the whole thing for about 20 minutes. I had to give up the fact that my back needed rubbing because I couldn't handle the extra pain! haha
The contractions were definitely getting harder and more intense. I was having a more difficult time trying to breathe through the pain. Jill kept reminding me to breathe deep through my mouth and out through my nose. The pain getting the best of me. Finally, I had had enough!! I wanted the epidural, and I needed it right away. I told Natalie that I was ready for it, and she told me that I was second in line! HOORAY!
The weirdo anesthesiologist came in and had me lay on my left side, and then squished me into a very tight ball. That was the hardest position to hold because my contractions were super strong and I just needed to move...but I couldn't...and I was stuck! He numbed my back twice, and then placed the epidural. I didn't feel a thing! That was grand!! I started to feel the medicine kick in about 15 minutes later. Everything went numb except my lower abdomen on my left side. Which also happened to be the spot that I was feeling the contractions the hardest! lol So, the nurse had me roll to my left side, and then I was completely numb about 10 minutes later. It was a great feeling, but also a surreal feeling. And it was completely awkward to not have any control over my lower half anymore. After the epidural was in full effect, they checked my cervix again. This time I was dilated to 7 cm, 100% effaced, and at a 0 station! WOOT WOOT! I was brave enough to make it to 7 cm before I needed relief from the pain. The epidural was placed at 1:55pm, and they checked me at 2:00pm. Things were moving along quite nicely. I also got a catheter. There is always a first time for everything. I didn't really feel them place it, but I did feel a little bit of something unique. Again, weird to not have full control over my lower half. At one point, I felt my leg start to fall off the bed, I tried with all of my might to pull it back up on the bed. But I had NO CONTROL over it! HAHA Chalene had to lift my dead-weight log I call a leg and put it back on the bed. That actually happened a few more times and we all got a great laugh out of it.
Dr. Skinner was called in to help deliver another woman down the hall, and stopped by to check in on me. It was 2:40pm and I was dilated to 8 cm. Dr. Skinner then broke my water. (Luckily it was a trickle and not a huge gush!) No one could believe how fast that went! I was also at a +1 station. Since I had the epidural placed and it was working quite nicely, I was able to be more involved in what was going on in the room. I was able to interact more with my family and even tell a few jokes. It was nice to have relief from the pain. The only thing I regret is that I was rolled on my left side, which meant my back was to the monitors the whole time. I didn't get to watch the contractions get bigger and longer and closer together, but Jill made sure to tell me how intense they were.
At 4:00pm, Dr. Skinner came in and checked my cervix again! I was finally at 10cm!! I couldn't believe how fast it went!! I couldn't believe that it was super close to pushing time. Dr. Skinner explained that we would do a "rest and descend" which meant my body would get to do the work of moving the baby down the birth canal so that she would be in a more ideal location when I finally started pushing. Rest and descend would be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. We all decided that 5:00pm would be the time that we would start pushing. So, we waited and watched the clock.
Emily got the computer all set up so that we could FaceTime mom and she could be there with us. Everyone got in to their respective positions. Daniel was on my right side, and Jill was on my left side. Chalene was in charge of the camera, and just kinda wandered around the room. Tim, luckily, left to give us more privacy. LuAnn was at the very end of the bed so she could see everything! (This was her first birth where she wasn't the one having the baby. I am glad that she got to be there!)
The nurse checked me one last time. She commented on how much hair McKinley had and that it was long enough for her to pull! That was kind of interesting to think about... Then Dr. Skinner came in at 5:05pm, and the nurse and Daniel helped to rotate me on to my back. Dr. Skinner instructed Daniel and Jill how to hold my legs, and Jill told me where to grab my thighs to be in the most ideal position to push. It was waaaayyyy weird to grab my legs and not feel a single thing! The nurse would stand by the monitor and tell me when a contraction was starting, and then we would start to push. The goal was to push 3 times per contraction. I pushed for 10 seconds each time. One time, we made a goal to push 4 times in one contraction. I don't think I could have done that each time, but I did do it a few times.
After pushing for about 20 minutes, Dr Skinner wasn't too happy about McKinley's heart rate and what she was doing on the monitor. He said that most of the time big babies have heart issues once mom's start pushing, but he still wasn't too happy about it. Dr. Skinner told me that he was going to use the forceps to try and help both of us out. I was totally ok with the forceps because it meant that I didn't have to go in for a c-section. Dr. Skinner also knew that I was extremely scared of getting a c-section, so he knew that I wanted to try any other option before we had to resort to c-section. He also told me that he would try his hardest with the forceps, but that c-section was not 100% off the table.
Because we were using forceps, I needed to have an episiotomy. Again, weird not feeling it, but more weird hearing it...and seeing what was happening....Next contraction I pushed with all my might. Dr. Skinner kept telling me to push harder and harder...um not sure how I could...but I did...I guess...They also got the stirrups out, and they lovingly lifted my dead-weight logs up on the stirrups. I kept pushing...people kept yelling...and then her head was almost out. About an hour before, we all went around the room and took guesses on how big she would be, and what time she would be born, and what color her hair would be. I told everyone that I didn't want anyone to tell me her hair color, but that I wanted to see her hair to know for myself. We concluded that people could comment on how much she had, but not the color. As her head was peaking out, but not quite out all of the way, Daniel excitingly commented "woah! Her hair is so dark!" He was just so excited to see her hair, and totally forgot about talking about the color! HAHA Good thing I love him!
I kept pushing, Dr. Skinner kept tugging, and then her head was out. I could kind of feel relief of pressure but not too much. Then next contraction I pushed hard again and her shoulders were out. That brought a huge relief of pressure! Then she was all the way out. It was exactly 5:52pm. That was the time that I guessed she would be born! I am glad I won that guess!! :)
Dr. Skinner held her up and I got to see her for a brief second. Then came the suctioning, and Daniel got to cut her umbilical cord. Dr. Skinner laid her on my belly. I couldn't believe how heavy she felt on my belly. I couldn't believe that she was actually here and that I got to hold her. She cried a little bit, but didn't give a big enough cry to clear out her lungs. They took her over to the warmer and tried to get her to cry more. Again, she would cry a little bit, but not big enough to satisfy the nurses. Finally she let out one big cry, and that was all she was going to do. Her little personality was showing through all ready.
While they were warming her up and getting her APGAR score, Dr. Skinner and I delivered my placenta. That was really cool to see. He explained to Chalene and Daniel about it and how the sac was attached and the cord was attached. I was kind of able to see what he was saying. Again, what a cool thing to see and how miraculous it is. McKinley got to be weighed. She came in at 9 lbs 5 oz. Which is one ounce more than what I weighed at birth. LuAnn guessed her weight correctly! They measured her length and she was 20.5 inches long. No one guessed her length because we all thought she would be at least 21 inches! lol
After cleaning up McKinley a little bit more, they brought her to me and we got to lay skin to skin. That was such a sweet experience. The tears flowed freely!! It was such a sweet and tender moment having her laying on my chest. It was so spiritual to know that she came to this earth and she got to be my daughter. It is wonderful knowing that Daniel and I get to be her parents and bring her up in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are so in love with our sweet baby girl and soaking up all the time we get to spend snuggling her and loving on her!!