Ashby has been here for just a few minutes over a week. It has been the most amazing and wonderful sleepless week. She is literally perfect. I recognize that I am a little biased but I literally just stare at her all the time. I decided a long time ago that I was going to breastfeed exclusively so she is usually attached to me (seriously, my body is no longer my own...she owns it.) She is a complete snuggler. If you hold her for more than 5 minutes she is snuggled down and ready to take a good nap. Fortunately Dave is a really good swaddler so we have successfully had two nights that she has slept in her bassinet. And at night she is sleeping for 3-4 hour stints so I am getting a lot of sleep. During my pregnancy I think I actually slept less because of insomnia, anxiety and just having to pee all the time. I am so grateful to have my hips back (from a comfort standpoint anyway).
So a few of you have asked me to tell you about my labor experience. I have not really had the energy to talk on the phone about it because its kinda a long one (27 hours from the check in to the delivery) and retelling it over and over kinda makes it feel less like my story. Plus I am spending so much time feeding her that when I am not I have enjoyed taking a shower, a nap, or eating (man....I have never been so hungry!) So if you don't want details or you don't want to hear about how she came out...please skip this post and read the next one!)
For my entire pregnancy the dr's were concerned that my blood pressure was slightly elevated. For some reason whenever I go to the dr those numbers go up, and then when I leave the office they go back down (white coat syndrome I think they call it). So they weren't super concerned. They monitored me the whole time, but toward the end my numbers started to significantly increase and I was spilling protein into my urine which worried them because it signifies kindey issues. I also had more swelling and weight gain toward the end of my pregnancy which was crazy because at the beginning they were concerned that I wasn't gaining enough weight. So they kept having me do 24 hour urine collection (yep, as gross as it sounds) and on Tuesday Feb 9, my midwife (Dave's aunt) called me to tell me that they had decided it was time to induce my labor. It was the weirdest five minutes. I hung up the phone and immediately burst into tears. After Dave held me for a few minutes I put on my game face and knew I was ready. So I took a shower and had some toast and we headed to the hospital.
We checked into the hospital about 9:30 and after an hour or so they hooked me up to the IV with my food source for the next 2 days (yum...sugar water!) and got everything set up. At 12 they gave me my first pill to induce contractions. The Dr said that it could take anywhere from 24-72 hours to get me into labor...but my body was on the verge of ready because within 30 minutes I started having measurable contractions. This happened at regular intervals until about 4 pm, but they were really manageable so Dave and I watched a movie and he had lunch. After that the contractions tapered off and they gave me another pill at 6 pm. They checked me at that point and I was only 1-2 cm dilated and about 70% efaced. So she wasn't really moving down. That second pill kicked in and the contractions immediately resumed and got a lot stronger. I watched my weekly NCIS and NCIS LA. At about 10 they came in to check me again and said they could start pitosin to increase the frequency of my contractions and we decided to wait a little for that. I was still on 1-2 cm. They came back at 11 and started the pitosin. Dave decided to go to sleep for a while so that he would be ready when I was in the harder part of labor. We had decided that I wanted to have a natural childbirth, if possible, and up to this point I had been feeling really good about it. The only annoying thing was that because of the high blood pressure I was not allowed to be up and out of my bed for longer than about 20 minutes, except for to sit in the rocking chair. That momentarily eased my discomfort and from 12-2 I put on my IPOD and listened to the labor playlist Kate and I made (lots of acoustic worship music) At about 2 Ritha woke up to ask if I needed to use the bathroom (which can also ease contraction pain) so I got up to go pee.
Let me just say that Pitosin and Cytotec (spelling?) are no joke. At this point I could not talk through the contractions and breathing normally was getting harder and harder. At 2:15 Ritha asked if she should wake up Dave and I whimpered yes. I got back in the rocking chair and from 2:30-4 I have never experienced anything like what I went through. Apparently inducing labor makes the contractions more frequent and much stronger than if I had gone into labor on my own. Each of my contractions was 1 minute long, about 30 seconds of which I can only describe as taking everything in me to not scream or pass out) and they continued to happen at 30 second intervals. So basically I barely had time to recover when another one hit me. Dave was absolutely amazing. He rubbed my back, he held my hand, he let me basically hang on to his neck and moan/breathe through each contraction. Ritha was helpful too, reminding me about breathing and options for pain management. At about 3:30 I started to notice a change. Instead of making it through each contraction I was beginning to feel like I was drowning in them. I started telling Dave that I didn't think I was going to make it through them without help. At 4 I asked the Dr to check me so I could see how far I had progressed.
4 cm. In an instant my entire birth plan went out the window and I felt complete peace as I said the words...EPIDURAL please! I could feel myself completely losing it. I didn't want to hate the experience. And I didn't want to have seizures because at this point my blood pressure was elevated at dangerous levels from the pain. From 4-4:45 I continued to labor without medicine, but I had the slightest relief knowing that I had an end in sight. They cleared the room and got me set up but I had 3 horrible contractions while they were putting in the needle and I couldn't move at all. That is the last thing I remember of the pain. By 5 I was experiencing complete relief. I wanted to do it natural, but I also wanted to be in control and this was the only way that I was going to have it. And I am so so glad that I did.
From 5-7 I dozed in and out. We called my mom at 6:45 and told her to come, but she was already at the hospital parking. At 7:15 the nurse came in to check me and I was 9 cm! Once my body relaxed from the epidural Ashby was able to move down and do her thing. At 8 I was talking to Dave's aunt when I felt a little kick and then my water broke. It was kinda like the movies. They had to change all my bed linens :). But it was clear so they knew that she was good. The nurse told me she wanted me to continue to let the contractions do their job and when she was already in the birth canal they would have me start pushing. At about 10 I began to feel sensations like she was coming out and it was getting a little uncomfortable again. I was having back pain and could feel the contractions, but nothing like the early hours of the morning. At 10:30 the Dr came in and checked me and said, alright lets do this. So they got set up and I started pushing about 15 minutes later.
At first I was having a hard time because I couldn't really feel what I was doing. Then they brought over the mirror. Again something I did not think I wanted to do, but in the moment it was so helpful! We pushed every other contraction until we started to she her hair. I mean we when I say we pushed because my mom and Ritha each had a foot and Dave was talking me through the whole thing. Once we could see her it was about every 3 minutes I was pushing for about a minute. Just when I thought that I couldn't push any more the Dr pulled out the scissors, cut a small episiotomy, and then told me to stop pushing. Her head came out and then with the next contraction her little hand came out with her shoulders. The Dr told me to grab her, so I reached down and literally pulled her out. Such a sweet sweet moment as my baby girl came out and into my arms.
The rest of the details after that are a blur. I was on medicine for my blood pressure and as soon as the high of her birth wore off, I felt like crap for about 12 hours and I was still on pitosin and some other stuff that made me so sleepy. I wasn't allowed to get out of bed for 12 hours but by the next day I was way better.
I love every minute of this story. It was the hardest, and the most amazing and rewarding experience. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Everytime I look into her beautiful face I am so amazed that she is real, that she is ours and that this is all happening.
Now we have been home since last Friday and we are falling into a rythym. Much much much more to come.