Thursday, March 6, 2014

And then there were three...

As pregnancies go, mine was really pretty easy.  Apart from the pre-eclampsia I developed just a couple of days before my due date, I didn't have any complications.  It was ten months of love that grew beyond my wildest imagination and a whole lot of heartburn. 

But because of the pre-eclampsia, I had to be induced.  We were scheduled to on a Wednesday morning. After my last doctor's appointment on Tuesday, I still hadn't felt a single contraction, but I was 80% effaced. So after having gotten almost no sleep the night before, we woke up on Wednesday morning, got ready to go (you'd better believe I fixed my hair and did my makeup!), and loaded ours and Grace's bags in the car. It felt so weird leaving the house knowing that we'd be coming home with our daughter.

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I didn't have a rigid birth plan, although I knew I'd be getting an epidural and that I'd prefer a vaginal delivery if it was at all possible.  But mostly I just wanted Grace to be healthy, and so I was flexible to do whatever it took to get her to us safe and sound.

7:30 a.m. We picked up Jack in the Box on the way and got to the hospital a little after 7:30. When I went to check in at labor and delivery, I about had a heart attack: they didn't have me on the books for Wednesday. They had made a mistake and scheduled me for the day before. After a mini panic attack and a miserable and tear-filled 30-minute wait, they "squeezed me in" (whatever that means).

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9:00 a.m. We got set up in the labor and delivery room and got started. After asking me about a billion questions, they started the IV and got the pitocin flowing around 9:00 a.m. At that point, I was still just dilated to a 1. My family started to arrive around that time (God bless them, they didn't realize they were in for a looong day). I don't remember when I felt my first contraction, but I remember that at first, they felt like menstrual cramps. At one point, I think I actually said, "This isn't so bad! Maybe next time I'll think about going without an epidural!" Ha. Silly me...

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12:30 p.m. By this point, we were just waiting. My water still hadn't broken, and the contractions were still pretty sporadic.  We watched a whole lot of Friends. :)

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1:15 p.m. A little while later, my doctor stopped by and broke my water. If you've never felt the sensation of your water breaking, it honestly feels like you've peed on yourself. So, so strange, but not painful. Unfortunately, they could tell that Miss Priss had had her first meconium bowel movement in utero, so that complicated things a bit. The NICU team would have to be in the delivery room to make sure that her lungs were okay. When my doctor checked me at that point, I was dilated to a 3-4.

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(With my dad...)

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(... and my mom)

2:30 p.m. After my water was broken, we continued to wait. The contractions began to get more intense and closer together and definitely more painful. At this point, I went ahead and asked for the epidural. I had let myself feel several pretty strong contractions at that point and was satisfied that I had felt more than enough pain to have "experienced" labor. Again... silly me. I had no idea what was waiting for me.

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Getting the epidural wasn't at all what I expected. They gave me a numbing shot beforehand that stung for a second, but after that, I didn't feel anything. I had seen the scary videos of the enormous needle and was dreading it, but it was really nothing at all.

After the epidural kicked in, however, I got incredibly weak, and my blood pressure shot up. I'm honestly not sure why, but that epidural and I did not get along. I absolutely couldn't stand the feeling of being numb from the waist down. I can't really describe it, but I don't think I've been more uncomfortable in my entire life. I also began to feel nauseated. They kept me full of anti-nausea medication, though, which helped a lot.

4:00 p.m. My doctor stopped by to check me, and I was still just at a 4. They had difficulty regulating the Pitocin because, if they gave me too little, my contractions would become irregular and weak, but if they gave me too much, they'd remain fairly weak but get too close together and stress Grace out.

For the rest of the afternoon, we continued to wait for me to dilate.  All the nurses called my room the party room because it stayed full the entire day. My family would rotate in and out, but there were always at least four or five people in at a time. I wouldn't have had it any other way. :)

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6:30 p.m.  This time after my doctor checked me, she announced that I was at a 10! We were ready to start pushing. I can't explain what a jumbled mess of emotions I was at this point. I was so, so ready to meet Grace, but for some reason, I was incredibly afraid of pushing. The entire pregnancy, I had been afraid of this part, and that it was finally time to face the music was just a lot to take in. As he had done throughout the entire day, Micah held my hand and made me feel safe and strong. So after kicking out everyone but the pushing crew (Micah, my mom, Micah's mom, and my best friend Lauren, who took these incredible pictures), we got started.

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I can honestly say the next two hours were some of the most tiring of my life. At first, the pushing seemed to be going well. For the first 20 minutes, she was moving, and my doctor didn't think I'd have to push more than 20 or so more minutes. But at some point, she just stopped making progress. My contractions weren't very strong, so I wasn't getting any help from my body. And I was so numb that it was difficult to know where to push, but I felt confident that I was pushing as hard as I possibly could. (And for the record, the pushing itself was totally painless. It was utterly exhausting but not what I expected at all.) After I had pushed for about an hour and a half, my doctor suggested the other thing I had feared: she wanted to turn my epidural down. She thought that I might be able to push more effectively if I could feel more pressure. I really, really didn't want to, but I really wasn't ready to give up on a vaginal delivery yet, so I agreed.

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From the time they turned down the epidural, I pushed for about 30 more minutes. They had turned it about 1/3 of the way down, so I really started to feel the contractions and the pressure. I knew at that point that I was pushing against the pressure as hard as I possibly could, but she still wasn't budging at all.

8:30 p.m.  I finally looked at my doctor in between contractions and burst into tears. I knew I was giving as much as I possibly could, but I couldn't keep going for much longer. When I asked her what she thought, she told me that it wasn't unreasonable to be thinking about a c-section given that my contractions weren't really moving Grace along at all and the Pitocin still remained difficult to regulate. She told me that it'd likely be another two hours of pushing to bring Grace into the world through a vaginal delivery and that it was probable that I'd push and push and still end up having to have a c-section anyway. I looked at Micah and knew that it was time to throw in the towel. For some reason, I had predicted this outcome (a long delivery, several hours of pushing, and a c-section) and was oddly at peace with it. I think I was just ready to meet our sweet girl, and I didn't have another ounce of energy left to push with.

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So they started preparing us (and the operating room) for surgery.  The epidural was still turned down at that point, and the pain became unbearable.  I had resisted the urge to drop an f-bomb the entire labor, but I remember letting one fly when I yelled at the top of my lungs quietly explained that I was ready for them to turn it back up.  (And, for the record, the doctors and nurses were all out of the room at that point.)

They got us back to the OR and quickly got to work.  The moment that blessed anesthesiologist pumped me full of the good stuff again, I wanted to cry tears of joy.  There was absolutely no pain and not nearly as much pressure as I had anticipated.  But I could feel them tugging and pulling and working away.  I held Micah's hand and prayed over and over for a healthy baby.

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11:35 p.m.  And then suddenly, I heard the most precious cry and burst into tears.

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Our Grace had arrived.

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She was 9 pounds even and 19 and a half inches.

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At that point, Micah got up to go be with Grace as the nurses measured and cleaned her.

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And then Daddy got to hold his little girl for the first time.

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Grace was absolutely perfect.  Her lungs were clear, so the NICU team wasn't needed. 

But at that point, things got a little scary for me.  My uterus had torn in two places, and my doctor was having trouble stopping the bleeding.  I remember looking at Micah's face and seeing sheer panic.  And my doctor, who is usually very calm and relaxed, sounded more anxious than I've ever heard.  But I had lost a lot of blood, so I was in and out of consciousness, and the gravity of the situation wasn't really hitting me.  All I could do was reach out and touch her sweet little feet as Micah held her.

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Thankfully, they finally got the bleeding under control and got me all put back together.  And then I got to hold our little angel.

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I will never, ever be able to describe the wonder and joy I felt holding her for the first time.  For so long, I had imagined what it would be like, but I could never have guessed how much I'd love her.  And how much I'd love Micah for loving us both.

She was incredible.  She is incredible.

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Fourteen hours of labor, two hours of pushing, and a scary surgery... and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat to bring her into this world.

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Our little family of three was finally complete.

All photos were taken by Lauren Ammerman of Lauren Ammerman Photography.

1 comment:

  1. Love your pictures! I honestly wish I had some more of mine! Thanks for sharing!