Tag Archives: labor & delivery

She Says… Emmett’s Arrival

Before I launch into the story of how Emmett decided to come out and play, I want to thank you all for your amazing outpouring of love and support and congratulations. Benjamin and I are so thrilled to have the little guy on the outside of my body rather than the inside, and it is incredible to know there were/are so many people thinking of our family during this exciting time.

So. The story.

Well you all know where we were the night before the due date. I was at the hospital NOT actually in labor, despite the contractions coming every 5 minutes. I was angry, frustrated, embarrassed and generally aggravated at the world when we were sent home in the wee hours of the morn on my baby’s due date. After a few hours of sleep I woke up and felt horrible. I was crampy and uncomfortable and my emotions were running high. I decided to take a much-needed sick day from work, which I almost never do. To get my mind off of the labor-that-wasn’t, Benjamin and I decided to head to Ikea to pick up the last few things that we needed for the basement renovation. I figured I could walk this baby out in the air conditioning, if nothing else.

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All of a sudden, while walking through the kitchen and dining chair section, I felt a contraction that stopped me in my tracks. I had been feeling them all morning, but this one was pinchier and sharper and made me stop and hold my stomach. Ugh, these “false” contractions really suck, I thought, and carried on with my shopping. A few (short!) minutes later, another one. Worse. And I was pretty sure I had just wet my pants. Spoiler alert — it wasn’t pee.

My water had just broken in Ikea.

Thankfully not the waterfall I experienced with Owen, but just enough so that I was 100% sure that’s what it was without leaving a puddle on the concrete floor below. Benjamin was in a different department and there was no cell service, so I kept shopping, knowing that we’d meet up at checkout. Well, I kept shopping in about 3 minute segments, and then I’d try to play it cool while I breathed through a contraction. Once I started timing them I realized shit was getting real FAST. They were 3-4 minutes apart. I abandoned our cart and told Benjamin we had to leave. Like, RIGHT NOW. The only problem was that we needed to pick up an order from a nearby warehouse. It was the whole reason we had driven to Ikea, so we decided to do it as fast as possible while I timed contractions.

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I think my contractions must have rattled Benjamin, because he got lost on the way to the warehouse. On some REALLY bumpy roads. I would grip the car door handles, breathe through a contraction, and then read the timing aloud (1 minute long, 3:30 since the last one). The distance between the contractions was shrinking, and they were definitely getting worse.

Thankfully we found the warehouse and I told Benjamin to RUN while I called the doctor. I actually had an office appointment scheduled in a few hours, so I called to ask them if I should go to the office or the hospital (like… is it real NOW?!). I must have sounded really under control, because they advised me to come to the office and they’d check me there. About 1 minute after leaving the warehouse with our furniture in the trunk, though, I KNEW we were not going to the doctor. We were heading straight to the hospital. And all of a sudden I was a little scared about even getting there in time. I was thankful I had thought to throw the labor bag in the car “just in case”.

We got to the hospital and when the midwife checked me, the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and felt like they were coming on top of each other. 5cm dilated, 100% effaced and head ready. And changing FAST. I was already making noises I didn’t recognize and having an out-of-body experience due to the pain, so the nurse immediately set to work getting me fluids so I could get an epidural. It seemed to take forever to get the necessary bloodwork done and questions answered in the antenatal area. I felt like the baby was about to fall out on the floor and I could barely breathe before the next contraction started again. Benjamin was stuck answering while I nodded and shook my head and thought I was going to vomit. By the time they put me in a wheelchair to take me from antenatal to labor and delivery, I was a full blown caricature of what a woman in labor looks like in the movies.

Once we got to the labor & delivery room things are a bit of a blur to me. I was completely blinded by the pain and it took every fiber of my being to squeeze my eyes shut, breathe/scream and focus on not breaking into a million little tiny pieces. I heard voices and saw faces, but all I could really hear in my ears was my own breathing (and the strange wails that were apparently coming out of my mouth, though they sounded nothing like my voice). After what seemed like another eternity, I got the epidural. In the next few minutes while we waited for it to kick in, my body decided it was ready to push.

Apparently I was going to experience the joy/beauty/pain/agony/euphoria/horror of natural childbirth without necessarily intending.

Prior to this experience, I would have thought that pushing was the worst part of all. The climax. The big finale. But honestly once I started pushing I was immediately present again. Laser-focused. Eyes open. Breathing. Kicking labor’s ass. It felt weirdly good, after all of the drama of transition. And I don’t think that was the epidural speaking, since it really didn’t have a chance to kick in at all.

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10 minutes later, Emmett Howell entered the world.

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Very purple and quite stunned by the speed of his arrival, but perfect in every way. The midwife put him right on my chest and Benjamin and I laugh-cried and stared in awe at this beautiful little person.

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Welcome, little one.

She Says… False Alarm

I was sure that yesterday was going to be THE DAY. I know I’ve been saying that for the last two weeks, but when I awoke yesterday at 4am with pretty strong contractions coming 7 minutes apart, I was beyond excited.

I kept an eye on the clock while we got up and did our normal morning routine. Benjamin had a conference call so I was hanging solo with Owen for some of the morning, and we decided to meet a friend at a nearby splash park/playground. The contractions continued while I was there (and the heat made me want to die) but I wasn’t really timing them and figured I would “just know” if they turned real while we were there. Benjamin met up with us after his call and took Owen home so I could get a pedicure. One last pre-baby pedicure! I asked her to go to town on that massage in a last ditch effort to get these contractions going. Alas, it didn’t have any effect.

By mid-afternoon the contractions were getting worse and were more like 5 minutes apart. I called the midwife on call and she said I sounded “too fantastic to be in labor” and to wait it out. I agreed — the contractions were NOT doubling me over in pain, but I’ve also heard many stories about women whose labors caught them off guard because they were not all that painful in the beginning.

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I timed them while we made dinner and put Owen to bed. When he was asleep I did 30 minutes on our elliptical (very slow, no resistance… it was just too damn hot to walk outside!). Slowly but surely the contractions went from 5 minutes apart to more like 3 minutes apart. By 10pm the midwife and I agreed I should come in — 3 minutes is no joke!

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Once we got there they hooked me up to a monitor to see how the little guy was doing. He was doing great; perfect heart rate levels and accelerations/decelerations.

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My contractions, on the other hand, went back to about 5 minutes apart and felt less strong than they had at home. A check revealed that I was still 3cm dilated and 80% effaced (almost exactly what I was at my appointment last week). The midwife said I should rest for 30 minutes and then walk for 30 minutes and she’d check me again.

So we did a bit of this…

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and a bit of this.

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Thank you to everyone who tweeted, emailed and Facebooked me encouragement during that time. I needed it! And it definitely kept my spirits up while we were waiting to see what was going on.

Unfortunately the baby had other plans, as the 2nd check showed no labor progress. A little before 1am this morning, ON MY ACTUAL DUE DATE, we were sent home.

Now we’re home. I’m exhausted. My body feels like it was in a car accident — my muscles are achy and the contractions have not stopped. I’m emotional and frustrated. I can’t believe we came home without a baby.

I know I’m not the first woman in the world (or the last!) to go through a false alarm. Prior to last night I always thought “those women” were weenies who couldn’t handle pain, and who thought that Braxton Hicks contractions were “real”. Boy was I wrong. There is NOTHING false about false labor. Oh how different this labor is from my last one.

Here’s hoping we’re back at the hospital very soon and we don’t come home without the prize. Also? I apologize to anyone who has to come into contact with me today — I am not in the mood for you.

She Says… A Race to the Finish

Major work of all kinds going on in our house this week.

MY JOB
Yes, I’m still working. From home, these days, so I really can’t complain too much. I’m mentally and physically quite DONE with sitting in front of a computer, but every day I am more and more certain that I’ve completed everything I need to complete to be able to have a stress-free maternity leave. Well, free from work stress, at least. So although it’s annoying to still be on conference calls (and fielding all of the ridiculous “Haven’t you had that baby yet?” comments), it’s keeping me busy and it feels like I’m still accomplishing things, even though delivering a baby isn’t one of them.

As soon as we head to the hospital… I’m out!

THE BASEMENT RENOVATION
I haven’t given too many updates about our basement renovation but it is going really, really well. We “broke ground” right after Memorial Day and the project was estimated by our contractor to take 4 weeks. I know those estimates usually need to be cushioned by a few weeks, so I was expecting 5-6 weeks, which meant the job would finish about a week before my due date. We had one setback (completely our fault, not his) that made us lose about 1.5 weeks, so the fact that we’re finishing up early next week means that the contractor was actually right on with his timeline. That almost never happens!

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Essentially, since we are taking up our guest room for the baby’s nursery, we wanted to add a bedroom and bathroom in the unfinished space in our basement (half of it is currently finished, and half is unfinished storage space, but it all has full height ceilings) so guests can come stay and have their own space. While this is nice for them, it’s REALLY nice for me, so I don’t have to worry about guests waking up my kids when they go to bed at night.

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As an interior designer who missed her calling (or, rather, dropped out of design school when I realized I wasn’t going to make any money for the next decade while I studied architecture, and likely didn’t need that degree if I wanted to do this as a business later in life), I was in heaven picking out paint colors, carpet, tile, bathroom fixtures, etc. Remember this design tv show-esque weekend? Awesome.

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And now we are nearly done. The plumber is down there today finishing up the toilet and shower and sink hook-ups, and all that’s left is a bit of painting and some carpet that’s going in on Saturday. Inspections early next week and then it’s ready for our first guest — my mom, who is going to come as soon as she gets the call that the baby is on his way! I am so thrilled I can barely contain myself.

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I definitely thought we’d have a baby by now, but the last few days of watching all of this come together has been a wonderful distraction.

LABOR
Oh, friends. So many “signs of labor” going on, I honestly can’t believe we’re not in the hospital yet. I had a midwife appointment on Wednesday and she confirmed that I’m now up to 3cm dilated and 75% effaced. She stripped my membranes for good measure (even though she doesn’t usually do that until 40 weeks and I was just over 39 weeks).

A few hours before my appointment I started having some pretty serious contractions that were coming every 10 minutes from 1pm until about 9pm. I thought maybe the membrane-stripping had been at the PERFECT time and would tip the scale and send me into active labor, but alas, when I got in bed at 10pm they were more like 20 minutes apart and not quite as regular. Another good night’s sleep (which is great, except that I was anxious to wake up in the hospital and not in my own bed). Thursday I had a similar experience of very regular (and pretty painful) contractions all afternoon, and then by bedtime, nothing. I guess I should be thankful that I’m getting the nights “off” to sleep, but I’d really rather things just get real and get moving.

Today, not so many contractions but some other, uhh, lovely symptoms, that I won’t go into detail about since friends and family are readers now 🙂  Suffice to say, if you’ve been pregnant before, you’ve “lost” this as well. So that plus a lot of cramping gives me hope that maybe I won’t be going back to work on Tuesday, and maybe this baby WILL arrive before his due date after all. But we shall see.

So. Now the race is on. Which will be finished first… the baby or the renovation?

She Says… Old Wives’ Tales

When your baby bump gets as ridiculously protruding as mine is right now, people start making all kinds of stupid comments to you about when the baby is coming and/or how many babies are in there.

Scratch that… I’ve been getting comments like that for the last month+ since my belly has been hugemongous for a while now.

Generally I don’t mind the commiserating smiles from other women, but enough with the you-think-you’re-so-hilarious jokes, especially from men. A few weeks ago I was in an elevator at work and a guy said, in a stupid voice, “You’re not gonna do anything funny in there, are ya? I mean, I played baseball but I was never a good catcher. Looks like that thing is about to fall right out!”. Hardy har har. Thanks dude. And that was a few weeks ago.

I’m slowly but surely creeping closer to that moment that I [luckily!] never hit with Owen. That moment that most pregnant women hit near the end. You know which one I mean. The “get this baby out of me” “I am so DONE” “I will try anything to induce labor” moment. Most hit this point long before 39 weeks, especially in the midst of a heat wave like we’ve had around here recently, so I’m patting myself on the back a little for still feeling relatively good and positive at this point. But still, that feeling is niggling at me and I can feel myself succumbing to it a little more every day.

As such, I’m in that slightly crazed period of Googling (and thinking about trying) anything that I’ve heard might maybe kinda sorta get labor going. There are thousand upon thousands of old wives’ tales about seemingly unrelated things that will get labor going. To be honest I only believe very few of them. But hey. I’ve only done this once before… so what do I know?

Confession time. Here are the things I have tried:

  • Red Raspberry Leaf tea. This doesn’t actually bring on labor, but it supposedly stimulates your uterus to get you prepped and ready. Tastes fine, is a nice water alternative, and my midwife said it can’t hurt (but cautioned me against drinking too much lest I have lots of unnecessary contractions).
  • Evening Primrose Oil. Again, not a labor stimulant but apparently can soften the cervix. Taken orally and vaginally. Midwife said it can’t hurt, but likely won’t do a whole lot for me since I’m already almost 100% effaced.
  • Eating dates. Some study (with a very small sample size) came out that indicated that women who ate 6 dates every day for a month prior to labor had a higher likelihood of their water breaking and labor moving quickly. I just started munching on dates 2 days ago, so I may have missed the boat on this one, but hey, they taste great and have lots of good fiber!
  • Sitting on an exercise ball. I replaced my desk chair with my exercise ball about a month ago. Now I do it while watching tv or playing with Owen (it’s very cute to see him pushing it around the house for me so I can sit down). It’s far more comfortable than a chair and my hips seem to like being splayed out to make room for my belly. Not sure if it’s helping prepare me for labor, but it’s more comfy than sitting on anything else.
  • Walking. When it hasn’t been too hot out, I’m still walking to pick Owen up from daycare, take him to the playground, etc. My midwife says there isn’t much merit to this, especially for a 2nd baby, though, so not to stress if it’s too hot and not to tire myself out by walking unnecessarily.
  • Swimming. I’ve been in a pool a few times over the last month and swimming in a local pond twice in the last two weeks. Since “swimming” right now means wandering around in the water making sure Owen doesn’t drown, I’m not really going to say I’ve given this a good shot.
  • Massage/acupressure. Got my first (and only) prenatal massage last Saturday and I asked her to hit ALL of those acupressure points that are usually avoided for pregnant women. The massage felt AMAZING, but it’s been 4 days, so I don’t think it had any effect on bringing on labor. We also have a foot/calf massager at home that I’ve been using while we watch tv at night. Again, it feels awesome, but I don’t think the massages are doing anything to get me closer to delivery.
  • Sex. Tried it a few times. ‘Nuff said.
  • Nipple stimulation. Again, not much to say here. Didn’t bring on extra contractions for me the way many women say it does. Didn’t feel all that great either. No thank you.

Things I have not tried, but have read about:

  • Olive Garden’s eggplant parmigiano and/or salad dressing. Google it, it’s a real thing. But it’s not on my list of things to try.
  • Castor oil. Ugh, I’ve heard awful horror stories about using this, and many of them do NOT end in labor. Not on my list.
  • Eating spicy food. I had super spicy Chinese food the night before my water broke with Owen, so I’m definitely game to try this again! Just haven’t had the opportunity (as Chinese takeout is not something my gluten free family members can try, or something that’s very good for my gestational diabetes).
  • Pineapple. Apparently lots of fresh pineapple contains some enzyme that puts women into labor. Unfortunately that would spike my blood sugar, and frankly I don’t have the time or energy to be prepping fresh pineapple (and canned/juice doesn’t have the enzyme).
  • Acupuncture. I tried acupuncture when trying to get pregnant with Owen and had a positive experience. I’d be willing to try this in a few more days as we get closer to my due date and induction date, but I don’t have a local person I know at this point, so it would take some planning.
  • Bumpy car ride. Worth a shot, but I have been busy working and taking care of Owen the last few days.

Anything else I should try? What worked for you? (Side note: I know most of these things are probably completely fabricated, and I fully realize that my body, like everyone else’s, will go into labor when it’s good and ready. Still, it’s fun to think about what could be done to get things going, and it’s funny to read about the silly things people will do when they are desperate. Help a sister out!).

She Says… Babywatch Update

Or, rather, lack of an update.

38 week appointment with my midwife indicates that the baby is actually farther back “up” than he was last week. Ummm, wrong way, little guy! She swears up and down that this is not bad news or a sign that labor is far away, but it’s hard not to be at least a little surprised by that news. She says that if I had been walking around a bit before my appointment that he’d probably be engaged in my pelvis more than he was, so there’s really no correlation to the way he is positioned and when my labor will start. I asked her if I should be doing more walking to get him down there, and she said no, no, no. Especially since it’s like a bazillion degrees outside. Apparently subsequent babies don’t really need to engage the way first babies do, and “dropping” is not a milestone that actually indicates labor is on its way with 2nd or subsequent babies. Walking may bring on more contractions (which I’m already having very regularly), but won’t necessarily bring on labor.

Still… wrong way, kid! Turn around and see the light!

Same amount dilated and effaced. Head down. Very soft cervix and “toward the front”, all very good things, but no change from my 36 and 37 week appointments.

I’m starting to feel a bit silly for putting everyone on high alert for labor and then… nothing. But really… it COULD be any day! Really! Still! I’m not just crying wolf!

Or, you know, 2 1/2 more weeks. And a possible induction. To be honest I hadn’t even really listened when my midwife and doctor had discussed that with me a few weeks ago because I was all, “Oh, I won’t get there! That’s not going to happen!”. With every day that passes I’m working on opening my mind to the possibility that it could, though I’m still hoping that it won’t.

She also says the baby is not big (which is a big concern for women with gestational diabetes). She estimates just under 7lbs right now. Owen was 7lbs 5oz and born right where I am now (38 weeks and change), so I’m thinking that’s probably a pretty good guess. However, I’d love for this little one to get as big as he can (bigger babies often eat and sleep better!). Another reason for him to keep cooking? We’ve got about another week of work on our basement renovation before it’s ready to receive guests (like my mom who is coming as soon as the baby is born).

So… I’ll give him another week or so, then I’m ready to get this show on the road. Are you listening, little one?

She Says… Silence

Silence does not = baby.

At least not around these parts. If you were reading back when Owen was born, you’ll remember we blogged from the labor room and pretty much live-tweeted Owen’s birth (ok, not really, but we kept everyone updated with progress reports and leaked the first few pictures). So to those who have messaged and emailed and checked in hoping that I popped the baby out since I didn’t blog yet this week, unfortunately the answer is no. Not yet, at least. I’m still pulling for Owen’s prediction of the 4th of July.

That said, I am still feeling pretty comfortable (you know, aside from the very uncomfortable things about your body getting ready to have a baby) and I’m thankful that I can still gallavant around town with Owen on scooter rides (him riding, me walking) and taking him to the playground. Even in the heat. Benjamin has been around more than usual as we’re both slowly but surely finishing up all of the work we had scheduled to do before the baby arrives (I’m working right up until my due date, but still want to have most/all of my projects wrapped up by the end of this week in preparation for whenever things start happening) and we’ve had some very, very fun “final” days as a family of 3.

Aside from the nights when I’m up with pretty painful contractions and false labor (3 nights so far in the last week), I’m sleeping pretty well. Last night in particular I got over 8 hours and woke up feeling so thankful that the baby gave me that precious gift before he arrived. It’s a feeling I know I won’t have very much after he arrives 🙂

Like so many other simple pleasures, I’m soaking it all in. Enjoying every minute with Owen. Marveling in his every move and giggling at the hilarious things he says. I do this even when I’m not counting down the days until his little brother arrives, but there is something so special and bittersweet about these last few days (weeks?!) before our lives change dramatically. I’m sad for how his world is about to be rocked, but I’m thrilled for how much joy his brother will bring our family and for him to experience the awesomeness of sibling love. With every transition in his little life he has far surpassed my expectations, and I’m certain that adjusting to his new baby brother will be the same.

Owen has no school this week (it’s the only week all year that they close) but I didn’t want to “waste” my maternity leave by taking vacation days. That means we’re balancing Benjamin and I tag-teaming working from home and still participating in some of the family fun activities we want to do before the baby arrives. Alas, between that and timing the crazy contractions I’ve been having, that means little time for blogging. But rest assured, when there’s baby news to share (even just “we’re heading to the hospital” news!), you’ll hear about it!

And, if there’s no baby news soon, I’ll start writing about something else. I promise.

She Says… Start The Clock

Somehow I’m already 37 weeks into this pregnancy. I say somehow because I SWEAR it was just February, like, yesterday, and I was thinking how far away July felt. And now it’s right around the corner.

And I’m not even sure we’re going to make it to July sans baby.

At my 36 week appointment last week my midwife checked me for Group B Strep (standard check, not a huge deal if you have it, but I’m still relieved to see my negative result). While she was already “in position” I asked her to give me an internal exam. Much like my 36 week appointment with Owen, I was anxious to see if anything was happening (and waaaay too excited to have a doctor all up in my ladyparts). Since Owen came 2 weeks early, I’ve been wishing and hoping that this baby would be on the same schedule, but really had no idea if the inside of my body was on the same page.

Before she agreed to check my progress, she made me pinky swear that I realize that THIS INFORMATION MEANS NOTHING. Doctors really have no idea what sends women into labor. Some women can walk around 4cm dilated and 100% effaced for weeks without their labor progressing, and others can go from no progress to having a baby in their arms in a few hours. Still, given what I know from hindsight about Owen’s labor and what my body did leading up to that point, I was beyond curious. After I swore I wouldn’t hold her to any predictions and wouldn’t get upset over the results, she checked me.

36 weeks: 2cm dilated and 75% effaced, almost all of the mucus plug is gone. (Oops, sorry friends and family… didn’t give you a TMI alert on that one before I whipped out the grossest pregnancy term ever).

Even though I know that doesn’t necessarily mean labor is around the corner, it’s great progress in the right direction! That’s just a smidge further along than I was with Owen at this same point (I was 1cm and 50% effaced). So maybe baby IS thinking what I’m thinking. Either that or he’s totally faking me out and he’ll be the one laughing when I’m still pregnant on my due date or even after. Thankfully (?), another “perk” of gestational diabetes is that they don’t let you get too far past your due date, so my doctor and midwife and I have been discussing the plan for if I get that far. As it stands, no one thinks we will really need to go there, which is music to my ears.

That appointment lit the fire I needed to get the last few things checked off my list. I packed my hospital bag. We hung pictures and the mobile in the nursery. We decided on contingency plans about who we would call if I went into labor in a million different scenarios. As of right now, I feel totally comfortable with the way things would be if I had to leave immediately to go to the hospital. Phew! That is a load off.

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On Saturday night my company rented out Fenway Park for an event. Despite being super preggo, I didn’t want to miss that experience.

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And Benjamin and I figured it might be our last night out together before the baby comes! (Side note, my belly looks WAY bigger than this picture actually shows… wish I had gotten a true side shot.)

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We got home after midnight (way past my old lady bedtime!) and went straight to bed. But at 4am, I was up again. This time with contractions. Contractions that were DEFINITELY more painful than the Braxton Hicks I’ve been having for the last few weeks. Contractions that felt stronger and were closer together than I had ever experienced at home (my water broke with Owen before contractions were super painful, so answering the “Am I in labor?” question was very, very easy). I was awake and keeping an eye on the clock for 2 hours. More contractions than ever before, but definitely not regular and not timeable. And I know from experience the pain gets a lot worse, so I didn’t feel the need to wake Benjamin or call anyone.

Around 6am I felt a ton of movement. Flipping, punching, kicking… bigger movements than I’ve felt in a long time. When I got out of bed in the morning my stomach was a distinctly different shape. Practically pointing at the floor. Fairly certain the kid dropped/engaged/whatever you want to call it. I’ve heard that doesn’t necessarily happen with 2nd (or subsequent) pregnancies, but it is a dramatic difference to how I looked/felt last week.

I can eat now without a baby foot wedged in my rib. I can breathe better. I almost can’t feel my belly at all in the way I could before. It’s remarkably more comfortable! I’m going to assume he’s all wedged down in my pelvis now, ready for takeoff.

So, whether I go into labor in 3 minutes or 3 weeks, I’m certain things are a’changin’ in my belly, and we’re not too far from meeting this little guy.

She Says… The Road to Recovery

First of all, I cannot thank you all enough for the amazing comments, emails, tweets and thoughts. I have only had a few minutes here and there to be at the computer over the last few days, and your words have melted my heart one by one. It means so much to Benjamin and I to know how many people out there are thinking of us! Little by little I’m coming back to earth, so more blog regular blog posts and tweets (and OF COURSE pictures of our little man!) are on their way 🙂

Since time is scarce when one is breastfeeding at least 12 out of the 24 hours in a day (and trying to eat/sleep/hydrate/possibly shower in the others), let’s cut right to the chase: Labor does a real number on your body. Although I’ve never been through war, I imagine it’s somewhat like that… but from the inside out. There’s pain so extreme you think you might just break into a million pieces and blood and guts like you’ve never seen before. It takes a crazy amount of determination and focus to make it through. But at least with labor, you get this incredible gift at the end. A prize that is undoubtedly worth the pain.

After it’s all over, you are left to pick up the pieces. So that’s where I’ll start. Right after I delivered little Owen, he was whisked away to the other side of the room to be checked out by the docs and cleaned (see the story here if you missed it). I kind of thought my job was over. I had just pushed a baby out! Couldn’t I relax now? Nope, apparently not. I still had to deliver the placenta, and then the rebuilding process began. Owen’s head, although tiny, was a bit bigger than my body could handle, and I tore a bit during the final pushes. After the labor Benjamin asked the doctor (while she was sewing me up) how much I had torn. Before she could answer, I blurted out: “I don’t want to know!”. I just didn’t want to talk about it. I figure I’ll heal the same way whether I know the details or not, and frankly I don’t plan on being one of those women bragging about what degree their tear was. Sidenote: Even with an epidural (albeit, one that had started wearing off awhile before this moment), I was pretty uncomfortable during the stitching. I could feel tugging and pulling, and I couldn’t really shake the idea of what the doctor was doing. Nonetheless, it was over in just a few minutes.

CRYING
When the doctor said, “You’re all finished”, my legs turned to jello and began to shake as I realized it was all over. I had done it. I’m pretty sure that’s when the tears started. Well, they had started earlier when the baby finally came out, but at this point the tears were like body heaving sobs that released the tension I had been holding in since we arrived at the hospital. For me, this kind of uncontrollable tears has been a big part of the recovery process for me. Apparently it’s the way my body chooses to deal with the stress and anxiety and tumultuous emotions. Several times in the days right after delivery I found myself sobbing without good reason. I didn’t feel sad, and I certainly don’t think it has anything to do with postpartum depression… it’s just the way my body releases pent up energy.

The first time was when I looked at Owen’s circumcision the day after he was born. After his procedure, the doctor took us into the nursery and showed us how to care for it. A tiny blood vessel had been cut during the circumcision, and so they put this stuff on it to make it stop bleeding. Unfortunately, the stuff turns black and looks horribly scary. Owen was red-faced and crying (I mean really, who wouldn’t be?), and it was the first time I really heard him cry. I took one look into his bassinet and just lost it. I was sobbing my brains out. The nurses were all saying things like, “Oh honey, don’t cry, he was given something to numb the pain” and “He’s ok, he’s just a little stressed out”. The thing was, I’m not sure I was even crying about Owen’s little weenie, I was just crying to cry. Step one on the road to recovery… cry. A lot. Let it out.

BLEEDING
Holy cow. Of course I knew that you bleed a bit after birth. What I didn’t realize is just much you bleed, and for how long. I won’t go into details for the sake of the family and friends who come here just to see cute pics of Owen, but let me just say that it looks like someone committed a murder in the bathroom whenever I go. And for the first few days your lady parts are so swollen and puffy they are completely unrecognizable. And you sit on ice packs because there is a constant, throbbing pain. The reality is, though, that although this is uncomfortable, it completely melts away when you look into your newborn’s eyes. Also, pain like this pales in comparison to the pain you just felt while giving birth, so it seems totally bearable even though it sucks. Step 2 to recovery… bleeding and soreness. My advice? Take time to treat yourself like they treat you in the hospital — use that squirt bottle with warm water, take a sitz bath or two (heaven, I tell you), and don’t be afraid to poop. Coming from someone who was terrified to “push” again, it’s not that bad (umm, provided you take those stool softeners they give you).

HYDRATING
I thought I was thirsty during my pregnancy. But that was nothing! Now I have a water bottle attached to me at all times. Maybe it’s the nursing, maybe it’s the swelling and excess fluids working their way out of my system, I don’t know. All I know is that if I don’t drink anything for about 10 minutes, I am parched. And for me, parched leads to angry and frustrated and that leads to tears. See “Crying”, above. Step 3 to recovery… stay hydrated. Honestly, it helps everything else run its course.

SLEEPING
Last but not least, sleep. One of the first question everyone asks me these days is, “Are you getting any sleep?”. The answer, in comparison to the amount of sleep I got pre-baby, is no. But to tell you the truth, I haven’t really noticed much. I seem to have some magical mommy hormone that is powering me through these long nights of waking up every 2-3 hours to feed Owen. I’m doing my best to nap during the day, but I’m not a very good napper. I have a feeling that’s a skill that I will acquire in the coming weeks and months. We realized very early on that Benjamin does NOT do well when he doesn’t sleep at night, and I seem to do fine with broken sleep periods and some naps during the day. So we’ve worked our “schedule” (and I use that word very loosely) around that. I’ll do another post on our schedule later, but the bottom line is that you have to sleep whenever you can. Everyone says “sleep when the baby sleeps”, and although I haven’t been able to do that successfully yet, I’ve been making a concerted effort to take time to rest. Watch tv, read a book, lay on the couch and stare at the ceiling, whatever quiets your mind. Step 4… sleep. No excuses, just do it. Or you’ll never be able to do the other things.

Amazingly enough, my body seems to be patching itself up pretty well. A mere 6 days after being split open and having my insides on my outside, I am beginning to feel like a normal person again. My swelling is going down (my feet are cute again — hallelujah!), the soreness in my lady parts is less and less each day, the tears are subsiding and even my nipples are surviving the daily biting, twisting and shockingly strong sucking that Owen dishes out. As bad as it seems in those few days right after birth… it passes!

He Says… Owen’s Birthday, on video

So being me, I took some video on the day of Owen’s birth.  Don’t worry, there is nothing gross here; I was preoccupied during all the time of active labor and pushing.  But I got some nice moments throughout the day, before and after his birth.  It’s a little fragmented because I didn’t shoot a ton, but when I put some of the clips together I thought it created a nice little piece.  I showed it to Kate last night and we both got teary-eyed watching it.  It really was such an incredible experience to witness, and the outcome is, well, perfect!

She Says… Labor

For those who missed it, here’s Part 1 of my labor story. Now on to Part 2…

Ok so when I last left you, I had progressed to 9cm by 9:00am. “Right on schedule” as the doctor said. As with so much of my pregnancy, everything happened like clockwork according to what the textbooks say. At this point I was beginning to feel like my epidural was wearing off faster than I wanted it too. I found myself saying things like, “Umm, can we top this off or something? We’re getting to the most painful part and I can feel EVERYTHING!”. Amazing how things went from “I’m not sure I even want an epidural” to “Give me ANOTHER epidural”. Ha. Anyway, I was definitely regaining feeling in my middle and legs, and could feel a lot of pressure and deep contractions coming very quickly. They felt different than the earlier contractions, probably because now the baby’s head was spreading my hips wide open.

I also started to experience some really horrendous back pain. My lower back felt like someone was sticking knives in me. It was a constant, throbbing pain that overshadowed the contractions and the hip stretching and made me really unfocused. The doctors explained to me that I had two options at this point:

  1. Have the anesthesiologist come back and perhaps increase my epidural. The downside of this was that it would most likely prolong my labor/pushing because I wouldn’t be able to feel the urge to push. The upside was, of course, that the back pain could be reduced so I could concentrate.
  2. We could start pushing, despite the overwhelming feeling of back pain. The nurse said sometimes the opposing pressure of pushing eases the back pain, and since I had a lot of sensation, I would probably be a very strong pusher if we started now.

I wish I could say I easily answered, “Let’s start pushing!”. But I didn’t. The back pain felt like it was killing me. And it took my focus and clouded my judgment. I said I wanted more epidural.

But then the doctor checked me, and she said “Give me one push and we’ll see how close you are to meeting your baby”. The nurse gave me instructions, I took a deep breath, and pushed. Her eyes lit up and she said, “Kate, the baby’s head is right here. I can see tons of black hair!”. That was all the encouragement I needed. I was ready to push. He was SO CLOSE.

So close, yet so far away. I pushed for 2 hours! On tv it looks like it happens in 5 minutes. But, miraculously, the back pain was gone and my focus was 100% on meeting my little man. Turns out he was face up (just like I suspected in the last two weeks), and his head was angled in my pelvis in such a way that he was rocking back and forth without making a ton of progress on each push. We tried various positions (pushing on my side, pushing with one leg up in the air, pushing on my back at different angles, etc.). The nurse was so encouraging and kept telling me exactly what I needed to hear to get from one push to the next. Little by little, we were making progress. Unfortunately that’s when we had a little scare. We had been pushing for awhile and the baby was getting a little stressed. His heart rate would drop every time I pushed. The beeping monitor would slow and everyone would get tense. The nurse decided she needed to put an internal monitor on him to watch the heart rate. Unfortunately I remembered from childbirth class that those probes are literally screwed into the baby’s head! Poor thing! But we all knew it was an important thing to keep an eye on. After awhile the doctor gave me a bit of an ultimatum — if the heart rate kept dropping and my pushing wasn’t strong enough to get him out soon, we may have to do this a different way. She said it was not an emergency, but I really needed to focus on my pushing and get him moving. That got my attention.

Anyway, after a bit more pushing and a lot of grunting and few screams, I heard the doctor say, “Here he comes! Stop pushing.” Those are some beautiful words to hear! He spun around right at the last second and came out just like he was supposed to. The umbilical cord was wrapped around him from all that spinning, so the doc had to cut it as soon as the baby popped out (sorry, Benjamin!). He was very purple and a bit stunned from the long journey and didn’t cry right away. I could see in Benjamin’s teary eyes that he was terrified. He kept saying, “Is he ok? Is he ok?”. Then just a few seconds later, I heard the baby’s little cry. I’ve never heard anything sweeter. Since he was looking a little floppy and there were some questions about his heart rate, they couldn’t put him on my chest right away. Although I had been so looking forward to that moment of holding him right after he came out, nothing mattered more than making sure he was ok. So the doctors took him to a little table in the corner of the room and cleaned him, measured him, etc. Benjamin just stood by his side and cried and cried and cried.

Everything seemed to go in slow motion then. As they cleaned him I kept asking, “How much does he weigh? Is he breathing ok? Is he cute? 10 fingers and 10 toes?”. It seemed like it took forever to deliver the placenta… that I was not prepared for. It was very uncomfortable to push it out after I thought I could stop pushing, and I had to get a few stitches for a little tear. Finally Benjamin came to my bedside with our little bundle. We just stared and cried and stared and cried. What an unbelievable experience. And what a prize we got at the end.

Pictures and more details to come later, but now it’s time to nurse (again!). My breaks are short but I’ll be back with another update soon. I can’t thank you all enough for your thoughts and comments. We are SO thrilled to be able to share this special time with you.