An extremely long version is ahead, which I’ve written for posterity. If you’re like me and up in the middle of the night nursing a baby, maybe you want to read it. If not, I’ll give you the short version first. Pardon the typos. I’m considering this draft form, as I’d like it be something that my baby might like to read some day when she has her own babies.
We went to the hospital on Tuesday afternoon for a non-stress test and monitoring. Since I was 3cm dilated already, they didn’t need to give me anything to start labor. It seemed my body was going to get started after all. Labor started on Tuesday August 8 around 10pm with contractions 10 minutes apart all night long. I slept in 5 minute increments. Wednesday August 9, we went to the hospital in the morning to get things going. By 11am, I was 5cm dilated. They broke my waters, which only made contractions more painful, but did not speed up labor. That afternoon, early evening, was incredibly painful. Contraction after contraction. By 6pm, I was not progressing much at all and the doctor was concerned that I would be too tired to push once I got to 10cm. They gave me pitocin and I decided on an epidural, which ended up being magical. I could sleep through all of the contractions! Thursday August 10, morning, I hadn’t progressed much in dilation. Somehow by 9:30, however, I was at 10cm and it was time to push. I pushed for two hours to no avail. Baby would not budge at all. So, it came down to a c-section. An unplanned c-section! I just wanted a healthy baby and healthy me, so it was okay by me at that point. The delivery portion was fine. The putting me back together was so incredibly painful that they gave me anesthesia to knock me out. Thank god. Finally at 12:44pm on Thursday August 10, baby Brooke was born at 8lbs, 12oz and 21 1/2 inches long!
Saturday August 5, 2017 marked 41 weeks and baby girl offered no signs of planning to arrive anytime soon. I could feel my belly growing and growing as I wondered how could there be any room left in there? I wanted baby girl to arrive so I knew everything was okay, and she was healthy and alive. We had made it this far and yet the end seemed so far away. We were waiting, as usual. This weekend was the Festival of Fools, which was a collection of street performers. I felt mostly fine on Saturday, just the usual random pains and tiredness and heaviness.
Sunday August 6, 2017: We decided to go out for brunch at Monarch & Milkweed, since we knew it would be a while before we had a chance to do so again. It’s such a cute little café, only block away. We like to sit at the marble bar and sip our coffee and chat with the servers. I had one of my favorite brunch items in town: grilled cheese & tomato soup. It sounds boring, but it’s the best I’ve ever had! Afterwards we strolled down to the waterfront to catch some of the Dragon Boat Festival. Five years ago we competed in the festival for work. Ah, memories. My, how far we’ve come! While walking I had some sort of pain – perhaps contractions here and there? But I couldn’t be sure. We watched a performance in the park at 2pm and another one at 6pm. One of our favorite things about where we live is the ability to see something in the park or on Church Street and then go home (since it’s only one block away) and then go out again.
Monday August 7, 2017: I decided to work at home, having felt some contractions and just not feeling comfortable enough to be at my desk all day. That was a good decision. I could rest, work, rest, work, etc.
Tuesday August 8, 2017: Again, I worked from home for just a few hours. I was not feeling great nor up for the task of sitting at my desk. And, I had finished all of my work anyway. At 1pm, we went to the hospital for a non-stress test and so they could determine what method of induction they would choose for Wednesday. We were there for a few hours as they monitored baby & me. As it turns out, I was already 3cm dilated by the time they checked. The doctors thought that was quite favorable, and meant they didn’t need to give me any meds for induction. Hooray! One of the nurses told me my job was to go into labor that night. Hahaha. And if I didn’t the hospital would call Wednesday morning to tell us when to come in.
Tuesday night around 10pm is when things seemed to start. I couldn’t sleep in bed because I didn’t want to wake S with all of my shifting and getting out of bed. Contractions started and they were 10 minutes apart ALL night long. As you can imagine, that means I was only able to sleep in about 5 minute increments. They weren’t unbearable, but they were definitely contractions and painful. And most of the contractions made me have to pee. I rolled on the exercise ball through most of the contractions, which was at least a distraction.
Wednesday August 9, 2017: Continuing from Tuesday, I continued the contraction spaced 10 minutes apart. I took a shower at 5am and swayed back and forth through the contractions. Around 6:30am, the hospital called and said to eat breakfast and come in at 8am. It is true that contractions are more noticeable over bumps in the road. Ouch! We easily found a parking spot in the garage and I was able to walk the long way to Labor & Delivery (7th floor, but we took elevators).
Upon arriving, the nursing staff was congregated around the nursing station for their morning meeting. An older woman, Gwen, greeted us and said, “alright, you’re stuck with me.” That did not give me the best first impression, but I warmed up to her once we were getting settled in Room 8. She turned out to be pretty funny in a sarcastic way. I got hooked up to a fetal monitor and a contraction monitor. Once in a hospital gown, we were free to roam the halls. Contractions weren’t really much yet, and I was only dilated to 4cm (?? I don’t remember). We strolled the halls and watched the construction going on. The 7th floor of the hospital has fabulous views over Burlington, as did our L&D room. We talked to the anesthesiologist, too, just because it was an easier thing to do at that point in labor than later. I had said that I would like to avoid an epidural, but I wasn’t opposed to it necessarily. I just wanted a healthy baby and a healthy me.
By 11am, I was at 5cm, which is considered active labor. At some point they broke my waters, hoping that labor would progress faster. I had been wondering what that would feel like – warm gush of fluid, just as they say. It didn’t speed up dilation, but it certainly made contractions more painful.
For the rest of the afternoon/early evening, contractions were terrible. Some seemed minutes long that just wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t find a comfortable position. I didn’t care if I was naked. I didn’t know what to do. And I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give me a break! My back hurt and my pelvis felt like it was being crushed, and my left hip flexor was killing me. For about an hour I leaned facing the head of the bed with pillows under my belly, just moaning. Pure misery.
And, I wasn’t progressing. I tried the tub twice, which gave some relief, but not really. Then I would get too hot. I did enjoy the popsicles, however. The nurses were great, keeping me company. Dr. Jenny was here at this time, telling me I was doing great, too. It didn’t feel that way, though. I felt awful!
By 6pm, I was exhausted after long, painful contractions and no signs of progressions. Dr. Jenny wanted to give me pitocin to hopefully speed up labor. And she suggested I consider an epidural because she wanted me to get some sleep, fearing I would be too tired when it came time to push. Being in so much pain at that point and knowing how slow everything was going, I decided that I wanted an epidural. I was nervous, however.
After that, so many doctors came in, I don’t even recall who was who. But they got me prepped for the epidural. I remember that the nurses had me say my name and what I was requesting. I was shaking at that time (normal labor side effect) and nervous and having contractions. It didn’t hurt. Though, at that point, nothing hurt like a contraction, so it’s all relative. And then, I felt relief. I was able to sleep. And I couldn’t feel contractions. It was crazy. At this point, I was bed bound, but didn’t care. I felt better. S was able to sleep (sort of) in the reclining chair in the room. And he was able to order my meals for him (I couldn’t eat)! But he was there checking on me, keeping my parents & sisters updated and entertaining me when possible. He also enjoyed watching the contraction monitor.
We’d been there long enough for nurse shift changes. A traveling nurse named Amanda was the night nurse. She checked on me every hour. S said he saw at the monitor watching the contractions and checking vitals all night long. She was really nice and I liked talking to her a bit. I had to lie on my side all night long, which hurt my hip flexor a bit. Every hour Amanda had me switch sides.
Thursday August 10, 2017: Turns out, baby girl did not want her birthday to be on August 9. And unfortunately, I still hadn’t dilated as much as they hoped. But by 9:30am, they told me it was time to push. Being on an epidural, I had no idea what to expect as I couldn’t feel anything. But, sure, I was just going to follow the nurse’s instructions. And pushing was strange. I couldn’t seem to get a deep enough breath lying down. Squatting was better. For pushing, S was on my left at my head and the nurse was on my right or in front of me. It is true what they say: modesty goes out the window. You really don’t care. And you do poop a bit during pushing. It can’t be helped. That was one of things I was very concerned about, but I stopped caring. Really, the nurse cleans it up and it’s the last thing on your mind.
After one hour of pushing, Dr. Julie talked to us. She suggested that the baby might be too big for my pelvis and might not come out, since baby wasn’t dropping. She didn’t want me to push more than 2 hours in case it made the baby harder to get out. S and I had been wondering when someone would mention c-section to us.
Because I had said all along that I just wanted a healthy baby and healthy me, I knew I would go with the flow and recommendations of the doctors. And suddenly they started to prep me for a c-section. Another consultation with the anesthetist, more nurses, more explanations. It starts to be a blur here. I was scared (I read too many / heard too many scary stories on the internet or on the radio).
They got me all set up in the operating room, and then S was able to come in. He sat with me behind the blue curtain and held my hand. The anesthesiologists (two) were with us, too, monitoring me, asking me how I felt, getting very close to my face. They were both very nice.
The first part of the c-section – delivery of the baby – did not hurt. I didn’t really feel much, though I felt a bit nauseous. I was holding S’s hand, I think. He could see more of what was going on. Once they got baby out, he said there were about 6 doctors working on her for a few minutes. She didn’t cry right away because they had to remove fluid and such things. But, then we could here her. I recall smiling and holding S’s hand.
Then they started to put me back together, so to speak. This is what hurt most of all. It was awful. So much pressure and it hurt. I guess the epidural was wearing off? I’m not sure. But I was moaning and rolling my head side to side. Finally they gave me full anesthesia and knocked me out. When I woke up, I was thinking, “I hope they’re done.” We were still in the operating room at that point.
It remains a blur for me, getting from the operating room back to our room and being handed our new baby whom we named Brooke. Sense of time is lost on me for a while. But she was so cute, and so big! Born at 12:44pm on August 10, 2017, Brooke weighed in at 8lbs, 12oz, 21 ½ inches long! She had a large head, taking after her father. That was one reason she wasn’t coming out!
We did skin to skin in the L&D room, and after a few hours of monitoring we were taken to the mother baby unit. This part is all still a blur for me. The rooms were very nice, however. We had a private room with a Murphy bed so S had a place to sleep. And we could keep Brooke with us all the time, if we liked.
For the first two days or so, I was not hungry. My stomach was still hard and it hurt. Laying in bed all day was fine by me, with a short walk around the halls. S and I watched Bloodline on his laptop and spent our days (between vital checks of Brooke and me) resting and feeding Brooke and changing her diaper. Nights were harder because that brought on sleep deprivation. The good thing about the hospital was the nursery. The nurses would take Brooke to the nursery from about 12am-3am each morning, when I could get a good stretch of sleep.
Our biggest struggle was swaddling. She could break out of any of our swaddles, and preferred to keep her hands to her face. Finally, I ordered a Halo Sleep Sack/Swaddle from Amazon. That was a lifesaver as she couldn’t break out of it.
Friday August 11, 2017: We had our first visitor: M! She came to meet her baby sister! We also had brief visits from M & D and A & J. In other news, the doctors told me that I needed a blood transfusion because my hematocrit levels were low – I started at 37, and they were down to 19 (and then 17). I never liked the idea of getting a blood transfusion (someone else’s blood?!), and I felt fine. I didn’t show any symptoms (no high blood pressure or fast pulse; I wasn’t dizzy or lightheaded). But when they didn’t improve, S suggested I get the blood. Really, I took it so I wouldn’t affect milk supply for Brooke. It turned out fine. Maybe I had a bit more energy afterwards, but overall, I felt the same, and my number had gone up to 23, which they were pleased with.
I had an IV line in my right arm for days, which was put in poorly (apparently) as my arm was (and is) purple with blood. I think the first nurse put it in wrong. My arm doesn’t hurt, but people comment that it looks like a sleeve tattoo!
Also, over the course of these days in the hospital, the lactation consultant (Patrice) and various nurses helped with breastfeeding. Fortunately, Brooke took to my boobs quite easily, and voraciously. It hurt (how does it feel like babies have teeth?), but not horribly, and was not the horrifying experience I feared all along. But the LC and nurses taught me a few tricks and holds. I prefer the cradle or cross cradle, not the football hold.
By the time the end of the weekend rolled around, I was ready to go home. I was tired of having nurses wake me or Brooke up all of the time. Hospital beds are not comfortable and I was beginning to forget that it was summer outside. The advantages were the room service food, the pudding from the fridge on the floor, and nurses taking Brooke for a few hours each night. It is funny how your stay in the hospital can revolve around meals. S and I thoroughly enjoyed the Asian Noodle Bowl and the guacamole and chips, and the breakfast wrap.
We did have a few more visitors: Ann (on Sunday, I think) Elise and Jen (on Monday). Elise brought Brooke a pink stuffed toy, and Jen brought ice cream for us. But, I wanted to go home. Finally, we were sprung from the hospital at 5pm on Monday August 14. Six days, five nights in the hospital. That is not what we had been expecting!
What a crazy (almost) week it was. By my calculations, labor started at 10pm on Tuesday August 8 and Brooke was not born until Thursday August 10 at 12:44pm. That is almost 39 hours of labor! I’m glad I was not so set on one birth plan, because it would not have been anything that actually happened (except maybe popsicles and a bathtub). And I certainly would not have chosen to be so overdue. Baby Brooke is here and healthy and I’m on my long road to recovery. C-sections are no joke. We say that Brooke is a modern medical marvel: from IVF to an epidural to a c-section to a blood transfusion – thank god for modern medicine.
Next up: My thoughts on becoming a mother and being a new mom and c-section recovery (so far).