Where to begin?! I know everyone says it, but babies really do change your life. Even though she's been here just two weeks, it's amazing how this little munchkin changed my priorities and focus. Whereas before my time and energy was spent improving my own situation and most of my efforts were more or less selfish pursuits, now I get to take care of a little person and all my concerns focus on her. It's incredibly exhausting, more than I could have imagined, but I also can't believe how wonderful it is to be a mommy.
Anyway - her birth story :)
So many of you know that Viv was due Jan. 9. But this little rascal decided to stay put and didn't want to come out. Which was miserable. Partly because a week before my due date I was already dilated and effaced and her head had dropped real low and my doctor seemed completely confident she would come that week. My doctor even stripped my membranes to jump start labor, but nothing. Not to mention once a pregnant lady hits 37 weeks everyone seems to think the baby could come any day! Even though statistically most babies don't come till around 40 weeks. But Viv didn't want to come, I guess my womb is just too cozy. (Gross, I just used the word womb). And Grandma Pearl's birthday was Jan. 12, and it would've been so neat if she came on the same day as her namesake - but she didn't. Tally one more disappointment. By 5 days overdue I convinced myself I would just have to be induced so I would stop hoping and wondering when she would come.
Hence the induction. A week after my due date I saw the doctor, who said, "I can't believe this baby hasn't come yet," and we scheduled my induction the following morning. It was quite strange going from weeks of speculation about when she would come to suddenly knowing and planning on going to the hospital less than 24 hours later. I wasn't too excited about being induced because I wanted to have her naturally, and I figured Pitocin wasn't going to make that any easier, but to be honest I was just excited to finally get our baby. Jeff and I made sure everything was packed ready to go that night, then woke up and headed to the hospital.
I was hooked up and receiving Pitocin by 8:30 that morning. The continued to up my dose little by little until I was at the max you could receive before a doctor ok'd anymore. Then I went past that, and still nothing. I was having contractions, they just weren't labor contractions and didn't hurt. So that lasted till about 12:30, and around 1pm my doctor decided to break my water manually. Way scarier than it sounds, I didn't even feel anything when she broke my water, but boy did that kick start my contractions!! Didn't take more than 20 minutes for me to be in full on labor. But once again, Viv wanted to stay put, and I didn't dilate more than a cm or so for the next 7 hours...bummer. The doc checked me again and I was only a 6 - maybe. Granted I came into the hospital that morning at 4cm. By 7:30 the pain was starting to be too much to handle. And it's not even so much the worst pain I had ever felt, but knowing it's coming every few minutes for 7 hours just wore me down.
Cue IV meds. I asked for some Stadol around 7:30pm and it saved me. It helped me relax and handle the contractions better, and I even was able to sleep in between them. (Which looking back is crazy, cause there's only like 2-3 minutes in between contractions. But I remember being in a half awake - half dreaming state). The Stadol lasted for about an hour, and after it was wearing off I asked for some more around 9pm. However, this second dose, which was even higher than the first dose, didn't work as well as the first. I think my contractions were just getting that much worse.
Around 10pm they checked my cervix again - and this time there was more bad news. Not only had I not progressed and was still at 6cm, but there was a spot on my cervix that was starting to swell. The doctor then told me if my cervix continued to swell, I wouldn't be able to deliver vaginally and would have to have a c-section. So it was recommended that I get an epidural so my body could relax and my cervix could open up and let the babe come.
Ok - let's be clear here. I was never "against" epidurals. I think they're wonderful and was always willing to get one if I needed it. And especially if all that pain I was feeling wasn't even doing anything?! Ya, please someone poke my back and let's get this baby out. I was all for the epidural at that point in time.
While I was waiting for the anesthesiologist to get to the hospital, my contractions turned into something out of this world. I was starting to have the craziest urge to push with each contraction. I wasn't sure if it was a bowel movement or what, but it sure felt like it. I told my nurse, and she said I couldn't push because I wasn't anywhere near dilated. So I tried to stop by body from pushing - but that was near impossible. If I wanted to handle the contraction at all - I needed to breathe through it, but if I tried to relax my body enough to breathe, my body took over and...pushed. There's no way else for me to explain it. So I tried to squeeze and not let the pushing happen, and that was the worst part of the night. I again told my nurse, in desperation, really, I just wanted to push - and she said to let my body just do what it needed to, but not for me to actively push.
Since I was wanting to push so badly, my nurse checked me again, got all excited, and then grabbed the doctor, who then checked me and pronounced I was at an 8. I couldn't believe it! In half an hour I had jumped to an 8 and only had two more cm to go. The doctor then made me make a decision. She said I might stay at an 8 all night, and in that case it would be smart to still get the epidural. But then again, I might continue dialating. Well - I said let's wait another hour and see what happens. If I haven't dilated any more, then I'll still get the epidural. But I felt if I was already at an 8 and with the change in my contractions, I was almost there. I remember starting to feel bad for the anesthesiologist, but I quickly realized I shouldn't. It's his job to come in when he's on call - and if the situation changes, oh well. That's the job you signed up for!!
So just before 10pm I had agreed to an epidural, and people, by 10:45 I was at 10cm and the doctor told me to push. It was such a relief to start pushing - except for the fact that pushing was above and beyond the most intense experience of my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but it really was unbelievable. Hahaha, I remember asking the doctor how long pushing takes, and she said for some up to a couple hours (usually those with an epidural) but she said she had seen some as short as 20 minutes.
That was the best motivation knowing I could be holding my baby in as little as 20 minutes, haha. About 15-20 minutes into it I asked the doctor where the baby was, cause to me the pain felt like she should be making her way out. The doctor told me I wasn't quite there yet - when the baby gets close she'll put on her gown. Boy was I excited when she put on that gown! I pushed for 40 minutes and on the last push I screamed - apparently everyone in the hospital heard it, including my in-laws who were waiting in the lobby, hahaha. But they also heard a little baby cry soon after the scream :)
After I pushed her head out (cue the scream), I remember the doctor telling me I needed to push again to get her shoulders out - not sure how I managed because I was so exhausted. And then she came out and I was holding my baby. I thought I would cry when I held her, but it was more like I was in shock - I couldn't believe she was real, that I was holding our baby, and that I had managed somehow to deliver her. It was pretty special because everyone in the room just went quiet. You could tell that everyone involved, the nurses, techs, doctors, all reverenced childbirth and the amazing moment when baby meets mommy. (I might have not cried about it then, but even just typing about it now gets me weepy).
Another beautiful moment was when Jeff cut the cord. Let me explain - since before I got pregnant it was understood that Jeff wasn't too excited to be in the thick of it all. We fought about him having to be there, hahaha. And once we started going to those baby classes and learning that dads can help hold a leg during the pushing, cut the cord, etc, etc, Jeff made it very clear he was NOT interested in that kind of stuff. And I was totally ok with that because all I needed was him there - simply as a support. (He even told me later during the pushing he situated himself so he could see me and see the baby once she came out, but that the nurse was blocking most of the action down there, hahaha). So when the doctor asked Jeff if he would like to cut the cord, I was surprised when Jeff cut me off and said he would. It was like all of a sudden it became about Vivian, not about him or me or gross cords, and that moment was the beginning of many tender dad moments Jeff has already had. Babies are so special because not only do you have your own heart open up, but you get to watch your husband, who you already love so much, take on the role of father. Pretty neat stuff :)
I'm really grateful I was able to be able to deliver her naturally. I was talking to my mom about it when she came to visit, and we still can't really figure out why some people have such a desire to do it without an epidural. It's not like I'm against medication or some kind of hippy granola girl. Mom joked that it's because we have to be in control - but I think there's a lot of truth behind that. I like to be informed and in control - and maybe for some people experiencing pain is the opposite of control - but I wanted to "know" the entire experience, pain included. And I don't like the idea of possibly not having any sensation in the lower half of my body. I don't know - I'm still trying to figure out why I had such a desire for doing it without an epidural.
Well folks, that's how it all went down. What I wasn't prepared for, however, was post delivery. Holy cow my body was trashed. I did tear a little bit - I guess natural births sometimes have more tears because you're so ready to get that baby out that everything down there doesn't have as much time to stretch out. The hardest part about coming home and taking care of a newborn is that you have to do it while your body is recovering. That has been the hardest part. And getting the hang of breastfeeding - ouch.
But I think those topics are for another day. Please forgive any typo's and grammar errors. I tried to bust this out as quick as I could - cause baby Viv is getting hungry again ;) Isn't she a beaut? Love her so much. Thanks for making it through that lengthy, quickly written post.