Sunday, December 11, 2016

The birth of Felicity

My 36 week appointment was Monday.  After talking to the doctor he said that I was close enough to full term that I shouldn't need to be restful anymore and should just let her come when she was ready.  I was nervous about her coming during that week but also felt calm about just living my life again.  We had all been praying that she would come when she was fully developed and healthy enough to come and I had convinced myself that she wouldn't come for a few more weeks.  Mike and I thought maybe she would come around 37 or 38 weeks.  The doctor and I had decided not to have him check me again because I didn't want to mess with things down there and didn't want to start my contractions starting again.  I also know that in the big scheme of things, it really doesn't matter and isn't a true indicator of when you will go into labor.  

I went home and told Mike the good news.  We ran an errand together and then I spent the rest of the day helping him finish orders--sanding, staining, and painting.  I also did some things around the house.  By the kid's bedtime I was ready to call it a day.  

The next morning, Tuesday the 6th, I got up and made snowman pancakes for the kids.  I changed some laundry, swept the floor, did some dishes, helped the kids with school, got ready for the day, and took the kids to Target to get Piper and Isaac some new shoes.  I felt fine.  Actually, I felt better than I had for days.  I don't know if it was just because I was so relieved to be getting back to normal or what but I just didn't really notice as many contractions.  After we got home, sometime around 2:30 or 3, I sat down to fold laundry.  I felt some contractions about 10 min apart but didn't pay much attention to them.  

Around 4, I went downstairs to spend some time with Piper.  We pulled out her reading lesson book and went through the first lesson together.  While we were reading I felt a hard pop on my belly.  It didn't really hurt and I assumed it was just the baby moving but I did think to myself, "That was hard enough to break my water if it wanted to."  I didn't feel anything leak out of me so I just continued to read to Piper.  A few minutes later we finished our lesson and I told Piper I needed to go get dinner started.  I stood up and waited for a minute to see if there was a gush of anything.  There wasn't so I started walking to the kitchen.  The first step there was nothing.  The second step though, I thought, "Oh crap.  I just wet myself" and then another step, more leaking and another more.  At that point, I thought, "Oh crap, that's not pee."  My water had indeed broken.  

I called Mike at work and called our friend who would come watch the kids.  I wasn't really feeling too many contractions at this point but I was positive for Group B Strep and the last two babies I had, labor went very fast once my water broke.  I assumed I would have the same experience this time so I didn't want to wait too long before going to the hospital.  We left about an hour later.  There weren't any rooms available so they sent us back to triage where there were three other ladies with their families and kids waiting.  It was crowded and loud.  They checked me and I was only a three at this point.  That didn't really bother me because my water broke with Piper at a 3 and I had her about four hours later.  Thankfully, we didn't have to wait too long in triage before they got a room ready and sent us back.  They gave me my first dose of antibiotics and then told me I could do whatever I wanted--tub, birthing ball, walk the halls, etc.  Then, they showed us to kitchen and said, "Here is where the water and ice is and you can have any Popsicle you want.  Have at it.  As long as there isn't a name on something, you can have it."  

Mike and I walked around the hall for a few laps but I didn't really like having all the nurses watching me pace the hallways so we went back to the room.  We watched some TV while I sat on the ball and paced the room over and over.  I did some yoga squats as well but mostly just wanted to walk back and forth.  Things sped up at a gradual pace.  I could tell they were getting closer together and more intense.  Eventually, I had to stop looking at Mike because the pain was getting pretty bad and when I'd look at him he'd give me such a concerned look that I would end up getting teary-eyed.  I am not an emotional laborer.  I don't make a lot of noise.  I don't like a lot of touching or talking or anything like that.  I just want to focus on my things and get it done.  Mike knows that so he just watches me and tries to gauge my pain level and be there for whatever I need.  So, he sat there watching TV while I walked and then whenever I'd get on the ball he'd get up close and put pressure on my back.  

Things were progressing enough that I honestly thought I was about a six by now.  It was about ten and I was surprised that it had taken five hours already.  It was already starting to be one of my longer labors and I was surprised that things hadn't followed the same pattern of my other labors.  That said, I felt things were definitely progressing.  My contractions came close together and I had to breathe through them for over a minute.  The nurse had unhooked me to everything so that I didn't have any monitors or IV's or anything so she would come in once an hour and listen to the baby for 10 minutes.  She had a really hard time finding the baby on the monitors though so eventually she asked if I would be ok with putting a monitor on her head.  At this point I was still in my yoga pants and shirt I came in with some fancy hospital undies and pads.  I decided it was probably a good time to get in a gown so that they could put in the monitor.  They put it in and the nurse checked me a second time.  She said the baby was still very high and I was just a four.  She left the room and I started to cry.  I just felt really defeated.  I was in a lot of pain at this point and had been in labor for five hours and I honestly doubted my ability to keep going without anything.  My fear really was just that if it took me five hours to progress from a 3 to a 4, I would not be able to keep this up.  Mike kept telling me over and over how proud he was of me and how amazing I was doing and that he knew I could do it.  I worried that she wasn't coming down and that if she didn't make her way down I wouldn't be able to dilate and felt so discouraged to not be making more progress.

I decided to get back on the ball and do big hip movements but that just felt weird and hurt.  Everything at this point hurt.  I could not find any comfortable position.  I had hoped getting on the ball would encourage her to engage.  Mike raised the bed and I settled on standing and leaning against the bed.  Then I'd go back to the ball and finally, Mike suggested I get on my hands and knees on the bed.  I had thought about it previously but for some reason rejected the thought so when he suggested it, I decided I should try.  At that point, it just got bad.  My back ached so bad and Mike would put pressure on my back to ease the pain but it didn't help much.  I started feeling hot, which should have clued me in to how things were progressing but I wasn't hot enough to want to vomit so I didn't think too much about it.  Plus, I had literally been freezing for most of the last five hours.  My body would shake violently every time I had a contraction.  Then, I started getting hot and requested that Mike bathe my forehead with ice and over and over he would put ice on my forehead while I stayed on my hands and knees and moaned.  It was weird to me because again, I'm not a vocal laborer, but I could not help it.  I was in so much pain that all I could do was moan and try and remind myself to take deep breathes.  

Soon, the contractions were followed by pressure and I was shocked to be feeling like I needed to push already.  She had only checked me a little over an hour before and I was only a four.  I had gone from a 5-10 in an hour with Laila but this had taken such a long time to get from a 3-4 that I couldn't believe I was ready to push.  I told Mike that I thought I needed to push and he called the nurse in.  She came in with a few other nurses who started to set things up and when she came in the urge slightly let up so I told her that I think I lied and maybe I wasn't ready yet.  She said it was ok and they would go ahead and set things up anyway just in case.  She asked me how I wanted to deliver the baby and I told her I didn't care, I just wanted to get her out.  While she talked I just had contraction after contraction with no real break at all and the urge to push came more and more with each contraction.  She told me not to push unless I felt I had to and I told her I couldn't not push so she said, "Well honey, you can't push the baby out with your panties on," to which I said, "Then pull the panties down because I have to push."  I was still on my hands and knees and she rushed over to pull the undies down and she and Mike gasped and said, "There's her head!"  Mike thought it would be encouraging to me to tell me her head was crowning and while it was, I really couldn't think of anything else besides getting her out.  I think I gave him a dirty look or said that I didn't care or something crazy like that.  The next push she came out.  The nurse didn't even have time to put both gloves on and the doctor, who was on his way up the elevator, when we said I had to push the first time, didn't even make it to the room on time.  

The nurse let Mike cut the cord and I immediately fell to my elbows and started to heave big sobs.  It was so traumatic to me and so painful and such a relief to be done that I just couldn't hold it in any longer.  The doctor had me get on my back so he could deliver the placenta and I got my second look at Felicity.  The first glance was me on my hands and knees looking behind me to see her as Mike cut the cord.  She was so tiny.  So, so tiny.  And so beautiful.  They immediately put her on my chest and let me hold her for the next hour.  They didn't weigh her or measure her until after I had held her for an hour.  They didn't even bathe her until the next morning, which was fine, because that just meant they let her stay with me.  

Her trip down the birth canal bruised her shoulder and pelvic area so she had/s some jaundice and she didn't have a chance to get all the gunk squeezed out of her chest so she did a lot of gagging and trying to spit up the first couple of nights.  

They weighed her at 6 lbs 2 oz, and 19 inches, my shortest baby and almost my lightest baby (Isaac was just two ounces lighter).  She looks so much like Piper and Isaac to me.  Her hair is a beautiful copper tone. 

Because I only got the one round of antibiotic, I had to stay in the hospital a full 48 hours after having her so I ended up staying three nights and half a day.  I was so grateful to finally get to come home!  I sent Mike home after I had the baby so I stayed in the hospital alone.  That actually isn't abnormal for us.  Mike has only ever stayed in the hospital with me one time.  My recovery has been good so far.  I'm not a big medicine taker so I didn't ever take percocet and only took ibuprofen.  I only take one pill in the morning and notice when it's time for bed that I'm a bit sore but over all, I think things are healing nicely.  I also didn't tear so that has been nice not to have to worry about.  The baby is nursing well but still has some jaundice issues so I have to take her in each day to have her checked.  Her levels are pretty high but because she was so early and had bruising, they doctors aren't too worried yet.  They said if her levels keep rising they will send home a light.  Hopefully tomorrow her levels will start going down.  She is sleeping well so far and even accepts a pacifier, which is very strange for a Richards' baby.  

This labor was such a different experience for me.  It was the only labor where I had nothing--no pitocin, no IV, nothing.  I had to have the antibiotic but they clamped that off as soon as I had the first round.  It was such a relaxed environment.  The nursed asked me about my birth plan, which was weird because no nurse has ever asked about a birth plan before.  She told me she would only check me when I asked her to and she never once even brought up pitocin or an epidural.  Even just asking me how I wanted to deliver was new.  I am pretty sure my doctor would have delivered Felicity on his knees if I had said that was how I wanted to deliver her.  It was so nice to have a say in what I wanted to do.  They trusted me to do whatever I wanted and didn't try to push anything on me.  Even after delivering her it was different.  Usually the lactation specialist drives me nuts with her breastfeeding advice and I hate it when they treat me like I have no clue what I'm doing.  This time they were very relaxed.  I still had to write down all her poopy diapers and when I fed her but it was much more like, "This is your sixth baby.  You don't really need us."  It was so nice to be treated like an experienced mother this time around and pretty much left alone as much as they were allowed to leave me alone.  

I will say that this was probably my hardest labor of the six.  I have only ever had one other natural labor and that was Laila's.  Her labor was so fast once they broke my water that even though I experienced it naturally, it wasn't like this.  This was drawn out and intense and painful and just awful.  I am glad to be done and not have to experience it again but I'm also glad I did it.  I feel so thankful to Mike for encouraging me.  I knew he was proud of me.  It was actually exactly what I had hoped for besides all the pain.  I had wanted a natural birth with no pitocin, no tearing, no emergencies, no nurses butting in.  I had wanted to be allowed to move how I wanted to.  I had wanted to deliver in whatever way would help me push her out more effectively and even though I hadn't imagined I'd be on my hands and knees, it was just what I needed to have happen.  So, I did it and it's over and I'm relieved to be done!

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