Mr. T’s thoughts and comments are in parenthesis. Enjoy!
We arrived at BNA airport about 2 1/2hours before our flight. We breezed through security and had a bite to eat. Airport food prices would help soften the exchange rate adjustment. We found our gate and took AU potty and let her play on the play equipment.
So it was more than a few days. It isn’t edited for typos or content (thus the lackluster ending) but I didn’t want to delay further. Enjoy!
On the evening of Jan 18th I walked upstairs and felt a wet gush. I thought my water had broken but it had not. That event though did set off night after night of prodromal contractions. Amid the month long nighttime contraction fest I was able to stay in good spirits. I knew that each contraction brought my second daughter closer. I felt that even if the contractions weren’t dilating me they were helping with tone and positioning. I was able to rest and sleep most mornings thanks to my husband’s work schedule so I did not get too exhausted. There were a few teary nights of looking around at the mess my house was (being up all night every night does not a house cleaner of me make!) but we got through it.
I had a series of due dates and the day following the last due date (the one made using the ultrasound I had at 6 weeks 1 day) my contractions seemed to change. They just felt different and they didn’t stop after going most of the night like had occurred the previous 3 weeks. It seemed like this would be it! The one day I had hoped to avoid-eldest daughter’s birthday!
After being up most of the night by myself, around 5am I ask Mr. T to get up and he ran a bath for me. It felt so good to get in! We timed some contractions and they were about 10 minutes apart. My eldest daughter awoke with the sound of the running water and the extra commotion we were making. It was her birthday! She was desperate to get in the bathtub and despite the contractions I thought it would be a lovely way to celebrate her birth. In she climbed just pleased as punch.. We wound up blowing bubbles, singing happy birthday, and having some cuddles between “Mommy needs to rest” times.
Around 6am Mr. T called my best friend, the midwife, the doula and eldest daughter’s birth support to let them know. We told my midwife and doula what was up but that I was sure I had awhile and would call back when I needed them. My best friend came over to visit and brought me a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit from Hardee’s which was so tasty!
Around 8am eldest daughter’s birth support arrived and we made up a great birthday plan of gymboree class, playing at the Zoo, lunch out, and then naptime. I tried to concentrate on the great time she would have and not on what I was missing out on. Once she left for the day my contractions seemed to pick up in intensity and get closer together. We were moving right along!
My midwife sent her assistant to do a cervical check to see what was going on. I was only a finger tip dilated but the head was right down on the cervix. I was excited and pleased with the progress! The apprentice said we should just go about our day as normally as possible.
So, we decided to get out of the house. Best friend and I ran over to the grocery to pick up coconut water and other hydration and then meet Mr. T for lunch. He suggested we eat at a “ladies who lunch” type place the he had heard about at work called “The Chocolate Covered Strawberry”. He may have been the only guy there but that didn’t cause the scene that my having a contraction mid-order did. The waitress was absolutely appalled, “Why haven’t they sectioned her yet?!?” When I stopped relaxing and rejoined the conversation I replied, “Because we are planning a homebirth and my knives just aren’t that sharp,” with a big grin on my face. Lunch was really tastey—I ordered extra strawberry “salad” (you know the one with the crushed pretzel crust, sweetened cream cheese layer, and then the strawberry jello layer) for after labor because it was exactly what I wanted to be eating. The car ride home was fairly excruciating but slowed the contractions way down. I was able to nap in the afternoon although the contractions didn’t ever stop.
Monday night I slept from around 10pm-1am with contractions 7-9 minutes apart. It was not very restful. At 1am I couldn’t lay down any more and got up and went downstairs where the contractions moved to 5 minutes apart and became super intense and I had to vocalize through them. At 3am I couldn’t do it alone anymore so I went back upstairs and awoke Mr. T to assist me by mashing my low back. We did that for an hour and a half or so and I got really sleepy. So I tried to sleep some more with contractions 9-15 minutes apart. There was enough gap to start crazy REM sleep, be startled awake in pain from a contraction, frantically try to figure out where the heck I was (in the guest bedroom) and how to fix it! Around 7am AU woke up so Mr. T went to tend to her. I got in another little bit of sleep. I was feeling very depressed about the whole situation but then I had a big chunk of mucus plug! I have never been so excited to see mucus! I never had happen with AU’s birth so my spirits were immediately lifted and it seemed like everything was trucking along.
Contractions continued far apart for most of the day. I went to the chiropractor and lost a huge chunk of plug in the men’s bathroom (I was the first and only woman to be in labor losing her mucus plug there!) (it is regularly used by the female office staff) which although I was no longer contracting was still more bolstering to my spirit. In the evening things started to pick up and my midwife came to check me. She was really pleased with the progress I had made. I was a little disappointed because I hadn’t dilated further but was reminded myself that I was able to eat and rest and that soon I would be dilating and having a baby.
During her check baby’s heartrate was high, like in the 190s, on 3 separate checks so we decided to go into the hospital to see what was going on. We all, Mr. T, best friend, and midwife and I discussed that likely this would mean having a baby that night. Luckily, my OB was on call and he hooked me up and ran an hour long heart rate strip. He said everything looked fine and that the tachycardia was likely just midwife hitting the accelerations during her checks. We were all surprised that he sent me home but were pleased that the baby was fine and that I did not have any unnecessary interventions.
I knew that contractions would stop at the hospital and they did. I got good sleep Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning and then bam! Lots of discomfort and I could not get relief in any position. Baby had shifted posterior. By Wednesday morning I texted my midwife that I was sure I was still in prodromal labor but that I was hurting and not able to get relief. It was clear baby had shifted somehow during the night. She sent her assistant to go through a series of positions with me that seemed to bring relief (10 minutes on left side, 10 minutes on tummy, 10 minutes on right side, 10 minutes with a trocanter under my hips) and stopped contractions. I was able to nap in the afternoon and did not have any more pain which was wonderful. I was able to nap for 50 minutes! It was the longest stretch of sleep I had in 3 days.
Thursday was Valentine’s Day. I spent the day alone in my room trying to cocoon and relax to get this baby born. I was grouchy and out of sorts so it was probably best that I was alone. I had some bloody show which was exciting but no clear contraction pattern. AU’s labor support person came and entertained her so Mr. T could spend some time with me. He rubbed my back which felt really nice. I was able to rest in the evening until around 10:15pm.
My best friend came and labored with me so that Mr. T could sleep. We did the left, right, middle, back positioning thing which helped the discomfort. We watched house hunters international and giggled over facebook memes. Around 5am she left and I tried to get some sleep between 15 minute apart contractions.
Friday I had another visit to the chiropractor which included an extra long acupressure to get things going session. It didn’t seem to do anything. We decided to have Cracker Barrel to go for dinner. We got home and I realized I was super cranky because I was in intermittent discomfort. Like every 5 minutes or so and lasting over a minute each time. We decided to eat dinner up in the loft. AU sat on the floor and got food everywhere. I shoveled in a few bites quickly between contractions and then abandoned sitting in the chair in lieu of being on the ball. Contractions escalated quickly to being one on top of the other and I asked Mr. T to call someone to help AU so that he could help me because I needed help. At some point I got in the shower but the position of the flow wasn’t correct and was just getting my hair wet and not helping the pain I was in. Best friend came and took AU to her house and Mr. T tried to help me.
The midwife’s apprentice came to check me and at last! Progress! She thought I was probably a 3. In just under 3 hours I went from a finger tip to 3! I was so excited! She wound up staying the night in the twin bed. AU slept in the guest room. I labored in my room. Best friend labored with me while Mr. T slept. I continued having contractions but wasn’t really making progress. By morning the apprentice decided to leave and the doula came over to be with me.
I needed to be in the birth tub at this point and it was clear that the midwife’s tub was not going to be at my house any time soon. The doula had an extra birth-tub-in-a-box so she went to get that. She came back with it and it was set up and ready from me by early afternoon. It felt so nice! I labored in the tub off and on for most of the afternoon and evening. My Dad had texted me that he loved me and that slow progress was still progress. Once again contractions slowed down so doula and best friend went home to rest around 9-10pm. I also tried to rest.
True to form contractions picked back up around midnight. Mr. T tried to help me with the hypnobabies hypnosis as best he could but by 3am I demanded that he get someone to the house that could stay awake and not drift off mid-script. Best friend and doula showed up sometime after that and the midwife joined us around 5am. She declared I was a solid 5 and it was dispiriting. I started progressing Friday evening and here I was almost 36 hours later and had only moved another 2 centimeters. Such slow progress for such hard work! She also said she thought going from 5-6 would be tough but then things would go very quickly. Best friend and doula tended to me in the tub while midwife sat on the steps look at her iphone. Funnily, I think she was reading “Call the Midwife.”
She left around 6am and said to call anytime. The tub seemed to be ineffective helping with the 3 minute long, back to back, contractions I was having so I decided to get out and go drape myself on the back of the couch. I had one contraction like that, turned to change position, and said, “I either just peed myself or my water just broke!” I should have been excited but I was tired and feeling really lackluster about the event. I walked a few steps toward the bathroom and had another gush. After a moment of indecision about what to do I remember I had Ph strips upstairs. Best friend retrieved them and we decided to test the floor puddle. Sure enough, basic. My water had broken! 6:34am Sunday, February 17th.
My contractions immediately stopped. Yes. Stopped. I was able to get real sleep, like 3 hours worth, for the first time in a week. It was glorious. Around 10:30am contractions started to pick back up into a more normal labor pattern instead of excruciating back to back contraction these were more like the hypnobabies promised pressure waves with respite in between. But they didn’t move longer, strong, closer together. Despite a 2 mile walk, nipple stimulation with the breast pump, and walking up and down the stairs. I was not worried but my midwife, doula, best friend, and Mr. T, I all had along powwow about what we were going to do.
I had not realized that at term water breaking meant one needed to be in labor within 24 hours or a trip to the hospital would likely mean lots of interventions. Despite that risk, after talking and doing some research, Mr. T and I decided we were comfortable waiting for labor to start again. During our conversation, AU awoke from a nap and had a 101 degree fever. That helped us decide not to head to the hospital for augmentation (which may not have been possible due to my VBAC status anyway and I did not want to commit to a c-section just because the doctor on-call wasn’t willing to augment) or a repeat c-section.
Overnight contractions continued in a loosey-goosey manner so that around 10am I decided to begin the castor oil protocol to try to get labor going again. I drank 1oz castor oil, 1 oz vodka (to help relax muscles to keep castor oil down), and 2 oz of OJ every hour for 3 hours. I showered in between doses and tried to rest. By mid afternoon I was back in labor and back in discomfort. I tried laboring on the ball and in the bed and despite the fear that it might slow things down, I got back in the tub.
It didn’t help. Around 5pm I the midwife came back and was reassuring me that things were going well. The pain in my back did not ebb or flow. I stopped being able to feel contractions. All I could feel was the pain in my lower back. The midwife checked me every half hour or so and said my contractions were strong and long and spaced well. She said she thought I was just hours from holding my baby and I balked that I could not make it through hours more. At times I could not keep myself hypnotized and would begin crying. She asked me to go sit on the toilet. Getting out of the tub I could not stand upright and hobbled to the toilet. After several minutes she asked if the position change had changed anything. It had not. That was when she mentioned going to the hospital. I immediately said okay. There was no doubt in my mind there was something wrong. I was in too much agony for everything to be going alright.
I didn’t dress or pack a bag. Mr. T may have gathered some things. I waited for my slippers and then started the excruciating journey to the van. Despite that discomfort it felt absolutely correct and I knew I could make it if I could just hold it together until we got to the hospital. It was raining. Best friend called my mother to let her know what was going on and to ask her to come to care for AU the next morning. She also called my doula to let her know to meet us at the hospital. We arrived at the hospital around 8-8:30pm.
Arriving at the hospital the nurse tried to say that Mr. T and best friend couldn’t come in with me. I said they could and so they did. The nurses were not appreciative. Best friend says that when the nurse at the Women’s Hospital ER checked me her hand came away with mecconium on it. I was still a 5. There were lots of questions about whether I was trying for a natural birth and there-there’s that contractions were hard. I kept having to say that the problem wasn’t the contractions. I had no idea if I was having contractions, that my back was in constant pain.
Eventually, likely within 15-30 minutes I was taken upstairs to a room. My OB came in and asked what was going on. He checked me and said I was a 4 and swelling. He said he didn’t like what was going on and would prefer to do a c-section. I said okay. He asked if I wanted pain relief. I said yes! The anesthesiologist came in and I expressed my desire for general anesthesia. He said it wasn’t safe. I said it was what I had the first time. He said he would go check my record.
Nurses buzzed about doing things—trying to start IVs and take blood (many, many sticks due to being dehydrated but I didn’t feel any of them because of my back), reviewing consents (evidently the charge nurse overruled the nursery nurse in favor of my desire for Mr. T being with the baby every moment and that the baby would not go to the nursery but come to my room), and cathing me (which I also didn’t feel despite the multiple attempts and the muttered, “I cannot get it in there is something hard in the way,” as she pulled back blood!). By 9:45pm I was being wheeled into the OR having consented to spinal anesthesia. My back was hurting so much I didn’t feel it either. Going numb was such tremendous relief but so very strange.
Although, not quite as strange as realizing the smell I was smelling during the surgery was my own flesh being burned. I digress. I was feeling apprehensive although both Mr. T and best friend were allowed to come with me to the operating room. My OB is a goofy guy and posed for a picture with Mr. T and I (I didn’t realize he was in the picture until we saw it later!) and then began the birth. I began praying out loud, thanking God for the day, my daughter, asking for his guidance for the OB, meanwhile the anesthesiologist begins talking to Mr. T loudly saying it was going to be so great when the baby was born we would all sing Happy Birthday–over and over–while I am trying to pray out loud. It was amusing.
Feeling nervous, I wanted to calm down, in hindsight I should have asked Mr. T to put his hand on my shoulder, but I didn’t think of it at the time. Instead, I started singing the Eagles song, “Take it to the Limit.” Dr. W started singing a bit too but we were on different verses. That’s when it occurred to me that women who plan c-sections sometimes ask for a certain play list. I asked out loud if we could turn some music on. The nurse anesthetist gets out his phone and cues up some music and holds it near my head. Swoon. I tell him I’d like something rock and roll. Rocket Man comes on and I sing out loud. Then I talk to Mr. T about my Dad seeing a guy with a piano make a music video while in Australia and calling my Mom back in Atlanta and she knowing that it was Elton John. The next song up is Bohemian Rhapsody…”I’m just a poor boy, from a poor family.”
As the song crescendos up to, “mama mia!” my second daughter is born! They sing happy birthday. It is quiet. I am looking over at the isolette where there is a baby and a team of people in scrubs. I am not looking. I am shutting my eyes. I am remembering a dear friend talking about the birth of her last child, a son. Her midwife tells her to talk to him, to help him come into his body, to comfort him that she is here. Reminding her that sometimes children need words of welcome from their mother to know everything is fine. I start talking, “Hello! Mommy is here! Mommy and Daddy love you! My dear JU, Mommy is right here!” A small cry. Huge relief. Mommy loves you so much!
What I didn’t know—they delee suctioned her twice (once in each lung?) after suctioning her with the regular bulb syringe once the head was born and again in the isolette. That they had just sent someone out for the defibulator because she wasn’t coming around. The door had just shut behind the person when she came into herself with that tiny sound.
They continued to monitor her for just a few minutes while we looked on and then she was handed to Mr. T! He had opened up his scrubs and his shirt to put her next to his skin. He held her face near mine. I was happy but remarkably uninterested. On television the mother cries as she lays on the operating table and wants the baby turned this way and that. I didn’t feel that. I just wanted them to hurry and stitch me back up so we could be left alone as a newly bigger family. I wanted to be alone to meet my daughter. I was not strapped down but between IVs and monitors I didn’t want to move. After a moment though I did reach a tentative hand and touch her. Then he was gone with her.
They went to the nursery to be checked and he never left her side. My best friend moved closer to sit by me and the music was turned back on. My favorite song in the whole wide world, Air Supply’s “Love out of Nothing at All” was playing. I sang my heart out. The nurses who were counting supplies to make sure they were all out got annoyed and ask for the music to be turned down. It had never occurred to me to ask the OB what he was going to close me with. He closed me with staples (not a fan!). Then it was over. He said goodnight, it was his daughter’s 21st birthday. I wished him well and thanked him for coming in. I was taken back to the room upstairs where my midwife and doula were waiting.
The numbness begins to wear off and I decided that local anesthesia wasn’t a terrible way to have a baby. I am proud of myself for staying calm and together. I am pleased that did not lose it.
I was up there a little while when Mr. T and JU came back from the nursery. The doula, who is an IBCLC, and I latched her and she nursed! Success! Then she is taken (with her father always!) to have blood drawn to check for the infection the OB suspects. They give Mr. T grief about leaving the room and like a great Dad he refuses to leave his precious neonate. Meanwhile best friend, doula, and midwife leave. I am taken to the room we will be in for our hospital stay. It is 2am and the night nurse begins my hospital orientation. I am so tired. I don’t follow much or all and I have stayed in a hospital with a newborn before. It does not occur to me to say that I want to sleep and she should leave and try again at 8am. I am alone and trying to cooperate. The nurse is adamant that I cannot sleep in the bed with the baby or she will have to notify family services. Further, that JU cannot sleep in my bed with the light off. I nod. She finally stops talking and leaves. I wait and rest. The NICU nurse comes in to tell me that they will be starting baby on 2 IV antibiotics for her suspected infection. I am concerned about a possible allergic reaction but know that there isn’t much in the way of options. Neonates can get very sick, very quickly and although I am sure we are both fine 48 hours is only 2 days and so I consent.
Mr. T and JU return to our room. She has an IV in her hand. She tolerated the antibiotics well and Mr. T held her while they were given. We are finally left alone (sort of as every hour we are checked on in some way or another) and it is wonderful. We nurse and sleep. To get around Nurse Grouches threats for cosleeping we pull the curtain and prop open the bathroom door. This way nothing can be seen from the hallway and whoever enters has to shut the bathroom door to get to our part of the room. We leave the light in the bathroom on so it is not dark in our room. At one point Nurse Grouches says, “You cannot sleep in the bed with the baby.” I said, “I am clearly awake. She is sleeping. That is just fine.” She harrumphed and walked out.
Tuesday, AU had to go to the doctor for her cold and fever that she developed. It occurred to me that JU and I might have the same cold coming on that AU had. AU is given antibiotics for her ear infection and cold (which helps within 12 hours which is a relief). There is no prohibition from the doctor for her to meet her sister.
Tuesday afternoon my Mom and Dad bring AU to meet JU for the first time. She asks to hold her and says she loves her. She calls her “baby sister”. Then AU is ready to go to the park and play.
Shortly after they leave I realize that my hand with the IV is hurting. I look and it is swollen so big that I no longer have knuckle wrinkles! My vein had blown and the 3 drip bags (fluid, antibiotics, and pain medicine) are pouring full bore right into my arm. It takes more than a week for my hand and arm to return to normal size. Everyone agrees that I don’t need a 2nd IV and so therefore am done with antibiotics.
We eat and rest and nurse and bond for the next 2 days. My parents and a few friends drop by to visit in the afternoons. It is nice to sleep and hold my precious girl. Her IV treatments are a non-event for her which is a huge relief. Her blood work looks good after 48 hours and we are released to go home! A family of 4! Then I restate to the nurse that my left foot has never awoken from being numbed. Turns out JU was so stuck that it caused discs in my lower back to compress which compressed the nerve. It took 8 weeks for the feeling and function to return.
Well, she arrived! Yahoo! I have been working and working on the birth story. I will have it up shortly (as in, in a few days). At 2 weeks out from becoming a foursome Mr. T and I couldn’t imagine having both girls alone. Today? Easy, peasy! We three girls went out to lunch together without problem. The biggest adjustment was the splitting of concentration and attention. Obviously, that was new for everyone but the newest. But it seems like we have adjusted pretty well.
I will be back here soon!
Oh, made a lemon merengue pie for dessert with a coconut pastry crust. WOW. Good!
I woke up about twenty minutes ago with a pretty storng contraction. Decided I couldn’t lay still any more and so sat up. Thus ending any hope of having a subsequent contraction evidently. So, I’m blogging now instead of sleeping.
One of these days I am going to birth this baby. Rather, one of these days soonish I am going to birth this baby. I hope. For the past few days I have clearly been experiencing the “I am going to be pregnant FOREVER” phenomenon of late pregnancy. I am uncomfortable, tired, cranky, stopped up, and ready. Soon.
AU’s birthday party is this weekend. We decided to play it super simple and have lunch at a local Chinese restaurant. Just have to pick up balloons and put out paper dragon souvenirs. Oh, and make the cake. I am thinking it will be a chocolate chocolate chip cake with white cooked frosting. The real challenge is going to the be the white modeling chocolate fortune cookies I am going to attempt to make. From what I have read online making the white modeling chocolate is the hard part. Hopefully it will come together for me.
AU is excited about being a big sister. She talks about babies all the time and has started playing her with baby dolls. Yesterday she put a bucket around her neck and then wanted a baby to carry around in it. Pretty cute.
The three hour long bedtime fiascos though are far from cute–“water,” “potty,” “covers,” “No covers!” “more water,”–gets old really fast when interlaced with crying and whining. I’m thinking this is what her “2” looks like. It could be worse but that combined with my tired is a recipe for disaster!
Thankfully, Mr. T now has Wednesdays and Thursdays off so he was able to rescue bedtime last night while I sat on the couch and recouperated. I cannot wait for him to be home with us all the time! Soon!