Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Clare Sophia: A Birth Story

The original plan for Clare's birth was that I would be induced between 39 and 40 weeks, since that produces best outcomes both from the standpoint of high blood pressure and low progesterone. With Felicity, I ended up having to be induced at 38 weeks because I was developing pre-eclampsia (technically gestational hypertension at the point the doctor "called it"). I sort of expected that it would be similar for this pregnancy but after I began high doses of vitamin D around 16 or so weeks my blood pressure was much better the rest of the time. At the 37 week appointment, my doctor gave me the induction date. I was going to go in on March 14th at 7pm, get cytotec to ripen my cervix, and pitocin if needed the next morning to start contractions. At my 39 week appointment, my doctor told me that my cervix was favorable for induction, so I felt good about that, though I still had hoped I'd go into labor on my own. Every night when I'd wake up around 4am or so to use the bathroom, I'd think to myself "well, tonight wasn't the night" and move on. I couldn't walk much at that point, couldn't eat dates (which help the cervix thin) because they were killing my stomach this time around, wasn't as consistent with red raspberry leaf tea as I was last time.... I could go on. Basically I just accepted that I'd likely be induced and reminded myself that it went fine last time over a week earlier than when I'd be induced this time, and it would be what it was going to be.

My parents came Saturday the 12th in preparation for the induction so they would be here to take care of Felicity while we were at the hospital. My "last ditch effort" was going to be putting clary sage essential oil on cotton balls beside me while I slept. I tried it last time and it did nothing, but I figured I had nothing to lose (besides the fact that it smells bad). Well, Sunday morning my mom asked if I had done it, and I had completely forgotten. My memory has certainly not been a strong point this pregnancy :). So Sunday night, totally at peace with the idea of going in to be induced on Monday, I loaded up the cotton balls with clary sage. Steven went to get us Cook Out shakes to celebrate Induction Eve (we celebrate everything) and I switched up my flavor, which I rarely do. I went off menu (that part is typical for me) and got a chocolate caramel shake with heath pieces in it. Yum! I went to bed with my bowl of cotton balls beside me. Around 11:30, I woke up with a weird feeling and I remember thinking "that popping feeling is kind of like what it felt like when my water broke last time" (it broke during labor about 30 minutes before Felicity was born). But nothing happened so I went right back to sleep and chalked it up to hopeful wishing.

But then I woke up at midnight and knew right away my water had broken. Thankfully it wasn't the huge gush that it was with Felicity, but it was enough to know that it was definitely, definitely my water. I woke Steven up with "Steven! My water broke!" as I waddled to the bathroom to sit on the toilet. I changed clothes and put on a pad as I gave him instructions. My poor, sweet husband was SO flustered! I calmly listed out the few last minute things that needed to be packed and told him to go wake my parents to let them know. I grabbed the number to the hospital and called them on my way out the door to let them know we were heading in. I should add that I was going right away with no contractions because I was group B +. And our hospital is 45 minutes away. We got out the door about 12:15 and got to the hospital just before 1. I had a few contractions on the way to the hospital 4-6 minutes apart, but they were very easy, much like menstrual cramps, and Steven and I were able to pray, then chit chat excitedly the whole drive. Thank God for not having bad contractions during the drive! We go to the hospital and it took the ER about 10 minutes to get us signed in and upstairs to L&D. We filled out paperwork and then waited for the nurse to get my IV started. She had me lay in bed until my doctor (who was on call and was delivering another baby at the time) came in. She said I was 3-4 when I first came in and, once my doctor got in a bit later around 2am, he said I was 4-5. He told her to start antibiotics and told me I'd need to stay in bed since my water had broken due to a risk of cord prolapse. I began to freak out internally knowing that, with how the contractions were at that point, I would not be able to labor without an epidural if I had to stay in bed. I wanted desperately to stand up when I was having contractions (every 3-4 minutes at that point) and was so uncomfortable.

Thankfully he left a few minutes later and the amazing nurse told me I could stand beside the bed, sit in the chair, use the birth ball... basically anything I wanted to do within the cord length of the monitor. She was a saint. My natural inclination was to sway with my weight on my right knee pointed outward during contractions. I knew the baby was posterior and was assuming that would get him or her to turn if that's what my body was wanting, so that's what I did. My legs began to hurt so I would sit on the chair or edge of the bed for the short break in between, then stand up, turn around, and hold onto the arm of the bed during contractions, exhaling loudly. Around 3:30 or 3:45, the contractions were getting intense, to the point where nothing was really helping and I was getting a bit panicky. I love 2nd births because I knew from my first one that panicky meant a baby would be here soon, and I kept telling myself that. Poor Steven, who had practiced calming techniques and massages nightly for MONTHS, was directed (by me of course!) to sit in chair and not talk to me or touch me during contractions lol. He had tried twice to rub my back and it made the contractions so much worse. And when he spoke to me, I lost my focus. I think he was afraid the nurses would think he was a deadbeat, but that was what I needed from him, so that's what he did. I apparently just need to go within myself and get through it.

A few minutes after 4, the nurse came in and I told her there was a ton of pressure. I knew that was good, too, but I was still slightly panicky about being able to handle it much longer and just felt like I needed to say it. She asked if I wanted her to check me again. I had a fleeting thought that if she checked me and I was, say, 5 (which I was 31 minutes before Felicity's birth), I would be upset and want to throw in the towel (which I wanted to with Felicity's birth). But I knew if the number was "good", it would be a motivator. My wanting to know won out, so she checked me and, with a surprised look said, "wow, you're 8 cm... I'm going to get the room ready!" and basically began running. I turned to Steven and high fived him with a huge smile, which I think surprised him. It was a huge motivation and I knew an end was in sight.

The next few minutes are more of a blur but I've pieced together my memory with Steven's as best as I can. The nurse told me to get in bed, and I freaked out (notice a theme here?) knowing the contractions were going to be horrific with me laying, but she assured me it wouldn't be for long. My body began involuntarily pushing, which it did last time, too. With Felicity, I think I had 2-3 directed pushes to get her out... the rest was my body doing its thing. So she kept telling me to "blow the candle out", basically to blow contractions away, and I tried- I really did!- but mostly my body was pushing. She said the doctor would be there in 5 minutes, and that sounded like an eternity to me to attempt to blow the contractions away. Steven says the baby's head was mostly out by the time the doctor walked in. The next thing I knew, the doctor was telling me sternly to push. I was confused because I knew my body was already pushing, but I tried to add what I could do it. Then he sort of yelled at me to push, and the nurse began to as well. I was even more confused about why they seemed... mad almost?.... and the nurse had to hold my chin to my chest and tell me to hold my legs, since I'd never really done that with Felicity and didn't totally know what I was doing. Apparently I still wasn't pushing well and I heard the doctor say "pressure" seconds before feeling a huge pressure being put on my stomach and the immediate relief of the baby being born. I asked Steven right away what it was and he said a little girl! Our Clare Sophia! She went straight to the warmer, which I knew wasn't great since she was supposed to go on my chest if everything was fine. I thought, like Felicity, she might be nonresponsive but she cried pretty quickly. I'm not sure at what point I found out that she had shoulder dystocia (her shoulder got stuck during delivery), and I didn't find out until days later how serious that can be.... kind of glad I learned that afterward! I could see her body but not her face because a nurse was in the way, so I asked Steven to take a picture of her face. It was almost as if she posed :). She was so cute and bright eyed! The nurse then realized she was in the way and moved, haha. So the nurse checked me a few minutes after 4 and our sweet girl made her entrance at 4:25 am on Monday March 14th. Clare was 7 lb 12 oz and 20 inches long. The doctor told me to remember this for future labors, how quickly she came, being that both Felicity and Clare were very fast labors, and I joked with him that we may need to purchase a home near the hospital for the next one ;).

I had some pretty significant tearing and wasn't responding to the lidocaine shot nearly as well as last time (as in, I felt like I could feel everything and he kept doing more shots without improvement), so I didn't want to hold her during that. I told Steven later that an epidural would have been nice for all that stitching!!! Steven got to hold her and it was a really sweet moment for me looking over at her and seeing her daddy hold her. About 30 minutes after she was born, my doctor was done and I took her into my arms. He came over to see her and congratulate us and then left to probably attempt a quick nap before heading into the office. Steven and I were on a high for hours. Well, more me than him. I was not able to sleep until grabbing a quick nap in the early evening on Monday, He grabbed a few cat naps here and there. His parents got to the hospital first and later that morning my parents arrived with Felicity. She was SO sweet with Clare (and over a week later, still is!). She kept repeating "she's so cute, she's so little, she's so silly" and immediately learned and began using Clare's name. She proudly refers to herself as the big sister and Clare as "my baby" or "baby sister". She did amazingly for my parents the few days we were in the hospital, and we were able to see her each day for a visit until we got home Wednesday afternoon. I missed her SO much but also really enjoyed the time in the hospital because it was calm, quiet, and our newborn is SO chill! She doesn't cry much and sleeps well.... very different from our beloved first born. By Wednesday we were very ready to get home, though.

Over the past week, we have been getting used to having 2 with the help of my mom. We've been dealing with some of the same feeding issues (currently trying to determine if I have low supply this time- likely) and had her tongue and lip revised on Monday, with an obvious difference immediately after. But being that she's nursing way better than Felicity and just the experience we have under our belts from Felicity, we have been handling it so much better. I'm not doing the insane pumping I was with Felicity, which was a huge hit on my mental health, and just enjoying the nursing relationship with Clare and, at least until our weight check tomorrow, enjoying not supplementing. Since she sleeps at night (I often have to wake her at the 3 hour mark), Steven and I are both in pretty good spirits during the day. I'm definitely intimidated about life after my mom leaves (Easter) and Steven goes back to work (Easter Monday), but I know people do this all the time and we'll survive.

This pregnancy and birth was healing for me in a lot of ways. We got pregnant without help, my pregnancy was so much healthier than last time as far as my blood pressure goes, I went into labor on my own, I birthed without an epidural again, and my baby has wanted to nurse. There's a lot of challenges ahead of me.... do I change the poopie toddler or feed the crying baby first? What do I do with the baby when the toddler needs to go down? How do I manage a crazy toddler in public when I'm holding a newborn?... but I have plenty of time to sort that out and learn by experience. For now, I'm going to enjoy a few more days of holding my precious newborn around the clock while I have help :).


  1. That last picture is priceless! Such a beautiful birth story. I am really, really, really happy for you guys! Congratulations!

  2. Can you wear Miss Clare? It might free up a hand or two to hold on to Miss Crazy Toddler. ;)

    1. We own allll the babywearing devices so I definitely plan on it, but she's very into being held in the arms right now and is technically a bit too small for my carriers, though I'm trying to do 10-15 min a day to get her used to it :).

  3. I can't even with that last picture!! I'm so glad for you and so relieved about how much has gone more smoothly this time around.