Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I had a baby!

To say I've been neglectful of this blog is quite an understatement. It's been nearly year, well really just over nine months. :) We went to Malta (which I still really want to blog about), we didn't die on the trip, our boys had an awesome time at their grammy and grampy's house, and we brought home a souvenir in my uterus.

She was born on January 25, 2014. Weighed 7 lbs 9 oz, and was 20 inches long. We named her Luciana Marie, a little nod towards where she came from. I've loved the name Lucy since I was pregnant with Simon but Lucy has become quite popular in the past 5 years and we don't like to do popular names, but I still really loved the name. For a while we thought we'd name her Lucia, I really loved Lucia Maria, but Steve was worried it sounded too much like a disease (thank you medical professional for making our baby's name into something like gonorrhea or diarrhea), and he really loved the name Luciana. It's a nod to where we got her: the place of her conception (possibly in Sicily, but definitely in Sicily or Malta), and to her heritage, Steve's family comes from Sicily. Marie is in honor of two things. One is a family friend and previous landlord named Marie who is just the most incredible woman and who took such good of her father, and amazing, attentive, loving, daughter. The other is a nod to Steve's moms family who is very, very, Catholic (so Catholic that more than one of her sisters has the middle name Marie as well as several aunts). I love the name. We do mostly call her Luci. Well among other things, for a baby that is only three and a half weeks old, she has racked up quite the collection of nicknames already. Luci, Luci lu, Lu-lu, Ve-luci-raptor, Luci girl, and Luci-fer (don't judge, this started while she was still in utero and I was having Braxton Hick's contractions regularly every night for weeks and she just wouldn't come!).

What I really wanted to post about though is the labor and delivery, the birth of my little girl. Before I forget it all, and there are so many things I know I've forgotten already, things I don't remember or know because of the pain, the adrenaline, because I had so much going on with my body I don't really remember it happening. So I'm going to do my best, and ask Steve to help me fill in the details since he was more mentally aware than I was. I was just very aware of the pain of it all. Just a warning: THIS POST IS RIDICULOUSLY LONG AND YOU PROBABLY WONT BE INTERESTED IN HOW DETAILED IT IS, but it's something I wanted and needed to record and want to be able to share.

So before I begin completely a little background information. With Simon I had a c-section. The recovery for a c-section really sucks. It's horrible. I didn't want to have another c-section. With Desi I thought I was very lucky to have a doctor that was supportive of a VBAC (Vaginal Birth after cesarean). She lied to us, and failed to even put in my charts that I was going to try to VBAC,we showed up at the hospital the night before I was scheduled for a c-section and I was in labor, luckily after the nurse taking care of me talked to the dr on call from the practice, he decided to let us try. The story about that birth is here: and a bit more here: I just realized that I never wrote a post telling the story of his birth.  I was able to have a successful VBAC!
My due date was officially Sunday, January 26th. (I really, really, wanted to have another VBAC. The recovery after having Desi was so incredibly easy it was really unfair. I tore a little bit, but not a lot, and the dr did an awesome job putting me back together, I even went hiking a couple days after he was born. I didn't want to have a c-section after finding out the ease of a vaginal recovery delivery.) Things were going really well all through the pregnancy. I switched to a new dr at a new practice. He was supportive and encouraging of a VBAC from the start and Steve and I both really like and trust this new dr. At one appointment I asked him if he would want to schedule me for a c-section "just in case" baby didn't come by the due date, he said nope, and that he'd let me go a week overdue with no worries because that is what ACOG recommends and he follows all their rules. I was feeling good about things. About a month before I was due he started doing vaginal checks at my appointments to check my cervix and all that stuff. Around this time he suggested scheduling an induction in case baby hadn't come by the due date. I started to get really nervous, I did NOT want an induction because it often leads to other interventions that often end up leading to a c-section. He wanted to schedule it for the 24th or 25th. It was the weekend before my due date, but for scheduling reasons, he was on call that weekend and would be able to be present for my entire labor. Red flags were going off for me, these were things that I had read about online where people say if your dr says these things they aren't actually supportive of a VBAC, the good ol' bait and switch. It turns out though that my dr actually was supportive of VBAC. My dr is one that wants to be able to take care of his patients though, not leaving them to be taken care of by whatever dr is on call from the practice, and not all the other drs are as supportive of VBAC as he is and might have tried to c-section me out of convenience. After much research, studying, and finding positive VBAC induction stories online I came to terms with the idea of an induction. I was still nervous, but feeling much more comfortable, and I really wanted my dr to be the one taking care of me. If I decided to wait he was off work Monday and Tuesday, and wasn't on call the rest of the following week either, so things weren't looking good for him to be able to attend to me in labor if I went to labor after my due date. Luckily, I didn't have to worry about it too much.
Sorry, that background was really long, but kind of necessary for me at least. So for three weeks before my due date I started having Braxton Hick's contractions every night pretty regularly, I'd go to bed wondering if labor would start that night. It never did, and it was really frustrating. It started to take it's toll on me mentally. I got really sick of people asking me if I was still pregnant, where was the baby, why was I still pregnant. I wasn't even overdue yet!  And I wanted her to be here, trust me, I was really uncomfortable and sick of being pregnant, and so anxious from those dang contractions every night. I started doing what I could to get labor started, looking up old wives tales, trying almost everything: evening primrose oil, raspberry leaf tea, pumping, walking stairs, etc. As my due date approached I got more and more nervous and anxious that she wasn't going to come before my due date, that I'd have to be induced, and that I'd have another c-section. I started to lose hope.
On the Friday the 24th Steve and I went to my dr one last time before my scheduled induction to see if things were progressing at all, and to have another chance to talk things over with him because I was so nervous. He was very kind and said if I didn't want to go through with the induction we didn't have to, but we decided to do it anyways. I was dilated 2 maybe 3, and 50% effaced, the three previous weeks I was dilated 1 maybe 2, so I didn't really take the dilation to mean anything, but it made me feel comfortable with the induction because I had a favorable Bishop's score (which basically means favorable cervix and very likely to have a successful vaginal delivery if induced). So we went ahead and agreed with the induction scheduled for the next day. Friday night/Saturday morning Steve ended up calling in to work so he'd be home and we could get things ready with kids and get to the hospital in time. Luckily he did this, because that night Desi woke up in the middle of the night with croup and Steve had to take him to the ER. They left about 2 am and got home around 5 am. At about 5:30 am Saturday morning I started having contractions! I managed to stay in bed and sleep between them until about 10 when I couldn't handle laying down through them any more. I timed them for a little bit but didn't really want to talk about them or tell Steve, they were about 10 mins apart, and starting to get uncomfortable, but after all the false labor I really didn't want to get my hopes. I tried to ignore it and didn't talk about them. I went downstairs and my dad asked if I was having any contractions, I said yeah, but not a whole going on, just like the previous few days where I'd been having false labor off an on pretty regularly. My parents, Steve, the boys and I all went for a walk and went looking for geocaches. We were out walking for a good part of the day, the whole time I was having contractions pretty regularly but was internalizing them and not wanting to tell anyone else. About every fourth contraction was getting painful enough that I'd have to stop walking and just stand still and focus through it. On the walk home from the park and geocaches Steve wanted me to time them so I did and they were 2 minutes apart. He was shocked because I was handling them so well. We decided we should probably start getting ready to go the hospital. We got home, Steve showered, I leaned on doorways and stopped moving for most contractions. I couldn't even go pee without a contraction starting and me being in pain and feeling like I couldn't sit on the toilet. I told my mom they hurt so bad that I couldn't sit down but I needed to pee, so I ended up getting in the shower and labored in there for a little while before I had to get out so we could go to the hospital. I really didn't want to get out of the shower, but I had to, because I needed to leave so we didn't have that baby at home. Steve's mom came over and got Desi (he had croup and was contagious and spent a couple days over there so he wouldn't get Luci sick when she got home), my dad stayed home with Simon, and my mom came with us/drove us to the hospital because I wanted her to be there and help because she had been so good helping with both of my other deliveries. At this time two of Steve's sisters dropped by not realizing what was going on and gave me a little present before we went to the hospital- they gave me cute slippers and matching pjs so I'd have something new and cute and comfy to wear while I was at the hospital.

We left shortly after 6 pm and got to the hospital at about 6:30, lots of nurses were heading in and we realized we were getting there right at shift change. Also, my contractions had slowed down a lot during the drive to the hospital, so we decided to walk around the hospital and get my contractions going more regularly again and wait until after shift change to head up. At 7 pm we headed up Labor and Delivery and got checked in. I had to sign some papers even though I had preregistered. Having a woman in labor sign papers is a bad idea, I managed my name okay, but put the date as September 26, 2013. I was totally confused and Steve and my mom were like what the heck, September, what are you thinking. I tried to explain that I was thinking that day because earlier we had been talking about how Desi had been born on September 26th and maybe Luci would be born on January 26th and they'd both have bdays on the 26th. It somehow made sense to me at the time, even though it had nothing to do with the date. The nurse told me to just sign my name and she'd fill out the rest of the papers for me. After that they got me into my room, I don't remember which number, maybe 214, that sounds familiar, but Steve does remember that he didn't like the room because even though it was one of the huge suites, it had been dedicated to a woman who died giving birth.

Around 7:15 our nurse Mila came in. We actually had two nurses, Mila was being trained, and the other nurse was moving their other patient from L&D to Postpartum. I was actually comforted by the fact that we had two nurses, not because we had two per se, but because we had one that was training which made me think they didn't think I was so high-risk with doing the VBAC that they wanted someone more experienced taking care of me. Also, they put me in the suite which is the room furthest from the OR, also comforting to me, because when we did the tour they told me I'd probably be in the room closest to the OR just in case. The nurses were a little disorganized. They drew blood from both arms, blew one of my veins, and got an IV started and also started me on fluids. They also got the Continuous Fetal Monitoring on as well as a blood pressure cuff, and pulse oximeter. There were cords and tubes everywhere and coming out of my gown all over the place. The nurse kept wanting me to get into bed, but I couldn't manage my pain through the contractions at all if I was sitting down and really needed to be standing. I labored by the bed for a long time and they even brought out a birthing ball for me to labor on.
Around 8 they finally checked me. I was really nervous for them to check me, I was terrified I'd only be dilated to a 4, if that much and that would mean I'd come to the hospital too early and should have labored at home for longer. I was dilated to a 7 (with a lip, which means almost all the way effaced except for on one side)! At this point contractions were pretty intense and painful, I also needed to poop, so I was able to unhook from the monitors and go into the bathroom and try to poop. It wasn't really successful so I went back out and got hooked back up and labored by the bed. I was starting to get tired of standing but it was the only way that I could effectively manage the pain of my contractions. At one point I coughed and accidentally peed at the same time, except I wasn't sure if I had peed or my water had broke so we called the nurse in and they thought maybe it was just pee but marked it as my water breaking. After a while I went back into the bathroom to try again. I was pooping some, and also having incredibly intense contractions. I was moaning through them to help me stay focused, and between contractions would sit on the toilet, but would have to stand up and arch my back backwards through each one. They started to hurt really bad and I was whimpering through them. Steve came into the bathroom and got in my face (which I needed) and helped me breathe through my contractions. They were hurting bad and I kept telling Steve they hurt, I needed to poop more, and I wanted an epidural because I couldn't handle the pain anymore. He told me I could do it, to just hold on a little more, this was what I wanted and that I would be so happy if I didn't get the epidural, that I could do it and make it and I could handle it. He was awesome. I asked him to look up how to handle back pain, basically just being in the shower- not gonna happen. He started rubbing my lower back/butt for me because that's where it hurt and the rubbing helped. Around this point I was not only feeling the urge to poop but also to push, with every contraction I felt like I needed to push and I couldn't not do it. The nurses wanted me back into the bed and out of the bathroom. I told them I wanted an epidural so they got things going for getting the anesthesiologist up there.
I think around 9:30 the anesthesiologist showed up with her little cart of goodies. Because my contractions were so intense and I was feeling the urge to poop and to push she said I needed to be checked again because she thought it sounded like I was pretty much done and probably fully dilated and ready to push. She was right, they checked me and I was a 10, fully dilated! She told me because I was fully dilated she couldn't give me an epidural, it wouldn't go into effect by the time I needed it. She also couldn't give me anything else because it would affect the baby and probably wouldn't have time to do anything for my pain. So I wasn't going to be getting drugs after all! And it was time to push! At some point my dr arrived, they had barely notified him that I was even at the hospital. Things had moved so fast that my nurse didn't have everything ready that they needed for the delivery. I asked if they had a mirror, and they did, so they brought that out and set it up so I could see. I actually really liked being able to see because it made me realize how effective my pushes were and helped me feel more powerful. While I was laboring on the table Steve and my mom both continued to massage my lower back/butt which was awesome, weird for them, but it was the only thing that helped and it felt so good, and at push time they both held my legs. I started to push and at this point the dr and the nurses could see the baby's head, except it didn't look right, and they realized that my water had not actually broken yet and the baby was still in the sac. So they broke my water because they didn't want it breaking while I was pushing and get mess all over them, and then I kept pushing. I learned pretty quick what ladies talk about with childbirth and the"ring of fire". I had heard of it, but not experienced it with the hour+ of pushing before Simon's c-section, and I must have been to numb from my epidural with Desi to feel it. Sorry to be graphic, but it really does burn. I felt like my vagina had flames coming out of it! I was talking about how much it burned and how bad it hurt and my dr told me to shut up. I really love that man. He told me I was wasting energy by talking and that I just needed to be quiet and take that energy and put it into pushing. He wanted me to push with all I had on the next contraction and I did, I pushed through the burning and probably was yelling that it burned, and Luci's head came out. I pushed through the next contraction and she was out! I pushed in all around 15 minutes, through about 5 contractions.

I got to hold Luci right away, and then Steve held her while I delivered the placenta and got stitched up.When Luciana was born I couldn't stop grinning, I was so happy, so proud of myself, and so in love. I couldn't believe that I did it, that I had a 100% natural childbirth, with no medication of any sorts, and no hospital interventions. It was the birth I had wanted with my other deliveries but hadn't managed to do. I tore pretty good, I remember asking my dr how bad I tore and he said, "It's nothing to brag about." The stitching up part hurt a lot, they had to use a ton of local anesthetic, and it took forever. Then they hooked me up to Pitocin to help my uterus contract and also help it expel anything that was still left. I was on the Pitocin for at least 6 hours and it sucked. It hurt as bad as my labor contractions but I didn't have the reward of a baby at the end of it.
Having a natural birth is such a different experience. There is so much more pain and hurt, but it really was worth it. If I could go back and gotten an epidural sooner like I so badly wanted to, I wouldn't. I really feel like the delivery went so quickly once I started pushing because I could actually feel it this time. With Simon pushing was ineffective because he was positioned poorly and stuck, with Desi I was just so numb from the epidural that I couldn't tell where or how to push, the dr basically just pulled him out once he crowned, but with Luci I could feel everything and the burn, oww the burn, but it was worth it, and call me crazy, but I wouldn't take away the ability to feel that and experience that if I could. I am so happy with how this delivery went. I had so much anxiety and fear beforehand, mostly just worries about getting induced, and luckily I didn't have to deal with that at all. I am so grateful I was able to have this experience and with such great support from my doctor, my husband, and my mom.

This labor was really quite different for me. I wanted it to be more private, I didn't want the pressure of knowing everyone was sitting in the waiting room watching the clock, wanting me to hurry up and have the baby, and me feeling bad because things were taking so long and knowing everyone was out there waiting. I was a lot more private through a lot of the labor too, not really private I guess since I was with my family almost the whole time, but more like secretive with it. I just really didn't want pressure of time restraints. I didn't want anyone to know I was in labor, having contractions, going to the hospital, dilated, starting to push. With my other 2 I wanted the whole world to know every step of the way, not so this time, I didn't want anyone to know except those of us that were there. Even now, since Luci has been born I haven't really talked much to anyone about it, about her birth. I've been kind of reclusive and not very social (but not depressed, no worries there), not really sure why, but I haven't been ready yet to talk about it even though everything went even better than I expected or thought it could.