Vera's Birth Story
Vera’s birth story has been a post I’ve been wanting to write, and seeing it’s the last day of 2015, it seems like a good way to close out the year looking back at our most awesome event of this year (the dust has settled, Vera is now 3 months old). For Matt and I who were about to become first time parents, we had no solid birth plan, but I can say that the series of events/story of how Vera was born was definitely not what we expected, but is something I want to document and remember (because it DID result in a great outcome, Vera!)
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2015
In the last few weeks leading up to the due date, I had started to show symptoms of Preeclampsia, mainly high blood pressure and lots of swelling in my hands & feet (note, it didn’t help that Minnesota had an exceptionally hot and humid summer this year; needless to say, we didn’t go to the State Fair). Because of this, my weekly doctor appointments had often turned into twice a week to monitor these symptoms and make sure baby was doing alright (even doing stress tests on baby to be sure she was all good). I had a doctor appointment just the day before, Friday, and my doctor said that she was on the fence about inducing me, but I should come back on Monday and if my blood pressure had not gone down, then they would plan to schedule an induction. In the meantime, she said to have a nice relaxing “couch potato weekend” of doing nothing (p.s. nearly an impossible task for me especially since I was at the peak of my “nesting” phase). BUT, the doctor also said that if I had a headache at all over the weekend (another Preeclampsia symptom), I should go to the hospital immediately.
Saturday morning around 3am I woke up with a bad headache. I hoped it would go away, but by mid-afternoon it had not subsided. I had a bunch of things I still wanted to do around our mid-construction house (like the crazy preggo lady I was, I did make Matt make a minor change to the nursery gallery wall before we left, envision “yep hang that frame right there, nope a little more to the right, yep right there”) but we grabbed our bags and headed to the hospital. To be honest, I 100% thought they would send us home, I knew from the appointment on Friday that I wasn’t dilated at all, so I figured they would just put me on the monitor to check out baby and back home we would go.
We arrived at the hospital around 3:00pm and were brought into a Triage room and (like I thought) I was hooked up to the monitors on my belly to track baby’s heartbeat and my contractions. The doctor came in and was very non-committal to whether or not they would be inducing me or not. I stayed on the monitors for over 4 hours (they did let me order dinner thank goodness, which gave us insight that they were in fact going to keep us) and baby’s heart rate and my contractions were both good, but my blood pressure was still high. They finally made the decision to induce me and start the induction process that night, we just had to wait for a delivery room to become available. Meanwhile in our Triage room, we heard multiple couples come in (who were actually IN labor), and obviously received rooms first, which of course makes total sense. It reminded me of the FRIENDS episode where Rachel keeps getting new “roommates” in her hospital room who all have their babies before her. Finally around 8:00pm they brought us to our delivery room and told me they were going to start with Cervadil which is an oral pill given to “soften” the cervix, it takes 12 hours to work, so I was given this, and then some lovely meds to help me sleep, and we went to bed officially “induced!”
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2015
Sunday we woke up, had breakfast and I was checked to see if I had progressed any, which I really had not. They decided to give me another cervix softening medicine, Cytotec, which took 4 hours. I was able to take some naps as my contractions weren’t very strong, and Matt was able to do some work on his laptop. By 2:30 I was still having contractions, but didn’t have an IV yet. Around 6:00pm I was given the IV and they started Pitocin (which meant no more eating). The Pitocin of course did cause me to have much stronger contractions, but I was still progressing slowly in the dilating department. The summary of 6:00pm – midnight of Sunday = laboring on Pitocin with no epidural.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2015
And now it was Monday, the laboring on the Pitocin with no epidural lasted for another 4 hours (about 10 hours total), then around 4am I chose to have the epidural (p.s. not very strong epidural as I found out later) as the contractions were very strong and close together, but the “finish line” wasn’t too near since I still wasn’t very dilated. By 8:45am I was dilated to a 6. I labored all morning and afternoon, and they decided to break my water around 5:00pm. Soon after, they told me that I had caught an infection during the long labor, and depending on how that impacted baby’s heartbeat, they may have to consider a c-section. After 40+ hours of laboring, I was so crushed by the thought of not “finishing what I set out to do” (aka, a vaginal birth), I started bawling and just wishing I was ready to push and get our baby safely out of me the way I wanted to. Luckily, baby’s heartbeat wasn’t impacted and I was give the green light to keep laboring and deliver vaginally. By 5:50pm the contractions were 2 minutes long and 5 minutes apart. By 8:00pm, they were 1.5 minutes long, much stronger, and 3 minutes apart. FINALLY around 9:30pm I was given the ok to push and after 2 hours, Vera was born at 11:27pm weighing in at 7lb 2 oz, 21.5” long.
I think all mom’s have an idea in our minds of how we will react and what the feelings will be like right when our baby arrives into the world and we see them for the first time. “We will hear her cry and when we see her she will be perfect, Mom and Dad will cry, Dad will cut the cord and we will get the best skin on skin bonding time ever. It will be amazing.” When Vera came out, I vaguely saw a limp, grey-colored baby and did not hear a cry. I think my heart sunk 3 floors down as my brain tried to process what was going on. Within seconds, the doctor and what seemed like 20 nurses (ok it was probably more like 5), had cut the cord and whisked Vera away from Matt & I over to the baby bassinet in the corner of the room. I finally said to the doctor (likely in a crazy lady panicked voice) “Why don’t I hear her crying!?” The doctor explained that Vera had a bowel movement right before she came out and they didn’t want her to cry right away in case she had any meconium in her mouth that would then go into her lungs. The nurses were sucking any meconium out of her cheeks and she was put on oxygen immediately (we did finally hear some grunts which were slightly reassuring, but definitely not the classic ‘newborn cry’ I envisioned hearing.) Matt was able to go over to the bassinet and cut the cord a little shorter, and a nurse brought Vera over to me and laid her on my chest for maybe a minute before she was taken to the special care nursery to be put under observation for 48 hours to make sure she didn’t catch the same infection I had during labor.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2015
I had to wait another 5 hours after Vera was born until about 4:30am after being stitched up and pushed on in the delivery room (I won’t get into the details, you can look up the aftermath of childbirth, not fun) before I got pushed in a wheelchair down to the special care nursery to see Vera & really hold her for the first time. (In that 5 hours Matt did go back and forth between the two of us and took pictures of her and showed them to me on his phone which made me feel a lot better).
WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23-24, 2015
The next 48 hours were spent with Matt and I in our own hospital recovery room (without Vera) going down to the special care nursery every 3 hours for feedings. Her blood sugar dropped pretty low so we had to supplement since my milk had not yet come in. We opted for donor breast milk, which was an awesome option at our hospital. We fed her with what we referred to as a “finger feeder” (technical term “SNS Feeder”) which is essentially a tube connected to the donor breast milk that Vera sucked from (it either went into the nipple shield or was taped to one of our fingers). Because she was getting so much “extra” real milk, we left the hospital with her weight at 7lbs 1oz, just 1 oz shy of her birth weight. Woo hoo!
We practically ran out of the hospital once Vera was cleared for NOT getting the infection that she was under observation for (thank goodness!) We were just so ready to be home and to get to spend all our time with her rather than feeding visits every 3 hours down the hall. Since I wasn’t sure when my supply would come in and Vera had been eating about 1.5oz of donor breast milk per feeding in the special care unit at the hospital, we ended up purchasing donor breast milk from North Memorial Hospital in Minneapolis (just so we had something to feed her as a backup). Going to pickup our purchased donor breast milk was one of the more interesting trips I sent my parents on, but we were so grateful for the help. Luckily once I go home my milk came in fine and we continued our finger feeding plan that week (so we could know how much she was eating), feeding her every 2-3 hours. At her one-week check-in she weighed in at 7lbs 6oz, again exceeding her birth weight, so gold stars all around!
Having never had a baby before, I really went into labor with few expectations or plans (our “plan” was that I would labor as long as I could before getting the epidural, but wouldn’t be disappointed if I chose to get one). We took a “Preparing for Childbirth” class, but that mainly focused on a typical “you go into labor yourself AKA water breaking” situation, which of course didn’t pertain to us at all in the end. Really an induction was something we just weren’t prepared for and didn’t know anything about (like how long the entire process can be). Then of course we didn’t expect to be in the special care nursery for 48 hours after having Vera either, but overall we had amazing nurses and were just plain old grateful that Vera was healthy and that we got to go home.
After experiencing childbirth I must say that I have a newfound respect for all Moms, regardless of how their deliveries went (vaginal, c-section, natural, epidural, etc). It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done, it takes strength in the most unique way, brings out the best of you and your partner as a team, and it really does give you a feeling of “she-man woman power” that is nothing short of badass, so to all moms, you are ah-mazing.