Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Experience with Labor and Being a New Mom!

My due date came and went and even though I knew that it was likely I wouldn’t give birth that day, I felt frustrated knowing that Penelope would come whenever she chose within the next two weeks and that I would have to just accept it. I started looking up ways to naturally induce this child, all while asking other people for their opinions on how they got labor started. I tried bowling, lots and lots of long walks, and eating certain foods but nothing worked. Soon I had hit my 40 weeks and 6 day mark and knew that in the morning I would have to make a decision to either set up a time to be induced or let things fall into place. *Random note: Can I say how grateful I am that I chose to go with a midwife? I had so much control over my pregnancy and labor. I loved that I got to be able to choose if I wanted to be induce or wait it out. Maybe I’ll write a post about it sometime.* Anyway—that night Jesse and I decided to go on our usual evening walk but this time I thought about trying something new: running. I ran for at least a quarter of a mile (okay, well I thought I was running but then I realized Jesse was able to keep up with me by picking up his walking pace.) When I got home I just felt tired and was sad that I wasn’t having any contractions. Jesse reminded me that usually contractions take place later, not right after the workout. I wrote my sad post on Facebook about how disappointed I was about not having the baby yet and decided then that I would not be induced even though the past week I had been physically and emotionally miserable (I had been having slight complications that none of the doctors could figure out which was very stressful.)

I woke up at 5:20am the following morning to really intense pain. Since I had been having pain on and off all week I just assumed it was a slightly stronger contractions. I somehow woke up Jesse—I can’t remember if I woke him up or if I was squirming in bed too much—and he watched me go through some of the pain for about 15 minutes. We both figured out that I was actually having contractions and soon started wondering if this was the real deal. After timing the contractions, 6 minutes apart, lasting for 60 seconds, we called Jesse’s sister Chante’ who would be a second coach through my labor. *Another side note: I had decided I was going to have a natural birth and would be using the Bradley Method. Chante’ had successfully used this method with both of her labors and is incredibly knowledgeable on everything Bradley.* Chante’ said she’d come right over and by the time she arrived, roughly 7am, my contractions had become more painful. She recommended I try a shower and that worked for a bit. After 20-30 minutes of that I was in so much pain I decided I would just lay out on the couch. Everyone agreed it was time for me to call my midwife and see what action we should take. She sat through two of my contractions, which by that point were 2 minutes apart and about 1 minute and 20 seconds long, and said that I needed to start making my way to the hospital.  We got all of our things and headed to the hospital. By the time we got to the hospital it was roughly 8:30am and I was freaking out how fast everything seemed to be progressing. I got checked into a room where they determined I was 4 cm dilated and fully effaced. The pain just continued to get worse and worse and I did my best to put into place the Bradley technique, which may I mention is EXTREMELY hard when you are in that much pain! They moved me to my labor room and I met the midwife who would be there with me until her shifted ended.

I learned really fast that the Bradley method was not going to work for me. Mental imagery was nearly impossible. The only thing that helped me get through each contraction was moaning or yelling as loud as I could. I’m sure everyone in the rooms around me thought I was dying. At first I was super self-conscious of it but after an hour I couldn’t have cared less. It’s funny how little you care about anything (how loud you’re being, if you’re naked in front on strangers, etc.) when you’re in an incredible amount of pain. My midwife was AMAZING. She was very calming to be around and sat with me through most of my labor, helping me push through each contraction by yelling and moaning with me. Okay, so I know that sounds totally weird but it worked so well. Whenever she needed a break my sister-in- law would step right in and make the noises with me. Poor Jesse was such a trooper. He sat behind me and rubbed my back, staying quiet while I focused and complimenting me on how well I was doing in the small breaks. I was really impressed with how in tune he was to my needs.

I was progressing quickly, so much so that my midwife and nurse had set up my room for delivery and said they expected me to start pushing by 12:30pm. I had the worst back pain and tried everything to cope with the pain. I tried a bath multiple times, which actually made it feel worse, and tons of positions and pelvic rocking. Every time I moved it was the worst possible pain ever. The only way I could actually deal with a contraction was by sitting at the end of the bed with a bar hanging over me. When the contraction came on I would pull as hard as I could on the bar.

By 2 or 3pm (I can’t remember for sure) I was dilated to 9 cm and the pain had reached an all-time high. My contractions hit, one after the other, after the other. There were times that it would last for minutes and then I’d get a 10 second break and come at me again. It hurt so bad that I couldn’t breathe. For me, that was the worst part. It felt like a thousand knives being stabbed in my lower abdomen all while someone would sucker punch all the air out of me. Every time it was over I spent the whole time sobbing and taking in as much air as I could. By 6pm I was still dilated to a 9. At the point my midwife looked at me and said, “Toni, you are exhausted and I am worried that when it comes time to push, you will be too tired to.” I was also informed a few hours before that that my child was posterior and that is why I was having such bad back pain and why my little girl wasn’t coming out. Because of her position pushing was going to be 10 times harder. I felt so conflicted. I did not want an epidural. Mostly because I am TERRIFIED of needles. So much so, I opted out of having a precautionary IV. But also because I had worked so hard and had gone so long without an epidural. I only had 1 more centimeter to go. I felt like all that work would have been for nothing. I wanted to finish this the way I intended; I wanted to prove to myself I could do it without medication. After lots more crying and encouragement from Jesse, Chante’, and my midwife I decided I would at least talk to the anesthesiologist. My nurse brought him in and he explained to me what the procedure would be like. I explained to him my extreme fear of needles and he reassured me that I would barely feel a thing and that he would explain everything he was doing while he did it. He was so nice and even offered to numb my wrist before putting in the IV that is required when getting an epidural. After 14 hours of labor, basically 12 of which were extremely intense, I decided to get an epidural. I cried the whole time he got everything set up. I was so scared I was shaking ridiculously hard. I had to keep reminding myself that the pain of an epidural would be nothing in comparison to my contractions. I ended up barely felt the epidural and within 5 minutes all my pain was gone. It was so amazing to feel nothing after feeling pain for so long I wondered why I hadn’t gotten one sooner.

While I felt amazing, the only down side to the epidural was it slowed down my contractions a bit meaning having my baby would take longer and that my midwife’s shift would be over before I had my baby. I met my next midwife and she was kind but because I was mostly sitting and waiting for something to happen she only came in my room to check my progression every once in a while. Actually now that I think of it, another down side to the epidural was that you couldn’t eat after having one and unfortunately for me, I hadn’t ate since the previous night and was STARVING. My nurse was kind though and snuck me some saltine crackers to munch on anyways. But the good side of the epidural was well one, obviously I didn’t have any pain, and two I could sleep which I also didn’t do much of the night before.

I went in and out of sleep but by 11pm I was too restless with worry to sleep anymore. The realization that I was going to have a child any moment was surreal. At least while I could feel my contractions I was in too much pain to think about what it would be like to have a child. I was more motivated to just get the pain done and over with! I was also concerned about pushing. I worried I wouldn’t be able to feel my contractions enough and would have to get a c-section.  Jesse and Chante’ were both great at trying to distract me. They both kept telling jokes and it felt good to be able to laugh again. We joked about how all my nurses and midwives kept telling me that FOR SURE I would have my baby that day. The following day would be my one and only niece and my Mom and Dad’s only grandchild’s birthday. We thought it would be so funny if Penelope decided to share a birthday with Tessa. 12am rolled around and still it wasn’t time to push. We were so excited to share with my sister and the rest of my family that Penelope would indeed be born on Tessa’s birthday. So now luckily for my parents, their only two grandchildren share a birthday and only need to remember one date.

Also at 11pm or 12am I can’t remember which, they checked to see if my water had broken. It hadn’t so they decided to break it for me so I hopefully wouldn’t need any Pitocin. When they broke my water they worried that my daughter had swallowed meconium or however you spell it so I was informed that my baby might need to be taken away for a short while if she didn’t come out crying.

By 1:30am my midwife came in, checked me out. I was dilated to a 10 and it was time push! They explained what I would need to do and when my next contraction rolled around I pushed with all my might. When I was done everyone looked at me like they were impressed. My midwife asked me if this was my first child because she couldn’t believe how well I had done. Everyone kept asking me if I could feel my contractions, which I couldn’t, and was informed that if I continued to push this good this baby would be out easily within 20 minutes. This is where the epidural was amazing. I would push with all my might and then relax while I was waited to push again. Unfortunately my contractions were not coming fast. Each time I would push I had to wait 5 to 7 minutes for the next one to come. By 2:30am I was frustrated because I knew if my contractions would just come on faster we’d would have already had Penelope. By 2:50ish I was starting to feel my contractions (I am now grateful I barely ever pushed my epidural button for more pain relief!) and would ask the nurse who was monitoring the screen for my contractions if I was having one. Each time I asked she would nod and then I would push. They asked me if I wanted to see my baby’s head in a mirror and I was slightly hesitant. I was worried it’d gross me out but I decided to anyway. It was weird and cool all at the say time but it gave me just enough motivation and I would push even harder than before. After that I was pushing like a mad women! Jesse looked at me all surprised and told me it would only be a few more pushes until she was here. My nurses ran around crazy getting everything prepared and two or three pushes later at 3:07am, Penelope had finally came! The first words out of my mouth were, “That felt so cool!” And seriously pushing out Penelope felt so invigorating and was my favorite part of the whole labor.
When Penelope came out she made a somewhat gurgled cry but then was silent so after Jesse caught her and cut her umbilical cord all these people rushed her to the corner of the room where they made sure she was okay. Chante’ yelled from across the room, “she has rolls!” and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I caught a peak of her and she was big and chunky. After everything ended up being okay I got to hold her. I always thought I’d ball like a baby once I finally saw my daughter but I actually just got giddy with excitement to hold her. I was all smiles while I got to hold and kiss her. She cried the whole time (I learned real quick that she does not like to lay or sleep on her belly) but I didn’t care. I only got to hold her for 5 minutes because I needed to be stitched up and I didn’t want to jerk or anything while I held her. I enjoyed watching Jesse hold her and kiss her. Penelope snuggled right into his chest and fell right to sleep.
The next three hours dragged on forever. My midwife and all these nurses kept rushing around and making phone calls. I had been so distracted by the joy of having Penelope with us that I didn’t realize for a while all the rags of blood in a bucket. I asked them if everything was alright and they kept being really vague with me. Since they weren’t answering me I kept looking at Jesse and Chante’ to see if they knew what was going on and they weren’t sure what was happening either. I started listening to the midwife’s conversations with the other doctors and nurses and quickly figured out there was something wrong with my tear. I had 5 different people work on me and each time they sewed me up they had to undo it and start all over. Eventually they called a surgeon in to stitch me up because they couldn’t figure out how to fix the problem. When they were done I was sent to my recovery room and asked the nurse what had been going on. She told me I had hemorrhaged and lost 800 ml of blood. I didn’t know how much that was so Jesse showed me on my U of U water bottle to give me a visual idea of how much. Needless to say, I was very tired and dizzy. My daughter started crying and I wanted to breastfeed her but I wasn’t allowed to because I was so weak.
A visual of the amount of blood I lost.

After 5 hours of trying to be patient I was able to hold my daughter again and finally feed her. I was so exhausted and wanted to sleep so badly but I wasn’t giving up the opportunity to hold my daughter as long as I wanted, finally!

The next few days were spent getting to know Penelope, having many family and friends come and visit, and adjusting to parenthood.

Parenthood is much more difficult than I expected but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Penelope is seriously such a joy in our lives. I live for the moments when she smiles at us (even if it’s just an accident) and stares into my eyes. I love the times when I wake up in the morning or from taking a nap and find Jesse and Penelope in the nursery, just rocking in the rocking chair as her daddy sings her primary songs. And I enjoy getting to know her, the things she likes and doesn't like (she loves being sung to, being outside, and bathes, but doesn't like binkies, sleeping on her tummy, or being awake while not being held.) When she first came home I felt a bit overwhelmed (okay, a lot overwhelmed) but now I feel like I’m really starting to enjoy all of her. I cannot even believe that on Friday she will be a 4 weeks old!

I seriously feel so grateful to have been in such great care at the U of U. My midwives were awesome especially the first midwife who had spent almost all her time with me and always was honest but encouraging. I am really glad I made the decision to have my sister-in-law there who made me feel comfortable by being encouraging as well and constantly taking care of all my needs. If it hadn't been for her I think I would have stopped breathing! Or had an epidural sooner. And I am especially grateful for my husband who always stayed positive and always made sure to let me know how well I was doing and how proud he was of me. He never complained once about being tired or hungry, even though he hadn't ate that whole day either and had gotten about as much sleep as I had.

Penelope’s birth weight and length was 8lbs 8oz and 20 ¾ inches.  As of her last doctors appointment (a week and a half ago) she was 9lbs 7oz. She is growing so well! She no longer looks like a newborn, though a lot of our family says she never really did.

This is our beautiful daughter Penelope Alayna Justet as of yesterday. Look  at that cute smile!

As for me I’m doing better. I take iron pills twice a day and am slowly getting my strength back. I still hurt quite a bit but I think that’s normal. And my color is coming back! I’m still pale but not sickly pale anymore. Every day I get stronger from walking and just as time continues on.  And because I’m breastfeeding the weight seems be coming off well. I am surprised by how good I feel about my body!

Ignore the dust that is covering my face. This is my body nearly 4 weeks postpartum. 

I have to admit I feel pretty awesome about my body. I really didn't expect to look this skinny so fast! I still have more weight to loose but this works until I can workout again!

Other than that, Jesse and I are just doing the parent thing which keeps us very busy. :)
Until next time!

-Jesse, Toni, & Penelope

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