I know we sort of fell off the face of the earth there for a bit, but I promise it was for a good reason. A great reason actually - Lily is here! The last week has been filled with little more than trying to get settled as a family of three (okay, a family of 5 - can't forget the dogs now!).
While it is still fresh in our minds, I wanted to get Lily's birth story down. If you're not interested in reading about things like my cervix, you've been warned. I promise it isn't too graphic of a tale. (Jen B - if you're reading - it shouldn't make you faint! :)
Friday, August 17th (yes, her story requires that I organize the process first by DAYS)
After a fairly relaxing morning, and the completion of my Miles Circuit, I started to notice my contractions were more regular.Timing them for a bit showed that they were about 7-10 minutes apart at about 11:30 a.m. Nothing I needed to throw the bags in the car for, but I certainly had 'the feeling' that things were getting started. I didn't call Jeremy right away. He was working and the last thing we needed was for him to come flying home in an unnecessary panic. I did talk with him when he was on his way and by that time (about 3:00 p.m.) the contractions were now closer to 5 minutes.
Off an on I would keep track of their regularity and that evening Rachel (our friend and doula) came over to spend some time with us and help us through the early stages. Around 9:30 p.m. we headed to the hospital. We were excited! Contracting in the car isn't my favorite game, and at about 3minutes apart, I got to have a few on our drive in. In triage I had an exam and the nurse reported I was at about 3cm dilated. A bit more than my last appointment. She suggested that we walk the halls for an hour and check back in... unfortunately we were still at 3 - 'maybe 3 1/2'. (12AM) Since we were not progressing rapidly and still had some laboring to go, she recommended we go back home and try to rest - HA!
Saturday, August 18th
I did get some sleep, took a couple baths, and did my best to rest. By morning (7AM) my contractions had definitely picked up in intensity and had returned to some regularity (again about 3-4min apart). We decided to head back in. The great news was that our doctor was on call that day! YES! We were thrilled with the idea that our doctor would actually get to be the one to deliver our girl. That never happens. It felt like fate.
Another round of triage, 30 minutes of walking and we were admitted. 4cm dilated, completely effaced, and regular contractions. That folks, sounds like go time. About 10AM and we were settled into our birthing suite. The rest of Saturday blends together a bit for me. We did a LOT of walking the halls, working through contractions as they came and generally crossing our fingers that things were progressing. Rachel and I did try to play a game of cribbage, but that didn't work out so well. (Let the record show, I totally would have won. :) ) My contractions were getting more and more intense as the day went on, so we were hopeful it wouldn't be too much longer before we met Lily.
That evening (6PM or so), my contractions had lost a bit of their regularity... going back to every 7-8 minutes while I was down and back up to 1-3 minutes while I was up and walking. Jeremy and I talked at length and after a long discussion with our doctor, and an internal exam that showed I was only dilated to "maybe 5cm", we decided to break my water (how it hadn't broke at this point with the strength of some of my contractions, I have no idea). The hope was that would be all we'd need to get things going.
Unfortunately that didn't serve to move things along a bit. With still no further progress, we started the Pitocin to increase the intensity, and hopefully effectiveness, of my contractions... that didn't work either. Well, it did work - my contractions were certainly intense, but Lily still wasn't having it.
About 9PM - 12AM was rough. Probably some of the hardest work I've ever done. My contractions remained very regular, close together, and very strong. But, at this point I was exhausted. After laboring for the better part of two days, on little more than a handful of hours sleep, things were getting rough. I know they had to be for Jeremy and Rachel too. Both of them were at my side, encouraging me along, the entire way. With few breaks for them, our team was pushing through. We tried pretty much everything - different positions, walking, lunging, sitting on the ball, the shower, etc. But, I was wearing out. I'd had a bit of Fentanyl for the pain, but what really kept me from resting between contractions, the shakes. Let me tell you - they're the worst. Contracting is hard, and painful, but knowing that it is temporary and keeping your eye on the goal - you can manage it. But the uncontrollable shaking - during and between contractions - was maddening.
That's when I called it. I needed to know my progress or I was getting an epidural. If I was close or dilated, I may have pushed through (I'm not certain where I would have had the energy, but that was my stance), otherwise - find that anesthesiologist.
Almost 6cm.... All of that and only 6cm!?
I was losing myself. I felt snappy, angry, frustrated, and just exhausted. Without Jeremy there for every contraction, I wasn't certain I could hold myself up. My nurse and Rachel did exactly what we asked them to do at this point - respectfully challenge me to make sure I was certain. Rachel looks at me and says, "Sarah, how about we try 30 more minutes. If we don't have any more progress, we'll call them. You're doing so well!" I went a bit grizzly bear on her at that point - and a quote they've not let me forget since - "Rachel, I am no longer bartering with you. I'm done."
Sunday, August 19th
At just after midnight, the anesthesiologist showed up with her magic kit.
- - let me break for a moment. I think it is an important thing to mention here that I don't find my long labor to be a horror story saved by the magic of an epidural. I went into labor with a very open mind. I wanted to try and do this on my own. Women have done it for thousands of years, our bodies are made for this, and I wanted to climb and tackle this mountain on my own. However, I also have spent a good deal of time educating myself on the alternatives should I need support. I don't find epidurals or all intervention to be 'evil', but I do feel that they are commonly overused because of the fear our society places on the pain of childbirth. However, they are extremely valuable tools that serve an important purpose. Okay, that's the end of my soapbox rant. On with the story... - -
By magic I mean she was flawless. Contracting while there is a giant needle in your back is not the highlight of my year, but she could not have been nicer, more patient, or done a better job. I could still feel pressure in my legs and during contractions, but no pain from my abdomen, down. I could have kissed that sweet woman on the mouth. Instead - I slept. For the first time I actually got almost 3 straight hours of sleep. All of us did. And when I woke up (5AM), I had returned. I was back to making jokes, smiling, and happily anticipating our babies arrival.
Sunday morning progressed about as slowly as the rest of the weekend. I had managed to get to about 8cm overnight, but we were stalled again there. We increased my Pitocin to further strengthen contractions and kept a close eye on Lily. A few times in the morning she appeared to be a bit stressed. At one point her heart rate reaching almost 200bpm. We changed positions and worked on deep breathing and thankfully she returned to normal. It was around 9AM when we started talking cesarean section. This was something I really wanted to avoid if I could. But, if it is what we needed for Lily, that was what we were going to do. We'd come up with a plan of who to call and decided to try one more position change before we talked it through again.
It worked! At 10:45AM I was at 9cm. Almost there! 12:30 PM and our nurse joking called me 9.5+, just the tiniest bit left to go that she could barely count it.
We made it. With the C-section off the table, we decided to let her "labor down" on her own. Basically wait for her to settle into my pelvis without my pushing and forcing her through. That way I would conserve my energy and save it for when I really needed to push. They sat me up in bed, with my knees butterflied out and we waited. Chatting nervously, knowing that it was almost time. We all had the giggles. The light at the end of this two day tunnel was here and all of us had elevated spirits. We traded funny stories with my awesome nurse (who it turns out I played softball against in high school - small world!), told inappropriate jokes (something about Pez dispensers that almost had Rachel wetting the couch...), and tried to be patient.
At 3:00 p.m. exactly we started pushing. Shannon, our nurse, called them practice pushes at first, just to get the feel of pushing when you can't really feel anything - it did take some practice. But, with each contraction we kept going. I could feel the pressure of the contractions build, without the pain, and knew when to say go. With Jeremy on my right leg, and Rachel on my left, we worked together to inch Lily closer. It was about 3:50 when the doctor and team came in. With each push she edged closer - yes, we all watched - Jeremy and Rachel live and me with a mirror. Seeing her progress was incredibly motivating to me. Knowing that she was almost there. Her heart rate strong and steady - she also doing her part.
After only 1 hour and 17 minutes of pushing (it went by SO fast), she was here. After passing her head, everything else followed without hesitation. She cried instantly. A soft, adorable, cry. She spent a minute or two with the nurses checking out her airway and then handed her to Jeremy. My husband was a father. With tears in his eyes, he laid her on my chest, and the three of us were finally together.
After 53 hours of labor, months of being pregnant, and all the years we waited for her before that - Lillian Josephine Scott had arrived. Perfectly round head, beautiful little red lips, and chubby little body - she is everything we hoped for. We snuggled and loved on her for almost an hour before we resumed with the remaining formalities. We all placed our bets on what she would weigh - and I lost - big time.
10 pounds, 11 ounces and 22 inches long.
Granted, we were on IV fluids a long time and both of us were puffy and retaining a good deal of water... but still! How on earth did we make a baby that big!? Even the next day, swelling down quite a bit, she was still just over 10lbs. Sorry baby girl, your mama likes her carbs!
All of her tests went by flawlessly 8-9 on her Apgar, perfect hearing, blood sugar series was excellent... she's a champ.
We're in absolute love. Jeremy doesn't like to put her down - always loving, kissing, and snuggling her. He's taken very very good care of us this week. Already he is such an amazing and loving father. Sleep is hard for me to come by and that mixed with hormones and learning to breastfeed creates its challenges, but nothing that snuggling that perfect baby cannot cure. Each day we're getting more in sync and figuring each other out.
And just like any good tale, it wouldn't be possible at all without the entire cast of characters. While I was certainly the one with the baby in her tummy - Jeremy and Rachel worked just as hard to see Lily into the world. Rach - we love you. We cannot thank you enough for your knowledge, encouragement, sounding board, and general bossiness when I need it most. Our main nurses were fabulous. Shannon and Tiffany made the difference for us. They were advocates for us, a support system, and truly just awesome. We felt like they truly cared for us, and our daughter, and that we were not just another day at the office for them. World class people. My parents took turns and stayed at our place to make sure the dogs were taken care of. All of our family was so patient and encouraging. Such an amazing community we are bringing Lily into. we cannot wait to continue to share her milestones as she grows!
While I'm certain I've left out a detail or two, you get the
idea. It was a long couple of days with its share of twists and turns,
but we got our happy ending. The happy ending to our labor and delivery
is just the happier beginning to the rest of our adventures together.