Friday, January 25, 2013

Lena's Birth Story

I go back and read Lucy's birth story so often and have been looking forward to writing Lena's for months! So excited to finally have the opportunity!! If you know me at all, this next line is a no-brainer, but you know . . . it's going to be long! Haha. And consider yourself forewarned that it's semi-graphic.

Wednesday was my due date. I stayed up late Tuesday night re-reading my blog entries about Lucy's first 6 months of life and getting so excited to meet the little one who'd been using me as a punching bag for months! That night I dreamed about giving birth all night. I woke up Wednesday morning at 8:05 to Lucy an inch away from my face saying, "I want to watch a movie on your computer." I got her settled in bed next to me with my laptop and fell back to sleep. At 8:21, I was woken up by the worst contraction I'd had to date. I thought to myself, "Wow! That one really hurt," checked the time on my phone and went back to sleep. When the same thing happened again, I checked my phone again - 8:29. Again at 8:37. I got a little flutter in my stomach, getting excited that I was finally having semi-painful contractions that were time-able! I knew that could last for days, but I also knew that Justin was on his way to Lansing for work. I texted him, asking what time he was leaving and he said, "I'm already on the road. Do you need me to turn around?" I decided to get up, take a shower, and see if the contractions went away, and told him just to keep going. I was sure I'd be fine.

The contractions seemed to be one on top of the other in the shower. They weren't lasting very long, but were coming every couple minutes! I started to get a little bit worried. Haha. So I got out, called Justin again and told him he should probably come home. He said he would be home in an hour and I told Lucy I thought the baby was finally going to come out today! She replied, "Yes! Me so excited! I can't wait to see what she look like! Me going to hold her and kiss her!" So precious. I finished packing our last minute stuff, stopping every few minutes to breathe and write down the time of my contraction. Pretty soon they were 6 minutes apart and I was texting Justin saying, "Are you almost here? I'm ready for my epidural!" Haha. Such a wimp.

Justin got home at 10:45 and we were out the door by 11. We dropped Lucy off at Niki's house and grabbed a towel from her for me to sit on in case my water broke. :-) I did really well with saying good-bye to Lucy. I didn't feel too emotional at all, which totally surprised me! We pulled into the ER at 11:45 and once again they whisked me upstairs before Justin even finished parking the car. The guy who took me to triage was this sweet old man who told me he has a horse named Sadie. Haha. I timed a couple contractions 4 minutes apart while I was in triage. They were really hurting and I was already whining to Justin. 

A nurse came in right away to check me - 4 cm and 90%. But she said she stretched me to a 5 while she was checking. Then she took my blood pressure: 150/something. That's super high for me. I figured at that point, they probably wouldn't be sending me home. Woohoo! The nurse was asking me questions during a contraction, but I didn't want to be rude, so I did my best to answer her. A few minutes later she asked me what level my pain was on a scale of 1-10. When I hesitated she said, "I noticed you talked through that last contraction" (I was on the monitor). Haha - aka - it must not be that bad yet! She asked if there was anything I wanted before she left the room and I jokingly said, "Yes, my epidural!" She said she'd ask my doctor and see about getting me admitted.

By 12:30, she was back with the good news: My doctor said to admit me and get that epidural! Haha. We walked down to the delivery room and the anesthesiologist's assistant came in to give me the spiel. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted the epi, but I was feeling much more nervous about getting it this time than I remember being with Lucy. My nurse got the IV in on the first try (it took 4 tries with Lucy!) and started the fluids. Then the anesthesiologist came in. This is where it gets interesting. Haha. His first question was if I'd had an epi before. I told him that I had an amazing one with Lucy and didn't feel a thing. His face dropped and he said, "Well I can't guarantee that. All epidurals are different." Ok, thanks for that word of encouragement! Then he asked us to turn off the TV, saying that he was "easily distracted." Just want I want to hear from the man who's about to stick a 4 foot needle in my spine!! He proceeded to poke and prod my back, tell me that I have slight scoliosis and the epi might not work. At this point I could feel the panic rising a little bit. I got into position with the help of the assistant and the anesthesiologist said, "Ok, here comes the numbing shot. It's going to sting." He put it in and said, "Hurting, hurting, hurting. Burning, burning, oh here comes the stinging!" Way to take my mind off the pain! Lol. (It really was not that bad.) Then he put the big needle in, which just felt like pressure. He kept telling me to hold really still which scared me to death. Haha. Finally he started to thread the catheter (for the medicine - not like a pee catheter). He tried and tried, then said, "I can't do it. I can't get it threaded. I've never had this problem in 20 years of doing this." Ah! I'm already such an anxious person. And my blood pressure was already high! Haha. Fortunately, the assistant had much better bedside manner than the anesthesiologist. She assured me that he'd get it and everything would be fine. He eventually did, but then went on to tell me that it might be in my spinal fluid and they had to run a test. Again, the assistant assured me that I wouldn't be paralyzed or anything if it was in the wrong spot, they'd just have to re-do it. I prayed like crazy that it would be fine . . . and it was. Whew! Pretty soon my legs were feeling warm, tingly, and heavy, and I wasn't feeling the contractions anymore. That was 1:00.

My mom and Niki showed up with McDonald's for Justin while I was getting the epi. They were sent to the waiting room, but came in by 1:15. We all got comfy and started placing bets about when Lena would appear. 

At 2:45 a resident came in to break my water. My nurse (Tammi - who I loved) said I had a lot of fluid. I wanted to say, "Yeah! Did you see the size of my belly?!" Haha. She checked me and said I was now 5-6 cm, still 90% effaced. She predicted we'd have a baby by 5:30. 

As soon as my water was broken, my contractions started getting much harder and stronger - at least according to the monitor. I wasn't feeling too much! Although I was surprised to be feeling more than I ever did with Lucy. It wasn't painful, but I felt my belly tightening with most of the strong contractions - just like Braxton Hicks. We sat around talking and facebooking for a couple hours. It was kind of strange that the nurse never checked me. I got checked like once an hour with Lucy. At some point, I started shaking like crazy. Tammi said I was probably transitioning and guessed I was 8 cm.

At 5:00, she checked me: 9-10 cm, just a lip of cervix. She switched my position to try and encourage that lip to disappear and left to page the doctor. My doctor wasn't there, so I had the on-call: Emily Dietrich. I was so surprised when she walked in. She was young and cute and bubbly. Haha. She was so loud and enthusiastic while I was pushing! She checked me at 5:45 and declared me ready to push.

This is where it gets exciting. My mom and Niki went to the waiting room and the nurse started to break down the bed. I got in position and started pushing. Apparently I wasn't being very effective because they decided to try a new technique: the doctor grabbed a towel and essentially played tug of war with me. She pulled one end and I pulled the other, which caused me to lean forward and push. I actually really liked doing it that way because it seemed to be working. Although my arms have been sore for days because of it! At one point, the nurse turned up the fetal monitor really loud and I heard her discussing the heartrate with the doctor. I wasn't concerned because I could hear Lena's heart beating and could still feel her moving around and kicking inside me. 

It's amazing how good the medical staff is at being nonchalant and discouraging panic. I was pushing with my eyes closed and opened them one time to see a whole slew of NICU nurses waiting by the warmer. Finally Dr. Dietrich said, "The baby's heart rate is just too low and it's not coming back up between contractions. Here are your options: vacuum or c-section." I was so shocked! I'd only been pushing about 10 minutes. I couldn't believe we already had to resort to that! I quickly chose the vacuum and the doctor told me they were going to pull her out, cut the cord, and immediately send her to the warmer. She put the vacuum on her head and I pushed with all my might, praying with everything in me that I wouldn't have to have a c-section and that Lena would be ok. I didn't even make it through a full push before the vacuum popped off the baby's head, though! She said she had too much hair and it wouldn't suction! Haha. I didn't have time to panic though before I heard the nurse saying, "Oh, she's turning . . . here she comes!" Apparently Lena was sunny side up. All it took was that little nudge from the vacuum to get her to turn enough to slide out. She didn't turn all the way, so came out completely sideways. I did feel more this time than with Lucy. I felt Lena crowning, but it wasn't painful. And I definitely felt relief as she slid out of my body. So crazy. 

Despite the doctor's earlier warning about whisking her away, they laid her right on my belly and Justin got to cut the cord. (I think the doctor expected the cord to be around her neck, but it wasn't at all. I never did hear why her heartreat was so low. Maybe just because she was posterior?) She cried, but didn't scream as hard as she should have, so they did take her away pretty quickly. I never really even saw her face. But everyone assured me that she was fine and as they suctioned her, her cries got louder and louder. Justin and I both agreed that she looked smaller than Lucy and were shocked when they weighed her and declared her 8 lbs, 13 oz! 5 oz. bigger than Lucy!! They were exactly the same length though: 20 inches.

So she was born at 6:04 p.m.on her due date, 19 crazy minutes after I started pushing, not quite 10 hours after I felt that first contraction. Not too bad! 

I want to record how amazing she has been with breastfeeding since the first try, what a great sleeper she is, Lucy's reaction to her, etc, but this is already sooooo long that we'll save that for another entry. Congrats if you made it all the way to the end! 


  1. I made it to the end and enjoyed every minute!!! Blessings on all of you!! Aunt Claudia

  2. Great story!! I'm so happy that everything turned out well and that you didn't have to have that c-section! That must have been a scary moment! I love that you are so crazy about your epidurals. Haha! Congratulations on your adorable baby Lena :)


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