Thursday, August 11th, I had my appointment. The midwife checked me, and said I was 2 cm, 75% effaced. She didn't strip my membranes or anything- just set up an appointment for Tuesday, August 16th (my due date). I was gearing up for another weekend of being pregnant.
Shortly after my appointment, I started getting some contractions. They were probably 10 minutes apart, not very strong- not painful at all, just regular. As the day and night went on, they got a little stronger, but they were still 10 minutes apart (sometimes more).
Friday morning I woke up feeling strange. In fact, I posted on my facebook status that day "Feeling a little funny... I was up all night with contractions... Praying this is early labor!!"
I can't even really put a finger on what was so strange feeling- it just was. I didn't have an appetite at all and I was incredibly tired and grouchy. I was also suuuper thirsty- I think I drank 10 bottles of water that day, at least!
As the day progressed, my contractions got closer together- but still not close enough to call or do anything about them. Around 6 or so, they were consistently 5-6 minutes apart. I called the office and they said it sounded like early labor- I was told to wait until they were 5 minutes apart and painful. So what's a girl to do while waiting for labor to kick in? Why, go eat some spicy Mexican food, right?!? HA!!! Bad idea. BAD idea. That's all I'm saying about that.
Friday night (after Mexican), my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart, so I called back and was told to go up to L&D to get checked. YAY!
My mom came over around 9 or 10... and Ryan and I headed up to L&D.
This is so, so, so silly- but I was really nervous about seeing the L&D for the first time. I am familiar with Foote's/Allegiance's L&D ward; I was hoping it would be just like that. I was already ticked it was on the 2nd floor instead of the 4th- like I said- SO DUMB... what can I say though? I'm a creature of habit... Thank goodness, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Flagler's L&D is absolutely beautiful. HUGE rooms with flat screens and refrigerators and of course, the rooms are overlooking the bay front- complete with a view of the lighthouse. Pretty nuts :)
Alright- back to the birth story... after I decided that I loved Flagler's L&D, I calmed down a little bit and settled in. They put me in a triage room first and as I was lying there with contractions, I was thinking "I've gotta be 4 centimeters at least. Who can have contractions for 2 days and not have any change?" The nurse (who's name I've forgotten, but was SO nice) checked me and said I was 2. WHAAA???? I was sooooo bummed! They monitored me for an hour or so, and concluded my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart, but not strong enough. They sent me home to labor and told me to come back when I couldn't talk through a contraction.
As I was getting dressed, I had a good, strong contraction. On the walk back to the car, I had another one- and by the time we got home (20-25 minute drive) I'd had a handful of semi-painful contractions. We got home around midnight, sent my mom home and I geared up for a long night.
I managed to fall asleep for about 30 minutes but was woken up by a realllly strong contraction. I think it was about 1:30 am? Ryan was snoozing away and thus began the long night of labor!
I took about 20 showers (no joke), paced the hallway, facebooked, blogged, etc. It was around 4 AM that the contractions became super ouchy. I started timing them on the contraction timer gadget and was thrilled to find they were 4 minutes apart- almost on the dot! In between contractions, I was okay- but during the actual contraction I was having to breathe, stop whatever I was doing, focus on getting through it, etc. Around 5 AM, I texted my sister and said "tell mom to get up- get over here quick- this is definitely labor!" At 6 AM, I called my midwife and said "I'm in labor- for sure." She gave me the go ahead, and we started getting ready for our 2nd trip to L&D.
My mom and Emily got to our house around 6:30 and we were at the hospital by 7. They triaged me again, but this time, I was positive I had made change and I'd be admitted. And I was right ;) I was just about 4 cm and my contractions were good and strong. The nurse who checked me, said "Your water is going to break any second- its bulging- so just be prepared for that." YESSSS!!!
At 7:30, they moved me into one of the delivery rooms. Ryan and Emily were with me- Emily was the photographer/birth coach. ;)
The nurse asked if I was going to get an epidural- before she even ended the question I said, "YES!" She said it could take awhile for the anesth. to get up to me, so she'd put the order in right away. I'm a little bit blurry on the next couple of hours- but I think I got the epidural around 9:30 or so? The epi guy was great- SO fast and SO good. I felt instant relief.
Right after the epi went in (the anesthesiologist was still in the room) my water broke. I have never had my water break naturally- it was pretty cool!
The nurse came in to check and I was at a 6. I couldn't believe how fast this was going! With Maeve it took me like 15 hours to get to 6 cm. With Henry it took maybe 8 hours or so...
We were fixin' to have a baby before noon with the way this labor was going! :)
Around 11:30, the midwife came in and said she was going to give me a teeny tiny bump of pitocin to get me over the last little hump. The pit was plugged in for about 10 minutes and then was turned off again because it was making me contract too much. The nurse said "You've gotta be a full 10- are you feeling pressure to push yet?" I was hesitant to say I wanted to push because in the past, I've pushed for great lengths of time- I told myself this time around, I was going to wait until I couldn't not push- hopefully reducing my pushing time.
My midwife came in around noon and checked me and said "Umm your baby is right here mam! We're going to push." I hung out (feeling the urge to push- but not full out pushing- just pushing enough to where it was making me feel comfortable) for a few minutes while they set up the room. About 15 minutes later, I said "Okay I really feel like I need to push now."
The midwife said to go ahead- I pushed for about 3 seconds and she said "STOP! Let me put my gown on and get everyone here- you're having a baby NOW!"
In a flash, the room was filled and Anah (my midwife) said "Go ahead- give me a little push and your baby is going to be out." I pushed for about 10 seconds, and her head was out. One more little push and she was delivered. So... no joke- my total pushing time was maybe 2 minutes or something crazy like that. It was AWESOME.
Little Stella June was born at 12:20, with a full head of hair and the teeniest, little legs I'd ever seen! She weighed 7 lbs. 11 oz, and was 19 inches long.
The nurses took her and did all the baby stuff. I did end up with a super small tear that needed a few stitches- but its been nothing, compared to the "damage" done in the past!
There are about 200 things I could list off that I loved about Flagler hospital- and one of them, was the post- labor clean up! While Stella was getting weighed, measured, and bathed in the nursery, my nurses helped me take a shower in the bathroom. These showers were amazing- they were lined with soft benches and all sorts of different shower heads- it was like one of those fancy showers where you're hit with water from all angles- it felt amazing.
After the shower, they had me try and eat something. I wish I would have had Emily take a picture of the meal they sent me- it was too funny. I actually don't remember the main course, but I was cracking up about the drink and dessert; sweet tea & banana cake! : ) We are definitely in the south!
It seems like I was in the actual labor room for a lonnnng time before they moved me to the postpartum unit. I found out later that it was because Stells was having a hard time keeping up her body temp. so they had put her in a warmer for a bit.
The post partum experience was wonderful as well. These rooms were like hotel rooms- heck, we had a DVD player and mini kitchen! We joked about how we could've stayed there all week!
My favorite thing about the hospital stay was they let you go- meaning, there was nobody hounding me to do this or that. In my other labors, I have these nightmares about the lactation ladies coming by and torturing me to tears about breastfeeding this way and that.
I did see a lactation consultant a few times, but she'd come in and ask how it was going, I'd say "great!" And that was that. She didn't need to SEE my boobs or poke and prod. It was a very nice experience.
Overall, on a scale of 1-10, I'd rate this birth as an 11. It was over the top wonderful. I can't think of a single thing I'd change or do differently. Everything- from Friday evening to our departure on Monday morning was 100 percent fabulous. I can't say enough about the staff- every single person was awesome and made me feel like home.
As for the actual labor and delivery, (and I have my midwives to thank for this one) it was beyond words. Thank GOD they didn't induce me and I was allowed to go on my own. Everything was so natural. It is amazing what your body will do, when its READY to do it. I think back to my induction with both other kids- how HARD those early contractions were and how awful the pushing was. Yes, of course, these "natural" contractions hurt (and yes, I did get an epidural around 5/6 cm) but the difference was, everything felt natural. It all felt like it was supposed to be happening; does that make sense? Especially with the pushing- it was unlike any experience I'd ever had before. I was grinning from ear to ear the entire time! My body was just ready to do it! It was calm, serene- so tranquil in the room. No counting or breathing on command- it was just me, doing what nature intended our bodies to do.
IF there is a 4th (and that's a huge IF.. .Ryan's already made comments like "Wow I can't believe this is our last baby.") I would adamantly refuse an induction unless medically necessary.
I'm not sure this experience can ever be topped. It was seriously, the best ever.
Coming home, on the other hand, has been tough. I can't lie- its been really, really tough. I feel like I can't give enough attention to each kid. And yes, I do remember feeling this way after having Henry- but its compiled this time with having 3 kids to split time with.
Stella needs me pretty much every 2-3 hours, which puts me out of commission with the other kids for at least 30-45 minutes, while I nurse her. In between feedings, I'm scrambling to make sure everyone else (Maeve & Henry) are taken care of and as happy as can be.
Maeve loves Stella more than anything and is all over her ALL the time. This is both the sweetest and irritating thing ever. Sweetest, because there is nothing better than seeing your kids love each other. It's the best feeling in the world. Irritating, because she wants to hold her and poke her and give her pacis 24/7. I will have just finished feeding Stells, have her all swaddled, napping in her bassinet and look over to see Maeve trying to jam the paci in her mouth. Or Stella will be in her swing and I look over to see Maeve trying to pry her eyes open. It's just a little bit much, ya know? But at the same time, I want her to be involved with Stella- any ideas on how to not discourage her from being interested but not over the top/waking her up all the time?
Henry on the other hand, does not have a clue what to think. He does say "TELLA TELLA TELLA" and he'll point and poke at her, but other than that, he's pretty indifferent. And I wouldn't expect much more from an (almost) 2 year old.
Ryan has been home with us and will continue to be at home with us until next Monday! Stella picked a good time to come into this world. Ryan happens to be super slow at work and his supervisor said he could have the entire week off. :)
Emotionally, I've got the good ol' baby blues. It's not uncommon to find me crying while looking at Stella, thinking about how fast she's going to grow up. I've cried thinking about ridiculous things- like the first time she'll ride the bus, or not wanting to be around me when she's a teenager. For real- why are pregnancy hormones so CRAZY??? If the same thing hadn't happened with Maeve and Henry, I'd fear I was losing it completely. Thankfully, I usually get out of this funk within a week or so.
My goal for the next few days is to get out of the house as a whole family. At the moment, it feels impossible, but I know once I do it, I'll have a lot more confidence!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the thoughts and prayers throughout this entire journey.
I can't tell you the love I feel in my heart. I wake up each morning, thinking my life is too good to be true! We are so immensely blessed!!!
And... to end this post, is a list of "things" I don't ever, ever want to forget about the labor and delivery of Miss STELLA JUNE!
- My hearty plate of Mexican nachos the night I went into labor. I think they might have assisted with my contractions.
- Reading 3 issues of People magazine, front to back, while laboring in the shower overnight.
- My nurse, Linda. She's a saint. I'm sure of it.
- Telling my anesthesiologist, (who happened to be pretty good looking) "this was the best I've ever had!"
- Having my water break on its own, and asking if I had peed or if it was my water.
- When Maeve first saw Stella, she exclaimed "SHE'S JUST LIKE BABY JESUS!"
- Henry paging the nurse (with the "pull if you need help" thing above the bed)
- the awesome southern food- banana cake, sweet tea, grits, huge chocolate chip cookies
- all of the amazing visitors that drove from near and far to come and see us.
- My grandma and mom, hauling up giant balloons and a zillion pink outfits with tutus :)
- watching teen mom, while giving birth... I remember laughing because in the background, someone was arguing about their baby daddy ;) haaaah
- Maeve's doctor kit- My mom got Maeve a doctor kit to bring to the hospital- she introduced herself to every nurse that came in the room, as "Dr. Maeve." :)
- My post partum nurse, Angela- another saint. She snuck in pieces of extra banana cake for me.
- the smell of a newborn. Is there anything like it???
PS- I am DYING to take some pics of Stella! Hopefully we'll have some time in the next couple of days to set everything up and do some! I'll post soon!