A Birth Story- Bringing Brynn into the World

Brynn Amaela turned nine weeks old last weekend and I am just getting around to posting her birth story now. I guess that in itself captures how life has been with a newborn. My friend said “the days are long and the years (in this case weeks) are fast.” I couldn’t agree more. But for this post, I want to focus on the labor and delivery.

Brynn’s birth was the most amazing experience of my life and by far my favorite day. Everything started on Friday, March 17th, the evening of my scheduled induction. My husband and I were told to go to the hospital at 8pm to start the induction process but to call labor and delivery before we left to confirm the time. Well it turned out that St. Patty’s was a busy evening.  After calling at 7pm, I was told our check in-time was to be pushed back and to call at 9pm for a new time. I tried to distract myself with television for the next two hours. Finally, I got our new time- 11pm.

On our way to the hospital, my husband and I talked about how odd it was that we were going to have our baby but I was not in active labor. The car ride was not what we had imagined. No contractions or heavy breathing. No sense of urgency. I was calm and not in pain. I was a little sad I wasn’t experiencing going into labor on my own. (Hours later this feeling would be washed away with the very real contractions.)

When we arrived at the hospital, we were told to sit in the waiting area. That is where we encountered two women who were indeed in active labor. I sat between them as they waited for their rooms. I felt like a bit of an imposter. Needless to say, our induction was pushed back again. After watching the women get ushered into their rooms and wishing them lots of luck, I was escorted to my room at 12:00am. Here is the timeline from 12:00am to 5:23pm when my baby girl arrived!

12:00am- signed consents, found out blood pressure was very high, also found out I was having some big contractions but was not experiencing any pain. Feeling super excited!

1:00am- doctor on call (my doctor arrived in morning) inserted balloon catheter. Doctor asked me if I was uncomfortable and feeling the pressure after the balloon was blown up. When I told her I was quite comfortable,  she was surprised. A conversation but whether to get cervidil ensued. After some back and forth and the doc calling my doctor to consult, it was decided cervidil would be skipped since I was already having contractions and had responded so well to the balloon. For a few minutes, I felt like a champ. I thought….”Contractions and a balloon aren’t phasing me- maybe I have a crazy high pain tolerance ?! Maybe this labor thing won’t be too bad?!” (These thoughts would also be washed away hours later).

3:00am- Pitocin started and nurse told us we should try to get some sleep ,I was of course wide awake, Husband settling in to his cot which looks more like a beach chair. Husband dozes off and I am wide awake.

3:33am- our neighbor (one of the ladies I met earlier in waiting area) has baby boy in chilliest, most calm birth. It sounds like she pushes three times. I listen and get emotional. I keep thinking “there was just two of them in waiting room and now they are a family of three.”

4-6am- Contractions are amping up now. Not unbearable but definitely painful.

6-6:45am- zzzzz Finally slept for a little

7:15- Get up to pee (which involves untangling wires, unplugging my iv thing from the wall and dragging the iv bag with me). I find I am bleeding a bit. Not sure if it’s from the balloon but happy to see progression

9am- my doc is here and removes the balloon. I’m pleasantly surprised to learn I am dilated to 5 centimeters. The hope with the balloon is to go to 3-4 centimeters. Again my body is an overachiever- in this case it turns out to be a good thing (wasn’t always good for ivf).  The doctor breaks my water and my husband decides to watch! I feel the pop inside of me like a little balloon exploded. The amount of fluid that pours out of me is insane. Feels like a gallon.

9am-12pm- Here is where things get interesting. After my water is broken, my contractions come like crazy! It’s like 0 to 100. My husband watches the screen telling me they are about a minute apart and then quickly only 30-40 seconds apart. They are also so intense: I was told with induction, contractions can be super intense super quick but experiencing it is a whole other thing. Suddenly I can’t lay in bed. I insist on getting up. These three hours essentially involve me walking around the room like a gorilla and hanging on to my husband’s shoulders for dear life. I can feel my face making the sadest, most pleading look at him although I can’t speak. If I could I would say “Help”- not in a yell but a quiet pathetic whimper. I’m pretty sure my face says my pathetic drawn out “help” for me. Then I decide I need to get in the shower. The nurse helps to wrap my IV arm up so I can drag the whole iv pole back to the bathroom. I stand in the hot water. The rails on the sides of the shower take the place of my husband’s shoulders as I put all my weight on them. After about 15 minutes I get out of the shower. I immediately bring up an epidural to my husband telling him I think I have an hour left of this in me maybe an hour and a half but if it’s going to be much longer I want epidural. The nurse comes in shortly after and I ask her how much longer do you think until I can start pushing. She responds “at least 4 more hours” and just like that the anesthesiologist is called in.

12pm- The Epidiural: despite the anesthesiologist being a complete deuce my epidural went pretty well. I was told to get in position with the nursing helping me. As I leaned forward trying to remain perfectly still (a nearly impossible feat in the midst of contractions) the doc says “Do you always tilt your back to the side?” I respond in my head “No asshole only when I’m in labor.” As he starts to insert the needle he tells me “if you feel it going to one side or the other tell me.” I again respond in my head “seriously ?! So I’m responsible for making sure you don’t paralyze me!” Then it’s over and I’m laying in bed. My legs aren’t completely numb and I don’t feel trapped (like I thought I might). I feel comfortable and like I can finally catch my breathe. My nurse Stephanie tells me I should probably sleep and relax now while I can.

12-1pm- I’m feeling great but not sleepy. I dilate to seven centimeters- woohoo.

1:30-3:00- I finally doze off for a bit. I pump the epidural button a bit as I start feeling the contractions again.

3:00- I dilate to 9 centimeters. I put on Bruce Springsteen’s The River to try and wake up and get motivated. I stop pushing the epidural button as I want to feel the pressure so I’ll know when to push. Doctor is telling me it won’t be long now and I’m starting to feel the contractions.

4:40-5:22- Pushing time! This part is different then I expect. I feel in control and motivated. My contractions aren’t coming quickly so I’m not pushing the entire time. It’s more like 3 pushes every few minutes. I think I end up doing about 7-9 rounds of pushing. At first I can’t get the hang of it. I am tensing my face and my arms way too much. Then once a mirror is brought in I finally get it. I think seeing the baby’s head coming out helps me realize what the good pushes are. I watch in the mirror as I push. My nurse and husband are at my side holding my legs and counting down. They are so encouraging and the counting is really helping. My doctor comes in towards the last few pushing rounds and tells me there is a woman down the hall that is progressing fast and he wants to see how I’m doing to decide who will be delivering first. I give him a superstar push and he says “oh you are having this baby soon. I’m not going anywhere!” I’m relieved. I push for another round and see everything getting very red down there. Baby girls head is about half way out now and she has tons of hair. Suddenly I am terrified I am going to see myself tear in the mirror and I demand that it be taken away. I don’t watch my lasts two rounds of pushing. I can feel burning and tons of pressure. The last push of the shoulders brings some pain.

5:23-Suddenly I’m reaching down and pulling my girl up on my chest. She’s not crying but she’s alert. She’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. The moment is peaceful, serene and joyous all at once. I’m staring in her eyes and she’s really looking back at me. I glance at my husband and tears are pouring down his face. After a few minutes she is latching onto my breast. It’s amazing and feels so natural. I feel an instant connection and euphoria. She lies on my chest for what feels like awhile. It’s the most amazing feeling. While I am basking in her, my doctor tells me I am delivering the placenta and then he is stitching me up saying I have a small tear. I glance at the doctor and the end of my bed. It looks like a war zone down there: blood and fluids all over the floor. I ask him to show me the placenta as a curiosity has taken over me and holds up something that looks a lot bigger than I anticipate. After a few glances, I am back to basking in my little love. Then my husband is escorting her to a little area in my room to get weighed, given a vitamin K shot and cleaned off. Now I hear her cry for the first time. My husband announces her weight to me 8 lbs 2 oz. then she is back in my arms. My heart is so full. My baby Brynn Amaela has arrived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

41 Weeks

I’m over here still pregnant. I never expected to go this far. In fact, I expected to go early which has made these last few weeks even more frustrating. I had quite an emotional week. My best friend (the one who lost her baby) is visiting. We have shed some tears together over her baby boy and her sister hosted a very nice fundraiser where we got to celebrate him.  It has been amazing to see her but I do feel a bit guilty about how much of our conversations have focused on my impending birth. I also feel like ever since I passed my due date, I’ve had this sense of urgency for the baby to be here ASAP. Every passing day just feels like a day that something can go wrong. A day I can lose the baby I have been waiting almost three years for. My fantasies of a natural birth have been replaced with fantasies of going to a doc apt and them telling me I have to get an emergency c-section just so she is here and I can stop worrying. Rationally I know this makes no sense and of course I don’t want anything to be wrong, it’s just been so hard to wait with my mounting anxiety. I really went to a dark place on Monday. I live in the northeast and a blizzard cane our way. Monday forecasts were predicting 2 feet of snow for Tuesday. I went into the doctor’s office and basically pleaded for an induction. The nurse-midwife reluctantly agreed to schedule me that evening before the snow started.  Well about an hour before we were to leave for the hospital my doctor called me to tell me all the reasons why my cervix was not favorable for an induction. I felt like a fool. After a lot of tears, my husband talked to the doctor and gave him the background about my friend and how I have been struggling the past week with anxiety and the snow just brought it all to the forefront. From that point on, my doctor was amazing. He told me he understood and I could still come in to be induced. After a lot of back and forth, I decided to be brave and wait out the storm. Since then I have progressed a little bit- dilated slightly more, baby girl moved down and I lost my mucus plug. Due to my progress, my doctor scheduled me for an induction for tomorrow (41 weeks and 1 day). He also did a very thorough examination imcluding a non stress test, ultrasound and cervical check. He said both the baby and I look great. While my doctor says he would push induction to Tuesday if baby continues to do well, he is supportive of my feelings and thinks an induction will go fine this weekend. So the plan is to go to the hospital tonight. They will give me medicine to soften my cervix and insert a balloon catheter to hopefully dilate me more. Then tomorrow morning, they will assess progress and give me pitocon. I know I may be in for a very long road but I am so so ready to meet my girl.

Due Date

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It’s here! The day I have been waiting for. My little girl is still comfy in my belly and showing no signs of coming out today. At my doctor appointment yesterday, I didn’t show much progress. I was 50% effaced (same as my 39 week appointment), a fingertip dilated (same as 38 weeks) and baby was at a -2 (moved down a little but still pretty high). I have been moaning and groaning for a few weeks now  and am feeling guilty about it. When I sit back and reflect on today, I know I am very lucky. Despite the cankles, insomnia, headaches and general uncomfortableness, I have a lot to be grateful for today. A day didn’t know if I would ever get to.

This journey seems so much longer than 40 weeks and so much more than the physical and emotional symptoms of pregnancy and I guess that’s because it is. It encompasses my husband and I’s quest for a family, starting back at our wishes and conversations before I went off birth control in the summer of 2014.  It encompasses our attempts at a natural pregnancy, our testing when that natural pregnancy didn’t come , our IVF journey, every needle, morning appointment, procedure, our heartbreaking miscarriage, our three two week waits, our tears of joy, our fears and our love. It’s all wrapped up in this little girl kicking away in my belly. So for at least the day, I am going to try to put my cranky pregnancy rants aside and marvel in the happiness these kicks bring. Marvel in the wonder of this pregnancy and the miracle that is upon us.

It’s the final countdown

I am 36 weeks and 2 days. There has been a lot going on since my last update. I had two beautiful baby showers- the first on January 8th thrown by my mom and sisters. I was sick as a dog but it didn’t matter- everything was perfect. They put so much love and detail into the planning. My godmother came from North Carolina. So many friends and family members were there. The theme was nursery rhymes.

The second shower was a surprise work shower thrown by my department on my last day of work.  My work family gifted me a gift certificate for a newborn photographer! I was so excited!

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I feel so grateful that our baby girl is going to be born into such a thoughtful and kind support system.

There has also been some bumps along the way. I had some funky symptoms over the past few months- seeing floaters and protein in my urine. I had to do some extra bloodwork and a 24 hour urine test (where I was given a lovely jug that I had to keep in my fridge and pee into over a 24 hour period). Last weekend when my notoriously low blood pressure spiked I was sent to the hospital by my doctor. All turned out well. Baby girl was looking great and besides a sky high pulse that wouldn’t come down from 130 for a few hours, I was ok too. We were discharged after a few hours of monitoring and only missed the first hour of the Super Bowl. They are still monitoring me closely for preeclampsia and I’m told to call with any symptoms.

The other bump in the road was my car being totaled by a drunk driver. The driver hit my car parked in front of my house, pushed it about twenty feet into a wall and then proceeded to drive over two street signs in front of the school I live next to. Thank god no one was in the car or on the sidewalk at the time as the driver could have easily killed someone. My husband was actually a matter of minutes from getting in my car to pick up lunch for us. When I realized how close he was to getting run over, I started hyperventilating. It certainly made me think about how fragile life is and how quickly everything can change. It was a scary ordeal. This event may or may not have been the cause of my blood pressure spike.

So I am hoping the days or weeks up to the “main event” are uneventful. I have some important things left to do on my “Before Baby Girl Arrives List.” I know when and how she arrives will be out of my control so this type A is just trying to go with the flow and control my excitement and nerves. I just can’t believe there will be a new person here in the next month. Even after all of this time and the long road to get it here, it doesn’t feel real yet. I can only describe the anticipation as how my 8 year old self awaiting Christmas morning felt….times a thousand.

Update

It has been a few weeks since I wrote about my friend’s stillbirth. She is coping the best she can. I think it has been such a blessing to her to have her daughter through this tough time. Not only is her daughter keeping her busy but she seems to be making the grief and loneliness more  bearable. It’s been difficult to be far from my friend. I feel like the distance has made me one step removed from the whole event. I think my husband is happy we are not close because he is worried about me becoming too upset and anxious about the tragedy. In a sense, I know he is right. If I was within driving distance, I would be spending a lot of time with her and I’m sure it would be very tough for me. My strong friend makes a point to ask me about my pregnancy every time I talk to her. I think she noticed I don’t bring it up anymore because yesterday she told me she wants me to talk about it and is so excited for me. It was very kind of her to say. Sometimes I think maybe me being far is good for us both right now. I can’t help think that once my baby girl comes she will be a constant reminder to my friend of her loss. That each birthday or milestone my friend will think to herself “that is how old my little boy is supposed to be” or “I should be celebrating this too.” That is a tough and sad thought to have. It was so special to me that we were going to have kids the same age and I am heartbroken for her.

Things have not been all depressing. We had a nice but very busy Christmas. We hosted Christmas dinner and went to my in-laws for Christmas Eve. We also went to a beautiful Christmas Eve mass that left me feeling inspired, at peace and made me want to start going to church more.

In baby news, its safe to say I’m in full nesting mode. The nursery is really starting to come together. We have a crib, dresser, changing pad, a glider, bedding and lots of decor. My husband got me a camera for Christmas so I am looking forward to learning how to use that for lots of baby pics. We also signed up for two classes- one on labor and one on caring for baby. My shower is in 9 days! I’ll post some pics and updates after shower day. Oh and I’m 30 weeks today. I can hardly believe it.

An unexpected phone call

My heart is broken. My best friend lost her baby today at 30 weeks pregnant. I woke up this morning to a text message from her that read “Are you awake?” It was 6am my time (NJ) and 3am her time (CA). I immediately knew this was going to be one of those terrible phone calls. I knew someone had passed away or something terrible had happened. I selfishly paused two minutes before responding to her trying to wake up and prepare myself. When I responded “yes are you ok?” My phone rang. In between hysterics, she explained to me that she was at the hospital after decreased fetal movement and the doctors couldn’t find a heartbeat. She was going to have to deliver the baby. She said she felt like she was in a nightmare. She said she didn’t want to go through delivery. I was in shock. I didn’t cry. I stayed calm somehow and listened. My mind raced. I tried to remember how I felt when I had my loss. I tried to think of something comforting to say. I also tried to think of the things people said that were hurtful to avoid saying them. I also rubbed my own belly and  feared for the little one inside of me. It was just last night before I was going to sleep, I told my husband I haven’t felt my baby move a lot this weekend and asked him if he thought I should call the doctor. I was reassured by a few kicks before I fell asleep but now that fear was creeping back in. Again the traumatic effects  of my miscarriage were present. I thought those demons had been battled.  For a few seconds, I was convinced this too was not only going to happen to me but probably already had. I tried to push my own fears and paranoia away. I tried to be present with her. I tried to send her love and comfort and strength. We talked for a little while longer. I could only understand about half of what she was saying because she was crying so hard. I wanted to cry with her but for some reason I couldn’t. A numbness hung over me. She told me she would update me and that it may be a day or so before she delivers. I sent a few text messages during the day but have not heard anything back yet. I can’t stop thinking my friend is in her own personal hell right now delivering a lifeless baby. I can’t imagine the trauma she is experiencing. I can’t imagine that decisions she will have to make.  I wish so badly I could be at the hospital with her. She feels so far.

Pregnancy Update

I’ve reached 22 weeks! I can’t believe that I am past the midway point. Time feels like it is passing faster now which is a relief because those first 12 weeks of pregnancy seemed to creep by in a torturous fashion. Something exciting also happened over the last week- I actually started feeling well. I have not thrown up in two weeks and have not had a migraine for a week. Both records for me! I really thought the constant vomiting was never going to end. I am trying to appreciate and take advantage of feeling like me again. Hubby and I took a weekend trip to Rhode Island last weekend which was just what we needed to relax and reconnect. We also have the baby registry almost complete and decided on a crib. I’m still a little hesitant to buy the crib or any other big purchases for that matter. My new pregnancy goal is to reach 24 weeks as I’ve read that is when hospitals will provide intensive medical intervention to save a baby if something goes wrong. I guess the trauma of the miscarriage has not left me entirely. I am starting to really believe we will meet our little girl in March though and we are very close to finalizing her name. I know nothing is a definite though so I try to not take one day with her for granted. My belly is also growing at rapid speed. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and am taken aback at how much my body has changed. Pregnancy is truly an amazing thing.

Some other changes include hubby making a big career change this week and my parents selling my childhood home. It really feels like so many things are changing at once and I’m beginning a whole new stage in my life. It’s an odd feeling because I felt like for so long we were stuck in never ending cycles of infertility treatment and not moving forward. Now it feels like we are speeding ahead and it’s very exciting. I haven’t felt this happy in a long time.

I’m also always thinking and sending prayers to those going through fertility treatment. I so badly want you all to win your battles with infertility. I want you all to experience happiness and peace through this process.