Tuesday, February 4: If you would have told me that I would be holding a precious newborn by early next morning, I would have laughed you. You see, big brother Nathaniel was late and even had to be induced. So although this is my second full term pregnancy, I didn't expect I would be going into labor five days before the baby's due date.
The day started just like the other days since we moved to North Carolina: late. Hubby was still at his 10-day housing leave so he was sleeping in with Nathaniel. I was up hours before the boys because (1) I was hungry and (2) I was 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant so there was not really a very comfortable position to lay in. So I decided to update this blog and start cooking this recipe while waiting for them to wake up.
We took our precious time unpacking because Baby Green Pickle's due date was not until five days away. In fact, I hadn't even gone through Nathaniel's old gender neutral baby clothes! When I was pregnant with Nathaniel in 2009, we had recently moved from Indiana to California, so I was definitely nesting. His nursery was finished almost two months before his arrival and his baby clothes were neatly laundered, folded and put away.
This time, we had once again relocated our lives from Georgia to North Carolina. And I assumed that since I was not nesting, Baby GP was not coming any time soon. Hubby just installed the carseat the day before, unopened boxes of clothes were still all over the baby's room and Hubby just finished putting together the crib that day.
We had no reasons to hurry.
After all, we still had at least five more days to get everything baby-ready.
We ate lunch, I took a shower, and as the day progressed, I started to have this sense of panic and urgency. I wanted the baby's clothes sorted out. I wanted all the boxes out of the house. I wanted everything to be at its place. I want it all to be done. Now.
I thought it was because the house was still a mess and my Mom was scheduled to arrive the next day. I barked orders to move this and to move that. I was being impatient. And when poor Hubby asked where I want something placed, I got frustrated and yelled. Dean reassured me hundreds of times that the house will be ready but I was just getting grouchier and grouchier by the second. I knew I was being nasty but I couldn't figure out why.
Turns out, I was already in the very early stage of labor. I was being crabby because I was in pain. I was constantly going to the bathroom to relieve the pressure/pain but it wasn't helping. It didn't occur to me until another hour or so that I may be having regular contractions. But even then, I didn't start timing them.
Because I was in denial.
This baby wasn't supposed to come for at least another five days! My mom wasn't here yet. Who will watch Nathaniel? The house was a mess. We can't bring a baby home in this!
I was a hot mess.
I decided to give Nathaniel a super long bath to keep my mind off the contractions. Dean taught Nathaniel to "shave his beard" using the Spider-Man shaving kit he received from his third birthday. And now that I look back at this, I'm glad both my husband and I paused during the craziness of the day and spent this moment with our son---his last bath as an only child.
By four in the afternoon, I finally started paying attention to the clock---but still wasn't logging them (in denial, remember?). Nathaniel watched Epic while Hubby finished dinner, which I was then in too much pain to finish. The contractions were coming every six minutes and lasting 30-45 seconds long.
I camped out on the couch while Dean continued to unpack. At this point, I still expected the contractions to go away. And whenever they didn't arrive within six minutes, I was hopeful!
A couple hours past and it was dinner time. The boys ate but I didn't have any appetite. Hindsight is 20/20 and I should have forced myself to eat even just a little bit. And it was shortly after dinner that I began to accept that this may be the real deal---although I still didn't vocalize this feeling. Major denial!
Dean was upstairs organizing the baby's room so I joined him and started sorting the clothes. We already had two sets of homecoming clothes (one for each gender), albeit not washed. And it was during this time that I decided to start timing the contractions using this iPhone app my sister used for her three labor and deliveries. That was at 7:28pm.
And by 9pm, the contractions were coming in every 2-4 minutes. My husband knew I wasn't going to be able to wait until my mom comes into town, which wasn't until late afternoon the next day! So he talked to our neighbor about keeping Nathaniel overnight while we go to the hospital. Mind you, we had just met her and her daughter a few weeks ago! It wasn't the ideal situation but that's the military life for you.
I texted my sister and my mom and finally told them about what was going on. My sister was convinced it was the real deal, and when I saw the "This is it!!!" text it sent me into complete panic mode. Dean helped Nathaniel changed to his nighttime clothes and explained to him that he will be having a sleepover at the neighbors while Mama and Daddy go to the hospital to have the baby. Thankfully, Nathaniel found this exciting.
While Hubby dropped Nathaniel off to the neighbor's, I packed my hospital bag. Yup, you read that correctly. I have not even packed my bag yet. The hospital was only 15 minutes away so I just packed the essentials.
After packing my hospital bag, I headed to the car and decided to wait for Dean there. He had already pulled the car out of the garage when I realized what he was wearing and just couldn't take it so I looked at him and said, "You're not going to change!?" He was wearing a veeeeery old t-shirt he bought during our Colorado spring break trip back in 2006. "Really, are you serious?" "Of course, I'm serious!"
When we arrived at the hospital's emergency room, it only took a few minutes before I was being wheeled--pretty fast by the male transporter, I may add--through a maze of hallways to the labor and delivery unit. Shortly after I was hooked into the monitors, I remember asking the nurse to confirm that I really was having contractions not just imagining them (I'm laughing at myself now at how deep in denial I was!). She also checked my cervix and I remember being very disappointed when she told me I was only four centimeters dilated. All that pain and only four centimeters dilated?
Now we had a decision to make: do I keep trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section) or do I consent for another c-section delivery?
The hospital was technically not certified to perform VBACs but no one can force me to undergo a surgery either. Dr. Neilsen, who we just met that evening but I still thank God she was on call that evening, said she will support whichever I choose. Per the monitor, Baby Green Pickle was doing ok. Me, on the other hand, was a slightly different story.
I distinctly remember her just standing in the room with her arms crossed during the chaos of everyone getting me ready and looking intently at the monitor. As a nurse, I know that look. I know that lingering in the room and watching the monitors closely because there isn't necessarily something wrong but something isn't right either. At this point, everything was starting to become a blur to me and my time concept was gone. And when I finally made decision to have another c-section, Dr. Neilsen was very relieved. She said I have made the right decision because my blood pressure was very high. It was shortly after 11pm and I wondered if Baby Green Pickle will be born on the 4th or 5th of February.
Just like with Nathaniel's delivery, starting an IV on me is what caused the non-stop waterworks to start. The nurse (not my primary RN) failed miserably at her first attempt. It was painful from the very first stick and I knew it had blown (and even told her!) but she was determined to make it work. I sport a bruise on my arm for more than two weeks.
Other than my high blood pressure, they also had to deal with my anxiety. I was crying, hyperventilating, uncontrollably shaking. It didn't help that Dean had to step away for a minute to put his surgical gown. I was scared. But when he came back and I managed to calm myself for a few seconds, I asked him to hand me the camera so I could choose the settings. The photographer in me just prayed and hoped we would at least get one photo from this. But as you can see from this blog post, Dean gave me more than one beautiful photo. He did a fantastic job! (He later told me that he was terrified and nervous I would hate them! Sorry for the pressure, Hubs!)
Wednesday, February 5: An IV, a surgical "bath", and a Foley catheter later and I was finally wheeled into the operating room. I heard the circulating nurse say, "It is 12:24am" for their time out. 12:24am? Really? An hour had already passed?
The anesthesiologist was prepping to place an epidural on me and my anxiety escalated. Dean had to stay outside the operating room until this was finished so Dr. Nielsen stayed with me and held my hand to calm me done while I repeatedly say, "I don't want to do this. I'm so scared." I didn't want to have another c-section. Dr. Nielsen assured me everything will be fine and that the anesthesiologist was one of the best in the hospital.
The epidural placement was not as bad or painful as I had anticipated (I've had flu vaccines hurt more!). And the relief was instant. Oh, the relief! My legs started to tingle and felt heavy almost immediately. And not even a minute later, I couldn't feel anything up to my chest. Mostly, I was thankful it only took one try to place it successfully.
Dean was finally allowed inside the OR and now, I was crying for a different reason. With him by my side meant our son was alone. Yes, technically Nathaniel was having a sleep over at our neighbor's. But to me, we essentially left our child to a stranger.
With all my crying and anxiety, I didn't realize they had already started--insert more crying here because of that! I guess I was waiting for the "Here we go! I'm getting ready to cut you!" Silly me. My OR nurse must have been a bit worried about my vital signs because I heard her ask if she could give me something [for my anxiety] as soon as the baby is delivered. I tried to look at the monitor but it was blocked.
Dean rested his forehead on mine and said, "It will be ok." He kept whispering sweet nothings to my ear and it was just what I needed to calm down. I heard one of the nurses say my heart rate is finally normalizing and has gone down 40 points. I didn't know I was that tachycardic! I wanted to clear my throat but I was unable to cough. The anesthesiologist reassured me it was normal because of epidural and I tried not to let this freak me out.
I focused on Dean.
I mimicked his breathing.
I listened only to his voice.
And I have never been so thankful to have him as my husband.
I've been told I will still feel pressure but when they warned me it was about to start, I didn't expect it to be that deep. They were really pushing on my chest to get the baby out---or at least that's what it felt like because that was the only place I have any sensation. I assume it would be similar to receiving chest compressions because I really feared my ribs were going to break. And then, I felt a lot of tugging. And a pop.
Just like with Nathaniel's birth, we have asked everyone not to say the gender of the baby because I wanted Hubby to tell me. I heard Dr. Nielsen asked Dean to look at the baby so he stood up, peeked over the curtain and said, "Oh, it's a girl!" I wondered why the tone of his voice and he later told me it was because of the way they were holding her (legs so wide apart) and not because he was disappointed.
And then I heard the sweetest cry. I have never been so happy to hear a baby's cry! I truly believe this is one of the reasons why I am not suffering with postpartum depression this time. You see, I never heard Nathaniel's first cry. I never experienced any of this. (Read his birth story here.) And then I heard Dr. Neilsen said it was a good thing I chose to have another c-section delivery. Apparently, the cord was wrapped around the baby's neck 1.5 times. (Nathaniel was three times!)
The nurse brought the baby closer to me and I could not believe she was here. Our baby was finally here. And we have a girl! Amelia just looked at me. She wasn't crying or fussing. She just kept looking at me, blinking with her Mommy's almond shaped eyes. I gave her a tiny kiss on her forehead and said to my daughter, "Hi, baby girl."
February 5, 2014 12:56 am
7 pounds, 2 ounces
21 inches long