Saturday, July 15, 2017

Introducing our new family member

You guys. I had a baby. I HAVE a baby.

Meet Imogen Fern!!

Two hours old.

Does the eye goop make anyone else sad?

She was born on July 2nd, eight days past her due date but perfectly on time; all 6 pounds, 15 ounces of her at 6:57 a.m. Well, according to her hospital records it was 6:57. Quick side story before getting to the main story: I vaguely remember the nurses talking about how they needed to choose whether to go by the time displayed on the monitors or the time displayed on the wall clock to determine her exact time of birth. They decided to go by the monitors because they decided it would look funny if the baby's hospital records stated a different time on paper than the time the monitors actually stopped recording her heartbeat. But, Isaiah said he looked at the monitors a bit earlier and compared them to his cell phone and the monitors were 3 minutes behind.

So, although her records state time of birth as 6:57, we're pretty sure she was actually born at 7:00am on the dot, making her birthday 7/2/17 at 7:00am. It doesn't matter in the long run but it's a funny story we'll get to tell her later.

Anyway! One other bit of housekeeping, I promised to show one more element of the nursery that was previously a secret because it revealed her name. Here's a picture of her bedroom door! The weekend before she was due, Isaiah suggested we make a banner for her bedroom with her name on it, just for fun, and this is what he/we came up with. I just love how it turned out and it's a minor miracle we found all the supplies we needed at the local craft store, which is really more like 75% household goods and tourist crap and 25% fabric and actual craft supplies.

Now the part you've all been waiting for (with bated breath, I'm sure): The birth story. I'll try to make it as short as possible, but cramming 27 long, long, long hours of labor into one concise blog post is going to be a challenge.

On June 23rd, one day before my due date, I went to the doctor for what I hoped would be my last prenatal appointment. I was my mother's first born and I was born on my exact due date, so I had somewhat high hopes that Imogen would take after me and be punctual. At my appointment, the doctor checked and informed me I was between 1 and 2 centimeters dilated. I asked if I should be a little further along than that, and she said not necessarily, that it showed my body was prepping itself for childbirth and the number itself didn't matter much (which I knew but it was nice to have the confirmation).

Needless to say, my due date came and went...and went...and went. I had another appointment a few days later, and declined both a cervical check and a membrane sweep. I also let the doctor know that as long as everything was still checking out okay and the baby was healthy, I didn't even want to talk about induction until 42 weeks (which she understood and was fine with). I already knew that Imogen was on the smaller side based on ultrasound measurements, and I really just had a gut feeling that she wasn't quite ready yet, and God knew exactly when her birthday needed to be. Obviously if careful monitoring showed a problem we would have carefully weighed our options, but my fluid levels were fine, blood pressure perfect, placenta a-okay, and she looked perfect on the ultrasounds as well.

Plus, after lots of research I knew that, statistically, most women naturally go into labor by 40 weeks and 5 days, and almost all the rest go into labor by 41 weeks and 3 days. It's actually relatively rare to make it to 42 weeks, but it also isn't an automatic induction sentence.

Well, at 41 weeks on the dot - Saturday morning the 1st of July - I woke up at 4am with what felt like really bad period cramps. In my half-asleep stupor I remembered that lots of people said their early labor pains felt the same way, and I thought maybe something was finally happening, but I went back to sleep and figured if I woke up and still had them, then I'd put more thought into it. At 6am I woke up again with the same pain, and finally at 8am I got up and decided that I'd shower and see if THAT got rid of the cramping.

Spoiler alert: Nope.

Cat pjs for life.

After I showered, the cramps had turned from a constant ache to actual, time-able pains. They were only 30 seconds long and I was totally able to talk and function through them, but they were only 3 minutes apart. In my naïveté I was hopeful that that meant I'd have a short labor, since I'd heard so many people say their contractions started 10, 15, 20 minutes apart and didn't get closer together for many hours. Since they were only 30 seconds long, though, I figured I still had a little bit of time, and after making sure my hospital bag was ready to go, we went to a late breakfast (brunch, if you wanna be fancy about it).

All through breakfast I timed my contractions, which were staying at a steady 30-45 seconds long and 2 1/2 to 3 minutes apart. By the time brunch was over, I was having a harder time ignoring them (and talking to our server) so we went home. Since I planned on an unmedicated birth, I knew I wanted to stay at home for as long as possible. I really, really did not want to show up to the hospital too early for them to admit me, and I really, really did not want my labor to stall once I got there.

By late afternoon, my contractions were lasting about a minute long and were 2-3 minutes apart. I definitely couldn't talk through them anymore and it was getting pretty hard to talk or do anything in between them, too, which according to all the books means you should be fairly far along. At this point, both my mom and my mother-in-law were insisting I go to the hospital (lest I deliver a baby in the car), and even though I knew I probably wasn't in any danger of that happening, I called the hospital to see what they said anyway. The nurse seemed a little disbelieving that my contractions were actually that long and close together, but said we should go ahead and come in to the hospital so they could check and see how I was progressing.

So after a final check to make sure the cat's food and water bowls were full and the house was picked up, we headed to the hospital around 5:00pm. Let me tell you, car rides when you're in labor are absolutely excruciating and I was absolutely NOT wanting to be sent back home, because that would mean being strapped into a car seat three more times.

Long story short(er), we got to the hospital, I put on a gown, they strapped me to the monitors, agreed that yes, my contractions were as long and as close together as I had said they were on the phone, and checked to see how far along I was.

I was really, really hoping that after 9 hours of labor I would be at least four or five centimeters dilated. I even had hopes of delivering a baby before midnight. I figured there was no way I just spent the entire day pacing the house, sitting down only to eat brunch, only to make no progress.

I had made barely any progress. At my 40 week doctor's appointment I was told I was between 1 1/2 to 2 centimeters dilated. When we got to the hospital, after hours and hours of labor, I was only at 2 1/2 centimeters. Even though all my research told me that it didn't matter how far dilated I was, that your body can go from 0 to 10 in a matter of a few hours if it wants to, it was still pretty discouraging to hear that all the pain so far had been for almost nothing.

The nurse told us that since there was nobody else there, if we wanted to stay we could, even though they don't typically admit people until they're around 5 centimeters. She also said we could go home if I wanted to do that, since it would probably still be a while. I absolutely did NOT want to go back home, so we said we would stay there, I would get re-dressed, and we would walk around the hospital until something happened.

This was at about 6:00pm at this point...rather than bore you with the long, painful details of the next twelve hours, let's just say we basically wore a rut in the floor of a basement conference room at the hospital with all the circles we paced in between contractions. Finally, I couldn't handle walking around anymore (despite all my goals of staying upright until I was ready to push the baby out), and we made our way back upstairs where we discovered I was closer to 4 centimeters. Another "Are you kidding me??" moment.

To be honest, a lot of the night after I changed into that stupid hospital gown for the last time is kind of a blur. I know I spent the rest of the time laying in the hospital bed, doing my best to relax and breathe through contractions while also being in so much pain I had to yank on the rail of the bed just so I had some place to direct some energy. I also had no intention of being *that* laboring woman who makes a lot of noise, but at some point, it became completely involuntary.

Eventually, I have no idea what time, I hit transition. Let me spare you all the details - those of you who have had children will know what I mean and if you haven't and you want to know, I'm happy to share - but it is absolutely the strangest, most out of control, worst feeling I have ever felt in my entire life. I am so thankful that Isaiah and I did a lot of reading and I knew everything I was feeling and thinking was completely normal and I was not, in fact, dying - but that doesn't mean it's anything I want to repeat any time soon. I also knew that transition is the shortest phase of labor - generally between 30-90 minutes - and that gave me hope that I was almost done.

I have no idea how long I actually spent in transition. I know it wasn't an extremely long time (maybe an hour?), but it got to the point where my body was going to push this baby out no matter how hard I tried to stop it, and it is the most annoying thing in the world when a nurse is telling you "don't push!" over and over while they wait for the doctor to arrive. Through a haze I vaguely remember saying "I can't help it, I'm not doing it on purpose!" over and over like I was in trouble or something.

Finally, finally, the doctor arrived, checked me and said I was ready to push.

Thirty minutes later, the greatest blessing of our entire lives arrived kicking and crying and stretching her legs out as far as they could possibly go (explaining why I felt her knees/feet up under my ribs constantly the entire last month of being pregnant).


I can't wait until she starts smiling for real. In the meantime, she gives us plenty of teaser smiles.

Within two hours, I was up and walking myself to our recovery room, and after a mostly sleepless night full of blood pressure checks and, uh, stomach "massages", we were able to go home around noon the next day. Not a moment too soon, because hospital food is not exactly fine dining.

I can't say we've slept a whole lot better since coming home (ha), but at least I don't have to wear a hospital gown anymore and at least the food is better. 

I have a lot of other things I could say relating to unmedicated childbirth, and if that's something anybody would like to read, let me know and I'll write something up. I hesitated to talk a lot about it in this post, because I never want to make anybody feel like not getting an epidural makes me think I'm a better person (it doesn't), but I would absolutely recommend it to anybody, any day of the week. 

There are a lot of things about having a newborn I wasn't expecting and a lot I wish I had been told or warned about ahead of time, but overall, it has been the sweetest two weeks. I know I'm biased, but this little girl is pretty perfect. Life is definitely better with her in our family.