Eloise Joy // Birth Story

>> Saturday, June 18, 2016

When I woke up Tuesday morning, I was feeling particularly anxious about the state of my uterus. The pressure and low sensations I had had for a good part of my pregnancy had gone away. My near-constant Braxton Hicks had waned considerably (being pregnant and not having contractions all the time feels amazing, by the way!). But here I was in my 38th week -- the week in which Ada was born -- feeling like Baby E would come by, well, July 4th at this rate.

(Here's the bump pic I was going to use in an update on week 38):

My mother-in-law had driven up last Thursday to spend this 38th week with us. Part of me had always somehow expected to go into labor exactly when and how I did with Ada. Of course, that's incredibly foolish, but I had a hunch and liked grasping onto something that might be predictable.

Also? My mother-in-law had had two weird dreams. In both, Stephen was at school, my water broke, she drove me to the hospital, and I had Baby E on June 15th. The catch: The baby in her dream was always a boy that we named Abraham. When she initially told me about her dreams, I rolled my eyes and was like "yeah, maybe..."

So, Tuesday. I had a lot of errands to run. I had to pay the mortgage, quarterly estimated taxes, and some doctor bills. I had  to run up to Ada's school to drop off kindergarten paperwork. I also wanted to clean all the floors in the house. We took a long walk to get the bulk of the errands done and -- again -- barely any Braxton Hicks (so weird!) or any feelings of low pressure.

We picked up Ada at school where she was having a special swim day (I'd been walking all morning at this point!), came home and played in the backyard with bubbles, ate lunch, and then Ada randomly decided to designate this tree in our backyard as the wishing tree. I said "can we wish that Baby E would come today?!" And Ada replied "no, mommy. She isn't ready." I made a silly, silent wish at the tree anyway and headed indoors to read Ada a story before her nap. We cuddled a bit, read Beauty and the Beast, I tucked her in, and then I decided to use the restroom before heading downstairs.

That's when I felt a small gush of fluid.

Maybe a few tablespoons. Nothing major. Nothing completely watery -- more like drool consistency (if that's TMI, you might want to stop reading). Clear. It was similar to some discharge I had throughout my pregnancy, but because it kind of gushed, I decided to call the midwife. The whole high risk GBS thing had me on alert anyway, so they told me to come in and get the fluid tested at Labor and Delivery.

I got Ada up, told my mother-in-law I felt like a hypochondriac, called my parents and Stephen (and told them over and over again "this isn't IT -- I am sure I am just being crazy"), and we headed to the hospital. I told the nurses I was sorry I was wasting their time. "I'm just really worried my water would break and I wouldn't know -- but there was so little and I've had nothing since," I said. We did the swab. "It could take a good 10 minutes for the results," said the nurse. And then about 30 seconds later: "Well, that was indeed your water. Very clear, fast positive result. Looks like we'll be checking you in."


Immediately I felt this weird sense of both relief and terror. I had fretted for weeks about what we'd do with Ada during labor, but that was taken care of. Then I realized that neither of the midwives in my practice were on duty until the next day. Instead, I was going to be with an OB I had never met before. She called in the orders to start me on the GBS meds right away and to start a line of Pitocin as well.

"What do you MEAN I am doing Pitocin already???"

Visions of a "cascade of interventions" started dancing through my head. Couldn't I just try to get contractions started on my own? I wasn't feeling any, but I guess I was having a few extremely light ones between 3 and 7 minutes apart.

We checked my cervix, which was dilated to a whopping 2, which was even a bit generous. I had absolutely no pain, no more water or discharge, and I again asked about the Pitocin. It was agonizing deciding that early on if I wanted to augment my labor. They said I could skip it and wait, but the GBS stuff was nagging at me. I could write a lot about how I had way too much time to rationalize this entire experience. I think that was one of the weirdest parts.

When I had Ada, I went in basically moaning on the floor like an animal and was nearly 6 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced. Stuff got real -- and fast. This time? I had a small gush, no contractions, no pain, and was already feeling on the clock. I was joking with everyone and walking the halls with Ada.

It was so incredibly different than the first time around!

"This is going to end in a c-section, isn't it?" I asked. But then many of you chimed in on Instagram that Pitocin didn't necessarily mean I was doomed (I'm not knocking c-sections -- I am just legit terrified of being awake during a surgery like that). Nor did it mean that I wouldn't be able to stay on top of the pain. And PS: I was on Instagram while in "labor" . . . that's ridiculous to me. I was reading stuff on my phone and generally bored while waiting for things to progress.

Anyway, I decided to just go with it. Very reluctantly.

And this tree of medicines became my labor partner.

Like I've said a million times, the higher risk of GBS infection is something I had researched and adding prolonged rupture of membranes wasn't something I wanted to fool around with. My antibiotic was done and we started the drip at a level 2 (5 pm), increasing by 2 every half hour. My parents arrived and visited for a bit and I was in a really bad mood. I was really emotional because I knew I'd have to miss Ada's preschool graduation the next evening. I was really upset that I was hooked up to so many IV lines, etc.

We kept increasing the Pitocin until we reached level 16 (9-ish pm) which is when I had my first REAL, painful contractions. They were coming every 2-3 minutes and they finally felt like the ones I had come into the hospital with when I had Ada.

Except as of 10:45 pm, I was only dilated to a 4 and 60% effaced. Seriously? The pain was getting pretty intense, and I worried that somehow I did something that morning to make my water break and baby just wasn't ready. A little while later, I asked if I could hop into the shower to see if it might get things going faster. Fifteen minutes later, I felt like something exploded down below. No, it was like a cannon going off in my nether regions. It turns out that my initial water break may have only been a high leak or a forewater bag. What happened in the shower was like WHOA, definitely my water. And that's when sh*t got real.

It was like 11:45 pm by now. The contractions were, well, owwwwwwwww-uch. Unrelenting. They weren't too much more crazy than the ones in my labor with Ada, but there was something more beefy to them. I was dilated to a 7, so I had entered transition. Fluid and blood were definitely part of the picture now. This is probably why I was starting to think about the pain meds.

I actually decided I wanted an epidural at some point, but then my nurse came in to say that the baby's heart rate was decelerating and I needed to get out of the shower ASAP. The contractions got even more intense out of the water and within the next 15 minutes I was fully dilated and there just wasn't time to do any pain management.

My body was turning itself inside out. I did not have this sensation with Ada. They had called the OB a while back but my body had started to just push with all its might. The nurse told me it was important I not give in to the urge. I kept apologizing because I just COULD NOT stop. We tried changing positions to get things to stall a bit. That's when the OB walked in and said "Oh, did you see that? I think I just saw the cord." Hearing that somehow made me able to hold it in better. I was able to breathe through a few contractions while she got suited up.

I asked "do you think pushing will take long now?" With Ada, I pushed over two hours and nothing felt productive until the very end when they were able to get her to turn from being stubbornly posterior. The OB said "I think you'll have her out in, uhhh, a few minutes." And that gave me this huge rush of confidence. They turned me to my back (pure hell) so I could get in better position for unwrapping the cord.

I pushed once and the ring of fire hit. The head was out.

I pushed again and the OB said "reach down and grab your baby!"

Eloise Joy entered the world screaming her head off at 12:15 am.

She was 7 pounds, 2.2 ounces and 19 inches long. Apgars 9 and 9.

(This is my WTF? That just happened in two pushes?! face.)

From first painful contraction to the delivery of Eloise, it was only three hours.

I want to write more about having a birth experience that totally took me off guard. I was hooked up to a gazillion IV lines the whole time, I was monitored the entire time and looked at a screen tracking all my progress. So weird. I spent so much of the labor just waiting for things to happen when I have always joked with Stephen "why on Earth do people bring movies and music to their labors?" In the end, it was all good. But it was a difficult experience for me where I felt a bit out of control of what was going on.

We're all doing well and at home after a 72-hour hospital stay (since I had her at midnight and we needed to stay 48 hours to monitor for signs of sepsis). The funny thing? I believe Ada was born at like 38 weeks and 4 days. Eloise came at 38 weeks and 3 days. And my mother-in-law's dream? Yeah. She got it right. June 15th. Water broke, Stephen was at work, but the baby is still a girl.

We're in love.

Thank you for all your support and kind well wishes over the last several days!

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