Eden Rhys // Birth Story

>> Sunday, October 28, 2018

Here we are on Eden's due date and she's just a few hours shy of three days old. Where to begin! First, I'll say that what everyone told me about third babies is entirely true. They are certainly wildcards. After having two babies at 38 weeks and 2-3 days, I was absolutely floored when I passed that pregnancy milestone by one, two, three days . . . and then a week, etc. I don't know why I was so much expecting to go around the same time again, but I guess I like trying to control things I can't control.

My pregnancy was great this time around, which is new for me. Eden seemed really happy in there the whole nine months. Until I got to week 37, really. I started getting morning sickness again. I started getting frequent near fainting spells. I got extreme swelling, uh, down below out of the blue that my provider called "significant" and -- yeah -- it was significantly uncomfortable and even worrisome. Basically, as I neared my due date, I was sort of falling apart.

Anyway, at my 38-week appointment, I asked my doctor about elective induction. I truly never considered that I would entertain such an option. But when it WAS an option, it became ever-more appealing due to a number of personal factors. I plan to write more about why I chose this route in my nitty-gritty post about induction soon. What became clear to me when I shared my plans on Instagram is that it's highly personal and controversial. I got many well-meaning messages and comments about letting her cook until she's done, not rushing her, and tons of natural induction suggestions.

But let's skip ahead now to the day Eden was born -- October 25th 2018.

We had scheduled this date mostly because it was the first available. I was 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I woke up at 3AM to the sound of Ada rushing into our room and then to the bathroom to throw up. She had the stomach bug. What a wakeup. I didn't fall back to sleep after that (and she continued being sick with Stephen's care -- and we had to leave my in-laws with it, which made me feel terrible) until I called the hospital to see if they had a bed for me at 6AM. They told me to eat a big breakfast and head in around 7. I couldn't eat anything because of my morning sickness but managed to choke down a half cup of Kix cereal.

As we drove to the hospital, I was reminded so much of Eloise's birth day. She was essentially an induction. They called it "augmented" labor because my water "broke" (only a couple tablespoons) and contractions didn't start, so we did the pitocin game. It was calm. I wasn't in pain like I had been with Ada (I had three extremely painful contractions in the five-minute car ride to the hospital with her!). We got a great parking spot, grabbed our hospital bags, and headed to the L+D ward.

When we arrived, we were greeted by our nurse and headed to room 6. In my hospital, the room you labor and deliver in is also your recovery room. Immediately, I started getting some bad vibes because a number of things weren't going smoothly. The computer wouldn't boot up. The medications I needed for GBS weren't getting approved. The labs person was nowhere to be found. The blood pressure cuff kept flying off my arm. All these little glitches kept making me feel like I was tempting fate by scheduling. I said this to Stephen so many times. I quietly wondered if something was just going to go wrong.

After a while, everything started going smoothly. Meds showed up. IV was in. Computer sorted out. Breakfast had arrived as well, and I was told that my doctor didn't restrict food during labor -- SCORE! We started with fluids and a very small dose of pitocin (2) and the plan was to increase by 2 units every half hour until my doctor came to break my water sometime around lunch. I also got the GBS meds shortly after we started and immediately felt some relief knowing I was "covered" fully on those grounds. I had been checked on Tuesday and was 3 cm dilated and somewhat effaced.

So, with everything going, I walked the halls and walked some more.

Contractions had started around every 5 to 7 minutes apart. But they weren't painful at all. In fact, I'd had many more contractions and much more pain the entire day after my cervical check on Tuesday. Hours passed. I kept walking. And nothing was getting much worse. Eden wasn't sitting very low and there wasn't much pressure going on my cervix. We didn't even bother checking for dilation because I was not feeling anything. By around noon, my contractions were around every 3 minutes but completely painless. I was getting anxious for my doctor to arrive to break my water because I'd heard that all hell could break loose.

Aside: On one of our many laps around the unit, we noticed a team arrive to pick up a very sick baby for transport. I obviously couldn't get the details, but I guess the baby was ill enough to need to travel far beyond even our local NICU. I hated being self-centered, but it was another moment where I got afraid something bad was going to happen. 

My doctor showed up at 1PM.

He had a very busy day with a few c-sections and lots of patient hours in the office. I loved my doctor this time around. He is a warm and witty personality. Very calm but sure of his decisions. But not at all arrogant. He greeted me and sensed I was a bit nervous. I remember asking him "is this going to end in a c-section? Nothing is happening!" and he replied that breaking my water would surely get things going. At the same time, he assured me it wouldn't be this out-of-control experience I had heard about. He didn't use a hook as I had heard about either. Instead, he had this little finger glove thing with a pricker on the end of it. I wasn't prepared for that, which is probably a good thing.

I thought he was just checking for dilation (which he was), but then GUSH. Wow. I had actually never experienced my water breaking with my other kids. With Ada, it was intact upon arrival and broke while I was in the shower. With Eloise, it "broke" in a very small amount and then -- again -- broke fully while I was in the shower. Sitting in the bed, the water just flowed and flowed and flowed. It was so warm. And there was so much of it! Every time I moved, it gushed. It was clear, thank goodness, and my doctor informed me that I was at around a 4 cm dilated.

How disappointing!

That was such little progress since Tuesday's exam. At the same time, I had taken a few moments to read Eloise's birth story and realized that I wasn't making tons of progress and was at a 4 . . . and then I dilated REALLY quickly. My doctor said he had more patients to see and -- knowing my previous fast progress -- would ask the nurses to really keep an eye on me so he'd had enough time to get back to deliver me.

I wasn't feeling particularly optimistic because even an hour and then two hours after my water was broken, the contractions just weren't that bad. They did have some pain to them, but not lots of pressure. We kept walking the halls. One of the nurses thought it was kind of funny because there wasn't much hall to walk, so it was constant back and forth! (It was either that or stay in my room and watch news about package bombs to Robert De Niro). But when I walked, my contractions did get a bit closer and stronger.

By 4PM, I was feeling the contractions more. Again, I could talk through them. They were around 2-3 minutes apart. But I didn't have to really stop and breathe. I was getting there, though. Then I remembered that the SHOWER was always the key for me.

I asked to get in the shower with my ridiculous medication tree hooked up (I got another dose of antibiotics for GBS at this time). Pitocin was being held steady at a 16 throughout. My nurse first wanted to check me because I had noticed some blood. I was 4.5 centimeters dilated but "very soft".

Four point FIVE!? Talk about discouraging. I got in the shower. The water wasn't hot enough for me to feel like it was doing much. But then I noticed a difference. Almost right away. I started talking to myself at this point. Saying "down, down, down" and slowly counting to 10 while trying hard to unclench my jaw during contractions (thanks for that tip, Kath!). I even very gently pressed down on my stomach. I could finally feel her starting to descend. I got on my hands and knees and definitely couldn't talk anymore through the contractions.

Stephen called out to me at some point and I had trouble responding. I like to be alone when I'm in pain. I retreat into my own world. It's not that I don't need support, but when I am in labor, I need quiet. I need focus. I get in the zone. But he called my nurse and she immediately sensed that I "sounded very different" and asked if she could check me. She had also noticed some de-cels on my monitor, indicating that the baby had lowered into the birth canal.

I got out of the shower and remember saying that I would like an epidural. ASAP. I had been 4.5 cm dilated just 20 minutes before getting in the shower and seriously doubted that I made much progress. "I'm just not on top of this pain. It's getting bad!" I said, but I was convinced I'd be at a 5 -- maybe a 6. She indicated that she thought otherwise, so she checked me and I was at a 9 -- NINE -- and very stretchy.

"You can start pushing now," she said. "Let me call the doctor."

I was on my hands and knees on the bed now and got my first HOLY HELL contraction where my body felt like it was turning inside out. The mental relief I felt hearing I was near the end pushed me to fully dilated. And -- better yet -- it was 5PM and my doctor had already arrived, as he was already planning to come check on me. I got wind of this news that he was ready and had another powerful contraction. The room started filling with people and machines and I had yet another CRAZY contraction.

I said something about not being able to wait anymore, and my nurse arrived at the bottom of my bed and said we could start. I was scared and said "it's going to hurt!" and, yes, it did. But I was ready somehow. I pushed and my doctor entered the room and slowly got suited up. My first push attempt was poor. I had forgotten exactly how to bear down, so we waited for another contraction . . . and it all made much more sense.

I felt the ring of fire very distinctly. They let me push several times per contraction. Then we waited. I pushed through the next one with all my might and felt her head come out and the extreme fullness of her body . . . but again was told to wait. I think they were trying to control tearing, but I begged to keep going.

I pushed one more time and felt her come out. I looked down and all I saw was a ridiculous amount of dark brown hair. And then I immediately noticed at the nurse to my right was also a nurse we'd had during Eloise's birth. I was shaking out of control at this point because I was in shock.

I went from 4.5 to fully dilated in just 20 minutes.

Pushing had taken three minutes.

At 5:07, I was done.

Eden was here!

And I was also done having babies . . . forever.

It was a lot of feelings all at once. My doctor was cool and calm and collected. He is quiet and I liked that. He assured me everything was great. They placed Eden on my chest immediately, but I will admit I was more retreated into myself. I have trouble focusing on the baby immediately after birth because of the physical stuff my body has just gone through. It's beyond intense.

The placenta was next. And lots of stitching for my second-degree tear (third time I've had the tear). But she was here. She was beautiful. She was safe despite my feeling worried about inducing her too soon.

Most important: She was the final piece to our family. Even though I couldn't stop physically shaking or all those thoughts racing through my brain, I felt the peace almost right away. We had closed a chapter and just opened a new one in that very hospital room. I had a blog back a few years ago about "writing chapter three" -- which in my mind was all about the childbearing years. Starting our family. And I guess now we're in chapter four. The gang's all here and we're making permanent birth control plans.

Cue the tears.

I have so many more things I can share about the actual induction process, why we chose to go that route, and how I've done it twice without pain medication. I would say that this time around my contractions stayed very manageable and spaced no closer than 2-3 minutes, which was incredible. From first "painful" contraction to birth was only like two hours. The rest of the induction was mostly boring and slightly annoying (it's not fun lugging around a tower of medications).

So, if you have questions you want me to cover, let me know. Otherwise, I'm going to go hold Eden if I can pry her from her big sister's arms (Ada is obsessed with her!). More soon, but I wanted to share all these details before they leave my brain.

Eden Rhys
7 pounds, 14 ounces
20.5 inches long

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