Most of my readers are aware, but for those who are not, little Liliana Rae did make her grand entrance to the world Monday, 6/22, at 33 weeks. I’ll go into the whole birth story below, but to answer the basics- I’m great, Lily’s great (for a preemie), and we’re very happy, if a little stunned still. She came out 5lb7oz, which isn’t terribly small for a full-term baby, and is great for 33 weeks. I’ll also have more pictures when I get home to our regular computer, instead of Christopher’s laptop.
But here’s the (very) long version. Warning, it’s probably a bit tmi for some people, but it’s as much for my memories as to share with ya’ll, so I’m not sorry! 🙂
This past weekend was Christopher’s annual company trip, this year to Vegas. We left on Thursday, and were there through Sunday. Over the course of the weekend I was feeling very run down and generally ick. I complained several times that I was just hurting, though not in any specific way. I just felt off. I had heard/read that it was common for women to say that they felt that way in the days before going into labor, so the thought actually occurred to me more than once that if I was at term, I would be expecting to go into labor very soon. But I dismissed it as my usual overthinking/worrying too much.
Some time during our travels home Sunday, my usual Braxton Hicks (non-labor contractions) were getting a little painful. Nothing major, and they’d been painful before, so again I dismissed it. The midwives (this pregnancy) and doctors (last) had always said that as long as I didn’t have any other signs of labor (loss of mucous plug, bloody show, breaking of waters, etc) I didn’t need to worry. It was normal for me to have BH’s as frequently as every 2 minutes, so I had gotten used to just ignoring them (other than to drink more water and get off my feet as needed). But by that night, they were getting painful enough that it was really bothering me. I was starting to worry about how I was going to deal with labor, because if these weren’t real and they were hurting this much, how bad was labor going to be? I planned to ask at our birth class that week, and get some reassurance that I really could do it, because it was really stressing me out. I decided to practice my relaxation techniques from class during them to help prepare for “the real thing.” I also took a bath, which stopped them while I was in there, but literally the second I stood up they picked right back up. Looking back, that’s really the sign that should have clued me in first. Moving around during labor triggers contractions (for me at least). But I continued to dismiss it all. (I’m assuming the trend here is clear by now.)
That night, I woke up a lot, and was usually having a fairly painful contraction when I did, but because I was already waking up constantly to pee, I didn’t know if I was waking up because I was hurting or because I had to pee (both, most likely). Then, at 6 am, I woke up in enough pain that I didn’t want to lay back down, because it made the “Braxton Hicks” hurt more. That’s the thing that should have been a blinking neon “this is real” sign. I was still assuming it wasn’t real though, and kept “practicing” relaxing through them. I did start timing them, though (they were irregular but never farther apart than 6 minutes, and 1.5 minutes long), and posted on HelloBee asking when I should be concerned. Christopher’s alarm went off at 6:30, and I told him to take a really quick shower so I could take a bath. I was still thinking it wasn’t real, so I didn’t want to stop him from getting a shower before work, but I wanted to get in the bath because I was really starting to hurt and thought that would help/make it stop.
By the time he got out of the shower I was getting more convinced that this might actually be real, so I told him to plan to go into work late. I’m pretty sure that he didn’t believe me at all, but he agreed. I got in the bath, but quickly realized it wasn’t going to help much. Christopher came in after a bit, and I asked him to help me up. When I stood up, he noticed that there was a little bit of blood in the water. That was my “oh shit” moment. I checked, and I was bleeding more than I expected. Christopher started making calls (to the midwives and the doula, though she wasn’t on call for us yet technically) while I (very slowly, with breaks to try to relax through more contractions) got dressed. I remember not wanting to get off the toilet at one point, which seems like a really common thing you hear about women in labor.
Once I was dressed, I tried to help gather up things I thought we would need, since we hadn’t put together a hospital bag. (It was on our to-do list for this week!) I’m really not sure how helpful I was. 🙂 I talked to the midwife when she called back (their office wasn’t open that early, so Christopher had just left a message with the nurse while we got read to go.) She told me where to go, and that if the bleeding got bad to stop at the nearest ER. (Though the nearest ER once we left was the one we were heading to, since the other close one was in the exact opposite direction.) I also brushed my teeth, but it made me start throwing up. I think that freaked us both out the most, because throwing up is a common sign you’re in transition, which meant things were getting serious. Though at that point I was having enough trouble handling the contractions that I knew things were serious anyway.
It took a while with me stopping every few minutes for contractions, but I made it into the back seat of the car. I remembered learning in class that being on all fours with my head down and butt up could slow labor, so I tried to stay in that position because I was afraid she would arrive while we were in the car. It was rush hour, so I didn’t know how long it would take to get there. I don’t know much about that drive (my face was buried in the seat for most of it), but it was apparently pretty wild. I do remember Christopher saying he was running red lights several times. When we got close, I was trying to tell him where to go (since I had talked to the midwife), but I don’t know how coherant I was. Again, we had planned to make our dry run to the hospital in the next few weeks!
We finally made it to the right parking garage, and Christopher got me out of the car. I honestly don’t remember how far we had to go to get to where we were headed (OB triage), but it took a while with me stopping for contractions very frequently. I do remember cussing in front of a small child in the elevator. The door wouldn’t close for the longest time, then when they finally did someone stopped them, and then they were going to a floor before ours. I was not happy. But we did eventually make it. That’s about when things get really hazy for me. I needed to pee, and they had me collect some urine, and they were alarmed by the amount of blood in the cup. They wanted me to change into a hospital gown, but I was basically not cooperating. They got my pants off, but I never did take off my (Christopher’s, technically) shirt and put on a gown. That was a minor, silly victory, because I wound up giving birth in a Star Wars shirt. (Totally a coincidence, as it was just what I had slept in the night before, but it makes me happy anyway.)
They had me lay down so they could check baby’s heart (I was so not happy about laying down, though I was glad everything looked good with her), and checked me. I had planned to refuse cervical checks (which I recommend, since they are super not awesome), but with the bleeding and being pre-term, that wasn’t an option. They said I was at about a 6, and we were having a baby that day (I was pretty much thinking, “no shit?”). I think there was some more to it, like being warned I might need a c-section? And maybe that’s when they put the IV in. But I really don’t remember. I do remember wanting to get up and they wouldn’t let me because of the monitor, and that we were moving very fast when they took me down to L&D.
I was on my left side in the bed they used to transport me, and when we arrived they told me to roll over onto the other bed. That put me on my right side, which is pretty much where I stayed the whole time. I REALLY wanted to be allowed to get up, but since I couldn’t I wasn’t moving more than I had to. Moving is very uncomfortable. Because I was going to be confined to bed, which I had read/learned (and can confirm) makes contractions much more painful, I did ask for an epidural. I basically had planned to go natural if I was able to utilize the different coping techniques I’d learned, but not being able to move meant not being able to do much of anything. However, they got as far as numbing my back before I started pushing, and at that point she was going to be there before an epi would take effect. So I wound up having just some nitrous (no clue if it helped, but I liked having something I *thought* would help) and going otherwise med free. Which I was not thrilled about at the time (I definitely told Christopher they needed to just do a c-section, but I tried to only say that to him because I was worried they might actually take me seriously (ha!)), but is another minor victory now.
Christopher and the midwife were amazing. He had my hand most (all???) of the time, and she was right in my face calming me down and telling me I could do it and being super supportive. I think her telling me I was doing well was more encouraging than when Christopher said it, because she actually knew what doing well looked like, right? And I just assumed at the time that she was telling the truth. 🙂 Christopher was really grateful to her too, because apparently they were taking him aside a lot to tell him about needing a c-section (I think the bleeding got pretty bad, though I was totally unaware), risks, etc, but I never got left alone because she was there. Christopher was also really good at being my interpreter. I’m pretty sure I was fairly incoherent, and the mask from the nitrous made me impossible to understand, but he always figured out what I wanted.
At some point I suddenly just HAD to push. I had read that it was a really strong feeling, but was still surprised by the force of it. They checked and said I was only a 9, and to wait, but I don’t think I really did. They wound up just saying to go for it, possibly because I clearly wasn’t going to be able to stop. Not sure. According to Christopher they were about to take me back for a c-section at that point, but when they realized she was coming right now, the doctor just left. I do know they helped me brace my feet, and one nurse held my leg up (she must have been strong). And I remember several times I had my head down and eyes closed pushing, then looked up all wild-eyed as she started to come out, because it felt so alarming and weird. The midwife just kept telling me everything was good and that was normal, etc.
I didn’t push long (Christopher said maybe 20 minutes? but not like he was watching the clock either). I remember the head seemed to take forever, and the shoulders took a bit, and then there was a weird burbling (only word that seems to fit) feeling and suddenly there was this sort of purple-y screaming baby on my stomach. My first words to her were, no joke, “what the hell?” I had gotten so focused on pushing to make it all just stop that I’d forgotten the end goal. So when all of a sudden there was a baby, I was super confused. They had said if she wasn’t breathing well they would have to take her immediately, but since she was screaming so much, she got to stay on my stomach for a couple of minutes so they could delay cord clamping as much as possible. I was still pretty disoriented, but I remember her grabbing my finger.
They took her away but kept her in the room to clean her up and do whatever it is they do. Her APGAR scores were 8 and 8, which in my understanding is very good for a preemie. They brought her back for another few minutes, and we got some pictures. Then they took her down to the NICU, and Christopher went with her. (I think. It’s seriously hazy.) They had to stitch me up from a very minor tear, but aside from my legs being really tired that didn’t bother me. They did have to give me a catheter briefly, and I didn’t like that, but it wasn’t for long. They said she had been born at 10:40, so all told from the time I woke up to the time she arrived, labor took 4 hours and 40 minutes, almost exactly.
After I was all covered up again, the doula and my mom came in. The doula arrived shortly before I delivered, but Christopher wasn’t paying attention to his phone, obviously, so she couldn’t come in. She did find my mom in the waiting room though, so it worked out. I’m sure my mom was freaked out and it was good to have someone there. I vaguely think my mom went down to the NICU at some point, and I remember discussing things with the doula (how I felt about it all type things), which was nice. I didn’t get left alone, just like I wanted. (In case anyone is wondering, we’re getting a refund on a lot of the doula’s cost, and she’s doing some extra post-partum visits once we’re home, so it’s all working out nicely.)
Eventually I got moved to my room, and once I felt up for it (which took a while; I was pretty shaky) Christopher took me down to the NICU to see her. It was strange seeing her in an incubator with all the tubes and things, but it didn’t scare me. For some reason I was never scared (other than of labor hurting, which I knew would only be temporary no matter what happened). Even with the bleeding and it being early and all, I wasn’t worried. (Pretty sure this was not the case for Christopher.) And I’m still not. She’s doing great (I’ll do a separate update later with all the details on her status), and I’m totally confident that she’ll be home pretty soon and everything will be fine.
Some random thoughts that don’t really fit anywhere.
I definitely bit Christopher’s hand at one point. But I realized I shouldn’t do that and stopped very quickly. He didn’t care at all (or so he says).
They had a nurse in charge of keeping the monitors in place, and I was not happy with her. Every time I had a contraction I’d move enough that the monitors wouldn’t be in the right place, so she’d have to move them around in the middle of the contraction. I wound up telling her I didn’t like her, but that I would like her afterwards (since she was the one making sure baby girl was alright, after all).
Speaking of her being alright, I had always read that babies are really calm/still during labor, but she was NOT. That’s probably part of why I wasn’t that worried, because she was not sitting still at all. But I did not appreciate it, because baby movement on the inside during a contraction didn’t feel any better than the monitors being moved on the outside.
My water didn’t break early, which was another victory. It’s better if it stays intact as long as possible (though I wasn’t that worried about infection with such a short labor), and I was really hoping to not soak the car or bed or something. It didn’t break till about a minute before she came out (which I think is why she wasn’t all bloody and gross when she came out, since she was surrounded by fluid the whole way out). It was a bit of a shock though, because it was a big dramatic fountaining, nothing like the “oh it feels like I might have peed my pants” that you hear about. Anyone in that area got splashed.
She came out, like I said, 5lb 7oz, which is great. They said she would have been huge if I’d gone to term. So for all that it was a crazy labor, it might have been much harder later. I was big (8lb 10oz) and a little early, so I guess she takes after her momma!
I strained/pulled something in my neck during labor. I thought at first it was just sore, but now I’m sure it’s actually mildly injured. At this point that hurts more than my stitches or anything else, which is both annoying and good, since it means everything else is healing well.
Sunday night, when I was apparently in early labor without realizing it, we placed the last major Amazon order for baby stuff, like the car seat, newborn diapers, etc. We also ordered a waterproof mattress pad, in case my water broke in bed. So I’m extra glad it didn’t, since I would have been even more annoyed knowing that 2 more days and it wouldn’t have mattered. (It’s a new mattress!)
She did not go posterior! (Facing front instead of back) I was worried about that pretty much my whole pregnancy, since it causes back labor. We were told in class not to sit in a reclined position, to help keep baby facing the right way, and I was really obsessive about it, to the point I’m still struggling with letting myself recline now. But it worked! No back labor for me!
And I think that’s all! Like I said, I’ll update with more on her in a bit, but she’s doing great. She’s perfect!