Anna!

Sorry this took so long to post… I started this while I was still in the hospital, but haven’t really had time to finish it until now. I have been a little busy with visitors, nursing, diapers, etc etc. It seems like my hands are always full now.

On to the post…

She is finally here! Annabelle Frances Miller arrived Saturday, August 31, at 12:33pm weighing 7 pounds 9 ounces and measuring 20.75 inches long. Of course all new babies lose a little weight, and she got down to 6 pounds 14.5 ounces by her first doctor visit on Wednesday. That was a 9% weight loss, and they worry once it gets above 10%, so we had to make another trip to the doctor Friday. At that point she was up to 7 pounds 1.5 ounces, so we got the all clear.

So, here is the full story for those that care to hear. I will try not to make it too detailed though…

Since we missed the Tuesday due date, Thursday evening Sean decided I should do acupuncture to try and induce labor. He got this idea after hearing a co-worker talk about how it worked with both of his kids. I was willing to try it, so Sean made me an appointment for 10am Friday. However, I woke up to some mildly painful contractions Friday morning around 5:30. That was after not being able to sleep until around 2am, and then sleeping poorly. When Sean woke up around 7am I told him I didn’t think we would be needing that acupuncture appointment.

Sean was of course immediately excited and wanted to spring into action getting ready for baby, but I told him to calm down and be patient because it was still going to be a long time. And boy was I right. I was really hoping to be heading to the hospital in 12, maybe 14, hours… it ended up being 24.

At first the contractions were not painful enough for me to need to breathe through them, and they were just in my lower abdomen with an occasional pain in my back on the right side. I let work folks know that I was taking the day off and would likely be on maternity leave after that. The contractions were mild enough that I was able to sleep a little later in the morning, so I was mercifully able to get a couple more hours of sleep.

As the day progressed they became stronger, but stubbornly stayed pretty much just in my lower abdomen. I always read that real contractions should start in your back and come around the sides to the front of the belly. I also always read they should be regular, while mine started out at 5 minutes apart and then stretched out to an irregular pattern. Because of this I wasn’t sure if it was a sign that I was just having a really slow early labor, or if it was just a false alarm, so I called the OB office around 1:30 to ask the doctor’s opinion.

The doctor said that I was definitely in early labor, but it sounded like it could still be a day or so before I delivered. That was awesome to hear. She explained that full blown contractions would be top to bottom of my belly and would go around the sides and into my back as well. So I spent the rest of the day waiting for the pain to spread all around, and for them to reach the stage where I couldn’t talk through them. The classes and doctor had always said it was time to go to the hospital when you couldn’t talk through a contraction.

While waiting for things to progress I slowly finished up last minute things around the house, and Sean of course helped as well. Actually, he took care of many things for me, like cleaning out the fridge and doing a few chores around the house. He was trying so hard to help me out in any way he could, because there really wasn’t much he could do to help with labor. The more uncomfortable I got, the more last-minute things went into the hospital bag… like insurance cards, phone chargers, etc.

I tried hard to get sleep Friday night, but I couldn’t do much more than drift off for 6-9 minutes or so between contractions. Laying down made them hurt more; plus instead of feeling them ramp up (they are like waves) and preparing for them, I would be asleep and then suddenly smacked awake with the peak of the contraction. It wasn’t long before I gave up on sleep and just tried to work through the contractions using some of the methods they talked about in our class… like walking, sitting on a birthing (yoga) ball, etc. Really the best thing that ended up working for me was putting the ball by the bed with a couple pillows for me to lay across. When a contraction began to ramp up I could use the pillows for support while I tried to relax and breath through the contraction. In between I occupied myself with my iPad, playing games and surfing the web.

By 4:00 I woke Sean up (or he woke on his own, I can’t remember) and said it was nearing time to leave for the hospital, but I wasn’t sure if I should go yet. I knew that if I went too early (less than 4cm) they would just send me home or have me walk around the hospital for a while before admitting me. I was still trying to go off the “can’t talk” rule, and the description of full-blown contractions the doctor had given me. I really didn’t want to talk through contractions, but I could. And the pain was all lower back and lower abdomen by then, with a little in the sides as well. They were also still irregular, ranging around 3-6 minutes apart.

Sean encouraged me to leave for the hospital, but I was still unsure. I called the doctor again and asked if she thought I should go, or wait a little longer. She seemed a little unsure as well, but told me to come on in and get checked out. So, I started getting dressed while Sean took care of things like letting the dogs out and getting things in the car. Around that point I started getting the shakes with the contractions and suddenly they seemed to come one on top of another, so it took me a while to get dressed because I had to keep stopping. It was almost an hour later when we made it to the hospital, which is less than 5 miles down the road from the house.

On the ride over I had three or four contractions, and then suddenly they let up a bit when Sean dropped me at the front door of the birthing center while he went to park the car. They spaced out a bit more and lessened in intensity, so I was a little worried that things were slowing down or that I would be sent home. I was also grateful because I didn’t want to have a major contraction while I was standing in the lobby. Things started to ramp up again about the time I was changing into a gown for the triage check, and they admitted me around 5:30 at 4cm dilated.

I was walked back to a delivery room, where the triage nurses took care of getting all the monitors and things set up. They also started an IV, which took them four tries. So that was fun. Compared to the contractions though, having them repeatedly stabbing me and rooting around for veins wasn’t that bad. I still have bruises up and down my arm 9 days later.

The nurses explained that if we wanted an epidural later I had to have at least one liter of IV fluids before then, which would take about an hour. I decided to go ahead and let them give me the fluids so I didn’t have to wait later on if I chose to do the epidural. They put the fluids on full blast; between the cold fluid and the labor I was shaking/shivering horribly at that point. My plan was to wait for the fluids to finish and then get up and walk, since laying down made the pains worse. By the time the trio of admitting nurses left the room it was getting close to 7:00. I know this because they went through three hospital bands before they got my name right, and the latest one said it was printed at 6:32.

Then we met our awesome nurse. She stayed with us through pretty much the whole thing, and had 32 years of experience. Her demeanor and experience made us trust her immediately. She floated around doing her thing while the doctor stopped in a little after 7:00. The doctor asked us about our plans and talked about our options for pain management; I told her that I would just go with the flow, but hold off on an epidural as long as possible since all our classes and literature said epidurals could slow the labor. I also was not interested in taking narcotics. The doctor also asked if we wanted her to break my water to help things speed up, and since there were no negatives to that one I agreed to it. So she broke my water, and said I was at 5cm. The fluid was tinged with meconium, which meant the baby had a bowel movement in the womb. That happens sometimes when they are past their due date. This meant the delivery had changed a little and we would now have a special care team (2-3 people) come in for the birth so they could keep her from breathing any in.

Once we were alone with the nurse we asked her advice for the labor. She said that honestly she would have the epidural as soon as possible if we wanted one, that it wouldn’t slow labor and may actually help it go faster since I would be able to relax and let things progress rather than tensing against the pain of contractions. After talking with her for a bit, we told her to go ahead and send the order.

It seemed like no time at all before the anesthesiologist showed up, and he turned out to be the same one Sean had with his gastric bypass. The epidural was placed quickly, while I sat on the edge of the bed and Sean stood in front of me. Poor guy. I didn’t mean to, but I couldn’t move and I needed something to grip when a big contraction hit at the same time the doctor was shoving a huge needle in my spine… so poor Sean ended up being my stress ball for a couple minutes.

The epidural started working on my left side pretty quickly, but not the right. Due to my scoliosis the medicine seemed to be heading left, so they had to do some trickery to get the right side numbed up. Eventually they did, and it was an amazing relief. The only problem was that then my left side from about mid torso down was completely and totally numb to the point where I couldn’t move it at all and my leg felt incredibly heavy. The right side was also numb, but I still had a little control over movement.

Sean was able to go get some breakfast from the cafeteria at that point, and somewhere along the way the nurse checked me and I was at 6-7cm. While Sean was still gone my blood pressure dipped a little and they gave me some oxygen to help the baby, but that didn’t last too long and I fell asleep without even realizing it until I woke up. Things are a little fuzzy due to a mix of dozing off at times and things just moving quickly with a lot happening. I think the order of events there were that she got the epidural working on the right, then sent Sean out to eat, we were chatting about dogs and things, then she had me roll over to the left (she had to help with my dead legs) for the oxygen, and at that point she also checked my progress and found that I was at about 7 or 8cm. It was after that that I fell soundly asleep for a little bit, waking up to find Sean napping in a chair and the nurse returning when I didn’t even know she had left the room.

The nurse decided to check my progress again. She had a surprised look and said, “Oh, hello baby!” when she unexpectedly felt the baby’s head. Apparently I was already 10cm and the head had moved down into position to start pushing. Since I was so incredibly numb she decided to let the baby work her way a little lower before I started pushing, so we waited a bit and started pushing. I think it was a little past 10:00 at that point.

There wasn’t much progress after a few pushes, so the nurse decided to let the baby drop on her own a little more. She changed the bed configuration so that I was sitting up and called it the “throne position” and we waited until about 10:30 to push again. There were a few more breaks like that before the real pushing began. Eventually we reached the point where the nurse felt it was time to call in the doctor. From there things went really quickly, just a few more pushes and the baby was born.

The doctor held her up for me to see while they quickly clipped the cord and then whisked her away to clean her up before she could breathe in too much meconium. Sean stood watching, I think he was simultaneously amazed at the birth and traumatized by all the blood. A couple minutes later the special care nurses called him over to see the baby, and then sent him back to get the camera. Meanwhile I was being stitched up and could only watch from across the room. I didn’t have my glasses so I didn’t get a really good look at her until they brought her over for me to hold.

We were both kind of teary eyed, and I didn’t really notice what everyone else in the room were doing. We were both just marveling at our daughter. I think the doctor pretty much finished stitching me up and then left while the nurses cleaned up everything. We were back down to our delivery nurse pretty quickly, and she helped get me changed into clean clothes and ready for the trip to the postpartum room. Somewhere in there I fed Anna for the first time, and I was shocked we actually managed to do it without much trouble or guidance. Of course the subsequent feedings weren’t as easy, but that first one gave me confidence that we could figure it out.

It took until the next day for my left leg to wake up enough for me to walk. For a while there I was worried I would be one of those people they send home with a walker. I was so glad when it finally woke up enough for me to put weight on my leg without the knee buckling. Being unable to get out of bed and having to literally be carted to the bathroom was getting old really quickly.

This post has gotten really really long… So I will try to wrap this up super quick. Anna is now 9 days old and we are starting to get the hang of this baby thing. She is still pretty easy at this point though, as she sleeps most of the time. The first few days she had some trouble latching properly, but now she is a pro.

We have even made it out of the house several times. We came home from the hospital Monday, and left the house for the first time on Wednesday to go to the doctor for her check up. Before coming home we stopped at Rite Aid to try to find the vitamin drops the doctor ordered and some more diapers… both of which they didn’t have. Then we swung by the bakery next door for muffins before coming home. The next day we took her out again to pick up those vitamins and diapers at Walgreens, and to visit some friends. Friday we again went to the doctor, followed by a short trip to the mall for lunch and an errand. Saturday we took her to Barry’s Cafe and Sweet Bottoms, then later that night we went to Hayashi for dinner. Sunday was a trip to Babies R Us. Today we went to Target and Elevation Burger. We have also had several visitors in that time, so we have been pretty busy!

The steady stream of visitors has quieted down now, so we are beginning to settle into our new life + baby. This week Sean is working from home, and next week I will be on my own. Scary!