May 13, 2013
Wow it’s almost been a week since baby Lena was born. I've wanted to write down her birth story since we got home but i know it’s going to be a long one and I’ve finally found some down time. I'm writing her story for you ladies on MH but mainly as my own documentation of her birth. I’ll summarize in a short version incase you don’t have the time for the 7 page long version.
Short story: Water broke Tuesday night (4/30) at 10:30pm. Gestational age 36+4. Got to the hospital at 12:30, May 1st. First exam, 1 cm dilated. Got Pitocin to start contractions. Next check, 1-2 cm. epidural around 12pm. Worked to help me dilate without pain. Next check around 4pm. 9 cm! Waiting another 10 minutes before feeling the need to push. Baby Lena was born at 5:12 pm. 5 lbs, 12 oz. 19.25” long. NICU nurses cleared her and gave her a perfect APGAR score. Started Lena on supplemental formula to help clear her of jaundice. Friday docs put her under blue lights to further help with the jaundice. I was discharged Friday at noon. Lena got discharged around 8 pm Friday. We are now a sleep deprived family of 3. Got to celebrate my first Mother’s Day!
Tuesday night (April 30) DH and I were getting into bed around 10:30. Just another typical work day. I was feeling huge and still had 3 1/2 weeks to go until my due date. I was giving DH a back rub (shouldn't he have been giving me one!). Then I feel like I just peed a little bit. Then a bit more. Then a bit more. I figured my underwear had to be wet so I got up and went to the bathroom to see how wet my underwear really was. Pulled down my pj pants and underwear and there's liquid pooled in my underwear and now it’s dripping down my legs. Within a min, my pj pants were soaked too. All clear liquid, no smell. I just stood in the bathroom half amused, half laughing. I knew exactly what was happening. I had asked her to come early. I had been sick of gaining weight but didn't except her this early. We didn't even has our hospital bag packed. DH got on the phone and called our OB. The doc on call gave us a call back within a few minutes and told us to take our time (since I wasn't feeling any contractions) but make our way to the hospital soon. We knew the typical rule of thumb was that the baby needed to come out within 24 hours of water breaking. We packed our bag and I kept a towel between my legs to catch the fluid that just kept coming out. I did have a small amount of blood with the fluid but doc said a small amount was ok. DH got me a small snack since once we got to the hospital, I wouldn't be allowed to eat until giving birth. He also installed the car seat in the car. (Which he could have done later but we didn't know) I was in a great mood the whole time. Very excited to get this show on the road. We had to stop for gas on the way to the hospital. No problem. I still wasn't feeling any pain. I was texting my mom (I had called her earlier to tell her my water had broken) and co-workers to tell them what was going on. It’s great to have smart phone to keep everyone in the loop.
We arrived at the hospital around 12:30 am. I was still going good. Walked into the hospital by myself. No wheelchair. Just dripping down my legs. I had sat on towels in the car and had a pad on but it was so full. We checked into the L&D floor. As we were checking in, another lady was wheel chaired up to check in. She looked miserable. She was wrapped up in a blanket and had a puke bucket on her lap. I looked at her and realized my good mood was not normal. My room was still being cleaned so they put us in the waiting room for a few minutes. DH got a great pic of me sitting in the waiting room with a big smile. haha A second lady came into the waiting room. She took didn't look so hot. Her hubby was rubbing her back, getting her slippers. And again, I just sat there grinning and texting friends and family.
Finally I got to my room. Room #8. I put the gown on. So confusing with all the snaps. Laid down in the bed on "puppy pads" so I’d stop dripping on myself. The nurse came to hook me up to the baby monitor and contraction monitor. Not long after, my doc came.
Let me quickly explain my doctors. It’s a practice of 6, all female doctors. Their office is directly connected to the hospital so i knew one of them would be there to deliver the baby. During routine visits, they like you to rotate who you see so you see them all. During my delivery, it spanned 4 days: Tuesday to Friday. We ended up seeing 4 different doctors but since we had routine visits with them all, it was fine to see them come and go. We didn't get our favorite doc but we also didn't get the nurse practitioner that we didn't like so I’m happy with it. Back to the story...
The doc checked me. I was 1 cm and 50% effaced and negative 3 stage. Not surprising since I wasn't really having any contractions. They doc ordered "Cervidil" for me. It’s like a tampon that goes next to the cervix that’s to help soften the cervix. It was a little uncomfortable going in. I also got an IV in my left arm. The nurse was horrible about putting it in. I think she was newer. The day nurses seem to be better than the night nurses. I guess with seniority, they get to pick the day shift. The nurse had blood all down my arm and stuck to my hospital bands. It was gross. A week after delivery, my arm is black and yellow from the IV. Nurse also put a blood pressure cuff on my right arm that went off every hour. This was needed since my water broke.
The Cervidil stayed in for about an hour, maybe more until I went to the bathroom, forgot it was there. Went to wipe and pulled it out by accident. Opps. DH could help me unhook the monitor and cuff so I could roll the IV with me to the bathroom. That was the only time I could be out of bed. Since my water had broken, I had to stay in bed so me and the baby could be monitored continually. Couldn't walk around like I thought I would be able to. Bummer.
This is the part I'm still fuzzy on which event happened in what order. Not too sure when but at some point they came and gave me Pitocin. I think the Cervidil had helped to start contractions or they had started some on their own. I think I was in some pain before the Pitocin started. And once the Pitocin was started, I really started to feel more pain. They checked me again and I was only between 1-2 cm and still 50% effaced. The doc wanted me at atleast 3 cm before giving me an epidural so to help with the pain, they injected some medicine into my IV and gave me a shot in the arm. It helped for maybe half an hour. The nurse also cranked up the amount of Pitocin. The pain, to me, had jumped from a manageable 5 to around an 8 or 9. I remember telling DH it was like my hips were splitting apart. I wanted to hold them together.
During this time to tried to do my yoga breathing. Long deep breaths and count breaths in and out. Since I couldn't get out of bed to do any labor or yoga stretches, I imagined doing them. During a contraction I would breath in, count, and think of doing squats in yoga class. "arms up, breath, one two three, arms down, breath, one two three". The contractions were still unregular. Sometimes two minutes apart but lots 5 or more apart. Since the pain was getting so intense, the pain was overcoming my breathing. Couldn't concentrate on anything but the pain. In near tears, I finally asked them if I could get the epidural. The doc finally agreed! She didn't check me but I bet I was still around 2 cm.
Since my water had broken, they didn't want to check me every often because the more they do, the more bacteria could be introduced into the cervix. At first that was ok with me (no pain) but later it was frustrating because we didn't know how much we were progressing or if we were making any progress at all.
It took about 15 minutes for the epidural lady to come in. I was very happy to see her. I had to sit up in bed with my feet over the side. DH kneeled in front of me and I put my arms around his shoulders. She explained clearly what all she was going to do. She cleaned my back first. Then told me I was going to feel a small prick of the numbing medicine. That is what startled me. I reacted just a bit by arching my back. I think most people react that way. Then i didn't feel anything as she inserted the catheter. She taped the catheter to my back. A lot less painful than I thought it could be. The epidural would run a base of medicine but i could push a button if I wanted to top it off...with a limit of course. DH said I got the epidural around noon.
With the epidural, I wouldn't be able to control my bladder so they had to put in a catheter. I believe this is very standard when you get an epidural but it’s not mentioned too much. It was really painless because of the epidural. Just a little weird to get. Also it meant one more thing attached to me. It came out right before I delivered.
The epidural was the best. I was able to drift in and out of sleep for a while. The only issue during this phase was that when I would have a contraction, baby’s heart beat would drop. They had me try different positions to try to control her heart rate dip. The thought was that she was pinching the umbilical cord during the contraction and my position could help solve the issue. Being pregnant, there’s really only two positions, laying on my left side or laying on my right side. Laying on my right side seems to be best so now I was suck in that position.
With my epidural, I was able to sleep a bit and DH actually left the room to run to get him some food. I remember him being gone and wondered where he went even though I’m sure he told me. The epidural knocked out the pain but there was a lot of pressure. This is what woke me back up. At first it felt with i needed to pee. I kept asking DH if I was peeing and to check the catheter bag. I was. As it got worse, I asked the nurse if they could do anything to help with the pressure. She said there was something and she'd talk to the doctor about it. Around 4 pm the doctor came to check me out. She examined me and I was now at 9 cm! woo hoo! Since I hadn't been checked out in hours and I was going through all that pain, I was scared I wouldn't have dilated much and they'd start mentioning c-section. So I was relieved. Doc asked if I had the need to push. I said no but I don't even know what “the need to push” feels like. Doc didn't want to give me addition medicine to relieve the pressure since I was really close to 10 cm. Doc said she'd be back within an hour to see if I’d gotten to 10 cm yet.
With so much pressure, I really didn't like the doc leaving. Within 10-15 minutes I said I felt the need to push - half a lie but half true - and asked for the doc to come back. She did and checked me and I was at 10 cm. Turns out the pressure was the need to push and I didn't know it.
The set up for delivery was very intimate. Just the Doc down at my feet, a nurse to my left and DH to my right. The first nurse we had when we got there, a night nurse, wasn't that great. She was quiet and didn't explain things all that great. When I was pushing, I had a day nurse who was excellent. She was a wonderful cheerleader. Clear and confident in when I have me push and her counting.
Doc had me start with a few practice pushes. We just did it in with the bed normal...no stirrups. The practice pushes turned to real pushes. DH was not shy at all. He saw everything! I remember him texting my parents "I see the head" and the doc let him look to see the head coming down. A few minutes before baby was born, the NICU team was called. Just a precaution since baby is less than 37 weeks. Also at this time the doc and nurse took the bottom half of the bed off and got the stirrups out. The doc got booties on her feet and they brought out all kinds of pads and bag to catch everything. All in all, I pushed for about 40 minutes.
To me the pushing was the easiest part because there was something I could do instead of lay in the bed feeling pain and pressure. The pushing also helped relieve the pain. What i didn't realize was that you only push during a contraction so you push 3 times for a 10 count but then you have 2 or so minutes to relax. After pushing they gave me the oxygen mask because my oxygen level would drop during pushing and they wanted me to bring it back up by taking long deep breaths afterwards. I also thought I might feel something weird hanging between my legs (like what guys must feel when their boys get in the way) but I never did. The hardest part was the first stage of labor which most people do at home. I some ways I'm glad I was at the hospital the whole time. Not that I liked being tied to the bed.
Lena Elizabeth was born at 5:12 pm. Lena is my material great-grandfather's name. Very similar is DH's grandmother’s name, Leonia. Not that we really named her after those people, just like the name. Elizabeth is my mother's middle name and we thought it sounded good with Lena.
They put Lena on my belly for a few seconds right after she was born. DH cut the cord. They wiped her off then she was taken to the other side of the room so the NICU team could look at her. DH went over and started taking pictures. I could also see her the whole time. They did the Apgar score. She scored 9 out of 9. They said she was fine and wouldn't need to go to NICU.
During the time NICU was looking at baby, the doc was working on me. I realized she was holding the end of the umbilical cord and the other end was still in me. weird feeling. Just a few minutes later, the placenta came out. I didn't have to push to get it out. It just felt like squishy jello mass. The doc stayed down there for quite some time. I had a small tear that she had to sew up. I didn't feel it at all. It was a little weird to have her down there for so long. I could start to feel her working since the epidural had been cut off around the time i started to push. During pushing my legs were numb but not completely out. Kinda like when you go to the dentist and they have to numb you and it starts to wear off. That weird feeling where you might bit you lip.
After the doc was finished, the bed was put back to normal and I was able to hold Lena. My mom and dad came to visit not that long after. The hospital brought me dinner but I was a bit nauseous so I just picked at it. It had been over 18 hours since I had eaten. Mom and Dad stayed just long enough to hold Lena and see how I was doing.
Around 8 or so, I was moved from the L&D room to a recovery room down the hall. This room is about half the size since all the machines aren't needed anymore. I also got a new set of nurses. They came constantly to check on me and the baby. My blood pressure, temperature and pulse were taken every couple hours. Baby was checked many times to make sure her glucose level was ok. A concern with preemies.
Thursday morning the docs told us they were worried about baby Lena having jaundice. She didn't look yellow to us but they had run a blood test and it was a bit high. Again, very common with preemies. They had me start trying to breast feed her even though I didn't have any milk yet. While i tried to nurse her, DH would take a syringe with a tube and stick the tube into her mouth alongside my nipple while she sucked. The idea is to give her formula but to make her think it was coming from me. This was a very exhausting thing for all three of us. We had one lactation consultant come in Thursday sometime to help. She wasn't the best. She was rushed and didn't let me do things, just did them herself. Later on Thursday, I took Lena and we went to the nursery for a breastfeeding class. It was better but Lena wasn't hungry so we didn't practice. I did learn about holding positions and a few tips on how to tell when babies are hungry...crying, opening of mouth, clenched hands near face. Friday morning we had a third lactation consultant come since they realized at the class that we had to syringe feed. This lady was a lot more helpful. Calm and taught me how to do things.
I have major issues with the lactation consultants. They all say different things. It seems everyone does. One says to do it one way, another will say something else. What I'm learning from all of this is that you have to figure out what works for you and your baby even if the consultant or doctors suggest something else.
Friday morning Lena's bilirubin (jaundice) level was still high so they put her under blue lights. She was under them from around 10 to noon, and then i had 20 minutes to feed her. Then she was under again until 5 pm. Around noon I was discharged. My parents came and we went out to get some lunch. It felt so good to get out. At 5, Len's bilirubin was checked again. If it was good, she was good to go home. If not, we'd all stay another night but we'd be moved down to Pediatrics so she could get more blue lights and we'd clear up the bed on L&D floor.
She also had to pass the car seat challenge. Lena had to sit in her car seat for 1.5 hours hooked up to monitors to make sure she could still breathe in the car seat. She passed with flying colors!
At 6 we found out they lost the first set of blood and instead of trying to find it, they took another sample. So more waiting. Finally around 7:30 they came and told us we could all go home tonight!! The nurse came by to cut off our bands and to take baby's ankle monitor off. By 8 we were leaving the hospital.
Since Lena was early, I had no nursing apparel. On our way home, we stopped at Buy Buy Baby to get me a nursing sleeping bra and a tank top. We also got Lena a newborn Swaddle Pod. We thought that might help since she likes to be swaddled but always kicks off the blanket. Turns out the swaddle pod is about 6 inches too long on her. We're back to using swaddling blankets. The nursing apparel is great. I could use some more.
After almost a week, Lena is going great. She had her first doc appointment yesterday. She's dropped to 5 lbs 7.5 oz but that’s around 5% and anything better than 10% drop is normal. I didn't like the doc. She kept on telling us all these things we HAD to do to get her to breast feed. She needs better people skills. I react strongly when people tell me I have to do something. It should be a recommendation not a command.
Lena still has her days and nights mixed up. Last night she woke up at 12, 3 and 5. But then let me sleep from 7 to almost 11. She is a great baby. Very cute. Only cries when she hungry. We call her Houdini because she is always getting her arms and legs out of the swaddle. I also call her my baby bird from the way she looks when she's hungry. She's been staying in the pack n play in our room. DH jumps up out of bed every time he things she might have spit up. I'm the calm one of the two of us. He's a mess, thinking of a million things to do...laundry, cleaning, more laundry. I told him that is what it’s like to be a woman. We always have 10 things on our mind.
So the biggest challenge is feeding. I have very flat nipples. The left one is almost impossible for her to latch on to. The right one is better. My milk started to come in yesterday (Monday) but not enough to keep her satisfied so she gives up quickly. It became fustigating to both her and me. I finally decided to pump and give it to her in a bottle. That way DH isn't have to do the syringe feeding which made all 3 of us frustrated. We've been giving her some formula and some pumped breast milk. Even when I can get her to latch to the right side, it’s very shallow and she ends up hurting me. We have an appointment tomorrow with the lactation consultant at the pediatrician’s office. I'm kind of worried about it. I get disappointed in myself so I become a mess when talking about it. I don't really like the idea of her not being able to breast feed but if it causes us all so much stress, I'd rather not do it. Pumping is time consuming but is stress free. And then DH can help feed her. Pumping will also help me to lose weight and give baby the nutrition. I just wish the breast feeding would have worked out better. Maybe DH is right in that I thought breast feeding would be a special time between me and baby that I will not get if I only pump. I just have to remember that we have to do what is best for all of us and not what I thought it would be like or what others say we should do.
A week later I’m still bleeding but not too bad. Like a light day period. They gave me a water bottle to fill with warm water to use each time I go to the bathroom, like a bidet. It feels really good. Haha My tummy has gone down a lot. It jiggles. It’s not hard like it was when pregnant. If I push it in, I can start to see down there again! I still only fit into my maternity tops but they feel a bit big on me. My feet have also gotten less swollen day by day. At first they were more swollen from all the liquids I got through my IV. I can almost wear my wedding rings again. I haven’t gotten up the nerve to get on the scale. I’m scared I will still not like the number. I’m not sure what my starting pregnancy weight way but I think I gained close to 50 pounds during those 8 months. Since I can’t exercise, there’s nothing I could do if I didn’t like the number so I’m putting it off. Curiosity might get me soon.
By coming early, I will get my first Mother's Day this coming weekend. My sister is also flying in to meet baby Lena. Not too sure yet if my mom and sis will have to go visit my Grandmother on Mother's day so my Mother's day might be on Saturday.
Our friends and family have been amazing. We've gotten even more gifts now that she's born. We got an Edible Arrangements from my sister and brother-in-law. Two neighbors have brought us full homemade dinners. The first time we were home, my mom and dad came over with a home cooked meal. Mom also brought another one dish to freeze at eat later. Two friends have also brought us food and gifts. We have so much we have to freeze it and eat the stuff that will go bad (salads) first. I'm overwhelmed by their kindness and how we have such wonderful neighbors and friends.
I've been getting a shower in everyday although I forget to do things like brush my teeth or take my vitamin. We've gone out to Target one night for some supplies. Last night we had to go to the emergency vet because our kitty was showing signs of a UTI. Not great to add more stress to a family with a 5 day old. Smokey is good and got 4 medicines. It’s a lot to handle but DH is doing great. We also have DH's college friend who's been staying with us for the past year who's around to help with household chores.
I'm hoping to be able to take baby into work sometime next week. Maybe on Friday and then we can take DH out for lunch. Right now I’m still sore and bleeding some. I've lost a good amount of water weight...my feet don't look so bad. I still haven't gotten on the scale. I'm worried I will still not like the number. I'll give it a bit more time. I have an OB appointment in 6 weeks. Then they will tell me if I’m good to start exercising. 4 weeks from delivery I can start taking baby on walks. I'll be happy to get out and get fresh air. I'll be on maternity leave all summer and since she was early, I get almost 4 months off (I'd always planned to go back to work after Labor Day).
I love being a mom. I just think my baby is the cutest (don’t all moms!). It is a difficult and sudden switch of life events. One day I’m working, the next I'm worried about my boobs! Haha It’s just something that is going to take some time getting used to. I can’t wait to see how my little one grows.
Update (5/8/13): We had our appointment with the lactation consultant this morning. She was by far the best. First thing she asked was “what is our goal so that I can help you achieve it?” I was so good to hear that we have options and she’s work with us in whatever we choose. She wasn’t a breastfeeding nazi. If we can breastfeed some, that was good. Pump some, that’s fine too. Go to formula, she’d recommend a brand. It was also good to hear that it wasn’t too late to try to get baby to latch. I thought that since we had given her a bottle, latching to the breast was impossible. I like pumping because I can do other things at the same time (like write baby’s birth story). Its calm and stress free. Then feeding with the bottle is also stress free. Pumping is an extra step so I really would like to breastfeed.
The problem is that I have short nipples and it hard to get her to latch. When she does lately, she’s been shallow and has hurt them so I’ve had to pull her off before she was done. I also don’t like the idea of not knowing how much she is getting. I don’t want to go to all the trouble to get her to latch and think she is getting enough when just a short time later she’s hungry again. Also with the bottle, DH can help.
The lactation consultant today had some good suggestions. First, drink lots of milk. About a quart of milk/dairy per day. She also suggested increasing how often I pump to help increase the quantity. I had been doing about 5 hours apart. I’m trying to increase it to 3 but I know I’m not going to do that in the middle of the night.
Lena had a weight check today. She’s about up to her birth weight. 5 lbs, 11.5 oz. Go girl! She also had some projectile poop today. I didn’t believe it could really happen but it did. She was still going when I changed her. Used up 3 diapers and had to wash the changing pad. Then later she spit up/puked and got it all over her shirt, my shirt, my skirt and the glider. Oh the joys of motherhood!