Just a few days short of 40 weeks pregnant
I woke on Tuesday, December 7, 2010 with more progressive signs of impending labor. I'll spare the details. My contractions were consistently every 10 minutes. Every other contraction brought dull pain. I went to my eyebrow waxing appointment that morning and had fun announcing to the ladies that I was in labor. I had Matt come along to my appointment to see my midwife that day, just in case she sent me to labor and delivery. Midwife, Cindi, offered to strip my membranes and I agreed, but it was painful so I had her stop. I was 2cm dilated. She said that she wasn't going to send me to labor and delivery just yet because I wouldn't be able to eat there and it could take all day and evening for my labor to progress. I was happy with her decision because I knew it was early and I felt laboring at home would be more comfortable. I was happy to be able to spend the rest of the day at home, relaxing, contracting, and thinking about delivering this baby. I remember enjoying a milkshake and wondering if I would be able to continue drinking those after baby's arrival... wondering if she would have milk and soy issues like Ethan.
My contractions were 8-10 minutes apart around 4pm but still only every other one was painful. My labor pains progressed through the evening. I tried to hide my pain during Ethan's bedtime routine so that I didn't scare him. I don't think I could fully grasp that this was the last evening with Ethan as our only child. He seemed too little to be a big brother. As we kissed and cuddled him good night we told him that his Nama and Narnold (his grandparents) would be here in the morning. After our goodnights I reviewed what I had written out as Ethan's routine for his grandparents to follow while they cared for him. I prepared it in a word document and printed it when I was on bedrest. I wanted his days and nights to be as familiar as possible while we were at the hospital. I made adjustments to it as the months went on ... the type of cereal he ate for breakfast changed, he sat at the table like a big boy now, the tv programs he preferred to watch changed. I reviewed my hospital packing list one more time and added those last minute things like my camera and our Flip video camera (although we had it, there is no video footage of either of my children's births and I'm ok with that. We just didn't think of it.).
By 8:30pm I was having painful contractions but they were still 8-10min apart. I decided to page the midwife on call. Midwife, Pam, called and I was so happy to hear her voice. I had hoped to see her during my labor or delivery. She suggested that I wait to go to the hospital until all of my contractions were 5 minutes apart (unless my water had broken, but it didn't). By 10:30 I was in serious pain and my contractions were 5-8min apart (every other one was 5 min apart). I called the midwife again and we discussed my options. She could tell that I was in pain but she was concerned that I wasn't dilated enough to be admitted to the hospital. If I had arrived and was less then 4cm dilated, they would have monitored me but there was a chance they would send me home if I didn't progress to 4cm quickly. She also said that "practice labor" can be very painful sometimes and if I wasn't progressing then it could have been ANOTHER false alarm. I knew my contractions were way too strong to be false labor. We decided to wait it out at home. Matt and I tried to nap in the living room but I couldn't really sleep through the pain so I kept monitoring the contractions and clock. At midnight I decided to get up and walk. As soon as I did that my contractions jumped to every 5 min apart. I called the midwife back, Matt called the grandparents to come over, and we got ready to leave. My contractions quickly went to every 2-4 minutes. Matt raced us to the hospital! I don't remember much about the drive to the hospital. I was in pain and focused on breathing through the contractions.
Once we checked in to the hospital, my first question for the nurse was "is anesthesiologist here?". I knew I would want an epidural and remembered that it took an anesthesiologist 2 hours to get back to the hospital when I was in labor with Ethan. There was not one there and they couldn't call one until I was checked in, had an iv bag of fluid, and had blood work completed. Thankfully the nurses worked quickly to get this all started. My contractions were much more intense than they were with Ethan. I was 4cm dilated.
The anesthesiologist arrived at 3:10am. Matt was asked to leave the room so he went and sat in what would be our recovery room. He was there for much longer than anticipated because there were complications. The nurses and doctors think that I had a bad reaction to the epidural. My blood pressure dropped and so did baby girl's heart rate. I was given medication to get my BP back up, oxygen, warm blankets, etc. They closely monitored baby's heart rate and eventually had to put an internal heart rate monitor in, which left her with a little scar on the back of her head. There was a lot of tension in the room during this time, but no one said much to me. I was very cold, tired, and not sure what to do because it was difficult to stay awake. I remember seeing my blood pressure drop to 66/33 and another doctor coming in to give me more medication. Once baby's heart rate and my blood pressure were back to normal and the room was calmer I realized the epidural didn't fully take effect. I could still feel pain on one side of my body. It happened to be the side where I pulled a groin muscle earlier that week while getting into my car (yes, just by the simple act of getting into my car!). Every time they checked me or the baby I felt pain from that pulled muscle. I also still felt contractions but not as intensely.
Once Matt was able to come back into the room we caught up and decided to try to get some rest since I still had some progress to make. I couldn't sleep because the blood pressure monitor continued to go off and the beeping was annoying. The nurse came in often to check it and turn the beeping off. She helped me get adjusted and I rested for a little while. Midwife Pam came in to check me again and they decided to break my water. That was probably the strangest part of either of my labors. My water broke on it's own when I went into labor with Ethan. I expected the same to happen this time but it was much different. Pam had a difficult time breaking my water and said that it was one of the most difficult ones she's ever had to break. My labor progressed quickly after that. There was a shift change and Midwife Cindi was now on call.
My blood pressure dropped again so they decided to turn the epidural off. I felt a lot of pain and pressure. Before I knew it, it was time to push. I was so thankful because I was ready for this labor to be over and was more than ready to meet my baby girl. The two wonderful nurses and Cindi prepared the bed and supplies for delivery. I couldn't believe that we were about to meet our second baby. The memories of seeing Ethan for the first time flooded my mind. Matt stood by my side, set the camera nearby, and prepared to hold one of my legs. I could feel the baby's head crowning and I remember thinking about how strange and painful it was. I wanted to push but I was afraid of tearing like I did with Ethan. Cindi encouraged me to let those worries go. I pushed while I was on my side. It was much more intense and painful than Ethan's delivery, obviously because I had less of the epidural. It was one of the most physically draining experiences I've ever had. I was so relieved when her head came out and they told me that I could stop pushing for a moment. I didn't think I could continue until it seemed like both nurses, Cindi, and Matt were helping me push. Within 20 minutes of pushing, my baby girl was here. They brought her to my chest and we marveled over how BIG she was! We couldn't believe it - we said "she's huge". She had rolls ALREADY!
Matt returned and shared that our girl was just fine. She came down the birth canal so fast that there wasn't time for the mucous to be squished out of her lungs so she had to have it suctioned out. She passed her meconium before her birth. They weighed and measured her in the nursery. She was a whopping 8lbs, 9oz and was 21 inches long.
I want to kiss and squeeze those cheeks when I look at these pictures!
Harper Sullivan, my baby girl, I love you.