Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Welcome, Sally!

Our daughter has arrived! ...and in very different fashion than her brother. My labor with James was pretty short for a firstborn (only about 5 hours). Since everybody says the second child comes faster, I had legitimate fears that Sally might be delivered in the backseat of a car or in the hospital elevator. But contrary to expectations, my labor with Sally ended up being twice as long--about 10 hours--and it felt harder than my labor with James. But in some ways it was also much better, and overall it was a very good experience. Here is the entire (long-winded) birth story...

A Fair Warning
I was 3-4 cm dilated at my last two prenatal appointments. At Friday's appointment my doctor said it looked like I would give birth within the week, maybe even that weekend. But the days came and passed and my hopes dwindled. The following Thursday I had some early morning contractions that stopped when I got out of bed. But that was enough for Bryan to stay home from work just in case. At my prenatal appointment later that day I was 80% effaced at 4cm and the doctor suggested that if I went for a long walk I might come back in a few hours in labor. But I didn't go for a long walk because it was March 19. If she could wait just one more day, then she would arrive on March 20, the First Day of Spring, which is kind of a holiday (like my birthday is) and I thought that would be a pretty neat birthday for her. Mother and Stefanie picked up James to spend the night with his cousins, and that evening I finally had a couple more Braxton Hicks contractions before bed.

So It Begins
I had a few hours of good sleep before waking up at 1:30 with contractions again. I got out of bed and walked around reading a devotional book to see if they would go away like they had the previous morning. March 20's devotion was titled "Words of Triumph" and was all about Jesus' words on the cross "It is finished". I felt I was reading a prophetic devotion about the end of my pregnancy! The contractions were real this time, coming 5-10 minutes apart for a full hour. Still thinking that labor would progress quickly this time, I woke up Bryan and told him we would go to the hospital when the contractions were more consistently 5 minutes apart. A couple hours later they were still 5-10 minutes apart and I felt bad about waking up Bryan so early. I decided we could go on to the hospital and continue the waiting there.

Slow n Steady
I walked into the hospital about 5am without needing a wheelchair and without stopping for contractions. It was clear this would be a very different experience than the first time we did this. We walked into triage and the nurse asked what brought us there. Seriously?  But yes, she was actually waiting for our reply... "I'm in labor." It felt really stupid to say that out loud. In hindsight, I probably should've screamed it while slamming fists on her desk or said that I was there for the free popsicles. I signed some paperwork (and actually read what I was signing this time) before changing into one of those shapeless hospital gowns. Its dated pattern of confetti shapes on a faded blue background reminded me that many, many women had walked this road before me, and I was happy to don that unflattering smock to join their ranks once again. But I was still just 4cm dilated. Bummer. They wanted me to stick around triage so I sat on the exercise ball while the contractions got stronger. I didn't remember them hurting this much with James. I told Bryan I should've watched The Business of Being Born again (which I had watched when pregnant with James) to remind me WHY an epidural was a bad thing... because it was starting to sound like a really great idea. An hour later they checked me again and I was up to 5cm so they said they would get a delivery room ready for me. When they came back to take me to the room, I stood up from sitting on the ball and felt a release of liquid that pooled between my feet... "Um... my water just broke."

I don't know how this part took nearly 4 hours.. it either flew by or lasted forever, I'm not sure which...
We made it to our delivery room about 7:30am. Despite eating and drinking at the house that night, I was hungry and felt I needed to eat to regain some energy for this marathon. But of course they only offered me popsicles (yuck) or ice chips which made my empty stomach feel queasy. Finally got hooked up to an IV of fluids which helped restore some energy without making me nauseous. But it could only help so much... by mid-morning I already felt I might be too weak and tired to push and I was wishing I'd gotten an epidural so I could be sleeping through those exhausting contractions. (I told Bryan again that he should've made me watch that Business of Being Born video.) I asked Bryan to fan my face to cool me off and that actually helped a lot. It made me comfortable enough to focus on relaxing between contractions. I may have even drifted in and out of sleep between contractions during that last hour of labor while he was fanning my face. Maybe it was my body's ultimate survival-mode power napping? That's what it felt like, and Bryan said my face started regaining color and not looking so pale like I might pass out. I love that God designed breaks in the labor pains. I can't imagine surviving constant contractions without the calm intervals in between.

Words of Triumph: It is finished!
Finally, FINALLY I told the nurse that I was feeling the urge to push. She clocked me at 9cm and sent for the doctor. She asked if I pushed very long the first time and Bryan told her not long at all... Next contraction, stronger pushing urges, harder to refrain. Between my sudden new onset of guttural groaning and whimpering, I asked if the doctor was coming--I wasn't sure how long I could hold it in! Doctor arrived and I started pushing. It hurt much worse this time than it did with James, but Bryan says I was not doing much pushing with James (too weak/dehydrated/incoherent?) which is why they put the OR on standby during his delivery. Neither of us are sure how many minutes I pushed with Sally, but Bryan says it was only three pushes before everything paused and everybody seemed pleased. I wasn't entirely sure what happened and had to ask if her head was out. Bryan told me it was, and the doctor was cutting the umbilical cord around her neck. Then I pushed out the rest of her and after a quick wipe down they placed her on my chest.

Sally Kristina was born at 11:17am on March 20, 2015, weighing 7lb 8oz and measuring 19 7/8 inches long. Newborn Sally looked a lot like newborn James. She was cuddly and calm on my chest while the doctor stitched my minor tears and Bryan looked down at us teary-eyed. I didn't feel that adrenaline rush of relief when it was all over like I did when James was born, but at least it was all over and I was so happy about that. Even though the labor was longer and the contractions were more painful, everything went smoothly. There was no rushing around, no dropping heart rate, no OR on standby. Every time it came up that I wasn't getting an epidural, the nurse said I was doing "Lamaze" instead. Except I wasn't... I don't know the first thing about Lamaze. I'm still not sure if she was just using that as a generic term for natural childbirth, or if she really expected me to know a lot more than I did about pain management, breathing techniques, etc. Like I said in the beginning, it was overall a very good experience, but I can definitely see myself getting an epidural next time if it looks like I'm in for another long hard labor like this one. Sally was worth every bit of it though; I was in love with her instantly. She's a beautiful baby and already seems so sweet and docile. I can't wait to enjoy what the future holds for us!

1 comment:

  1. Such a sweet story, Sara! Thank you. I cannot wait to see this new little one! Sally Kristina!