Our sweet Gwen has been with us a whole week now, so I figured today was a great day to write out her birth story. It's long and has most of the nitty gritty details, so feel free to skip it if this isn't your thing.
I woke up last Wednesday, June 15th, feeling "different." Not sure what "different" was exactly, I just felt like we were definitely getting closer to meeting our baby. I think it was because I was experiencing some cramping and was just feeling all around more uncomfortable than I had been. Jeremy went to work and I scheduled two clients in the morning since I was still pregnant. After my clients, I went hiking with some friends for a little over an hour. The cramps stopped while I was hiking or I maybe I just didn't notice them as much.
I spent the afternoon organizing my private practice stuff and then I had YW's Wednesday night at 6:00. I had pretty regular "cramping" while at Young Women's maybe every 10 minutes or so. When I got home, Jeremy and I were Facetiming with his mom and his sister. He was telling them about the "cramping" and they helped us see that they were actually contractions and that I was likely in early labor. My automatic response, "What? I'm in labor?! Is this really happening?" We started timing them an they were about 5-6 minutes apart. I was tolerating them fine, so we decided to Facetime my parents to let them know things might be getting serious soon.
|Heading to the Hospital Wednesday night|
Jeremy kept timing the contractions while I laid on the couch and practiced my deep breathing. They were getting more consistent at 5 minutes apart and we were so excited that we called the Doctor to see what we should do. She wanted us to come on in and get checked. So we gathered our packed bags and made our way to the hospital. We left the bags in the car since we weren't quite sure we were staying and headed up to Women's and Children's on the 3rd floor. They checked me and I was at a 2.5ish and 50% effaced. I walked around and labored for two hours and then they checked me again - I was at a solid 3 and more thinned out. We were given a choice: you can stay and labor here, or go home and come back when it gets more intense. I decided to go home and be in my own bed for the night.
Jeremy got a great night's sleep. I labored all night long and I am not sure I slept in between contractions. They would hit like a wave and I would concentrate on breathing through them while trying to relax my body and let it do the work it needed to do. As soon as the contraction would end, I would revel in the sensation of not feeling any pain. I would try to stay in the moment of being completely pain free rather than panic about the next contraction to come. By the morning time, they were getting pretty intense and I was losing a lot of blood, so we called the Doctor again about 9:45. I already had an appointment set up at the office at 11:00 so they had me come in early to get checked. My contractions were quite intense at this point and it was a struggle getting in the car and then getting into the Doctor's office.
They took me back and when my Doctor measured me, he laughed and said, "You are at an 8. We need to get you to the hospital." My exact response, "Thank you so much. That is the best news ever! We're really going to have a baby today?!" They couldn't believe how calm I was and my Doctor said that is why I am the nurses' favorite. My Doctor went to get a wheel chair so he could wheel me over to the hospital and I told Jeremy, "If he told me I was at a 4, I was going to cry."
I was so excited to be so far along that in that moment, I decided that I was going to have this baby all natural, no epidural. Jeremy knew at that moment, too. I was pretty convinced that I could do it, and it was something I dreamed of doing. My sweet Doctor wheeled me over to the hospital as everyone in the office wished me luck. The hospital was just next door and he took my right up to my room on Women's and Children's. I was admitted probably just before 11:00. The nurses couldn't believe I was so calm for being at an 8. I changed into a gown and got hooked up to the monitors, they gave me an IV for fluids since I had thrown up every time I tried to drink water. As each contraction came I rolled over to my side and had Jeremy rub my lower back. I was feeling the contractions mostly in my lower back and my upper legs. My quads were so tight and I kept trying to relax them through and after each contraction.
I tried a birthing ball for a hot second and decided it was the worst thing on the planet. So I hopped back on the bed and just breathed through each contraction as Jeremy or a nurse would rub my lower back. The Doctor on call came in and said, "So you want an epidural?" and recommitting to my dream I said, "I would like to try without." I couldn't imagine trying to hold still enough through these contractions for a giant needle to get put into my back. I also figured it would probably slow down the delivery and make the recovery longer, so no, I really didn't want an epidural. The nurses were amazing and continued to support me while going through the contractions. The nurse checked again and said I was pretty much at a 10 and that we were going to start pushing soon.
I couldn't believe we were already getting ready to push. I was pleasantly surprised that I had made it through all the contractions so far and I was able to confidently breath through each one. My nurse explained the breathing and position that would optimize my pushing and we started pushing with the contractions at 12:50. I had a nurse holding each leg, while Jeremy gave me water and dabbed a cold washcloth on my face and neck. The nurse had me roll over and kneel on the bed with my arms draped over the back to use gravity to get the baby to come down a little more. This was the most painful part of the whole experience and about the only time I actually made noise. I was trying to relax during the contractions, but felt like I needed to push. I gave a quick agonizing scream and thought for the first time, "I don't think I can do this." I maybe whispered two of those words out loud and then stopped myself. I knew it was too late to get an epidural anyway and that I would somehow get through this even if it seemed impossible in that moment.
I was in the kneeling position for maybe two intense contractions. They must have done their job of getting the baby to come down because they were really painful and as soon as I rolled back over, they went to get the Doctor. It was in that moment for Jeremy that he decided that I could name the baby whatever I wanted. He just hoped it was a girl, so that we wouldn't have a son named Moses. There were all sorts of things going through my mind in between my contractions, mostly positive self talk - which is totally appropriate for a therapist, right? I remember thinking, "I'm actually doing this. My baby will be here soon. I'm really doing this without an epidural. I'm totally rocking this." The nurses were fabulous and kept telling me that I was doing amazing and that I would meet my baby soon. Jeremy kept telling me that I was doing an awesome job and that he couldn't believe how strong I was. It was quite the ego boost I will tell you.
The Doctor came in and he just added to it all. As I was would push, he would get really excited and yell, "Push, push, push......... That's it.....Just like that..... Yes! YES!!!" and then instruct me to take another quick breath and do it again, while the contraction was still there. I was getting so into the pushing that they would have to tell me to rest when I wasn't having a contraction. I would end up pushing 3-4 times with every contraction and then taking deep breaths in between trying to rest my body. Another nurse came in as we were getting closer and she continued to cheer me on as well. I seriously felt like a rockstar as this awesome team coached me as I was bringing this baby into the world. They were so kind to me!
Jeremy said that the head would get close and then fall back a little bit. Turns out, the baby had their hand right by their face which was making it much harder to get the baby out, and caused quite a bit of tearing. I continued to push, my team cheered me on, and Jeremy dabbed my face with a washcloth. The Doctor decided to do an episiotomy and few contractions later he said, "I think we will have this baby out in two contractions." In my mind, I said, "Let's make it one!" I pushed like my life depended on it.... and the little baby popped out right at 2:15!
Jeremy said that right after the head came out a little right hand shot out into the air. I felt immediate relief as the rest of baby slithered out and they placed them face down on my stomach. I heard myself say, "I just had a baby! I did it! I can't believe I did it!" The nurses wiped the baby down while on my now empty belly. The baby didn't scream very much, just squawked a little here and there. Jeremy cut the umbilical cord and I held our little one while the Doctor pulled out the placenta and stitched me up - which took about an hour. During this the Doctor eventually asked, "Is it a girl or a boy?" and I told them, "I don't know yet." I rolled the tiny baby over and announced, "It's a girl! We have a girl!" Jeremy was right at my left shoulder, crying and kissing my forehead, telling me how proud he was of me. It was the most amazing experience.
|The Forbidden Photo|
They kept taking my blood pressure and my temperature over and over again since no one could believe the readings that they were getting. At that point they gave me some Tylenol (my first medication for pain) and it came down to 105.5 about an hour later and continued to come down super slowly. I was still at 101 at 10:00 pm. The Doctors have since decided that I can never have Misoprostol again.
They borrowed the baby to weigh her and do some tests and then Jeremy held her. He was trying to respond to texts and missed calls, since I had been ignoring my phone since the contractions intensified the night before. I just sat there trying to be coherent while my body was on fire and shivering at the same time. My muscles were so exhausted, especially my upper quads and my arms. I was so excited to have a sweet baby girl. Jeremy and I both thought it was going to be a girl, so it just felt right when she joined us Earth-side. As I sat there pondering what to name her, I considered our top choices - Hazel Jane or Gwen Eliza. We were most recently leaning towards Hazel, but when I saw our little girl, Gwen just seemed to be perfect! I asked Jeremy what he thought we should name her, and he said he was leaning towards Gwen. "Me too! So Gwen it is!" I said.
And here is our first family selfie!
|Which I had him post on Instagram instead... see? Way better!|