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Friday, July 21, 2017

Margaret's Birth Story: Part II

So as I explained in my previous post... Margaret is a few months old now... and I feel like it's a good time to get back to blogging. I hope you'll enjoy reading these posts - I want to continue to be writing honest and realistic memories and reflections about my pregnancy, my birth story for her, and my adjustments to life as a Mom! So sometimes I may share more than is typical... but due to my honesty following our struggle for me to become pregnant... get over it! This blog is my space and I want to be a resource for anyone else who may have questions or want to know if others had their experience. Love.


In my last post, I talked about the long almost 24 hours of labor I had while at home and our checking into the birthing suite at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville. After checking in, Mike and I had our bags placed and started doing some settling in. I wanted to get an idea of the layout of the space, not knowing how long I would be in the hospital for this second leg of our journey before Margaret's arrival. The biggest thing for me was I wanted to continue to do as little medical interventions as possible (as was safe) for this labor, since it was my first. To not be redundant, I'm going to post again the photos of the hospital's birthing suite:

Since I wasn't 100% sure what the Obstetrician had planned, I decided to walk around and really familiarize myself with the space between contractions before the nurses arrived to learn my game plan. I figured out what light switches went to what light fixture, opened all of the cabinets, found all of the comfort items - Martha Jefferson's labor and delivery rooms have all kinds of birthing balls, bars, chairs, stools, rocker, etc. etc. In the top photo you can see my hospital bed and the time - 10:50:22 on Tues. March 21. My only complaint was how uncomfortable these hospital beds were. Especially after enjoying laboring at home in my own bed and our living room couches. That said the labor and delivery beds were comfier than the postpartum rooms (the folding metal bar underneath the mattress was uncomfortable as I'm long-waisted so it hit me in the worst spots). Anyway, these rooms are really comfortable and roomy otherwise. The couch to the right of my bed was actually a futon Mike slept on, with drawers underneath for storage. Behind the painting on the wall was medical equipment hidden away. The chair between my bed and the futon/couch was a rocker. The tub was a massive tub Mike and I could fit in - but I opted out of it only because it had stalled my labor the day before - but with a nurse monitoring you I would do it in a second for our next child and highly recommend it! Lots of storage in the bathroom on both the counters and the shelves. We had brought an essential oil diffuser, essential oils, some body oil and muscle lotion, LED candles to keep the lights low in the room, a Bluetooth speaker for music, and the like for the room to feel better. I changed into the delivery gown I had purchased ahead of time to wear during the process.

When our the nurses on duty came in, they asked if we happened to have a birth plan on us. And yes, in fact we did. It was a huge amount of relief for us that they cared enough to make that one of the first things which they discussed with us. There were only 3 or 4 other couples on the wing. I was coming in at the tail end of a nursing shift so I had one nurse for a few hours, but then our second nurse was with us for the duration. The nurse made notes on the birth plan as she asked us for clarification (or ranking of specific items) and they told us it was posted at the nurses station for the staff to review. A lot of my tension went away with that dialogue! Apparently the majority of laboring mothers enter the hospital, ask for the drugs, and delivery is a quick turnaround. I was an unusual case in that way, and so there was a nursing student on duty that we granted permission to observe. She was really helpful - grabbing popsicles, drinks, timing contractions, helping Michael walk me around the wing, etc. etc.

When our OB came in, the first one of VERY few hiccups came up. It turned out when she came in that I was only 2-3 cm dilated. All of my OB appts leading up to labor had been fingertip and 1cm dilation. That was SO FRUSTRATING. I had been leaking all day and to learn that there was little development after a whole DAY blew our minds. That was when we decided to slightly adapt our birth plan. I was receptive to having some slight intervention, so our OB on duty gave me the teensiest slice of a Cytotec pill (oral not vaginal) - I would say fingernail size so maybe 1/6 of a full dose. This pill brought back contraction regularity and I tried to rest. Really, Mike rested and I just lay there bored out of my mind. I was truly exhausted but knew I might only do a natural(ish) labor once so I just had my heightened awareness and creeped around online without people knowing I was in labor. I had done research online, so I knew then and know now that Cytotec is used off-label for this purpose often. I was glad to have been aware of this information. Make sure you do your own research, too! In future pregnancies, I plan to decline it, as it truly did nothing to speed up my labor or dilate me more.

When the next OB shift change came around for my practice, my nurse was motivated to have the baby before she left for the day (not for pressure, just out of enthusiasm for our birth plan). Margaret's heartbeat was consistently strong, I was feeling strong and just really tired, and I was continuing to go to the restroom regularly, so the OB was incredibly supportive of my sticking with my birth plan until I personally felt otherwise. My nurse was a rockstar (her name is Nancy, and is a former Bradley instructor). We did all of the Bradley Method tips and tricks for labor. I was up and down, swiveling my hips, using the medicine ball, squatting, pelvic rocking, half laying on the labor peanut ball, walking around the wing, deep breaths, bearing down and timing of the contractions. Nancy was using her fists (and so was Michael!) to knead into my tailbone and all around that area of my pelvis. Mike was giving me all kinds of massage to help me mask the pain. I got up every 45-60 minutes to go to the restroom. So after about 17 hours (such a long time) after getting the Cytotec dose, I was at 8cm (during a contraction dilated). Yes, other than the sliver of Cytotec, I'd had no other drugs to help the labor along.

At this point I was at my wits end. I had not really slept in almost 2 days. My body was in agony. I was bawling my eyes out as I had neglected to ask my doctor for something for my caffeine headache - don't forget to pinpoint your symptoms everyone!! I remember sobbing into the pillow thinking, "I'm not able to push yet... but I've been basically pushing for 15+ hours... I don't think I can do this anymore." I wasn't giving up in a morbid sense, but I knew my body well enough, and lets just say I was a REALLY active and healthy pregnant person, so I knew I was approaching a place where I didn't have 100% control of my mental, emotional, psychological self. I needed to pat myself on the back for trying for so hard. Michael and nurse Nancy gave me about a half hour to really collect my thoughts and come to the decision. I asked Michael difficult questions (had he ever seen me this way, what did my face and eyes look like to him at this point) and I asked Nancy difficult questions too (if I was your daughter what kind of advice or gentle input would you give) and since I felt myself slipping I finally adapted my birth plan by giving them my code word - which Michael and Nancy asked for TWICE to make sure I was sure. I wasn't giving up was the main thing. And I wanted to be as aware as I could be postpartum. My labor had stalled but not in a dangerous way, it just was stalling (we learned later) due to my hymenal ring being intact. But my BODY and MIND was stalling by hitting a wall. I really had done a marathon with my body and my mind and I finally asked for all the comfort measures. I had the Fentanyl, an epidural, and Pitocin at around 3:30 p.m. to open and ripen my body from the 8cm I had done naturally to the full 10 cm. My only big freak out was the epidural making me afraid that I would possibly be paralyzed. I had a contraction while he was putting in my line which was terrifying but thankfully M was facing me on the other side of the bed to keep me steady. The Fentanyl helped me nap, briefly, for the first time in almost 24 hours. Everything came together in just 2 hours once I had given the green light for the comfort measures. These amendments did mean I had to have a monitor on, IV line, and couldn't really leave the bed, but that was okay by me at that point. I just melted into the bed and tried to relax. It was fun feeling the contractions progress without the pain. I distinctly remember saying to Nancy or Mike, "WOW is that a contraction? I hope that was a contraction because that was SO POWERFUL."

At around 4:45 or so, Nancy had me practice the Bradley method of a push. She then put my legs up in the stirrups and turned on the overhead light. She called a nurse over and said, "hmm, well you are definitely ready." She also said something along the lines of, "Hmmm, now what is that ring like thing?!" which was very funny (more on that later). The nurses agreed I was in the right place to push... only problem was finding an available OB from my practice! The OB from my practice on duty was in an emergency C-section. The next one coming on duty was leisurely making his way to the hospital. I was ready to push and the nurse at the nurses station yelled, "STOP PUSHING" at everyone in my room. It was very funny. I say "leisurely" as my OB's office is a mere 1 mile or less away, so it would only take minutes for him to arrive. Nurse Nancy told Michael "Hey! You have got to see this (pointing between my legs)" and he actually looked! This action made me screech as we had agreed he wouldn't look to keep that mystery alive in our marriage. Looking back he says, "I saw her hair. Plain as day, the top of her head! It wasn't gross. Just amazing." The OB strolled in and Michael and I were SO EXCITED. Everything was ready to go and laid out. The OB started making small talk. The nurses gave him a MAJOR look and he turned, looked between my legs and realized it was GO TIME. It was all very funny, truly, I was laughing as I was comfortable and knew I was meeting Margaret in just moments. My OB was between my knees, I was ready to go, and I pushed once. He said the baby's ears or something was caught on my hymenal ring, so he broke the ring and she naturally moved out. She was crying already and in full color once he broke the ring. He let me put my hands under her shoulders (at her armpits) and I pulled her with the last push putting her directly onto my naked chest. Yes, I pulled Margaret out with my own bare hands.

I was astounded. I was relieved. I was excited. I was crying. There were no words for how incredible I felt and how wonderful it all was. I felt so strong. The tiredness was gone. It was euphoric. Margaret was born on Wednesday, March 22 at 5:49 p.m. 6 pounds, 8 ounces. The past four months have been incredible.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Margaret's Birth Story, Part I (pre-hospital)

So Margaret is a few months old now... and I feel like it's a good time to get back to blogging. I hope you'll enjoy reading these posts - I want to continue to be writing honest and realistic memories and reflections about my pregnancy, my birth story for her, and my adjustments to life as a Mom! So sometimes I may share more than is typical... but due to my honesty following our struggle for me to become pregnant... get over it! This blog is my space and I want to be a resource for anyone else who may have questions or want to know if others had their experience. Love!


My due date (March 17) came and went with Miss Margaret still not making an appearance. On Monday, March 20 I stayed up late in the evening to get some reading and organizing done (I REALLY needed to catch up on my hometown monthly paper The Rockbridge Advocate). Midnight passed. I was getting ready to go to bed and literally was laying down into bed at around 2:00am on Tuesday, March 21 when my water broke. I thought I had finally lost bladder control... but you quickly realize it's your waters when it just keeps going! Some mucus had passed in small pieces the past couple days (when you end up 'overdue' you really just feel the need to look into the toilet bowl...haha!) but I wasn't sure if there was any discharge or not. When my waters finally broke it was clear with very little blood. I shook Michael awake (who had been asleep for 2-3 hours), I said, "I think my waters broke..." and his very tired-REM sleep response was, "are you kidding me?" HAHA! I recall saying, "YES" and maybe even, "Yes, asshole!" I remember being both excited but also SO PISSED that I wasn't going to be able to get a full night of sleep before my labor started. By the time I hobbled to the W.C. there was some mucus visible - clear, white and snotty looking with some traces of brown (dried blood color). Thankfully, we had put a waterproof mattress cover over our mattress so I just plopped a towel down over the spot as it wasn't so much that I couldn't just lay there and try to nap once I returned to bed.

I felt really gross, so I told Michael to call the OB on duty line for our practice and I was going to take a shower. I remember him coming in with a disappointed face, and it turned out our favorite Obstetrician had been on duty that overnight, which meant she wouldn't be present when we delivered. Thankfully due to my PCOS and IUGR issues, we had gotten to know everyone in the practice so well! I enjoyed my shower and made sure to really enjoy it... I didn't know when the next one would be. I had gotten my hair and nails done in the two weeks leading up, so I felt as ready as I could be. I remember standing in the shower thinking, 'this is it' and feeling nervous about what all the labor could entail. I was excited to see what Margaret would look like, but the biggest thing is I was so scared she was going to be severely underweight and that we may get moved across town to UVA and the NICU. So there were many prayers about all of that... you just can't help it! I remember some early contractions pretty much right away, but they were so faint I didn't really know that's what they were as they were more at my back than anywhere else. I recall Mike said that the OB wanted us to go to sleep, so I sent Mike to bed and I... just lay there. I think I maybe got a 2 hour nap in before the labor really started moving.

We started tracking contractions when I learned what a contraction REALLY felt like. That happened at 5:48am. It was like a dull throbbing pain, but not as bad as I thought it would be. That said, I had had awful menstrual cramps for years and these early contractions weren't nearly as bad as those are for me. The fact that they gradually increased helped me kind-of surrender to the growing pain that I would still consider a discomfort more so than pain.

Contractions continued for several hours. Mike called the OB office during the workday, and we told them about the contractions, how they were pretty far apart and not regular (and when they were regular... still super far apart). We called my parents to let them know I was in labor but we'd rather they come after delivery... but Mike would keep them posted. My Dad responded by texting me a photo of the outfit he was wearing in honor of "his girls" - SO CUTE!

Mike called out of work to start his paternity leave. He also got our sweet Lily dog out of the house to go to her pet sitter for the next few days.

I took a bath to relax and be calm (and kill time)(but it turned out it stalled my labor... UGH). Day turned to evening again. We called the OB on duty again when I was about to go to bed... probably about 9:00 at night. I had wanted to labor at home as long as possible, but Mike was starting to get nervous (I really was fine, even though the contractions were uncomfortable I was prepared for that). The OB on duty wanted us to come in, I didn't want to, but Mike's face told me he would feel better so I had a really solid ugly cry about this not being my birth plan and I knew the baby was fine as our midwife class told us what to do about laboring at home and his stupid face was ruining it for me. haha. This OB on duty had already started discussing interventions and I was SO NOT HAPPY. So we got our bags and headed to the hospital which was a 30+ minute drive away. The next time we would be home it would be with Margaret!

When we arrived at the hospital it was so quiet. The parking garage was empty, it was a very still, cold winter night. At Martha Jefferson we go straight to the Birthing Wing - and since I pre-registered - and my OB on duty told them we were coming in - everything was a breeze (still had some paperwork though)(stupid bureaucracy). I had a contraction while we were speaking to the nurses at the check in desk. I remember just rocking back and forth in Michael's arms - like we were slow dancing - and it was so quiet in that hospital you could hear a pin drop. We were one of maybe 3 couples on the unit that evening when we checked in. We got to our room and it was just as serene and lovely as it had been in the hospital tour so while my tension was mounting I was also feeling at ease knowing everything would be alright. At this point it's just about 11:00pm on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, and I'm ready to get this show on the road!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Weeks 38 - 40 Pregnancy Journal

40 weeks here!

How Far Along? 40 weeks, 1 day - as of today 3/18/2017

Week 38 Began: Friday, March 3

39 weeks in this photo with our dog, Lily

Week 39 Began: Friday, March 10
Week 40 Began: Friday, March 17

Size of Baby (at 40 weeks): the size of a red panda, minus the fluffy tail or a watermelon (average is 20 inches tall and 7.5 lbs)

Gender: A girl, Margaret

Weight Gain: hovering around 188-194 pounds most days

Maternity Clothes: I've finally really popped at 38 weeks, with the baby continuing to drop down I think I'm really showing now at weeks 39 and 40. Shirts can barely cover my stomach!

Nursery: We have been given so many gorgeous gifts the past few weeks - handmade items! A handmade quilt from one of my boarding school professors, two knit hats and a throw blanket from someone who trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with M, and the spouse of a coworker of M's sent him home with a stroller blanket and a throw blanket. So girly and sweet!

Quilt from one of my retired boarding school professors - gorgeous and matches the nursery perfectly!

Movement: Margaret is still moving a lot all day long. She has definitely dropped but she has still really active so the Docs have no concern about rushing to induce me before we get to 41 weeks and then we will reassess.

Symptoms: Heartburn, calf stiffness, and now hip stiffness on both sides from when I'm sleeping and moving from side to side overnight. Side-sleeping really has been an adjustment.

Side Effects: We've had some global warming weather shifts that have been really dramatic lately. So we've been running 3 humidifiers in the house but I've had more issues tied to that than this pregnancy - dry nose, dry eyes, sniffles, etc.

Sleep: It's fine... except I'm now getting up due to needing to pee all the time. I mean, ALL the time. Totally wild. But trying to keep up with as much sleep or naps as I can.

Cravings: Just hungry in general quite often!

What I Miss: No heartburn. No muscle aches. Being able to bend over easily to put on socks!

Best Moment This Week: Finding out at 39 weeks 5 days I was finally ONE whole CENTIMETER dilated. haha. But also good progress in that my cervix is anterior. She'll arrive when she is ready!

What I Learned This Week: You can eventually run out of things to do when you aren't working and your baby is due to arrive at any time. Also, I got a manicure and pedicure last week and that was really nice - that pedicure felt AMAZING!

Looking Forward To: Active labor starting at some point.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Week 37 Pregnancy Journal

How Far Along? 37 weeks

Week 37 Began: Friday, February 24

Size of Baby: a bunch of swiss chard (or "winter melon" (19" or more, around 6.33 pounds))

Gender: A girl, Margaret

Weight Gain: hovering around 186-192 pounds most days (apparently I "lost" weight this week and they thought I had caught the local stomach bug going around. Nope... just going #2 a bit more regularly now. haha). But in all honesty they have always weighed me on the heavier end as I usually have OB appt after breakfast, lunch, in mid to late afternoon with lots of clothes on!

Maternity Clothes: maternity yoga pants, Uggs, cardigans, shelf bra tank tops, and dresses if they can stretch around my ever expanding chest (more chest than tummy/uterus for me!).

Nursery: We ended up getting a few more gifts in the mail or from coworkers but we are basically done with all nursery items except for hanging up artwork! Note the sweet handmade throw on our chair in the top of the photo - it's pink and orange with a white border - that same former coworker also made us a little pink cape/shawl for Margaret as well!

Movement: Margaret is still moving a lot all day long. She lets me know if she doesn't like a position I'm hanging out in. Obstetrician today said she was still head down and in the right position but her head was kinda buoyed up a little bit more than she was two weeks ago. But still dropped.

Symptoms: some heartburn. Not as frequent but when it's there it is awful! Insomnia. Biggest symptom this week is from my calves cramping up, kind of a restless legs syndrome feeling more so than a charley horse.

Side Effects: Nesting, eye sensitivity, bladder pressure, feeling more full in the front which makes me a little off on my feet when I try to get out of bed in the morning (I have to roll around and out otherwise my muscles feel pulled around my pelvis).

Sleep: I have to get up more in the middle of the night to go to the loo. She is a bit more insistent in her kicks regardless of my sleeping on my left or right sides. Still trying to get as much as I can, while I still can. A crappy night is like 5 hours and a good night is 9+ hours of sleep.

Cravings: King cake gluten free cupcakes from Pearl's Bake Shoppe in C'ville for Mardi Gras.

What I Miss: No heartburn. No muscle aches. Not getting winded going up our stairs... so weird (but they are steeper than usual stairs)!

Best Moment This Week: M bringing me those King cake cupcakes after work on Mardi Gras!

What I Learned This Week: That even though we haven't had a cervix check in two weeks (last time I was still closed), I learned I was a fingertip dilated on Thurs 03/02... so some progress which is good but surprised it was still less than 1 cm. I also remembered that it was exactly like all of my reading and the classes we took at the Birthing Center told us - it just sets you up for disappointment so don't take it personally or think too hard about the cervix checks. Remember they are optional in my situation so I could refuse one next week and it would be no big deal. So I wasn't bummed out but I was a little surprised... that I was relieved I wasn't more dilated. When you know you know I guess. Also learned more about perineal massage from an actual friend and not just from the birthing center or from my readings... as I continue to look into it/try it out. Super gawky but really neat concept. Got some real talk from honest friends - including one classmate who is pregnant with her 4th child and each labor has been different for her. Always good for perspective. Everyone is different and I keep telling myself that.

Looking Forward To: Continuing to savor every pre-baby moment with M. Which is mostly just in the house watching stuff I recorded on our DVR from 31 Days of Oscar as going anywhere is just exhausting for me. haha. Also when this is over I'm looking forward to sleeping on my stomach again!!