Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Harper's Birth Story

These past three weeks have been everything and nothing like I thought they would be all at the same time. Becoming a mommy has been the most rewarding and amazing feeling I could have ever dreamed of. It was an instant 'love at first sight' connection between me and my little girl. She's more beautiful and perfect than I could have ever imagined. My heart has grown more than I ever thought it could for both her and my husband. Watching him become a daddy has filled my heart with more love than I ever thought possible. Becoming parents has been the biggest blessing we could have ever been given, and we can only thank God for allowing us to call her ours forever.

Despite being head over heels in love with this little one, these past three weeks have been emotionally, physically, and mentally draining to be quite honest. With her birth kinda being "sprung" on us, my labor and delivery going nothing like I planned or hoped, a baby that screamed and cried her whole first week home (especially from 11pm-3am), mourning the loss of my pregnant belly (thanks raging postpartum hormones!) and continuous issues with my personal health thanks to delivery complications I've been like I said, drained. But I can honestly say that despite all these hiccups, I wouldn't trade my sweet bundle of joy for anything in the world. She melts my heart with every stare, every grab, and yes, even every cry. Everything has gone to plan - God's plan, not mine - which is how it should be!

*If birth stories aren't your thing, feel free to skip on over it! I can't promise not to share far too many details and lots of pictures with frizzy hair & no makeup. :)

On the morning of Wednesday, December 9th, we had our last appointment with my doctor. After scheduling a scheduled induction at our previous appointment for that upcoming Sunday, this appointment was more for precautionary measures since my blood pressure had been an area of concern. The previous week my blood pressure could not have been more perfect thanks to complete bed rest, so I assumed this appointment would be about the same. I was stress free all week, rested like I was instructed, and really was content with having a few more peaceful days at home with my husband before our world would be so beautifully turned upside down. Much to my surprise, the nurse took my blood pressure and it was the highest it had been all pregnancy long (about 160/110). I pretty much knew right then and there that my doctor wouldn't let me go until that Sunday like originally planned due to the risk of further complications during labor & delivery associated with the high blood pressure.

Just like we thought, our doctor quickly cut to the chase when she came into the room and expressed the concern with my BP. After checking to see if I had progressed in dilation over the past week (which I had not one bit - maybe, maybe 1 cm), she let us know that we would need to go in as soon as possible to start the induction process. I would be 39 weeks the following day, so baby was considered full-term at that point. We were pretty taken back by this news, considering we weren't really prepared going into the appointment, aside from our hospital bags being packed. After working out the schedule with the hospital, my doctor instructed us to arrive at the hospital by 5pm that evening, giving us a chance to take care of things back home before beginning our hospital stay.

Cody and I both left the doctor's office relatively quiet - probably a little shocked more than anything. We were ready for a Sunday induction, but were still hoping to knock out a few things on our to-do list before bringing our girl home. After calling our parents letting them know of the news, we decided to have one last breakfast together as a family of two at Chick-fil-a. I remember sitting in the bench, thinking that by tomorrow (so I thought) our family would grow by one - so weird, unexpected, and exciting all at the same time! We ran by Target to grab some last minute items to pack away and then headed home. We gathered our belongings, cleaned up a little, and eventually took our dog, Hank, to be boarded while we were gone. We arranged plans for Maci to be picked up, let our close friends in on the news, and ate a late lunch before we left. Through it all, we both stayed relatively calm and collected, soaking in what was going to happen.

We arrived at the hospital (a little after 5...thanks to me) and checked in through emergency since it was after hours. We were quickly checked in, and headed up to the maternity ward where our room was already waiting on us. Since I wasn't dilated much at all, and hadn't shown much progress over the last few weeks (Harper was not ready to leave anytime soon, I was sure of it), they were going to give me Cervidil to soften my cervix and hopefully increase dilation over night to lower the chance of a c-section. The Cervidil needed to be inserted for 12 hours, with no eating and no drinking through the night. We had a couple visitors to make sure we were settling in well, and had everything we needed. 

The next morning the Cervidil was taken out, and one of the other doctors from my practice came in to check to see the progress made before her shift switched over to the doctor I had normally been seeing. According to her, I hadn't made much progress at all, so she was going to leave it up to my doctor on whether to do another round of Cervidil for another 12 hours (please no!) or to go ahead and start the pitocin. While waiting for the decision to be made, I was able to eat a turkey sandwich for breakfast (not complaining since I missed them throughout my whole pregnancy!) and was able to shower and get ready for the day ahead.

Once the second doctor came in and checked me, I was about 1 1/2 cm dilated, definitely more thinned out, and was having mild contractions. Knowing that, she had the nurse start pitocin around 8:45am. For the longest time, I wasn't dilating more at all. I was still around 1 cm for majority of the morning, but was luckily thinning out as the morning went on and the pitocin was increased gradually. I was pretty sure Harper would have stuck it out for as long as possible in there if she could have. About 2-3 hours after the pitocin was initially started, my doctor came back in and broke my water to hopefully kick my body into gear. Luckily, breaking my water did the trick as I was beginning to have longer and stronger contractions throughout the day. I toughed it out for awhile, but decided to go ahead with the epidural around 3. I was really questioning whether I gave in too soon, if I was being a giant wimp and had no pain tolerance whatsoever. I felt a lot of guilt for some reason. But inevitably, I went ahead with decision after being told it would be about an hour before the anesthesiologist would be in to administer the epidural.

To my surprise, it didn't take an hour at all, but only took about 20 minutes. I felt pretty nervous about it, but the pain of the contractions eventually outweighed my desire to care. Once everything kicked in, naturally I felt amazing and even thought a couple times that this labor thing was a piece of cake! We had a few visitors throughout the day to keep us company and pass the time, which was really nice. Laying in bed for 24 hours left me feeling pretty restless!

Beginning around 7 that evening, I started to feel mild cramping on my left side. Gradually, the pain started getting worse, but not unbearable. Around 8:30 or so, my nurse checked me again and I was still only about 4cm and 90% effaced, which left me pretty disappointed since everything was moving so slowly throughout the day. Around 9 or so, the contractions on my left side were becoming more intense. My epidural was slowly wearing off on my left side only, so a little after 9, my doctor checked me and I was barely at 5 cm. I was told I would probably be having her around 2am at the rate I was progressing. Once my doctor left, my contractions were coming in full force and pretty close together. By 10pm I was in tears and on the verge of balling my eyes out because the pain was that intolerable. Cody called the nurse in and she got the anesthesiologist back down to our room to replenish my epidural. I was also given a narcotic of some kind along with the epidural. The anesthesiologist stuck around to see if the pain subsided, but all it really did was numb my right side more, and left my left side a little tingly, still feeling the contractions. My nurse decided to see how dilated I was, even though I was checked an hour before by my doctor. We quickly found out the reason for the sudden unbearable contractions - I was 9cm dilated. That's right - 5cm to 9cm in less than an hour. The anesthesiologist looked a little concerned, and even expressed that he wouldn't have given me the second epidural dose and narcotic if he knew I was that dilated in fear of me not being able to feel the contractions and push.

As soon as we found out that I was 9cm, the room quickly filled with nurses, scurrying to get everything prepped and ready for baby. As chaos is happening around the room, my left side is feeling every contraction. I never wanted to even know what having a baby naturally felt like, but I quickly started figuring it out. My doctor eventually arrived around 10:50 or so, and I began pushing. I remember watching the clock in between contractions thinking she would be in my arms within a matter of minutes. Five, ten, fifteen, thirty, an hour passed by and I was still pushing. In between every push, I kept my eyes on the clock. Because I was given the narcotic, I felt extremely drowsy and could almost fall asleep in between contractions. I could get two good pushes in, and by the third push I had no energy left and was almost falling asleep. By the time the doctor could see her head, she realized why my epidural wore off on my left side. Our little girl sunny side up, tilted to the side, so she created a "hot spot" - a place the epidural couldn't reach. 

Working on hour two of pushing, I felt like I was defeated, exhausted, and couldn't do it anymore. All I wanted to do was cry and scream, but I held back the best I could. The more I pushed, the more my epidural wore off on my whole body. I had never experienced so much pain in my life, and I felt like I had no energy left to get her out. Somehow, I managed to make some progress with pushing, and by 12:54am, our little girl was laid on my chest looking as perfect and beautiful as ever. I remember looking at her for the first time and thinking she looked like Cody. I kept looking at her, and looking at Cody, to see his reaction to his beautiful, brand new daughter. I watched her in amazement for awhile, but the pain of after birth quickly brought me back down to earth. Since my epidural had completely worn off, I was feeling every push, every pull, and every stitch. I kept thinking it would all be over soon, but it wouldn't stop. Because she came out facing upwards and sideways, I had an abnormal 3rd degree tear that took an eternity to fix. It felt like the longest hour of my life, but finally by 2am I was finally able to hold my little girl. 

Our original plan after delivery was to spend an hour together with just her, and then let family see her after. But because of the severe pain I was in, and the fact that it was 2am, we decided to go ahead and have our parents come back to see her. We loved watching their reactions when holding her and seeing their granddaughter for the first time. After lots of snuggles, Cody was able to take her to the nursery and watch her get checked out and bathed. My mom stayed with me for awhile, and helped me eat a snack and finally drink some much needed water. After two hours of pushing, an hour of being stitched up, my body was feeling traumatized and I couldn't stop shaking uncontrollably due to pain. I never dreamed of my labor and delivery going like this, and I had a hard time soaking in the sweet moments of meeting my daughter for the first time because the experience took everything out of me. By 5am, I finally was able to hold her, freshly bathed, cute little hat and all. I looked at her and never felt so much love in my life. She could not have been more perfect, and made every moment of pain worth it. 

The next few days, our sweet little Harper had lots of visitors. She was shown so much love in her first few days. Cody and I loved seeing everyone's reaction when meeting her, and felt very blessed to have such wonderful friends and family to support our new family of three.

We ended up staying in the hospital a lot longer than we ever anticipated - roughly six days - due to health complications with me. But despite the wanting to completely bust out of that place, we loved getting to know our girl!

By Monday night, we were finally discharged from the hospital and could finally head home with Harper!

We've been completely in love ever since. :)

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  1. Right there with you Mama! Crazy how much our pregnancies, births, and little girls have been similar. Always enjoy reading your updates! Hang in there - week 5 of life has been a LITTLE easier :)

  2. I love birth stories! Even though yours wasn't what you planned, you were the strongest, bravest Mama and YOU brought your beautiful little girl into this world! I hope you are 100% back on the mend now and adjusting to life with a newborn. She's seriously so scrumptious!

  3. Tears, just tears. I love you guys so much! You rocked it out for real!

  4. So so sweet!! Harper is beautiful and so sorry things didn't end up like you thought. Love reading birth stories and you were a trooper through it all (especially the 6 day hospital stay).

  5. I'm so sorry it didn't go as planned! Birth is so unpredictable and unfortunately you just never know how it'll go. I'm so glad everyone is ok and healthy now and you finally have that sweet baby girl to love on. For us the 6 week mark was definitely the game changer in things getting better. Also- Gerber Soothe Drops were our life saver in those fussy nights and are worth every penny of the $30 price tag for the tiniest bottle! It does get easier and easier, and soon you'll have an 18 month old running around in circle laughing as she screams no to you! Haha

  6. I totally felt for you through all of this. I really can't believe how similar our experiences were, especially since we named our little girls the same name :) It's amazing to me the things we can go through in order to bring our little ones into the world and how quickly it seems so worth it! I'm so glad she's here and both you and her and healthy! I'm always here for any questions, new mom chats or anything at all!

  7. She is absolutely gorgeous! And her name fits her beautifully! So this is random, but.. I haven't blogged/been on blogger in forever (after my daughter was born I kinda fell off the bandwagon) So the last thing I remember seeing from your blog was maybe 14ish weeks pregnant?! So this is fun for me to log on today and see that you had your baby! :) Congratulations!

  8. I love reading birth stories and yours brought tears! Beautiful baby girl and now family of three :)

  9. Awe Congrats Lauren, she's gorgeous! Sounds like it was a tough delivery. Hopefully the hubby is pampering you and taking great care of you and baby Harper until you get to feeling better. Happy New Year. Looking forward to learning more about Miss Harper.

  10. Congratulations! I just love reading birthing stories! Every single one is so unique and different. She's beautiful!