Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sweet baby cheeks and a story of birth

"Sometimes," said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart." A.A. Milne

Was he talking about honey pots? I'm talking about my little baby. She went to her first appointment with her pediatrician yesterday and she weighed in at 6 lbs and 14 ounces. So little! Not abnormally so (they're supposed to lose a little weight the first week after being born) but it's still the smallest living thing I've ever been mainly responsible for. I kind of feel like crap, sleepy and I'm sore all over, but I have such pride and joy over this little creature we brought into our lives that all the rest doesn't matter. She's pretty amazing.

So my mom doesn't think I should share the birth story on the blog, but ain't no one going to censor me!! She thinks it will scare people that haven't given birth before, but it wasn't really that bad and it has a happy ending, plus I'm pretty sure I'm not spilling any secrets by saying labor and delivery without pain medication HURTS. So here goes:

Almost exactly at midnight on Monday July 11th I had my first contraction. It cramped and hurt for about a minute and then subsided. The same pain came and went 6 minutes later but I wasn't entirely sure that they were contractions, having never felt them before. Honestly, it felt like gas. Bad gas, but a plausible theory considering Jeff and I had Alberta's for dinner (bad idea, btw- I think their hot sauce, while awesome, is what kicked everything into high gear so quickly). I sort of went to bed thinking this would take awhile and that I could time them in bed while Jeff slept. That was comfortable for about no seconds. So I decided to get into the tub which is what any crunchy granola in labor would do. It felt better, but I didn't want to drop my iPhone into the water (which is how I was timing the contractions) so I screamed to Jeff (he was dead to the world, I even tried calling him on the phone from the bathroom and he didn't pick up) so he could come in and help.

Within the hour (from 1:30-2:30 am) my contractions went from being 6 minutes and change apart (and lasting a good two minutes- that was horrible) to two minutes apart, and still between one and two minutes long. This scared me so I said "HOSPITAL. NOW." Thundercats go!!!!

It took us about 15 minutes for me to gasp out last minute things I wanted for my hospital bag while Jeff fetched them and I doubled over the bed in pain. Not much can prepare you for what that feels like. I tried to do my yoga breathing, tried swaying, the idea of my beloved bouncy ball suddenly horrified me, and pretty much every position sucked. I just had to suffer through it.

During the quick car ride to the hospital (thank God we live less than two miles from the hospital), my contractions went from two minutes apart to one minute apart, which I knew in my gut made me very close to the time to push. The nurses sensed the urgency as they checked me into the triage room and did the first exam to see how far along I was. I heard so many birth stories during my pregnancy where women were in labor with active contractions for awhile, thinking they were close and then getting checked only to hear they're minimally dilated and effaced. I was thinking I was going to be like that because it's my first baby, but nope! On admission to the hospital at 3:30am, after only 3.5 hours of labor, I was 100% effaced and 8 cm dilated, with my bag of waters bulging. The doctor asked if we could rupture them and at that point, I knew any hope of an epidural was quickly fading. I was in so much pain, and wanting that relief so badly, but I was also a little excited to know that I was going to be forced into the natural labor and delivery I really wanted. The doctor ruptured my membranes and a half hour later at 4:00am, I was completely dilated and ready to push.

The four hours I spent up until this point laboring were hard, so painful, and with very little time in between contractions to rest and prepare for the next one. Little did I know, this would pale in comparison to the three hours and 45 minutes I would spend trying to push her out. The doctor said she would give me until 7:30 to push on my own until we needed to consider moving to the OR for a C-section. She said if by 7:30 the baby had come down far enough for the vacuum suction to be used, we would do that. I prayed so hard that my pushing would bring her down to that point, I was terrified of having a C-section after all of this work.

Contractions still came about every minute to two minutes for these 3+ hours, but I couldn't physically push with every one because they were so exhausting. Holding your breath for a count of ten, three times for each contraction while pushing as hard as you can physically push, is mind-blowingly difficult. My face was so swollen from the pushing, and probably all the fluids I was getting through my IV too, that I looked like a completely different person. I didn't want to look at Jeff with my puffy face contorted in pain, so I focused instead on Samantha, our doula, who was a godsend. I know Jeff would have gotten me through it if she wasn't there, but her calm and supportive voice really kept me going when I felt I just couldn't anymore. I whimpered many times "I just can't do this, she is NOT going to come out this way. I can't, I'm not able to do it." and she would just reply "Liv, you ARE doing it. She is so close, you are going to have this baby the way that you wanted. Stay strong, and push her out." So I did.

Elsa was born at 7:46am screaming her miniature head off. She was immediately plopped right onto my chest and I got to look into the face of my baby, the one I had dreamt of so many times while pregnant, and cried along with her.  Jeff got to cut her cord while she was on my chest, and then stayed with her as she was brought over to the warming table for her exams. She scored a 9 on her 1 minute APGAR, and a perfect 10 on her 5 minute, and was the picture of health. Thank the sweet heavens.

So that's my birth story, minus a few details y'all just don't need to know about. Sam got a bunch of pictures of the whole thing, and you're not going to get to see those either. I will however share a few of my perfect little baby:

My OB wasn't on call the morning I went into labor so we didn't get to have him deliver her which was a little disappointing (fun fact, our OB went to Mitty, the same high school as Jeff!!) but the doctor we did get was awesome. Very professional, a little serious, but encouraging and respectful of my wishes to try as long as possible to avoid the C-section.

Here's proof she was 7 lbs, 9 ounces, not the 9 lbs, 7 ounces Jeff told everyone on Facebook she was. Liar.

This is the only picture I'm allowing anyone to see of me after giving birth. Still unflattering, but it shows that you're still able to smile at and love something that caused you so much pain a mere seconds before. Incredible.

I thought Jeff would cry or hyperventilate or pass out but he was pretty cool the whole way through. Except when my IV got ripped out and I covered one side of the bed in blood. He had to leave the room then.

Her little feet are the cutest things in the world. I stroke and pinch them a lot to get her to wake up and breastfeed. I want to chub her up.

Uncle Jan! He was the first to come and visit us in the hospital that night, and even brought me sushi!! He remembered that it was my first demand.

Godmomma Mandy holding her for the first time! The love was instant.

Karen, Mark and Henry came and visited us in the hospital too! Karen brought me ridiculously good chocolate peanut butter malt balls... how did she know!? Henry looked a little confused as he looked between my somewhat deflated stomach and this little squealy thing everyone kept calling Elsa. He knew Elsa as the thing inside my big belly so the wheels were turning when he saw that Elsa was an actual baby!

Marmie made a beeline for the baby as soon as she came in and held her right away and sniffed her head. I think she's fond of her.

Noni got to hold her next, so neat to see the moms fawn all over her!

She's mostly sleeping in her bassinet right next to my side of the bed, but it's fun to put her down for naps in her crib. She looks so tiny in it!

Elsa and her nipple shield fascinator:

On her way to her first pediatrician's appointment! She was such a happy camper in her car seat and in the car! Thank god she likes it. We took her for a walk around the neighborhood today in it attached to her stroller and she was so alert and mellow during it. I think we found another way to trigger that calming reflex...

Speaking of, here is Jeff showing off his mastery of the 5 S's from The Happiest Baby on the Block. Thanks Sandy Abate!! You saved us with that gift!!

That's it for now. This post took me about 8 hours to write, with many many interruptions. Mostly from my mom, some from the baby.


ET said...

Looks like I am the first to comment on this, and all I can say is that I am glad we men don't have to go through this kind of ordeal...:-) I don't think we could handle it.

As I have said many times to the fantastic pictures I have seen this week, she is precious and incredible, even though I am of course a little bit biased.

Got to run as tio is calling me on Skype trying to get his Skype sorted out (and not working).

Take care and keep those pictures coming. Can't get enough of them.

Ami Bruce Photography said...

Oh my god, Liv - so funny. Laura Gallegos still makes fun of me because I was screaming, "I can't DO it! I can't DO it!!" Thankfully for her, she never plans on having one come out of her body. She said being there for Callum's birth was the best birth control ever and thinking about it still makes her want to puke. Ha! So glad things went quickly and perfectly for you. She's GORGEOUS!!!

kmg said...

Liv - I love every second of this post. I'm in awe you did this straight up natural. For sure I am going to have a MILLION questions when i see you next! Elsa is amazing. So perfect. Well done you two!


Monica said...

my dear Liv...thank you so much for writing this. I felt every emotion I can think of. What a beautiful story that will stay with you forever. Already forgot about the pain, right? I too, had the twins natural with no drugs but almost had to have a c-section after Chris came cuz after waiting 55 min. that Ryan did not want to come out!
I like everyone else are loving your photos. Give my love to everyone and I was just so emotional when I say Sue with Elsa...she looks the happiest I have seen for awhile and it makes my heart sing.
Love you all

Nikki Menda said...

I'm so happy for you two!! She's a beauty. Thank you for sharing your special story! It didn't deter me from having babies - it just convinced me that I need to get there in time for an epidural :) You're a ROCK STAR for going through childbirth natural. So happy you didn't have to have a c-section!

Christy said...

Thank you for sharing Liv! I love reading birth stories and couldn't wait to hear yours :) Love to you three :)

Sue Blanchard said...

w-o-w. i love that story! i can just picture all of this going's great! and look who you have to show for it all...sweet little elsa. i can't wait to meet her!!

Judy Clink said...

She is adorable!! I love the pic of her in the blue and white checked dress! Also the profile of you holding many cute ones, even if she wasn't cooperating!! Keep those pics coming!