Just five short weeks ago, I gave birth to my daughter, my Lark Story...life with her is more than I could have ever imagined.
And it happened like this...
After weeks and weeks of toni braxton hicks, horrible pelvic pain and lots of cramping, I went to my 39 week appointment. It would have been the first I had my cervix checked for progress. I was hopeful that all I'd been going through was going to show some sort of progress...now I know what they say, cervical dilation is not a 100% positive indicator of when labor will begin, since it can change in an instant, but I just knew something had to be happening down there. I was not going through all of this to have NOTHING happening!
Then it happened, the lovely exam (which was actually kind of painful)...showing ZERO progress! None, nada, zilch...I felt so discouraged. Everyone told me not to worry, that she'd come when ready. Yeah, yeah, yeah...I realize, but those last few weeks were tough and I was getting antsy. I was sent off, with an appointment for the following Monday that included a non-stress test and another exam, assuming I didn't have the baby over the weekend. I was sure I wasn't having her over the weekend.
I spent the next few days hiking staircases at work through the pain, eating spicy food and doing accupressure at my desk at work. Trying whatever I could to get my body moving. I didn't want to go past my due date, and I knew that was common for first-time moms.
On Friday, September 6, my mom flew in from Hawaii. The trip had been planned for some time and she was coming for the baby's birth and to help out for awhile. She had a hard time choosing dates to come since she didn't want to miss the birth. But my fear was this stubborn baby coming so late, that she'd have very limited time with her once she was born.
I drove down to Detroit to pick her up. An hour and a half drive, which I was nervous about, so I took my friend, Lisa, along...just in case. I left work at noon to head down there and texted James about feeling anxious about the ride. He reassured me I'd make it back with no problem. I felt slightly off that day, thanks to cramping and the dreadful pelvic pain, but I shrugged it off since it had meant nothing at my last appointment.
I was so glad to see my mom! It had been over a year and I missed her so much. We hugged it out and she rubbed my belly right there in the airport arrival gate area. Once we got her luggage and headed out of the airport, we decided a trip to Ikea would be fun, since she'd never been. We spent a couple of hours in there, laughing and having fun and buying a bunch of goodies, including a rocker since we didn't have one yet and would be needing one.
We grabbed some McDonald's on the way home because she hadn't eaten a full meal in almost 24 hours. Her total trip time was around 18 hours so it had been a really long day.
We got back home, spent some time catching up with James' mom, whom my mom had never met and was also in town in hopes she'd be seeing a baby sometime soon. It was getting late and we needed dinner. So we headed to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner. Now I have to add that every meal for about 2 weeks was my "last meal," so I was always ordering bad, greasy and filling food, just in case I wouldn't be able to eat for awhile BECAUSE THAT BABY WAS COMING ANY MINUTE! Like I said, every meal FOR WEEKS...with no baby in sight. So this night I ordered cheddar bacon pub chips and a giant coke. Then I helped my mom eat a chocolate lave cake. It was a GOOD meal!
We got home and laughed and chatted some more, until about 11:30 when my mom decided she was delirious enough and needed sleep so we could play and shop on Saturday.
Now I'll preface this by saying that my mom predicted I'd go into labor the night she got here because she'd have been up for hours and wouldn't be able to sleep for days...it was something we laughed about for weeks beforehand.
I went to bed around 12:30 and at about 12:45, I started having intense cramps and contractions. I laid there in the dark for a bit, wondering what it meant, thinking it was probably nothing...but they hurt and came in waves. I started to time them, just in case, and they were anywhere from 8 minutes to 2 minutes apart. I called James in to tell him what was going on since he was still awake, but asked him not to wake anyone up as of yet. I decided to time them for an hour and see what happened. He came in to check on me about an hour later and the contractions had kept going the whole time, pretty consistently. He decided to lay down and get some rest, just in case...everything was "just in case" at this point...I decided to get up and wash my face, and because it took my mind off of the pain I was feeling.
Previously, I thought I'd shower, fix my hair, blah blah blah, before going into labor, but when it's almost 2 am, all I desired was a clean face, clear of makeup that was, at this point, smeared all over my face. I also finished getting my bag together, which had sat, half-assed packed, for weeks. And now I found myself just throwing things together.
I felt like I had to pee, so I went to the bathroom and discovered I was bleeding. I woke James right away because it scared me and I wasn't sure what to do. I ended up calling the hospital to see what I should do, they transferred me to the OB on duty (who happened to be my favorite doctor) and he wanted me to come in and be checked right away.
I went upstairs and woke my mom to let her know. She decided she'd continue to rest while we went to see what was going on. James let his mom know and we set a plan that should I be admitted, she'd bring my mom and Brennan down to the hospital.
I still didn't think it was really "it."
We put our stuff in the car, but didn't even bring a car seat, which wasn't a huge deal, since we leave about 10 minutes from the hospital, but it was funny that we didn't think it was necessary at the time.
We parked and walked into the building...a couple of steps in the door....my water broke. I froze, legs squeezed together, because somehow I thought that would help stop the flow of fluid. James turned and looked, asking what was wrong and I said, "Either my water broke, or I'm bleeding out." A dude showed up in the lobby asking if we needed help and we clued him in, so he brought us a wheelchair. The feeling of your water breaking is a strange experience. It's like wetting yourself profusely with no control of your bladder, that shiz just keeps coming! It was like out of a movie or something, so cliche!
James wheeled me up to check in. All of the nurses kind of sat there, until one asked if she could help us, to which James replied, "I don't know, she wants to have a baby or something." They started check in and I got wheeled into the triage portion of labor and delivery, given an uber fashionable robe, and put in a really sterile and not-very-comforting room...alone...Since my water had broken, she gave me a plastic bag to put my clothes in. After an oh-my-god-that-must-be-a-mucus-plug trip to the bathroom (TMI, I know, but I'm just telling the story), I put on the robe, climbed up into the bed, leaking fluid all the way, and waited for the nurse. I had a nurse named Keshia, who turned out to be our favorite, and she got the monitors hooked up and called for a different nurse to come check me out. A young, male nurse showed up (just my embarassing luck), and walked me through the process, which included monitoring my contractions for about an hour (they were still consistent) and giving me an exam via speculum to swab me, to check if my water had really broken. I responded, "Seriously?!" because it's all I could think of. And he politely let me know that it was hospital protocol and needed in order to admit me. So as he's getting the equipment ready, Keshia is pulling out stirrups and helping me into them. One lift of my legs and the flood gates were open. I know this is likely grossing people out at this point, but it's key parts of the story. The male nurse turns back to me with the oh-so-lovely speculum in hand, both Keisha and I give him THE look...it's the same "Seriously?!" response, in look form. Keisha was basically like, listen dude, just swab the river that's pouring out...he did, and immediately said, "yeah, we're keeping you." He did a quick examination, stating that I was between 2 and 3 centimeters dilated.
I was fully admitted and taken to a delivery room, via wheelchair again, even though I could walk just fine, but the whole fluid issue was embarassing and uncomfortable and I felt better sitting...with a large towel stuffed you know where. As James wheeled me into the delivery room, there sat the empty table, where our new baby would lay, and I immediately felt a rush of emotions. This was real, and this was happening. My daughter was making her debut. After getting settled in, at what was now between 3 and 4 in the morning, James headed back to the car to get our stuff. In my moments of solitude, I counted minutes between contractions and had a million different thoughts going through my mind. I laid there, staring at the empty table, trying to take it all in and remember the moment. I felt ready, but also nervous and scared.
Keshia got me all hooked up to the machines, inserted the IV into my arm (damn it, that hurt! She did say she wouldn't lie to me and tell me it was just a small poke, she told me it was going to hurt. I respected her honesty!), and I could hear my baby's heartbeat...whoosh, whoosh, whoosh...I always loved hearing her heartbeat, safe inside of me. My favorite doctor happened to be on call that night, and I was ecstatic! I told him once before that I'd be so happy to have him deliver my baby. Everyone is surprised when I tell them he was my favorite. I saw a group of doctors, and he just stood out to me. Most women perceive him as cocky, but we saw eye to eye, with the same sense of humor. People don't often understand my sense of humor, which, I'm assuming, is what happens to him. But we clicked, and he had always been a favorite. And he brought us a cute, little white polar bear as a gift for the baby and set it in her empty bed.
He asked if needed anything for pain. I didn't. But he told me my options and also let me know that because my water broke, they couldn't check my progress much, because of the risk of infection. He said they'd check me again at the point I felt I needed medication. Some time had passed, we made phone calls, our moms and Brennan were on their way. I tried to shut my eyes and get some rest, but it was difficult and I just couldn't sleep. I continued to ride the waves of contractions, breathing my way through...that male nurse (I don't remember his name) came back and let me know that contractions had slowed too much and the doctor was considering pitocin. Not much later, that same male nurse came to let me know that pitocin was on order. I was terrified. My mom had a terrible experience with pitocin when I was born and I'd never heard anything positive. Not to mention, I was afraid of ending up in a c-section, thanks to labor not progressing. But the doctor was positive I'd have this baby on his watch, which ended at noon.
Now, I don't know exact times of events that happened...but pitocin was started, I kept contracting and riding them out, and kept leaking fluid all through everything, which became my biggest annoyance, above all else. James thought that was funny, being that I was in the pain of labor and my worry was leaking fluid. I kept a towel "there" pretty much the entire time.
Contractions were intense, to say the least, but proved to be nothing I couldn't handle. I'd heard people describe them as horrendous period cramps, which was somewhat true. But I was getting through them, with help from James, my mom and his mom. Some say to find something to focus on, a focal point of sorts, to get you through the pain. But my only focus WAS the pain. I found it easier to focus on the pain and where it was headed, knowing that it would peak and taper off. I settled into the pain with each contraction, breathing calmly. I had people telling me I was a pro at this, and was handling things very well. I was even surprised at myself throughout the entire process, never expecting to be this calm. It was just...happening...and I was coping. The best relief was from standing and swaying back and forth, sometimes leaning on the bed or table. Rock, sway, rock, sway, that's how it went for a long time. I also spent some time bouncing on a peanut-shaped birthing ball, which was amazing and also helped me out. I did end up with a bit of morphine two different times, to take the edge off and help me relax, to possibly get some sleep. Sleep never happened, but I was more relaxed.
The doctor had checked me prior to the first morphine dose (I don't even know what times I had the doses, once in the late morning, and once in the afternoon), I was still at a 3, but he reassured me that I was doing awesome and things were as they should be. Like I said before, his watch ended at noon...noon came and went...nurses switched over and our beloved Keshia, who we joked with all morning, had left, but promised she'd stop by and meet the baby when she came back at 7 that night, especially since she was dying to know her name. I was relieved to find out my other favorite doctor was now on call, who was a very sweet and young woman I really liked.
In the meantime, other family had shown up. James' stepmom, sister and our niece and nephew got there and were very excited about baby's arrival. I was so glad to have so much support. I always thought it would cause me too much anxiety to have a lot of people around, but it turned out I really enjoyed having everyone there.
By late afternoon, contractions were getting more and more intense, and I was shushing people when they came so I could concentrate on them, one at a time, knowing they'd peak and end, peak and end...baby's heartbeat was steady, but it was sometimes hard to find and because I felt better standing, the monitor would slip off all the time. But there was a moment, early in the morning, that the heartbeat took a dive. I remember Keshia came running into the room with a panicked look on her face, messing with the machine, and me, trying to assess the situation. James and I freaked out, but her heartbeat came back right away, strong as ever.
To say I was exhausted would be an understatement. I've never been so tired, and hadn't slept for more than a day. I was really feeling the effects of no sleep, plus the work it took my body to make it through each contraction. It had been hours, that seemed like days, and because they couldn't check my progress much, we were just left waiting...and waiting...I was still only comfortable while standing and swaying, but was getting weaker and weaker thanks to exhaustion, and holding myself up was becoming too much work. Nurses would come and go, check my contractions on the monitor and refill my giant cup of water. I was so thirsty. And so starving. I kept saying I couldn't wait to eat. The hospital plays a lullaby every time a baby is born. All day long, I could hear women pushing, and all day long, when that lullaby played, I wondered when it would be my turn.
At one point, a student nurse came in, wanting to ask questions, I sent her away. A little while later, she was back, asking the dumbest questions, like,"are you feeling any pain?" I gave her a look of death, sent her away again, then told James I couldn't take any more of her, so he asked our regular nurse to see that she didn't come back...ever again.
The exhaustion got the best of me. I felt my body giving up, but mentally, I knew if I weren't so exhausted, I could have kept going. I could have powered through. I kept an open mind for months, never writing a birth plan, because I knew everything was unpredictable. I wasn't trying to be a hero and have an unmedicated birth, but I wanted to try, if I could handle it. I also wasn't opposed to an epidural, but wanted to hold off, to see how I could manage on my own. But at some point, late afternoon, I just couldn't stand anymore, my body was just too tired. So I chose an epidural.
For a moment, I felt defeated, like I had given up. At one point I asked, "Am I doing the right thing?" I was reassured that I had been awesome, and powered through and shouldn't feel like I had given up. They checked me at that point, stating that I was at 5 centimeters, but could stretch to a 6. The anesthesioligst came in to prepare me, and luckily they allowed James to stay with me. I was relieved, because I'm terrified of needles and was in the beginnings of a panic attack. I sat on the edge of the bed, leaned forward like they instructed, holding onto James. I had tears running down my face as the pain came. It was not comfortable at all, and I could feel every bit of that tube being fed into my back. I was scared and crying, but within minutes, the pain was gone. And I was relieved that I could still move my legs, because it was a huge fear of mine that I be so numb, I couldn't move.
Once again, I tried to get rest. I drifted in and out of sleep, as family filtered in and out. James napped too, but nobody ever really got any real sleep. I don't even know how much time passed. All I know is that all of the pictures we took that day, which weren't many, started around 4:30 pm, shortly after the epidural. At some point, I had to lay on my side, for the sake of baby's heartbeat, and for my own comfort. I had my eyes closed and was just feeling all the pressure, without pain, waiting for the moment they said would come...the urge to poop...and that meant it was go time. Somewhere along the line, again, not sure of time, I felt the urge. The nurses were getting ready and preparing to check my progress. We let my mom know, since she was going to be in the room with us, and prepared Brennan, who I had also decided was to be present for the birth, positioned behind my head, OBVIOUSLY! No view of the "crowning glory" for him.
The nurse began the progress check after everyone cleared the room, like usual, except for James. But she was having a hard time figuring out how dilated I was. You see, I have this crazy bent cervix, and it's difficult for people to maneuver around in there sometimes. So the nurse was feeling a lopsided cervix and seemed really confused. She decided to call in the actual doctor for this one, since she was unsure. The doctor came in, inserted what felt like 10 fists and literally had to lay on her side in order to get the right angle to feel what was going on. She looked at the nurse, in what seemed like agreement, and informed us that was not a head, it was, in fact, baby girl's lady parts...and she was breech.
We were all shocked and told we'd need an ultrasound right away to confirm. Within minutes, an ultrasound machine showed up, doc began the scan and in an interested tone asked James if he could see that round shape on the screen, which I thought meant baby was a boy instead of a girl, but she was instead confirming that was her head, in the wrong place. Someone of the medical kind, I forget who, insisted she must have turned during birth, but I later found out it's unlikely that baby's turn during labor. She was breech at my 20 week appointment, but I was told that didn't matter since it was still early and she'd turn. The only other time it came up is when I asked at a later appointment if she'd turned. Doctor felt around and believed, but couldn't say for sure, that she'd turned. It was never discussed again and I didn't think to question it. But at the 16 hour mark of labor, we were baffled and confused as to why we didn't know this earlier. I was told they could call a different doctor to perform a breech birth, or I was given the option I had never, ever wanted and was in complete fear of...a cesarean section.
After 16 hours of labor and feeling more than exhausted than I ever thought possible, and also keeping baby's safety at the forefront, James and I both agreed to the c-section, without hesitation. I was terrified, scared to death, but ready to be done.
The nurse asked if she should schedule it at 7, when shifts changed, but the doctor insisted that she deliver her and ordered a "code 30," which meant baby would be out within 30 minutes. I guess I was somewhat oblivious to the excitement surrounding this decision, because I was pretty calm while nurses prepared everything. And while everything was rushed, I was just laying there, waiting for the next move. James got scrubs, nurses came running, machines were being unplugged. I guess in the midst of it all, our families freaked because on their end, it looked like an emergency situation when medical personnel came yelling "code 30" down the hall and rushing around. James informed them of what was going on, he was emotional, but reassured them and the baby and myself were fine, she was just turned the wrong way (stubborn girl, even in the womb!)
They wheeled my bed out of the room, like a movie, even running me into walls and doors. The operating room scared the shit out of me, in a major way. It was so bright and sterile and so uncomfortable. Because I had already had an epidural, a spinal wasn't necessary. I was just pumped with more medicine through the epidural. It felt really cold, and I felt really loopy. I remember asking if it was okay if I fell asleep, because the thought entered my mind that if I closed my eyes, I'd never wake up. But I never ended up asleep.
Doctor said they were going to check if I had feeling. I expected a "Can you feel this? Can you feel that?" type of scenario, but they asked me nothing, which scared me because I wondering how I'd know if I was numb enough if they didn't inform me. But whatever they did to me must have been confirmation enough because within seconds they signaled it was okay to cut and they brought James in. Oh, and our favorite nurse was back! Keshia was back on and was ecstatic to know she'd be assisting with our birth.
James stood the whole time and watched the whole surgery. The doctor let him know that if he felt sick and fainted, he was on his own. And at some point he said, "Why do I feel like I want a cheeseburger all of a sudden?" Knowing I was sliced open, I turned and gave him a dirty look and shook my head no. I obviously couldn't feel anything, but still managed to be terrified of what was happening beyond the curtain, and barely able to keep my eyes open. Then all of a sudden, I felt a huge relief of pressure that I'd had for months, and they announced our baby girl was here! They lifted her over the curtain to show me and I was shocked and amazed at her teeny, tiny size. James and I turned to each other, with tears in our eyes and I said, "Oh my God, she's so small!" They whisked her away. I could hear everyone talking about how small and estimating her weight, most guessing in the 5 pound range. James went over to see her and the nurses tended to her...at 6:52 pm, 18 hours after labor had started, on Saturday, September 7, 2013...our 6lb, 9oz baby girl was brought into this world...Lark Story Simon was brought over to me with James and she was so beyond beautiful. I was sad I wasn't able to hold her at that moment, but I was so glad she was here, and she was safe.
James was taken to recovery with Lark, while I was being stitched up. Which seemed to take FOREVER! I had a cold for a few days prior to birth, which was miserable and was aggravated during the c section due to laying flat. My nose became so stuffy, I could only breathe through my mouth, which gave me a horrible case of dry mouth and I was panicking about not being able to breathe because it was so hard to take in a breath. They couldn't give me water at all, so a nurse gave me a wet washcloth to suck on. Weird, I know, but it was the biggest relief.
They wheeled me into recovery, which was only supposed to be about 30 minutes and ended up being 2 and a half hours because I had a really high fever. Once in recovery, I got to hold her and breastfeed for the first time, which was difficult because I had the shakes really bad from both hormones and medication. We got her footprints in our baby book and just hung out there until getting the okay to leave. Others came and went while we were in there, and it was discouraging, especially knowing our families were waiting. But we enjoyed our alone time with our perfect baby girl, who was so alert and so damn cute!
Once given the "ok," they wheeled us to our new room. They nestled the baby in the bed with me. Later, I couldn't really recall much of the transfer from recovery to our room. I remember it feeling like it took forever, like they wheeled through an entire hospital to get there, and I remember a glimpse of family in the waiting room as we went by. Once in the room, I was so relieved it was over, and I was so happy to be snuggling my tiny princess. My mom, James' mom and Brennan were the first in to see her. We were all laughing and crying when, much to my surprise, all of a sudden there's a beautiful, sparkling ring in James hand right in front of me...I knew what it meant, and the tears started streaming down my face...I was crying, laughing, and saying, "ow, it hurts" all at the same time...it took him a couple or tries to get down on one knee, he was so emotional, which made me cry harder, and right then and there, the world stopped, at least for us...we just went through the most amazing experience, meeting our daughter, and now it was happening...7.5 years in the making...he was asking me to be his wife and complete our family...and our mothers and Brennan were there to witness every moment. It was beautiful and so magical and completely unexpected, in the best way! I managed to squeak out a yes, and he placed the perfect ring, my dream ring, on my swollen, IV hand and it was perfect. We just had a baby and were ENGAGED!
The birth of our daughter and his proposal was, by far, the best day of my life. While there were hard feelings about the outcome, knowing it could have been taken care of earlier had people checked her position earlier, I wouldn't change a thing. I was glad to have experienced the whole process. Had there been complications or health issues because of it, I would not have been so calm about the whole ordeal, but I was able to experience the entire process, minus the pushing, which was disappointing, but everything turned out perfect and our baby was healthy.
It wasn't how I thought it would happen, I didn't get the perfect pictures I thought I'd have taken, I didn't have makeup, like I stupidly thought I'd care about...I looked like hell, felt like hell, and could have eaten a horse...but our little bird, our little Lark, was here, in my arms, healthy and beautiful and I was also delighted to know I'd share her last name, sooner than I'd expected. I've never been happier. Being her mom, and soon-to-be James' wife is wonderful and more than I could have ever imagined.
Life is good.
|After the epidural...so very tired.|
|Clearly done with pictures for the moment...|
|eyes closed, in a room full of people...|
|Being wheeled to the operating room...|
|Worst picture of me...ever...but a reminder of what I'd been through in the last day...|