It's important to me to document how Eli's birthday went...I don't think the details are too much or anything, but I also love hearing about other birth stories because everyone's is unique and different and if my story is helpful to anyone else, then even better! But this post is more for our sake-a place to record how everything went before I forget all the details-hence the length!
Here is the rundown of Thursday, January 12th...I had gone down to Beatrice with Jon in the morning to work from the church and then go out to lunch with a parishioner. As we were leaving Beatrice to return to Lincoln for my 38 week appointment (we were 38W1D) I told Jon I wasn't feeling great-I felt fairly lightheaded and a little nauseous, and wasn't sure what that was about. I told him I'd be curious if my doctor noted any more progress at our appointment (2.5 weeks ago I was dilated 2 cm). Here's the timeline from the appointment on:
2:15 pm: Went in for 38 week appointment. My blood pressure was pretty high (hence the lightheaded/nausea) and this was odd as I hadn't had any issues with blood pressure thus far. The nurse had me lay on my left side for awhile and try to relax so that they could take my BP again. 10 min later they came in to re-check-still high. My doc came in and I remember her saying "what's going on with you?" She did the ultrasound and things looked good-plenty of fluid, baby in the right position, etc. She said she was going to check me to see if there had been any progress, and she said I was at 3cm. She said since my BP was high, I'd have to come back in tomorrow to be checked again, and if it was still high we'd have to talk about induction. She knew I wanted labor to begin naturally if possible so she asked if she could do a membrane sweep to see if that would speed things up. I remember looking at Jon and not knowing how to answer-after all, we were technically ready to have a baby, but were we really ready mentally?!?! I remember saying, "I guess so!". She did the membrane sweep (honestly, not the most pleasant thing ever...) and when she was finished she said "Oh, there's a lot more liquid here than there should be...I think I just broke your water. Well, we're going to go to the hospital and have a baby!" She seemed pretty frustrated at what had happened and later I told her it was honestly a good thing-I appreciated removing the element of surprise, not knowing when labor would begin! Plus, what a good story!
Jon and I looked at each other-we were obviously a little taken by surprise by this turn of events. I told Jon he'd have to find coverage for the funeral he was supposed to do the next day :) and my doctor instructed us to go home, grab our bags, then get to the hospital and get checked in.
We went home, grabbed the hospital bag and a few last minute things, fed the cats, and called our parents. I remember on our way out the door we stopped, kissed each other, and noted that this was the last time we'd be in our house as a family of two!
3:30pm: We checked in to St. Elizabeth hospital. By the time we got there, I was having fairly regular contractions between 3-5 minutes apart. It was pretty incredible, because prior to the appointment I hadn't had any labor signs and once my water broke, things really picked up! We got checked in to the hospital and our labor/delivery room, met our nurse Mary (who was AWESOME), and they got me hooked up to get baseline readings for baby's heartbeat, my contractions, etc. My doctor had said that when I got to the hospital she would have me started on Pitocin to make sure things were progressing, but Mary noted how regular my contractions were. I told her we were really hoping to let things progress naturally and wanted to be able to try things like laboring in the tub, walking, etc rather than being hooked up to an IV and monitors for the entire labor. She said she would call my doctor to see if walking would speed things up a bit and thus wait to start the Pitocin. She checked me first and I was still at 3cm, so no progress there, but I was still having decent contractions.
All hooked up and ready to go!
Mary was able to get ahold of a doctor at the practice who said they'd give me an hour to see if walking would speed things up-otherwise I would have to start Pitocin. I got ready to go walking with Jon around the labor/delivery floor. As we walked, the contractions continued to strengthen, lengthen, and get a little closer together-I'd say more like 3 minutes apart or so. However, they were much more manageable when I was up and moving around, and it was nice to have the time with Jon to talk through what was happening. We both noted how surreal this was, that we couldn't believe the day was actually here!
Ready to walk! We also call this our "38 week" picture, since one was never taken the day before!
We made our way back to the room about 5:30-5:40 and checked in with Mary. I was checked once again but was between 3-3.5cm-so no progress, bummer!
5:45 pm: Pitocin started. Mary said she would start it with a lower dose and build it up as needed. I was pretty bummed about this, knowing that labor could last HOURS and I didn't want to be confined to the bed the whole time. I was also worried about the kind of contractions Pitocin can bring on. Mary said while I had to be hooked up to the fetal monitor and IV, I would still be able to walk around my room a little bit, use the birthing ball, etc. That made me feel a little better but I was still upset about not being able to use the tub! I thought it would have been one of the greatest relaxation tools I could have put to use-oh well, maybe next time!
As soon as the Pitocin was started my contractions started getting longer, stronger, and closer together. About 30 minutes after being on pitocin I started to have back labor-NO FUN. Mary said sometimes contractions from the pitocin can start in the back and work their way to the front, or it could have been from the baby's position. After about 2 1/2 hours I couldn't stand it anymore-I would get 2-3 contractions right on top of each other, lasting 60-90 seconds and then get a little break, but they weren't consistently spaced or anything. It hurt to do everything, no matter what position I tried to stand in, lay in, etc. I remember being in the bathroom and telling Jon, "we need to discuss pain management options". He later laughed at me for being so calm about it-I guess I didn't know how else to say it :) In our birth plan I had said that I wanted to labor naturally as long as I felt able, but that I wasn't opposed to pain management. At this point, I just couldn't fathom continuing with labor as is, not knowing how long it was, and have the energy for the actual delivery. I was also VERY anxious about the pain of delivery, and not confident I could handle it. I told Jon, if I anticipate needing something for the pain, I may as well get it now...so our nurse called the anesthesiologist and began to prepare me for the epidural.
8:30 pm: I received the epidural. Mary checked me right after it was put in and I was at 8 cm! I was able to rest for about 30 minutes-I didn't sleep but I closed my eyes and was really able to relax. My doctor was in the hospital since she had another patient in labor so she came to say hi and see how things were going. She said that she was pretty sure I was at least in early labor when I came to my appointment because it shouldn't have been that easy for her to break my water! She made a comment that I must be very "stoic" in terms of handling the discomfort of early labor and not admitting to feeling any differently-but I truly hadn't felt any differently in my pregnancy than the past few weeks!
9:30 pm: my doctor stopped by again and checked me-I was at 10cm! She said I could start pushing so Mary and Jon got me ready to go.
9:40pm: I started pushing. While I had the epidural, I was still able to feel the sensation of when I needed to push. I couldn't feel the contractions but I could feel the pressure as our baby continued to be in the position for delivery, and felt the pressure of where to push at the right time. I remember after receiving the epidural, everything I imagined labor and delivery to be went out the window. In my mind I had this very frantic, anxious, painful experience. Like what we see in the movies-women screaming, mad at their husbands...honestly that is one of the biggest reasons I was glad to have gotten the epidural. I was truly able to relax, and had a much better attitude about the experience. Instead of dread and worry, I had a "let's do this!" attitude. When they told me it was time to push, I felt ready. Jon and I were both anxious to meet our son!
After pushing for about an hour, maybe a little less, my doctor came back in. She took over with assistance from Mary and the delivery team (I don't know what to call them-I don't know who all was in the room to be honest!) and continued to coach me with Jon at my side. At 10:52, our son Elijah Robert Bailey was born!
Jon cut the cord and they toweled Eli him off a little and placed him on my chest. I remember looking at Eli laying on me, with Jon at my side, and knowing in my head that he was ours yet feeling in some ways like he was a complete stranger. It's weird, because it's like the world tells you you instantly bond with this baby-and in certain ways I did, but seeing him for the first time was like meeting a person you've never ever known. I knew in my head where he came from, that we had created him, but I was curious about who he was. Eli was very alert and quiet. He cried when he first came out but as soon as he was in our arms he just started to take the world in.
Meeting Eli for the first time!
My doctor had a lot of "fixing" to do on me which took quite a while. I honestly didn't pay much attention since we had plenty to focus on after meeting Eli! We decided on his name (we were torn between two) and stayed in the labor/delivery room for almost 2 hours (I had to be monitored for a bit longer than normal because I had quite a bit of bleeding). I was able to order food (a cheeseburger, it was delicious!) while Jon held Eli. Eli ate quite a bit and has been a great eater ever since!
On our way to our room we stopped at the nursery for his first bath and a couple of shots. We finally made it to our room around 2am and tried to settle in for the rest of the night-I think I slept for maybe an hour? Between feeding Eli, the adrenaline running through my body, and just being in awe of this little boy who had come into the world, I just couldn't sleep!
The next day (Friday) around noon both of our parents arrived to meet Eli and spent the day at the hospital with us. Most of the rest of the hospital stay is a blur-but it was an incredible experience.
Dr. Fiala and our new family!
Honestly, everytime I think about our delivery experience I truly miss it. The moment we became a family of 3 is something I will never forget. Our room felt like our space, and even though there's lots of medical people around, it still felt like our experience. I am so grateful for our awesome doctor, Dr. Fiala and the wonderful staff at the hospital. I am still in awe of how wonderful Jon was throughout the whole process-doing what he could to make me comfortable, being amazed by the birth process, being excited to meet our son and sing "You Are My Sunshine" to him. How proud he was to show him off to our parents. Overall, I was so anxious about the whole labor and delivery process-and now that I'm on the other side of it, I can truly say it was the most incredible process of my life. To know that my body knew exactly what to do, and to experience the different stages of labor. To be frustrated with the changes in how I'd hoped labor would go, yet still arriving at the endpoint of a healthy mom, healthy baby. To finally get to meet the baby we had prayed for and tried for for over a year. I will always cherish that night in the hospital, with the darkness outside and the low lighting in our room, being encouraged by everyone around me to do what had to be done in order to meet our little boy. Staring into Elijah's eyes for the first time, wondering what he thought about all this, and being amazed that his little body knew exactly what to do as well.
I think I could write about this forever...but I'll just end by saying how grateful I am to have experienced this process in the cycle of life. To see the miracle of life in our arms, knowing that by God's grace he was brought into this world with us as parents (God help him...) to raise him and nurture him. I still cannot believe we have this precious baby, and can't wait to see the man he grows up to be.