Monday, August 1, 2016

Louisa's birth story

It's been over two months since Louisa was born, and I just wrote her birth story this past week. A word of advice to other new parents/parents-to-be...don't wait so long to chronicle your little one's entrance into this world! I feel like I've forgotten some details. Louisa's birth was pretty smooth and uneventful, though, so hopefully I didn't forget too much.

Our induction was scheduled for Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 8:30 AM, with instructions to be at the hospital at 7:30 AM. Since my blood pressure had been high at most of my doctor’s appointments, they decided to err on the side of caution and get the baby out at 39 weeks, even though I didn’t have any signs of any other problems.

On the one hand, I was kind of bummed that I wouldn’t get to experience going into labor on my own; I had an unscheduled induction with Max two years earlier (exactly two years and two days! Read Max’s birth story here.). However, I also kind of liked the peace of mind knowing exactly when she would be coming. We already had child care lined up for Max and didn’t need to scramble at the last minute (no matter how prepared we are ahead of time for stuff, we always end up scrambling when it’s “go time”). We were able to celebrate Max’s birthday without a hitch, as well, on May 17.

I woke up on Thursday morning excited and nervous. I got in the shower at 6 AM and got ready for the day. I probably didn’t need to go through the effort of blowing out my hair or putting makeup on, but after my traumatic postpartum hemorrhage in the hospital after Max was born, I wanted to look somewhat decent for at least part of the labor and delivery process. I suppose getting all gussied up before going into labor is like putting makeup on to go to the gym, but whatevs.

Victor’s parents were at our house by 7:15 AM to take care of Max, and we all sat down to eat breakfast together. By the time we left the house, it was after 8 AM, but luckily the hospital was only 5 minutes from our house. On the way to the hospital, my OB called to ask if we were still coming (we’re never on time to anything, not even the birth of our own child. Victor kept telling me not to worry, that the show couldn’t start without me anyway). When we arrived at the hospital, we had to wait about 30 minutes to register (despite pre-registering ahead of time), and then we were escorted to Labor and Delivery, a place I had visited at least two times during this pregnancy to be monitored for preeclampsia (thankfully everything always came back negative).

The nurses got me into my gown, into the bed, and started hooking me up to all the machines. My blood pressure was slightly elevated when they first checked it, but then it normalized shortly afterward.  They asked me all kinds of questions regarding the pregnancy, and we made sure to let them know that Max’s umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck once when he was born. We also told them about my postpartum hemorrhage. They made note of our concerns and asked a few more questions. One of the nurses tried to get an IV started in my left wrist and had to dig around to find the vein so much I nearly passed out. She was able to draw blood for labs from that location but it wouldn’t work for an IV, so they moved on to “Old Faithful,” a vein in the crook of my right arm, the vein I always offered up for blood draws throughout my entire pregnancy. It wasn’t the ideal location for an IV, comfort-wise, but it was better than trying to find another vein in my hand or wrist (I’ve been told I have deep veins and thick skin, which makes it difficult to find veins).

They got me started on Pitocin at around 10 AM and told me I was still just 2 cm dilated (as I had been for the past 2 weeks). My OB stopped by after lunchtime and told me that they were going to keep me on Pitocin to see if I dilated more, and she expected it to take at least a few hours, so she would come by after her work day was over to check on me again. She assured me the nurses would contact her if anything escalated in the meantime, but she was pretty positive we’d still be waiting at 6 PM.

A few hours passed and I kept waiting for my contractions to get more painful on the Pitocin since they were awful with Max, but they weren’t as bad as I remember. I read some of my book while Victor made some work calls. Then Victor went to get some lunch (I wasn’t allowed to eat anything but ice chips), and we watched TV while we waited.

The nurse checked me around 4 PM and I was around 4 cm dilated. She told me that once my OB came by, they’d likely break my water and really get things moving. My doctor checked me again around 5:30 PM and I was still right around 4 cm dilated, so she broke my water. I was a little discouraged by the slow progress up until this point, but she said that since I had responded well to an induced labor with my first pregnancy, it was safe to expect the same would happen this time. The nurse told me that I’d likely be pretty miserable soon since my contractions would get more intense, and boy, was she right! I tried to tough it out, but after remembering how blissfully pain-free I was with an epidural with Max, I requested one after about an hour.

I sent Victor off to get some dinner when they came in with the epidural goods so he wouldn’t have to see it all. It was a bit more painful this time around, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Once they got me all taped up, I enjoyed a grape popsicle while I waited for Victor to return.  He got to our room around 7 PM with his dinner (and a chocolate chip cookie for me to enjoy once I was allowed to eat); shortly after, we started watching a show on Netflix called Cuckoo (weird and funny, with Andy Samberg from SNL). I dozed in and out of sleep while we watched and waited.

Around 8:45 PM, I woke up feeling some pressure. I watched the contraction monitor for a while to confirm that the pressure was occurring during contractions (it was) and then told Victor to alert the nurses. A few minutes later, my OB came in and I told her that I was feeling some pressure, like I needed to push. She pulled my blankets off of me and told me that I had some “show” on the sheets. She had me get in position so she could check me and said, “Oh my goodness, the head is right there!” She then confirmed that I was fully dilated and effaced and that it was time to meet our girl!  

They called in the L&D nurses and some nurses from the nursery to get everything set up. They transformed the bed for delivery, got my feet in the stirrups, arranged all of their tools and utensils, and it was time to push! After 3 sets of pushes, she was out! The doctor immediately handed her up to me to hold (no cord wrapped this time!). She was so tiny, slimy and adorable, and her first cries were music to my ears! I couldn’t believe she was finally here! Born on Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 9:26 PM, Louisa Maria weighed 7 pounds, 2.8 ounces, and was 19 inches long, with a full head of strawberry-blonde hair.

My postpartum experience in the hospital was SO the best possible way...from my postpartum experience with Max.  I got to eat a deli sandwich at 11 PM the night I gave birth (along with that cookie Victor brought for me). I moved into my postpartum room shortly after.  I DIDN’T hemorrhage.  I took a shower the next day. I got to get out of bed, move around, and tend to my new baby.  It was glorious!  I know this sounds like what most women do after giving birth, but this was not my experience with my first pregnancy so I was incredibly grateful for these opportunities this time around.

The next day, my sister brought Max to the hospital to meet his new baby sister. We weren’t sure how he would take to her despite all of our efforts to prepare him for his new role as “big brother.” Thankfully, he was so awestruck by her, and he wanted to hold her all the time! It was the sweetest thing ever! Later in the day, Victor’s parents came to visit and meet their new granddaughter. We stayed in the hospital until late morning on Saturday, and then we brought our sweet girl home! My mom was at our house when we came home, and she stayed to help for the first week we were back.

The past two months with Louisa have been blissful. She is such an incredible addition to our family. It was certainly challenging at first, getting used to having a newborn at home with a toddler, but I think things are starting to settle down and we’re figuring out our new normal. Louisa is such a happy baby, and we are so blessed to be her parents. I don’t even remember what life was like before her!

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