Tuesday, March 27, 2012

And then she arrived...

Alright friends, my sweet Ruth is 2 weeks old so I figured I better get to writing her birth story before sleep deprivation gets the best of my brain and I forget how it all happened.  Let me start by saying that I am very candid with her birth story and some of it may be TMI.  So, if you don't want to hear about all the gross stuff...then you probably shouldn't read on.  :)

I will start a few weeks before she came to clue you all into my mindset before she arrived.  At my 36 week appointment, they checked my cervix and I was already 1 cm dilated and about halfway thinned out. This FREAKED me out.  Jackson came 10 days early and I really needed little Ruth to hold out until March which was another 17 days away.  Why did I need her to wait you ask?  Well, you see, my mom lives most of the year overseas and wouldn't be back in the states until March 4th!  I really wanted her to be present for the birth, so I started praying everyday that our sweet girl would hold out on us.

The next 2.5 weeks went by, each doctor's appointment showing more and more progress, but thankfully, our sweet Ruthie stayed comfortably in place.  My mom arrived Sunday, March 4th and we started the process of trying to coax Ruth out.  I'm convinced at this point she was pretty confused...I mean...all this time I'd been telling her to stay in and then in a flash I was all like "get out!"

For the next 8 days we tried everything to start labor.  I ate more spicy Mexican food than I could stomach, walked, swam, swung on a swingset, massaged pressure points (which really, REALLY hurts), rocked back and forth on a birthing ball, had my cervix stripped, and Bryan and I "did our part" too (if you catch my drift).  Still...nothing. My due date of March 8th came and went and Ruthie still stayed put despite our best efforts.

Jackson sure didn't mind the swimming!

The morning of March 12th I had my 40 week appointment.  Now, there is some significance to the date of March 12th.  Initially, this should have been my due date based on MY calculations.  See, I knew the exact day that Bryan and I conceived [it was the only time we were stupid and acted like a couple of hormonal teenagers and ignored the proper safety precautions ;-)].  But my ultrasounds always put me at March 8th, so my midwife went with that over my math (again...proof that I'm always right!).

Anyways, I digress...back to the birth story...

My midwife couldn't believe I hadn't gone into labor yet and neither could I.  She stripped my cervix again and told me to go for a walk, use nipple stimulation, and intercourse to try to induce labor within the next few days.  She said she would let me go another week before inducing, which I was totally against happening since I wanted an all natural childbirth.  The only thing I hadn't tried was nipple stimulation because it just seemed so weird to me.  But, at this point, I was desperate.

That afternoon, I put Jackson down for a nap, sat down to watch my soap, and pulled out the breast pump.  After about 20 minutes of using it, I started to feel something.  I didn't get too excited because I had educated myself and knew that nursing/pumping/nipple stimulation causes the brain to release oxytocin, which causes your uterus to contract.  I figured once I stopped using the pump, the contractions would stop, plus I wasn't even sure they were contractions to begin with because they were so slight.  I continued to use it for another 20-30 minutes and my contractions grew stronger and were consistently 4-6 minutes apart.  I looked at the clock and it was 2:51 p.m.  I called my mom in, told her, and then I decided to cut off the pump to see if they stopped.  After about 30 more minutes, I was still having contractions so I called Bryan and told him to come home just in case.  Then my contractions started to slow down and I got very disappointed.  By the time Bryan got home, which was around 4pm, they were 19 minutes apart.  Then suddenly they started picking back up again.  Bryan and I went for a walk, and were recording my contractions at approximately 4-6 minutes apart again.  We figured, at this point, it was probably the real deal but were still skeptical.

That evening, my parents took Jackson out of the house for dinner and some play time so I could continue laboring at home.  Laboring at home was awesome.  We went for a walk, I got a bath and dried and straightened my hair, ate dinner, and I was even able to talk to some friends on the phone and watch the finale of the Bachelor.  I recommend to every woman out there to labor at home as long as you can.  It is so much more comfortable and relaxing than being strapped to a hospital bed.  The time seemed to go by so much faster.

Let me stop here and take a moment to brag on my wonderful husband.  He was the most incredible coach the whole time.  I remember that my contractions started to become more uncomfortable while I was trying to do my hair.  He stood there with me and could sense when one was coming on by my body language.  He would help me set down the dryer/straightening iron, would grab my hips, and help me sway through the entire contraction.  I never had to tell him to do anything, he just did it instinctively.  He recommended getting in relaxation positions, swaying on the ball, etc.  I couldn't have done it without him.

I remember the moment when things started to get intense.  I was laying on the bed in the Bradley technique relaxation position watching After the Final Rose.  I remember thinking in between contractions, "this Courtney girl is a joke."  But, I couldn't tell you anything her or Ben were saying at this point because my whole brain and body were focused on laboring.  This was between 8-9 pm CST. Then between 9-10 pm things really started to get intense.  My contractions were so strong that I had to moan through them to keep breathing.  We all kept asking each other, when we should go to the hospital.  Closer to 10 pm my body would start to tremble during a contraction and I would start to cry.  It was at this point that my mom looked at Bryan and finally made the call to head to the hospital.

We left home at 10:30 pm.  (Let me take another moment to thank a special lady, Shari, for staying the night with Jackson and for so many countless other blessings that she and her family is to our family.  We'd be lost without them!)  I remember looking at the clock in the car that read 10:36 pm and thinking, "I can't believe it's after 10:30 already, it totally doesn't feel like I've been in labor that long."  I also remember chuckling to myself about reading that if it takes you less than 20 minutes to get to the car then it's not time to go to the hospital yet.  Ha!  It took us over 30 to get the stuff in the car and walk me out the door, pausing for each contraction.  I guess we were leaving at the right time after all?!

We arrived at the hospital at 10:45.  The nurses quickly got me hooked up to the monitors, an IV started with antibiotics since I was Group B Strep positive, and went through the rigmarole of questioning me about my health history between contractions.  By the time that was over it was 11:30 pm and they finally checked my cervix.  I was 6 cm dilated.  Now, let me say that 6 is a great number but I was hoping for more.  I really wanted to hear 8 because by this time my faith in myself to have an all natural childbirth was starting to fade.  They were able to unhook me so I could labor on the ball more, which was better than being in the bed.

The next hour was brutal.  My entire body was shaking uncontrollably, my moans were growing louder, and I was starting to tell myself that I couldn't do it anymore.  I didn't have enough energy to hold myself up on the ball anymore, so I had to be in the bed.  I grabbed Bryan by the shirt, trembling and crying, and said, "I can't do this anymore.  I can't.  I need an epidural.  Call me a wuss...I don't care.  I can't do it anymore."  I could see the torment all over his face.  We had talked about me reaching this point and how he should just tell me to try to make it through a few more contractions, but he just couldn't say it.  He saw how much pain I was in.  He saw my desperation and I knew he wanted to take it all away.  Thankfully, my mom stepped over and so soothingly said it'd been an hour since I'd been checked.  Let's get the nurse to check me again and if I hadn't made any progress that we'd get the anesthesiologist in immediately.

Between contractions we just stayed relaxed.
Feeling how relaxed Bryan was really helped.

Well, the nurse checked me and I was 9 cm!  TOO LATE FOR AN EPIDURAL!  They called in my midwife who was there within 10 minutes.  In those 10 minutes I started to feel the pressure to push but was told to hold off until the midwife could check me.  When she came in, she immediately checked me and I was fully dilated and could start pushing.  The problem was my bag of water was still attached, it hadn't broken yet.  Thing is, we thought it had just a few minutes earlier.  But nope...turns out all the pressure had just made me pee myself.  I apologized to the nurses and was super embarrassed.  This just started my long list of apologies that I would have to issue until my little girl entered the world!  The midwife told me not to worry that I couldn't help it and that during one of my pushes that my water would probably break.

Well, that sure turned out to be true!  During my very next contraction, I gave a big push and my water broke.  Actually, let me be a little more descriptive.  My water didn't just break...IT EXPLODED!  It literally shot out of me like a water cannon!  It drenched my poor midwife and got all over the floor about halfway across the room.  The nurses were cracking up and my midwife said, "Well, that type of thing has happened before, but I'd say that was the best one!"  I just kept saying, "Oh my gosh, Jamie, I'm so sorry!"  The laughter quickly turned to slight concern when they realized that there was meconium in the water though.  They assured me it was "light" and therefore not a real concern but because of it I wanted her out and wanted her out now.

I started pushing hard!  Then all of a sudden I was in tremendous pain.  I'd heard pushing was supposed to be a relief, but for me it was the hardest part.  During each push, I felt like the baby was going to explode out of my back.  My mom had t o push on my lower back to help ease the pain.  I was in so much pain at one point, I asked the midwife just to reach in and pull her out.  Ha!  If only it worked that way, right?!

I was pushing so hard, without stopping that the nurses actually had to tell me to stop and breathe because they thought I was going to pass out.  This was the point both Bryan and I were really glad my mom was there.  She told me to count to ten with each push, take a breath, and then start again.  There is no way I could've done that without her.  My mind was so focused on the pain and the panic of getting the baby out that I wasn't realizing that I was actually doing myself more harm than good.  It was then, that I was able to make progress with my pushing.  I pushed so hard that I was involuntarily passing gas and going to the bathroom (Yes, ladies, it will happen to you too.  Sorry to burst your "I don't wanna poop on the table" bubble!)  Of course, each of those was followed by me apologizing to everyone in the room again.  I was also pushing so hard that I became the type of birther I didn't want to be -- the screamer.  This also was followed by me apologizing to everyone in the room for being a screamer.  They all just laughed, told me to stop apologizing, and then just a few pushes later, little Ruth made her appearance at 1:13 am weighing 7 lbs, 3 oz and 20 in long!

She's here!

She came out sunny side up (which is why it hurt so much in my back) and had the cord wrapped lightly around her body and the top of her head and under her chin.  She was a little blue due to the meconium but they still put her immediately on my chest.  I remember being so happy she was here but was having a hard time focusing on just her.  I just remember saying to myself, "Holy cow I can't believe I just did that.  I can't believe I just had a baby all natural."  I wanted to be like, "Hey everybody, look at me!  I just had a baby without any drugs!  I'M A BEAST!  Aren't you proud of me?!"  Bryan prayed over her, and even the nurses bowed their heads (that was really cool), then they took her and got her all cleaned up as I sat and watched while the midwife got me all fixed up too.  It took 45 minutes to get me all fixed up because I had torn quite a bit.  That would be my fault for pushing a little too hard and a little too fast!

Having our first family conversation with God.  Such a special moment!

Once we were both cleaned up, they put Ruth back on my chest and I was able to talk to her and nurse her.  She was a greedy little thing too!  She didn't want to stop!  I nursed her on and off the next few hours until they came and took her for more tests and all the other stuff they do to newborns after they arrive.

Girl talk

I was finally able to get some rest and reflect on everything.  I've done a lot of reflecting over the past 2 weeks too.  All natural childbirth was one of the hardest things I've ever done but it was totally worth it.  I didn't have any of the complications that I had with Jackson and all but the last couple hours was really quite a breeze.  In fact, I've said many times that the first several weeks of life with a newborn is much harder than having one naturally!  I'd go through it all again tomorrow if I could trade it for a few nights of uninterrupted sleep! :)

Best brother ever!

She wore the same dress I wore home from the hospital when I was born.

Meeting our furry baby.

Baby Ruth

Daddy's already wrapped.

Momma's girl.

Our sweet girl.