We chose to be induced on Monday, July 1st. I had been having prodromal labor for FOURTEEN days. (consistent time-able contractions...many of them very intense) Oh, and I was 4-5cms dilated. I had been battling sinus junk the week before, so I wanted to give myself time to get over that before dealing with labor/delivery/newborn. Some people are very anti-induction, but I have had decent experiences with it, and when you have other children to arrange childcare for...it's very convenient.
Mike's mom spent the night with us Sunday night, as we were leaving the house at 5:15 Monday morning. I had Mike take one last picture of my tummy. Good gravy, I am done. 39 weeks, 3 days:
Mike and I stopped for a mini breakfast on the way and enjoyed each others company. I was admitted at 5:45am. Immediately struggled with nerves and a bit of anxiety. I focused on my breathing and staying calm while several nurses hovered over my bed, starting an IV, hooking up fetal/contraction monitors, getting bp's, and temp. It's a bit intimidating. They even asked if my heart rate normally runs a bit high. LOL. NO. It doesn't. Once they left, I relaxed and Mike and I were talking and laughing again. I was feeling very at ease and happy. We were just waiting on the order for pitocin to be started. 7:30 rolled around and that's when they hung the ol bag of "evil juice." ;) This is me, in between contractions in my attractive hospital garb:
I contracted hard for several hours, but wasn't making much progress. So at 10:30AM, they broke my water. The fluid was clear (yay!) and I learned that when you're dilated for so long (like I was) the exposed portion of the bag of water gets a bit tough...just another way our bodies protect those babies. OK. So bag of water has ruptured. Hang onto your hats, b/c things are about to go fast. Contractions from this point out were no longer tolerable. I had trouble even smiling when I wasn't contracting.
At 11:30, I called for my epidural. They started right away. Baby's heart rate kept going down so they slapped an oxygen mask on me. The resident (darn teaching hospital!!) was the one placing it and she had trouble threading the epi catheter. They paused every time I had a contraction. They were *pretty* sure they had it placed, but I had no relief. I was in AGONY. Worst pain I have ever felt in my life. The resident kept pushing "fast acting" meds into my epi line. NO relief. There were noises coming out of me that I'm pretty sure would make anyone grimace. Lots of moaning and crying. I couldn't even look at Mike b/c the concerned look on his face wasn't comforting. So I just squeezed the hell out of his hand.
12:15PM. They check me. I'm 7cms. I tell the nurse to call anesthesia back in and have the attending do the darn epidural this time. I'm through with residents! Anesthesia arrives and it's the same resident! ARGH! She pulls the epi line and starts over. Baby's heart is decelerating with each contraction again. I have to sit still through the worst pain b/c the anesthesiologists aren't stopping during contractions this time. I have to breathe deep to keep baby's heart rate up. I am overwhelmed. Resident still had trouble placing the line, and I realize at this point (while I'm sitting upright) that my body is starting to PUSH. Well crap. Nurse tells them we need me on my hands and knees SOON to get this baby's heart rate back up. It's dawning on me that it's now or never. If they don't get this placed, I will be delivering a baby without any pain relief. Attending steps in quickly (I hope he shoved that resident aside!) places a CSE (central spinal epidural--apparently it's deeper into the spine and works faster than just a regular epidural) and IMMEDIATELY my pain was GONE. Mike asked me, "do you feel better?" and I just started nodding and crying tears of relief.
I didn't have time to enjoy the bliss of finally being pain-free, as baby was not looking great at this point. I was told to get on my hands and knees. They checked me and I was 10cms, +2 and ready to push. I started pushing on my hands and knees. Pediatric team was called in for the baby.
I flipped onto my back once table was set up and we lost her heartbeat. I was instructed to keep breathing while the nurses scrambled to place and internal monitor (it's a tiny hook that goes directly into baby's head) Heart beat was there, just lost by external monitors due to her being so low. They were talking about needing to use suction to get her out fast, but she was still to high to place this. The OB resident was delivering, with my attending by her side, guiding her. They were instructing me to push with everything I had to get her out.
1st contraction: I pushed her waaaay down (they were shocked with my pushing skills and realized no suction would be needed)
2nd contraction: She crowned
3rd contraction: Julie Rain entered this world! (1:10PM)
I pushed this baby out on my own. First baby that I didn't need forceps assistance. That was an amazing feeling. Even better?? No tears or sutures needed!!
So her little heart had been struggling b/c the cord was wrapped around her neck TWICE. However, she pinked up right away (apgars were 9/9) and peds team was dismissed.
They put her immediately on my chest. Not just on my attractive hospital gown like they did with our older girls, but they pulled my gown down to put us skin-to-skin. I had never done this with Natalie and Lexi. It was amazing.
They collected cord blood, and after the placenta delivered, they noted an abnormality in it. Apparently the cord had attached through the membrane, and then into the placenta. (instead of directly into the placenta) They showed it to us, and then sent it to pathology. (still waiting to hear back) After I was cleaned up, everyone left the room, and it was just the three of us, in this quiet, peaceful setting together. We stayed skin-to-skin for over an hour. Such a beautiful experience. The grandmas were texting, asking about her stats, and we didn't know yet! LOL! They hadn't even cleaned her up.
I nursed her for the first time. More beautiful moments:
Then they took her stats and cleaned her up. Julie was 20" long, and weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces.
After that, Daddy held her for about an hour.
We waited on several things before I could be moved to my post-partum room. Our families were on the way.
When we arrived in our new room, we learned that all four grandparents and our girls were waiting in the waiting room. I settled in, and Natalie and Lexi ran in to meet their new baby sister. The climbed up on my bed with me, and that was probably one of the most euphoric moments of my life. To have all my children snuggled next to me, Mike right there, and our parents in the room as well.
Natalie got to hold Julie first,
...while Lexi demanded snacks. LOL. Lexi had her turn with the baby,
...as did everyone else. I love this picture of our parents and children:
Soon everyone headed out.
The nurses were anxious to do the newborn evaluation and bath before shift change. So Julie had her first bath right on my lap! (Everything in this unit was mother/baby friendly. Their main goal was to always keep mom and baby together. All rounds/baths/evaluations were done in the mother's room...as moms were encouraged to keep baby in their rooms at all times)
Rinsing off was definitely Julie's favorite part of the bath!
After Julie's bath, we did skin-to-skin for another hour. (If you're not familiar with this practice, I'd encourage you to look up the benefits to the baby--it's impressive) Mike and I ate, and then he went home to get the girls settled in bed for the night. He came back to the hospital to stay with Julie and I. That was a long night. Look at this precious lil lamb:
Julie didn't sleep a whole lot, and when she did, we were woken up by evaluations, a screaming baby next door to us, and early rounds by every flipping resident on the floor. So I had already requested we go home early. I did NOT feel like I just had a baby. At all. The only discomfort I had was in my lower back (the epidurals) and some expected contracting while nursing. Both Julie and I were doing great, and discharged after 24 hours.
Mike drove us home in the rain, where we were greeted by a very excited Natalie. Lexi soon realized we were home when she woke up from her nap as well. The next days were a blur, but Julie's weight did get down to 6 pounds, 10 ounces. Once my milk came in, she was up to 7 pounds, 4 ounces just 3 days later. (An impressive gain! ;)
So far, Miss Julie has been a VERY easy baby. The only time she cries is to eat. Natalie and Lexi are constantly asking to hold her. Lexi has been involved with every aspect of her care since we brought her home. She pats her, kisses and hugs her, holds her, wants to see her diapers when I change them, tells me when she's crying, talks to her, etc. Julie has brought out Lexi's gentleness in a very surprising way. We are thrilled to see that. As of now, Julie is 12 days old, and has been sleeping very well at night. With the exception of her first few nights, she goes back to sleep after eating during the night. Last night, she slept 4.5 hours, ate, then back to sleep for another 2.5 hours. It was a similar story the night before. Natalie (who I thought was the easiest baby EVER) didn't do this until closer to 4 weeks. So I am amazed and so thankful Julie is allowing me to get the rest I need to be there for my older girls during the day. I am well aware that the prayers for sleep from the grandparents are helping!
Doing skin-to-skin at home with my helper:
One of the best aspects of this recovery is how well I've felt emotionally. I have had NO weariness or anxiety. Those things have always been closely linked to big hormonal changes in me in the past. I really think having a baby in the summer (and getting out in the warm weather) helps tremendously. I also feel physically well. No discomfort what-so-ever. Mike has also been home for 2 weeks, and just went back last night for the first time. Having him home with me, and helping each other get extra sleep makes a huge difference too. I am so thankful he was willing to take the time off for us. I've said it so many times, but he is my rock.
So we couldn't be enjoying our little Julie any more than we already are. She fits right into our family, and is already loved so much. Now that Mike is back to work, and we've spent the last 12 days adjusting as a family of five, we are looking forward to sharing her.