Friday, September 30, 2016

Penelope's Birth Story: Part 1

Hi friends! When I was pregnant and even before, I loved reading birth stories. All experiences are different, but each one is a miracle in itself. After our daughter was born, I typed out her birth story because I didn't want to forget a single detail. My expectations were low going into labor and delivery - in my mind, a healthy baby was my number one priority. I'm grateful that I had such an incredible experience and am so blessed to be the mom of this tiny miracle. So, here is our birth story...

Dear Penelope,

Your birth story starts on Saturday, July 30th around 4:30 am. Actually though, let's back up for a second to my last OB appointment when I thought your birthday was going to be August 4th or 5th. I went to the OB's office the previous Tuesday for my 37 week appointment, I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions all week and the OB that I saw assured me that no baby was coming anytime soon. He brought up the topic of a scheduled induction at 39 weeks. You see, at your 20 week ultrasound, there was an abnormality in your umbilical cord called a Persistent Right Umbilical Vein. A fetal echocardiogram revealed that your heart was in tip top shape, but I had extra monitoring throughout my pregnancy. Non-stress tests every Friday - I didn't mind those because I could listen to your heartbeat for 30 minutes on repeat - and biophysical profiles/growth scans every Tuesday - I loved these weekly ultrasounds to see my little peanut. The extra monitoring was stressful, but I focused on the positive fact that it let me know that you were doing well and staying safe. Factoring in all of that along with my blood clotting disorder meant an induction at 39 weeks. I have to admit, I did feel a little sad about this... what if you weren't ready to be born at 39 weeks? There were so many questions in my mind. I secretly had wanted you to chose your own birthday but in my heart though, I knew choosing what was safest for you was my number one priority. Apparently though, you had other plans and little did I know that you were going to choose your own birthday ahead of schedule...

Paul and I discussed how we wanted to spend our last weekend just the two of us and at my Friday NST, I told my nurse all I really wanted was Thai food and to relax. She laughed and told me to tell "her friend" aka Paul, that he should do anything I wanted. Friday night rolled around and we discussed our dinner plans, Paul wasn't down for Thai, so we ended up getting wings instead and heading to bed early. So, early Saturday morning at 4:30 am at 38 weeks pregnant when I heard Paul up tracking down which of the smoke alarms was chirping in the middle of the night and realized I might be in labor, I briefly considered that the induction likely would not be happening. I shouldn't have been surprised, babies in my family historically tend to come early, but I was. These cramps felt different, more consistent, than the ones I'd been having all week. I had some spotting and now I really couldn't sleep anymore so I got up to take a shower and wash my hair. I wandered around the house, straightened up things and painted my nails. I wasn't sure if this was the real deal or not but I wanted to be ready if it was!

Eventually, Paul got up and I told him I was pretty sure this was it. Our baby was (hopefully) on the way. I ate breakfast - an oatmeal pancake from my freezer stash of post-baby meals - knowing that they wouldn't let me eat at the hospital. We gathered things up around the house and I decided to call when my contractions were 3-6 minutes apart and lasting for a minute. The resident I talked to told me that it would be a good idea to come in and get checked out since it seemed like things were moving along. Paul and I wondered if this was our last time leaving the house just the two of us. We snapped one last bump shot and hit the road! As we made the drive to the hospital around 11 am, we talked about how laid back this drive was (ha ha), parked in the garage and went inside.

We went to the Labor and Delivery floor and checked in at the desk. I was taken to a triage room, given a hospital gown and hooked up to a monitor to track my contractions. My nurse brought me some ice chips and helped me settle in. The resident I had talked to on the phone came into check my progress and said I was 1 cm dilated and 80% effaced. They decided they would keep me for an hour to see if I made any progress. In between feeding me ice chips, Paul worked on his UC class since this was his last opportunity to finish it before you made your arrival. I turned on Say Yes to the Dress and tried to relax - all I wanted to do was walk around but I wasn't allowed to because of all the monitors - so I tried to focus by listening to your heart beat instead.

I started to think about getting sent home as a real possibility then decided that might not be so bad because I was starting to feel hungry and was wanting lunch...clearly pregnant girl problems. Eventually, my OB came in and said that since I hadn't made any real progress, she was sending me home. She pointed out all the benefits of being at home - at home I could shower, walk, eat and just relax. I was nervous about when to come back because my contractions were already so close together and she assured me to return when I couldn't talk through them anymore. She said she would have the on call phone until 7:30 am the next morning, so if we had any questions or concerns we could always call her. We packed up our belongings and I changed back into my regular clothes.

We began the drive back home and it turned out that I was going to get the Thai meal I wanted after all. We stopped and picked up a ginger salad, avocado roll and tofu pad thai, and turned on The Sopranos while we ate. I bounced on the exercise ball and we made periodic walks around our neighborhood, stopping with each contraction. It was a beautiful day outside and Paul held me close and talked to me during each one. Finally, I decided a hot shower sounded like a great idea and it helped me manage the increasing pain. Once I got out though, I felt like I was starting to lose it. Honestly, I was so scared to go back to the hospital only to get sent home again. Looking back, I remember reading that the time to go to the hospital is when you no longer want to go. It didn't make sense to me when I read it, but now it makes perfect sense. We called my OB and left a message and while we were waiting for her return call, Paul told me it was just time to leave. I argued for a little bit but finally gave in.

We got back in the car and made our way back to the hospital around 7 pm, only this drive was slightly more dramatic and my eyes were closed for most of it. I asked if we could listen to "Final Song" by MO and it ended up playing on repeat as we drove up to where our hospital was located. Now, whenever I hear that song, I always remember that moment. We parked the car out front and left our bags inside, just in case I wasn't going to stay this time. We made our way back to Labor and Delivery and all the nurses joked about how I had just been here earlier....little did they know this time I was going to get to stay....!

Part 2 coming soon :) 

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