Birth Stories

C's Story

I originally wrote this 8 days after C's birth, so everything was still pretty fresh in my mind. Recently, though, me and DH had a conversation about my labor and delivery experience and we remember things quite differently. Since he wasn't on drugs for 29 hours, I assume his memories are more accurate than mine. Nevertheless, this is how I remember it. 

Let me preface this a bit. When I was pregnant, I was very uneducated on the birthing process. I declined to take a birthing class because hey, women give birth every day, we've been doing it for centuries, who needs lessons on how to do it?! I figured I could just wing it and be fine. Wrong. I read What To Expect When You're Expecting, and knew about the 3 stages of birth, but honestly I was just unprepared. I knew I wanted an epidural as soon as possible during labor, because I am a total wuss who can't take pain. I knew I did not want a c-section, mainly because I was terrified of it and the recovery from it. I knew I wanted to try to breastfeed, but I didn't have high hopes since all I read were negative stories about it (more on that another time). Basically, I really thought I'd just go with the flow on all this labor/delivery/mothering stuff. 

Going with the flow is great, sometimes. But preparedness is important! I learned my lesson. If there's a next time, things will be very, very different. I'm much more educated now (though I will take a birthing class if I get pregnant again) and know exactly what I want and don't want in a labor experience. (If there is a next time, it will be all natural; you'll see why soon enough.) 

Alright, let's dive in. C's birth story starts several weeks before her actual birth. Around 37 weeks, I developed PUPPP - pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. Sounds lovely, huh? It was my worst nightmare. Basically, PUPPP is a rash that can develop in stretch marks, and can spread. I had a ton of stretch marks, though they didn't appear until week 33-34 or so. My rash started out as just a few small red spots that itched pretty intensely, but quickly spread to cover my entire belly (which was humongous). I went to the doctor several times and tried everything imaginable, but nothing was giving me relief. I wasn't able to sleep or even relax due to the extreme itching. I was miserable. The last few weeks of pregnancy aren't the most comfortable anyway, but this was ridiculous. I quit working a week early because I just couldn't focus.

I tried steroids, but that didn't help. Finally, my doctor started thinking maybe this wasn't PUPPP, but a liver issue. He ordered liver tests, but it would take 3 days to get the results. In the meantime, he started me on a drug to help my liver. It was a powder that I had to suspend in a liquid and drink (it didn't dissolve). It was the nastiest thing ever. I gagged the whole time. I did some research on the drug and it is not recommended in pregnancy, and found out why. Naturally, I freaked out. I just knew I was killing my baby. On top of that, my itching was just getting worse and worse. So I called the doctor again. He said the only cure at this point would be delivery. But I really didn't want to be induced; I wanted C to come on her own, when she was ready. 

On Saturday, December 18, 2010, I convinced myself that C wasn't moving as much in my belly as she normally did. Looking back, I was just in panic mode cause of the drug I was on and the research I had done. I called my dr and said I wanted to check on my baby. He agreed to let me go to the hospital and have a non stress test done. 

Well, the hospital was full of laboring women and said I couldn't go in that day. I thought it was odd that no one had time to do a test to check on a baby, but I figured they knew what they were doing. Plus, C's movements had picked back up again. I did quit taking that medicine, though. The hospital told me to call back the next day (Sunday) to see when I could go in. 

(Everything after this was written in 2010.)

I called the hospital  on Sunday, December 19 to see when I could go in to be checked and have the non stress test done. They said they were full and they'd call me when I could go in. I went to church (but not Sunday school), then came back home and crashed on the couch. DH cooked lunch, I think, but I can't remember it. I had a few contractions all day but nothing to concern me. Late in the afternoon, I decided to go and make up bags for the horses' feedings, just in case. Then I came in and took a bath, since I was so tired and itchy. I was soaking in the tub when the hospital called. They said I could come in when I was ready, but to take my time cause Dr. L was going home for supper and to shower. This was at 5:30 or so.

So I finished my bath, told DH to get ready. The hospital had said to eat a light meal, so I ate a PB&J sandwich even though I wasn't hungry. I figured we'd be there for maybe 2 hours max and we could just get supper afterwards. I finished packing my hospital bag, though, just in case. Mama wanted us to stop by her house on our way, and her and Daddy gave us an early Christmas present - a flip video camera. They said they wanted us to have it just in case they induced me that night.

We finally got to the hospital at 7:30. When I walked in the ER door a guy asked me if I was going to labor & delivery and I said yes. DH had to go back to the car because he had his gun on him. The guy at the door said I'd need to get in a wheelchair and I said "but I'm not in labor" and he said I had to anyway. I checked in at the desk, he told me to sit in the chair and then whisked me away. DH made it back just in time for the guy to tell him to go finish checking me in at the other desk, then to come to L&D. He took me to my room and told me to take off my clothes and put on a gown. I was a little confused. I figured I'd need a gown so my cervix could be checked, but I couldn't figure out why I needed a regular delivery room for all this.

A nurse (Nikki) came in and I changed into the gown. I laid on the bed and she immediately hooked up 2 monitors to me, one to monitor contractions and 1 to monitor the baby's heartbeat. I was having contractions, but not major ones. DH made it to the room and he looked just as confused as I was. Another nurse came in and they started putting in my IV, which hurt like hell. I think my vein blew out or something, but they kept digging and oh man it hurt! They tried a different vein which didn't hurt so bad but it didn't work either. Finally a different nurse came in and popped the IV in on the other wrist on the first try. I asked Nikki why were we doing all this and she was like "you're being induced." I told her I thought we were just there for a cervix check and the nonstress test, and she said Dr. L must have mis-communicated with one of us. So, I was being induced and didn't even know it! (I know how that I could have refused all this and just demanded the checks. But at the time, I thought I had to do what they said.)Dr. L came in at 8:30 and inserted a cytotek pill into my cervix. This is a very risky drug but apparently they use it all the time. (I now know that this drug is DANGEROUS for inducing labor - its actually not recommended at all.) It ripens the cervix to prepare it for induction, and sometimes it makes contractions start on its own. Dr. L said it could take 6-12 hours to work, and I might need another dose after that. He said to expect to be in labor 24-48 hours. Wonderful news to hear when I was already exhausted from not sleeping all week! (The night before I hadn't slept at all until like 6am and then I got up at 8. And the night before that I only slept like 3 hours. So I started this whole ordeal very sleep-deprived and exhausted, physically and mentally.)

Around 4:30am my contractions started getting more intense and regular, but I wasn't in true labor yet. I had taken an Ambien pill around 11:30 the night before so I could try to get some rest, but I didn't really. The IV fluids had me getting up to pee every 30 minutes or so, which was a huge ordeal. I had to call the nurse, she had to unhook my monitors and follow me with the IV thing. Then when the contractions started to hurt I just couldn't get back to sleep. They weren't really painful enough to keep me awake, but I guess I was just excited.

Around 9am Dr. W checked me (Dr. L's shift ended at 7am) and I was a fingertip dilated and 80% effaced - progress! The baby was at -2. At 9:15 they started the pitocin in my IV. Pitocin makes you have contractions. BAD ones. With natural contractions, they gradually build in intensity so that by the time you reach the peak of one, you're almost used to the pain (until they're really bad, but that doesn't happen until later in labor), then you get a gradual let down to no pain. That's how I'd been feeling until the pitocin started. Pitocin makes you feel nothing, then suddenly you're at the top of the contraction hurting really bad, then just as suddenly its over. Its exhausting.

Anyway, at noon the nurse checked me and I hadn't made any progress in dilation. It really wasn't a surprise; pitocin still takes a long time to make things really happen. Around 12:30 my head was hurting pretty bad and I was nauseated. They wouldn't let me eat or drink anything since I'd been in L&D. I was regretting eating only a PB&J the night before at that point! I could have ice chips and that's it. So the nurse gave me stadol for my headache and phenegran for the nausea. After that, I don't remember a whole lot of details. Stadol makes you very loopy. My contractions got INTENSE. I would pass out between contractions and wake up for them and be in SO much pain. At some point I begged for more stadol, and I think I ended up with 2 more doses. I never screamed or made a fool out of myself, but I moaned and whimpered a lot. (Adding: I hate Stadol. I will never have it again. When I would "come to" for a contraction, I was in so much pain and didn't have a clue how to manage it, and I wasn't able to really voice any concerns to anyone, or move at all. Why I asked for and received more of this devil drug is beyond me.)

this was obviously before things got too intense - see how HUGE i was?!
So basically for about 2 hours I was in and out of consciousness and in the worst pain of my life. Finally, the nurse asked me if I'd ever had cryosurgery or anything like that and I said yes. She said that explained a lot. Basically, I wasn't able to dilate any more because of scar tissue from my cryosurgery from years before (I had precancerous cells in my cervix). Not being able to dilate meant I was having bad contractions but not making any progress, which is not good. So around 1:45 the anesthesiologist came in and gave me an epidural. I've always heard they hurt, but I barely felt anything. Maybe because I was in so much pain already, I don't know. He had a hard time doing it, though, because I have scoliosis. He was like "did you know your spine is not straight? I'm having trouble getting the epi in..." But he did it and within a few minutes I was in heaven. About 2:30 Dr. Welsh came in and scraped off the scar tissue and broke my water. I was 100% effaced and 3-4 cm dilated.

Not long after all that, I started to feel pain again in my left side. It was like the epidural wasn't working as well on that side, probably because of my crooked back. Sometime around 4:30 they gave me a stronger dose of the epidural. The next few hours are again a blur. I remember some family members stopping by to see me but I couldn't talk to them. When I was conscious I was in so much pain I couldn't do anything. At 6pm Dr. W checked me again and I was 7cm! The baby was at -1.

At around 8:45 I was checked again by the nurse. She said she couldn't find my cervix, which meant I was fully dialated! Dr. W wanted me to labor down for about an hour, so the baby could get lower in the birth canal without me wearing myself out pushing. The nurse said when I felt a constant pressure that it would be time to push.

Around 9:50pm I was ready to start pushing. My lower body was pretty numb from the epidural, and I couldn't move by myself, but I could still feel every contraction. But I figured I'd made it this far, I could deal with the rest of the pain. At some point DH insisted I have a little more of the epidural, and I think I got some, but I'm not sure. It took me a few tries to understand how to push effectively. Its harder than I thought it would be! The nurse, Stephanie, had me push the traditional way - with Mama and DH holding my legs for me. Then Stephanie had me pull on one end of a knotted sheet while she pulled on the other end. I don't know how it worked but it really helped me get the baby down, though it really wore me out even more cause now I was using my arm muscles, too (and my arms were extremely sore for days due to that).

My contractions began to get irregular again, and I think they upped my pitocin at one point. Instead of having a contraction every 2-3 minutes, I was having one every 5-6 sometimes. So I pushed for 2 hours but didn't push as many times as I could have. I passed out between contractions. At some point I remember Stephanie saying the head was crowning and the baby had a bunch of hair. Which was interesting cause earlier, when she checked my cervix the final time, she said she couldn't feel any hair. Well, Mama got all excited about the hair and went on and on about it. Finally, my nerves and temper got the best of me and I said "enough with the hair! You have got to stop!" and DH said "just don't say anything about the hair anymore." haha. That was the only outburst I'd had all day, though, so I think that's pretty good.

After 2 hours of pushing, Stephanie went to get Dr. W, who was asleep in the doctor's lounge. He said to let me take a 30 minute break. I sat through one contraction but the urge to push was so strong and the pain so intense that I just wanted to get it over with. I pushed a few more times, then Dr. W came in. He attached a vaccum to the baby's head and helped me get her out. I didn't really want that, but I was so glad of the help. I really don't think I could have went much longer. It had been about 30 hours since I'd had food or water, I'd been in intense pain all day, and I hadn't really slept in days. I was quite simply give out.

Anyway, with Dr. W's help I pushed for about 2 more contractions, then C was out as 12:04am (December 21, her due date)! She passed meconium and swallowed some of it, but it happened late in the game so she was okay. She came out crying, just like she was supposed to. Dr. W held her up and asked me was it worth it and I nodded yes. The laid her on my stomach and dried her off a little. I couldn't cry or do anything but kind of wimper and try to catch my breath. DH and Mama were crying. They took C to clean her up and weigh her. 7lbs 7oz! (Um, why wasn't I allowed to hold her for a while first?! Next time that will not happen.) Dr. W pushed on my stomach to get all the blood and gunk out, and boy did that hurt. (WHY is that necessary? The placenta would come out on its own soon.) Then he stitched up my tears. The nurse pressed on my stomach again and almost made me scream. (There will be NO pushing on my stomach like that if there's a next time. That was just ridiculous.) The epidural was basically gone but I couldn't move my legs.

They finally brought C to me and I breastfed her a little. Then she had to go to the nursery. (Again, why so soon?? Oh, the things I wish I had known back then!!) Before that, though, they let the family come in 2 at a time to see us. We had to rush their visit, though, cause the nursery wanted C ASAP. During labor, I kept sayin I wanted a pepsi and I finally got one! And 2 bowls of lucky charms, haha. Best food I ever ate! DH had to help Stephanie transfer me to a stretcher so I could be taken to my new room. I didn't regain the use of my legs until a few hours later, and my right leg was still numb the next morning. The rest of that night, when I had to pee, I had to call the nurse and she had to help me walk to the bathroom, with my right leg giving out all the time. Very weird feeling.

They brought C back to me around 1:30 or so. Everyone had stayed to see her one more time, but they all left soon afterwards. Finally everyone left, I breastfed C around 3:30 then they took her back to the nursery and I finally got some sleep. Of course, the doctor came around 7, and the nurse came in to check my blood pressure a few times so I didn't really sleep much. C came back to me around 9:30 and I fed her again. (Another thing I didn't know then - how beneficial rooming in is! I should have requested that my baby stay in the room with me.)
I don't remember much of that day, Tuesday. I was so tired still, but so happy. I wasn't in a lot of pain, but I did hurt. After what I'd gone through the day before, though, it was nothing! The pediatrician came that day and told us that C might develop jaundice since my blood type is O+ and hers is A- I think. (Maybe A+.) Sure enough, the next day she did get yellow. So she had to stay in the nursery under UV lights except when it was time to eat. That was tough on me, but I could visit her. I only made it there once, though, cause I was so weak. They originally said we might go home Thursday morning, but then they decided to keep C one more day and night cause her bilirubin levels weren't down enough. They should be 0 and hers had gone up to 12 or 13, then came down to 9. I think when we left it was 7 or 8. I was discharged Thursday, but they let us rent my room like a hotel. I tried to convince DH to go home every night to sleep in our bed so he'd feel better, but he wouldn't do it. He left me for a few hours every day to come home and get stuff done, but I really wasn't alone very much.

Friday morning, I was up at 5. I was so nervous C wouldn't be able to get home. It was Christmas Eve, after all! DH and I went down to the cafeteria to eat breakfast, then came back to the room to anxiously wait for the pediatrician to come. They had to redo C's bilirubin test so we had to wait a while, but finally we were told we could leave! We were home by noon, I think. Mama was at our house all morning cleaning for me, so she stayed until we got home and got settled in.

That night, we went to DH's grandma's for Christmas Eve supper. We didn't stay long cause I was still exhausted. DH and I exchanged presents that night cause I figured we'd be too tired the next day to do it. (I was right!)

We had a rough night that night. C barely slept, which meant neither did me or DH. So the next morning we didn't go to breakfast at either of our parent's houses, like we usually do on Christmas morning. DH's mama sent over a bunch of food, though. And we went over there around 9 or so, maybe later. We did presents with his family, then went to Mama's to do presents with them. Then we had to to back to his Grandma's for lunch. We came home and took a nap for a few hours, then went to my grandma's for supper. We stayed there until 9 or 10. That night was pretty rough, too.

We were supposed to take C to the doctor Sunday morning for a checkup (breastfed babies have to be seen 2 days after discharge), but the snow came in and they didn't open. Sunday night C's right eye started to water and eventually had green gunk comin out of it. When the doctor opened on Monday I called and told them. The doctor called in a prescription eye ointment for clogged tear ducts, and DH went to town and got that. We had to be at the doctor office at 1:10. The appointment went well. C had dropped down to 7lbs 3 oz on Friday when we left the hospital, and was now up to 8lbs! Dr. P said she looked great and we were going a good job with her. That made me feel SO good. I'd been worried cause she spits up a LOT. But obviously she's getting what she needs.So far, I love being a mama. Its challenging when she cries and we can't figure out what she wants, but its all okay when she's calm and happy. I've taken so many pictures and I just stare at her all the time. She's so beautiful. She doesn't look like a normal newborn to me. Most newborns look like little old people. But she looks like a doll. I love her so much! ( :

Okay, that was super long! I apologize for the length. I love details, though (I'm sure you know that if you've ever read this blog, haha.) If we ever have another baby, I will do everything possible to ensure that no interventions take place. I realize that might not be possible, but now I know enough to try. I won't be receiving Stadol for pain anymore, I will NOT be administered cytotek to induce labor, and I will not try another epidural (obviously, my scoliosis prevented it from working properly - plus, I hated not being able to move at all during labor - AND I feel like the epidural contributed to C's jaundice: she was so drugged, too, and didn't nurse as much as she probably should have). If there's a next time, I want labor to start on its own (I'm already researching how to work on my cervix in case the scar tissue builds up again), and I want to labor at home for as long as possible. I'm too chicken to have an intentional home birth, so I definitely want to be in the hospital again, but I don't want to be treated like a sick patient, you know? Birth is natural, we don't need to do a bunch of crap if there's no need. 

So C's birth was a learning experience for me. Yes, I'd do it all again in a heartbeat since the end result was a beautiful, healthy, wonderful baby - but yes, there are things I'd change if I could. I'm not bitter about it (anymore). I'm not worried that my next birth will be just as traumatic and intervention-ridden. I'm at peace with it, finally. I just know that next time, I want things to be WAY more natural and less stressful! (And I want to be able to freakin EAT when I'm in labor! lol)

I decided to post my story because who knows, maybe it will help someone else out there. Thanks for reading. ( :

L's Story

My daughters have two extremely different birth stories. My pregnancies were very different, too, and I expect their personalities will be quite different, as well! L is a week and one day old as I'm writing this, so that last part remains to be seen. Though I can say that so far, she's pretty different than her big sister was at this age. She's definitely her own person!

During this pregnancy, I went through the Hypnobabies program. A friend of mine went through it and let me borrow her materials. I didn't follow the program exactly, and didn't do it every day until the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy, so maybe I didn't reap all the benefits of it, but I'm still very happy I did it. This pregnancy was pretty easy compared to my last one. I had no heartburn, no migraines, and I didn't gain as much weight. (Actually, I did, but I carried so differently that I really didn't look the same at all - this time all my weight gain was in my belly, while last time it was ALL over, haha.) The only problem I had was a dysfunctional SI joint. It started being painful at 11 weeks and got pretty severe. I had to walk with a crutch sometimes, and exercise was out of the question. (Thankfully, the issue seems to be correcting itself now that I'm not pregnant.) I did develop the PUPPP rash around week 34, but it wasn't bad at all. I was able to get it under control quickly (without medication!) and it actually went away for a couple of weeks. It did come back in the end, but it barely bothered me. MUCH different than last time!

I had a feeling this entire pregnancy that this baby would come early. I was due August 16, and everyone said I'd have her by the end of July. I didn't think she'd be a July baby. I also knew without a doubt she wouldn't be late. As I neared my due date, though, I started to question my instincts! I didn't have any signs of labor other than daily Braxton Hicks contractions. I hear about other people losing their mucus plug and stuff like that, but I never had any of that. Every little twinge I felt, though, had me wondering could this be the start of labor?! It was nerve-wracking! I felt like a first-time mom all over again, anxious for labor to start.

I wasn't nervous about labor at all. I was actually looking forward to it. I wanted the chance to do it the way I wanted - naturally. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, that my body did work like its supposed to. I knew I could do it, but of course there was a doubt in the back of my mind. I tried not to dwell on that though.

Anyway, on Sunday, August 10 I woke up feeling absolutely awful. We went to church and afterwards I just laid around most of the afternoon. My cousin had a graduation party that evening and we went, but didn't stay very long. I was having more BHs and it was becoming pretty annoying since they weren't going anywhere (or so I thought!).

The next morning, August 11, I woke up feeling much better. I was still tired and achy and heavily pregnant (you know the feeling!), but I felt better. I had the urge to pack my hospital bag and wash some clothes, so I just went with it and got stuff done. I wondered if that was the "surge of energy" people talk about, but I didn't want to get too excited. I was still having pretty constant BHs and some of them were starting to feel different, but I tried not to think too much about it. I finished a tutu dress that I had been working on, and C and I went outside for a quick photo shoot with her in it.

By the time I put C down for her nap, I was pretty fed up with the irregular contractions. They were definitely not BHs anymore, they felt too different, but they were all over the place. I'd have a few 10-15 minutes apart for a while, then it would be an hour or more between them. During nap time, I decided to listen to a Hypnobabies track. I went with the Birthing Day one because I read that it can help jump-start labor. The track is about an hour, and the whole time my contractions were 5-6 minutes apart. Once that track was over, I decided to go right into another track. I think I did the Deepening one. Contractions stayed 5-6 minutes apart. Afterwards, I decided to take a bath and see what happened. I knew if it wasn't true labor, the bath would slow down or stop the contractions. Well, I stayed in the bath for a while and contractions continued just like they had been for the past hour and a half. At that point, I was ready to admit that this was the real deal. I estimate that true labor started around 3pm. I called DH and asked him to come straight home and blow up the exercise ball for me. I felt like I wanted to sit on that some.

While I was in the bath, my mother came over. She had called earlier and I told her I was in labor, so she came to help with C and everything else. After my bath, I sat on the exercise ball and leaned on the bed on a bunch of pillows. I kept listening to Hypnobabies tracks over and over. Contractions were steady 5-6 minutes apart and at least a minute each, but they weren't painful. I wasn't sure if that was because it was early labor or because the Hypnobabies was working so well, but I went with it. At one point I asked DH to go get me a sub from Subway. That was the only time during the entire pregnancy that I asked him to go out of his way to get me food! It was after 8pm when he got back with our food, and I managed to eat between contractions. Then I got back in the bed with my Hypnobabies tracks.

Sometime after 9 I decided maybe we should go to the hospital. Contractions were now 3 minutes apart but weren't any more painful than they'd been. I was a little concerned that since they were so close together that I was really far along and was just dealing with the pain exceptionally well. (HA!) I had no desire to have this baby outside of a hospital, so I told DH let's go ahead and head that way. We called his parents who immediately came over to stay with C. My mama had gone home by that point, and we called her as well, and she decided to meet us at the hospital.

About half way to the hospital (its a 25 minute drive), DH and I decided on the baby's name. We had narrowed it down to 3 names the week before, and that night we decided on Lindsey Jane. It was such a relief to have her name! I was worried we'd not be able to decide and I had visions of the hospital staff refusing to let us leave cause we couldn't fill out the birth certificate, haha.

I listened to Hypnobabies tracks the whole way there, and in between contractions I told DH what to say to the nurses once we got there. He didn't go through the program with me, so he had no idea what to do. I did hear him tell a nurse that I was hypnotizing myself and I couldn't talk during contractions. Close enough! They put me right into a L&D room and attached the monitors. I was for sure having contractions 3 minutes apart. Around 10:30 Dr. Welsh came in and checked my cervix. I was 1cm dilated and 50% effaced. That was pretty discouraging to hear. I just KNEW I'd be farther along than that. At that point I got pretty upset and thought the scar tissue on my cervix was back. Dr. W assured me that was not the case, though. He said the baby just wasn't down enough in the birth canal to put pressure on my cervix yet. And he said I could be like that for DAYS. He told me I could stay in the hospital or go home, it was up to me. I decided to stay for 2 hours and let him check me again, then go from there.

So for 2 hours, we sat there in the room doing nothing. DH dozed and me and Mama watched TV. Contractions continued every 3 minutes, but didn't get any more painful. I wasn't allowed to leave the room, so I walked around in the room a bit. I'm not good at pacing, though, so that didn't last long! At 12:30 Dr. W checked me again and I was still at 1cm, though I was 85% effaced at that point. I almost cried. At that point, it had been around 9 hours and I had only made it to 1cm. I didn't know what I should do, but I knew being in the hospital was stressing me out and I just couldn't bear the thought of staying any longer. So we left around 1. On the walk back to the car, contractions really picked up in intensity. I had to stop several times to lean against the wall during them. I remember my legs were shaking really bad. On the way home, they stayed pretty intense. I was struggling to relax during contractions, which is the key thing with Hypnobabies.

We got home around 1:30 and my in-laws left. DH got right into bed after getting me some Tylenol (the dr had suggested I take some to see if it helped me any - nope). I got into bed and started up Hypnobabies again, but I quickly realized that it just wasn't working for me anymore. I started moaning through each contraction to get through it. I tried really hard to relax and kept repeating "open, open" in my head over and over. At one point I tried getting on my hands and knees and that did help a little with my back pain, but really nothing I was trying helped much. I finally got DH to start putting pressure on my lower back with each contraction. That did seem to help enough to make it bearable.

This went on for 2 hours. At one point, I almost broke down. I texted my friend and told her that I just couldn't do it. I was almost in tears. DH couldn't take it anymore, and at 3:30 he said we were going back to the hospital whether I wanted to or not! He hates seeing me in pain, and I'm sure he felt helpless. He wanted me to get an epidural or something. Anyway, I told him there was no way I could make it all the way back to the hospital without someone putting pressure on my back, so he called Mama and had her meet us at our house so she could ride in the back with me.

The whole way to the hospital contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart. Mama rubbed my back constantly, and I moaned and moaned. A nurse brought a wheelchair to the car and I could barely get in it. I even made her stop a few times on the way up to L&D cause I couldn't bear the movement of the chair during contractions. It was intense!

Back in a L&D room, the nurse asked me if I wanted pain medication and I said no. DH explained that I wanted to do this naturally, and they all looked skeptical, but no one pressured me. I remember people asking me several more times if I was sure I didn't want anything for pain, but I held firm in my decision. I ended up in the bed lying on my left side. Moving was out of the question. It was all I could do to just be! A nurse checked me and said I was 6-7 cm! Hallelujah! I knew at that point that I could totally do this naturally. I almost cried with relief. (I will say here that I had decided secretly that if I hadn't progressed much by then that I would try an epidural. I didn't think I could handle hours and hours more of labor if it was gonna be that slow.) Then I almost cried with pain, haha. Contractions kept coming stronger and stronger, and all I could do was grip the bed rail through each one and moan. DH rubbed my lower back during every one.

At 5:30, Dr. Welsh came in and checked me again. I was 8cm and had a bulging bag. He decided to break my water to "get this show on the road," he said. He didn't really ask me, but at that point I didn't care. He broke my water, and what a weird feeling that was! It basically felt like I was peeing all over myself. Immediately, contractions picked up even more. They got even more painful and I really didn't get any breaks between them. I could feel one contraction starting to ebb, but before the pain went completely away, a new one would start. Intense is the only way I know to describe it. I was still in the same position, on my left side gripping the bed rail.

At some point, I realized that my body was pushing with each contraction. I had no control over it. Once I realized what was happening, I announced "my body's pushing!" I can't remember if a nurse checked me again or not, but no one told me not to push, so I didn't even try to stop it (even though I couldn't even if I wanted to). I had my eyes closed at this point, and kept them closed until L was out, so I don't even know how many people were in the room or at what point everyone came in there. I didn't care! During the pushing, my moans changed into more of a roar, haha. I had no control over that, either. I attempted to stop being so loud, cause I remembered reading something about relaxing your jaw and throat and that would relax your pelvic floor and all, but that just wasn't happening. This baby was coming out, and I was gonna be vocal about it!

I felt the ring of fire that I've read about. I announced "ring of fire! Ring of fire!" But Mama and DH didn't know what I meant. I guess no one else was in the room at that point. I shouted that the baby was coming out, and after that someone started holding up my right leg. I heard someone say get the doctor and I felt someone's hand right on my bottom. I could tell the hand was touching the baby's head and it wasn't inside of me anymore! I knew I was so close, but at the same time, it felt like that head wasn't gonna fit.

Dr. W came in and just told me to keep pushing with each contraction. At that point, I started actively pushing instead of just letting my body do it on its own. After a couple of pushes, I got upset because it seemed like the baby just wasn't coming and I wasn't sure I could take any more. I even asked "can't you help me?!" Dr. W laughed and said no, that I was doing it on my own. I made out several voices telling me how great I was doing and to keep going. Everyone was saying "push!" but no one counted or tried to force me to change positions or anything.

I probably pushed 4-6 times (actively, at least) and then she was out! It was 6:24am. I couldn't see her, but DH said she was blue and wasn't breathing. Dr. W got her breathing quickly, though. DH cut the cord and then they handed her to me. I kept saying over and over "I did it!" I was so proud of myself. I didn't really experience that high that people talk about after natural birth. I think the last stage went so quickly that I kinda went into shock. I was very cold and shaky for a few hours. I did get a bag of Pitocin just to make sure my uterus was okay, but I was fine with that since it wasn't started until after the baby was born. (I forgot to mention that I also had a bag of fluids during the labor, which I was also fine with. I had tried to keep drinking water during labor, but when we got to the hospital the second time there was no way I could keep drinking, so I welcomed the IV fluids.) Dr. W helped me deliver my placenta while I was holding L. He didn't tug on it or pull it out, he just guided it. I asked him to let me see it, and he held it up. It was smaller than I expected. Afterwards, he did push on my stomach quite a bit, but he explained that it was necessary. I didn't like it, but I didn't protest. I held L for a while, then gave her to the nurse to clean up a bit and weigh. Then they gave her right back to me and I started breastfeeding her. I needed some help with that first latch, but once we got it, L knew just what to do.

We stayed in that room until about 9, then a nurse helped me change into a clean gown and get in a wheelchair. She wheeled me to my room, where DH was waiting (L was in the nursery getting a bath and assessed by the pediatrician, but they told me to call when I was ready for her - no making me wait hours and hours this time!). I took a quick shower to wash off the sweat, then fixed my hair and put on a little makeup and fresh PJs. I felt pretty awesome, and called the nursery to have them bring L back to us, and they brought her immediately. After that, she rarely left our room. Much different than last time!

We had no problems with the baby. I felt great. I hadn't torn at all (amazingly!), and I was sore but not terrible. I was exhausted since I hadn't slept all night, but I was so happy I didn't care. We had a ton of visitors, of course, so there was no resting!

The next morning, the nursery told me that we'd be discharged by lunch time. So quick! But L and I were both doing so well, no one saw any reason to keep us. Then her bilirubin test came back. Her levels were high, and they wanted to keep her a little longer to monitor her. There was talk of sending us home with a bili blanket, but in the end, the dr decided not to. We were discharged around 5:30pm with instructions to return the next morning to have her tested again.

Our first night home was actually pretty great. C was so happy we were home and she was immediately in love with her baby sister (she had been to the hospital just a few hours after the birth to meet her sister, and then she was there when we got discharged). L slept pretty well, only waking every 3 hours to nurse, which is a pattern she's kept up since then (so far).

The next morning, her bilirubin levels were higher, but she was handling the jaundice well, so the doctor wasn't too concerned. Her checkup went well, too. He was very pleased with her weight and everything. He wanted us to repeat the test one more time, so we had to go back again Friday morning. Her levels were still elevated, but the doctor felt confident that she would be just fine without any treatment, thank goodness! She did turn a bit yellow over the weekend, but its already gone now. She handled her jaundice much better than C did (who wanted to sleep all the time; I had to force her to wake up and eat, and she was under the UV lights most of the time for a few days and had formula in the hospital).

I'm glad the jaundice is behind us. I knew she'd be okay, but we were worried we'd have to be readmitted so she could be under the UV lights. We watched her like hawks and rejoiced every time she pooped. I'm definitely not counting diapers anymore! She's doing so well. She's a breastfeeding pro and eats pretty regularly. Today she started wanting to nurse more randomly and frequently, but I'm just going with it. Right now she's asleep in my lap, making the most adorable little noises. Our family feels complete now, and its hard to imagine life without L in it! ( :

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