So here we are 14 days into being parents. And now I finally understand why everyone kept telling me to get more sleep… you live and you learn 🙂
Anyhow let me get to the point of this post – Eliana’s Birth Story 🙂
For those of you who dislike the details of birth stories you probably won’t want to read this. I promise to spare any gruesome details, however I want to share as much of my experience as possible. Not to mention if I don’t write it down now chances are in a few more days I will forget how it all happened! So we start this long journey of how our dear Eliana came into the world on the morning of November 19th, 2010.
It was approximately 5am when I got up out of bed and started having my first contractions. The funny thing was that somehow I knew it was coming. The night before I was super emotional and had a heightened sensitivity toward everything around me. I canceled my initial plans to go out with a group of girls from my church because I felt like at any moment I might burst into tears. So instead I got ready for bed and called it a night. Which I am glad I did because I had no idea what the following 33 hours would have in store for me.
When I woke up at 5am, I didn’t tell Hector. I wanted to make sure that I was truly going into Labor so I went to the living room and started counting my contractions. **For all of my “still-pregnant” friends, there is this awesome contractions calculator on thebump.com. It seriously helps with keeping track of your contractions when your incoherent. So after an hour of consistent contractions I decided to go poke Hector and tell him that he might not be going into work. My contractions from the very beginning were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting anywhere from 30-50 seconds. I had an appointment scheduled for that morning with my midwife to have my membranes stripped so I decided to go in as planned and have her check me and make sure all was okay.
I went in at 8:30am to see Rita and I was pretty bummed to find out that I was only 1 cm dilated and 75% effaced. I thought considering my contractions were relatively close that I was lucky enough to be progressing quickly. That morning when she asked me what my pain level was I told her a 7 on a scale of 10. Little did I know that I would retract that number and change it to a 3 after experiencing transition 27 hours later.
Hector and I went home from the appointment and I decided to chill on the couch while he went into work for a few hours to tie up some loose ends. I was feeling pretty good considering I was still very much in early labor. I called my parents to give them the heads up and even though I told them to take their time, the eager grandparents arrived at our house around 1:30pm. My sister showed up around 3:30pm and at this point our house was full. I was sitting on a yoga ball laboring in the living room while everyone else watched tv and to be honest the distraction of all the activity was rather nice. I was texting the entire time as well so that’s a major sign of me not being in hard labor.
My contractions continued to increase in strength, but were still about 2-3 minutes apart and a little less then a minute in length. At around 5:30pm (10 hours into laboring) we decided to head to the birthing center. My mom was getting nervous that I was progressing quickly and a part of me was anxious to see if I had progressed at all. The car ride wasn’t fun by any means, but it wasn’t unbearable. Once we arrived I was escorted into the triage room to be checked by the midwife and assessed to see if I could be admitted. Unfortunately I was only 2 cm dilated and 40% effaced (apparently I backtracked on that part). I was sooooo bummed. The midwife proceeded to strip my membranes in order to make my labor progress quicker. She then told me to walk the hallways for 2 hours and come back around 8pm to get checked again.
So lots and lots of pacing the hallways and enduring contractions that were progressively getting worse and finally the clock struck 8pm. I was checked again and it was good, but not great news. I was at 3cm and 80% effaced. Since I had progressed in that 2 hour time frame they decided to admit me and give me a room. A part of me was grateful and another part of me was thinking “How long is this going to take?! I am only at 3cm, I still have 7 more to go”. Needless to say it had been a long day and the night would be even longer.
Once we got settled in I basically was jumping around from rocking chair to yoga ball to regular chair and then back to rocking chair in an attempt to manage my contractions. They checked me again at midnight (4 hours later) and I was still 3cm and 90% effaced. At this point it took everything in me to not want to cry, but somehow I managed. Hector was extremely supportive and encouraging. He continuously reminded me that I was doing great and that I would get through this. About 3 hours later they checked me again and I had progressed to 4cm and 90% effaced still. I was somewhat happier, but I was honestly crossing my fingers for 7cm. Apparently that was wishful thinking.
The nurse and midwife could tell that I was getting exhausted. I couldn’t relax enough to sleep and I had been up for almost 24 hours. They offered me “therapeutic rest” via injection. Basically its like drinking a 6 pack of beer. Its an anti-nausea medicine that helped me relax enough to sleep. I don’t remember much about getting it except that I felt super tired. They said it might allow me to get about 3-4 hours of sleep so Hector and I laid down in my room and slept. Unfortunately 1 hour later I was up again and sitting back in the rocking chair. I let Hector sleep since I knew he had to be pretty exhausted.
I didn’t get checked again until about 7am and I had progressed to 5cm. It was a battle of my mind to keep myself thinking positive thoughts. I really had to focus on the fact that at least I was still progressing and not stopping or regressing because that can happen as well. The time was really a blur and between walking the hallways and rocking in the chair it somehow managed to go by. It was at this point they decided to bind my belly with an elastic belly band. They felt that Eliana was balled up at the front of my belly instead of moving down into my birth canal. The band felt awesome. The pressure it put on my stomach relieved some of the tension from the contractions. And apparently they knew what they were doing. When they checked me at 10am I was 7cm!!!! Yahoo was all I could think. It wasn’t 10cm, but I had gone 2 cm in 3 hours instead of 1 cm in 10 hours. So things were finally starting to move along.
At this point they decided on 2 things 1.) they broke my water and 2.) they started filling up the tub so I could labor in there during transition. When they broke my water they did find a little of meconium in my fluid, but thankfully it wasn’t enough to have me moved down to Labor and Delivery. An hour later I was in the tub and experiencing what I now know to be “transition”. If I though the first 30 hours of labor was difficult, it was nothing compared to the last 3. From 11am to 1:45pm I labored in the tub and was checked every hour. I progressed from 7 to 8 to 9 to almost 10cm each hour. These 3 hours were the hardest thing I have ever experienced in life. At this point my contractions were actually 3-4 minutes apart and lasting for about 1min 30 seconds. And all I can say is that I am so grateful for those 3-4 minute breaks. They were my saving grace.
A little bit before 2pm they had me get out of the tub to change positions and see if gravity would get me to the final full 10cm. Before I knew it I was lying on the bed and pushing. And boy did that feel good. Instead of trying to survive my contractions I was able to use them and work with them to get her out. I pushed for 27 minutes and she came into the world at exactly 2:22pm. Finally RELIEF!! My sister and my husband were there for the entire thing. They witnessed what they felt was the most amazing experience ever. When she came out she was put directly on my chest and I was just in a state of shock and awe. My sister and Hector were staring at me like they had seen a ghost. Apparently watching the actual birth is a whole lot different then being the one delivering.
At this point I felt like a million bucks. It was so nice to have her out. I was starving so my sister was feeding me cheez-its while Hector cut the cord and the midwife tried to finish things up “downstairs”. However she had to call in reinforcements because I tore pretty bad. The midwives can only do repairs on 2nd degree tears, but I had a 4th so the surgeons from downstairs had to come finish the job. After the midwife had spent an hour already trying to suture me up the Urogynecologists from Labor and Delivery were sent up and spent 2 more hours putting me back together. The worst part was that I had to leave Eliana. Hector stayed in the room with her and then I was taken to triage. I was super bummed. Not even an hour into this world I was already having to say goodbye. Not cool.
Thankfully my sister came with me. If I hadn’t just experienced 33 hours of labor I probably would’ve been terrified knowing that they were going to be suturing up my most sensitive parts for over 2 hours. But they did a great job numbing me with lidocaine so I didn’t feel too much going on down there. My nurse eventually came in to tell me that Eliana was a whopping 9lbs 2oz and 20 inches (later to be corrected at 22 inches). There was a definite sigh from all the other nurses and the 2 surgeons in the room and it was followed with “So that’s how you tore….”. I was shocked. My midwife estimated Eliana at 7 to 7 1/2 lbs, but apparently ultrasounds and even guessing fetal size with your hands is only correct 50% of the time. So really its totally unreliable.
Finally the 2 hours were over and I was sent back to my room where my wonderful husband and gorgeous baby girl were waiting for me. I was really just bummed that I missed them weigh and measure her, but I am glad I got fixed. Once I was back to the room I was feeling great and honestly just wanted to see my family and Hector’s family and share my feelings of excitement and joy. And my awesome sister in law had brought us In N Out for dinner and I was so ready to chow down.
We had wonderful visits from family and friends for the next few hours and I can’t explain how happy and joyful I was. It was like I never even went through the previous 33 hours of labor. It was beautiful. And then God throws another curve ball into the mix and the joyous feeling is paused. At 10:00pm Eliana wasn’t breathing properly and the perinatologist from the NICU wheeled her downstairs for testing. So here I was for the 2nd time in her first day a part of this world, saying goodbye to my daughter. Hector and I didn’t even know how to respond. We just sort of sat and stared…
Eliana’s Birth Story Part II: Being in the NICU – To be continued