I did it! I gave birth and I'm not as shaken as I thought I would be! Patting myself on the back right now. It's been one week and there is so much to express about the entire process, and I hope to capture it all especially considering I was a bit loopy at some points from the epidural. That's right. I went with the meds! And I am super glad I did. Before we get there, let me take you back to 3 am on February 28th and my #birthstory.
3 am: I was woken up with the biggest cramps of my life and much more movement in my belly than ever before. Everyone says how "you'll know" when the contractions start, and they were right. Still, I wasn't 100% sure so I laid on my right side and held my belly for a good half an hour just feeling what was going on. It wasn't letting up so I went to the bathroom and thankfully, turned the light on. I didn't usually do that for those middle-of-the-night runs. I noticed I was bleeding and immediately woke up Eric and told him we needed to go to the hospital that I was in labor. He immediately got up and got all our things together. Thank GOD I took the advice of my good friend, Nadine, and pre-registered at the hospital! I couldn't imagine sitting there having contractions and filling out paperwork at the hospital.
4 am: Once we got to the hospital and checked in, I was taken to Labor and Triage (I had been there before during my 32-week scare). After lying there in pain and telling the nurses I'm in labor and at least 3 cm dilated, they had some amateur check me and it was so painful I had to tell her to stop. Not to be too graphic here, but she was literally shoving her fingers into my cervix and not even feeling that I was 3 cm dilated. I protested and someone else came to check me. It was not fun. They finally got their shit together and brought in my nurse for Labor and Delivery. Her name was Brandise and she was an angel. I was shocked they had me walk, yes WALK, to the room where I would be welcoming my baby girl into the world. Eric was by my side the whole time giving me strength and carrying all my bags LOL! It felt as if Stella was going to fall out with each step.
The rest of the 17 hours runs together so I can't really give a true timeline, but I can describe what I remember. It all happened so fast. It was time for a shift change and the next nurse came in with her student protege. Eric gave her my birth plan and we went over it together. It was all pretty on par with what they practice at the hospital so that was comforting. She answered all of my questions and was monitoring me for the next 8 hours. I got up to 5 cm dilated but the baby's head was still not as low as we wanted it so she started positioning me with a peanut ball in different positions every hour or so. I felt the contractions increasing more and more and realized that I didn't want to suffer through this and let my LO feel the stress and trauma her mama was going through. She has always been my first priority throughout my pregnancy. That didn’t change now. I wanted to try to find some peace through the pain and my peace came through an epidural. I realized that my fear of the med stemmed from other people's experiences and the shaming from other moms. I thought the pain of the needle was going to be worse than contractions. Boy was I wrong! I didn't even feel it and my pain began to subside. I could finally have a calm experience for both me and baby.
To give birth, the cervix has to be 10 cm dilated. I remained at 5 cm for quite a while and my cervix was getting harder so they decided to start giving me drops of pitocin to see if that helped facilitate more progress. While she was monitoring me, she noticed that my blood pressure was dropping. It went from 125 to 90 to 74! So, she had to give me something (I forget what it was now) to get it back up. I was in good hands and she explained everything to us as it came. I believe her name was Lisa. Throughout the next several hours, I started to feel the contractions more and more and needed to be topped off three times with the epidural. I was actually happy they weren't giving me the max dosage. I was totally fine with taking more as needed. It was now time for another shift change but I didn't want to see her go. I got accustomed and comfortable with both her and her protege. I asked her if the next nurse was going to be good and she assured me she would be. In walks Sarita.
Sarita was my shining star and an absolute angel. She was the one who helped me get through the very challenging moments I was about to endure. Looking back, I wonder if I could have done it without her. Sarita is a mom as well and she coached me for the delivery by showing me how to position and hold my legs and how to breathe when the time came. She let me tell her when I was feeling the contractions at peak for the best chances possible. Now, usually an OB/GYN is the one who delivers the baby. I wasn't sure who was on call that night from my Dr's office but I knew there was one Doctor I didn't want to deliver my baby. The cold woman who was short and emotionless who left me in tears at one of my appointments. I was hoping for Monica or Karen and just at that moment, guess who walked in? Yup. You guessed it. She criticized the way I was pushing and was, again, super cold and curt. I kept telling her that I am pushing and I am trying while remaining calm so that, again, my baby girl wasn't feeling any delivery stress. She left and attended to another patient while Sarita kept telling me I'm doing great and was helping me through the process as the delivery progressed.
With each contraction came another big push... 18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.9.10. If you've never been in labor, it's hard to hold your breath that long while pushing a human out of you. Never mind having to repeat it three times in a row while spread open across the hospital bed. I simply didn't have the lung capacity and Sarita recognized that. She gave me a more attainable goal of a 7 count. 126.96.36.199.5.6.7. Sometimes I made it all the way and sometimes I didn't. But I sure was trying! This continued for an hour and a half with Eric and Sarita holding one leg during each push and him feeding me ice chips when I rested. I'm not going to lie, there were about two moments during this laboring that I thought to myself, I'm not going to make it through naturally. I'm going to have to get a cesarean. Despite those thoughts, I kept pushing for my baby, and for myself. I wasn't going to let Doctor Devil defeat me. At one point, Sarita told Eric to look because you could see her head coming through and with every push he could see it a little more. He was watching his baby being born and it was so amazing. It's an unbreakable bond that we will share forever. He was, and is, my rock. He was by my side being supportive and encouraging every moment.
Once Stella was crowning, Sarita called in the Doctor and she got suited up and dove right in. Just a few minutes later and out gushes my little peanut! Oh the relief! I don't have to push anymore. She was born at 10:09 pm weighing 6 lbs and 9 oz and in perfect health. They placed her on my chest immediately. After about two minutes, Eric cut the umbilical cord and the doctor started to deliver the placenta. All I could think about was how beautiful our little girl is. Two became three in what seemed to be the blink of an eye.
She began to stitch me up because I tore, and I just reveled in the glory of my newborn baby girl and our new family. I have to say, every nurse who helped us out was the perfect person for each part of the labor and delivery. Someone was watching out for us and I feel so incredibly blessed.
And now, the recovery!