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Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Birth Story

I have made a promise to myself to try to continue to be good about blogging so that I have a record of all that's happening (did you know you can make blogs into books?!), but I am already so behind!  There are so many things from the past week that I want to document and share with you all, and Lilly is changing so much every day already.  Not to worry, I've been making a list, so hopefully I can get through it one topic at a time.  I have just been SO tired - sweet little newborns are a lot of work.  :-)  Fair warning: this is going to be long.  I was going to break it into two posts, but I figure once I get going  it will be easier to just finish.  I won't judge you if you don't stick around for the whole thing, ha!

So, I guess the last update I wrote left off just after the hospital called. To say I did not sleep at all Monday night is an understatement.  I was battling so many emotions: nervous about labor, nervous that baby girl would be okay even though she was early, excited about meeting her, excited to see what she looked like, nervous that Dan and I would have no idea what to do with a baby...the list goes on and on.  After the fact, Dan and I were saying that it is so funny how for 9 months you are so focused on the countdown to labor, what labor is going to be like, etc.  You don't really think about what happens after labor, which makes it all that much more surreal when it's over.

The hospital called around 6:00 a.m.  I had set my alarm for 6:00 and was hoping they would call early, because I didn't think my nerves could take a whole day of waiting.  Anyway, when I answered no one responded, so I hung up thinking they'd try again.  I gave them half an hour before calling back, and they asked us to be there at 7:30.  I hopped in the shower (had to make sure my legs were clean shaven because I am vain LOL) and we both ran around making absolutely sure we had everything ready to go.  Around 7:15 we were on our way.  The funny thing is, after all of the planning for this baby and the birth, etc., the one thing I forgot was music.  I wanted to record a lullaby album for the baby, which I never got around to due to bed rest.  Then I decided to make a playlist for us to listen to during labor, and somehow I kept forgetting.  We heard Ray Lamontagne's You Are The Best Thing played on the way to the hospital and actually it came on the youtube station Dan had playing in the hospital room several times during the day, so we figure that's Lilly's song.  I still really wanted a Bojangle's biscuit for breakfast, but I wasn't sure how things would go on top of the fact that I was battling nerves anyway, and I didn't want to vomit, so I played it safe and ate yogurt and fruit instead. 

We arrived to the hospital, checked in, and got settled in our room.  Since I'd been admitted several times before, I already knew some of the nurses, and I had been secretly praying that Rachel would be working and would be my nurse on the day of delivery.  When she walked into our room, I almost cried I was so happy.  I felt like the fact that she was my nurse and one of my two favorite doctors was on call that day was a sign from God that everything was going to be A-OK.  I later found out that she actually wasn't supposed to be my nurse - she was helping another patient first and was helping out another nurse by getting us settled, but once she saw that it was us she asked to switch.  I am SO beyond thankful.  She was absolutely incredible - everyone there was.  They started me on fluid and started running all kinds of labs before they started the pitocin.  One of my doctors came in, and I learned that the on-call doctor (my favorite) was sick, so someone else would be covering - to my pleasant surprise, it was my other favorite doctor.  Score another one.  They started the pitocin around 8:00 a.m.

One thing several people have asked me about is the epidural.  I honestly was not sure whether I wanted an epidural.  I really liked the idea of not having one, for a lot of reasons which I won't get into here or else this post will be the longest in the history of the world.  So really our birth plan was, let's play it by ear, see how it feels, and then make a decision.  All of my nurses warned me that the pitocin would make the contractions far worse than had my labor happened on its own, but I still wanted to wait and see.  I think I've talked several times before about the preeclampsia causing me to have really low platelets.  The only tricky thing here is that they will not give you an epidural if your platelets are below 100,000.  My labs from the morning came back and I was literally  barely above 100,000 - I made it just by the skin of my teeth.  The doctor later told me that likely the only reason I was above 100k was because it was first thing in the morning and I was dehydrated - had it been any later, I may not have made it.

Most of the rest of the day was just a waiting game. After checking my dilation (still at 1 cm), the doctor decided to insert an intrauterine catheter (IUPC) in addition to the pitocin to get things moving.  Basically, it would get me to somewhere between 3-4 cm dilated (hopefully pretty quickly) and then fall out when I was there.  The idea was to help move labor along.  The insertion was not a walk in the park, but it wasn't too painful.  I was still able to go to the bathroom, walk around to work through contractions, etc.  Dan and I spent the morning watching movies that we'd brought thanks to a Facebook suggestion (How To Train Your Dragon and Wedding Crashers), watching TV, listening to music on the iPad, texting back and forth with friends, playing Words With Friends, etc. 

I wasn't paying too much attention to the time, but I think the IUPC finally fell out somewhere around lunch time - maybe a little before.  The pitocin was increased in amount every 30 minutes.  I'd made it to somewhere between 3-4 cm and was trying not to get too excited about my progress, which turned out to be a good thing because things were slow from there - my body had to catch up to the progress the IUPC had helped me make.  The doctor came in to check on me and said based on the way things were moving, we may have a baby on Tuesday but it would be pushing it, and not to be disappointed if it were Wednesday when we had her.  It is very common for first births that are induced and early to take a long time - a lot of times more than 24 hours, even - with multiple hours of pushing.  So, Dan and I went back to what we were doing. 

I need to add here that starting basically at 9:00 I was starving. I just knew I should have eaten Bojangles instead of stupid yogurt.  I was allowed to have popsicles and clear liquids, and I'd invested in quite a few varieties of Valentine's lollipops (the watermelon Jolly Rancher ones ended up being my favorite), so I snacked on those, but all day I dreamt of pizza and a Diet Coke.  I was mostly in the bed, but walked around some and also spent some time on the birthing ball.  My contractions were pretty strong - they ask you to rate them on a scale of 1-10 and I made it through some 7s and 8s - and we were just working through them as they came.  They were pretty frequent due to the constant increase of pitocin. 

Also, one detail I left out was that when my contractions started, for the first several, the baby's heartbeat dropped really low, as in pretty much dropped off the monitor.  The nurse told us that it was normal for this to happen a few times during labor, but when it happened more than that they got concerned.  It happened enough with baby girl that they told me if it kept up we were going to have to get the baby out via c-section immediately.  Luckily, it steadied itself and things ended up being okay, but it was a source of worry for a little while.

Sometime after lunch - maybe around 2:00? - I was still stuck at 3cm.  So to speed things up even further, they decided to go ahead and break my water.  It wasn't painful and didn't take long at all.  Some people say that they experience a gush and some people experience more of a trickle.  Mine was kind of in between - at first, it was a trickle, and then later on there were a few gushes.  Really it just felt like I was peeing on myself. 

After they broke my water, things progressed really quickly.  The doctor came in several times to check, and said we still may have the baby today but it might be pushing it, and that it was more likely that we'd have her in the early hours on Wednesday.  I made it through two more hours of really intense and painful contractions after my water was broken (8 hours total sans epidural) before thinking about an epidural.  On one hand, I'd made it this far, I may as well keep going.  On the other hand, we'd been at it so long that I was already so tired, and I knew I needed to conserve my energy for pushing, whenever that may be.  I was torn and kept putting it off, but eventually Rachel made the decision for us.  She said that we were getting to the point where it had been so long since my platelets were checked that the anaesthesiologist would want to re-check them before giving me an epidural.  She said that the doctor agreed that I would probably be below 100,000 if they were to check again, and she didn't want me to be disappointed if I asked for one later and couldn't get it, so if I wanted one, now was the time to ask.  I decided that I was proud of myself for making it so far - much longer without the epidural than I thought I'd make it - and that it was time to get one. 

I need to interject here that epidurals are glorious.  While I would have loved to be able to say I did it without one, I swear it was amazing and one of my better decisions - so glad I got it.  It feels weird going in, and maybe slightly painful, but was nothing compared to the pain of the contractions.  The hardest part was sitting still through the monster contractions I was having while he gave it to me so that he didn't miss and paralyze me (I'm not really sure that could actually happen, all I know is he kept saying it was imperative that I not move, and I wanted to ask him had he ever felt a contraction or birthed a child and did he know how impossible that was going to be).

I guess all of this was around 4:30.  I could still feel contractions and was starting to feel just a ton of pressure in my nether regions in general, and by looking at the monitor we could tell that the contractions were really close together.  A check right after the epidural was given told us that I was up to 5cm dilated - halfway there, but still a long way to go.  I passed the time trying to rest and visiting with family who had arrived (my Mom and Dad came Tuesday night so they got to the hospital around 9, and then my mother and father-in-law and my sisters arrived sometime after lunch).  I was so disappointed, because even though the doctor thought it would be a late night, I was secretly hoping I would have the baby before Rachel's shift ended at 7:00.  I just really really loved her and was so comfortable with her, and was hoping she would be there for the labor.  She checked me around 6:00 and said, "Holy cow, you are not going to believe this, guess how far along you are?"  I guessed 6 cm...I was 9, and she went to call the doctor.  I was a nervous (and excited) wreck.

From there things flew.  I literally went from 3cm to 9 cm in not much time at all.  I could feel that my epidural was wearing off some, but they like for you to be able to feel to push so they'd backed it off on purpose and I didn't think too much about it.  After Rachel called the doctor, she told me that there was still some fluid that hadn't broken and it was the only thing that was standing between me and baby, so would I mind trying to push a little through the next few contractions to see if we could break it?  Nope, let's do it.  So we pushed. And the fluid came out.  And before we knew it, we were pushing for baby.

I will try to spare some of the gory details, but pushing lasted around 40 minutes.  We were very lucky from what I understand - a lot of induced first-time laborers push for hours.  I will say that the 40 minutes of pushing felt more like 12 hours.  I was so. tired. and my epidural had worn almost completely off.  Dan was incredible during the whole process.  He walked me through it, held my hand, held my legs, told me how proud he was of me and how great I was doing - he really is one of the best things that's ever happened to me.  Side note: remember how I told you I tried to set a rule that he wasn't allowed below the waist during labor because I didn't want him to not ever look at me the same?  Well that all went out the window, as those of you who know Dan know that he is very curious.  He was all up in my business the entire time, asking questions and telling me what was going on.  In the end my modesty disappeared anyway because I felt like the whole hospital had seen my lady parts, so I gave up on caring.

We pushed and pushed, and I was exhausted and the doctor still wasn't there (he had 3 other patients in labor the same day).  I was in some pain, and quite a few times sobbed hysterically and told Dan I didn't think I could do it.  He and Rachel were wonderful, assured me that I could, and so contraction after contraction we pushed (in the interest of length I will do a different post on "things I didn't know about labor" sometime this week).  At one point, I actually had to stop pushing to wait on the doctor to arrive.  We also went through a shift change - it was time for Rachel to leave.  She actually stayed in the room with us until the end even though she was off and was no longer my nurse.  I swear I love her, and was so much more comfortable and happy because of her.  Anyway, so the doctor took his sweet @$$ time, and at this point baby girl feels like she's halfway out (she wasn't, but it felt like it) and I am just having to sit there and wait.  He finally got there, took his sweet time some more getting ready, and before I knew it we were pushing again and then we had a baby.

Everything after that seems like a blur.  At one point I remember Dan saying to me that he could see her, and the doctor telling me to look down.  Sure enough, there she was - they told me that we would have a baby in one or two more contractions.  By this time I was excited and exhausted and emotional and I was NOT waiting for two more sets, so I put on my big girl panties and did some extra pushes and prayed I wouldn't pass out from it.  Baby girl made her debut at 7:35 p.m. and wasn't even crying - she was so serious (and still is)!  She just looked around like she was trying to take everything in until the doctor made her cry to ensure that her lungs worked - and I can assure you that they do, based on my experiences with her when she's hungry.  We wanted to hold her instead of sending her straight to be cleaned up, so she camped out on my chest for the next 30 minutes or so and I don't think I have ever been so happy.

I did have a small tear that needed to be stitched (sorry boy readers), but did not have an episiotomy.  Thank the Lord, because the epidural had worn off and I'm sure that wouldn't have been pleasant.  They had to do some serious numbing to stitch me up, but by this time the most beautiful baby girl in the whole world was snuggling on my chest, and I didn't care what they were doing down there.  Dan and I were very emotional, and watching him with her made me fall even more in love, if possible.  He is an incredible man and has been an incredible husband to me, and I know he is going to be the best daddy to our little girl. 

Another item to note: my blood pressure.  It was up and down all day, which was pretty typical of what was happening while I was on bed rest due to the preeclampsia.  It was more high than low - in fact, at one point during a contraction it was 185/110.  They monitored it very carefully and luckily we didn't have to do anything drastic.  I am happy to report that starting immediately after Lilly's birth and for the remainder of our stay, my blood pressure was completely normal.  The last time they checked it before we checked out, it was 125/75, woot!  It will be interesting to see what happens during the next pregnancy, whenever that may be.

One last part of the story and I'll stop boring you!  A few minutes after she was born, the nurse asked me what her name was.  We had narrowed it down to four and had decided we'd wait and meet her before making a final decision.  I told the nurse I didn't know and asked Dan what he thought.  Background: my paternal grandmother's name was Lillian.  I've always loved the name, and for as long as I can remember have wanted to name my daughter Lillian.  My grandmother didn't like her name, and Dan heard her say that several times while she was living, so he was hesitant about the name.  I think the reason we couldn't agree on a name sooner is that I have been secretly holding out hope for Lillian for months.  I love all of the names we chose - but none as much as Lillian.  So, in response to my question, Dan said, "I think we have a name."  I said, we do?  What is it?  And he said, "well she's pretty stubborn just like your grandma was."  And I cried.  A lot.  We waited a few more minutes on the middle name, because we couldn't decide between Grace, Mary and Marie (Mary and Marie are both family names on both sides).  In the end, Dan liked Grace the best, so Lillian Grace Baum it was.  If you care what our other choices were, they were Grace as a first name, Lucy (people are going to think we only like "L" names), and Sophia (we would have called her Sophie).  The middle name with any of those would have been Mary or Marie.

So, that's my story - I hope I didn't leave anything out.  I almost blogged from the hospital but didn't want to do so on my iPhone.  I am so in love with this little girl - more in love than I ever even thought possible. More in love with her, more in love with my husband, and happier than I think I have ever been.  Who knew your heart could be so big?  She is beautiful and perfect and Dan and I keep saying to each other that we can't believe we made her.  Lilly, you are by far the best thing we have ever done.

That's all for now - sorry if there are typos or if I rambled in this one, I am too tired to proofread.  I am going to try to rest before the midnight feeding, but I hope you all have a great Monday!  I will leave you with two pictures of my sleepy, snuggly girl to tide you over until I upload more:



  1. i yelled at the doctor for not being in the delivery room sooner :) so glad lilly nilly is here safe and sound, I cannot wait to get my hands on her juicy little self!!! xoxo

  2. Sarah, You have me in tears. This is such a beautiful story, and I'm so proud of you for taking the time to document everything (and for keeping us all so involved). Lilly is so beautiful, and I know you both will appreciate all the effort you've put into this blog. Seriously, just so happy for you. So, so happy for you.

  3. What a wonderful story! So glad the experience was uncomplicated. I hear so many horrible birth stories - this one sounds like a walk in the park! (Even though I totally know it wasn't!)

    P.S. When you get a chance, can you please post about your hospital bag? Since you guys were there waiting for awhile, wondering what all you used/needed and what was unnecessary.


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