I sit here in complete shock about how well this week has gone. Adjusting after Mackenzie’s birth was so much harder, I still can’t believe I had a baby three days ago.
Though I wrote up a quick timeline of labor already, I wanted to write Caitlyn’s birth story including my emotions and the details I want to remember.
The week before
My dad flew out when I was 38 weeks and 1 day pregnant, because my doctor kept saying “any day” and “she’ll come fast when she comes” and it was so important to me that he be here when our daughter made her arrival. I really treasure the photos and video of Mackenzie’s first moments and I was desperate not to miss that with daughter #2.
But, my dad is a very busy guy and as the days ticked by without a baby to photograph, I started to get a bit antsy. We took long, contraction-inducing walks every day and I logged 23 miles that week towards my walking goal (grand total: 89 miles. Not 200, but I definitely felt fitter because of it and that was the real goal, right? Right?? 🙂 ).
At my appointment on Wednesday, I decided to schedule an induction for Sunday night “in case” the baby didn’t come on her own before then. Come Sunday morning, I started to panic. It’s a strange feeling to know the exact day and time your life will change forever and I finally just had to give up on everything being “ready” before we left for the hospital. There was always one more dish in the sink or one more thing to check off a list (I had several lists by this point, and had even considered making a list of all my lists… you know, to make it easier to keep track of them. Hehe.)
The tired before the storm
Scott had to squeeze in 3 weekend calls and 3 weekday calls, a 5-day conference in Denver, and the birth of a baby in the month of September on top of his regular workload so he did his best to take as many overnight calls as possible before Caitlyn was born. That meant the night before the induction, he had 35 minutes of sleep. For my part, I had been so determined to get a full night’s sleep this time around, after feeling exhausted for Mackenzie’s birth, but alas it was not to be. Pregnancy complaints, a racing mind, and a stubborn 2 year old had me up half the night.
Mackenzie further foiled our plans for a solid afternoon nap on Sunday, so we were all a little bleary eyed when we made our way to the hospital. Normally angelic, she had quite a rough few days leading up to Caitlyn’s birth. She threw fits, refused to nap and had more problems with obedience in a single day than she had probably had in her life to that point. Bummer.
You’d never know it to see the shots my dad captured of her, though:
The big night
Here we are making the trek to the hospital:
I’m pretty sure my dad photoshopped that, though. There’s no way my belly was that big.
A family tradition, getting scooped up by Scott:
We checked in a half hour late, and they took another hour to get me all hooked up and start the pitocin drip. Mackenzie watched it all with interest and it was good for her to see the bed where I was going to “sleep” that night. She was hesitant leaving the hospital room and it occurred to me this would be by far the longest time we’d ever been apart. But Scott took her home, put her to bed, and the neighbors monitor-sat for us without incident (a big deal after the way she’d behaved recently).
When Scott came back, and the contractions started to kick in, it finally sunk in that we were going to meet another daughter that night.
I watched a movie while my dad worked on his laptop and Scott read a book. The contractions were manageable right up until 12:45 when I decided to go ahead and let the doctor break my water.
Things get serious
A few contractions later, I knew we were cooking with oil and suddenly all the “false labor” I had while walking the neighborhood started to look weak-sauce. THIS was real labor and I was pretty unprepared for it. I hadn’t made up my mind about an epidural yet, so I just took it one contraction at a time. Laboring in bed was not working for me so I kicked my dad out of the room, got on a birthing ball and pretended to know what I was doing. I moved around as the mood struck and tried to breathe through the contractions (why didn’t I take a class or at least research how to cope with this kind of pain?).
Apparently I was still looking pretty comfortable around 1:45 because Scott assessed the situation and decided to catch a quick nap. Approximately two contractions later, he was on his feet and rubbing my back and encouraging me through each contraction. Things were picking up VERY quickly. The monitor had slipped off when I was on the birthing ball, so the nurse didn’t know anything about my progress. She had said she’d come check me at 2:30 but by 2:15 I was counting down the seconds and Scott decided to poke his head in the hall and flag down the nurse.
I finally made a decision about the epidural: If I wasn’t at least an 8, I would get one. The pain was bad enough I was getting nauseous and had started talking kind of crazy and I remember thinking at the time if I wasn’t in transition already, then transition would just kill me.
Epidural or bust
I was a 7, and suddenly the epidural was the only light at the end of my tunnel. Where was the anesthesiologist? Couldn’t he get there any sooner? Once he came, how long would it take to get the needle in? And then how long would it take until the good stuff kicked in? How many more contractions would I have to feel? Give it to me in numbers, people!!!
I distinctly remember telling Scott during a contraction that even if I decided between contractions in a moment of sweet relief and insanity that I didn’t need the epidural… DO NOT BELIEVE ME! I NEED IT!
Scott was a rock and talked me through every contraction. He reminded me to breathe slowly, encouraged me to go ahead and break his hand with my grip, and told me our daughter was coming very soon. Not having any experience with relaxing breathing, I was trying everything I could think of to get through each contraction but I found out very soon that the only thing that got me through was Scott.
The back-up anesthesiologist came (and apparently in record time) (maybe he heard me from where he was on the other floor of the hospital). I had to hold still during contractions to let him place the needle correctly, because they were coming so fast there was no time between them. I had to lift one leg off the side of the table to show him I still had feeling after a “test dose” and when I asked him between breaths if it could wait until the current contraction had finished, he sighed impatiently and told me that the sooner I lifted my leg, the sooner he could put the real stuff in my spine. It’s all a little fuzzy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Scott cheated and lifted my leg for me. 😉
Once I was all situated back on the bed, I declared I was feeling “pushy”. The nurse snapped to attention.
“Did she say pushy?” she asked Scott.
“No, she said she’s feeling twitchy,” he replied, sure I was referring to the shakes I had been having for the last hour or so.
“I’m pretty sure she said pushy” the nurse insisted and she looked at me for confirmation.
I nodded vigorously.
She must have hit some hidden switch because suddenly extra people were in the room, gloves were being put quickly on and I was being checked while the doctor was paged in a hurry.
I was a 9.
I sent Scott to the waiting room to tell my dad “pretty soon” and I focused on the impending relief the anesthesiologist had promised. I had just two contractions while Scott was gone, but they brought the very worst pain I had ever felt in my life. I practically jumped off the table and declared to everyone present that my baby was coming right then. Sure enough, I was a 10 and the head was engaged. Without Scott by my side, I was frantic and if someone had handed me a white flag of surrender during those two contractions, I would have gladly waived it and called it a night.
Fortunately for everyone involved, there was no flag in sight and just seconds later my doctor breezed in the room with Scott on her heels. I was then “allowed” to push. But if I’m going to be honest, I didn’t feel I had a choice in the matter. That baby was coming and there was nothing I could do about it.
I think I ended up pushing through 6 contractions. It would have been fewer but I was terrified the baby would not fit so I hesitated whenever it felt like she was going to come out. I realize in hindsight that wasn’t very logical, but it was just so strange to feel her there that it freaked me out just a little. I must have asked for reassurance a dozen times, “Am I doing this right? Are you SURE because….”
At one point when pain seemed unbearable, I looked over at Scott and asked, “How many more contractions do I have in me?”
I actually intended the question to be, “How many more contractions do I have to endure?”
So when Scott replied, “37”, I punched him.
He fumbled to explain that he was trying to be encouraging and was referring to my stamina and fortitude, but truthfully the momentary distraction caused by the misunderstanding was the best help I could have asked for.
My doctor commented that she was a red-head like Mackenzie and it pulled me back into the moment. I had a total surge of adrenaline. You can SEE her? She’s really coming! I asked for the mirror (yeah I’m strange like that) and decided I was on the home stretch and I would survive after all.
A few contractions later, Caitlyn made her grand entrance. Once her head was out and I was reassured she looked great and healthy (the doctor even declared her to have dimpled cheeks), I relaxed. I don’t remember pushing out the rest of her or the placenta. I only needed one stitch and as soon as she was out and on my stomach I burst into happy tears.
The experience was just beautiful. Unlike with Mackenzie, I had actually felt my daughter enter the world and having her warmth and weight on me was just overwhelming.
And then I felt my legs start to tingle.
Ahhh the long-hoped for numbness from the epidural had arrived.
To be continued… (yes, there’s more!)