Posts tagged ‘Pregnancy’

The Full Birth Story

If you’d rather read it in parts, here are the links. I copied the four parts here so I’d have the enitre story in one spot.

(Part 1)
(Part 2)
(Part 3)
(Part 4)

Some people imagine that their labor will be a lot like the movies, they’ll be doing laundry while their husband is in the other room. They get a giant contraction and yell, “Honey, I think it’s time!” They speed off to the hospital, make it to the delivery room just in the nick of time, and 2 hours later they have a beautiful baby with a perfectly circular head in their hands. Other people assume their water will break and they’ll spend the next 17 hours huffing and puffing in the labor and delivery room before they have a rough battle delivering their baby.

Not me. I envisioned some contractions, strong but manageable. I imagined myself on the couch with Stephen saying, “Call your doctor! Where is your phone, I’ll call your doctor!” while I sit there repeating, “Not yet! Please, just sit down, shut up, rub my feet, and watch the clock.” You see, I didn’t want to be the first time momma who rushed to the hospital only to be sent home to wait it out or, worse, left to labor in a hospital room with nurses constantly asking me how I‘m feeling. I’m a people pleaser, it makes me feel bad to tell someone I’m feeling bad.

The thing about life is that you can’t predict it.

August 31 is my sister’s birthday, it fell on a Tuesday last year. That Tuesday night we gathered at my brother’s house to celebrate with my sister. We ate roast and mashed potatoes and I moaned… a lot. I wasn’t feeling well that day. I felt like I had gained 10 pounds in 24 hours and all of that weight was on my back and lower abdomen. I was miserable and it was written all over my face. I’m not sure that I smiled a single time that night. (Sorry Lindsay.) I was 37 weeks along and I repeated to anyone who would listen that I didn’t think this baby was going to wait much longer.

Jansen and I had a deal going on. He wasn’t due until September 19 but I had a feeling he’d want to come early because, let’s be realistic, he knew that life with Stephen and me would be fantastic. I had politely asked him to wait until September 1. My SIL turned 30 and had a big birthday party on Saturday the 28th. I wanted to be there and I wanted all the discussion to be about her, not on her little nephew that was freshly baked at the hospital. The same with my sister. As much as both of them said they wouldn’t mind sharing their birthday with their first nephew, I didn’t want to steal anyone’s thunder. (Remember: people pleaser.)

In the car on the way home from my sister’s birthday dinner, I told Stephen that I’d like him to do some research on the stages of labor. When the time comes, I’m not going to have the mental capacity to have any clue if this is “it” or if it’s just the beginning of a very long, exhausting previews of “it.” Also, I decided it was about time we pack a bag. I had a few things in a bag for a couple weeks because I’m a crazy person. But Stephen would need some clothes and we’d both need slippers because everyone knows that you can’t have an extended stay at a hospital without slippers.

Right when we got home, Stephen pulled out one of the books. He studied labor until he was comfortable in his knowledge. He packed his portion of the bag, and we went to sleep.

The morning of September 1, I had my 37 week OB appointment. The previous week I was 2 centimeters dilated and after my appointment, I’d had a serious case of Braxton Hicks. I had a feeling that if I felt that bad after last week’s appointment, I was likely to feel worse after this one. Stephen had quit coming to my appointments with me because neither of us saw the point of him missing several hours of work if there was no ultrasound involved. But because I had a yucky feeling about this one, I asked him to come with me. Every Wednesday morning he has breakfast with a few guys from church at the local Einstein’s Brothers, so he went to breakfast and came back to pick me up with a bagel in hand.

I felt better that morning than I had the previous night. I no longer felt that Jansen was about to fall out. (Can you imagine if it was really that easy? If you were just walking along and your baby just sort of slipped out?) We arrived at the doctor at 8:15 and sat down. They called my name and we went back. My nurse took my blood pressure and urine, good as always. She weighed me and I had only gained one or two pounds since the previous week, which was shocking to me since I was eating Oreos with wild abandon. My weight gain was up to 38 pounds as of that morning, and I was certain I’d hit the 50 pound mark by my due date.

My doctor came in at about 8:40 for my check up. I was 2 centimeters the previous week so part of me expected to be up to 3 or 4, but I’d also been told you can hover at 2 or 3 for weeks before you have any progress. My OB had told me that any dialation before labor was great because it was just work my body didn’t have to do later. So I was welcoming a bit of progress in that regard. When she checked me, her eyes opened a bit. “Hmmm.” Stephen and I looked at each other. “Have you been having any contractions?” “No, not really. I think a bit of Braxton Hicks here and there but that’s it.” She looked at me and raised her eyebrows, “Really?” I suddenly became unsure, “Well. I mean, I don’t think so. I’ve been feeling a lot of heaviness, but not contractions. I’ve never had a baby though, so maybe I’m wrong.”

She stepped back and took off her glove, “Well you are 3 centimeters and quite effaced.” That statement didn’t really phase me, I didn’t think 3 centimeters was a big deal. I had heard of this “effaced” business but I had no idea it made that huge of a difference. “All of our beds are occupied this morning so I’m going to send you to the hospital so they can hook you up to a monitor and see if you’re contracting because you are really soft.”

Interesting.

Stephen and I got in the car, my hospital was only a couple blocks away. I texted a couple people at my office to let them know that I was headed to the hospital for a quick check, so I’d be in a bit later than I thought. I honestly can’t remember if I called my mom at this point. It’s likely that I didn’t because I really didn’t think it was a big deal. I just thought, “Oh good, so now we’ll be somewhat familiar with the labor and delivery unit for when we have to run in there screaming, “BABY! We’re having a baby!”

We parked and walked up to the doors. We were talking about how weird this was and if it means we’ll be having a baby in the next couple days instead of the next couple weeks. I saw a sign that mentioned valet parking, “You will be using that when we’re arriving for real! Don’t even think I’ll be making this walk when I’m about to have a baby!”

And THAT, my friends, is what we call foreshadowing.

We went to the third floor and checked in. “Are you coming from your OB’s for the prenatal monitoring? Go take a seat in the waiting room, all of our beds are full right now so we’ll have to wait until one opens up.” So Stephen and I went to the waiting room and watched some chef prepare a 5 star meal on the local morning show. I got a bed at about 9:45 and they strapped two monitors to my belly. One to track my contractions and one to track my heartbeat. I thought the monitors were pretty interesting but I constantly felt like they were going to flip off of my giant belly.

I laid in bed with Stephen sitting in a small chair by my side listening to all the beeps around us. There were four beds in this room since it was just for these sorts of tests. All of the beds had curtains around them so you could feel a bit of privacy. The nurse came back about 15 minutes later and asked me if I had any contractions. I hadn’t. She went to read the screen with all the results. I don’t remember the nurse’s face or the color of her scrubs, but I will never forget the way she looked at the screen and then turned to me and said, “Umm, actually you have been having them every 3-4 minutes.”

Listen. I’ve never had a baby before but I know that every 3-4 minutes is a big deal. That’s grounds for calling your doctor and high-tailing it to the hospital. Well I was already at the hospital so we could go ahead and put a check in that box. The nurse decided to go call my doctor to give her the news and ask her what the next step was. While she was gone, Stephen and I did a whole lot of looking at each other and saying, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.” We really just had one main question: WHO HAS CONTRACTIONS AND DOESN’T KNOW IT?? I mean, I’ve always thought that because I have experienced so many migraines that I have a higher pain tolerance than many people, but not that high!

The nurse came back and said, “Well, I spoke to your doctor. Looks like you’re having a baby today!”

My eyes turned into saucers and my smile went from ear to ear. And if I’m going to be completely honest with you, the smile wasn’t from excitement, it was from nervousness. Nervous terror. I was just supposed to be going to the doctor. You know, a quick check with several it’s-getting-close’s from the nurses and OB. And now I’m in the hospital and you’re telling me that I’m going to have a baby… today? As in, this date? As in, 2.5 weeks early? NOW? 

The nurse checked me and I was now at 4 centimeters. (This was also the point in my life when I learned that there is a skill to checking someone’s cervix. My OB was so good at it that it never phased me. This chick? Not so much.) There was no need to rush me to a delivery room because there was still a lot of labor that needed to happen. It’s a good thing because every single delivery room was full. So our job was just to hang out and watch reruns of Home Improvement.

The nurse came back in to give me my IV and tell me about the strict “no eating or drinking” rule. It was about that time that I was cursing my bagel breakfast and wishing I had eaten 17 pancakes and a pound of bacon. I’d heard plenty of stories about people being in labor for upwards of 24 hours and the thought of no food until the next morning was giving me serious anxiety. (Remember, I was still pregnant at this point. The possibility of no food is a common fear in pregnant women.)

While I sat in my bed texting random people to tell them this new turn of events, Stephen stepped into the hall to call our parents. My parents were instructed to pick up our bag from our house and take care of our dog for the next couple days. We weren’t able to get in contact with his mom for a couple hours. She’d given us direction to call her cell phone when it was time. If she didn’t answer, we were to call the office. She’d told her office that she would be leaving work the instant she got the call. She works at a preschool and apparently the secretary didn’t think it was that important to get her. Or something. Not sure. The details are sketchy because honestly I didn’t care about anything besides the whole “looks like you’re having a baby today” thing.

Of course we told them all not to rush, that babies take their time. Do you think they listened? No. They all decided that they’d set up shop in the waiting room and sit tight until Jansen decided it was time to come. Since we didn’t have much real estate in that room (literally only had a bed and a small chair) they all had to come in one at a time to say hello. Throughout the next few hours, each of them came to keep me company and ask how I was doing. Remember that since I was still pregnant, I still had a pregnant woman’s bladder. So Stephen would have to help me out of bed and wheel my IV to the bathroom. It was all very awkward since I would have to try to hold the back of my gown closed while waddling and trying not to rip my IV out. (I have an irrational fear of IVs ripping out. It got better throughout the day, but at this point it was a pretty serious concern of mine.)  

By this time, I’d learned what a contraction feels like. I suppose they were getting stronger and that’s why I was able to feel them, plus I was laying still with nothing to do but concentrate on my stomach. Stephen would stand in front of the computer and watch the numbers (we didn’t know what they meant, but we knew that a change in numbers was likely a contraction). I would say, “Oh wait! I think this is one. Is it? Is it a contraction?” And he’d watch the numbers change, “Yeah! That’s a contraction! It’s still going, babe! You’re still having it!” It was a fun little game that would last several more hours.

Finally at 3:45 they wheeled me into a delivery room. It was much bigger and I was allowed to have 4 guests in there. That was nice since I enjoyed the company, plus I felt bad that they all had to wait out in the waiting room. (I literally JUST realized that they all had each other in the waiting room, so I was probably the most bored of everyone. I had only had one guest at a time. Hmm.) At this point the nurse checked me and I was still at 4 centimeters. The anesthesiologist came in to explain the process to me. (I knew I was going to get drugs even before I got pregnant. I know me. If I didn’t get drugs I would have been miserable, plus I would have given myself a migraine from the pain.) I didn’t really need to hear the details from him but I think they have to do that, although meeting him made me feel better about the whole sticking-a-needle-in-a-dangerous-place thing.

At this point, just about everyone had arrived. My parents, Stephen’s parents, Stephen’s sister from Fort Worth, and my sister. Stephen’s other sister came after work and my brother and SIL weren’t able to come. I think we were all pretty bored. Every now and then one of them would say something that showed how excited they were. I was nervous. And mostly bored. I watched several episodes of Cash Cab to try to keep my mind off things. Sort of like “a watched pot never boils”… a thought-about cervix never opens. Right?

We continued to play the contraction game. My dad was really into it. I’d tell them when a contraction came (they were much stronger now, but still not painful) and he and Stephen would run over to the machine to watch the numbers. “OH LOOK! This is a good one!” or “Man! What a weenie contraction!” Eventually he started trying to foresee the future. “Well you’ve had several strong ones recently, I think we’re getting somewhere.” It was a good way to pass time.

My OB came to check on me at about 5:40 that evening. There were several patients of hers in delivery rooms so she’d be hanging around for the rest of the night. She checked my cervix and I was “a good 4″ so she decided to break my water. I think she was ready to get the show on the road. I started having a panic attack. I had been at the hospital almost 9 hours and it was just hitting me that I was about to have a baby. Once your water is broken, there is no turning back. (Not that there was any turning back before that, you can’t exactly un-conceive a baby.)

For some reason I was terrified of her breaking my water. I think it was because I had read descriptions that said the doctor will take a long stick with a hook on the end and stick it in there to manually break the water. That was the scariest thing I had ever heard. All of my guests stepped out. I started sweating and begging Stephen to come hold my hand. My OB looked at me like I was a nut job, “It’s really no big deal, Chelsea. I promise. You won’t feel anything.” I tried to relax but I really just wanted to scream, “OF COURSE YOU’D SAY THAT. IT’S NO BIG DEAL TO YOU! YOU AREN’T ABOUT TO GET YOUR VAGINA STABBED WITH A GIANT CROCHET HOOK!”

But I kept my mouth shut and I’m certainly glad that I did because, well, she was right. It was no big deal. She broke my water and I’m sure that 17 gallons of liquid came pouring out of me. But I can’t remember that. I think I remember several towels. But mostly I just remember sitting there, wide-eyed, thinking, “This is it. I’m going to be a mom. I’m going to have a baby.”

After a much-needed trip to the restroom, I settled back into my hospital bed and allowed my visitors to come back in. Everyone was revived, renewed, ready for the next step. This was no false alarm, this was the real deal. I knew that within 24 hours, my baby boy would no longer be taking up residence in my uterus.

I’d say than no less than 30 minutes after my doctor broke my water, my contractions started getting more intense. You could see my belly tighten up and I could no longer ignore the pain. As you can imagine, this just upped the excitement of The Contraction Game my dad was playing. He was getting more and more excited as the numbers went higher. My nurse was fluttering around my room doing something productive, I’m sure, but mostly just being the most important person in my entire life. “Deanna. I’m ready for my epidural if my doctor says it’s okay.”

I wasn’t willing to play around. I didn’t want to have a situation where I went from 4 to 9 centimeters within the hour and the epidural was no longer an option. I’d have gotten through it, I know, but I would have been a wreck the next couple days. The pain would undoubtably caused me to tense up during each contraction, which would then cause some serious knots that would turn into a serious migraine. I was really hoping to enjoy the first few days with my baby, so a migraine wasn’t an option. Plus, I have nothing against epidurals and I didn’t (and still don’t) see any reason I shouldn’t completely enjoy my birthing process.

There’s something you should know about me. I’m terrible at understanding accents. I watched the entire movie Four Weddings and a Funeral and I honestly have no idea what the movie was about. So when my anesthesiologist, who was a small, soft-spoken Indian man, came in to my room to give me my epidural, I was pretty clueless as to what exactly was going on. Plus at this point my contractions were quite painful and I didn’t have the energy to focus on decoding the message he was giving me.

I planned to get through my epidural the same way I had gotten through my water breaking – by squeezing Stephen’s hand until his bones crushed to a fine dust. Unfortunately that was not an option. I don’t know if this is a nationwide rule, but at my hospital, husbands have to leave the room. “Why? Why? What? But why? He has to leave? WHY?” They told me something about it being a liability. That there was a case where a man was watching and he fainted and fell and hit his head. The doctor and nurse couldn’t help him because, well, you all have to be very still during the epidural so it’s done properly. So the woman was freaking out because her husband was laying unconscious on the floor. Anyways, bad stuff. And Stephen had to leave.

The second the door closed, I felt very alone. I was tired, hungry, hurting, anxious, and extremely nervous about the epidural. The doctor instructed me to sit on the side of the bed. I was to tuck my arms to my chest and then curl into my nurse who was standing in front of me. She wrapped her arms around me and I was instantly comforted. Don’t get me wrong, I was still tense and scared to death, but I no longer felt alone. I felt safe. The doctor started giving me the shots to numb my back. I have no intention to scare anyone here, but in an effort to be completely honest, it was not fun. Shots in your back are not enjoyable. And since I knew I had to stay really still, I was very tense. We waited a bit to let the pain killers do their thing. I figured the worst part was over so I relaxed a bit. My nurse, who was a woman in her late twenties with pretty hair and a sweet smile, talked calmly to keep my nerves in check. She was wonderful and I thought that maybe I should order her to-go so she could comfort Stephen and Jansen when they are sick and I’m not being compassionate enough.

It was time for the epidural. I rested my head on my nurse’s shoulder and tried not to think about it. I felt the pressure of the needle. No pain, just fear caused by the knowledge that there was a needle in my back that had the potential to cause a lot of damage. He injected the anesthesia. I could feel it enter my back and move into my body. The feeling was so uncomfortable that it almost makes me hurl when I think about it now. My nurse tightened her grip and talked me through it. And just like that (well, several minutes of “that”), it was over. They taped the line to my back and told me to relax and lay back down.

I consider myself a pretty smart girl but every now and then I shock myself with how stupid I can be. I understand what happens during an epidural (your whole bottom half goes completely numb) and I also understand how to deliver a baby (lots of pushing in the nether regions). But it never dawned on me that you have to have a catheter put in. Obviously I couldn’t walk to the bathroom anymore. And I’m sure my doctor had no desire to get peed on while delivering my baby. So when my nurse said, “Okay, now that your epidural has kicked in, I’m going to put your catheter in” I was totally taken aback.

She put it in and it totally freaked me out. Catheters give me the heebie jeebies. Not to mention how weird it was to see my line immediately fill with urine and go into my pee bag. Childbirth. It’s a beautiful thing.

Now that I was numb, I’d no longer be able to feel how intense my contractions are. And since they’d broken my water, they couldn’t just check my cervix anytime they wanted. Each time they checked, it would increase the chance of bacteria and infection in my system. So basically, it was up to me. They kept telling me to buzz them if I felt like I was going to have a bowel movement. Over and over they said this. I kept thinking that it was awfully weird that they were so concerned about my poop, but then I realized (after further instruction from my nurse) that when Jansen descends into the birth canal, it’ll feel like I have to poop. So really poop time is actually baby time.

Things were pretty easy at that point. Every few minutes my belly would tighten up. I’d hardly feel anything but a bit of movement but I would still try to guess if it was a big contraction or not. We had to make a lot of assumptions since we didn’t know how far I was. So we all just hung out and hoped for something to happen soon. At one point I could feel my epidural starting to wear off. Through a series of miscommunications, I got a double dose. My nurse was less than pleased, but I after I found out that it wasn’t going to kill me, I didn’t really mind the extra drugs.

Around 10:00 that night, my nurse came in and told me that I should try to get some rest. Whenever the time came, I’d need energy. I felt like saying, “Do you honestly think I can sleep at a time like this? Don’t you realize I’m about to have a baby??” But I didn’t. Instead I asked everyone to leave so that Stephen and I could close our eyes for a bit. There was a chair that pulled out into a twin bed, so Stephen put some sheets on it and laid down. I couldn’t move so I just laid where the nurse had left me and tried to clear my mind. We turned the lights down and tried to ignore the beeps and bum-bum, bum-bums from the monitors.

A few minutes went by and I heard Stephen’s breathing patterns change. He was resting up for the big moment.

The room was almost silent except for all the beeps and heartbeats coming from the machine next to me. There were heavy breaths from Stephen who had just dozed off. And then there was an occasional sound of a piece of paper coming from my sister who had decided to stay in the room and read a book. She said she wanted to stay because that chair was better and it was quieter, but I’m sure the real reason is because she wanted to be close to the action.

Then we heard it. A blood curdling scream. There were no words at first, just the sound of a woman in the next room in serious pain. Then came the words. “OH MY GOOOOOOOOOD!” We all looked at each other with wide eyes. “OOOHHHH. THIS HURTS LIKE HELL!” Screaming and more screaming.

“Screw the sleep, y’all. I can’t do this. No. This has got to go. I’m about to have to DO that. I can’t listen to that!” So I turned on the television which, in my memory, was located about 30 feet away. The remote was attached to the bed and the sound came out of it. I found something on television that didn’t feature any screaming, blood, pain, or babies and I turned the volume up and put it right by my ear.

A few minutes later my nurse came in to check on me and read the secret number code that was coming out of the machine next to me. The fetal monitor, my monitor, my IV bag, my epidural which was under lock and key, my pee bag, and my blood pressure stats. I felt like a freak show being attached to so many cords and wires, they’d even added a danger-red wristband that said “FALL RISK” to the collection I had around my wrist.

I looked up at my nurse with wide eyes, “Are you hearing this?” She looked back at me and with a sigh and a nice eye roll she replied, “That chick needs to learn how to breathe!” I thought she was being snarky (and I liked it) but then she went on to explain how all of her screaming was taking her energy and oxygen and blah blah blah, she was making her life a lot harder than it needed to be. That was the extent of what I was told at that point. The following day I learned that she’d gotten an epidural but it “didn’t take.” I don’t really know what that means but if I’d had my epidural for longer than 30 minutes and my legs hadn’t gone numb, you’d better believe my doctor would be in there jerry-rigging the heck out of that epidural catheter!

My epidural actually was wearing off and I was beginning to feel the strength of my contractions. They were totally bearable but I knew that it would continue to wear off and I had the worst of it yet to come. They gave me one more pump of the good stuff and I prayed it would last. I don’t know why my body doesn’t understand that painkillers are supposed to kill the pain. I will continue to blame migraines.

It was getting late (around 11:30, I’d guess) so people decided to go home and get some sleep. They knew there was a chance that it could still be several more hours. My FIL went home for a nap, my sister and SIL’s went to my house for a bit, and my parents and MIL continued to try to nap in the waiting room. Stephen went back to sleep in his little twin bed and I tried to go to sleep. I found that it was hard to sleep while your eyes were as round as coke bottles and you were staring at the clock. I rested my hands on my belly, simultaneously begging Jansen to hurry up and also to stay put for the rest of our lives. I was so excited, but so very terrified.

At around 12:50 I thought I might be getting this elusive bowel movement feeling they warned me about. I wasn’t sure though and I didn’t want to cry wolf. I put all of my effort into debating the question, “Do I feel like I need to poop or do I not feel like I need to poop??” I felt a lot of pressure down under and I assume that meant that Jansen was beginning his grand entrance… or grand exit. The last time I’d told a doctor that I “just felt a lot of pressure” was early the previous morning (since we were now into Thursday at this point) and that pressure had actually been contractions. So when my nurse walked in on perfect cue, she looked at my screen and then immediately looked at me.

“Your contractions are really strong.” Uh huh. “Yeah, I think I have that bowel movement pressure you warned me about. And yeah, these contractions are really strong.” She gloved up and checked my cervix. “Ten centimeters. It’s time.”

Time. It’s time. Already? I’ve only been here for 1, 2, 3, hmm, like 16 hours. How is it already time? It can’t be time, my husband is asleep!

“Stephen. Stephen, wake up. It’s time.” Stephen popped up. He was a bit taken off guard and kind of in a half-asleep state but he tried to ready himself for the big task at hand. “Can I put my shoes on? I want to put my shoes on.” So he sat back down on his bed and put his shoes on. The same shoes he put on the previous day to go to work, but instead went to the hospital.

My nurse was running around the room preparing everything. Towels and water and whatever else was needed. Stephen stood up with his shoes on and sleep still showing in his eyes, “Deanna, can I go to the bathroom before we start? Please?” So Stephen went to the bathroom and bought me a bit more time. He was back before I knew it. And Deanna told me that we were going to do some “practice pushing.”

Good, I thought. So it’s not actually time. We’ll just do some breathing exercises and wait it out a bit. She started to explain the process to me. “So wait. I push? Like I really push? Like hard? Like I’m trying to push him out?” Okay yeah, there is nothing practice about this. It’s just real pushing without the doctor. The quick lesson and ease of breathing further proved to me that you don’t need birthing classes if you’re getting an epidural. Your nurse is a genius and an angel and she’ll get you through it.

The room was dark and I felt like I was watching all of this happen from the outside. My husband was on my left, holding my leg and speaking words of encouragement to me. My nurse was on my right with my other leg and a wealth of invaluable knowledge. As I felt a contraction hit, I’d begin the process. Breathe, breathe, push, breathe, push, breathe, push. Then the contraction would be over. We’d sit and wait for the next one, and do it all again.

After about 10 minutes of this, my nurse told me to stop and she paged my doctor. Within minutes, my room was full – or so it seemed. My nurse, my doctor, the pedi nurse, and some other woman who I imagine was there incase of an emergency. My doctor got set up with her tools, hair cover, and gloves and turned on the overhead lights. I immediately felt the urge to close my legs and grab a blanket. I’d had my fair share of people looking at my business that day, but spotlights? Really?

Finally they were all in place and it was time to start pushing again. My nurse continued to be my encouragement while my doctor had her serious OB face on. Stephen was gitty and overwhelmed. The real pushing started. It was all very awkward. Since I only pushed during contractions, we had minute or two breaks when there was nothing going on. We had small talk. We discussed the weirdness of the day, the fact that my doctor had already delivered several babies that night and would still deliver a couple more before she got to go home, the baby’s name, how thrilled we were that I didn’t need any pitocin, how my body was made for making and birthing babies, etc.

With the next pushes, the head started coming out. “Stephen look!” my doctor said. He was already looking but she wanted to be she he was seeing it happen. “Oh my gosh! Awesome. Chelsea, the head! I see the head! He’s coming!” He was sort of bouncing up and down as he stood there holding my leg. It was so fun to see his excitement.

I continued to push. It hurt. No amount of drugs can prevent your body from the pain of pushing a human being out of it. It wasn’t bad, it was just there. I was more concerned with the fact that I was pushing so hard I thought my ears and eyes were going to burst off of my face. My doctor’s words changed from “push!” and “good job!” to “keeeeep going!” and “come on, almost there!” I could tell we were getting close. And all of a sudden, at 1:37 am on September 2, 2010, she said, “Okay stop pushing!” I could feel the pressure ease and see a 7 pound 14 ounce red, white, and purple thing get pulled from my body. He immediately peed on my doctor.

She laid Jansen on my stomach and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. He was filthy. And I’m sure my hands weren’t clean. Could I touch him? Should I touch him? He’s very pissed and naked and not really that cute. What’s happening? I told my doctor that Stephen wanted to cut the cord. She seemed excited by that. The cord was short, she told him, so he’d have to be careful. He was nervous but he did it.

The nurse took Jansen to the other side of the room for a quick clean and all the other stuff they do. Stephen went with them. I laid there, wondering what I was to do. I thought I’d have to do the push/breathe thing again to deliver my placenta. But it just sort of plopped out with a little tug from my doctor. Stephen was taking pictures of Jansen like a mad man. I think we have 12 pictures of fresh Jansen screaming on the table with his legs wide open and his newborn baby junk exposed for the world to see.

Stephen came back over to me, probably so he could see the placenta with his own eyes. My doctor showered me with compliments as I’m sure she does with all of her patients. Regardless, it felt good. I only had one tear so the stitches and recovery would be minimal. Once she was done and I was all cleaned up, they brought my little bundled baby to me. I didn’t cry, I didn’t instantly fall in love. I was overwhelmed and tired and mostly I was hungry.

I knew it would take me a while to bond with that baby in my arms. I don’t understand the people who say, “I fell in love the second I laid eyes on him.” I’m sorry, I didn’t. Sure, I loved him. But he didn’t feel like my son. He felt like a stranger.

A nurse came in to make me try nursing. Everything is a blur at this stage. It was after 2:00 am and I’d just been through the most life-changing event in my life. When I think back to this time, I remember it so differently than I think it really happened. I’m sure I wasn’t sitting in a gigantic white room on a random chair in the middle of the room. But that’s how I see it now.

They eventually took Jansen away again for his check ups and real cleaning. Stephen went along to show him off in the hallway to our family who had all come rushing back. I was only a slight fall risk at this point so my nurse walked my to the bathroom where I proceeded to pee the longest pee of my life. In reality though, it was mostly fluids. She walked me back to the bed and asked me if I wanted anything.

“Food. Please, food.” She brought me some chips or crackers or something and the most delicious can of Sprite I have ever laid lips on. We waited around for another hour or so because there hadn’t been a room available, and at 4:45 they finally wheeled me down to the room I’d be in for the next 2 days. It was a shared room but we were told it would be private in a few hours when the other new mom left.

I laid down and started dozing off while Stephen tried to make himself comfy on the new awkward chair-turned-twin-bed. We were asleep for about an hour before the nursery wheeled Jansen in to me and left him at my side. I had a slight panic attack that the people who were trained to handle babies would trust me with a newborn. Buck up, Chelsea. This is it. You’re a mom now and this little boy needs you. There’s no time for doubt or uncertainty, there is only time for parenting. And love, a lot of love.

I smiled and closed my eyes. It was a great day. It was shocking, long, and exhausting, yes. But it was the most exciting day of my life. It’s a day that I like to remember any time I have a free moment with my thoughts. And have no fear, it didn’t take long for me to fall hopelessly in love with this little boy. He’s pretty well wrapped around my finger and filling up my heart!

February 26, 2011 at 7:11 am 3 comments

The Birth Story – Part 4

(Click here for Part 1)
(Click here for Part 2)
(Click here for Part 3)

The room was almost silent except for all the beeps and heartbeats coming from the machine next to me. There were heavy breaths from Stephen who had just dozed off. And then there was an occasional sound of a piece of paper coming from my sister who had decided to stay in the room and read a book. She said she wanted to stay because that chair was better and it was quieter, but I’m sure the real reason is because she wanted to be close to the action.

Then we heard it. A blood curdling scream. There were no words at first, just the sound of a woman in the next room in serious pain. Then came the words. “OH MY GOOOOOOOOOD!” We all looked at each other with wide eyes. “OOOHHHH. THIS HURTS LIKE HELL!” Screaming and more screaming.

“Screw the sleep, y’all. I can’t do this. No. This has got to go. I’m about to have to DO that. I can’t listen to that!” So I turned on the television which, in my memory, was located about 30 feet away. The remote was attached to the bed and the sound came out of it. I found something on television that didn’t feature any screaming, blood, pain, or babies and I turned the volume up and put it right by my ear.

A few minutes later my nurse came in to check on me and read the secret number code that was coming out of the machine next to me. The fetal monitor, my monitor, my IV bag, my epidural which was under lock and key, my pee bag, and my blood pressure stats. I felt like a freak show being attached to so many cords and wires, they’d even added a danger-red wristband that said “FALL RISK” to the collection I had around my wrist.

I looked up at my nurse with wide eyes, “Are you hearing this?” She looked back at me and with a sigh and a nice eye roll she replied, “That chick needs to learn how to breathe!” I thought she was being snarky (and I liked it) but then she went on to explain how all of her screaming was taking her energy and oxygen and blah blah blah, she was making her life a lot harder than it needed to be. That was the extent of what I was told at that point. The following day I learned that she’d gotten an epidural but it “didn’t take.” I don’t really know what that means but if I’d had my epidural for longer than 30 minutes and my legs hadn’t gone numb, you’d better believe my doctor would be in there jerry-rigging the heck out of that epidural catheter!

My epidural actually was wearing off and I was beginning to feel the strength of my contractions. They were totally bearable but I knew that it would continue to wear off and I had the worst of it yet to come. They gave me one more pump of the good stuff and I prayed it would last. I don’t know why my body doesn’t understand that painkillers are supposed to kill the pain. I will continue to blame migraines.

It was getting late (around 11:30, I’d guess) so people decided to go home and get some sleep. They knew there was a chance that it could still be several more hours. My FIL went home for a nap, my sister and SIL’s went to my house for a bit, and my parents and MIL continued to try to nap in the waiting room. Stephen went back to sleep in his little twin bed and I tried to go to sleep. I found that it was hard to sleep while your eyes were as round as coke bottles and you were staring at the clock. I rested my hands on my belly, simultaneously begging Jansen to hurry up and also to stay put for the rest of our lives. I was so excited, but so very terrified.

At around 12:50 I thought I might be getting this elusive bowel movement feeling they warned me about. I wasn’t sure though and I didn’t want to cry wolf. I put all of my effort into debating the question, “Do I feel like I need to poop or do I not feel like I need to poop??” I felt a lot of pressure down under and I assume that meant that Jansen was beginning his grand entrance… or grand exit. The last time I’d told a doctor that I “just felt a lot of pressure” was early the previous morning (since we were now into Thursday at this point) and that pressure had actually been contractions. So when my nurse walked in on perfect cue, she looked at my screen and then immediately looked at me.

“Your contractions are really strong.” Uh huh. “Yeah, I think I have that bowel movement pressure you warned me about. And yeah, these contractions are really strong.” She gloved up and checked my cervix. “Ten centimeters. It’s time.”

Time. It’s time. Already? I’ve only been here for 1, 2, 3, hmm, like 16 hours. How is it already time? It can’t be time, my husband is asleep!

“Stephen. Stephen, wake up. It’s time.” Stephen popped up. He was a bit taken off guard and kind of in a half-asleep state but he tried to ready himself for the big task at hand. “Can I put my shoes on? I want to put my shoes on.” So he sat back down on his bed and put his shoes on. The same shoes he put on the previous day to go to work, but instead went to the hospital.

My nurse was running around the room preparing everything. Towels and water and whatever else was needed. Stephen stood up with his shoes on and sleep still showing in his eyes, “Deanna, can I go to the bathroom before we start? Please?” So Stephen went to the bathroom and bought me a bit more time. He was back before I knew it. And Deanna told me that we were going to do some “practice pushing.”

Good, I thought. So it’s not actually time. We’ll just do some breathing exercises and wait it out a bit. She started to explain the process to me. “So wait. I push? Like I really push? Like hard? Like I’m trying to push him out?” Okay yeah, there is nothing practice about this. It’s just real pushing without the doctor. The quick lesson and ease of breathing further proved to me that you don’t need birthing classes if you’re getting an epidural. Your nurse is a genius and an angel and she’ll get you through it.

The room was dark and I felt like I was watching all of this happen from the outside. My husband was on my left, holding my leg and speaking words of encouragement to me. My nurse was on my right with my other leg and a wealth of invaluable knowledge. As I felt a contraction hit, I’d begin the process. Breathe, breathe, push, breathe, push, breathe, push. Then the contraction would be over. We’d sit and wait for the next one, and do it all again.

After about 10 minutes of this, my nurse told me to stop and she paged my doctor. Within minutes, my room was full – or so it seemed. My nurse, my doctor, the pedi nurse, and some other woman who I imagine was there incase of an emergency. My doctor got set up with her tools, hair cover, and gloves and turned on the overhead lights. I immediately felt the urge to close my legs and grab a blanket. I’d had my fair share of people looking at my business that day, but spotlights? Really?

Finally they were all in place and it was time to start pushing again. My nurse continued to be my encouragement while my doctor had her serious OB face on. Stephen was gitty and overwhelmed. The real pushing started. It was all very awkward. Since I only pushed during contractions, we had minute or two breaks when there was nothing going on. We had small talk. We discussed the weirdness of the day, the fact that my doctor had already delivered several babies that night and would still deliver a couple more before she got to go home, the baby’s name, how thrilled we were that I didn’t need any pitocin, how my body was made for making and birthing babies, etc.

With the next pushes, the head started coming out. “Stephen look!” my doctor said. He was already looking but she wanted to be she he was seeing it happen. “Oh my gosh! Awesome. Chelsea, the head! I see the head! He’s coming!” He was sort of bouncing up and down as he stood there holding my leg. It was so fun to see his excitement.

I continued to push. It hurt. No amount of drugs can prevent your body from the pain of pushing a human being out of it. It wasn’t bad, it was just there. I was more concerned with the fact that I was pushing so hard I thought my ears and eyes were going to burst off of my face. My doctor’s words changed from “push!” and “good job!” to “keeeeep going!” and “come on, almost there!” I could tell we were getting close. And all of a sudden, at 1:37 am on September 2, 2010, she said, “Okay stop pushing!” I could feel the pressure ease and see a 7 pound 14 ounce red, white, and purple thing get pulled from my body. He immediately peed on my doctor.

She laid Jansen on my stomach and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. He was filthy. And I’m sure my hands weren’t clean. Could I touch him? Should I touch him? He’s very pissed and naked and not really that cute. What’s happening? I told my doctor that Stephen wanted to cut the cord. She seemed excited by that. The cord was short, she told him, so he’d have to be careful. He was nervous but he did it.

The nurse took Jansen to the other side of the room for a quick clean and all the other stuff they do. Stephen went with them. I laid there, wondering what I was to do. I thought I’d have to do the push/breathe thing again to deliver my placenta. But it just sort of plopped out with a little tug from my doctor. Stephen was taking pictures of Jansen like a mad man. I think we have 12 pictures of fresh Jansen screaming on the table with his legs wide open and his newborn baby junk exposed for the world to see.

Stephen came back over to me, probably so he could see the placenta with his own eyes. My doctor showered me with compliments as I’m sure she does with all of her patience. Regardless, it felt good. I only had one tear so the stitches and recovery would be minimal. Once she was done and I was all cleaned up, they brought my little bundled baby to me. I didn’t cry, I didn’t instantly fall in love. I was overwhelmed and tired and mostly I was hungry.

I knew it would take me a while to bond with that baby in my arms. I don’t understand the people who say, “I fell in love the second I laid eyes on him.” I’m sorry, I didn’t. Sure, I loved him. But he didn’t feel like my son. He felt like a stranger.

A nurse came in to make me try nursing. Everything is a blur at this stage. It was after 2:00 am and I’d just been through the most life-changing event in my life. When I think back to this time, I remember it so differently than I think it really happened. I’m sure I wasn’t sitting in a gigantic white room on a random chair in the middle of the room. But that’s how I see it now.

They eventually took Jansen away again for his check ups and real cleaning. Stephen went along to show him off in the hallway to our family who had all come rushing back. I was only a slight fall risk at this point so my nurse walked my to the bathroom where I proceeded to pee the longest pee of my life. In reality though, it was mostly fluids. She walked me back to the bed and asked me if I wanted anything.

“Food. Please, food.” She brought me some chips or crackers or something and the most delicious can of Sprite I have ever laid lips on. We waited around for another hour or so because there hadn’t been a room available, and at 4:45 they finally wheeled me down to the room I’d be in for the next 2 days. It was a shared room but we were told it would be private in a few hours when the other new mom left.

I laid down and started dozing off while Stephen tried to make himself comfy on the new awkward chair-turned-twin-bed. We were asleep for about an hour before the nursery wheeled Jansen in to me and left him at my side. I had a slight panic attack that the people who were trained to handle babies would trust me with a newborn. Buck up, Chelsea. This is it. You’re a mom now and this little boy needs you. There’s no time for doubt or uncertainty, there is only time for parenting. And love, a lot of love.

I smiled and closed my eyes. It was a great day. It was shocking, long, and exhausting, yes. But it was the most exciting day of my life. It’s a day that I like to remember any time I have a free moment with my thoughts. And have no fear, it didn’t take long for me to fall hopelessly in love with this little boy. He’s pretty well wrapped around my finger and filling up my heart!

(The first picture of us as a family. The nurse caught this moment.)

(I will be posting all 4 parts as one piece tomorrow. You can ignore it, I just want to have it all in one place.)

February 25, 2011 at 6:50 am 22 comments

The Birth Story – Part 3

(So this is going to be 4 parts instead of 3. As I kept rereading it, there just weren’t any details I wanted to omit.)

(Click here for Part 1)
(Click here for Part 2)

After a much-needed trip to the restroom, I settled back into my hospital bed and allowed my visitors to come back in. Everyone was revived, renewed, ready for the next step. This was no false alarm, this was the real deal. I knew that within 24 hours, my baby boy would no longer be taking up residence in my uterus.

I’d say than no less than 30 minutes after my doctor broke my water, my contractions started getting more intense. You could see my belly tighten up and I could no longer ignore the pain. As you can imagine, this just upped the excitement of The Contraction Game my dad was playing. He was getting more and more excited as the numbers went higher. My nurse was fluttering around my room doing something productive, I’m sure, but mostly just being the most important person in my entire life. “Deanna. I’m ready for my epidural if my doctor says it’s okay.”

I wasn’t willing to play around. I didn’t want to have a situation where I went from 4 to 9 centimeters within the hour and the epidural was no longer an option. I’d have gotten through it, I know, but I would have been a wreck the next couple days. The pain would undoubtably caused me to tense up during each contraction, which would then cause some serious knots that would turn into a serious migraine. I was really hoping to enjoy the first few days with my baby, so a migraine wasn’t an option. Plus, I have nothing against epidurals and I didn’t (and still don’t) see any reason I shouldn’t completely enjoy my birthing process.

There’s something you should know about me. I’m terrible at understanding accents. I watched the entire movie Four Weddings and a Funeral and I honestly have no idea what the movie was about. So when my anesthesiologist, who was a small, soft-spoken Indian man, came in to my room to give me my epidural, I was pretty clueless as to what exactly was going on. Plus at this point my contractions were quite painful and I didn’t have the energy to focus on decoding the message he was giving me.

I planned to get through my epidural the same way I had gotten through my water breaking – by squeezing Stephen’s hand until his bones crushed to a fine dust. Unfortunately that was not an option. I don’t know if this is a nationwide rule, but at my hospital, husbands have to leave the room. “Why? Why? What? But why? He has to leave? WHY?” They told me something about it being a liability. That there was a case where a man was watching and he fainted and fell and hit his head. The doctor and nurse couldn’t help him because, well, you all have to be very still during the epidural so it’s done properly. So the woman was freaking out because her husband was laying unconscious on the floor. Anyways, bad stuff. And Stephen had to leave.

The second the door closed, I felt very alone. I was tired, hungry, hurting, anxious, and extremely nervous about the epidural. The doctor instructed me to sit on the side of the bed. I was to tuck my arms to my chest and then curl into my nurse who was standing in front of me. She wrapped her arms around me and I was instantly comforted. Don’t get me wrong, I was still tense and scared to death, but I no longer felt alone. I felt safe. The doctor started giving me the shots to numb my back. I have no intention to scare anyone here, but in an effort to be completely honest, it was not fun. Shots in your back are not enjoyable. And since I knew I had to stay really still, I was very tense. We waited a bit to let the pain killers do their thing. I figured the worst part was over so I relaxed a bit. My nurse, who was a woman in her late twenties with pretty hair and a sweet smile, talked calmly to keep my nerves in check. She was wonderful and I thought that maybe I should order her to-go so she could comfort Stephen and Jansen when they are sick and I’m not being compassionate enough.

It was time for the epidural. I rested my head on my nurse’s shoulder and tried not to think about it. I felt the pressure of the needle. No pain, just fear caused by the knowledge that there was a needle in my back that had the potential to cause a lot of damage. He injected the anesthesia. I could feel it enter my back and move into my body. The feeling was so uncomfortable that it almost makes me hurl when I think about it now. My nurse tightened her grip and talked me through it. And just like that (well, several minutes of “that”), it was over. They taped the line to my back and told me to relax and lay back down.

I consider myself a pretty smart girl but every now and then I shock myself with how stupid I can be. I understand what happens during an epidural (your whole bottom half goes completely numb) and I also understand how to deliver a baby (lots of pushing in the nether regions). But it never dawned on me that you have to have a catheter put in. Obviously I couldn’t walk to the bathroom anymore. And I’m sure my doctor had no desire to get peed on while delivering my baby. So when my nurse said, “Okay, now that your epidural has kicked in, I’m going to put your catheter in” I was totally taken aback.

She put it in and it totally freaked me out. Catheters give me the heebie jeebies. Not to mention how weird it was to see my line immediately fill with urine and go into my pee bag. Childbirth. It’s a beautiful thing.

Now that I was numb, I’d no longer be able to feel how intense my contractions are. And since they’d broken my water, they couldn’t just check my cervix anytime they wanted. Each time they checked, it would increase the chance of bacteria and infection in my system. So basically, it was up to me. They kept telling me to buzz them if I felt like I was going to have a bowel movement. Over and over they said this. I kept thinking that it was awfully weird that they were so concerned about my poop, but then I realized (after further instruction from my nurse) that when Jansen descends into the birth canal, it’ll feel like I have to poop. So really poop time is actually baby time.

Things were pretty easy at that point. Every few minutes my belly would tighten up. I’d hardly feel anything but a bit of movement but I would still try to guess if it was a big contraction or not. We had to make a lot of assumptions since we didn’t know how far I was. So we all just hung out and hoped for something to happen soon. At one point I could feel my epidural starting to wear off. Through a series of miscommunications, I got a double dose. My nurse was less than pleased, but I after I found out that it wasn’t going to kill me, I didn’t really mind the extra drugs.

Around 10:00 that night, my nurse came in and told me that I should try to get some rest. Whenever the time came, I’d need energy. I felt like saying, “Do you honestly think I can sleep at a time like this? Don’t you realize I’m about to have a baby??” But I didn’t. Instead I asked everyone to leave so that Stephen and I could close our eyes for a bit. There was a chair that pulled out into a twin bed, so Stephen put some sheets on it and laid down. I couldn’t move so I just laid where the nurse had left me and tried to clear my mind. We turned the lights down and tried to ignore the beeps and bum-bum, bum-bums from the monitors.

A few minutes went by and I heard Stephen’s breathing patterns change. He was resting up for the big moment.

February 24, 2011 at 7:09 am 16 comments

The Birth Story – Part 2

(Click here if you missed Part 1.)  

We went to the third floor and checked in. “Are you coming from your OB’s for the prenatal monitoring? Go take a seat in the waiting room, all of our beds are full right now so we’ll have to wait until one opens up.” So Stephen and I went to the waiting room and watched some chef prepare a 5 star meal on the local morning show. I got a bed at about 9:45 and they strapped two monitors to my belly. One to track my contractions and one to track my heartbeat. I thought the monitors were pretty interesting but I constantly felt like they were going to flip off of my giant belly.

I laid in bed with Stephen sitting in a small chair by my side listening to all the beeps around us. There were four beds in this room since it was just for these sorts of tests. All of the beds had curtains around them so you could feel a bit of privacy. The nurse came back about 15 minutes later and asked me if I had any contractions. I hadn’t. She went to read the screen with all the results. I don’t remember the nurses face or the color of her scrubs, but I will never forget the way she looked at the screen and then turned to me and said, “Umm, actually you have been having them every 3-4 minutes.”

Listen. I’ve never had a baby before but I know that every 3-4 minutes is a big deal. That’s grounds for calling your doctor and high-tailing it to the hospital. Well I was already at the hospital so we could go ahead and put a check in that box. The nurse decided to go call my doctor to give her the news and ask her what the next step was. While she was gone, Stephen and I did a whole lot of looking at each other and saying, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.” We really just had one main question: WHO HAS CONTRACTIONS AND DOESN’T KNOW IT?? I mean, I’ve always thought that because I have experienced so many migraines that I have a higher pain tolerance than many people, but not that high!

The nurse came back and said, “Well, I spoke to your doctor. Looks like you’re having a baby today!”

My eyes turned into saucers and my smile went from ear to ear. And if I’m going to be completely honest with you, the smile wasn’t from excitement, it was from nervousness. Nervous terror. I was just supposed to be going to the doctor. You know, a quick check with several it’s-getting-close’s from the nurses and OB. And now I’m in the hospital and you’re telling me that I’m going to have a baby… today? As in, this date? As in, 2.5 weeks early? NOW? 

The nurse checked me and I was now at 4 centimeters. (This was also the point in my life when I learned that there is a skill to checking someone’s cervix. My OB was so good at it that it never phased me. This chick? Not so much.) There was no need to rush me to a delivery room because there was still a lot of labor that needed to happen. It’s a good thing because every single delivery room was full. So our job was just to hang out and watch reruns of Home Improvement.

The nurse came back in to give me my IV and tell me about the strict “no eating or drinking” rule. It was about that time that I was cursing my bagel breakfast and wishing I had eaten 17 pancakes and a pound of bacon. I’d heard plenty of stories about people being in labor for upwards of 24 hours and the thought of no food until the next morning was giving me serious anxiety. (Remember, I was still pregnant at this point. The possibility of no food is a common fear in pregnant women.)

While I sat in my bed texting random people to tell them this new turn of events, Stephen stepped into the hall to call our parents. My parents were instructed to pick up our bag from our house and take care of our dog for the next couple days. We weren’t able to get in contact with his mom for a couple hours. She’d given us direction to call her cell phone when it was time. If she didn’t answer, we were to call the office. She’d told her office that she would be leaving work the instant she got the call. She works at a preschool and apparently the secretary didn’t think it was that important to get her. Or something. Not sure. The details are sketchy because honestly I didn’t care about anything besides the whole “looks like you’re having a baby today” thing.

Of course we told them all not to rush, that babies take their time. Do you think they listened? No. They all decided that they’d set up shop in the waiting room and sit tight until Jansen decided it was time to come. Since we didn’t have much real estate in that room (literally only had a bed and a small chair) they all had to come in one at a time to say hello. Throughout the next few hours, each of them came to keep me company and ask how I was doing. Remember that since I was still pregnant, I still had a pregnant woman’s bladder. So Stephen would have to help me out of bed and wheel my IV to the bathroom. It was all very awkward since I would have to try to hold the back of my gown closed while waddling and trying not to rip my IV out. (I have an irrational fear of IVs ripping out. It got better throughout the day, but at this point it was a pretty serious concern of mine.)  

By this time, I’d learned what a contraction feels like. I suppose they were getting stronger and that’s why I was able to feel them, plus I was laying still with nothing to do but concentrate on my stomach. Stephen would stand in front of the computer and watch the numbers (we didn’t know what they meant, but we knew that a change in numbers was likely a contraction). I would say, “Oh wait! I think this is one. Is it? Is it a contraction?” And he’d watch the numbers change, “Yeah! That’s a contraction! It’s still going, babe! You’re still having it!” It was a fun little game that would last several more hours.

Finally at 3:45 they wheeled me into a delivery room. It was much bigger and I was allowed to have 4 guests in there. That was nice since I enjoyed the company, plus I felt bad that they all had to wait out in the waiting room. (I literally JUST realized that they all had each other in the waiting room, so I was probably the most bored of everyone. I had only had one guest at a time. Hmm.) At this point the nurse checked me and I was still at 4 centimeters. The anesthesiologist came in to explain the process to me. (I knew I was going to get drugs even before I got pregnant. I know me. If I didn’t get drugs I would have been miserable, plus I would have given myself a migraine from the pain.) I didn’t really need to hear the details from him but I think they have to do that, although meeting him made me feel better about the whole sticking-a-needle-in-a-dangerous-place thing.

At this point, just about everyone had arrived. My parents, Stephen’s parents, Stephen’s sister from Fort Worth, and my sister. Stephen’s other sister came after work and my brother and SIL weren’t able to come. I think we were all pretty bored. Every now and then one of them would say something that showed how excited they were. I was nervous. And mostly bored. I watched several episodes of Cash Cab to try to keep my mind off things. Sort of like “a watched pot never boils”… a thought-about cervix never opens. Right?

We continued to play the contraction game. My dad was really into it. I’d tell them when a contraction came (they were much stronger now, but still not painful) and he and Stephen would run over to the machine to watch the numbers. “OH LOOK! This is a good one!” or “Man! What a weenie contraction!” Eventually he started trying to foresee the future. “Well you’ve had several strong ones recently, I think we’re getting somewhere.” It was a good way to pass time.

My OB came to check on me at about 5:40 that evening. There were several patients of hers in delivery rooms so she’d be hanging around for the rest of the night. She checked my cervix and I was “a good 4” so she decided to break my water. I think she was ready to get the show on the road. I started having a panic attack. I had been at the hospital almost 9 hours and it was just hitting me that I was about to have a baby. Once your water is broken, there is no turning back. (Not that there was any turning back before that, you can’t exactly un-conceive a baby.)

For some reason I was terrified of her breaking my water. I think it was because I had read descriptions that said the doctor will take a long stick with a hook on the end and stick it in there to manually break the water. That was the scariest thing I had ever heard. All of my guests stepped out. I started sweating and begging Stephen to come hold my hand. My OB looked at me like I was a nut job, “It’s really no big deal, Chelsea. I promise. You won’t feel anything.” I tried to relax but I really just wanted to scream, “OF COURSE YOU’D SAY THAT. IT’S NO BIG DEAL TO YOU! YOU AREN’T ABOUT TO GET YOUR VAGINA STABBED WITH A GIANT CROCHET HOOK!”

But I kept my mouth shut and I’m certainly glad that I did because, well, she was right. It was no big deal. She broke my water and I’m sure that 17 gallons of liquid came pouring out of me. But I can’t remember that. I think I remember several towels. But mostly I just remember sitting there, wide-eyed, thinking, “This is it. I’m going to be a mom. I’m going to have a baby.”

(Part 3 coming tomorrow.)

February 23, 2011 at 7:14 am 18 comments

This Time Last Year

This time last year I was a nervous wreck. I had knots in my stomach and wanted to hurl. I was at work, trying to go about my daily tasks without falling asleep or throwing up or daydreaming in my office chair.

You see, one year and 8 days ago Stephen and I found out we were going to have a baby. It was one of the weirdest days of my life. Second only to the day I went into labor, which I have yet to blog about even though Jansen is 4.5 months old. (One day I’ll get on that, it really is a good story.) So 373 days ago I woke up and peed on a stick in the guest bathroom. I hadn’t told Stephen I was going to do it. I had taken so many tests and I was tired of walking out of the bathroom and disappointingly shaking my head to Stephen. I looked down at the stick, expecting to see nothing and then a slow negative. But that’s not what I saw. I saw an immediate plus. I said the only thing that could come out of my mouth.

“Oh my God.”

With my jaw dropped and the pee stick in my hand, I walked into the laundry room where Stephen was changing the wash. I was on repeat. “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.”

We decided to take a few days to gather ourselves. We wanted a confirmation from the doctor and we needed to figure out how we were going to tell everyone.

So on January 20, 2010, exactly a year ago today, we told our families that their entire world was about to change.

That paper inside the frame said something along the lines of “Mommy and Daddy will give you a real picture when I get here – I hope you can wait until September! Love, Baby Hurst”

There was screaming and crying, mostly from my mother-in-law. Tears from me. The whole day was overwhelming and I was so ready for it to be over. It was shocking and scary and exciting.

Nothing has been the same since.

January 20, 2011 at 7:17 am 10 comments

Baby Items You Cannot Live Without (2)

If you missed the first post in this two-post series, click here to read it. I have a few more items to add to the list of must-have baby items. As a refresher, these were the items on the first list (you can go to this post for links):

The Miracle Blanket
The Medela Breast Pump
Music & Motion Soother
The Moby Wrap
Lansinoh Breast Pads
Chicco Cortina Travel System
Binkies

Just a reminder that you can click on the bolded item and it’ll take you to the product.

A Vibrating Bouncy Seat
I actually can’t find our exact one online but it doesn’t matter, it is similar to the one I linked. There are a bagillion of these to choose from. We chose this because it is simple, compact, it bounces when Jansen kicks, and it vibrates. You don’t want a big seat because you’re (probably) already going to have a swing and a Pack N Play… the last thing you need is more baby crap sitting in your living room. If Jansen is awake when I’m getting ready in the mornings, he’s usually content sitting in his chair while I shower and get dressed. The vibrations soothe him and the hanging turtle, frog, and snail entertain him.

The Owl
Okay I searched and searched for this owl online and I have only been able to find it at this place. As of the time I wrote this post, there were only 2 in stock and I bought them both. If you find them in a store, I suggest you buy all of them. If you didn’t click the link, it’s an owl that hangs from Jansen’s car seat. Lauren gave this to Jansen a couple days after he was born and he loves it. I don’t know what it is about this owl but it is seriously Jansen’s best friend. He talks to it ALL THE TIME. Apparently they tell each other jokes. And I don’t think it’s exclusive to Jansen because anytime my niece is around, she tries to steal it. There are tons of car seat toys out there but I think they really like this one because of the big eyes, plus it’s bigger than most of the other car seat toys so they can actually see it. I’m really not exaggerating. Jansen was hysterical one morning last week and the second I put him in his carrier and he looked at his owl, he started laughing. LAUGHING!

Munchkin Bottle Brush
Do not, I repeat DO NOT try to clean your bottles without a bottle brush. It takes twice as long and is 4 times as frustrating. I don’t know much about formula, but breastmilk has fat in it that sticks to the sides of the bottle and makes it really slick. The best way to get that off is to fill it with a bit of hot soapy water and scrub it a couple times with a bottle brush. I also really like this one because it has a suction cup on the bottom so it can stand upright on the side of the sink. All the water drains off and it stays out of the way.

A Mobile
Any mobile will do, so there is no link. I looked for a mobile before Jansen was born but I never found one that I really liked. I saw a few on Etsy but they were just a bit out of my price range. So I decided not to get one. What would he care anyways?! It would be dark in his room at night and he wouldn’t even be able to see it. But then he got a glimpse of a mobile at a friend of mine’s house. He was mesmerized. So my mom decided to make one for him to either go above his changing table or his crib. We chose to hang it above his crib. He loves it. We usually keep his light on for a little while when we put him to bed and he stares at it.

Here’s a crappy cell phone picture:

On-The-Go Changing Pad
Very very very important. I have had to change Jansen on living room floors, car seats, and in the back of our SUV. Not only does this keep him from having to lay on scratchy, cold, or dirty surfaces, it also protects those surfaces from pee or the inevitable blow-out. I have this diaper bag. (I know, I know. It’s the cutest diaper bag in the world. Good luck trying to find it. My cousin bought it for me and I have yet to be able to find if for sale ANYWHERE.) My diaper bag came with a roll-up changing pad, that’s the one I linked to. I know there are fold up ones out there and some people prefer those. I really could care less how it stores, I just need it! Also, I’ve seen there there are disposible changing pads out there. Those could be handy but I think they seem pretty wasteful. We have a partial pack of them that were given to us as hand-me-downs. I may throw one in our small diaper bag that we have for quick errands.

Changing Pad Covers
This is in reference to the changing pad you’ll have in your nursery. Ours is like some Serta contoured thingy. We don’t have an actual changing table, we bought a dresser that is serving as our changing table for the diaper days. All we have to do is remove the changing pad and it’ll be a dresser fit for a grown up room. So on the changing pad, you have to put a changing pad cover. I had originally just registered for one. WHY? How in the world could you only need one? I suppose if you can wash and dry an entire load of laundry between diaper changes, then you could just use the one. But the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. So buy two! For real. I’m not even going to recommend a brand because I honestly don’t think it matters. Just make sure it’s soft and it’s easy to put on and take off. No zippers, just elastic (imagine a fitted sheet).

I think that’s it y’all. In a week or so, I’ll post my advice on things you DON’T need and “buy this, not that.” For the most part, baby products are trial and error. You don’t know what’s going to work best for you and your baby until you actually have your baby. Although I do believe that this list is pretty much the non-negotiable-items list. If you have anything else to add, feel free to do it in the comments. I know of several people bookmarking these two posts for when they have babies. It’s extremely helpful! When y’all gave me your advice several months ago, I literally printed pages of comments, took notes on them, and took that with me to register.

*The Miracle Blanket giveaway closes tonight. CLICK HERE to enter.
**Ten on Tuesday is posted. CLICK HERE to visit the ToT page.

December 20, 2010 at 12:08 am 9 comments

Jansen: The Making Of

I’m at that age where the majority of people in my life are either getting married or having babies. I’m 26, that’s just what happens. So I think it’s time we talk about it. Candidly.

Call me naive or downright stupid, but it never crossed my mind that I might not meet my husband in college. That’s where my parents met and it just seemed like that’s what happened. Always. Thankfully in my case, that’s exactly what happened. I met my man at a Bible Study my junior year in college. But that’s not always true. In fact, Stephen and I seem to be among the minority of people who get married 5 seconds after they receive their diploma. So why is it that the world seems to think that marriage is the obvious next step after college? This just leads people (women) to have complexes, wondering, “What is wrong with me??” NOTHING. Nothing at all. It’s not you, it’s them. The world.

But like I said, it worked for us. We met and within a few weeks, I knew this was It. This was Him. He would be my husband, the father of my children, the grandfather of my grandchildren, the breadwinner and signer on my mortgage. He would be the last boy I kissed and the first boy I’d fall in love with.

So we got married.

All according to The Plan.

The Plan told me that I was to graduate from high school, go to The University of Texas, meet my husband and get engaged, graduate from UT within 4 years, get married at the age of 22, and have my first baby at the age of 24. I was on track. It wasn’t until I had that ring on my finger that I realized that maybe, just maybe, 24 was a tad young for me to be having a baby. I was still a kid, afterall. We needed a house and a nice car and a savings account holding more than 3 figures.

Stephen and I started talking about having kids late 2008. Just talking, not planning. Stephen’s Plan is to have all of his kids by the time he is 30. Cough…notgoingtohappen…cough. I wanted to be sure we were married without kids for at least a year, so when July 28, 2008 came, I breathed a sigh of relief that my uterus was still vacant.

We decided that come March 2009 we would “stop preventing.” We wouldn’t necessarily be trying to get pregnant, but we wouldn’t be praying the rosary over our marriage bed. (Yeah… kidding… I don’t even know what the rosary is all about… but you get my point.)

Now let’s just take a second and be open and honest about this. To a man, “not preventing” means exactly that. NOT PREVENTING. To a woman, it means something completely different. I didn’t realize that men didn’t also read between the fertility lines until after we got pregnant and began telling people how long we tried.

To a woman, “not preventing” means “not telling anyone that you’re trying to have a baby because you’re scared that it won’t work and you really don’t need that sort of pressure in your life right now.” It means that you promise not to break into public hysterics every month when you start your period because you shouldn’t care because you’re not technically trying. It means that you won’t take your temperature or track your ovulation because that would mean that you’d think about your fertility 24 hours a day instead of just the 10 that you already are.

But do not for a second think that women don’t know the exact second that they stopped preventing. There are times that we sit and think, “I have been not preventing for 4 months and 17 days. Why am I not pregnant?” But these are things that we can’t say to you because that would actually mean that we are trying… not just secretly trying.

So to clarify what not preventing means:
To a man – not preventing
To a woman – secretly trying but scared of failing

We started secretly trying but scared of failing in March of 2009. I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t think we’d be having a baby 40 weeks later. I thought it would be just that easy. My mom just had to think about getting pregnant and she was instantly with child. I thought I’d be the same. But the first month came and went and no baby. Second month, no baby. Third, no baby. About the fifth month I mentioned to Stephen that I was kind of surprised that I wasn’t pregnant by now. I didn’t show concern in my voice but deep down there was a bit of terror. I’d had plenty of ovarian cysts throughout my life and I was about as irregular as you could be and still be considered a woman.

Every now and then Stephen would say something like, “It’s odd that you aren’t pregnant yet.” It was helpful to hear him say things like that because then I knew I wasn’t the only one thinking about our future baby. But let me remind you, just because he was thinking about our baby, doesn’t mean that he thought we were trying to have a baby.

In October we decided that we should start trying. If we weren’t pregnant that month, we’d start ovulation testing. No baby in October. In November I bought a pack of ovulation tests. (Did you know that those things cost a bagillion dollars?!) Taking those tests was shockingly reminiscent of the countless pregnancy tests I’d taken the previous months. Pee on it, watch, watch, say a prayer, look again, nothing. Nothing at all. I couldn’t find a day I was ovulating. Needless to say, no baby in November. 

We tried the tests again in December. Thankfully we were able to find a day when I was ovulating. Of course we wouldn’t find out until a few weeks later if it had worked or not. So in those few weeks we went to a New Years party, a rehearsal dinner, a fabulous wedding with an open bar, a birthday party with big margaritas, and a brewery tasting. Booze. And then? 

One morning before work, 4 days after I had taken a pregnancy test and gotten a negative, I took another one. (Probably don’t take a pregnancy test before work unless you’re capable of going to work knowing that you’re pregnant and still acting normal.) I watched the stick as it instantly showed me the good news.  There was absolutely no question about it.

I held that magical stick in my hand and walked into the other room to show Stephen. “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh,” I kept repeating. I held it up to him and said, “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.” He looked at the stick and then at me. “A positive? What does that mean?” “It means it’s positive.”

Stephen refused to believe it until I took another test the next morning. So I did. Still positive. Then he refused to believe it until I went to the doctor. So I did. Still positive. Apparently this is another area we differ. I knew I was pregnant the second I saw the stick, Stephen needed a doctor. He was too scared the stick was lying to us (twice) and that it might change its mind later and he “just couldn’t deal with that.”

After two months of trying and an additional 8 months of not preventing, we were pregnant. So let me just educated many of you. Our ten months? That’s quick. The world doesn’t tell you the struggles of getting pregnant, it only tells you about the 16 year olds who got pregnant even though they swear it was their first time. It doesn’t tell you about the millions of couples who struggle with infertility every single minute of their lives. Nobody talks about the women on pills or who get shots or go for test. Getting pregnant isn’t as easy as saying, “Okay, let’s have a baby.” It’s a lesson on patience and trusting the Lord. It’s a test on your sanity and your relationship. Which, if you think about it, is all a preview of parenthood. No patience? Don’t be a mom. Relationship not steady? Don’t bring a baby into it.

Either way, talk to your spouse through the process. I didn’t know that we weren’t on the same page until I told someone we tried for ten months and Stephen corrected me, “Well we actually only tried about 2 months.” In reality, he’s right. But since when do women have thoughts and feelings based on reality??

December 6, 2010 at 7:08 am 23 comments

Introducing: Jansen Bridges

So I’m not going to do a full update because I’m at the hospital and it’s currently midnight and I’m tired. I’ve finally calmed down from the craziest day and a half of my life and I’m ready to sleep. At least for a couple hours until they bring Jansen in for a feeding, or until one of the billion nurses come in to check on me or take my blood pressure or something.

I figured you wouldn’t mind that I keep it short as long as I show you a couple pictures of little Jansen. We have several million pictures but these are just a couple from my cell phone. They aren’t the best quality but he’s so cute that it doesn’t really matter.

Precious? Yes.

He was born at 1:37am on September 2. He weighed 7lbs. 14 oz. and was 20 inches long. He’s totally not a bobble head like we expected. In fact, he’s quite perfect.

I’ll have more pictures and details next week. Thanks for all of your comments, emails, tweet, etc. etc. etc. You guys are awesome!

September 3, 2010 at 7:30 am 50 comments

Pregnant Pause – 37 Weeks

I’m still here. Still with child.

I had a pretty contraction-less weekend. I had several Friday morning and then they laid off for the rest of the weekend. Which is actually pretty surprising because my Saturday was extremely busy. I ran errands with my mom all day. I had to buy some shower and wedding gifts since I knew this could be my last chance to run errands sans child. By the end of the errands, I was utterly exhausted. My feet were throbbing and all I wanted to do was lay down for about 72 hours. But the show must go on. So I showered and got pretty and Stephen and I went to a local park for some maternity photos. I really hope they turn out well but I’m not going to hold my breath since it was approximately 150 degrees outside.

We smiled and did our best to look comfortable even though Stephen’s forehead was covered in sweat a mere .62 seconds after stepping outside. And I tried to give off a beautiful pregnant glow even though my sausage finger was shoved into my wedding ring and my sweat was making my clothes wrinkle. So if the pictures aren’t great, it is in NO way a reflection of the photographer. It is 100% a reflection of the fact you should not take maternity photos when you are 9 months pregnant in the Texas heat.

After that we went straight to Stephen’s sister’s 30th birthday party. I immediately turned into a giant party pooper and sat myself in a chair and didn’t move for 3 hours… except to go to the bathroom, of course.

By the time we got home, I was worn out. WORN OUT. I slept until about 9:30 on Sunday before getting up and getting ready for church. I am equally thankful and shocked that my Saturday didn’t cause contractions. I stayed off my feet most of Sunday and even spent some time in my parents’ pool.

And now here we are, Monday morning. I’m 37 weeks and 1 day into my pregnancy. I’ve only had one contraction today and very minimal pain in my lower abdomen. I’m going to keep chugging water to keep these at bay. I anticipate a fairly easy time until Wednesday when I have my next appointment. I’m convinced that the pelvic exams gets things going and that’s why I had such a rough day last Wednesday. So we’ll see how this week goes.

Riddle me this. Why is it that when you are 9 months pregnant, everyone wants to tell you their birth stories?! It’s very odd. People I hardly know come and tell me things. Although I don’t really mind it, I actually think birth stories are pretty fascinating. I just think it’s odd that people open up so quickly just because I have a large belly. What I do mind is when people speak in absolutes. “Oh you will know the morning you wake up that it’s going to happen that day!” Really? Really? I beg to differ. Because this other woman told me that she had no clue until about 2 hours before and just made it to the hospital with 20 minutes to spare. “Contractions are the worst part of pregnancy! If you can get through those without an epidural, you can get through the birth.” Really? Because I swear that lady over there just told me that her contractions were a piece of cake but the actual delivery was awful. Hmm. “Be prepared to push for a good hour.” Oh? “You should only have to push for about 20 minutes.” I see.

I have no problem hearing what YOU had to do, but please don’t tell me what I’M going to have to do. Unless of course, your name is God. In which case, feel free to tell me all the details.

Was that a rant? I’m sorry, that was a rant. I’ll just shut up now and show you a picture.

That’s me and my big ol belly! Which actually doesn’t even look that big in those clothes. Trust me, it’s big.

Anyways, that’s my update. Possibly my last one depending on how this week goes. Several people are hoping for an ironic birth on Labor Day. I’ll see what I can do to fulfill your dreams.

Hope you all had fabulous contraction-less weekends as well!

(ToT will be posted shortly.)

August 30, 2010 at 9:02 am 14 comments

No More Showers In The Forecast

Saturday was my final shower. Actually if we’re going to be honest, Saturday was Jansen’s final shower. Aside from the two giant cinnamon rolls my friend Kelly gave me, all of the gifts were for Jansen. He doesn’t know it yet but he’s very appreciative.

This one was put on my two of my aunts and my sister-in-law, Laura.

As you can probably tell, it was a baseball themed shower. And goodness gracious, was it cute!! This was the entry table:

All of the guests signed the baseball! The thing on the left is the invitation, it even has little Jansen’s ultrasound picture on it! There were decorations all over the place. My cousin has been playing baseball since h was in the womb so my aunt had a ton of items to bring to decorate.

We first gathered in the living room and played a guessing game. There were 10 ziploc bags and each contained some sort of white powder. We had to pass them around and guess what they were. I was quite terrible at this game, only getting 5 correct. Although at least I didn’t guess cornstarch for one of the bags even though that wasn’t an option. Cough cough mother-in-law cough. My sister actually won, which I swear is a complete fluke because she honestly doesn’t know the difference between baking powder and baking soda when it’s in the box! I think the hostesses were playing a trick on us because all of the bags smelled like baby powder and plastic!

Then it was time for lunch… aka: my favorite time of the day. Going along with the baseball theme, we had BBQ baked potatoes. (I don’t know about your baseball fields, but that’s a common food at Minute Maid Park.) They were so delicious and I managed to eat the entire thing without spilling even a drop on my dress! (Taking a bow…) Thank you, thank you!

Then we played another game. We broke up into two teams (I was the umpire) and played “baseball.” The pitcher had to draw a question out of the helmet and “pitch it” to the batter. The batter had to answer. If the batter got it right, it was a home run. If the batter got it wrong, it was an out. Three outs and then you switch. Some of the questions were baseball related and next to impossible, some were Chelsea related and TOTALLY possible, especially if you read my blog! In the end, “The J’s” won, not only because they answered more questions but because they chose a good name… as opposed to the other team who named themselves “The Averys.” Newsflash: Wrong baby!

Dessert time! Probably the cutest idea in the world… we had ice cream sundaes in baseball helmets!

I had a tough time choosing which team to be since I didn’t immediately see the Astros. (Plus, with the Astros luck, the helmet probably had a hole it in and would leak all over my dress.) So I chose the A’s.

Chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup. Topped with sprinkles, crushed Reese’s, and a cheery on top. Mmm Mmm good!

At this point the shower was technically over since it was 2:00. (I will never understand why people think showers are only going to be two hours. Every shower I go to says it’ll be 2 hours and it’s always 3.) But we had gifts to open, so we powered through.

I got some amazing items. Many homemade items including a scrapbook that is completely done except for the pictures. Fantastic! I’ll show you some of the other homemade items in the future when I have plans to post all of the amazing things people have made for Jansen. I also got a crib mattress (Praise the Lord!) and our carrier/stroller set.

It was a great shower. I left feeling loved, exhausted, and relieved. My best friend’s mom came even though she lives hours away. I think I hugged her at least 4 times! I was just bubbling (and sweating) by the end of it. We got so many “necessities” that it really took a weight off of my shoulders. That is… until yesterday when my doctor told me I’m already dilating and I started having contractions every time I stood up. (Cue freak out.)

I’m feeling great today. Not a single contraction, no pressure, nothing abnormal. I’m just hoping he’ll wait until September to make his arrival. I’d really like him to wait a bit longer than that, but at the very minimum, I’ll take September. And the good news is that he’ll be around to watch his very first World Series. Lucky boy!

August 26, 2010 at 9:33 am 12 comments

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