Wednesday, March 14: 39 weeks
9:45 am I have my 39 week checkup with my OB. For the past few weeks I have been increasingly dilated so I’m not too surprised when she says that the baby is super low and I’m 4+ cm.
I had been hoping for her to sweep my membranes since that’s what sent me into labor with Finn, but Michael and I had talked about things the night before and decided it would be best not to do anything intentional until Friday so that he could finish out the workweek and so that we could have my mom up here to be with the boys should we need to rush off to the hospital. The doctor says that she thinks my body and baby are both ready so I schedule a followup for Friday. In the meantime I get the house in order, go to the grocery store and try to prepare everything just in case…
Friday, March 16: 39 weeks 2 days
1:00 am My mom arrives! She has been super busy with work but drove through the evening into the night to be sure that she would be here for me and for our family if we need her on Friday. I am so thankful for her commitment to all of us. Her arrival gives me the greatest peace of mind and now I know that we are really ready to have this baby.
11:00 am Michael is at work, Colt is at school and Finn and my mom come with me to my doctor’s appointment. Dr. Elliot checks me and immediately asks me if I’m having contractions. I tell him that while I feel some occasionally and have been having a little bit of cramping, I certainly don’t think I’m in labor and it’s so far been nothing to write home about. He tells me that I’m already around 5 cm and he’d like for me to check into triage to get monitored for a couple of hours to see what my body is really doing. He thinks I’m closer to active labor than I realize and just wants to watch it a bit before sending me home.
Another doctor walks us through over to the maternity ward of the hospital and helps me get checked in. My mom and Finn are with me and while I’m totally comfortable and not nervous at all, I’m still thankful not to be checking in alone. I call Michael and ask him to wrap up at the office and come straight to the hospital. He has all of our bags in his car already so he’s ready. Meanwhile I change into the lovely beige, tan and olive green gown and Finn covers me with stickers.
12:30 pm It’s almost time to pick Colt up from school and my mom doesn’t want to leave me until Michael arrives at the hospital so I call my girlfriend, Beth, and she graciously, happily offers to pick up Colt along with her two boys and keep him for a couple hours before bringing him back to our house that afternoon.
1:00 pm Michael arrives at the hospital. It is exciting to see him. It somehow feels like this might really be happening… My mom takes Finn home and she’ll be there waiting for Colt when Beth drops him off. Everything in triage is fine except I have 1 regular nurse and 1 nurse who is still in training, shadowing the first nurse. The nurse in training tries to set up my IV and after two failed attempts (one of which left me with a nasty bruise), the other nurse saves things and finally gets it on the third try.
3:00 pm Dr. Elliot comes in and reads the results from the monitors. He determines that I’m having regular contractions, every 7 minutes or so. He checks me and says that I’m more open, 5+ cm and 90% effaced. He says he’d like me to go ahead and check into labor and delivery. He tells me that he’s a little concerned that if I went home I’d accidentally “blow this baby out” in the shower or something and there are a few reasons that would not be ideal – for them and for me!
1) This is a VBAC (albeit my second) so ideally they do want to monitor my labor.
2) During this pregnancy I tested positive for GBS so they want me to get 1-2 rounds of antibiotics in my system before delivery.
3) I’m pretty sure I’ll want an epidural. And my labor with Finn was quick (3-4 cm – fully dilated in 2.5 hours) so all along my doctors have asked me to come to the hospital sooner rather than later.
Ultimately Michael and I agree that we’re ready to do this.
4:00 pm We are settled into our labor and delivery room and our nurse tells us it’s the best one – big and right across from the “patient refreshment room.” I get hooked up to the monitors and start my first round of penicillin. It burns like crazy so I put an ice pack on my arm for the half-hour as it’s going in. I am doing intermittent monitoring so I am able to get up and walk around. Even when I’m on the monitors I can at least stand or sit on the birthing ball.
6:45 pm Dr. Elliot swings by and asks how I’m doing. I tell him that I still don’t feel active labor so we start low-dose pitocin (level 1).
7:15 pm My contractions are regular, every 4 minutes or so, but still not painful. I am a little concerned that I’m still not in “real labor” – it feels weird to be at the hospital and not be in pain. I have had a popsicle and some jello and am grateful that I had a big breakfast that morning.
7:30 pm We increase pitocin to level 2.
8:30 pm I start my second round of penicillin and it burns even more than the first. My contractions have become more irregular so we up the pitocin to level 3.
9:30 pm Dr. Elliot comes in and says I’m 6+ cm. He says he wants to go ahead and “let some water out.” I’m still not in pain so I express my 2 concerns:
1) I don’t want to have my water broken and then not go into labor and end up with another c-section and
2) I have read that pitocin and inductions don’t always go well with VBACs so I’m a little afraid of uterine rupture.
Dr. Elliot says that at 6+ cm he’s not concerned about me not going into labor and he feels like if we break my water then I won’t need any more pitocin. I have to get a new round of antibiotics every 4 hours which puts me due for my next round at 12:30 am. He tells me that we’ll have the baby before that which seems hard for me to believe considering I’m still not in any real pain.
He goes ahead and breaks my water and aside from the gross feeling of the fluid coming out, it doesn’t really hurt. After he leaves I ask my nurse, Kelly, if I should go ahead and order my epidural. It feels funny to ask for one when I’m not hurting but she encourages me to go ahead and get it. The next couple contractions feel about 5x stronger/more painful than before so I ask her to call it in. Within minutes I’m in so much more pain – I can’t believe how breaking my water changed things so quickly and so drastically.
10:20 pm The anesthesiologist comes in and begins to administer the epidural. He says it takes about 15 minutes to fully set it. I’m really hurting now and tell him it doesn’t seem to be helping. He asks me to wait until 10:38 pm before “pushing the button” to increase the dosage.
10:40 pm I have not felt ANY relief so we push the button but I’m struggling.
10:45 pm Nurse Kelly checks me and says I’m 9+ cm and will be pushing soon. She starts setting up the delivery table and pages Dr. Elliot. The epidural does not seem to have done anything and I’m suddenly feeling a ton of pressure. She calls Dr. Elliot again and tells me to try to breathe, not to push.
10:50 pm Dr. Elliot comes in and starts getting all ready for delivery. The contractions are still coming but I have a constant feeling of pressure that will not let up. He is coaching me to breathe through it until he’s ready.
10:57 pm It’s time to start pushing. In Brazil there were lots of people – doctors and nurses – in the room when I was delivering. Here there is just Dr. Elliot, Nurse Kelly, Michael and me so Michael has to hold one of my legs which I’m not expecting or thrilled about. He is less fazed by it and jumps right in, excited and encouraging me that we are close to meeting our daughter. As I’m pushing, Dr. Elliot asks my nurse to check the baby’s heart rate and the way they’re telling me to push makes me feel like something urgent is happening. It almost feels like they’re mad at me. Or maybe they just want me to keep going because we’re close. I am trying as hard as I can. It’s so intense. Dr. Elliot asks me if I want to feel her head but I don’t. Even in the moment it weirds me out but it does make me realize she’s close.
11:04 pm Lillian Mary Harper is born. I can’t believe it. They put her on my chest and my first thought is that she’s perfectly beautiful but not crying. Nurse Kelly messes with her a little and gets her to cry. They tell me that the cord had been around her neck but it was “loose” and totally fine. I’m not sure what that means but it makes me hold onto her extra tight.
Michael cuts the cord and we snuggle our baby and call her by her name as my doctor gets me all cleaned up. They let me hold her for a long time before taking her to weigh in and she seems so alert and just beautiful. I notice that she has a lot of dark hair, darker than either of our boys. She has tiny ears and the sweetest little hands. She feels new to me – like meeting a brand new person – but also cozy and mine. Eventually they take her and she’s 8lbs 3oz. Her Apgar scores are 9s. She’s absolutely perfect. She nurses for almost an hour and is a total natural. I am absolutely, completely in love…
4 thoughts on “Lillian’s Birth Story”
Wonderful! BTW, that gown had to have been designed by the Army. Perfect for camouflage in the field. How it ended up in the maternity ward is a mystery! She is beautiful just as you are!!
I have tears in my eyes at such a wonderful and true experience so well documented and sweet. you are brave and know your medical terms so well. Lillian is a beauty! enjoy her and know the boys will love her, too. I will see your mom in may and hope she has a whole album of photos! much love an joy to your sweet family- thank you for sending this to me I am honored to get your stories. love to all,,Joanne Coker—Grandma Jo
She’s absolutely beautiful. Congrats to all of you.
I think I see some Fincher – Derham in that little face! KNow you all will enjoy her and she will have the 2 big brothers to protect her all of her life.! I am so happy for you and your family. Happy Easter to you all, fondly,Joanne Coker