Where to even begin...this is going to be a long post. Just warning you now.
Since my last post my life has been turned upside down in the absolute best way possible. My third trimester of pregnancy really did fly by and drag on all at the same time. I was large and uncomfortable, barely able to sleep at night, aching all over, and pretty much always sweating. However, with every passing day I got even more and more excited to finally meet my sweet baby girl.
My sweet friend Nikki threw me an adorable baby shower at Dear Lizzie at the start of my third trimester and it was so fun to see all my friends. About a month later, Makenna, Phyllis, and Carly threw me a family baby shower that was equally as amazing! I definitely got spoiled!! I sure do have the best friends and family.
With week 36 also came my weekly OB/GYN appointments and the opportunity to have my cervix checked for dilation. I was disappointed to find that I was not dilated at all at my first check, but I did still have 4 weeks until my due date so it wasn't that big of a deal.
At my 37 week appointment I still wasn't dilated at all. My mom was not happy about that because she was in town and REALLY wanted the baby to come while she was here. She had another flight scheduled to come out here on Kate's due date, but we both knew that if the baby didn't come before she left, she may not make it back in time for the birth. We had no idea how long my labor would be or how easy it would be for her to change her flight if she needed to. I took some primrose oil pills for a couple days to see if that would help soften my cervix and also tried rubbing some of doterra's clary sage oil on my ankles and belly per instruction of my aunt. None of those remedies can make a baby come before it is ready, they just help get the mom's body ready for labor so the baby CAN come. I figured it was worth a shot since my body have never done anything like childbirth before.
Unfortunately, Aug. 18th came and went and my mom had to fly back to NY since I was clearly not in labor. The next day I had my 38 week appointment and I was still not dilated at all. The doctor told me to mentally prepare for a month more of pregnancy just in case the baby decided to come 2 weeks late...which is quite common for first pregnancies. I was clearly not excited about that idea when I left the doctor's office.
That's when things started to change. On Wednesday night (the 21st) I was up nearly all night with braxton hicks contractions and a horrible cough (that I had already been battling for over 2 weeks). Though I had been having braxton hicks for months, these were much more regular and frequent than they had ever been before. When I woke up the next morning I asked my boss if I could work from home since I was still having so many contractions and my mom told me she had 24 hours of braxton hicks before going into true labor with me.
I got in the shower and thought maybe the baby had finally dropped because she felt a lot lower in my belly. After getting out of the shower I wrapped myself up in my towel and crawled back in bed for a minute to cuddle with Colby. After we both got out of bed I noticed a trail of blood on our sheets. After ruling out any bleeding scabs on Colby, we checked my towel and determined that the blood had indeed come from me. We also noticed a huge wet puddle outside our bathroom door that had no obvious explanation. How my water would have broken without me noticing was a mystery to me, but I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to go visit my doctor's office just to be safe (they tell you to call them if you have more than 6 contractions an hour and I was having about that many...sometimes more).
The painless contractions continued while I was at my appointment but my water was not broken. When the midwife went to check my cervix she could not even reach it because the baby's head had indeed dropped and was totally blocking it. So, I left not knowing whether I had dilated at all since my appointment 2 days prior. By around 6:30 p.m. we went over to a friend's house for dinner and my contractions were even closer together and starting to feel more uncomfortable than they had been my whole pregnancy but I didn't think much of it because they didn't exactly "hurt" yet. By around 8:30 we were still at their house and my contractions were definitely getting more uncomfortable as time passed. I had one every 7 minutes or so and was nearly to the point of calling them painful.
After we got home I decided to start timing my contractions. They were now 5 1/2 minutes apart almost exactly and annoyingly uncomfortable. I told Colby to go to sleep but to mentally prepare himself for a baby just in case I was finally in real labor. I packed our hospital bag just to be safe and took my pillows and computer out to the couch to wait things out. By around 11:00 pm I texted my mom that my contractions were only 5 minutes apart and definitely hurting but I still didn't know whether I was in labor. She started to look for flights but was hesitant to buy before she knew for sure that these weren't still just braxton hicks. Having never been in labor before, I couldn't give her a "for sure," but I told her I was "pretty positive" these weren't just braxton hicks.
As time passed, the contractions started to hurt more and more...and they got closer and closer together. By 3:00 a.m. they were only 3 minutes apart and very painful (though I could still talk through them). I decided to call my midwife to let her know the situation and she told me to go to the hospital and have them check me...worst case scenario they would just send me back home. So, I woke up the husband and told him it was time.
Once we got to the hospital they hooked me up to the fetal heart monitor and contraction monitor and checked my cervix. The nurse made the same comment as my midwife had earlier that morning...the baby's head was SO low and it was difficult to tell. However, she managed to get her hand around the baby's head and determined I was at a 1. At that moment I was relieved that meant I was in real labor and that these contractions were working to open my cervix, but I was discouraged that I was only at a 1...that meant I would probably be sent home and have to endure these contractions for a while longer. They monitored me for an hour to see how I progressed and by the end of the hour I was at a 2. Instead of sending me home at that point, the nurse decided to monitor me for another hour, but this time I was told to walk the halls. It was pretty miserable. Every 2 minutes I had a contraction and they were freezing me in pain at this point. I had to lean against Colby and make him rub my back with each one...but it didn't help much. Not to mention, with every cough I thought my ribs were going to explode. I remember telling Colby I thought maybe they were broken because they hurt so badly when I coughed, but we both agreed that they were probably just strained from the contractions and coughing. I kept cursing the hospital because I just wanted my dang epidural. It was a LONG hour and all I could think about the entire time was that if I didn't progress enough in that hour, they would send me home and I wasn't sure I could handle these contractions for that much longer.
Fortunately, when they checked me at the end of the second hour (now about 5:15 a.m.) I was at a 3, which was progression enough for them to keep me at the hospital and move me to a labor and delivery room. I was SO relieved. About 2 hours after they moved me to my room (and 12 hours after I had gone into labor), the anesthesiologist came to give me my epidural. At this point I was dilated to a 5. All fears I had of that needle before going into the hospital were brushed aside with each contraction. At that point I was begging him to stick that huge needle in my back...and it really didn't hurt that much. Shortly after that, my midwife came in to break my water and I was finally able to get about an hour or two of sleep. Unfortunately, it was the only sleep I was able to get in nearly 48 hours. I was worried my body wouldn't be able to have enough strength to push from my lack of energy.
Once the epidural was in my progression started to slow down and I stayed at a 5 for a couple hours. Because of this, the nurse wanted to give me pitocin to help my body get back in the swing of things. I was opposed to the pitocin at first, but then my midwife came in and told me I may not have my baby for another 12 hours if I didn't have at least a tiny bit and she said my mom would probably still make it in time even if I did have some (her flight was getting in at 2:30 p.m.). My lack of energy and my trust in my midwife caused me to succumb and I agreed to let them use the smallest dose for just a little while. In an hour and a half I went from a 5 to an 8. Then, 20 minutes after that the doctor asked me if I wanted to start pushing. I couldn't believe how fast things progressed. Needless to say, my mom didn't make it in time.
I pushed for about 45-50 minutes. Colby held one of my legs as a nurse held the other. It wasn't until they gave me a mirror that I believed them that I was pushing out a baby and not a huge bowel movement from my butt. The mirror helped me focus my pushing as well. The midwife let me feel the baby's head once she was crowning and it was the weirdest thing ever, but so cool. The pain for the last 20 minutes was pretty intense...and I had an epidural! I could feel the stretching and ripping and some very intense pressure. Can't imagine how much pain there must be without medication. Finally the baby's head was out and they were placing my sweetheart on my chest. I don't think I can fully explain the emotions I felt when my child was placed in my arms for the first time. So much joy, concern, relief, and love. I have never felt anything like it. She was finally here and she was perfect. Colby and I have been smitten from the moment we laid eyes on her.
She was born at 1:07 p.m. on August 23rd, 2013. 6 lbs 6 oz and 19 3/4 inches long. A perfect little bundle of joy.
Miss Kate Nicole has captured the hearts of everyone who has met her, and it is no surprise to us. She is perfectly sweet and incredibly adorable. She RARELY cries, and if she does it is for a good reason. I can barely handle her cuteness. Our stay at the hospital was a little rough because poor Kate had low blood sugar and was taken away to be pricked in the heel any time she ate. Fortunately, by Sunday her blood sugar was finally at a normal, healthy level. She did get jaundice though, so we were forced to take her back to the hospital every day for more pricks in the heel until she overcame that.
My recovery from childbirth has definitely been the roughest part of this whole pregnancy/baby experience. Not only am I very sore from the pushing/ripping, but I went through some serious engorgement issues once my milk came in (that lasted 4 days) and my ribs are fractured so I can barely move. We aren't sure when I fractured them since they were hurting during labor...but we think it was probably a combination of expanded ribs from pregnancy, contractions, intense coughing, and pushing out a baby. Fortunately my mom has been here to help me carry around the car seat and keep my house clean. Not sure how I could have possibly survived this past week without her!
Now we are all happy at home and just adjusting to life with a newborn. It came so naturally. We can hardly remember life without her! She is the best thing to ever happen to us, and we couldn't be more in love.