Liam’s Birth Story

Filed under: delivery/labor,Liam — by Lauren on May 13th, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

Liam’s birth story starts out a lot like Sierra’s birth story, even down to the day of the week.  Friday, February 25th, I woke up in the morning and found that my underwear was wet – not a huge amount, but enough to be questioned, and it was definitely not urine.  Because I was having some strong but not painful contractions that were about 7 minutes apart, we decided to call the OB.  Dr. G (who delivered Sierra) was already at the hospital for surgeries that day and he said we should come down there.  I got dressed, packed my and the girls’ bags, and made myself some breakfast, then Lex and I left the girls with my mom and headed to the hospital.

By this point, the contractions had slowed down a lot, which made me kind of regret that we were going to the hospital.  I was listening to one of my Hypnobabies tracks to keep me focused.  When we got to the hospital and arrived in triage, we met with one of the midwives, who did my initial exam.  A swab test confirmed that my water had broken.  We were told we were staying and went to settle into our L&D room.

Many, many, many hours passed with nothing exciting to report.  I wasn’t having any regular contractions. I refused any internal exams because I didn’t want to expose myself to a risk of infection.  I listened to various Hypnobabies tracks, most often the “Baby Come Out” track.  My sister Samantha arrived in the late afternoon, since we had asked her if she wanted to be there for the birth.  I ate graham crackers with peanut butter (despite the nurse’s disapproval), drank apple juice, and tested my blood sugar at various intervals.  We walked the halls.  Towards the evening, we sent Sam home and told her we’d call her if anything changed, but that otherwise she should just come back in the morning.  Dr. G started to bring up augmenting with pitocin and I said I didn’t want to go that route yet.  His shift ended at 10 pm, but he said that if there was no progress by the morning the next OB on call would need to do something, since it would be 24 hours past my water breaking.

I got into bed and tried to get some sleep – not easy, given how uncomfortable those beds are.  Around 1 am, I started to have real contractions at last.  Lex was wonderful, using the Hypnobabies cues we had practiced to keep me relaxed.  I liked sitting on my birth ball with my head on the bed.  After 3 am, I panicked a little.  The contractions were increasing in intensity but I could tell we weren’t close yet and I didn’t think I would have the energy to stay focused for several more hours after having been awake for nearly a full day.  I decided I wanted to get the authorization for an epidural taken care of, even though I didn’t want to get one yet.  I also wanted the IV fluids (I only had a hep lock up until that point) so that I wouldn’t have to wait for the epidural if I decided I was ready, plus I was tired of drinking apple juice.  The nurses phoned the doctor on call, but she wouldn’t authorize the epidural unless I had an internal exam; she wasn’t at the hospital and was concerned that if I was already far along, the epidural would get me to 10 cm too quickly for her to get there.  I still didn’t want the epidural yet but really wanted the security of knowing that the paperwork was in place, so I negotiated that she’d authorize the medication but I wouldn’t be able to receive it without consenting to the exam.

Some time after that, I got back into bed and I got to a really good place.  Hypnobabies was really working for me.  The contractions were coming pretty regularly and it took a lot of concentration, but I was staying very relaxed through them, so much so that Lex fell asleep.  I don’t remember the exact circumstances or time, but one of the nurses ended up checking me and I was 4 cm along.

Then the morning arrived, and the OB who was now on call came to check on me.  I had only met her once before, and I had said to Lex at that appointment that I hoped she wouldn’t be the one to attend this birth.  I stand by that sentiment.  Immediately she insisted that I needed to get on pitocin.  I said that Dr. G had said I only needed to start the pitocin if there was no activity or progress, but that I was clearly in active labor now so it shouldn’t be necessary.  She said that we had to see if I had made any progress since the middle of the night, which it turned out I hadn’t, and she kept playing the “You agreed to this with Dr. G” card.  I felt defeated.  I didn’t like this doctor, I didn’t trust her, but I knew that Dr. G would recommend pitocin in the same situation, as he had when Sierra was born, especially since it had been approximately 27 hours since my water broke.  I felt I had no choice.  I consented to starting pitocin, but refused to have it without an epidural first.  Been there, done that.

After that, I kind of fell apart.  I was so disappointed about it taking so long again and getting the pitocin.  I thought I had been doing so well and was devastated that I hadn’t been able to progress farther on my own.  I couldn’t relax through the contractions anymore.  Lex read me the “Change of Plans” Hypnobabies script, which helped me make some peace with the situation, even though I was still very unhappy and scared of getting the epidural.  I had to wait until an additional bag of IV fluids was pumped in, and then the anesthesiologist came.  He let Lex stay in the room, which was a first for us.  I got into a seated position at the edge of the bed and held on to the poor nurse’s hands, squeezing her fingers way too hard, whoops. The epidural was put in place and my right leg went completely numb fairly quickly.  The nursing staff helped me get back into the bed and set with the monitors, and then the waiting game began again.  I was very comfortable now.  It was around 9 am.

Sam had come back somewhere in the middle of all that.  The three of us spent the morning chatting and listening to the sound of the baby’s heartbeat on the monitor.  I napped intermittently.  I had another exam and was 7 cm along.  The contractions were coming very close together according to the monitor, but I only felt pressure.  The nurse asked if I felt like I was ready to push, and I said that I had no idea.  When Sierra was born, I only knew that it was time because Dr. G had checked and I was 10 cm.  This time, I was feeling a lot of low pressure during each contraction, but in between them it would subside.  The nurse said that when I was feeling constant pressure, let her know.

Lunch came and went (not for me), and we were getting kind of bored just sitting and waiting.  At one point we actually played the “I’m going on a picnic game” to pass the time.  The monitor showed that the contractions were more or less back to back, so we asked about having the OB come to see if it was time.  She was assisting with another birth, but the nurse said she would come when she was finished.  An hour passed.  The OB was still at this other birth.  More time passed.  The nurse got impatient and said she was going to check me herself – 10 cm!  The nurses prepped the room.  Now we just had to wait for the doctor, who was still at this other birth.  It was around 2:30 pm.  When 3 pm hit with no OB, we began to get antsy.  When 3:30 pm hit with no OB (STILL at the other birth), we inquired whether it would be best to call the practice to see if someone else could come to the hospital.  We weren’t trying to be insensitive or impatient; we were just concerned that perhaps it wasn’t good for OUR baby to be subjected to constant contractions while he waited for the doctor to finish with someone else’s baby.  Soon after that, the OB finally came in.  I thought that she was defensive to the point of rudeness about how long we had to wait.  I actually misunderstood her at first and thought she was coming in to say that she still wasn’t finished at the other birth.

Once I realized it was time, we reviewed some of our preferences for the birth, in particular that I wanted to try pushing on my side, that we wanted to delay cord clamping, and that I wanted the baby put directly on my chest.  A little after 4 pm, we began.  The amniotic sac was still intact around the baby’s head, and the OB asked if I wanted her to rupture it, but I declined.  I pushed a few times, and unlike during Sierra’s birth, I could actually feel what was happening – just pressure, no pain – because the epidural had run out during the time we had spent waiting for the OB.  With no warning, the OB said that if I didn’t get his head out on the next push, she was going to have to use a vacuum.  The baby’s heartbeat began to drop very low, though it had been completely perfect until that time.  I asked if turning onto my back could help, which it did – his heart rate went back up – but she still wanted him out immediately.  His head was out on the next push, but the cord was wrapped as tightly as possible around his neck, so it was cut right then.  With the next push, the rest of his body came out, along with the bulk of the amniotic fluid. It was 4:27 pm.

Those first few minutes were terrifying and seemed to last forever.  He was blue, he wasn’t breathing or making any noises or moving.  Someone called in more staff, maybe an emergency team.  I couldn’t really see what was happening beyond the nurses suctioning him and rubbing him really vigorously.  Sam was holding my hand, Lex was standing near the table where they had him trying to see what was going on.  We were both crying.  No one was telling us what was happening or really talking at all.  Then he finally started to make some strained gargling sounds and I saw him move a little.  I started breathing again and someone said he was going to be fine.  He began crying in earnest.  I think I cried even harder then.

Another eternity passed while the team made sure he was stable and the OB tended to my enormous 2nd degree tear, and then my precious boy was finally in my arms.  He was alert and beautiful and perfect, with a headful of light brownish blondish hair and deep blue eyes.  One of the nurses told us his Apgar scores had been 7 and 9, but that doesn’t quite make sense in retrospect, since at 1 minute he was still blue and not breathing.  He latched on the moment the breast was offered to him and nursed as though he had been practicing for weeks.  When we moved upstairs to postpartum and he was weighed and measured, he was a whopping 8 lbs, 13 oz and 21 1/4 inches.

My parents and other sister soon arrived with Sierra and Anya so they could meet their baby brother.  Sierra was a little hesitant about touching him or kissing him at first; she was also a little confused about whether he was the baby in my belly, in part I think because my belly was still pretty big (She asked if I had another baby in there, thanks, kid!).  Anya was so excited about the chance to hold him, and when we set her up with the Boppy she lifted up her shirt and announced she was going to feed him.

Thus began our life as a family of 5.  Welcome to the world, Liam Brandeis Friedman!

Introducing Liam Brandeis

Filed under: delivery/labor,Liam,photos — by Lauren on March 4th, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

On Saturday, February 26th at 4:27 pm, we welcomed our son Liam Brandeis into the world. He was born at exactly 39 weeks, weighing 8 lbs, 13 oz and measuring 21 1/4 inches. The full birth story will follow soon, but for now, enjoy some pictures of Liam’s birth.  Click on the thumbnails for captions and the full picture.


In the home stretch

Filed under: delivery/labor,doctor — by Lauren on February 24th, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

With 9 days left until my EDD, Lex and I are going to find ourselves outnumbered by our children any day now, and so I figured it was probably a good idea to get one more post in about this pregnancy before I need to start being late getting updates about Baby Boy Friedman posted to the blog!

We’re having weekly appointments at our practice now, trying to meet the remaining doctors and midwives who could possibly be on call when the big day comes. Everything has been great – I started gaining weight again, my blood pressure is always normal, my sugar levels have been fantastic (so good that I’m down to testing twice a day now, which is very nice), and the baby’s heartbeat remains nice and strong. He’s running out of room to move in there, and I’ve been somewhat worried about just how big this child is going to be, but the doctors feel that with my GD being so well controlled and the way I’ve been measuring/the way I look, he probably won’t be over 9 lbs if I go to 40 weeks. We’ll see. He feels really big.

I haven’t been feeling very well over the last week or so. Sleep is a major issue for me; I wake up several times a night now, usually for no apparent reason, but then once I’m awake I have a hard time finding a comfortable position and falling back asleep. The last few days, I’ve been finding myself very hungry in the middle of the night (but I’m not supposed to eat anything) and then of course, once I’m awake, I realize I need to go to the bathroom, and getting up makes it even harder to fall back asleep.

Another issue is that the baby keeps spinning around into a posterior position, which has been very difficult on my back. If I lie on my side for a while, I can usually get him to flip back to an anterior position, but once I start moving around again, back he goes. He’s got his head way down and often seems to be making a break for the exit, which is not a pleasant feeling. I’ve also been experiencing intense Braxton Hicks pressure for weeks now, every night, frequently as often as every 10 minutes, even as often as every 5 minutes, but since I wake up each morning still pregnant, no one is concerned. If this keeps up, I won’t know that it’s actually time to have the baby unless my water breaks or his head starts to crown.

I think we’re ready. We’ve got clothes, diapers, the car seat, and the bassinet ready to go. We’re just waiting at this point. Both of the girls were born at 39 weeks and change, so I’m very hopeful that he’ll put in his appearance some time after Saturday. Are you listening, Baby Boy? Do we have a deal?

Sierra’s birth story

Filed under: delivery/labor,doctor — by Lauren on December 16th, 2008 @ 11:18 pm

On the morning of Friday, December 5th, 2008, I woke up at 5:40 am when Anya decided she was done being asleep.  I went to the bathroom and discovered that I was wet through my underwear to my pants.  It wasn’t a huge amount, but way more than the slow fluid leaks I had been experiencing since Monday.  I was not experiencing any contractions.  I told Lex that there was a chance my water had broken while I was sleeping but I wasn’t sure.  I did not want to call the doctor at that time since I thought I’d be told to go to the hospital and I wasn’t going to head over there at 6 am for a possible false alarm.  Around 7 am I called and spoke to the midwife, who said as long as I didn’t have another gush of fluid or regular contractions I could wait to be seen in the office, but I should call and move my afternoon appointment up to the first one that morning – 11 am.  We called my mom and asked her to take Anya to her transition class and gave our doula a heads up that today might be the day.

The doctor confirmed my water had broken, but I was barely dilated and still not contracting.  She said we could go home and get our things but we should be at the hospital by 1 pm.  We had lunch and spent a little time with Anya before heading over.  Once there, we were quickly settled into our room and met the first of the four nurses who would work with us while I was in labor.  Still very few contractions to speak of at this point.  The doctor came in to see me and encouraged me to eat and drink lightly.  He also felt that I could expect not to deliver until the following day.

The afternoon was frustrating and kind of boring.  My contractions would pick up and then slow down, sometimes stopping altogether.  Lex and I walked the halls, bought a ridiculously expensive deck of Disney Princess playing cards (and had to look up more two player card games to play on his Blackberry when we ran out of the ones we knew), watched a little TV, tried to doze…  Still no consistent progress, though the contractions I was having were getting uncomfortable.  It had been many hours since my water broke (some time between 2:30 and 5 am).  The doctor felt we needed to take some action and wanted to start me on a low dose of Pitocin.  We did so at 12:30 am.  By then, our doula was on her way.

The contractions kicked in pretty soon after the Pitocin, but I was still able to rest in the bed through them.  Suddenly I felt a sharp, painful pop and I started to lose insane amounts of amniotic fluid.  That continued on and off for much of the rest of labor.  At one point I was sitting in a rocking chair on a chux pad, and it was flowing over every side of the seat.  The contractions got very intense and I was experiencing very strong pelvic pressure.  Lex and our doula did a great job supporting me through each contraction.

Around 6:30 am, I started to fall apart.  I had been more or less awake for more than 24 hours and the contractions were more than I could bear.  The doctor examined me and found I was still only 1 cm dilated (in my hysteria I thought he said 3 cm, which was devastating enough to me that no one had the heart to correct me).  I told Lex I couldn’t take it anymore, and the doctor agreed we needed to consider pain management.  He gave me several options, but recommended an epidural, and because I knew that he wanted to keep this birth as natural as possible, I trusted that he was giving me good advice.  We consented at 7:10 am, and then had to wait until I had enough IV fluids for the anesthesiologist to be able to give me the epidural.  Lex and our doula had to leave the room and I somehow managed to sit still enough between contractions for everything to get set up.  By 8:50 am the epidural had been working well enough that Lex, our doula, and I all managed to sleep a little, and I was dilated to 5 cm!

By 9:40 I was up to 7 cm and the baby was already at 0 station.  This was great news – Anya never got past -3 station.  I was pretty drowsy but could not stop shaking and having my teeth chatter, though I wasn’t cold.  This was most likely a reaction to the IV fluids, the Pitocin, and/or being in the transition stage of labor (which I blissfully couldn’t feel!).  The monitor showed that the contractions were extremely close together.  At 10:35 I was 9 cm and the baby was at +1 station.  The doctor felt I’d be ready to start pushing soon.  The epidural was turned down (it was turned off altogether during pushing). I was given an oxygen mask to use in between contractions, and Lex had ice chips ready to keep my mouth from getting too dry. At noon we started, and 34 minutes later we welcomed Sierra Claire into the world! After 31 to 33 1/2 hours from the time my water broke, we had our VBAC, and it was amazing. No joke – as soon as she was out the “We Did It” song from Dora the Explorer began playing in my head. Thanks, Anya!

Sierra was placed immediately on my chest and Lex cut the cord. She had Apgar scores of 9 and 9. The nurses took her to clean her up and suction her a little more while the doctor repaired the third degree tear I sustained from delivering Sierra’s shoulders. There was some concern because she had a little tachycardia and a slightly elevated temperature, but the pediatrician eventually cleared her and she was back in my arms. She was awake but drowsy. It took about an hour before she successfully latched on to nurse, and we spent most of that time gazing in awe at her. We’ve been enjoying every second with Sierra since she was born, and are so thankful to have her in our lives.

Sierra is in the NICU

Filed under: delivery/labor,doctor — by Lauren on December 7th, 2008 @ 4:58 pm

Everything is fine, or will be, so we’ve been told.

They just took Sierra to the NICU.  Because my water broke between 31 1/2 and 33 hours before I delivered and I had a temperature of 103.4 degrees right after she was born, our pediatrician ordered some precautionary blood work for her after examining her this morning, even though she looks great.  Her white cell count came back at 41,000, where normal is around 28,000, and one other test showed signs of inflammation.  She is not running a fever, but the neonatologist who reviewed her results wants her admitted for at least 48 hours for IV antibiotics and more blood work.

Lex went with her while they get her set up.  I am not being discharged until tomorrow morning, so I have to stay here until then, although we’ve been assured that once she is settled I can go to see her as often as I’d like and whenever she needs to be fed.  After I’m discharged tomorrow we will be able to stay here in one of the hospitality suites until she is released.  

Everyone we’ve spoken to keeps saying that she will be fine, that there are two scenarios that can play out here – she gets antibiotics and she has an actual infection OR she gets antibiotics and there was no infection – and in either case, she’s more than okay.  That’s wonderful news, but I’d be lying if I said that I was anything other than hysterical right now.  Please, think good thoughts, say a prayer, meditate – whatever it is you do in these circumstances – that our baby is going to be okay.

Sierra Claire Friedman

Filed under: delivery/labor,family — by Lex on @ 9:21 am

After a long labor, Lauren pushed Sierra Claire Friedman into the world at 12:34pm on Saturday, December 6th, 2008. Sierra weighed in at 8lbs, 7oz, and 19″ long. Sierra and Lauren are both healthy and doing great. We’ll leave the hospital Monday.


Random post on Thanksgiving

Filed under: delivery/labor,doctor,funny,video — by Lauren on November 27th, 2008 @ 10:10 am

Happy Thanksgiving!  I had kind of hoped we’d be home with the baby by this point, but ah, well.  Dinner with my family beats being in the hospital.  I had an appointment yesterday morning – everything is great with the baby.  She’d head down and low, but there’s no progress to report otherwise.  The doctor, who is the head of the practice, does not want to induce even though she’s more than likely going to be big.  He feels that between the challenges that come with delivering a large baby and the risks associated with induction, especially in a VBAC, the safer option is to let things progress as naturally as possible.

Anya has said all sorts of cute things that have greatly amused me in the last few days.  One example – she was sitting in her high chair during dinner trying to sing ALL of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (I mean the full 7 or 8 verses) but was struggling since she’s only heard it a few times.  After getting stuck on one of the verses, she turns to me and says, “I don’t know the words.  You should tell them to me, Mommy!”

She really loves to sing and often surprises me by knowing the words to songs I didn’t know she knew.  I find it very funny when she tries to sing along when she doesn’t quite know the words, too.  She has this Big Sister Dora doll that sings a few songs in English and Spanish, and since Anya doesn’t know the Spanish words she has some interesting interpretations.  It’s similarly amusing when she “scats” along with her LeapFrog table (“Zappa dooba deeba dobba three up brow”).  Generally she wants to sing songs herself, but she does like when we sing to her some of the time, and she remembers songs she’s only heard a couple of times.  On Tuesday she said to me, “Sing the skabetti (spaghetti) song, Mommy.”  I asked, “Victor Vito?” and she replied, “No, the OTHER skabetti song!”  I finally figured out she meant the “On Top of Spaghetti” song, which had come up on my iTunes playlist the day before.

Monday night Lex had two late phone conference calls, so Anya and I were on our own for dinner.  We finished early and were hanging out in the living room.  I was reading something on the computer while she was having a grand time entertaining herself, when she comes over to me and exclaims, “I have a tiger in my pocket!”  Intrigued, I asked a few questions about her invisible tiger (in her non-existent pocket), and then it evolved into this very elaborate pretend play game involving a lot of animals and a trip to the zoo.  I wish I’d caught it on camera; it was so funny to watch.

Though I didn’t get to video the zoo game, I can share Anya’s comedic stylings.  Here is the first knock knock joke she’s learned:

32 weeks pregnant

Filed under: delivery/labor,doctor,photos,symptoms — by Lauren on October 13th, 2008 @ 11:14 pm

Today I hit 32 weeks! Everything is going well, pregnancy-wise. I’m pretty big – I had a scan last week and was told that I have a good amount of amniotic fluid, which may account for my size.

Where’s the belly?

There it is!

The baby is head down but must be sitting high up still since I’m still sleeping through the night without needing to go to the bathroom. It’s getting harder to move easily, though!

We had a consult with the new OB-GYN practice last week.  We weren’t impressed by the long wait (there was an emergency with another patient) or the decor (they share office space with an odd, religious fanatic dermatologist), BUT once we met the doctor I immediately felt comfortable.  She was very open and honest with us about their philosophies about c-sections and the risks involved with a VBAC (but unlike my other doctor she gave me accurate numbers).  This practice serves a big community of orthodox Jewish women, many of whom intend to have several children, and, as the doctor explained, the human body just cannot handle ten c-sections.  That’s one of the many reasons why they work as hard as they can to make sure they don’t perform c-section unless absolutely medically indicated.  The doctor we met with has a c-section rate of 9%, which is absolutely phenomenal.  I’m not sure what the head doctor in the practice’s rate is, but I’m sure it is similar, as he is the one who owns the group and is the doctor I was referred to in the first place.  The doctor did a quick scan to check on the baby (the heart rate was 155 bpm), had me get on the scale, and got a urine sample.  Everything was great and we are definitely switching practices; I have my next appointment on the 20th.  I will also deliver at Monmouth Medical center instead of CentraState, which is a good thing, given the c-section rates at each hospital.  Lex and I have a tour of the maternity ward scheduled for November 2nd.  We also decided to hire a doula to assist with the birth after all – more on that in a different post.  None of this guarantees that I will have a successful VBAC, but I’m feeling more confident that if I do have another c-section, it won’t be because my doctor didn’t want to be up all night!

The day after my appointment, I went to my previous doctors’ office to obtain my records.  I filled out the form to give my written consent and was told I would get them within the 30 days they legally had to fulfill my request.  This morning I received a call that the records were ready to be picked up and, by the way, I knew about the charge for having my records copied if I was leaving the practice, right?  A DOLLAR per page, for a grand total of 71 DOLLARS!  I was fuming when I was told this, but apparently they have the legal right to charge me up to 25 cents per page and a “reasonable” clerical fee.  Is $53.25 a reasonable fee to copy a file?  I’m not convinced, but I needed those records so I paid the fee anyway, making sure to express politely my displeasure at not being told about the fee ahead of time.  The receptionist gave me a “break” and said, “Just give me $70 even.”  How generous of her!  Lex wants me to file a complaint with the US Department of Health and Human services, and I will, but I need to wait because I looked through my records tonight and found that they were incomplete!  They didn’t include the charts of my weight gain or blood pressure from either pregnancy or doctor’s notes from my appointments.  I don’t care about the notes as much but I think the other information is important.  I want to take care of that before I file the complaint.  I don’t understand what possible reason they could have for leaving those pieces of information out.  I’m not an expert on HIPAA, but it was my understanding that as the patient I have the right to have access to my entire file.  I did ask for a complete copy of my records, so I would think that would include everything.  Grrrr.  This only convinces me further that I have made the right decision to switch practices.  I am so annoyed about this.

All sorts of updates

Filed under: baby's progress,delivery/labor,doctor,funny — by Lauren on September 25th, 2008 @ 11:35 pm

I fell on Tuesday.  I scraped my knee pretty badly and have a huge bruise on my right arm.  Both are the result of crashing into a parked car on our driveway when trying to stop Anya from doing the same as her ride-on car rolled faster than she could manage.  Luckily she did not get hurt other than when we bumped heads during the collision.  She was pretty upset that I had fallen, but even more disturbed that her car rolled down the driveway into the street (“Get it!  Get the car!”).  What did I learn from all of this?  It is not a good idea to take the recycling down to the curb while trying to watch a toddler on a ride-on car make her way down the somewhat steep driveway, especially not while wearing flip-flops.  Also – don’t let Anya ride her car down the driveway in the first place!

Anya is currently asleep in her big girl bed for the first time at night!  We’ve been talking it up for several days, and she’s been pretty excited.  I even asked her a few days ago if we could give her crib to Baby Sister when she was born, and Anya was a big fan of that idea.  Last night she told me she wanted to sleep in her big girl bed, and when I said that she could sleep there the following day but would sleep in her crib that night, she said, “No, Baby Sister is going to sleep in the crib, Mommy!”  I was worried that it would be hard for her to fall asleep in the bed since naps are still pretty difficult – she doesn’t want me to leave the room, screams if I do, and she takes a LONG time to fall asleep, usually with my help – but she went to bed without any objections or problems.  Apparently it’s just naps in general that she objects to, not their location.  We’ve gotten through the first potential hurdle of this transition (falling asleep in the bed); let’s hope we get through staying asleep all night and waking up without problems as well.  Anya’s new room is almost finished; I’ll post pictures soon.  I transferred all of her clothes and many of her things to her big girl room this week, so if sleeping there at night goes well we will soon be able to start setting up the nursery for the new baby.

I had an appointment with my OB-GYN, the one who actually delivered Anya, this morning.  Both the baby and I are doing well.  She had a strong, steady heartbeat, and I am measuring right on target.  I’ve gained about 20 lbs so far.  After the examination the doctor asked if we had discussed scheduling the c-section yet, which was a convenient way to begin the VBAC discussion.  It’s very clear to me that though they haven’t said I can’t have a VBAC, the doctors at this practice are not in favor of the idea.  I was not happy with the way the doctor (the same one who assured me when I consented to the c-section with Anya that I would not be locked into c-sections for future pregnancies) went over the risks of a VBAC with me and kept harping on all of the things that could go wrong.  I understand that he is trying to cover himself and all of that, but I was particularly annoyed that he inflated the risk of uterine rupture to 1-2% when in fact it is actually less than 1%.  Then he gave me the consent form for VBACs to take home and review.  The tone of this paper was essentially “I acknowledge that a VBAC poses less risk for ME than an elective repeat c-section, but that it will probably harm or even kill my unborn child, so I’m signing it anyway because I’m a selfish bitch.”  It was not lost on me that it took them a long time to find the consent form in the first place, and one of the receptionists didn’t even know what a VBAC was.  I left the appointment very upset with my confidence shaken.  I have been in contact with several different people about VBACs recently, and the advice I keep getting over and over again is to switch doctors and hospitals (because CentraState has a 47% c-section rate, which is among the highest in the nation).  The same OB-GYN practice has been recommended to me several times, even while I was pregnant with Anya.  I have a consultation set up for October 6th and will update more on this topic after that appointment.

One cute story – we had gotten Anya a pretend doctor’s kit at a garage sale over the summer, and we finally got around to cleaning it and giving it to her yesterday.  She’s been having A LOT of fun playing with, giving check ups to both me and Lex, as well as her dolls.  She’s very serious when she’s being Dr. Anya; everything she does is very specific and deliberate, though not necessarily logical.  For some reason every exam involves pretending to cut my hair with the toy tweezers!  Today I asked her if she wanted to go play with her doctor’s kit in the playroom to distract her from the post-nap crankies, and she said yes.  She told me I was the patient and I should sit on the couch.  She took out the little blood pressure cuff and put it on my hand, and then (this is the cute part) lifted up my shirt to listen to my belly with the stethescope.  Until then she had only listened to our hearts like Lex showed her, but I guess after coming with us to my appointment this morning, she wanted to check on Baby Sister, too!

Anya’s birth story

Filed under: delivery/labor — by Lauren on November 8th, 2007 @ 12:54 am

Apparently I promised to post this a little over a year ago. Oh well, better late than never!


After a nerve-wracking day (see these two previous posts from October 18), Lex and I went to sleep on October 18th, probably around 11. I woke up around 1 am to make my first bathroom trip of the night. After untangling myself from my body pillow, waddling to the bathroom and back, and climbing back into bed, I couldn’t fall back asleep. I was staring up at the ceiling fan for about 10 minutes when I felt a POP! and a gush. I woke up Lex and told him my water broke (He told me later that he was actually disappointed that I didn’t say “Honey, it’s time!” as I had been jokingly claiming I would do for weeks). He had to help me get out of bed and into the bathroom; luckily only my pantsand the towel I had been sleeping on were wet. As per our OB-GYN’s instructions to call if my water broke, Lex called the doctor while I sat on the toilet. We were less than pleased to find our our least favorite doctor in the practice was on call. He said that we should make our way to the hospital, but since I wasn’t having any notable contractions yet, we didn’t need to rush. We called my parents, since my mom was coming with us and my dad needed to come get the dog. My dad was actually still on his way home from the Met game he’d gone to that night.

We arrived at the hospital a little after 3 am. We got checked in and settled into the room. Our first labor nurse was extremely nice. I really didn’t want to be hooked up to the fetal monitor even though Dr. Jerky was being insistent (despite that the other doctors in our practice had agreed I didn’t need to have continuous monitoring) and she got the doctor to agree to half an hour, just to get a baseline. Then we got some great news from the nurse – Dr. Jerky’s shift was over at 7 am, and our favorite doctor was on call for the next 24 hours! Woohoo!

The next several hours were pretty smooth. We walked up and down the hall a million times, taking occasional breaks to be hooked up to the monitor. I should have tried to rest more, but I was too amped up to sleep. I started to have some contractions, but they weren’t that intense. I actually said to Lex that if this is what labor was like, this wasn’t going to be that bad. This is probably a good time to remind everyone that Lex and I attended a Bradley Method childbirth course and were 100% committed to natural childbirth – an amusing choice for a girl who cries when she stubs her toe. I think I was in a lot of denial about what labor was going to be like, and I don’t think I was actually that prepared for the experience. Our instructor wasn’t very good; I blame her, not the method.

Sometime mid-morning I was sitting in bed, talking to my mom and Lex, when my eyes nearly popped out of my head as my water essentially broke a second time. I could not believe how much liquid had just left my body. I was sure I had either peed all over myself or that something awful had happened and there was going to be blood everywhere, but thankfully neither was true. Our second nurse of the day came in to help change the bedsheets and hook me back up to the monitor. After this the contractions got much more intense. They were coming every two minutes or less, lasting between 30 and 60 seconds. I really began to hate the monitor at this point. I didn’t want advance warning that they were coming, but my mom felt compelled to tell me every time the line began to rise.

At 1:15, Dr. McFavorite came in and did another exam. He said I was 5 cm dilated and the baby was at -3 station – not the news we were hoping for. I’d been in labor for 12 hours on 2 hours sleep, and though it had only been difficult for the last 4, I was getting tired and I was an absolute emotional and physical mess. The contractions kept getting stronger and more frequent. It felt like they were constant – maybe 30 seconds between each one. I was starting to feel like I couldn’t take it anymore, and that got Lex pretty psyched – our labor instructor had said that when it starts to feel like that, you’re usually getting pretty close. The nurse did an exam at 3 pm, and she thought I was at about 10 cm since she couldn’t really feel my cervix, so she got the doctor right away. He did his own exam and confirmed that I was still at about 5 cm, -3 station. He told the nurse that my cervix was “way up there” and you really had to reach. What pleasant imagery, right? He was also pretty concerned at this point that I hadn’t made any progress in many hours and I was having a very difficult time. Given the ultrasounds we’d had the day before, he had doubts about whether I was going to be able to get this giant baby out of my body anyway, and he felt that if I didn’t relax I wasn’t going to progress. Lex was ready to consent to a c-section right there and then, but I was holding out for a vaginal delivery. I blame the Bradley Method instructor again; she did a lot to scare us about epidurals and c-sections. Though it took a lot of convincing from Lex, my mom, Dr. McFavorite, and the nurse, I did give in and agreed to an epidural if we could continue to let me labor. I felt very guilty and was so scared that I was going to give birth to a “doped up” baby (Oh, you dumb, dumb Bradley Method lady!). I was also terrified of having a needle put into my back – that was part of my reason for choosing the Bradley Method in the first place.

Before I could have the epidural, I needed to be hooked up to an IV to have fluids – I’d only had a saline lock until this point. After about 20 minutes we were told I was ready to go. The anesthesiologist came in and announced that as per hospital policy, Lex and my mother had to leave until the epidural was in place – something that had not been told to us until then. I was extremely distressed about that since I was so scared, but our nurse promised she’d stay with me and I’d be all right. Under protest, Lex left. The anesthesiologist got me set up, told me I’d have to stay perfectly still (not an easy thing for me to do, with the contractions) and then decided I still hadn’t had enough fluids, so we had to wait 5 more VERY LONG minutes. Then she gave me a shot of something to numb the area, inserted the needle, and said I would feel the effects in just a few minutes. It didn’t hurt as much as I had feared, though I was very freaked out by the (accurate) sensation of blood dripping down my back. The staff let Lex and my mom back into the room and reminded me that I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed anymore.

After the epidural kicked in, labor became a much more pleasant and I felt human again. It was a very bizarre sensation, not to be able to control my legs. I had to lift my right leg with my hands to get it to do what I wanted. We were able to have conversations, and I think I was able to sleep a tiny bit. The contractions felt like pressure, nothing more. I was able to once again marvel at how much fluid was coming out of my body constantly. I was surprised that my stomach didn’t look smaller and that there was anything left.

Around 5:30 the doctor came in and said I was up to 7 cm, so that was promising. I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to push, and he assured me they would turn the epidural down enough for me to be able to feel my muscles enough to push. He came back again at 6:45 and I was now up to 8 cm, still at -3 station, though the baby’s head was molding a bit. He felt the baby’s heart rate was dropping, so they rolled me on my side, put me on an oxygen mask, and tried to stimulate her head. That seemed to help.

Nurse #3 (yes, we were on our third shift) came in to see how I was doing sometime after 7, I said I thought I probably needed to pee, but I wasn’t sure. She brought me a bedpan; I never thought I’d see the day when I’d have to ask someone to check to see if I’d peed or not. I hadn’t. She did a Foley catheter – I’m SO glad I couldn’t feel that! The doctor came back every hour or so to check, but I seemed to have stalled at 8 cm, and the baby just wasn’t dropping.

At 9:30, after examining me again and finding that I still wasn’t getting anywhere, Dr. McFavorite expressed some real concern that this might be the baby’s way of indicating that she just couldn’t fit. He didn’t think that I was going to progress without intervention. I had been in labor for 20+ hours, and he said my options were to see if Pitocin would move things along, or do an emergency c-section (I’m not sure how Dr. McFavorite is coming off here, but he was extremely supportive and caring throughout all of this). He wasn’t as concerned about her head as he was about her shoulders and stomach. He thought there was a considerable risk of me breaking her collarbone. I asked him to explain everything that would be involved in the c-section, and then he left us to discuss. After a very teary, emotional debate, Lex and I consented to the c-section. Nurse #3 and another nurse came in to prep me (shaving, a catheter that would remain in until the next day, adjusting the epidural, moving me to a gurney…). I think I cried through most of this. I’d never had major surgery before, and I was still so scared about whether the baby would be okay.

Lex went to change into scrubs while they wheeled me in. I was assured they wouldn’t start without him. Once in the operating room, I met the doctors and nurses who would assist. They set up the screen, and I was very concerned that I could see my reflection in the lights, but they promised me they would be moved. I was given an injection of a stronger anesthesia plus morphine, making me numb to my chest. The new anesthesiologist did a scratch test to see if I could feel my belly still, and I (quite hysterically) said I could and please don’t start yet! They must have tested me again and decided that since I didn’t react I couldn’t feel anything, because I suddenly became aware that things had started. Lex came in and sat by my head just after they began. I felt tugging, but not much else. Dr. McFavorite said I was about to feel a lot of pressure as they pushed the baby out, but that everything was fine. Then it felt like an elephant was sitting on my stomach. At 10:22 pm, on October 19th, 4 days before my due date, I heard an alien-like gurgling sound, and Lex turned to me, and in what will always remain in my top ten favorite memories of him, said in pure joy and wonder, “She’s here!” They said he could stand up to see her. He later told me that he got quite the view of my intestines – something he had NOT been expecting – and that Anya began her life by promptly peeing all over me.

They gave me a quick glimpse of her and then took her to be cleaned and examined. Lex stayed with her. Her APGAR scores were 8 at 1 minute and 9 at 5 minutes. She weight 8 lbs, 11 oz, and was 21 1/2 inches long – not a small girl! After she was all wrapped up they brought her around to me so I could touch her and give her a quick kiss before they brought her to the NICU for observation. Lex went with her while the doctors sewed and stapled me back together. There was discussion of that evening’s Mets game (it must have been the playoffs); I had chimed in that my dad was going to be disappointed by their pathetic loss. The doctor said to me that they were going to tilt me on my side (I think to remove the epidural needle) but they wouldn’t drop me, but as soon as they lifted me the first thing I started shrieking was “Don’t drop me, don’t drop me!”

I was taken to recovery; the two hours I spent there felt like two years. Lex came in to see me after I’d been there about an hour, and I was livid – he was supposed to stay with Anya no matter what – but they kicked him out of the NICU because he had been under the lights they had on Anya, and he had been overheating to the point of nearly passing out. He said my mom stayed by the window to watch her. He left after a few minutes, then later came back with Anya in her isolette, and we all went to the postpartum ward. After we were all situated I was finally allowed to hold her. She was SO alert – not at all dazed like the instructor from my course had said epidural babies would be. I truly thought she was beautiful, despite the head-to-toe rash she’d been born with and the puffy eyes from the antibiotic drops. She latched on right away, though it would take a few weeks for us to get the hang of nursing confidently. Her billirubin levels were 0 every single time – they kept rechecking to make sure that was right. Her blood sugar was checked a few times because of her size, but it stayed in an acceptable range. She failed the hearing test in one of her ears the first time due to lack of cooperation or something, but when the doctor retested her she passed. We were all released on four days later on her due date, and we went home to begin our brand new life together.

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