It started Saturday morning when I woke up around 8 for my usual pregnant morning routine: a croissant with butter and strawberry jam, some cold water, and then back to sleep. Except when I tried to go back to sleep, I started to feel what I thought were contractions. They felt like extremely bad menstrual cramps and nothing like the braxton hicks contractions I’d been having for months. Ben was downstairs so I texted him to let him know what was going on and he was upstairs seconds later. We chatted about what to do, decided to just keep an eye on things and go about our day and then launched into frantically cleaning because we thought this could be it. Not too long after, the contractions started to subside.. and I was definitely feeling disappointed. We spent the rest of the day doing our own thing, Ben played his video games and I finished a whole puzzle and half a season of the Great British Baking Show.
In the late afternoon, I started feeling the contractions again but now I wasn’t sure if it meant anything. I was SO worried about false labor and spent a lot of time on google trying to figure out the difference. Some of the signs pointed to real labor but since the contractions were super sporadic and had no consistent timing, we decided to continue through our evening and not get our hopes up too much. We had dinner and then went for a short walk to see if that would help things along. I wasn’t able to walk through the contractions and we kept having to stop, which we figured was a good sign. Once back home, we spent the evening watching Parks and Rec while my contractions started picking up. It was 11 days before my due date, so we weren’t quite as prepared as I had wanted to be.. We even had to pull out some of the books from our labor classes to find positions and relaxing techniques. I ended up sitting on a yoga ball or leaning against the wall and having Ben apply some counter pressure. I had wanted to do a lot of laboring at home but I think I was expecting labor to be different. All in all, it only ended up being a few hours before we headed to the hospital.
It got to be around 11pm and we really weren’t sure what we were supposed to do. Do we keep this up or try to get some sleep? This could go on for hours, we thought. So we chose to lay down and see if we could get some rest. I was super uncomfortable but thought Ben would need some sleep if this was really happening. He was asleep for all of five minutes before I nudged him awake. I had gotten to the magic 5-1-1 number, contractions 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute or longer, for an hour or more. I had him call labor and delivery and they said we were probably at that point and to head on into the hospital. This was such a surreal moment of, are we really doing this?? We grabbed a few last minute things and hopped in the car. It seemed like such a “thing” to be driving to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning.
We arrived at around 1:30am on Sunday and the nurse told us I might not actually be in labor and we may end up back home.. Which sounded awful because I was starting to be in a ton of pain. She said I could be in pre-labor and it could be weeks. Um, no thanks! She checked my cervix and I was 3cm and around 80% effaced, she hooked me up to all the monitors and told me she would check again in two hours and if nothing had changed, we were heading back home. In those next two hours, my contractions picked up immensely and were getting so close and painful. They, apparently, weren’t picking up on the monitor because when the nurse came back in she nonchalantly said, “oh you’re having a contraction?” Duh! So she checked again and I was at 5cm. I was officially admitted and in labor! This is when I asked about an epidural because oh boy was it getting to be a lot. She said it depended on my pain tolerance but also offered fentanyl as something that would help but allow me to still move around and progress labor. I didn’t want labor to slow down so I thought I’d try that first.. Big mistake. It didn’t do anything except make my head feel underwater and delay the epidural. I tried to stand up through the contractions and move around to progress, but it was nearly impossible. After that didn’t work, I remember Ben asking me if I wanted the epidural. I’d barely nodded when he was out the door and telling them I wanted it. My hero! We waited around a half an hour for the anesthesiologist to get there and oh my goodness, that was the longest wait ever. They checked me one more time beforehand and I was already at 7cm. Once I got the epidural, things felt SO much better. I tried to get some rest but then started having what I’m going to refer to as “butt contractions.” Lol. Basically just a ton of pressure to push! Then it was the crazy labor shakes (mixed with some anxiety), which was a tell tale sign of where we were at in the labor process. At some point they broke my water and then I was 10cm and finally ready to push. I started pushing around 9:45am and surprisingly, did not mind that I pushed for the next several hours. Our nurse was absolutely wonderful, I felt pretty relaxed at this point, and I was just so excited to meet baby girl.
The afternoon rolled around and the doctor came in to see how things were going. Baby girl was stuck in the birth canal and would not pop up around my tailbone to crown. I was starting to spike a fever (100.1) and her heartbeat was rising. The doctor said I could be pushing for hours more, she could offer the vacuum, or it would be a c-section. She was very calm but she did say it was getting to the point that baby needed to be out. I asked if Ben and I could talk it over and the nurse and doctor politely left the room. Ben and I thought the best option would be the vacuum and spent a few minutes praying for baby and I’s safety. It was a nice moment to slow down together and acknowledge what was happening. Ben went into the hall and informed them that we had chosen the vacuum. This would just hold her head in place so that as I pushed she wouldn’t move backward. It sounded a lot scarier than it actually was. The hospital we were at doesn’t have separate birthing rooms, everything is done in the same room. So immediately all of the nurses and the doctor came in and completely transformed the room in a matter of minutes. Heidi Jodene was born two contractions later at 2:35pm on Sunday, October 4th. Because of everything, she was a little stunned and didn’t start crying upon coming out. I was SO looking forward to that moment of having her on my chest but they had to immediately cut her cord and take her over to give her some oxygen. She cried right after that but they still had to keep an eye on her. Ben and I cried as soon as she was born, there were so many emotions. It was so crazy to look at her and think that she was inside me this whole time but we didn’t know who she was or what she looked like, and there she was! It was her the whole time. Ben got to go over and hold her hand until just a little bit later, she was placed on my chest. That was still the best moment, despite everything crazy that had happened, it was so blissful to have her, safe, in my arms and my Ben next to me.
Fast forward and the nurses informed us that she had a different blood type than I do which put her at higher risk for severe jaundice. We thought we’d be heading home the next day but they had us stay and give her lots of food to get her to flush out the bilirubin. We spent the day in the hospital desperately wanting to be home. The following morning, they came in and took her blood again and at around 6am they told us her bilirubin levels were trending upwards and that we should go ahead and give her phototherapy. I asked how long that would take and they said it was a 24 hour treatment… What a disappointing thing to hear that early in the morning. We wanted to take our baby home!! Because the hospital doesn’t have a NICU, she had to do phototherapy in the room with us. This consisted of her in a bassinet with a light blanket below her and a bright blue light above her. She was in there all day in just her diaper and an eye covering. It was miserable. We couldn’t take her out except to feed her and change her… We had to constantly keep an eye on her because her eye covering kept falling down her face and we didn’t want the light in her eyes and she kept crying so we needed to calm her down with a pacifier or a little rub. But that didn’t help by the end of it.. She just wanted out and to be held. It was a horrible, horrible experience for all of us and we had a bit of a breakdown in the wee hours of the morning. Ben and I learned a really important lesson about parenting though, it’s going to be a lot of doing what’s best for your child vs doing what’s best for your child.. We wanted to just take her out and soothe her but in the long run, the phototherapy was what’s best. After they took her blood around 4:45am, we decided that it didn’t matter if she was in there any longer. The blood would show what the blood showed at that point. We pulled her out and all snuggled into my tiny hospital bed. That was the best moment we had had in 24 hours. A few hours later, the nurse came in and told us her numbers had completely bottomed out and we were going to be going home. What a relief.
We’re so glad that baby girl is doing well and being home has been absolutely blissful. We are so so thankful for our beautiful Heidi Jodene!
Until next time,