Saturday, January 27, 2018

Birth Story

The whole time I was pregnant, I had one woman after another tell me the stories of their children's births. I loved hearing what they had to say and the ordeals they went through, but I couldn't necessarily relate.

Let's just say, I get it. I feel like superwoman. I can barely walk to the bathroom by myself... but I feel like I came out the victor in an impossible fight. It was a very empowering, and all around emotional experience that I'm sure I will never forget.

So, here's mine.

January 15- Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I went in for another appointment with my Dr. He had stripped my membranes on Friday, I had contractions all weekend, but nothing happened. He had told me to come in again Monday if I hadn't gone into labor yet. So we were going to do it again.
The last pregnancy photo I took, right before I left for my appointment
At this point I was a week overdue. But according to my doctor, I was measuring about 4 weeks smaller than I should have ( he didn't think I was really 4 weeks behind, but maybe my due date was off) So because of my size, he wasn't going to induce for another week.

Well, during the exam on Monday, my water broke. On my doctor. So it was time! He sent me down to labor and delivery and I called Jake and let him know to meet me there. I heard the panic in Jake's voice, but he showed nonetheless.
Jake brought his work with him, while I waited out contractions
Because my water broke but I wasn't in labor, I was hooked to an IV to start contractions. My birth plan was simple. Last as long as I felt possible without an epidural to help progress quickly, and avoid a c-section.

Contractions started at about 2 and at 7 I calmly told my nurse I was ready for the epidural now. Well between waiting for the anesthesiologist and the whole set up, I didn't have an epidural in for another hour. I honestly didn't know the body could take that much pain. I was yelling. I was immobile. I couldn't breathe, open my eyes, nothing! I could just see Jake helpless in the corner and felt terrible that he had to see me like that. But it was unbelievable. I do think part of the problem was they were artificial contractions and the dose was too high. So there was no break between them. If I would have had even 20 seconds to breathe between it would have made a world of difference. On the monitor, when I was walking through my contractions, every 90 seconds I was reaching "90" or so and going back to "0". By the time I got the epidural, about every 30 seconds I was reaching "150" and going back to "90".

But I finally got the epidural so I was fine. I could still feel the contractions after, strong enough that it was basically impossible to sleep. But I could breathe. I could move my upper body. It was bearable.

Looking back I should have just asked for a higher dose of the epidural. But in my mind, I was going to deliver soon, the rate I was progressing, the nurse had said a couple hours. And I wanted to be somewhat numb, but still feel what was going on.

Anyways, 11 pm I was at 8 centimeters, when she said it would be a couple more hours. They kept coming back and checking and I was still at 8, still at 8. But pretty soon it was still at 8 but now your cervix is swelling, now you're developing a fever, now there's blood in your urine, "we're worried about the baby's heart rate. Finally, "her head is stuck and she could start going into shock." Plus, part of my spine poked too far into the birth canal to allow for her to pass safely. It got to the point where there was basically no choice but to get a c-section.
Jake and I before going into the OR. Also, our last photo of a family of 2.

So there went my entire birth plan. That's okay. It wasn't written down. But between my fever, the risks to her, my tailbone, blood in my urine and the cervix swelling around her, there was no way to safely try to deliver vaginally.

The surgery part was terrifying. From the moment my doctor called out "prepare the OR" I couldn't think straight. In the OR they pumped me full of anesthesia from about my ribs down I had no feeling or control. They pulled me onto the table, put up a curtain and started. Jake was in his OR clothing sitting at my side holding my hand the entire time.

I had some sort of reaction and started shaking uncontrollably. It felt like I was going into shock. I was blacking out, falling in and out of consciousness. That was actually quite scary for me because I didn't know why, and if I was going to wake up. Then out of nowhere, I just started throwing up repeatedly too.

I think in all, my body was just in shock. Jake was terrified, but he calmed me the best he could. When they told him it was safe, he went and met our daughter. Turns out, she was 8 pounds, 10 ounces. When the doctor pulled her out he said, "there is no way you could have delivered her." Her head was simply too big. Though it was a very long cone head where she had started to enter the birth canal and got stuck.

Jake brought her over to me. It was a very weird feeling. It was emotional, but more because I was watching Jake, tears running down his cheeks, holding this little girl. It was incredibly emotional, but I still had this feeling of "this isn't my daughter". The fact that I didn't push her out, I didn't feel her leave my body. I couldn't make the connection because I still felt like my daughter was in my body. This couldn't be her.

Once they took the curtain down and I saw that my stomach was gone, the connections started to form. But once I was in the bed and Jake handed her to me, that was the moment I knew who she was. It was one of the most emotional, unforgettable moments of my life.

We got back to the recovery room and what should have been an hour turned into about 5 or 6 because my blood pressure was off the charts, I still had my 104 degree fever, and I was still shaking out of control. But eventually, everything went back to normal and we were able to go to the maternity ward.
This family photo was much different!

During recovery- skin to skin

Recovery has been brutal. I can't walk or move normally. I get shooting pains from the stitches. I can't stand up straight because of the incision. But we have a beautiful baby.

When you have a ton of work to do, but you really love your daughter.

I still feel like I cheated. I didn't get the birth experience that everyone else gets. I didn't have my ultimate "womanly" experience. Instead, a doctor did it all for me. I feel like I somehow copped out. I have to keep reminding myself that my experience was just as important, just as challenging and powerful. But in the end, it really doesn't matter. It shouldn't. My experience gave us our daughter. My experience was 9 month (of misery, yes). But it was a journey, a process, that can not be determined by 16 hours of labor and an ultimate c section, but the months leading up to it and the many years that will follow.

We love our baby and no matter the delivery. This girl was worth every moment.
Ready to go home.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Better than Olive Garden, Zuppa Toscana

I'm writing this down now before I forget. Jake and I always throw ingredients into the pot and then the next time we go to make this, we don't remember what we did. So this time, I kept track! Now we have our own, thrown together recipe to keep forever.

16 oz. container of Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Quart of Water
2 Cups Chicken Broth
3 Medium Russet Potatoes- peeled, sliced and halfed
1/2 of a Large Yellow Onion- minced
1 package Jimmy Dean Spicy Sausage (mild for less heat)
2-4 cups Kale, cut (this is our favorite part, so we add 4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2-1 Tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes (adjust for heat)

Add liquid ingredients to a pot. Add potato and onion and boil until cooked through. Cook sausage on a separate pan and add to pot. Add seasoning and Kale.