Well, here it is! The story of my dear Heidi Noel's birth! It's very long because it starts a whole day before she's born . . . so I certainly won't be offended if you skim. And the pictures of myself? ACK! All I can see is how swollen I was . . . but in the sake of being real, here it is!
On Thursday, September 19th, I got the boys ready for school and then hurried to get ready for my 9:30 appointment at the birth place. I showered quick and gave Shan and Forest hugs good-bye, telling them it would be a quick visit and I'd be home for our Family Day in a little while. It was "Talk like a Pirate Day," and I snapped this quick picture before I left.
I didn't have a long wait at the Birth Place (thankfully) and the first thing they did was check my blood pressure. It was 155/93 (or something in that general range). Of course the nurse got "that look" on her face . . . asked me how long I'd been waiting and told me she try to take it again. They had me put my feet up, drink some water and took it again. Of course it wasn't any lower. I think at this point in my mind I started to wonder "okay, so what if it doesn't come down?" After a while, the midwife Kendra came in to check on baby and do the rest of the normal visit things. I was measuring fine, swelling was up of course, baby's heartbeat was strong. At this point Kendra told me she wanted me to sit in the waiting room for 15 minutes and relax, to see if they could get a better reading. She also mentioned that by law, if it was above 140/90 they have to send me to triage (essentially the ER at the Women and Babies Hospital). I sat in the waiting room and tried to relax, but of course I was already past the point of freaking out. Honestly, at this point not because of something being wrong, but this was our family day and I didn't want to waste it sitting around!
They called me back and my reading wasn't any lower. Kendra said she had to send me and immediately I started crying. Yup, stable and unemotional me, blubbering away! Kendra was sweet and encouraging, telling me that most moms they send get their blood pressure taken and it is much lower and they are sent home. Which didn't make me feel any better because I did NOT want to ruin our family day sitting around for "nothing." They also sent me on my way with a lovely orange container to collect my urine, to check for protein (preeclampsia warning signs).
I called my mom in the parking lot and let her know (and meanwhile she got her ticket changed to arrive on Friday). I called Jer to let him know I was on the way and he arranged a babysitter for the kids. And then I cried myself the 20 minute drive home. I kept trying to figure out WHY I was crying . . . being the "logical" person that I am . . . at that point I wasn't even thinking about the possibility of having my baby in a hospital, I was just exhausted and frustrated at the thought of another issue to deal with AND losing our family day.
I got home, gave the kids hugs in the parking lot, collected my ipad and changed into long pants so I wouldn't freeze there. And Jer drove me off to Winnie Palmer, the Women and Baby Hospital.
It was a relatively short process to actually get into a room in the Triage Center- maybe an hour tops? And I'm thankful for that . . . the girl next to me was crying and I heard the words "can't find a heartbeat" as I looked at her very huge and obvious belly. The girl on the other side was shouting at her boyfriend because she "was the one on bed rest and didn't even want him coming with her!" And the gramma a few rows down was playing her ghetto music loudly for the 1 year old on her lap . . . While the baby in my tummy was kicking so hard that the ipad was bouncing around. Thanks for keeping things light-hearted sweet girl!
Once in the room, they hooked me up to monitors for blood pressure, took blood to check for preeclampsia issues and I was able to speak with a very gracious nurse practitioner and then doctor. To make the next couple hours short . . . my urine screamed LOUD and CLEAR that I was going quickly down the road to preeclampsia . . . body starts shutting down by dropping protein in urine, blood pressure goes up, etc. And the only "cure" is to get the baby out. My numbers weren't even close- one ratio that should have been .6 was 6.3 and another count that should have been around 30 was 127 . . . there was no question this was a problem. They were very respectful of my desire to keep things as natural as possible and yet their recommendation was to stay there and be induced.
I called my midwife to discuss it but honestly, I already was overwhelmingly at peace with what needed to be done- there was no question. I am not stupid or fool-hardy and have no desire to leave Jer as a single parent! So the doctors came back and I told them that yes, I would stay to be induced. The "plan" was that once I had a room on the 5th floor, they would place Cervadil in my cervix, to ripen it and hopefully help dialate me a bit more (at that point they also checked me and I was around a 2). And then in the morning they would start Pitocin very slowly.
At this point, with that decided, I sent Jer home to be with the kids. He packed up a list of things I decided I wanted that night (books to read, snacks to eat, etc.) and my friend and co-worker Barbara headed over to hang out with me. By the time she arrived it was probably around 5:30 or 6. At that point they had no room "upstairs" for me but were hoping it wouldn't take long . . . unfortunately they were pretty busy AND that pesky full moon was out! Barbara arrived and we had a fantastic time hanging out. She brought me Chipolte, which tasted SO good since I was starving from not having anything all day.
The nurses brought me the room service menu and I also placed my first order (note to self: GREAT food here!!!!). In between long bathroom breaks (took forever to unhook myself, drag the iv pole down the hall, pee in a plastic "hat," dump the pee into the specimen bottle and drag myself back . . . all the while trying to keep my gown closed!) we had a nice chat. Physically feeling fine other than being freezing cold. Nurses kept bringing me more blankets, at this point I was up to about 10 of them! Barbara and I had some great talks, got a little goofy and then got really tired!
** I also had some great talks with the nurses . . . I found that by being sweet and kind to them, they were sweet and kind and willing to go the extra mile for me. I even met a lady who had a son at the Ranch 30 years ago . . . she pulled up a stool and told me the whole story of how she "Met Jesus and he changed my life" because of her son! It was a great reminder to me that being in the hospital was about more than ME . . . I needed to be aware of how I could share with others and be an encouragement to them.**
Thankful I had the baby bag packed already!
I also called Jer and decided that he might as well sleep at home that night so the kids could be at home and he could get some sleep. Seemed kind of silly to me to have him come and sleep in a hospital bed while I WAITED to be induced . . . Well the ladies at the Ranch heard this and freaked out about me being alone (hey, I was looking forward to watching TV and reading!) and so eventually one of them contacted me and let me know she'd be coming to stay with me overnight. At 10 pm I was still in triage . . . and it was time for a "change of shift" with friends! At this point Judy arrived with my overnight bags (and pillow) and Barbara headed home. AND at that point the nurses finally came in with the news that I was being moved upstairs! Emotions at this point- peaceful and calm. Physically- exhausted (no nap today!) and a bit stiff from laying on a very uncomfortable triage bed! Finally got word that I was freed from the orange "pee bucket!"
They loaded me in the wheelchair (best part so far- getting to be pushed around in a chair) and wrapped more warm blankets around me. I said good-bye to the nurses, who by that point were joking that they liked me and were just going to keep me down there!
Floor 5 . . . all night pretty much consisted of me being bothered every 20-30 minutes for something. There was ONE 45 minute stretch where it was quiet and Judy and I got a little sleep. That was a bit frustrating, knowing that the next morning would bring labor. At this point I was having contractions, but they were like the ones I always have- painless "tightening," and not very long. The nurse was waiting to get an okay from the doctor to give me cervadil and meanwhile I'm wondering if they are ever going to get on with it! Toward 3 or 4 in the morning, someone checked me and I was at 4cm . . . so despite being bothered and not being in pain at all, my body was continuing to dilate. And so at that point it was decided to move me to Floor 2, Labor and Delivery, since I was officially in active labor!
And at 6 am I was finally moved downstairs. Exhausted from an all-night stay but ready to get this show on the road! In the midst of all this I met several very nice nurses, and as they got ready for a shift change (at 7 am), the nurse reassured me that she would find the most "natural labor friendly" nurse and get her for me. **I should mention at this point that everyone was going out of their way to let me know they would help me have as natural a labor as possible, while still keeping us safe.** I met the new girl Maria, a young nurse, but I liked her personality right away. They started the Pitocin at this point, at the lowest level. I think I was expecting to feel something, but it didn't really do anything. In fact, for the next FIVE hours or so, every time they upped it by 1 or 2, I would feel 1-3 contractions in the first 15 minutes (still painless) and then nothing . . . and then I'd just wait to see someone and ask them to move it up.
Judy continued to keep me company and I finally told Jer around 9:30 that he might as well come over. I tried to stand or sit on the exercise ball as much as possible, mostly because I was bored to death of sitting in bed . . . and I hoped it would help move things along a bit. I wasn't allowed in the halls because my blood pressure was still reading really high (150/90 range), but I could move in 5 foot circles around the room. Of course the nurses said I couldn't eat because I was "in labor," but I wasn't stupid enough to listen . . . I knew that there was NO WAY I could make it through the day without food, especially with a night with no sleep and barely any food the day before. So every time they checked on me and left, Judy or Jeremiah would feed me granola bars and water (they tried to limit my fluids too, so stupid!).
Around noon the doctor checked me and I was dilated to 5 cm. The Birth Place also sent me over a Doula, and she arrived at this point. What a blessing to have her to chat with and get to know! She was also very encouraging to Jeremiah, who was a bit freaked about having his wife in such a scary medical position AND was not happy about them not wanting me to eat, stay in bed, etc. He's a natural birth advocate all the way now! Anyway!
Here I am . . . despite the way the picture looks, I'm exhausted not in pain.
The rest of the afternoon continued on . . . nurses would come and check and ask me my pain level. I just laughed and said "zero!" They just couldn't believe it and said they never see girls do labor naturally- she said girls come in at 2 cm wailing and begging for epidurals, ha! But really, I just wasn't in any pain. Tired yes. Swollen up like you can't imagine. Ankles hurt because they were so swollen at that point (I was on an IV, so even more fluids were added to me).
4 pm, Doula Jenn had me lay on my side on the bed, with pillows between my legs. This was an attempt to open my pelvis and help the baby slide down further. I don't think it helped but I did get to doze/sleep for about an hour.
5 pm the doctor checked me again and I was STILL at 5 cm. Pitocin was up to 10 at this point but I still don't think it was doing much. Jer and I are both bored and tired at this point. Wondering if this baby will ever be born. I'm getting really, really tired. Slowly watching the sun get lower in the sky . . .
7 pm the doctor breaks my water (with my okay- I was hoping to have this baby this year!!!!) and Pitocin is at a 14.
7:15 I have what I consider a "REAL" labor contraction- makes me get out of the bed and concentrate to breath because it hurts! Happy smile from me because it means we might have a baby, ha! 2 minutes later I have another one! Doula Jenn helps me raise the bed to chest level, so I can just stand and lean on the bed & some pillows; rock my hips and get through the contraction. At this point Doula Jenn shows Jeremiah how to squeeze my bottom/thighs/back to help me through it and we decide this would be a good time for her to go on a quick break before things "get real."
I continue to have contractions 2-3 minutes apart. This is hard because I never had that in labor before- with both Shannon and Forest things never got quicker than 5 minutes apart. I felt my emotions CRASH in just a matter of minutes and the contractions were really "sharp." Like if I looked at the screen, instead of a gentle rounding patter- where the contraction would start and slowly build and then slowly go away, these would start and within seconds it would be near peak level. VERY challenging to breath and keep calm through. We were watching Seinfield and it was a very surreal experience to watch & enjoy and then all of a sudden have my face smushed in the pillow, moaning, rocking my hips and trying to just count until the contraction would be over!
7:40 the nurse comes back to check on me and see how things are. She asks about my pain level (for the 1000th time that day!) and I respond with SEVEN! In my head I wanted to shout "10, 13, 50!!!" She reminds me to let her know if I feel any pushing sensation at all. I reassure her that I don't. I wasn't feeling grunty or pushy or any intense pressure "down there." She leaves.
Seconds later another contraction starts and in the middle of it I don't get grunty or feel an urge to push . . . my body starts PUSHING her out! As in, involuntarily my body is going to get this baby out. The second the contraction is over I'm telling Jer she's coming out . . . we're trying to figure out what to do and I finally find the nurse "call" button and push it. "Yes?" "MY BABY IS COMING OUT!" And while I hear them shouting in the hallway (because of course, this is NOT how hospital births are, ha!), my body starts another contraction with pushing baby out! I felt like she was out, but the nurse said later that she was crowing at that point.
So the nurse comes in and of course they are all in a "panic," trying to find a doctor, etc. AND remember the bed? Yeah, it's at chest height! So they are trying to get the bed lowered and me on it and meanwhile I have underwear & pads on AND a baby crowning and my body is continuing to push/have contractions. At some point the nurse & Jeremiah manage to very unceremoniously dump me on my head on the bed . . . a very special feeling when you have a baby's head crowning! And at some point they managed to get me on my back, a doctor shows up and my body pushes the head out. Someone told me to grab my legs and I remember looking around like "legs? What legs? Where the heck are my legs?" and finally got hold of them and in a push my dear Heidi was born!
They were good about putting her right on my chest and leaving her there. The only part of the whole experience I was very disgusted with, was how they dealt with getting the placenta out, dealing with the two stitches I needed, etc. It was all very fast and as if it was an emergency- pounding the placenta out right away instead of letting my body push it out (like a midwife would). Acting like doing the stitches right that second were the most important thing in the world, etc. It was 30 minutes of hell. Good thing I had my baby in my arms or I would have hurt someone or hit someone. Really!
But it eventually was over and my little one latched right on . . . and proceeded to nurse for the next 2 hours! In fact, while they were stitching me, she was looking around with that "turtle neck" and sucking on my skin, her hands, anything she could get in her mouth! No sleepy newborn for me! We were tucked in bed around midnight finally and things ended calm and peaceful that night. The rest of our stay was good, because the hospital is just for Women & Babies, they really know what they are doing and did it with a minimum of drama and bothering of me. We were able to be discharged Saturday night, even with my blood pressure issues.
And that is the very, very, very long birth story of Heidi Noel!