Saturday, March 7, 2015

Elsie's Birth Story

"From the moment they placed you in my arms
you snuggled right into my heart"

Our baby Elsie Mae was born on Sunday March 1st, 2015 at 06:41. 

As you may know, we had been anticipating her arrival for weeks. Each week that went by we were more and more anxious for her to arrive. I had been having contractions on and off for weeks and each time I'd get excited that it was early labor and then they would go away.

 So Friday night we wanted to go to one of my favorite restaurants that I had been dying to go back to, as sort of a last dinner date before the baby's due date. When we got there we found out that it was closed for the evening due to a private party. What?! I was so sad. We ended up getting KFC and resolved to go back to the restaurant the following night. We joked that I would probably go into labor that night or on Saturday morning just so I wouldn't get to go eat dinner there. 

Turns out... 
I didn't go into labor Friday night or anytime during the day on Saturday. So luckily we did get to have a yummy dinner date Saturday night. It was a little bittersweet because we were really hoping the baby would come on a weekend and we were running out of time that weekend, and yet, we did get to have a nice time out just the two of us. 

I don't really remember what we did after dinner haha. I think we just went home and watched a movie or something. That had been pretty much the standard for any weekend night. I do know we went to bed around midnight. 

And then I woke up to contractions around 01:20.

(If you have read this far great! But some of the following details may be too much for you because after all this is a birth story. Keep reading, or don't. Your decision.) 

This had happened to me a couple other nights so I tried to lay there for a minute to see if they'd go away and they didn't. So I got up to walk around and use the bathroom to see if that would help. Sat down on the toilet and that's when my water broke. Of course I was not sure if that's what had actually happened. I was pretty sure that's what it was though because I still had to pee after. I kept second guessing myself but something seemed different.

Still having contractions, I went back to the bedroom and started timing them. They turned out to be about 30-60 seconds long every 3.5-4 minutes. In case you aren't familiar with birthing babies...that's pretty close together. I was still unsure at this point. I wanted to be sure I was in real labor but I knew if my water had actually broken then I had to get to the hospital. 

So I woke up Jay to tell him what was going on. We decided I should call the hospital and tell them what happened to see what they would say. So I did this at about 01:30. They of course told me to come in, I didn't have to hurry (because we already knew the babies head was pushing down enough to prevent the umbilical cord from slipping out) but I should get there within an hour or two to see if my water had in fact broken. 

I wanted to go right away because the contractions were starting to hurt more than any of the ones I'd experienced before. I could still talk through them but had to sort of stop in place when they happened. Luckily, the hospital was only a 5 minute drive down the street. My bags and everything were already packed and in the car so I think Jay took the younger dog out to pee really super quick then we left.

We got to the hospital shortly after, and rang the doorbell to labor and delivery. They were expecting me so they got us in right away. 

First, we went with a doctor to get an ultrasound to check for whatever it is that they check. I just know that he did some measurements and he asked what my doctor had told me the baby should be weighing. A week and a half prior my doctor had said she was about 6 lbs 15 oz but the doctor at the hospital said that was way too big that she might be 6 lbs if that. So that was news. But everything else looked great and they took us to the room they had waiting for us. 

The midwife (because in Germany the midwives at the hospital deliver the baby unless there's a medical reason for a doctor to do so) checked my cervix to find I was still only about 1.5 cm dilated just like I had been for about 2 weeks. She also tested to see if my water had broken and it had. That little detail meant that we were in fact going to stay at the hospital until the baby arrived, however long that may be. The midwife felt like it would be a long time since it was my first child and I wasn't dilated that much. 

She then hooked me up to the heart and contraction monitors. My contractions were still pretty regular. I would say 3-4 minutes apart still at this point which was around 2:30. They left me hooked up to this monitor for what seemed like forever but what was actually around 45 minutes to an hour I think. I remember laying there forever dying to be able to get up and walk around and I remember asking how much longer but the midwife said about 20 more minutes.

While I was sitting there they did put an iv in my hand, just the attachment part, for when I might need it for something. Before they ever took me off the monitors, I was already asking for pain killers. The contractions just kept hurting more and more. I remember the midwife saying that it was way to early to really get anything because I had a really long way to go. I think at this point I used the bathroom just to get up and move around for a minute.

Then we had to go fill out some paperwork on the other side of the hospital and she suggested I walk down there with Jay just to pass some time and see if it moved things along. 

Let me just say, that was the longest walk of my life. The way down there wasn't too bad, I had to stop with contractions but could breathe through them and then just keep going. Then we sat and filled out paperwork for about 10 minutes. The walk back was horrible. My contractions were hurting really bad and I couldn't decide between sitting or standing through them. We almost got lost on the way back and I was just trying to make it back to our room as fast as possible in between contractions.

We eventually made it back up to labor and delivery where I once again asked for pain killers. They brought in an iv with something in it. I don't know what it was but it may as well have been water. It didn't take long to drip into my iv but had little to no effect on my pain levels. The only thing it did was make my vision blurry. I almost freaked out because I tried looking at my phone and looked down and couldn't read it. The nurse said it was a normal side effect I guess... hmph. Could have warned me.

By this point my contractions were hurting even worse. They were so close together it was crazy, I just kept saying to Jay that I didn't think they were supposed to be this close together this early. I just kept thinking to myself that if this is early labor, what am I getting myself into. I think this is when I once again went to the bathroom but I remember it just hurting so bad to try to sit there through contractions to pee. I think Jay had to help me get back to the room.

My contractions felt right on top of each other at this point. I seriously couldn't take it anymore. I had starting moaning through them. My lower back had starting hurting along with the normal pains in front. The midwife had Jay pushing on my back through them which sometimes helped and sometimes didn't. They brought me a heat pack. Nothing really helped the pain. 

I hadn't really looked at the clock much but I think it was maybe around 5:30 when I felt a shift inside and it felt like the baby was about to come out. I was thinking to myself there was no way she was, I was just being a baby and having a hard time dealing with pain. I called in the midwife and told her this and the doctor came in to check me. (My cervix hadn't been checked since only being 1.5 cm) He said something along the lines of "ya you're complete"....excuse me... I think I said "complete? like 10cm?" and he said "ya, time to push" got up and the midwife came back in and starting putting down the sheets or whatever they use to prevent messes haha. 

While the midwife was setting up I was freaking out. I kept asking if she was sure I couldn't get an epidural because I had really wanted one. I don't enjoy pain and while I never really had a "birth plan" I knew I wanted relatively pain free. 

No time for that.
The baby was coming.

I kept telling Jay I can't do it and he kept reassuring me that I could, and that I was. Pushing seemed like it took forever but it was probably only like a half an hour. The midwife let me lay sort of tilted on my side rather than on my back directly. I had one leg up on the midwifes shoulder. Jay held my hand. 

I didn't count pushes I just know that they kept telling me to push and the pushing felt a lot better than the contractions themselves so I did it. Towards the en my body kind of just took over and did a lot of pushing on it's own. Then there was the "ring of fire" as it's called when her head came out. It seemed like it took days for the next contraction to come so I could push out the rest of her but then it did and out she came. 

It really is the weirdest feeling to go from pregnant to empty belly. Like one big gush and relief of all the pressure inside my stomach. 

I heard a little cry and then they put her on my chest for skin to skin. They left the umbilical cord attached and waited for all the blood to pulse into the baby before cutting it which is standard practice there. Jay got to cut the cord which he was nervous about because let's face it, it's kind of a gross thing haha. 

I layed there holding her for a really long time, through pushing out the placenta and then even while they stitched me up.I had a 2nd degree tear which was no fun but definitely could have been worse. They eventually came back in and took measurements of her and weighed her. She weighed 2800 grams and was 49cm long (about 6lbs 2oz and 19.2 inches). 

Jay got to hold her after they wrapped her up and while I got to go use the bathroom (I think there's some reason they make you pee but I'm not sure what it is) which sounds a lot scarier after giving birth than it actually was. I was terrified though haha.  

Eventually they took us to the maternity ward and Jay got to go to the car and get my bags. We hadn't brought them in because there wasn't really anything in them I needed until this point. And when we first got there we thought we'd have plenty of time to sit around. I think it was around 10:00 when we finally got to our room. 

I stayed in the hospital with Elsie for 2 nights. It was a really nice hospital experience. So nice in fact I keep almost typing "hotel" instead of "hospital". Elsie got seen by the doctor three times while we were there and I got seen by the doctor once right before we left. The midwives in the maternity ward really left us alone unless we needed something. It was nice, and I was comfortable there, but I was ready to go home. We left before lunch on Tuesday, but I could have stayed at least a 3rd night if I had wanted to. 

So that's the story really. 
My entire labor was only just over 5 hours long, from waking up to having my baby in my arms.
Looking back, I can't believe how amazing it all was.

"No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you.
After all, you're the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside"

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