My First Birth

The Story of Jillian's birth
Written 3 weeks after her birth (born November 2006)

Sunday November 26th was the due date.  I woke up that morning to snow.  It definitely lifted my mood higher than it would have been otherwise.  The snow melted from the roads by the time we went to church, but then started again, and heavier, while we were there.  I'd been having contractions during church, but not closer than about 10 minutes. We decided anyway to go home, just in case things started progressing and we needed to go to the hospital in the snow.  So we drove home in the 2 inches of snow on the ground and hoped very much that we wouldn't have to drive to the hospital in those conditions.  Keeping consistent with all the contractions I'd had that week, they never got much faster and went away after a couple hours.  I was going to see my doctor the next day and figured I would be scheduling an induction then.  We went to bed, the only plans that I'd made were to make sure Steve got up early so he could get to work on time in the snow. 

The view from our balcony, on the due date.

About 1:30am I woke up with this awful pain in my abdomen.  It was a contraction, but as soon as it subsided I went back to sleep.  It was probably just an isolated incident anyway.  It happened a couple more times before I decided to get up, at 2:30am and start timing them.  By 4:00am, they were averaging 6 minutes apart.  My doctor had told me to call when they were 5 minutes apart for an hour, but if it would take me longer to get to the hospital to call earlier.  Because of the snow and the uncertainty of the road conditions, I decided to call then.  Steve was just getting up for work, so he got ready while I called. Luckily, my doctor, not another from the practice, was on call that night, so I actually got to talk to her.  I told her what was up and she asked if I wanted to wait at home or come down.  I elected to come then because I was ready to get the show on the road and who knew how long it would take us to get there.  I called my mom to let her know that I was heading down, and she told me she would meet us down there in a little bit. 

We arrived at the hospital at 5am and checked in the Labor & Delivery Triage unit.  We ended up in the same exact room as we'd been in when I had the pre-term contractions; it was no more comfortable this time around. ;-)  They hooked me up to the monitors and waited for my doctor to come examine me.  Dr. Koala got there right about the same time as my mom.  I was dilated to 4cm and 90% effaced.  The baby was even at +2 station, but seemed to be bringing the cervix down with her, which was really weird to my doctor, but no cause for concern.  My contractions were staying regular, so they agreed to admit me!  I would have been devastated if they had sent me home.  The pain wasn't too bad, about a 4 on the pain scale, but it wasn't fun either.  We had to wait a bit longer to have a room ready for us in the L & D wing. 

We got moved into our room a little after 6am.  Mom had originally planned on talking to the charge nurse about picking my nurse, but since the shift was going to change at 7am, she didn't bother with the first nurse.  She did, however, hand pick my day nurse, Jelaine.  Anyway, once in the room, an IV was started and they ran the Jacuzzi bath for me.  I climbed in and right away relaxed more.  The pain dissipated quite a bit in the warm water and the jets on my back helped a lot too.  After 45 minutes I decided to get out.  By that time, my new nurse had come in and was finishing setting everything up in the room. Dr. Koala came back about 7:45am to check me again.  I was to 5cm and 100% effaced by then.  She decided to break my water then; she was going to be in surgery for a couple of hours.  I expected the rupturing to hurt, but it didn't.  They did warn me that the contractions would get more intense after the bag was broken and they did, quickly! Within 15 minutes, my pain had gone to about a 7, ugh.  I still wasn't ready to get the epidural and be confined to bed, so they gave me a shot of a narcotic instead.  It pretty much just made me feel drunk (very dizzy) and not care about the pain.  But it wore off in about 30 minutes and the pain was getting worse, so I asked for the epidural.  Again, luckily, the anesthesiologist we'd asked for was available and he came right up to my room in less than 15 minutes.  I got my epidural right about 9am.  I think that was one of the worst parts for me, because I was in a lot of pain (an 8 by now) and they had me curl up around my stomach, which anyone who's had a kid will tell you is NOT comfortable. But the drugs kicked in within 10-15 minutes and after that I felt so much better. 

After that we pretty much just hung out in the room.  Mom would go to work for a little while (she works at the same hospital as I delivered, but in a clinic) then come back because most of her patients were canceling because of the snow.  Dr. Koala came to check on me around 11:30am and I was to 8cm by then.  She had another surgery, so she gave me a little Pitocin (to make the contractions more regular) and told Jelaine (the nurse) to just let me labor down (basically leave me alone and let my body work) to see how far I would progress before pushing.  My little sister, Katie, arrived after that to spend the day with us and see her niece's birth.  I got sick at one point and barfed a little, but I'd been through much worse nausea and it passed quickly.  I tried to rest as much as possible, and since I couldn't feel much anyway, it wasn't hard.  A couple of times, the baby's heartbeat decelerated during a contraction.  So my mom and Jelaine turned me onto my side, turned off the Pitocin and opened up my IV to increase fluids and the baby came back just fine.  It didn't phase me much at all, since she bounced back so quickly and it was only a couple of times.

At 1:30pm, Dr. Koala came to check on me after her surgeries.  They kept telling me to let them know if I felt the urge to push or felt the baby coming down.  I'd been feeling something 'down there' but didn't think it was the baby.  However, when Dr. Koala checked me I was fully dilated and the baby was come down to +4 station, almost ready to crown!  It was time to push!  It was so good that Steve and my mom were there.  They would hold my legs while I pushed, since I couldn't move them myself.  We started pushing at 1:50pm and I ended up pushing for an hour and a half.  After awhile I was getting really tired.  I hadn't slept all night and hadn't eaten since the night before.  They kept telling me to push harder and I was getting fed up, all I wanted was a nap and some lunch!  I started freaking out a bit too because the realization that this was it, my baby was going to be here soon hit me and overwhelmed me.  The pushing progressed for a bit, but then the baby's head seemed to be stuck under the pubic bone.  My doctor also had another patient who was pushing at the same time, so she was going back and forth between us.  They started draping everything and getting everything out for the baby. Another nurse came in too, to help with the delivery.

Then things got a bit dramatic.  I never noticed when the baby's heartbeat decelerated because I couldn't see or hear the monitor well.  But my mom sure did.  The baby's heart rate all of a sudden went down into the 60s (should be over 100) and didn't come back up when they turned me or tried anything that they'd done before.  They turned me on either side, opened up my IV, but it was staying down for a couple of minutes.  So Jelaine called for Dr. Koala and the vacuum extractor to come down to my room right away.  I, honestly, wasn't really worried because I knew that these things happen often and they would take great care of us.  But I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I started crying whenever I would talk.  My mom thought I was panicked about the baby and kept trying to comfort me, and I couldn't explain what was going on.  Anyway, Dr. Koala showed up quickly, showed me the vacuum and explained that they were going to pull the baby out because of her heart rate.  The moment I had waited for all my life had arrived and I was completely and utterly terrified!  I wasn't afraid of what was going to happen medically, but I realized my life was changing forever at this moment and there was nothing I could do about it. 

The vacuum was popped onto her little head and they told me to push.  I couldn't feel too much, so I didn't know she was coming out until I heard my sister cry, "Oh!"  Her head had come out and they saw her umbilical cord was around her neck, not tight, but it was being compressed in the birth canal, hence why her heart rate went down.  Dr. Koala quickly pulled it off, got her out all the way and cut her cord.  Jillian Michelle came into this world on Monday November 27th, 2006 at 3:31pm.  They plopped my little girl onto my stomach and started cleaning her off.  I just lost it at this point.  I was literally howling, I was sobbing so hard.  I didn't expect to react that way, but I surely did.  I couldn't control it, I just needed to sob that hard.  My mom and sister were both crying their heads off too; Steve got teary eyed, but maintained some composure.  The nurses were rubbing little Jilly, to get her to cry and she was taking her time doing so.  They told me they were going to take her over to the table to give her a little more stimulation, but then they must have hit the right spot because she let out a howl and pinked up immediately.  I couldn't believe my baby had finally arrived and here she was, in my arms.  It was amazing. 

Jillian, just minutes old

After a few minutes, she was taken to the scale and measured, while they finished cleaning her up.  Jillian was 7lbs, 7oz and 19 ½ inches long.  With the baby being taken care of, Dr. Koala started telling me what had happened to me.  Because she was pulled out in such a hurry, I tore more than if she'd come less violently and with time to stretch.  I had what's called a 3rd degree tear (out of 4 degrees) in my perineum, through quite a few layers of skin and muscle.  It took Dr. Koala over 10 minutes to stitch me up.  While doing that she told me how I would be really sore and needed to be careful with my recovery.  Finally everything (and everyone) was cleaned up and repaired.  My mom, sister and husband had all been making phone calls like crazy, letting everyone know about Jillian's arrival.  My aunt Juliet and brother Andy showed up about an hour after she was born and my step-dad Paul came soon after that (he had to finish work). 

I was moved into my post partum room around 6:00 that evening.  Everyone just kept hanging out with us, though they did go get dinner at some point.  But of course, the drama couldn't be over then.  It had been snowing for a good chunk of the evening and the roads were quite awful!  Because Mom, Paul and Juliet all work downtown, they decided to find a hotel room and spend the night in Seattle.  The first couple hotels they tried were full because there was a Seahawks game that night!  Luckily they found one with two rooms open, one for Mom, Paul and Andy, the other for Juliet, Katie and Mom's co-worker Carol who also got stranded in Seattle.  They spent most of the evening with me, then went to the hotel after 9:00pm, leaving Steve, Jilly and me alone.  Everyone came back the next morning and spent a good chunk of the day with us also. 

Everything went well in the hospital.  I needed a bit of help to get up and out of bed at first, because the epidural took a while to wear off.  But I didn't feel anything for quite a while, and they started my percocet before the pain kicked in.  Breastfeeding worked fine from the beginning.  She slept well, even when there was a lot of commotion and she was passed around from person to person.  She never slept for more than a couple of hours, but at least I got a little sleep.  On Tuesday, Steve went home to get the car seat and then some friends came to see us.  Steve's friends Christian and Tara, and their little boy Daniel were in town from Virginia, visiting Christian's sister near us.  They came down and visited with us for an hour or so, then flew home the next morning.  Also, our friend's Bri and Ben and their baby girl, Ginny, came to see us at the same time.  It was fun, because we'd gone to see them in the hospital when Ginny was born and I was barely pregnant.  Because of the severity of my tear, my doctor suggested I stay in the hospital until Wednesday.  I was happy to go along with that, but by the time we went home, we were all ready. 

We came home Wednesday and have settled in just fine since.  It's hard on me to not get more than 3 hours of sleep at a time, but I'm coping with it.  Jilly mostly sleeps at night, around 3 hours at a stretch.  She's a pretty good baby and only cries when she's hungry or cold.  The first few days of diaper changes elicited strong cries of protest from her, but she got used to them.  Now, it's mostly just being naked, when being changed or bathed, that she truly hates.  She's gained weight really well and is turning into an even more adorable, fat baby.   We're all completely in love with her.  Fights break out at Granny's house over who's turn it is to hold her.  Steve went back to work after a week, but we're always happy to see him when he comes home.  We are very blessed to have such a cute baby that we love so much, as well as family and friends who've been so generous to us, both with gifts and their time.  We are definitely grateful for it all! 

Finally at home and utterly exhausted from the drive home!