KLC’s Birth Story

Note: I started this story 3 weeks after Baby KLC was born and am finishing and publishing it at 4 weeks and 1 day.  Also please forgive typos.  I didn’t proof it very well since I have limited time to sit at a computer these days!

On the three week anniversary of my daughter’s birth (and while I’m visiting family and have plenty of extra help holding her), it’s time to write the story of how she came into this world.  I loved reading birth stories when I was pregnant.  I’m not sure if I’m as curious about them these days now that I don’t have a birth looming in my near future, but I’d like to record the experience for posterity.

  Where to begin?  Unfortunately, I did not have a dramatic start to my birth because little KLC did not want to be born.  She was very, very happy snuggled up inside.  We had a couple of anxious weeks of waiting, walking, and trying to induce labor naturally using every method possible. The waiting was helped but also exacerbated by my parents’ presence in Houston starting the day before Thanksgiving.  My due date was on Black Friday, which came and went with no signs of baby (but not without impressing the workers at Home Depot when I showed up at 6 AM to buy a Christmas tree they had on a great sale–I was too anxious to sleep!).
  On Wednesday, December 5, Mom and Dad dropped T and I at the Texas Children’s Hospital Pavilion for Women, 20 minutes late for our scheduled induction time of 6 PM.  I did not want to be induced.  The baby was passing her non-stress tests and had good amniotic fluid levels, and I still felt great and slept well.  Nevertheless, the group of midwives that I saw wanted the baby to be delivered by 42 weeks, and I agreed to the induction.  I was very upset when we arrived on the labor and delivery floor.  The security guard asked how she could help us, and I couldn’t respond.  T had to talk for me.  Despite the unhappy memories, I cherish the memory of T taking care of me and the opportunity to be alone that night and the evening before when we went to the theater for the James Bond “Skyfall” movie.  With him, I didn’t have to explain my tears.
  The nurses who checked me in were very nice and inquisitive about my birth plan.  I had forgotten to print it out but didn’t see a big point in having it at that point since the main premise behind my plan was “do not induce me.”  And I never really saw those nurses again after they checked me in, so I’m not sure what the point of discussing my plan was except that I would feel validated in some way.  Except that I didn’t feel validated.
  The labor and delivery room I was assigned to was the one the nurses refer to as “the apartment.”  It was HUGE–probably 6x larger than the recovery room (which wasn’t tiny), and I appreciated the extra space the next day when I was laboring.
  The night nurse who came on shift shortly after we checked in was my least favorite.  She didn’t explain what she was doing, and it hurt when she gave me my saline block through which IV fluids would be given eventually.  (IV fluids and medication–another thing that I didn’t want on my birth plan but which are necessary with any type of medication during a hospital birth or if you get dehydrated.)  The saline block was uncomfortable because I couldn’t bend my wrist very easily, and since I was already crying that made me cry harder.  I wanted to be able to labor as naturally as possible, and facing labor without being able to use one hand effectively as I got in different laboring positions was another frustration.  The midwife on call that day, Debbie, came to check my cervix and administer Cervidil, a cervical ripener.  I cried more when she told me I hadn’t progressed at all since my last check-up on Monday.
  At other points during the evening, which progressed rather slowly between check-in and the start of the Cervidil, we ate as many snacks as we could before I wasn’t allowed to eat any longer and watched an episode of “The Good Wife.”  Cervidil works over a period of 12 hours, and it was administered at 9:45 PM.  We knew that we’d be sleeping at the hospital, myself on the hospital bed and T on the sofa.   I was able to fall asleep pretty quickly.
  I hoped to go into active labor during the Cervidil administration, which doesn’t happen often but can happen.  I woke up with consistent contractions, but they weren’t fast and hard enough to be considered active labor.  A new midwife, Mary, was on duty for her 24 hour shift at this point.  She checked me again, and I was dilated to 2 cm, more effaced (can’t remember how much), and “very soft.”  She decided to move on to Pitocin.  Another disappointment, but it seemed inevitable.
  My mother and our doula showed up between the end of the Cervidil and the beginning of the PItocin.  In the interlude, I was allowed to get up and shower and even eat breakfast.  I had been told that I’d only have “clears,” meaning I could have broths, juices, jello, and popsicles, but Mary brought me Cheerios, trail mix, and an apple to eat after my shower.  Bless her.  I also dried my hair and put on a bit of makeup.  Because why not feel as good as you can before you push a baby out?
  The Pitocin brought on heavier contractions quickly.  I didn’t know what to expect from the Pitocin, but the contractions started HURTing.  I wanted to have a nice, easy progression of labor, but Pitocin doesn’t give you that option apparently.  Why couldn’t I go home after the Cervidil and let the contractions intensify themselves?  (Oh yeah, because they wanted to ensure the baby was OUT by the following day, and they don’t just start an induction and send you home.)
  When the nurse came in to increase my Pitocin for the 4th time in an hour, I asked her how many times she was planning to increase them and if she could stop.  She said these were the midwife’s orders, and I’d need to talk to her to change them since they were trying to get my contractions in a pattern that would move things along well.  Unfortunately, no one could really see that my contractions were coming on stronger because the monitor I was wearing would stop picking up the signal of both the contractions and the baby’s heartbeat when I moved around.
  Mary came back, and she said she would watch me to see how I was handling the contractions to determine whether we needed to keep increasing the Pitocin.  Fortunately, my contractions really were getting worse right about then, not allowing me to talk through them, and she decided we could hold off on adding more Pitocin.  Then, I had to abandon the cribbage game we had begun and start dealing with labor for real.  I had to push my IV pole around the room with me and deal with the poorly functioning continuous monitoring devices, but the midwife and doula helped me find different positions to deal with pain and labor effectively.  I walked, I bounced on a birthing ball, I swayed, I laid on my side, and eventually got in the tub two times.
  {insert 1 week hiatus of caring for a baby, and I’m picking back up with the story}
  After seven hours of laboring and my second round in the tub (and vomiting, lots of pain, doubled-up contractions with almost no break, and still only at 5 cm), I asked what my options for pain medications were.  After talking (grunting, screaming, contracting) through the options and being asked if I was really sure I wanted meds, I asked for an epidural.  Of course, epidurals don’t drop out of heaven.  The hour between asking for an epidural and getting it at around 7 PM was intense.  I’m pretty curious how dilated I was just before the epidural was administered, but I wasn’t checked at that time.  Getting the epidural was a little scary, but it went great.  They do make all non-medical persons leave the room for the administration.  Some people get offended over such things, but we didn’t care.  Mary held me through the important part to make sure I didn’t move if a contraction came on, and she went to fetch T, mom, and the doula from the waiting room.  “She’s smiling.”
  As epidurals do, this epidural changed my demeanor fairly dramatically.  In fact, I rather felt as if the experience was over.  “Alright folks, show’s over.  Pack it up and let’s go home.”  In reflecting back, one of my observations about preparing to having a baby is that you do a lot to prepare for labor and delivery but very little to prepare for caring for the baby and yourself postpartum.  I was anticipating going into labor and laboring, but I didn’t have a picture of what it would be like to have a baby in my arms (constantly), feeding a baby, soothing a baby, or even pushing out a baby.  And since that’s kindof the whole point of pregnancy, maybe I should have thought about that more?
  Back to the story…Happy Epiduraled Me was no longer snarling at her mother for talking about getting dinner in front of me during my second round in the tub, no longer vomiting, and no longer feeling much of anything except relaxation and a bit of pressure.  The midwife told me to wait and let her know when I started feeling “pressure in your rectum, like a bowel movement,” because that meant I should be checked and it might be time to start pushing.  She then left after having spent the better part of the day from noon to seven with me (amazing that she was with me for so much of the day) to check on other patients.  I started feeling pressure fairly soon after she left, but it didn’t really hurt, and I knew that if I was 10 centimeters (“complete”), it would still help for the baby to keep moving down the birth canal before I pushed.  About two hours after the administration of the epidural, Mary returned, checked me, and I was complete.  I can’t remember what station the baby was at, but she was low enough to start pushing.
  I pushed for two long hours.  I didn’t expect to have such a long pushing period, but I don’t remember it being very dramatic.  I had to push on my back, but I did ask if I could change positions.  The only other option with an epidural is on your side, and that didn’t sound appealing, so I stayed on my back.  At some point after the epidural, I was given an oxygen mask, but I’m not sure why.  I asked if I could remove it, and Mary let me take it off when I pushed as long as I put it back on when I was resting.  That was fine with me.  T helped move the mask back and forth and encourage me, and my mother and the doula each held one of my legs when I pushed.  The midwife and nurse did all the rest that needed to be prepared for the baby’s arrival.  At some point, a lady came in to set up a table of tools for the baby (I think).  She was so quiet when she announced herself and what she was doing that we couldn’t hear her.  We asked her to repeat herself, and she said, “oh, well, usually the midwives’ patients like it really quiet so I was trying to be unobtrusive.”  I thought that was funny but thoughtful.  I enjoyed the fact that everyone was concentrated on the baby’s arrival during the pushing.  Up until that point, everyone on my “birth team” had been helpful, but each person wasn’t necessary at any given moment.  For pushing, it was all hands on deck.
  I thought the baby was coming out imminently the whole time during pushing, so I would stop pushing if the midwife walked away.  I didn’t know that when things got really serious she would put on a new gown and gloves and put out a drop cloth to catch the blood, etc.  I guess I’m glad I didn’t know because I may have been discouraged during early pushing.  At some point, they got me a mirror so I could see how the contractions were causing the baby to crown and then go back.  We could see the baby’s head for a long, long time before she made her appearance.  Now, when I have her all wrapped up in the Moby baby carrier and all I can see is a 2″ patch of her head, I think back to the delivery.  I would set goals for myself like “the baby is going to be out in 15 minutes” but they didn’t help much.
  Before I started pushing at around 8:30 PM, the birth team gave their guesses for when the baby would be born.  The doula guessed 1 AM, then my mom guessed 11:45 PM, and T guessed 11:44 PM.  Since I was feeling pressure to push already at that point, and I thought pushing would last for about 30 minutes, I KNEW T would be right.
  The baby emerged at 11:41 PM.
  She was passed to me, skin to skin on my chest, as soon as her mouth and nose were suctioned and she wailed her first hello to the world.  I held her and told her what a good job she’d done, staying happy and healthy through a long labor.  I introduced her to her father, and I asked him to share her name, which no one knew except the two of us.  He paused to make sure she was a girl and then announced her name, which I won’t share here but you probably know if you’re one of my faithful 3 blog readers.
  How did I feel?  I was a little surprised.  For a lot of my pregnancy, I was a bit suspicious that I’d actually end up with a baby at the end of it all, so holding that baby in my arms was surreal.  I was also relieved that she was cute after all and that she seemed normal and health, so I hadn’t done anything to really mess her up by eating, drinking, or doing the wrong thing while pregnant.  (Yes, I was worried about both of those things in the days immediately preceding birth.)
  Most of all, I felt a new sense of purpose as I began to embrace being a mother.  When I am given a task or choose a goal, I tend to be very committed.  (However, I’m fairly bad at deciding to go down a  certain path.  I was a wreck before I got engaged but happy as a clam afterwards and haven’t regretted the decision.  It was good that Baby C was a surprise because I’m not sure what sort of complicated process we would have used to decide the “right” time for a baby.)  These first few weeks of parenthood have not been easy, but they have been good.  The only breakdowns have come when I felt I was failing my baby in some way and not because I resented her intrusion into our happy life as a twosome.
  We have been supported so, so well by family and friends.  My parents got to meet KLC the day she was born but then had to leave while we were at the hospital after their 2+ week visit to Houston.  They left us with a clean apartment, baked ziti both in the fridge and freezer, and washed and waxed cars.  Nice!  T’s mother came in after we were home alone with the baby for the first 4 days post-hospital and helped in countless ways.  We like to call her the Baby Whisperer because she was the best yet at calming her down.  The rest of T’s family came for the 5 days leading up to Christmas and gave her lots of good Granddad, Auntie, and Uncle love.  Then, we brought her to Orlando for my dad’s family’s Christmas gathering, and she got to meet two more aunts, great-aunts, great-uncles, great-grandma, and cousins galore.  (Yes, we are crazy for going to Florida 3 weeks after she was born, but it went well and we’re back safe and sound.)
  Friends have brought food, sent many words of love and support, and come for visits.  We’re excited for more of them to meet her as the weeks go on.
  T and I are ever so grateful for the lovely girl God has gifted us with.

8 thoughts on “KLC’s Birth Story

  1. oh k. i’m so sad that you were so sad leading up to the birth. i’m glad to hear that it turned out ok and the important things is you got a beautiful baby out of it all. i’m also proud of you for traveling with a 3 week old. 🙂 it will make her flexible and easy going. or at least it did with my kids. i wish i could meet her but for now i will enjoy seeing her pics on fb. 🙂 love you.

  2. Pingback: Pictures from KLC’s Birth « T and K, etc.

  3. . Mary held me through the important part to make sure I didn’t move if a contraction came on, and she went to fetch the………

    Ack….what was the rest of the thought?

    You are amazing. I’d like to know how your original birth plan compared to what happened. I’m so happy for you and T, KLC is so beautiful and she is surrounded by so much love!

    I remember when my sister had her second and was being checked in and as she was sitting there she said to the nurse…..”Oooooh, I just really felt like I had to go to the bathroom”. She said the nurse didn’t even look up just hollered “Baby coming down!” Your story reminded me.

    Can’t wait to meet KLC…….you should bring her to meetings, one of our other guys brings his six month old daughter with him! And I agree with BE….I traveled all the time and it never fazed me.

    Wishing your newly expanded family all the best!

    • I edited that sentence. She then went to fetch my mom, T, and the doula after the epidural since they’d had to leave the room. Looking forward to bringing her around and showing her off.

  4. And of course I’m crying while I’m ready this. And Evie is squirming around! We’ll be seeing you soon and look forward to meeting her!

  5. Pingback: LF’s Birth Story | T and K, etc.

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