Labor & Delivery

Birth Plan

It’s been a while (7 months, to be precise) since I gave birth to Eleanor, but as more friends are considering natural labor and have tons of questions I decided to post our birth plan online. We gave copies to the doctor and had several with us when we checked in to the hospital. Plus, we had a walking birth plan in the form of our doula, Coleen. She was amazing (I’m happy to send a referral if you’re in the Knoxville area – email me and I’ll get you her info!) and knew what we wanted every step yet still allowed us to make the decisions.

Anyway, she and I emailed this baby back and forth many times to get it just right. This is the final copy below (slightly edited to remove our Doc/Hospital’s names).

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Bronce & Erin  – Birth Plan

A Very Awesome Hospital, Dr. R

Doula: Coleen McKeehan

It is our desire to have an epidural-free, natural –as-possible childbirth. We have gone to classes, researched, and tried to become mentally and physically prepared for the work involved. We understand that things do not always go as anticipated and in such instances ask that we can discuss alternate interventions (and the pros and cons) as the need arises. I greatly appreciate your cooperation in realizing this plan.

PRE-ADMITTANCE

I would like to labor at home as long as possible before coming in to deliver.

If my water breaks at the onset of labor, I would like to wait 6-12 (or more) hours before inducing – my and my baby’s condition permitting.

HOSPITAL LABOR GOALS

My husband, BRONCE , and my doula, COLEEN McKEEHAN, will be present to assist me through labor. Other family members may be invited in during the early-to-mid stages of labor but we would like the delivery room to be cleared of all but Bronce and Coleen once Transition begins.

If possible, I would like a birthing ball and rocking chair available in the room. I will provide my own music and request a calm environment.

We would like the father and the doula to be allowed to take photos or video tape parts of the labor and birth.

Medication

° I prefer to not have or be offered an epidural or any other pain medication. Please let me request it if I feel I am not coping with the pain. I would like to handle the pain through position changes, massage relaxation, breathing techniques, distraction, hot/cold therapy, shower, etc.

° I may take IV narcotics if I feel the need to take the edge off the pain.

Labor

Staying mobile is the most important thing to me – Therefore…

° I prefer not to be automatically hooked up to an IV for hydration. I would prefer to have an IV “port” (Hep-Lock) installed in my arm for quick intravenous access in the event it is needed .I would like to stay hydrated by sipping water/Sprite/Gatorade and/or using ice chips. Popsicles, gum, or suckers would also be preferable.

° Fetal Monitoring – I would like to request intermittent fetal monitoring and a telemetry unit in order to remain mobile.

° I prefer not to have my waters routinely broken. I prefer to only have them broken if I am at least 8 cm dilated, if my labor is stalled, or if it is deemed critical to internally monitor the baby. If my water is broken and the baby’s head is engaged, I’d like to still have mobility to use different positions in and out of bed.

° Except in the case of an emergency, we ask that we be given the opportunity to accept or refuse any procedure or medication. As long as the baby and I are fine, I would like to be free of time limits and not have my labor augmented.

° I would like to try a variety of positions for pushing such as: supported 45-degree sit, squatting, side lying, hands and knees, standing upright, or whatever seems helpful to me. I prefer not to deliver flat on my back.

° As long as the baby and I are fine, I would like to be free of time limits on pushing. I would like to give my perineum ample time to stretch, and would like to have calm coaching instructions for pushing. I know it take a lot of effort to push and I may need strong encouragement, but I prefer to have things as calm as possible.

° I would like to be able to have warm washcloths applied to my perineum to relax the muscles and aid in stretching. I prefer not to have as episiotomy performed unless it is necessary for the health of the baby. I would rather risk a tear than have an episiotomy.

Cesarean Section – in the event of a C-Section, I would like the following considerations:

° I would like my husband and doula to be present at all times during the operation.

° I would like to be conscious, unless it is an emergency c-section.

° I would like to have immediate contact with the baby, if the baby is in good health. In the event I am unconscious, please allow my husband to have contact with the baby as soon as possible.

° We prefer the baby and father remain in the recovery room with the mother. I would still want to breastfeed as soon as possible.

POST-BIRTH

° I would like to have my husband cut the cord after the cord has stopped pulsing.

° I would like the baby to be placed on my chest/tummy immediately after birth and would like to postpone the standard newborn procedures until I have had the chance to bond with the baby. I would also like to attempt to breastfeed my baby immediately after birth.

° Staff-permitting, we would like the newborn procedures to be performed in our room. (Please forego the Hepatitis vaccination – we will have this given at a later date by the pediatrician.)

° We want the baby to room in with us.

° Since I plan to breastfeed exclusively, I would prefer that no artificial nipples (bottles, pacifiers) be offered to him/her at any point.

° If my baby and I are recovering well, we would like the option to be discharged from the hospital after 24 hours.

° If the baby is a boy, we would like him circumcised. We request that he would definitely be given local anesthesia.

CONCLUSION

This plan describes how we hope things will go. We understand, however, that no birth necessarily goes “as planned” and that each labor is different. We understand that complications could arise that would negate some of our stated preferences.

We strive to go as intervention-free as possible to prevent complications or the need for further procedures that could affect the progress of my labor or the health of my baby.

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There you have it! It went well, as you can read in my post about our birth. We had a couple of complications along the way but it was an amazing experience!

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In The Hospital

We moved from the delivery room to our hospital room Sunday morning around 11:45. We quickly settled in and spent the rest of the day in a sleep-deprived haze, entertaining a few family members and trying to figure out what day it was. I spent nearly the entire hospital stay confused about the day of the week, as my Saturday and Sunday blurred into one long day of pain, hazy memories, and figuring out how to care for a newborn and my own fragile body.

We settled into room 327 in the Mother/Baby Wing of UT Medical Center.

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We had a few visitors that day… our parents came by, as well as some of Bronce’s extended family: Deborah and Richard, Mamaw, and his brother’s family (Spencer, Melissa, and Nonavea). We were so exhausted I failed to get pictures of everyone who visited that day.

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Bronce and I were so exhausted, I insisted that he go home to get rest in the evenings rather than sleeping in the hospital room with us. Before we went through labor together, I thought I’d want him to stay with me, but as much as I enjoyed having him nearby I knew I wouldn’t be sleeping at all and that he needed to be rested. He left Sunday night around 8pm and came back in the morning around 7 – though I’d only slept about 3 hours that night, he was much better off and able to take care of Eleanor while I rested during the day Monday.

Sunday night Mom stayed later in the evening with me and the nurses gave Eleanor her first bath. We asked if we could watch and take pictures and the nurses were nice enough to let us back with them where we saw my little bundle get all cleaned up. They would have given her a bath earlier in the day but they wanted her to nurse first – turns out she was so tired she wasn’t interested in nursing at all on Sunday – we dealt with that Monday when the lactation consultants were back in on the floor.

Here are some pictures from her first bath:

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And while she was getting warmed up under the heat lamp, I took some pictures of her sweet little baby parts:

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Here’s a cute one of her. Don’t you want to kiss those cheeks and breath in that baby smell?

BIRTH_0090 Monday morning Bronce returned to us in the hospital and stayed all day. He was thrilled to be back with his daughter again!

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He enjoyed some special daddy/daughter time and after watching me spend skin-to-skin time with her he asked to do it himself. Adorably, Bronce and Eleanor spent hours reclining in a lounge chair this way – it made me teary to see them bonding.

At this point Monday I’d slept 3 hours since Friday night. It’s amazing to me how young I look in this picture.

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The lactation consultant met with me Monday morning so I was able to get some help with breastfeeding. Once we got her settled, she took to it like a champ and didn’t have any more problems (at that point – we had other issues we dealt with later in the week with a lactation consultant in Larry’s office).

Originally we were hoping to head home Monday and only spend one night in the hospital. However, the doctors were worried that Eleanor was a little jaundiced and wanted to keep their eye on her another night. She wasn’t so bad they put her under the lights or anything, but enough that they wanted to have her in the hospital for the second evening. I’m not sure if it’s a result of her poor breastfeeding the first day (though her blood sugar levels had been fine and of no concern), but they did say if she started feeding well the jaundice would go away quickly. Since we were stuck in the hospital another day, our families visited again, bringing food and company for us Monday. Here are pictures of our dads with Eleanor:

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Later in the day we got a visit from our doctor. He only found out that morning that we’d had the baby – since the on-call doctor delivered Eleanor, no one had even let him know. He was disappointed to find out he missed the delivery but very complimentary of us for making it through the delivery without any major interventions. He stayed to visit for a little while and it was great to share our side of the birth experience with him.

Monday night Bronce stayed with Eleanor and me till around 10pm. I hadn’t gotten much sleep yet so I had the nurses take Eleanor from 11-3 (I got pain meds on a 4-hour schedule so this fell between two of my doses) so I could get a block of sleep. She didn’t do very well in her bassinet and I held her in my arms otherwise, so I wasn’t really sleeping well with her in the room. It was nice to get a break and by the time she got back she needed to nurse anyway.

Bronce returned Tuesday morning and within a few hours we were given permission to leave the hospital. Here’s a picture of Bronce getting Eleanor all riled up about leaving to go home:

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We didn’t have any clothes that fit her (granted, everything we brought was blue anyway!) so we dressed Eleanor in this cute pink and grey outfit Mom brought for us. She’s so tiny!

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And we’re off! A surprised Eleanor in her car seat, followed by Bronce bringing her into the house for the first time.

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When we were planning to be in the hospital we anticipated wanting to leave for home as soon as possible – I figured I’d prefer to sleep in my own bed and be in my house. However, we ended up enjoying the hospital far more than I ever imagined. Yes, it was amazing to have the nurses bringing us drinks and we had food delivered and everyone was catering to our needs, pain, and exhaustion. But the best part for me was having the three of us together in an environment where we felt comfortable asking people to wait to visit (that’s been hard since we got home – lots of people don’t understand when it’s “not a good time” for us or we need visits to be short so we can cause less disruption to Eleanor’s schedule). It was a cozy place for us to enjoy our first few days as a family. The first week we were home when we were tired and trying to figure everything out, I would get emotional about missing the days in room 327. Our memories of that time were somewhat foggy (hey, I was super drugged up!) but still pleasant and it was jarring to get home and have things not going perfectly. As we got our feet under us and felt more comfortable at home we began loving being at home just the three of us, much like those first few days in 327.

Our Birth Story

Bronce and I can hardly believe we’ve had precious Eleanor with us for 3 weeks now. She’s growing so much and is such a sweet baby. We’re adapting to the sleepless nights and trying to figure out how to switch her days/nights (since she seems to have them backwards!). But… I want to take some time to reflect on the night she was born. We met with Coleen, our doula, last night to discuss some of the postpartum questions she has for her families, and she delivered a bunch of pictures and our birth story. It was fun to read over it – we had lots of “I don’t remember that!” moments as we relived the 9 hours at the hospital as we awaited Eleanor’s arrival. Here are the details and some pictures of our adventure!

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Thursday, January 13th

We had a doctor’s appointment this morning – he did an exam and found that I was 1 cm dilated and 25% effaced. An ultrasound claimed the baby was 8 lbs, 10 oz (I’m so glad this was super wrong!) At this time, the topic of induction started creeping into conversation, with Dr. R encouraging us to consider an induction on the 19th (the day after our due date). Because we were so interested in going forth with our plan for natural labor, this was very frustrating and we began praying immediately that something would happen soon. Thursday night Bronce and I went to the mall to do some serious walking to try to get the baby moving. Later that night I had contractions from 10-12:30 and they were anywhere from 8-12 minutes apart. I was able to get to sleep and ignore them eventually.

Friday, January 14th

I had contractions throughout the day Friday, but it was my last work day before maternity leave so I powered through and ignored them as best as I could. That evening they began coming more regularly, about 8 minutes apart from 6pm till midnight. Again, I was able to go to sleep and get through them eventually.

Saturday, January 15th

Saturday morning started like a normal weekend and around 11 am I began having regular contractions again. I monitored them and they were about 6 minutes apart all day. After a few uncomfortable hours I insisted Bronce and I leave the house and run some errands. We hit Babies R Us for a few last minute purchases and went to the grocery store to stock the fridge and pantry in case we weren’t able to leave the house again for a few weeks – this ended up being a great idea given what the night had in store for us!

Bronce’s parents wanted to go out to dinner that evening but I could tell I’d be very uncomfortable sitting in a restaurant feeling that way, so we had them over to our house instead. We ate dinner around 7 and planned to watch the Lady Vols Basketball game that evening. Partway through dinner, around 7:30, my contractions drastically changed from being manageable to incredibly uncomfortable and painful. They also immediately quickened from a set 6 minutes apart to 3-5 minutes apart. They alternated 3 minutes then 5 minutes every other contraction for the next hour or so. Linda and Larry could quickly sense my discomfort and left (taking our dog, Mr. B, with them), leaving Bronce and I to realize things were probably about to change for us.

We spent the next few hours at the house with me attempting different pain management strategies and Bronce packing (conveniently, he had put this off till now!). We went through our last-minute packing lists (things like toothbrushes and the iPod) and got the car all set. Meanwhile I alternated sitting on a birthing ball (a big inflated exercise ball), laying on the couch, walking around, leaning over the side of the couch, and taking a bath. The bath helped, though our tiny bathtubs hardly covered my big belly, providing minimal help. Finally about 11:30 p.m. I called Coleen, saying, “I’m about at the end of myself.” Coleen said she’d meet us at the hospital.

The drive to UT Medical Center was rough – Bronce was in a hurry but I was in a great deal of pain, so I was constantly urging him to slow down and not whip me around the corners so strongly. He was a champ, supporting me the whole way and soothing me as I was dealing with the sharp pains. We parked (I wouldn’t let him drop me off because I preferred to hold on to him as I walked in), grabbed our backpack of labor goodies, and headed in to meet Coleen at the elevators. Thankfully she was there – we probably would have had a hard time finding the right place to go in to the labor and delivery floor. She had a name badge that let her in through the doors so she was able to rush us back to triage quickly.

We sat at the triage desk and answered a bunch of questions. According to the nurses, we arrived at 12:01am. After taking the information, they moved us to a room to check me. Once in the bed, I said, “If they tell me its just cramps, I think I’ll hit someone.” Rosa checked me at 12:20 a.m. and was happy to tell me that I was 4-5 cm. dilated, 60% effaced and baby was at -2 station. We were staying to have this baby!! Bronce immediately called his parents and then called mine. My parents were already close to the hospital and Bronce’s dad came alone, since his mom was having some kind of allergic reaction. They started the INT (IV port) at 12:45 a.m. and then Dr. S came in to say hi. He was on call for Dr. R. At 1:00 a.m. we moved to Labor Room #11. By this point my contractions were getting stronger and were coming every 2-3 minutes.

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I’m not sure if it is a general UT thing or just a factor of us being at the hospital late on a weekend night, but we had one nurse in our room with us the entire delivery. Her name was Barbara, and she was fantastic! When she found out we were doing natural labor she became our #1 cheerleader. She was incredibly supportive and spread the news to the other nurses on the floor who kept checking in on us and cheering us on as well – as one of them said, it’s rare that anyone does natural labor these days, but “it’s how we’re supposed to do it!” They were all great and so incredibly helpful.

Nurse Barb was having trouble understanding Bronce’s name. She said, “So it’s Bronce – like Charles Bronson. I thought it was Brice – like Brice Canyon.” At 1:20 a.m. my parents came in to check on me. Bronce’s dad was in the waiting room. During this time I tried different positions, standing/leaning on Bronce and swaying. Then I got on the birth ball – it wasn’t as comfortable as I’d hoped it would be since it put pressure on my pelvis in weird places.

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At 2:00 a.m. my parents left the room and I took the birth ball in to the shower. I didn’t bring a sports bra, so I put on one of Bronce’s t-shirts. The water felt wonderful. Bronce put on the lounge pants that I had worn to the hospital, since they were his anyway. He rolled them up and got in the shower to help spray me. Barb got me some diet Coke to sip on. At one point I said, “This feels good! It makes the contractions so much better.” It really did!… the sensory changes from the warm water allowed me to talk, joke around, laugh, and manage my pain so much better. Bronce later told me he thought my labor had possibly stalled out since I seemed so comfortable. At one point Bronce’s dad came by and to take Bronce to the doctor’s lounge and get him some snacks. At 2:30 a.m. Barb found a shower chair and we replaced the birth ball with the chair. It was more comfortable for me than rolling on the bath ball and trying to keep my balance. Coleen noted that I said, “I can talk through my contractions again.”

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Along the way Barb came in with the Doppler to check on baby’s heartbeat so I didn’t need to leave the shower to get hooked up to the machines. Coleen told me to stay in as long as I wanted, since it wasn’t going to be on my water bill. In fact, she mentioned that she once had a girl stay under the shower spray for 45 minutes. Being competitive, my initial thought was “I can make it way longer than that!” Considering how good it felt and how much it relieved my pain, it didn’t take competition to keep me in there – it was great! At this point I was mostly spraying myself. Bronce sat beside me just outside the shower on a round stool for a while. At 3:10 a.m. Bronce and I were chatting and he helped me breathe through the contractions as they got more severe. By 3:30 a.m. I was about ready to get out, but fearful also, since I was afraid the contractions were going to be hard to deal with out of the shower. Even knowing that was the case, I was getting bored in the shower and needed a change of scenery!

By 3:45 a.m. I was back to bed and Barb monitored me for 15 minutes. After that, I decided to get up to walk. Barb was very laid back about it, she just told us to come back when things got rough. We stopped by the waiting room to pick up my parents. We stood in the window for a few seconds wondering if they’d see us. Finally we knocked on the glass and they both jumped up, startled to see us. At this point Bronce’s dad had gone to lie down on a cot in his office. My parents walked with us for the next hour. We went to the first floor and walked to the new lobby and then down the hallway to the doctor’s office buildings.

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Coleen encouraged me to add some sway to my walk – it hurt a lot but I started swinging my legs out wide to help widen my pelvis to bring the baby lower. My legs began to get weak as my contractions were getting stronger and I needed to stop and breathe through them. At one point we were all huddled over some chairs in a waiting room while I had a severe contraction and some people stopped us to see if we were okay – they quickly left us alone when I spoke up “everything’s okay! I’m in labor!” We returned to the room at 4:36 a.m when my legs got too weak to walk around much more.

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At 4:43 a.m. Barb checked and found that I was 7-8 cm. dilated, 100% thinned out and baby was down to 0 station. Coleen went out to tell my parents – Bronce and I got emotional as we realized how close we were to having our baby here! At 4:50 a.m. I asked for some narcotic pain relief to get some rest – I was given a 25 mg. dose of IV Fentanyl. That dose didn’t really make much of a difference for my contractions, though I was able to relax a bit. I was lying on my side in bed, doing pant-blow breathing and listening to praise music. “How great is our God” was the first song, and Coleen reminded me that God was there with us. Bronce called his dad with an update and woke him up. His response was, “Wow!” At 5:20 a.m. I began feeling some pressure and felt a weird “pushing” urge – not a true desire to push but a new and different kind of pain. Barb found that I “hardly have any cervix left – 9 cm.” My water broke with some pressure from the cervical check. It was clear. At 5:27 a.m. I received a 50 mg. dose of Fentanyl and I tried resting – hardly possible with the increased pressure of the contractions when my water had been broken! The pain increased exponentially when that happened. At 5:40 a.m. I had a slight anterior lip. We had been talking about if this baby would have hair, and at 6:00 a.m. Barb said, “You’re going to have a cute little furry baby.”

At 6:08 a.m. I began pushing, my cervix was totally thinned out. I can remember the beginning of pushing when Coleen gave me instructions: “Take a deep breath in and out. Take another deep breath and hold it while you push for three long pushes.” Those directions seem rather simple, but they were actually very difficult for me to follow and it took quite a few pushes for me to get the rhythm correct. Bronce and Coleen counted to 10 with each push but I got really ticked off at them for coaching me like this: “Deep breath in… and out… Another deep breath… hold it… and… (pause…pause…pause…) 1…2…3…” Those pauses drove me crazy. At one point I yelled at them for counting too slow (I really meant that they weren’t starting to count soon enough after I had the deep breath held) and I began counting loudly for myself. They laughed and thought it was funny but at the time I was in no mood to chuckle with them. During many of the contractions Bronce counted for me alone and I could hear his voice cracking as he got glimpses of our baby getting closer to being born. It was a really emotional time for both of us as we went through the experience of birth together.

At 6:13 a.m. my baby’s heart rate went down and I needed oxygen and was turned on my side – strangely, I barely remember this happening except that the oxygen dried out my mouth so badly I wanted to refuse it when they gave it to me. I pushed on that one side, then at 6:26 a.m. I was pushing in a semi-sitting position. From then on I didn’t need the oxygen and baby’s heart rate was fine. They attached a squat bar to the end of the hospital bed and I was able to sit up, throw my arms over the bar, and sit in a full squat to push. The positioning for pushing was great, but getting up and down between pushes was extremely painful so I didn’t last long like this and laid back down in the bed. They did keep the bar up and I rested my feet on it between pushes.

Using the squat bar:

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I had a hard time handling the pain and the only way I knew to let everyone know that it was bad was by saying, “I want an epidural.” They told me that it was too late but that I could get a Pudendal block. Barb thought it was too soon (the meds only last an hour and we had no idea how long I’d be pushing). She said, “Don’t let the pressure scare you.” I responded, “It hurts.” At 7:20 a.m. I was tired and discouraged but we were starting to see the head. Coleen had me reach down and touch my baby, which was incredible! It gave me a burst of energy to know that we were that close to the end. At this point Bronce was holding my right leg and Coleen was holding my left – Bronce used his free hand to text our family updates between contractions.

By this time the nurses had switched shifts (shift change was at 7am). Barbara and some of the other nurses on the floor refused to leave until they saw our baby born, so they clocked out and stayed in the room to cheer us on. Eventually the room was full… Bronce and Coleen, Dr S and his nurse, Barbara and two or three nurses from the previous shift, the nurses that were on shift now (the delivery and baby nurses), plus the NICU staff that was soon to arrive. There were easily 15 people in the room observing my labor and I didn’t even care! It’s such a strange feeling to have your inhibitions leave the room when something more important is going on!

Finally at 7:50 a.m. Dr. S came in to give me a Pudendal block. This might have been the most painful part of the whole process. The idea is that by blocking the pain in my perineum, the “pushing” part wouldn’t be as bad because I wouldn’t feel the stretching or tearing. However, we’d waited so long before he did the block that he almost wasn’t able to get it in. He had to check and see if he could feel the right nerves (um… PAIN!!!!) and when he realized he could, he warned me it would be that kind of painful as he put the block in. I did some deep breathing and he got started. Good lord, it hurt so bad. I made it through and gasped for breath when he was done, only to hear him say “Okay! Got the first one.” I’m pretty sure I yelled at this point, and possibly yelled right at him. First one?! As in… there was another? He humorously replied “God made us symmetrical! There are two nerves.” Gah… okay. So he got the second block in place and… well… I honestly don’t know if it made a difference. I don’t recall that part of my anatomy causing me any problems for the rest of the delivery, but there was so much going on it’s hard to tell.

About twenty minutes later (2 hrs into pushing!) at 8:10 a.m. he offered to use the vacuum extractor to get the baby out. He thought it might take me 30 – 60 minutes longer without the vacuum. By this point I was exhausted and ready for any assistance (short of a c-section or something that dramatic) that could be offered to speed up the delivery. I turned to Coleen and she said, “Yes” since I was so tired and had been working so long. Later she told me she regretted making that decision for me and not talking me through my options, but I’m incredibly grateful she said that. I really needed her to make a decision for me at that time, and it was awesome that she just quickly told me what to do. Bronce and I were both relieved! They got the vacuum applied at 8:20 a.m. – it’s not at all what we thought it would be. First off, it’s not a machine as the name implies… it’s a manual suction cup that the doctor engages with his hand and sucks on the top of the baby’s head. It allows him to gently pull on the back of the skull to get the kiddo out. They gave me local anesthesia in the perinea tissue. Dr. S said it is only the skin that is holding this baby back, and he cut an episiotomy. As much as I didn’t want that to happen, I’m glad we did it because things happened so much faster! I began calling out and praying, “Please God, let the baby come out with this contraction!” Coleen leaned over and quietly reminded me that God was helping me.

With me pushing and him pulling, our baby was born at 8:28 a.m. on a cold and clear Winter Sunday. When she came out they set her right on my chest, possibly the most surreal moment of my life! (In the picture below, that’s my nurse Barbara over my shoulder)

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Bronce cut the cord. I asked, “What is it?” fully expecting it would be a boy. Dr. Schoutko said, “It’s a girl!” and put her on my chest. I was shocked and had them check again to be sure. Everyone was laughing – we’d been calling the baby “Graham” for the last few hours and instead we had an Eleanor! The picture below displays my shock the second he said “Girl”:

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Within the next few minutes as we absorbed this shocking information, Bronce and I both responded with different “practical” responses… I said, “All I brought was boy stuff.” Bronce quietly exclaimed “I’m going to have to pay for a wedding!”

I only got to hold her on my chest for a few minutes – because we’d used the vacuum to extract her, the NICU team was in place to check her out (Since most vacuum-assisted births are due to distress, it’s procedure for the team to be there and they had to see her first.) Bronce followed her as they checked her out – meanwhile the placenta was removed at 8:32 a.m. and they gave me Pitocin in my IV to help my uterus contract. Eleanor was 7 lb. 6 oz. and 20” long. She had lots of hair and long fingers and toes.

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Bronce, with Eleanor’s footprint on his shirt:

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I had a 2nd degree tear of the perineum. While Dr. S was stitching me up, Bronce was over at the warmer, looking at Eleanor. Her APGAR scores were 8 at one minute and 9 at 5 minutes. At 8:43 a.m. I was holding her again and she was making sweet little baby noises.

Here’s a picture of me, Eleanor, and our nurse Barbara.

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At 8:50 a.m. Dr. S asked to hold her while the nurses were putting my bed back together and cleaning me up. He quietly prayed a blessing over her.

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I tried to nurse Eleanor at 9:00 a.m. she didn’t do well on the right at all, but did finally nurse a little on the left breast.

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I got some Fentanyl 25 mg in my IV (which totally knocked me out – I felt dizzy for quite a while and wished I’d not had that medicine given – it’s amazing how much it affected me post-labor compared to barely feeling the meds during labor due to the adrenaline rush!) and some ice to my bottom. Bronce looked at Eleanor at one point and said, “Hey Precious, you’re so beautiful.” – I hear him call her this a lot, he’s totally smitten with her!

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Her blood sugar was 49 (anything above 45 is good). I spent some time texting close friends to let them know our great news, as the medicine allowed me to rest and a little time passed. Eleanor18

Here’s a picture of Eleanor and me with Coleen – the most amazing doula ever!!

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Bronce brought my parents back at 10:00 a.m. They’re going by Grandee and Papa – and they were so excited to check out their newest granddaughter.

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After they left Bronce’s parents and sister, Lauren, came in. They were all thrilled with this new family member. Bronce’s dad gave Eleanor the Pediatrician’s once-over (she passed).

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The nurses let us settle in the delivery room for a little while longer until we felt ready to move to the Mother/Baby Wing.  Around 11:45am we packed up the room and made the journey! Here we go…

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Eleanor Marie Rodgers

Our sweet bundle of joy is here! She let her presence be known around 11am on Saturday and fought her little way (I swear, at times it felt she was trying to swim her way) into the world Sunday, January 16th at 8:28am. The story of her birth will have a blog post all its own – I’m waiting for pictures and the details from our doula – though I remember a lot of it, Coleen took detailed notes of the evening/morning and I’m interested to see all the things I forgot. For example, last night we were sharing the story with someone and Bronce interjected that I’d required oxygen at one point… I’d completely forgotten that part! When we get the whole story I’ll post the appropriate parts.

Just know… Eleanor entered the world through a long natural labor, was cheered on by a waiting room full of family and a delivery room full of nurses (many of whom stayed long after their shift ended to be our personal cheering squad!), and was placed in the arms of her very tired Mommy Sunday morning! Bronce and I have never been more in love with each other or more obsessed with any one thing in all our lives.

I’m pretty cute… I dare you to get close and not want to snuggle with me!

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My daddy likes to steal kisses… but his beard is prickly!

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On our way home from the hospital… these toys are kinda strange and make funny noises…

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Daddy’s getting me out of the car! Heading into my new house for the first time!

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Hanging out on the quilt my Grandee (Erin’s Mom) made for me!:

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Chilling out after my first bath:

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Snuggled up on Mommy’s Lap:

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Was That A Contraction?

(I drafted this post Saturday late afternoon with no idea that these pains were about to turn into full-force contractions! I’ll detail the experience more in my entries about the actual delivery of Eleanor Marie, but here’s how I was feeling as we went into the evening that would change our lives!)

Every clock in our house is set differently. How do I know this? I’ve been timing contractions. Our wall clock, my computer, the iTouch, my cell phone, and my watch all are displaying a different time at this second. Granted, they’re all close… but when counting the time between contractions, 6 minutes and 8 minutes makes a big difference!

So yes, I have been having contractions.

One of the strange things you hear over and over again while you’re pregnant is “When you have your first real contraction, you’ll know it.” The first time I heard this it stopped me in my tracks – I mean, why wouldn’t I know it? But then you start hearing about false labor (which really isn’t false), Braxton Hicks, and all these other things your body will go through in the final weeks and you realize that you might be likely to assume some random cramp is a contraction when really it’s… well, gas pain. (Let’s not talk about that, mkay?)

So I’ve been feeling tightening of my uterus for a while now… kinda like a bear hug. Now that I have more serious contractions to compare, I can be sure that sensation was only Braxton Hicks. In the past few days I’ve started having the real thing so I thought I’d keep track of the progress to be able to look back.

Thursday, Jan 13

Late Thursday night (around 11pm) I began having contractions. It was the first time I didn’t think “hmm, that’s uncomfortable” and I instead responded with “Woah. Yeah, that’s something more serious.” At the time I wasn’t sure if it was really a contraction, but in looking back I think they were. The timing ranged from 8-12 minutes between each. I was able to start trying to sleep around 12:30am and they had died down by 1am so I was able to sleep the rest of the night. As I got up each hour to pee (part of the fun of 3rd trimester!), I was uncomfortable and had some tension, but was fine.

Friday, Jan 14

I spent my last day at work feeling minor contractions most of the day but able to walk around and work through them with only a few stopping me in my tracks. Friday night was another story… I got home from my last day at work and within an hour I began noticing some more severe contractions occurring. Around 6pm I began tracking them (the den is littered with pieces of paper with my chicken scratch times written down in columns!) and they were consistently 8 minutes apart until I went to bed around midnight. I spent most of the night wandering around the house, walking up and down the stairs, swaying on an exercise ball, and moving my hips around to get more comfortable. I spoke with my doula around 10pm and she suggested I get some sleep in case we were headed to the hospital soon. I rested on the couch for a few hours then we went to bed and shortly after midnight I was able to start sleeping between the contractions. Eventually I just fell asleep for the night and was only interrupted for my usual breaks.

Saturday, Jan 15

This morning as I got out of bed Bronce commented “I bet you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus.” Yeah, that about nails it! My hip sockets are really sore after all the pressure and pain last night. I still felt a lot of the same pressure this morning for a while but around 11am I noticed the pains were no longer just dull and bothersome but were getting more rhythmic. I’ve been keeping track of the time off and on today and they’re fairly consistently coming in 6 minutes apart (lasting about 45-55 seconds each). The severity isn’t really increasing either, so I don’t think I’m making much progress or that something is going to happen tonight… just praying that these pains are serving a purpose and that my cervix is opening/softening to make the eventual labor easier!

(Little did I know it was real… and about to get much more intense! I think I finished this post around 4:30 or 5 pm and they got incredibly more powerful around 7:30. Amazing!)

Final Thoughts

(I wrote this post Friday night and began labor Saturday morning! Our little Eleanor Marie was born Sunday morning at 8:28am. I’m glad I wrote this post and got these thoughts down before she arrived – it makes me teary to think about how much I loved this little life before she was born and to feel the way my heart is so full now that I get to hold her in my arms.)

It’s Friday night, the 14th. Today was my last day of work before my maternity leave starts Tuesday (we’re off Monday for MLK day). I’m beginning to feel some fairly serious and regular contractions and it’s beginning to settle in that we might be having this baby soon… like really, really soon. Last night I started having pains I thought might be the real thing. They continued sporadically over the last 24 hours and have settled in for sure for the last two and a half. About 8 minutes apart – not too exhausting, but still very present.

It occurs to me as I realize this baby may be out of my stomach and in my arms soon… I have loved this pregnancy. It’s been such an exhilarating experience to feel a baby growing and moving and kicking inside of me. There are really no words for how special it is. I have friends who have known this feeling many times over and friends who would give anything to know what it’s like. Even as I sit here deeply breathing my way through contractions, I can tell you it’s an amazing thing. I read a few times recently that once the baby is out I will have a hard time remembering what it felt like to have held that life inside me, and that’s sad to me. These 9 months have been wonderful (really, I’ve had a fantastic pregnancy in so many ways!) and it’s strange to think that this will be a fog of a memory soon.

I’ve steadily grown more uncomfortable over the last few months, but in the meantime I’ve also grown more excited and enjoyed more secret smiles as I’ve felt the tiny limbs pressing into my sides. I’m at a loss to explain what it’s meant to me to know that God has given me the capacity to grow a body in me… a body that will grow up to be my child and have a personality and know me. It’s a blessing. But to know that this little one was nurtured physically by me for so long is a miracle in itself. I just can’t wait to squeeze the little feet that have been kicking me – to kiss the forehead that has been pressing in my pelvis for these weeks – to check out those little fingernails that have been tickling my bladder for so long.

As the contractions grow stronger I know that I’m about to enter into the hardest part of this journey. We’ve stuck to our guns and are headed toward labor with the intent of having a natural birth. I’ve already spoken to my doula tonight – she’s a wonderfully godly and encouraging woman who had some positive things to say as I let her know of our timing tonight. I’m anxious about what the next 24 (or even 48?) hours will look like but I know with her and Bronce around I’ve got a great support team.

16- and 17- weeks

So I’m a little behind on my blogging. Rather than making a 16-week post and throwing it up on my blog in the hopes that no one notices it wasn’t there a week ago, I’ve decided to combine them into two posts.

I got home from some professional development today, caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and though “woah, I look pregnant today!” so here’s a picture. For those of you who don’t see me regularly, here’s what I’m looking like these days.

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(17 weeks, 2 days)

(this picture is like a Where’s Waldo game… Can you find the… dead plant? picture frame still holding the fake-people-photo? I bet if I hadn’t pointed that out you’d never have seen that stuff!)

Pretty much just me… with a bit of a baby belly!

My weight is still on track. I originally lost 5 pounds (nausea and such), and I’ve gained it all back, putting my net weight gain at 0. Love that! I’ll probably stop posting weight updates sometime soon – haha!

Okay, so last Tuesday we hit the 16-week mark. Here are the details on that milestone:

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How your baby’s growing:

Get ready for a growth spurt. In the next few weeks, your baby will double his weight and add inches to his length. Right now, he’s about the size of an avocado: 4 1/2 inches long (head to rump) and 3 1/2 ounces. His legs are much more developed, his head is more erect than it has been, and his eyes have moved closer to the front of his head. His ears are close to their final position, too. The patterning of his scalp has begun, though his locks aren’t recognizable yet. He’s even started growing toenails. And there’s a lot happening inside as well. For example, his heart is now pumping about 25 quarts of blood each day, and this amount will continue to increase as your baby continues to develop.

And now for week 17:

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How your baby’s growing:

Your baby’s skeleton is changing from soft cartilage to bone, and the umbilical cord — her lifeline to the placenta — is growing stronger and thicker. Your baby weighs 5 ounces now, and she’s around 5 inches long from head to bottom. She can move her joints, and her sweat glands are starting to develop.

Okay hold the phone. An onion? I can go to my cabinet right now and find three onions that are drastically different sizes. In fact, I just did that and snapped a picture… but then I realized 2 of the onions had gone bad and I feel weird posting pictures of rotten onions (even if you couldn’t tell in the photo!). But you know what I’m saying, right? Onions vary considerably and I think that’s a crappy depiction of how big/small my baby is. Silly.

Cravings

Still loving coke Icees. 🙂 Man, those things are good.

And vinegar.

No, not together. Ew!

I just like a nice basic salad with some olive oil and vinegar. Lots of vinegar. Then more salad. And more vinegar. And then a homemade marinated cucumber (in vinegar). And some garden tomatoes… with balsamic vinegar. (Hang on… I’m getting hungry… I need to go make a snack…)

Hair

I’ve heard from other new moms that a neat part of pregnancy happens to your hair. I’m not sure what it is with body changes, but similarly to hair-changes after chemo, many women experience changes in their hair during pregnancy. Some people get curly hair, some curls go straight, some people just get weird kinky waves. None of these have happened to me… yet.

I’ve recently been told that my hair would stop falling out. You know how you lose a few strands here and there, just general shedding? I was thrilled to find out this would stop and my hair would get even more luxurious and thick over the next few months. Unfortunately… this hasn’t really happened. Mine seems to be falling out more than ever which is somehow more bothersome than before. This might, however, be related to my next comment…

Another weird pregnancy fact is that no one is really sure what the impact of hair color is on a developing fetus. Rather than getting my usual highlights and all over base color I decided to scale back and just get a few highlights and a quick color wash. So a few weeks ago I made an appointment with my amazing stylist (the incredible Lauren at Belleza – I’d love her even if she wasn’t family!). Unfortunately, my hair has not gotten curly or straight(er), but rather has taken on some chemical changes. Within about five minutes of the bleach being strategically placed on my highlights, my whole head started burning… my hair was steaming… and the foils were so hot Lauren burned her finger. Weird! Needless to say we washed the color out as quickly as possible and will not be taking this approach until well after the baby arrives.

Baths

This may sound weird, but I miss taking a bath! That was one of my evening luxuries every now and then. I know some of you are thinking that I’m foolish to not just hop in, but with so many doctors in the family I’m erring on the side of caution. Most docs say baths are fine as long as they’re lukewarm or don’t get warmer than your body temp… but who wants to take a bath that cold? No way! I’m all about taking a bath that’s so hot I can only step in with one foot at a time (like the proverbial frog who adjusts to the rising temperature slowly and suddenly finds himself immersed in boiling water – that sounds heavenly!). So… no baths. I’ll just indulge in a pedicure (with the warm foot bath) every few weeks and try to use that as my pampering fix.

Birthing Plan

Bronce and I are still discussing the details of a birthing plan. I’m pushing for natural birth – he’s holding out until I provide him with more information and rationale for that decision. I think we’re a long way from making a decision about that. I got the name of a highly-recommended doula who works in the labor & delivery area at UT and we plan to talk to her soon about our options and her experience.

Well… school starts next week on the day I hit my 18-week mark. I hate to say that’s going to be a late post,  but unless I get it done the night before (unlikely!) it’s probably not going to be on time either. I know I have a few more pregnancy details I wanted to write about but they’re slipping my mind. Pregnancy brain has hit full force! I can barely remember my own cell number anymore…