So, we've been a tad busy for the past few days.
Our beautiful girl, Sydney, was born last Friday, February 21, at 7:58 p.m. She weighed 7 lbs, 7 oz and was 20.5" long. We're so in love with her!
Her birth story is a long one. Or at least it felt long. Here goes.
At 40 weeks and 5 days (last Wednesday), she was still hanging strong in there with no signs of exiting any time soon. I thought for sure I'd be scheduling an induction at my doctor appointment on Friday. I hadn't had the first contraction and was only dilated barely a fingertip at my appointment the previous week. I was pretty much resigned to that fate.
Well, that night, around 10 p.m., my tummy started feeling weird. I just didn't feel good. We were in the basement watching a movie and I told Steven that I just needed to go lie down. I went to bed and around midnight, woke up with what I thought might be contractions. They weren't very strong, but I was having a hard time sleeping through them, so I went out to the living room and started watching the Olympics. Around 2 a.m., I was fairly certain that what I was feeling were definitely contractions. I opened the contraction timer app on my phone and they were coming pretty regularly, maybe every 4-6 minutes, but like I said, they weren't that strong and I was feeling okay. I went to wake Steven up to tell him what was going on, but at that point, I knew I just needed to wait a while to see if they stuck around. At 5 a.m., I decided to take a warm bath (per my midwife's instructions the previous week) to see if the contractions stayed the same, got further apart, or went away all together. During my bath, they got more inconsistent, but never fully went away. By about 7:30 a.m., I decided to call the hospital to see what they suggested. The nurse told me to just call my OB practice (which has 7 OB/GYNs and 4 midwives - I see the midwives), and schedule an appointment to get checked in their office that morning. So, Steven and I got to my appointment at 9 a.m. on Thursday, where one of the midwives checked me and I was 2 cm dilated, 90% effaced! I was pretty happy that I was progressing on my own, but I wasn't quite far enough for her to send me to the hospital. She ordered me to go home, walk around, and call the hospital if my contractions were steadily 1 minute long, 5 minutes apart for 1 hour.
When we got back home, we took the dog for a walk and I was breathing through my contractions pretty well. They were 8-10 minutes apart all day. We ate lunch, then dinner, and I was still feeling okay. But that night, they kicked into overdrive. I was in a ton of pain and not handling it all that well. I was on my second night of absolutely no sleep and I think that, mixed with very steady and strong contractions made for a very unhappy mama. Between 2 and 3 a.m., my contractions timed at the recommended 1 minute long, 5 minutes apart, so I called the hospital, and fully expected them to tell me to come on in! No dice. The nurse I spoke to was asking me all of these questions that I didn't feel were relevant and she ended the conversation by saying that (and I quote) "It sounds like you might be in the very early stages of labor. I'm not saying that you're not in active labor, it just sounds unlikely. You're welcome to come in and get checked, but we'll probably send you home." I hung up the phone with her and cried. Literally. I knew for a fact that I was in active labor, and sure, I could have gone to the hospital anyway, but I was being stubborn and decided to wait until my regularly scheduled appointment that morning to see how I'd progressed.
Since it was my regular appointment, they had scheduled me for an ultrasound to check my fluid levels, and a non-stress test to check on the baby, as well as my usual pee-in-a-cup / blood pressure / measure baby drill, since if I made it to Friday, they assumed they would be scheduling an induction, and all of those things have to be checked first. Well, when I got there, I told the front desk that I really didn't think I needed to go through the drill of the ultrasound and NST since I was currently in labor. She said to go have a seat in the waiting room for the ultrasound, but she would call back to the nurse and tell them what I thought. A minute later, my least favorite nurse (of course), came to tell me that this is their procedure and blah blah blah and I said "Even if I'm in active labor?" and her eyebrows rose to her hairline and she said "You're in active labor?" (I had seen a different nurse the previous day, whom I LOVE). I told her that I was, and she didn't care, and sent me to do the ultrasound anyway. I cried again in the waiting room, in front of a couple who weren't nearly as far along as me - I probably scared them half to death. Anyway, the ultrasound tech called me back mid-cry, I laid down on the table and had several contractions in the few minutes I was in there, which were exacerbated by the fact she was rubbing the wand all over my tummy.
When she was finished, I walked back over the midwife waiting area, and they called me back right away. I praised the Lord when my midwife came into the room and told me she would check me before making me do the NST. Lo and behold, I was 5 cm, 100% effaced. Why did no one BELIEVE me? Talk about frustrating. Anyway, she told us to go straight to the hospital and I was elated, ecstatic and thrilled that relief was on its way!
When we got to the hospital, I realized I hadn't had any breakfast and knew that I wouldn't be able to eat for hours and hours so I ate a quick chocolate chip granola bar while Steven was parking the car. We went up to Labor & Delivery and they wheeled me right on back to our room, 258. Before I had any signs of labor, I wasn't 100% sold on the fact that I would get an epidural. I figured I'd play it by ear and just see how I felt when the time came. Well, there was absolutely no question in my mind that I needed one. At this point, I had been laboring for 33 hours with no sleep. They quickly gave me a bag of fluids and the anesthesiologist was in my room within an hour to administer the epidural. Boy, was I glad to see him! By 11 a.m., my tummy and legs were gloriously numb. But let's talk about the epidural for a second. I had always assumed that I wouldn't be able to feel anything and my legs would feel paralyzed. That so wasn't the case. While I couldn't feel my contractions or my thighs, I could still move my legs and could feel my feet and toes. It was great. After my epidural, the midwife on call from my OB practice came into the room to check me. I was already 7 cm and hadn't been at the hospital 2 hours yet! We all thought for sure that I would have a baby soon. She came back a couple hours later to check again and I was still 7 cm. Bummer. So, unfortunately, they had to start me on a Pitocin drip. I was only on the Pitocin for maybe an hour or two and I was fully dilated! Hallelujah!
Our family left the delivery room and I started pushing at 5:45 p.m. The first hour of pushing was easy. I couldn't feel anything, the midwife said I was doing a good job (meaning the baby was descending nicely into the birth canal), and I was happy that she was on her way! After that, my pushes weren't being very effective (and they had to tell me when to push since I couldn't feel my contractions), so the midwife asked me what I thought about having anesthesia come in and lower my epidural level so I could at least feel when to push. At first, I said I didn't like that idea at all, but she talked me into it, and they lowered it from 12CCs to 8CCs. A few pushes later and it felt like my epidural had all but disappeared. I told the nurse that I wanted it raised again, and they did. But I never got it back. I could feel everything from about 7 p.m. until she was born at 7:58.
There were a few points where I really didn't feel like I would be able to do it. I thought to myself, how in the world can I survive this pain long enough to bring our baby girl into the world? However, when my midwife said that if I didn't make more progress in the next 20 minutes, she would have to go get the OB on call (from the same practice) to see about using forceps to deliver the baby, I gained a new determination to push this baby out as soon as possible! I fought through every contraction and pushed as hard as I could. Steven's job was to hold one end of a baby blanket while I pulled on the other end (tug-of-war style) every time I pushed, for leverage. (5 days later and my arms are still sore...) When I heard "1/3 of her head is out!" I knew it wouldn't be long now, and even though the pain was almost unbearable, there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Sydney Leigh was born at 7:58 p.m. They placed her on my chest where she cried it out and looked into my eyes. Daddy got to cut the cord. For the next 2 hours, there was a flurry of activity while they cleaned her up, weighed and measured her, and Daddy got to hold her for the first time. Oh, and I got stitched up. 2nd degree tears. Ouch. Total labor time = 44 hours. Wowza.
Our family came in to visit around 10:30 p.m. and everyone was so happy to see her and to FINALLY get to know her name! Did I tell you guys that we'd been keeping it a secret? It nearly killed everyone not to know. We just liked the name Sydney - it's not a family name and doesn't hold any significance for us, except that we both liked it and agreed on it. Leigh was Steven's mom's middle name. She passed away in 2010 after a fight with breast cancer so we always knew that some part of her would live on in our children.
Sydney sleeps most of the day, yet wants to cluster feed at night. We were up last night from about 2:45 to 5:45 constantly feeding and changing diapers. However, she did let us sleep from 11 to 2:45 and 5:45 to 8, so actually, last night was our biggest success yet! She eats like a champ, but is having issues with spitting up, which they're keeping an eye on at her pediatrician. She had her first doctor appointment yesterday and she was down from her birth weight 9%. They don't want it to get past 10% so we were put under orders to feed feed feed and to not lie her down until 30 minutes after a feeding (to help the milk stay in her tummy). We go back tomorrow for a follow-up and I'm hopeful that she will have gained a few ounces!
I'm recovering well. Still sore and finding it hard to move around much, but it's getting better each day. Sydney and I are getting the hang of breast feeding and it gets easier and easier each time. I'm so thankful for that. A couple days ago, I wondered how in the world I was going to be able to do this. Speaking of which, baby Syd is licking her lips as we speak.
I love being a mom.