I have always been a huge fan of birth stories and I imagined writing Cecelia's for so long that it feels surreal typing the actual words. I don't think that any written story can fully capture the magic, emotions, and intensity of a baby's birthday but I'm definitely going to try my best so that I never forget meeting our baby girl for the first time.
And here is her birth story in photos if you'd rather just see the pictures.
The short story for those of you who aren't into these details as much as me: I started timing contractions on Sunday night at 10pm but was NOT convinced it was labor. At about 3 am I got Nate and said we should probably go, still worried we'd be turned away at the hospital, but my pain was getting a lot worse. At 4:30 I was a 2-3cm when I was checked after triage, was a 4cm by 5:30, progressed really fast after this, so epidural at 6:15 when I was at an 8cm. I started feeling more horrible pain at 7:30 even with the epi and was found to be 9cm. By 7:55 am I was complete, so I pushed for 8 minutes and Cecelia was born at 8:05am. So yeah, went from a 2 to a 10 in about 3 hours without Pitocin this time, and pushed for about 5 contractions total. And with Truman's birth, as soon as my water broke, I went from a 2 to 10 in just 2 hours but then pushed for an hour and 10 minutes after that.
And the longer story...
I should start with my OB appointment on Friday 5/25, since I never updated the blog afterward. At 39 weeks, 2 days I was not dilated at all but was 75% effaced and very soft. The internal was a little rough just because she really had to get in there and hunt for my posterior cervix. She straight up asked me if I wanted to be induced the next week and we talked about it for awhile, setting the date for Friday, June 1 if nothing happened before then. My OB assured me that my body would tolerate Pitocin well again, that baby girl was big and strong enough, and she gave me a big hug hoping to see me in a week so she could be the one to deliver me with the induction. My BP was actually up a bit that day, although she didn't seem worried, but at 138/80 I took that as another sign that my body just needed to get the baby out sooner than later.
I left that appointment feeling super excited and relieved that we had a final end date in sight, and when I started bleeding an hour later it became even more 'real' because I really thought that might be my bloody show. Or just an irritated cervix from the internal exam, but either way it was definitely the beginning of the end. I was sort of bummed when nothing else happened that night and my bleeding stopped. Just another one of those 'this could be it' moments that lead to a whole bunch of nothing. Sigh.
Even before my OB appointment that day, I made the final decision to be done with work no matter what--even if that meant I was overdue and wasted a week of maternity leave at home being pregnant. I just couldn't do it anymore and was excited to pack away my work computer for 12 weeks. I decided that next week could be a fun family time with both Nate and I off of work, and came up with a huge To Do list to keep myself busy until baby finally arrived.
The rest of the weekend we stayed busy, took a lot of walks outside, I bounced on the exercise ball and painted the hallway like a madwoman. On Sunday, 5/27/12, we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary.
(our bobble heads, who have aged very poorly as you can see)
It was seriously one of the best days we've had as a family because we had SO much fun together enjoying a hot and sunny day, not worrying about whether or not baby girl would come on her own or if she'd make us wait until Friday. We had a big pancake breakfast together at home, then walked to a new playground in our area and died over Truman being SO into the place.
Tru took a nap while I painted and then I took a shower to get ready for our 'date night'. In the shower I noticed that I was feeling a lot of discomfort and CeCe was kicking me like crazy, to the point of actual pain. I tried really hard not to let myself get too excited and we took Truman to my in-laws before going out to eat.
My belly felt super hard and different that night and I wanted to take a belly picture to capture the state of my bump before we left. 39 weeks, 4 days:
At dinner I told Nate I was just feeling really crampy and 'off' but I was sure it was nothing other than the same old false labor stuff. We had an awesome dinner, then dessert with decaff coffee outside as the sun set.
We got Truman and put him to bed at home like always, and I didn't even allow myself to think, 'when he wakes up we might not be here,' since I'd been thinking that for every bedtime in the past week or so without anything happening. We hung out downstairs after Truman was down, and I talked to my parents on the phone while Nate talked to his brother. I was really feeling the pressure at this point, like everyone was just waiting for our call and wondering if I was still pregnant. I felt like I was letting everyone down with each day I stayed pregnant but I knew it was ridiculous to feel that way, since people were just excited to hear the news.
Around 10 pm, I reluctantly started timing 'contractions' on my phone again while bouncing on my exercise ball. I was shocked to see they were consistently 5-6 minutes apart and lasting 45-60 seconds because every other time I was timing them, they'd usually start at 10 minutes and never get closer than about 6 minutes apart. I was having a lot of pressure, peeing a ton, but wouldn't really say they were painful.
At 11 pm Nate asked if he should go to bed or not and I told him absolutely--because I figured within the next hour I'd know if something was happening or not. I really wanted to go to bed, too, but was afraid if I did they'd stop like they always did before. So I took the other road and became psychotic about bouncing on the ball and walking around and talking to my belly, begging CeCe to come out and play with us. I was reading blogs, specifically birth stories, watching every single recording on the DVR, and listening to music. My pain was only about a 3-4/10 which wasn't enough to have me convinced, but was a lot more painful than any other BH contractions I'd had. I texted Andrea with the news but was really nervous about jinxing things or getting her hopes up if this was another fake out.
At midnight I noted that my contractions were now 4 minutes apart and the pain was into the 5-6/10 range, meaning I had to focus on breathing through some of them. I noted a very small amount of pink-tinged mucous once when I peed and figured it was time to call the hospital and talk about my options. The nurse was really nice but basically said it was up to me, thinking this was probably the start of labor but there was no way to know if I was actually progressing without checking me. I wanted to have enough time to get my antibiotics for my positive GBS status, but I did NOT want to be turned away for not being far enough along if we got there too soon. So we agreed that I'd call back in about an hour and see if anything had changed. I decided to snap a 'final' belly pic during this part of labor because I was bored and amped up and wondered if it could seriously be The End of pregnancy. Note the exercise ball in the back:)
39 weeks + 5 days: in labor, on Memorial Day!
At 1:30 am, I was walking around the house and had to stop during contractions which were about 6/10 on the pain scale. The entire contraction was about a minute long but the pain only lasted for the first 10-15 seconds or so. But the most maddening part was they were sometimes still 4 minutes apart but sometimes I'd go 7-9 minutes without a contraction. I was finally convinced I was in labor but still thought it might fizzle out and stop all together. I'd lay down to rest and 'give up control' but then I'd freak out that I was stopping my labor and I'd hop back up again. I was totally annoying myself at this point and had no reason to call back to L&D since I didn't know what I wanted to do. At 2:15 I felt a very small 'pop' and went to the bathroom where I thought my water was breaking, as I said, 'Okay here we go!' But then it just stopped and didn't keep on coming like it had with Truman's water breaking. So I wrote that off as a gas bubble with pee but in hindsight, I think that was actually a slow leak starting for me and I totally talked myself out of believing it at the time. All I wanted was a 'sign' that this was the real deal and I pretty much ignored my water breaking, the blood tinged 'show', and the mucous, too. I was seriously a head case, you guys, just so uncertain of everything going on so much differently than my first labor.
After that, I convinced myself that labor probably stopped. I wasn't timing contractions anymore and was just trying to rest. But at 3:00 I finally came to my senses and knew that my labor had only gotten more intense. My pain was now 7/10 but the contractions were no longer perfectly spaced out at 4 minutes, coming anywhere from 4-9 minutes. I was still losing a bit of my plug with a bit of blood and decided to call the hospital to say I was coming in. I was excited when I walked upstairs to tell Nate the news, but also still very hesitant to believe it was actually happening. I laid down with Nate and he asked what was going on. I told him that I was in a decent amount of pain with each (irregular) contraction but in between I felt 100% normal, and was second-guessing myself with the decision to go to the hospital. Then I had a contraction and couldn't talk through it and immediately said, 'Okay, this is dumb, we need to go'. Nate called his parents and I heard the urgency in his voice when he simply said, 'We need you to come over now, okay? Bye.'
I grabbed the rest of my things for my hospital bag and when Tony got here I was in no mood to chat, I just wanted to go and see if I was dilated at all. The car ride up there wasn't too bad, although it was a 20 minute drive, because there was no traffic and I only had about 3 contractions while on the road. It was seriously so exciting and surreal to make the trip in the middle of the night while in labor, since Nate and I never got to experience that part of it before. We both sensed that we were on the cusp of starting the next chapter in our lives with this car ride, and although we were both really calm I think we were pretty nervous, too.
We checked in to the admitting department at 3:40 and the lady seemed really frazzled about me having contractions in front of her, but I was trying to be very low-key and non-chalant about them as we took our wheelchair ride up in the elevator. The smells of the hospital---the same one where I birthed Truman, but also where Nate and I worked for a few years---brought back a lot of memories for me. I could not believe it was really happening!
We arrived to the triage room and met my nurse, Sarah, who was super nice and laid back. I tried my best to be patient with her but she had Nate step out of the room after I got gowned up, so she could ask me the 'private' questions they needed for my history form. And um, seriously, it took 45 freaking minutes. Which means I was having contractions left and right, without my husband, while I told her that no, I did not have a history of Sickle Cell Anemia and yes, you can check my reflexes while I lay here in pain. The baby was being monitored and she sounded fabulous and my BP was just a little high with readings in the 120's/90's. FINALLY she checked me after taking so long with the questions (and apologizing along the way, but still!) and I was a 2-3 cm. She said she'd call the OB on call but assumed I was getting to stay in light of my GBS status and quick labor history. Nate came back in the room and I was beyond relieved to see my hubby's face at this point, and I felt really bad he had to be gone for so long worried about what was happening in that little triage room. The nurse came back and took us to our room saying that the OB did want to keep me and get started on the antibiotics. She informed us that we'd be in room 247 and my jaw dropped---the same exact room where I had Truman! I felt like that was a little sign from God saying, 'It's all going to be okay, so just chill out.'
When we got to the room at 5am, I called my parents and texted friends to tell them it was really happening. My parents got up and started their 8 hour trek up north, super excited to see us but I could barely talk to my mom on the phone and had to give her over to Nate while I had a killer contraction. Andrea was also on her way to photograph the birth, and the nurse said we should just walk around a bit to get things going while she got set up for the IV. We made it about two laps before I decided I wanted those antibiotics asap, because I just felt like my contractions were already changing. And I really hated being 'that girl' in the hallway that was stopping with each contraction and breathing through the pain. At this point Nate was helping me tremendously to stay focused, holding my hand, and telling me to breathe slowly. But I was already feeling a little nervous that these contractions were going to get a lot worse before I'd meet our baby girl.
At 5:30 I got into the bed for the nurse to start the IV and just a few minutes later, CeCe's heart rate dropped from her normal 130s down to a very slow and scary 90. I felt the whole world stopping as the nurse frantically had me switch positions, grabbed the oxygen for me, and told me to breathe deep. I looked at Nate and he gave me a worried face, too, and I said, 'Why is it so slow now?' I let myself 'go there' and imagined baby girl under a lot of distress, not tolerating contractions this early in the game without any meds, which made me jump to conclusions about emergency c-sections and really horrible outcomes. Cord prolapse? Placental abruption? The nurse checked me thinking maybe I was progressing super fast, which caused the drop in rate, but I was only a 4cm. Finally Cecelia's heart rate filled the room with a glorious sound of 135 beats per minute, but this little glitch shook my confidence like none other. Maybe she had just moved and the nurse couldn't find her (since C was kicking me like crazy right before that happened), but I couldn't help but start to feel a little panicky over this ending badly. That feeling of doom and gloom never really left even after Cecelia was born for at least the first few hours and I hate that I let my negativity get to me at all, but it was seriously so scary. I remember praying to God to just let her get here safely, and tried to convince myself that He must really want her to make it if he allowed her to get past my horrible first trimester and brought us through my miscarriage. I knew deep down that this little girl was going to be in our arms soon but old insecurities and pain kept coming to the surface.
At 5:45 I first asked for the epidural. And at 6:00 I was checked, found to be at 6 cm, and started 'begging' for one according to Nate's notes. I told him my pain was 10/10 with each contraction and I just couldn't handle it anymore. Breathing and focusing was not working anymore and I started to let the panic set in even more. Andrea arrived right when I was reaching this breaking point and when she knocked on our door, I was SO hoping it was the anesthesiologist that the nurse had promised was 'on her way'. I was convinced she kept telling me that just to keep me calm, but in my head I had decided that they hadn't even contacted the doctor and I'd be in pain forever. Very level-headed at this point while headed into transition, huh?
The anesthesiologist finally arrived at 6:15 (which is hilarious because I remember it taking about one hour, not 15 minutes). I tried my best to stay still and listen to her instructions but I was really and truly at the breaking point and just wanted her to get it over with. When she told me I would feel some relief in 2-3 more contractions it sounded like the cruelest thing in the entire world to me at that moment. I remember Nate sitting in front of me while I was at the edge of the bed, half crying and half breathing through each contraction. The nurses were being super supportive, too, telling me this was the hardest part and I was doing a great job. I remember feeling pretty proud of myself for making it this far without an epidural and definitely felt more 'in control' than I did with Truman's labor. No screaming at the top of my lungs or yelling obscenities like the chick from The Exorcist. This time my curse words were at a very tolerable volume level and Nate even commented that his ears weren't even bleeding this time around. :)
The OB on call arrived while I was getting my epi and she was very nice, but pretty soft spoken and quiet compared to my regular OB who I adore. She checked me once the epidural finally took hold and I was a 7-8 cm already. I was really confused about why I was still feeling the contractions at all, even though the pain had decreased from a previous 10/10 down to a 5/10. With my first epidural, I was acting such a fool that they cranked up the meds to the point where I was falling asleep and not feeling a single thing even while pushing. This time I felt it all, just at a slightly more tolerable level of pain. I didn't really like that because I just wanted pure relief at this point, but the anesthesiologist convinced me that it was a good thing to feel pressure so pushing would be easier. I was not totally convinced but I figured anything was better than 30 minutes ago.
About one hour after getting the epidural, at 7:30 am, I suddenly felt pain increase back up to the 7/10 range and couldn't talk to Nate or Andrea anymore. The nurse checked me and I was a 9 cm dilated and she paged the OB to say I was getting close. Twenty minutes later, after more killer contractions WITH AN EPIDURAL (the horror!), I had her check me again because I thought I was reaching 'deathly pain' again, and sure enough, I was complete. She even said, 'Oh yeah, you are complete and ready to go' which I guess meant the horrendous pain I felt was supposed to be the urge to push. But honestly, all I felt was the pain and I wouldn't even call it true pressure. I had only been in this room for about 3 hours but it seemed like I had been in labor forever in my mind. I was SO ready to meet our girl and I remember glancing up at Nate and grinning at him, as if to say, 'Here we go, baby! Let's meet this little lady!'
They got the bed broken down so I could effectively push and the OB arrived ready to go. I started pushing at 7:58 am and had to admit, it felt really really amazing to be doing something active during each contraction. I was so motivated by the pain I was feeling, I even decided to push before I felt a contraction hit. So I'd push for the three counts of ten, then I'd rest and realize that 'Oh crap, THIS is when I should actually be pushing' and so I'd do it again. I was totally focused on each push and had no idea if I was doing it right or not, or how close she was to being born. So imagine my surprise when I cracked open one eye during a push and saw her perfect little baby face sticking out of my body.
I gave it one more push and out she came. The OB checked to make sure she was still a girl, asked for her name and both Nate and I said, 'Cecelia Lorene' through the tears and shock that our baby girl had finally arrived. They put her right up on my chest as I had asked, and I was totally in love with my daughter. I also felt a little concerned about her because she seemed so limp and tired after such a quick ride out into the world. She was crying, which was music to my ears, and then they took her to the warming table to check her over. Her Apgar was good at 8 and 8, but she got points taken off for slightly lower tone and color---because she wasn't as pink and angry compared to her big brother was at birth. In fact, she really stopped crying all together over on the table and was just looking around the room, holding onto Nate's hand, and checking it out. The nurses weighed her and then said they'd like her to do skin-to-skin with me because sometimes that helps babies with circulation and crying and I was all over it. I didn't like how pale she looked and I just wanted to hear her wail a bit more.
Sure enough, as soon as they brought her over to me and our skin touched she started to scream and turned the perfect shade of pink. I laughed and commented that it must be a GREAT sign if she freaks out as soon as mommy hold her but they all told me it was a perfectly healthy reaction. She wanted to nurse right away, too, rooting around my chest and when we gave it a shot I was completely in awe with how she just latched on without any trouble, sucking away like a pro. Our little girl might have been a little shocked and tired from her intense trip outside of the womb, but she was going to be just fine. I couldn't stop thanking God for this amazing miracle at my chest. Someday I'll have to tell her what a scare she gave us in her early pregnancy days but for now I'm just so happy she came out on her own, and picked her own birthday.
Of course, just to add another little worry to the mix: guess who only had time for half of the antibiotics for the positive GBS? Sigh. This again? So they drew her blood and watched her very closely for any signs of infection, but the tests were all negative. She was super sleepy that entire first day but still ate often and well, so I tried not to let that bother me too much--causing me to think 'something must be wrong' because obviously, this little baby is just as tough as her big brother.
I'll write more about my physical recovery in another post, but it's just been so much easier this time around. I only had a very small first degree tear which I'm sure helps a lot in the healing department. But overall this first week as a mom of two has been an amazing whirlwind that I'm surviving just fine, loving life most of the time and feeling sleep deprived and moody a little bit of the time. :) Pretty much par for the course this early in the game, I'd say.
(not the best family pic, but one of the first)
(daddy's girl already)
(can you believe the luck of capturing this smile?!?)
(going home outfit---dressing a little girl is dangerous, FYI)
(ready to enter the 'Real World'!)
So that is her story. Cecelia Lorene was born on Monday, May 28 at 8:05am. 7lbs 5oz and 20.5 inches long. Perfect in every way:)