Friday, July 22, 2011

She's here!

She's finally arrived!!!  5 days early from her due date, but I'm not complaining :)    Here's her birth story for anyone who is interested:  Whew! Here goes!

My due date was pegged for July 16, but little Gracie (thankfully) decided to make her appearance 5 days early. On Wednesday, the 6th, I had a doctor's appointment and found out that I was 60% effaced and dilated 1 cm. My cervix was "nice and soft" as my doctor put it, but he didn't seem to think that she would be arriving any sooner than when she was "due." Little did he know...

Sunday, the 10th, I woke up around 4am with contractions—I was so paranoid that I wouldn’t know when I was in “real labor” vs. just BH contractions and everyone reassured me that I “would know.” Well, based on the pain in my back and the tightening of my stomach, “I knew.” The thing is, there was no rhyme or reason to the contractions. They would get really close together and then spread way apart…so we went about our day in an effort to keep my mind off of the lack of progress. We went to church, had lunch with the family, relaxed that evening and the only thing consistent about the contractions is that they weren’t consistent. HA. I had plenty of bloody show throughout the day so I went to bed with the feeling that Grace would be here soon, but I had no idea when!

Well, at 1am Monday morning (the 11th), I woke up to a much more INTENSE contraction. I was DEFINITELY experiencing some serious back labor and it took my breath away. I tried to get back to sleep, but basically couldn’t do anything but breathe and moan through the pain. It really started to sink in that “this was it” and after 2 hours of laboring in the bed (with Chad snoozing beside me, completely unaware) I decided to get in the shower and see if that changed anything. At this point, contractions had been coming about every 5 minutes and they were not getting any easier. After having about 3 contractions in the shower I thought it might be time to let Chad in on the fact that we were probably going to have a baby that day. I wobbled back into the bedroom, turned on the bedside light and announced to Chad, “I think it’s time to go to the hospital.” He sprang out of bed and by
4am we were on our way. My contractions were moving into the 3-4 minute range at this point and it was a 45 minute drive to the hospital on a 2 lane road so we had a fun little adventure getting there.

We were checked into labor/delivery by 5am and the nurse came in to get me set up in bed. She checked me and I was only 2 cms and I was so mad! After 24 hours of “real” contractions, I had only dilated one more centimeter. I didn’t have time to vent my frustration though because my contractions were coming in quickly and STRONG so I was a little busy trying to crush my husband’s fingers as I breathed through the pain. The nurse assured me that we were gonna stay and have a baby, so I texted my mom that she could come whenever she wanted to.

At about 830ish or so I reached a point that I realized that I needed some pain medication to help me cope with this back labor or else I would be waaaay too exhausted to push when the time came. One of my biggest fears was that Grace was going to be 10+ lbs (we didn’t know it at the time that she already was! And the doctors all thought she was about 8.5, but I’d had a gut feeling for the past 2 months that she was way bigger) and that I wouldn’t be able to push her out and would end up with an emergency c-section. I was very aware that my energy level was crashing right after each contraction. I asked for some IV meds—I was already hooked up because I was group b strep positive—but they didn’t even TOUCH the pain, only made me a little loopy. After a few more contractions from Hell I confessed to Chad that I thought I needed an epidural. It was not part of the original plan, but I knew that I needed some rest if I was gonna deliver vaginally. By 930/10 I was epiduralized (my own fancy word) and can I just say, BEST DECISION EVER. I was really frustrated that I wasn’t going to persevere naturally and did feel a little like I was giving up for going with the epidural, but I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was the right choice once the next
contraction came and I breezed right through it. All my labor at this point had been really
hard and all in my back and it was just so excruciating. The relief was WELCOME.

I was checked again and had progressed to about 4cms before the epidural, but since I was “pain free” at this point we decided to go ahead and take some pitocin to keep the ball rolling. The doctor was planning on coming back at lunch time to break my water,
but at 11am my water broke all on its own! I kept progressing each time I was checked and even worked a few cat naps in and by 2pm I was 8cm dilated. Nothing too exciting happened again until about 4pm when the nurse came back to check me (I was 9.5cm) and said, “Let’s get ready to push!” It hit me like a ton a bricks that I was definitely gonna have a baby! The nurse left to check with my doctor and I was left with my emotions (I hadn’t cried yet at this point, but I’m a pretty emotional person and I had been holding back the tears all day) and I spent the next little bit of time wrapping my head around the idea that in a matter of minutes (hopefully not hours) I would be holding my little girl in my arms.

The nurse came back about 20 minutes later and announced that we were gonna start pushing and I was hit with a wall of tears, but I held them back—barely. Thankfully, I was able to keep my mind off of it because things were getting crazy as I got into “pushing
position.” With Chad on one side and the nurse on the other, I started pushing through the contractions, 3 pushes for each, and it definitely took a couple to get the hang on it, but the nurse assured me that Grace was moving with every push-no matter how ineffective it
might’ve felt to me. She was still sunny side up so every once in awhile the doctor and the nurse would get a good giggle out of the way that Grace would wiggle and squirm through each push, trying to turn to face the right way—I’m pretty sure that I was cracking jokes
with everyone throughout the whole process, ESPECIALLY when Chad “disappeared” briefly
to grab a Sprite (from inside the room—he didn’t venture out to the vending machines) and I had a contraction coming on, so I was getting ready to push and I looked over and there’s Chad, chilling by my bedside, sipping a Sprite!? HA—c’mon daddy—we gotta push!! He told me he needed a drink (I’m sure that Sprite was not the kind he meant), but I was just happy that he didn’t pass out or anything. After about a half hour of pushing, I felt Grace crowning and I thought, “Oh my head, (or her head) I can’t possible stretch any further!!” I was definitely right because as her head finally pushed through, I tore in 2 places, top and bottom (2nd degree—ouch!) and boy did it burn. As I pushed Grace’s shoulders out, I noticed how the doctor lugged her out onto the table and then literally heaved her onto my chest and promptly announced to the room, “she’s a toddler!” while all the medical staff gasped inawe at her size. I didn’t notice that she was huge or that she was so totally covered in vernix and blood, but immediately burst into tears and held onto her with all I had. I was so overwhelmed that the little girl that I had been carrying for 39 weeks was actually in my arms! Chad cut the cord and we had a super emotional moment together as a family. Then they moved her to the table beside me to clean her up and weigh her: 10lbs, 4 oz and she felt everypound. One solid baby!

I got all stitched up, tried our first round of breastfeeding, family arrived to see Grace and eventually we headed off to our room. Because of being Group B positive, we had to stay 48 hours from delivery time (4:57pm) so we were in the hospital from 5am Monday morning, until 5pm Wednesday evening. Total, I was in labor for 16 hours on Monday (I don’t really count all my time spent contracting on Sunday) and I managed to do half of that medicine free. Now Grace is a week and half old and the love of our lives :) Being a mother has been challenging—some things come easily and other things don’t feel natural at all, but we’re working on it! It’s definitely a learning process for both of us.

Now, I know that my recovery is NOTHING compared to what you ladies who had c-sections had to go through, but I can say that I fely completely un-prepared for the physical recovery from vaginal delivery, especially with 2 tears and one being 2nd degree. I wish that someone would have told me what it might've been like, 'cause it's exhausting to wrap your head around the damage done to your body AFTER it's all happened. I was prepared for the possblity of tearing, but I guess I just never got it in my head that it would make things so much harder. Again, you cesarean ladies get MAJOR props for going through what you did--you are all my heroes!
There ya go ladies! I can’t tell a short story, so hopefully you’ve made it to the end of this.

Grace Estelle Hughes, 7/11/11, 4:57pm, 10lb 4 oz, 22 in long, absolutely GORGEOUS.

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