January 23, 2019

arden rae | a birth story

Since it has been over a year I decided it was time to get Arden's birth story completed.  It took me a while to get through this post.  Partly because of lack of time, partly because honestly, I needed to process it.  Arden arrived safely without any complications and that is what is important.  But the birth didn't go as I had imagined, and I'm carrying a lot of regret and guilt over it.  Doing my best to let it go, and simply love my sweet girl who is getting so big and growing so fast!

After my blood pressure leveled out I no longer needed an early induction, which was surprising, sad, and great all at the same time.  I was hoping to meet my girl as soon as possible, but we enjoyed our last family days, and I also held on to a shred of hope that I might go into labor on my own and not make it to our scheduled elective induction.  I felt slightly guilty for scheduling the elective induction, but the reality is having the childcare and Chris's days off and such planned out ahead of time was nice.  So on January 12th, and 39 weeks exactly, we set off for the hospital to meet our baby girl.  Here is my not so great recap of her birthday!


January 12th, 2018

I woke up around 3:30am needing to go to the bathroom.  I was bummed, come on body, couldn't you let me sleep soundly the last hour before my alarm went off?  I was worried I wouldn't be able to fall back asleep, but it must not have taken long, because the next thing I knew my 4:30am alarm was going off.  I laid in bed for a few minutes feeling baby girl move.  This was it, the last morning I would ever wake up pregnant.  EVER.  I was trying to take it all in.  Her movements.  My belly.  All of it.  But we were planning to leave by 5:30am so I needed to get moving.  I hopped in the shower to rinse off and attempted to shave my legs.  Meh.  Better than nothing.  Then I put on some make-up and ran the straightner through my hair while putting together the last minute things in my bags.  Of course I wound up running behind.  But my dad came over to be with the big girls, I finished up getting ready, and by 5:40am we were on our way to Kansas City.

The highway was surprisingly busy in the 6am hour.  Thankfully despite some rough weather the day before, the roads were clear and the drive wasn't bad at all.  I was anxious, naturally.  Just wondering how the day would go, what time she would be born, would I make it without an epidural, would my nurses suck or be great... etc. etc. etc.  Just random things bouncing around in my head.  Christopher and I chatted on and off, but I was mostly lost in my own thoughts.

We pulled into the parking garage of the hospital right at 6:40am.  Man was it cold outside.  And when I got out of the car my body was stiff from sitting.  We grabbed the few things we were taking into labor & delivery, and I waddled my way into the lobby.  It's a small trek up to labor & delivery, but we made it, checked in at the nurses station, and were in my room by 6:50.  They brought me a gown to change into.  Everything just felt so surreal.  Seeing the bassinet with the sweet tiny baby items.  I was having a baby.  My last baby.  All those little movements I was feeling in my belly, it was my daughter whom I would soon meet.  Life is crazy.

one last belly picture

Anyway, I got changed and situated in the bed.  My nurse came in, she was great.  She was pregnant with her third girl, so we had a few things we could chat about.  I answered all the intake questions, and it was time to start my IV.  By 7:30am my doctor came in, and before we had even started pitocin she broke my water.  Alrighty then, we weren't wasting any time!  And clearly she needed to get to her office.  Lol.  At 8:00am the pitocin was turned on, and it didn't take long for the contractions to begin.  By 8:30am they were coming every 3 to 4 minutes, and while I could definitely manage them, they were 'legit' contractions.

For the next couple hours I browsed instagram, chatted with my husband and photographer, and labored.  I was handling the contractions alright.  They were uncomfortable, but manageable.  To be perfectly honest during the time the biggest issue was that I was annoyed by the leaking fluid, and I constantly felt like I needed to use the restroom.  Because I did.  I spent the last three+ weeks of pregnancy fighting constipation and the constant contractions were... complicating that.  I spent a short chunk of time just laboring in the bathroom, trying to deal with it.  When I came back into the room I decided to try and walk around to labor.  Contractions picked up but I felt much more comfortable standing than I did lying in the bed.  I continued on like that for a bit, but then I just couldn't get in a groove.  The nurse checked me around 10:45am and I was 4cm. 

And here is where hindsight starts to kick in.  I should have tried laboring on a ball, or asked the nurse for ideas on how to cope.  I never prepared for a natural birth, but secretly I wanted one, so I had no clue what I was doing.  I should have asked for help.  I should have asked everyone to stop talking to me.  I should have turned on some music.  But I didn't.  I started feeling incredibly nauseous, and I wanted to lay down.  But laying down was so uncomfortable.  I was hot and sweaty and just wanted to puke.  Based on some text messages with a friend I'm guessing I threw in the towel and asked for an epidural shortly after 11:30.


When I got in the bed for the epidural the contractions began to intensify even more.  It was so hard to sit still through them.  And when the doctor placed the catheter I could tell something wasn't right.  It was uncomfortable on my right side.  She asked if I was in pain.  But it wasn't pain.  I just knew it wasn't right.  I was trying to explain it but the contractions were so uncomfortable.  I couldn't get out the right words.  She checked to see if she could get some medicine in.  Then I felt even more sick.  Apparently I went rather pale as well, and my blood pressure started dropping.  I can't remember what exactly happened.  I laid on my back for a bit, and I started feeling the epidural take on my right, but NOT FREAKING AT ALL on my left.  I could feel everything.  Again based on text messages, the epidural must have been placed around 12:15ish, by 12:30 I felt like it wasn't working properly.  The nurse checked me and I was 7cm.

They had me lay on my left side to try and get the medicine to 'flow over there' but nothing was helping.  I felt like I was dying, but at this point my right side was completely useless.  I couldn't move or do anything.  The nurse kept telling me that epidurals can't take away all the sensations, that there would still be uncomfortable pressure.  Woman, this was not 'uncomfortable pressure'.  It was if someone had drew a line straight down the middle of my body and the right side was good to go, the left was being beaten to death.  I couldn't open my eyes, I couldn't focus, I couldn't do anything.  It hurt so much and I had zero ability to deal with it.  Again, these time references are vague but I think around 12:45pm I felt like I was ripping open, I'm going to assume this is the ring of fire reference.  I felt completely out of control.  I felt like I had to push right then and there.  They checked me again, 10cm, and baby girl was right there.


We had to wait for my OB to run from her clinic to the hospital (they're connected).  Naturally it felt like an eternity.  They were telling me not to push.  I was crying out "I can't do this," and the nurses kept reassuring me that I could.  But I could feel my body trying to push.  That kid wanted out.  I honestly didn't see my doctor come in, I still wasn't opening my eyes.  The nurses put me on my back and put my legs in the stirrups.  I still couldn't move on my own at all.  I was finally given the go ahead to push.  Two short pushes later, sunny side up with a hand by her head, Arden was officially Earth side at 1:04pm.

I can't even begin to describe the amount of emotion that flooded through me after that.  I was so grateful Arden was born, safely and healthy.  Thrilled to be meeting my daughter.  A small part of me mourned the daughter I never met.  And a huge part of me was trying to soak in every single second.  That was it.  That was the last time I'll ever hold a brand new baby, one that I grew and protected in my body for nine months.  It was too much to hold in, so it all came out in a flood of tears.  I cradled Arden while the placenta was delivered and cried and cried.  I was also uncontrollably shaking which was driving me mad at the time.  I was ready to relax and study my girl, but my body couldn't do it just yet.


The rest of the day is fairly fuzzy in my brain, but while we were having some skin to skin time I realized my right side was still very much numb.  I mentioned it and the nurse realized the epidural was never turned off.  Fantastic.  Insert large eye roll here, but I'll move on.  They looked Arden over while we were snuggling, and shortly after we made our first attempt at nursing.  She latched on like a champ.  It felt like such a relief, she was in my arms and feeding and settling right in to place.  At some point we ordered me some lunch.  More snuggling, more nursing, repeat repeat.

Because of how the epidural situation went down and how everything progressed, I never had a catheter placed, therefore they needed me to use the restroom before I could be moved to the mother baby room.  Except my right leg was still completely numb from the hip down.  Not ideal but the nurse was excited because they had the opportunity to use some contraption they had recently received.  I can't remember the name of it, but basically they were able to slide me over to stand on it supported, then close some sort of seat behind me.  Then I was wheeled into the bathroom and they could push me all the way to the toilet, have me lean forward on the supports of the device, open the seat, and easily lower me on to the toilet.  More information than anyone needed I'm sure, but I can see how beneficial it is to use instead of a wheel chair.  No one else really had to lift me, or carry me or anything, because of how the seat functioned.  Once that was taken care of we got loaded up and headed over to the mother baby room.


My right side remained almost completely numb just over four hours after delivery.  It was frustrating and uncomfortable and I wasn't allowed to get out of bed on my own.  But that was really the worst thing that happened throughout our entire stay in the hospital so I shouldn't complain.  Oh except they told me I had a 'lazy uterus' that didn't shrink as quickly as they would have liked.  The nurse said something to the affect that after four pregnancies it was just a little worn out.  Ha.  Making me feel old and useless.  Whatever.

On Saturday my parents brought the girls up to meet their sister.  That was a circus, but oh so amazing.  Our family was complete and we were all together.  Thea did great and didn't seem the least bit upset about me having the baby.  The girls were incredibly cute... and incredibly wound up.  We lasted about 45 minutes with them there before we'd had a little too much and needed a quiet room again.  Sorry girls!


We had a few more visitors throughout our stay, but mostly spent a lot of time enjoying the quiet, nursing, and snuggling.  It snowed while we were in the hospital, which made the drive home a little daunting, but nothing terrible.

It may not have been the birth I imagined in my head, but Arden, baby girl, I'd do it again in a heart beat to have you in my life.