This ice is delicious

When I was newly pregnant and given a due date of March 1st, one of the first things I thought was, “I won’t make it all the way to March.” Now, I feel like that was a little bit easy to assume since I’ve only made it to my due date once, but right from the beginning I figured I’d have a February baby. And right from the beginning I hoped for a baby born on Brian’s birthday, just for fun.

The Schedule ended up being all for naught as Will got sick on Sunday night with a stomach bug, causing me to cancel physical therapy for Daniel on Monday and my pre-natal visit with the pediatrician on Tuesday. Kalena also came down with an awful cold so she was home from school. We watched a lot of TV and did not much else. I started timing contractions Tuesday afternoon for a couple reasons. First, they were decidedly more intense than the ones I’d been having in the evenings and second, it was the middle of the day. Prior to that my daytime contractions were totally dependent on my activities, these were happening fairly often and fairly regularly despite all the sitting and TV watching. I started timing about 1 in the afternoon and around 3:30 I called Brian to let him know I was pretty sure this was the real thing. Not that I wanted him to come home, or even that I thought the baby would be born Tuesday, just that it was happening and he probably shouldn’t plan on going to work on Wednesday.

When Brian got home Tuesday I went upstairs to our room to continue timing contractions. At that point I was hoping this labor would be like my labor with Daniel, which started in the evening but then quit long enough for me to sleep and started up again the next morning. Around 10 pm the contractions slowed down some, to about 6 minutes apart (although the pattern was never very regular) and I tried to go to sleep around 11. Unfortunately I couldn’t sleep through them, and they were more intense even though they weren’t as close together. Around midnight I gave up on sleep and woke Brian up. I told him there was no way I was going to make it until morning before needing to go to the hospital so we might as well call someone now. So he called my friend (who had specifically offered to come sleep on our couch if we needed someone) and she came over. Brian had, fortunately, thought to alert the kids to the fact that we might not be there when they woke up. I had Brian take this picture while we were waiting to go, at which point he accused me of not being in real labor.


I assured him I was.

We got to the hospital a little after 1 am, got put in a triage room, the nurse checked me and said I was at about 5 cm. So I told her I wanted an epidural. Being tired makes it much harder for me to handle pain (this was very much true during Will’s labor also) and at this point, knowing 12 hours of contractions only put me at 5 cm dilated, I figured why wait? Of course, I DID have to wait, because I’m sure you’re aware, you can’t have an epidural without an IV placed! This was around 2 am, and somewhere in there I met the on-call doc for my practice. I remember feeling disappointed that my doctor wouldn’t be delivering, but mostly caring about when I could get some pain relief. I warned the nurses (AS I ALWAYS DO) that people have a hard time getting an IV in me but they ignored me (AS THEY ALWAYS DO) and the first nurse tried: nada. So a second nurse tried: nope. (Also, both of them dug around in my arm with the needle which I HATE and specifically asked them not to do.) At that point they agreed to just take me to the labor and delivery room and let the anesthesiologist place the IV when he came in. (The anesthesiologist also had to place my IV with Will AND with Daniel.) So off to an actual labor room, and happily, a quick arrival of the anesthesiologist. (One of the benefits they mentioned when we toured L&D is that anesthesiologists are at the hospital 24 hours a day. Definitely glad for that at 2 in the morning.) Finally got an IV placed, roughly 50 minutes after the nurses first started trying. He went ahead and did the epidural then, even though technically they want to get a bag of fluid through the IV first.

Epidural placed, it’s 3 am, and the nurse and I get to start a fun little game that goes like this: My blood pressure drops really low. Baby doesn’t like that. Put me on oxygen. But my heart rate is through the roof (140s-150s) so the anesthesiologist doesn’t want the nurse to give me ephedrine (which is what they’d normally give to get blood pressure up) so they hunt down something else and give me that. Blood pressure comes back up, baby looks good again, take me off oxygen. Then maybe 10 or 15 minutes later this happens again. Blood pressure drops, baby doesn’t like it, put me on oxygen, heart rate is still high so give me some more of the non-ephedrine stuff. Blood pressure back up, baby looks good, back off oxygen. Y’all I think we went round and round like that for about TWO HOURS. My blood pressure cuff was set to check every 3 minutes this whole time because it just KEPT HAPPENING. Every time my blood pressure dropped I got nauseated too which was fun. Finally my heart rate came down and the nurse switched to ephedrine which seemed to work better. We also repositioned me to to my left side which seemed to help with how the baby was doing. Brian, fortunately, got to sleep through most of that circus. (It was never serious, just a lot of adjusting and checking on things and medicating.) The nurse was great though, and we chatted for a lot of that time.

Anyway, blood pressure finally seems stable around 5 am so I got to nap. Then a little after 6 the nurse came to adjust the monitor, because it wasn’t picking up baby’s heart rate, and checked me. At that point I was at about 8 cm. I was a little disappointed to not be complete, because it meant my lovely nurse wouldn’t be there for the actual delivery since shift change was at 7. However! After the shift change they called my actual doctor and he came over and broke my water around 7:45 am. We laughed because I’d told him at my last regular appointment that I was hoping not to make it to my next one and it was scheduled for 1:45 that afternoon. I joked that I needed to make sure and call his office to cancel. He told me he was pretty sure he could remember to take care of that.

After he broke my water he guessed baby would be there within the hour. An hour later at 8:45 am we were still waiting. But by a few minutes after 9 the nurse checked me and said it was time to call the doctor! Conveniently, his practice is located IN the hospital building so it was just a matter of his walking over. There was a little meconium when my OB broke my water, not enough that he was really concerned, but they did bring in a NICU team for the actual delivery as a result. So while we were waiting on my OB the NICU nurse started explaining why they were there and possible complications from meconium. (Obviously we’re familiar since Kalena aspirated.) While we were waiting I started to feel a lot of pressure (new for me, since my epidurals with Will and Daniel were both VERY heavy. Like, I couldn’t move my legs, let alone feel any pressure.) so the nurse ended up calling my OB again to make sure he was on his way. He was, and made it into the room just a few minutes later, which was kind of anticlimactic actually since then we had to wait on a contraction before I could push. (During the wait everyone guessed boy or girl: the OB and the nurse guessed boy, Brian said girl, as he has all along.) But! One contraction was all it took! I pushed maybe 5 times and the OB held her up so we could see and announced that we had a girl!


(This, by the way, is the next photo on my camera after the one where I’m “not in labor”)

At 7 lbs 1 oz and 18 inches long, she is the smallest of our babies, but she came with a full head of hair just like the rest of them 🙂 The NICU team checked her out and everyone oohed and aahed over her hair and they declared her perfect, which she clearly is.





P.S. That title is for Erin. I texted that in one of my labor update texts because you know what? Hospital ice IS delicious. And my mouth was super dry during labor so that made it even better.

The labor and delivery

If you’re not a birth-story person you can skip to pictures at the end. If you ARE a birth-story person, here it is:

Contractions actually started around 3 pm Saturday afternoon. They were between 2 and 5 minutes apart and intense enough that I spent much of the evening alone in my room relaxing through them. Then around 8 they started getting more sporadic and by 10 they had basically quit. At that point I was glad we hadn’t gone to the hospital yet, because I really didn’t want to go and get sent home. (I got sent home with Kalena and Will, only to have the baby later that day both times.)

Anyway, I went to bed and managed to get some sleep; contractions only woke me once or twice. They started up again around 5:30 Sunday morning. This time they were considerably more intense, and I was sure I’d be having the baby that day. I directed Brian around packing a hospital bag, something I hadn’t gotten done. The contractions didn’t settle into any very regular pattern, but by 8:30 I was ready to leave for the hospital. We left a little later and got settled into a room shortly before 9 (we live like 2 minutes from the hospital.) The nurse checked me and told me I was at a “good 5.” At that point we knew I’d be staying. Brian called Kirsta (who was here for spring break) because she had offered to be a labor coach if I wanted. I was pretty sure I would be getting an epidural, but told her she was welcome to come and be there for delivery if she wanted.

Here I am in labor:

Smiling because I was SO ready to have the baby and we knew we’d be staying!

Anyway, my doctor came in around 9:30, broke my water, and okayed the epidural order. However, I didn’t have an IV yet so that was next on the agenda. I told the nurse that it might be hard to get an IV placed (it took an hour when I had Will) so she said she’d call someone if she couldn’t do it. She tried, but couldn’t get one started so she called the emergency response people or some such because they’re really good at IVs. But, believe it or not, they were taking care of emergency things, so they couldn’t come up. At that point the nurse informed me that I’d have to wait at least an hour for the epidural because there was a c-section happening at 10 (this was just before 10) and the anesthesiologist would be there until it was over. My doctor was actually the one doing the c-section because she was the one on call, so it’s a good thing I didn’t deliver while that was going on.

ANYWAY. We continued to wait on someone to come place an IV knowing that if nobody had done it by the time the c-section was over, the anesthesiologist would do it. So I labored from 10:00 to 11:00 while Kirsta and Brian pretty much just stayed out of the way. According to the monitors my pulse was high, (it seemed really high to me) but apparently not high enough to worry anyone. (My pulse was also high when I was in labor with Will.) Kirsta told me I was “very zen” while I labored. I didn’t feel particularly zen, but I find that making noise or moving at all makes contractions worse for me, so I handle them by sitting very still and breathing deeply. I guess that qualifies as zen? I don’t know.

A little after 11:00 am the anesthesiologist came in complete with ultrasound vein finder to place my IV. This was, by far, the worst part of labor. Not because it took half an hour (it did) or because he stuck me 4 times before he got it (he did) or because it bruised the living daylights out of my forearm (it was bad- it’s been a week and I still have very obvious bruises) but because I had to be lying on my back the whole time. Definitely NOT the best position for managing contractions, and it got progressively harder for me to handle them as I laid there. But eventually I got my IV and then I got some fentanyl so I could hold still while he did the epidural. Kirsta was taking some notes here (I’m a little surprised they didn’t kick her out while they were doing the epidural) and she says he stuck me 3 times before he got it (it kept only being on one side.) Fortunately the fentanyl meant it really didn’t hurt. By 12:15 pm I had an epidural. Unfortunately, they gave me a little too much fentanyl so right after I got the epidural my blood pressure dropped way down and they ended up giving me ephedrine and oxygen until I was back to normal. (Brian tells me I passed out for a minute, but obviously I don’t remember that. They already had me laying down, so it’s not like I fell over or anything.)

A little side note here about the epidural. I’m sure I could have done without it. (I so could NOT have done without it when I was having Will.) And after Daniel was born the nurse told me she didn’t want to offend me, but that I had handled labor so well that she was sure I could have managed without an epidural. Kirsta agreed with her. The thing was, I struggled so much with the pregnancy and I was SO incredibly uncomfortable at the end, that all I wanted was for the delivery to be painless. I wanted to spend the last couple hours relaxing, completely comfortable, in bed. And THAT was why I opted for the epidural.

So, relax I did, for a little while at least. They did a cervix check at 1:00 pm and the nurse told me I was an 8 or 9. When I got to a 10 (at like 1:43) I pushed for a whopping 2 contractions and he was here. Born at 1:44 pm. 5 pushes in all. The doctor asked Brian if he wanted to cut the cord, but he declined, so I asked Kirsta if she wanted to cut it and she said yes, so she got to cut the cord. It was ridiculously fast and physically it was incredibly easy. My body does not feel like I just had a baby. The most soreness I had afterward was my back, because it took three tries to get the epidural in.

It really was a wonderful birth.

See that black smudge on Brian’s hand? After they put Daniel’s footprints on the birth certificate, they put one on Brian. Isn’t that cute?
And now Kirsta can tell me if I missed anything. I’d ask Brian, but I’m pretty sure I already wrote down more than he remembers.

Birth Story

I can’t really pinpoint when labor started, but as Brian said in his post, by 2:30 am Sunday morning my contractions were less than 5 minutes apart. It wasn’t too bad at that point, but after 6 hours worth we figured we should go to the hospital to see what was going on. We got there and checked in figuring we were probably there to stay, but when the nurse checked me she informed me that I was still stuck at 2 1/2 cm, same as I’d been for 2 weeks. Ugh. My doctor happened to be the doctor on call and was doing rounds so he came in to talk to us. Apparently I was showing some indications that I might be developing preeclampsia– a couple high blood pressure readings and a little protein in my urine. My doctor said we could stay and they would break my water or start me on pitocin, or we could go home. He said he’d prefer that we stay, but if we wanted to go home we should just come in to his office in the morning for a UA and a blood pressure check. I knew that if we stayed I wouldn’t be able to eat or take anything to help me sleep, so I opted for coming home.

Once we got home (around 11 am) I took a couple of benadryl and had some toast and went to bed. I slept for a few hours but woke up feeling uneasy. It was about 4:30 pm and I started asking Brian if he thought we were doing the right thing by waiting for the morning to go in. He felt uneasy about it as well, so we prayed about it and decided we should go back to the hospital and, if I hadn’t progressed any further, go ahead and have them break my water at that point. I had some cereal since I knew that was my last chance to eat and Brian rounded up stuff so we were ready to go. I didn’t think I’d progressed any further since my contractions hadn’t gotten any more intense, but when I went to the bathroom right before we left my water broke. It was full of meconium, a bad sign as it means the baby is in distress. If we hadn’t been on the way to the hospital at that point, we would have been then.

This time at the hospital, things got a little crazy. The nurse checked me and then started an IV (after thoroughly bruising my hand trying) then my doctor came in and checked me. As soon as he was done he came around to the side of the bed and said, “Elsha, you need a c-section. Now.” The baby’s heart rate was dropping into the 30s and he couldn’t get it to stabilize even for 45 seconds. Normally my doctor is all about options and choices, pros and cons and all of that. So when he said I needed a c-section I knew he didn’t come to that decision lightly. He told me that even if I were going to deliver the baby in an hour he would do a c-section now and since it was my first baby I would probably be in labor for another 12-14 hours at that point. He didn’t even let the lab technician finish drawing blood before they wheeled me into the operating room. We also found out after the fact that the PA didn’t even make it to the operation, my doctor just did it with nurses assisting. Less than an hour after we checked in Kalena was born.

After the operation was over everyone kept asking Brian and I what made us decide to come back in because it was such a good thing we came in when we did. Even the doctor told us if we’d waited until Monday morning to come in we might have had a very different outcome.

They put me to sleep during the post-op so Brian went with the baby and told me later what happened. Sometime after my water broke, Kalena aspirated meconium. Aspirating meconium can cause chemical pneumonia in newborns, so immediately following the delivery they took x-rays and started her on IV antibiotics. The x-rays showed that she had developed pockets of air between her lungs and her chest wall. They put her on 100% oxygen to try to correct it and said they’d take periodic x-rays to check the progress. All this meant that we couldn’t even hold her until she was off oxygen. I got wheeled into the nursery to see Kalena once I was out of post-op, but we couldn’t even really touch her because too much stimulation would make her breathe harder which could make her condition worse. After that they wheeled me into my room where I was tethered to an IV and a catheter until Monday afternoon.

X-rays taken Monday morning showed that the air pockets had actually gotten worse overnight, but since Kalena still looked so good (most newborns with this condition have blue fingers and toes and are blue around the mouth, Kalena was still pink all over) the pediatrician decided just to leave her on the oxygen. An indication of how bad she was is that while the average newborn breathes 40 times a minute, Kalena was breathing 80-90 times a minute since her lungs were almost totally collapsed. The other option besides oxygen would be to put tubes in each side of her chest to get the air out. They actually had an emergency table set up next to her in the nursery so they could do that instantly if she got bad enough. Monday afternoon x-rays showed the air pockets starting to resolve so the pediatrician was optimistic that oxygen was all she would need. She ended up being on 100% oxygen until Monday evening when they lowered it to 30%. She was taken off oxygen altogether on Tuesday morning but they kept a monitor on her to watch her oxygen saturation levels. So Tuesday morning was the first time we actually go to hold her and I got to feed her for the first time. While she was on oxygen she got glucose solution in her IV. Luckily since she never got a bottle she still took to nursing fairly easily.

She had to wear the oxygen saturation monitor until Wednesday morning and they took out her IV Wednesday afternoon when blood cultures came back showing no indication of infection. Wednesday night we got to keep her in our room overnight and the pediatrician discharged her Thursday morning after checking her out once more. They actually discharged me Wednesday afternoon, but the hospital lets moms stay if the baby hasn’t been discharged yet. So Thursday morning we finally got to come home! And that’s how it all happened.

We have an appointment with the pediatrician tomorrow so hopefully everything will still look good. She is eating well and sleeping well and seems to be an easy-going baby. Hopefully that is an indication of temperament and not just that she’s getting some of my prescription painkillers through my breast milk 🙂 From what our parents tell us, both Brian and I were easy babies so we’re hoping that’s the case here too. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Here she is with her oxygen bubble on, along with an IV and the oxygen saturation monitor (on her foot).

Finally home!

Here she is!

Kalena Elizabeth
born 7:16 pm Sunday May 18th 2008
7 lbs 4 oz
20 inches long

I will tell the whole dramatic story soon. (For those of you who haven’t already heard it.) For now, here is a picture of the little one!

It has begun

So this morning, around 2:30 Elsha started actual labor. Not these worthless, whimpy contractions she has been have for the last week and a half, but real monster ones (well at least from what I can tell). It’s about 7:00 now and she’s been averaging about 3 minutes between for the last few hours now, so I am guessing we will be heading to the hospital soon. I will start sending out calls as soon as the deed is done. Just wanted to give a little “shout out” to all of you who were awaiting some news.

If you want to be sure you get a phone call leave a message here and I will make sure you get one. Thank you all for all of your support, hope to talk to you soon!!