Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Susanna's Story

Wednesday started like most any other day recently, but it certainly ended differently. Looking back it all seems a bit blurry, and hard to believe, but I think that's how it often is. Wednesday marked week 39 of my pregnancy, and although I'd had a dream months ago that I had the baby before the due date (and felt such relief and happiness in the dream), I didn't really think she'd come early - neither of her older siblings had, so I didn't have any real reason to think she would. I hoped she would, of course, because it is not fun being very pregnant when it's hot and humid outside and Dan is off work for two weeks. It just so happened that his chief residency year ended mid-June and he doesn't start his new full-time job until the beginning of July. We had planned this two week vacation time before even knowing we'd be having a baby. It is just one of the amazing ways things "worked out" for us.

Anyway, let me get to Susanna's birth story. I figured I'd better write it before I begin to forget parts of it.

I spent Wednesday getting some things done around the house that I'd wanted to do before the baby's arrival. I vacuumed out the car, did some loads of laundry, and then scraped some wallpaper at the new house. The kids and I ate a late lunch here and then it was nap time. I vacuumed some floors during the first part of naptime and by then I felt too tired to do anything but lay down for a short nap. As I layed down on the futon, I felt two sensations. One kind of felt like a baby jump and the other felt like a pop. I'd never felt anything like the pop, and I vaguely wondered if it had anything to do with water breaking, but I figured I'd sleep first and think about it later.

About 20 minutes later (at 4:30) I woke up when one of the kids came downstairs. When I got up, I noticed a very distinct wetness that was not typical. It definitely seemed like my water had broken. The kids had a few more minutes of nap time, so I called Dan (who was still working at the new house) and told him that I think my water broke and I'd better call The Birth Center. I was GBS positive and knew that I need to start antibiotics as soon as possible. Elena's birth had been quick, so the midwives wanted me to come in as soon as I had any inkling labor would be starting. After calling Dan I called The Birth Center and spoke with a midwife. She told me to come in to be checked out, although it seemed pretty clear that my water had broken. I finished putting a few things in my birth center bag and set in the hallway for later. I made sure all the baby's things where gathered as well. I also called my mom (who lives about 1.5 hours away) to let her know that she should plan on coming down. And then I took a quick shower.

I wasn't having any contractions yet, so I figured they'd send me back home after getting the first round of antibiotics. Dan came home to stay with the kids while I went in. Interestingly enough, we had planned to go away that evening for a residency event, so we had a baby-sitter coming at 5:30. We figured Dan could come join me at The Birth Center after the sitter arrived.

I took a quick shower and then as I was getting ready to leave, I started having a few non-painful, non-regular contractions. A few blocks away from the Birth Center, I had a contraction that felt stronger, and I began to wonder if I would be staying and not going back home after all. After arriving at the birth center shortly after 5 pm (where there were already at least two other laboring women), I went up to the only empty birthing room, which was the same room Elena had been born in.

By 6 pm I was hooked up to my first round of antibiotics and Dan arrived shortly after that. Contractions had started coming more regularly, and the midwife said she'd most likely have me stay there as opposed to going home until labor got stronger. So Dan had brought along my bag and Baby's bag, as well as a few snacks.

I don't remember much of significance after that except contractions got progressively stronger, and I decided to sit beside the bed on a yellow birthing ball. Dan sat behind me and would put his hands on my lower back during contractions because that's where I felt most of the intensity - my back and hips. By 9 pm I was in full on active labor, and around 9:40 the midwife suggested we start my second round of antibiotics because she thought the baby was going to be born pretty soon. All throughout labor, I remember hearing her saying things like "we're going to have a baby soon", and "I can tell we're getting closer", and then saying she was going to get the birth kit ready (at this point, I think I felt like I was in a "Call the Midwife" episode). It was so helpful to hear those comments. In some ways, it seemed to make it true. I also remember consciously thinking during contractions that I was dilating, getting larger, telling my body to let it happen.

At some point, I had a contraction where I started to push, and I remember saying "I'm pushing!". The midwife suggested I get on the bed and asked if I wanted to lay on my side or be on my hands and knees. I chose hands and knees and that's how I pushed Susanna out. I think the official records say I pushed for 7 minutes. I'm not sure how many contractions it was, but it seemed to be about 3. The midwife checked for a cord around Baby's throat (none), mentioned that her hand was beside her face, and then she was out, and it was wonderful to hold a beautiful baby in my arms. All 8 lbs, 15 oz of her - my biggest baby yet. I'm really glad she was a week early!

I don't want to dwell on the cramps after delivery - they were worse than I remember with the other two. Aside from those, labor and delivery was ideal. We both came through safe and healthy (we won't talk  too much about how I had some high blood pressure readings all through labor until I was in active labor and no longer cared at all when they took it. Thankfully, the reading they got during active labor was fine, so there was no need to transfer to the hospital!)

We came home in the early morning hours, and my mom and Edwin both got to meet Susanna then. Now we are a week and half out from her birth, and I'm recovering well, and she's eating, sleeping and growing well. (We won't dwell on the nursing difficulties, because I am confident they will all work out - just like they did with the other two. It seems I tend to have nice-sized babies who struggle to get a good latch initially, so that brings its own challenges.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sneak Peek

Just a few pictures to show what I've spent a lot of my time on recently.









There's no mulch yet, but at least the weeds are (mostly) pulled, saplings and prickly shrubs dug out and some new flowers planted.