While this feels rather self-indulgent, I always like reading a birth story and I want to have this written down for me to remember as well, so here goes...I'm guessing it's going to be pretty long. You've been warned!
Here I am in the last few weeks before he came. I felt huge. And so, so uncomfortable. He was sitting really low and my pelvis/back just killed all the time. It really is probably a miracle of nature that women get so uncomfortable during the last stage of pregnancy that they welcome labor, because I was very anxious for labor to start.
Claire came at 36 weeks, so once I got past that point with this pregnancy I started to get really impatient, even though I didn't want him to be born early. It was weird to reach the 37 and 38 week mark, because the WAITING. Really obnoxious. But it was nice to have time to clean and organize the house, plus make a bunch of freezer meals that have really come in handy.
I was having contractions on fairly regular intervals for days...but nothing happened. Finally on Oct. 16th, my mom's birthday, it was like they just went away and I was really starting to get bugged. I went to bed thinking about how very uncomfortable I was, only to wake up at about midnight due to heartburn, which wasn't unusual. I got up to take some antacids and lay back down. As I tried to drift off again I noticed that things felt a bit...squishy. I tried to ignore it, but as I lay there and thought about it I got more and more concerned. After all, when I had Claire my water broke in the middle of the night and this seemed rather similar.
I got up to go to the bathroom and sure enough, my water had broken! I got back in bed and woke Brady up and told him that I was fairly certain my water had broken, but nothing else was really happening so we should try to go to sleep and get some rest while we could and see if the contractions started. Of course, we couldn't sleep, and not even 15 minutes later the contractions really got going. We got up and slowly started getting things ready. I asked Brady to give me a blessing, in which he reassured me that I could do this and that angels would attend to me.
I called my mom and had her come down to stay with Claire. By the time she came the contractions were definitely getting stronger and we headed out the door at about 2:00 AM to head to the hospital. However, we didn't go straight there. We had decided beforehand that we would eat something before heading to the hospital, because when we had Claire we made the rookie mistake of dashing out the door in the middle of the night on an empty stomach. Once at the hospital, I wasn't allowed to eat, and Brady didn't feel right leaving to go get food so he pretty much starved too. That sure makes for a long day of being hungry! And pushing a baby out requires some energy! So this time around we decided we'd get some food. Much to the astonishment of our friends and family, we decided to stop at IHOP on the way! I knew the baby wasn't coming right away and I was doing fine, so it worked out great. Brady got a big breakfast and I just got a small stack of pancakes, since I didn't really feel like eating while dealing with contractions. The waitress there was just beside herself knowing I was in labor and spent the majority of our meal telling about the six dramatic deliveries of her children. Good times.
By then the contractions were getting pretty strong. I had to stop while we were walking in and out of the restaurant to hold onto Brady and breathe through them. I was still feeling good though, and once we were done eating we made our way to American Fork Hospital. After getting admitted they checked me and I was dialated to 4 centimeters, which was pretty good progress! Oddly, they couldn't determine right away if my water had broken even though I was certain, so they came back 30 minutes later and checked me again, and I was at a 5! I was so happy to know I was making such good progress on my own. With Claire, my water broke first but the contractions didn't really get going much, so they put me on Pitocin which I hated.
My goal for this delivery was actually to do it completely naturally. Yep, drug free! Everyone that found out beforehand that I wanted to delivery naturally would gasp and ask me why or try to talk me out of it. But, I was determined. There were many reasons I wanted to do it- I wanted the baby to be born alert and without drugs in his system. I didn't like the side effects of the epidural and the lack of control. I felt the recovery after an epidural was more difficult. And really, I just wanted to do it. I'd heard a lot of positive things from others who had done it, and I wanted that same experience.
To prepare, I looked into Hypnobirthing and used the techniques I learned from that. It sounds weird, but it's not. It's basically just learning to relax deeply and completely using breathing and imagery, which removes the fear and tension from labor and delivery and therefore much of the pain. I practiced almost daily for weeks beforehand, teaching myself how to relax and listening to relaxation cd's. I am convinced that doing this made all the difference. I don't think I could've just showed up and powered through. Preparation gave me confidence and the tools I needed. Luckily, my nurses were awesome and totally supportive which was a big help too.
Once I settled in at the hospital, I popped my earbuds in and started listening to the Hypnobirthing stuff. It allowed me to relax, and I even managed to sleep for a while. I would wake up during a contraction, breathe through it, and then right away drift off to sleep again. It continued like that for a while until the nurses came back to attempt for the 3rd time to place an IV, just in case I needed one. Honestly, getting the IV was probably the most painful part of the whole process! They just could not get it in the vein and spent ages digging in my arm to get that needle in place! At that point the contractions were really starting to pick up and I had a hard time getting back to the deep relaxation I had before. I got out of bed and tried walking a bit, hanging on Brady when a contraction came and breathing until it passed. I sat on the birthing ball for a while as well while Brady massaged my back. Things were getting intense, but I still felt in control and that I was coping.
At that point the nurse came in and asked if I would like to try getting in a warm bath, which proved to be very helpful. The warm water was relaxing, and it came at the point when I really needed it most. Brady would pour warm water over my belly as I tried to relax and hold my hand and rub my arm. The contractions seemed right on top of each other at this point, and I started feeling so much pressure. I remember my belly took on this really odd shape as the baby started moving down. The pressure continued to increase and I started shaking a bit, and I noticed that I became less and less aware of my surroundings and just really focused on what was happening with my body. When the nurse came in to check on me I told her about the crazy pressure and she asked if I wanted to be checked. I got out of the tub and back onto the bed, shaking and just focusing on keeping my body loose through each contraction. Turned out, I was at a 9! Hooray! Almost there!
I'd heard once that almost every naturally laboring woman will say at one point "I can't do this anymore", and almost every single time that meant she was about to deliver. I had definitely reached that point and found myself thinking that right before I got out of the tub. The nurse told me to call her if I felt the urge to push and left, but probably about 10 minutes later (if that) I told Brady he needed to call her back in because the baby was moving down and the pressure was overwhelming. She came in and checked me during a contraction, and sure enough, I was at a 10!
Things got really blurry for me at this point. The contractions and pressure were intense and I was just so focused on what was going on internally that I really don't recall a whole lot about what was going on around me. I remember moaning as I worked through each contraction and the strange sense of relief pushing brought, mixed with increased pressure. The nurse and Brady were helping me hold my legs and sit up as I pushed. Brady was awesome. He is not a blood and guts and crisis kind of guy, so I was worried beforehand about how he would do. But he got right in there and did his part, partly because I think it was all happening so fast and he didn't even have a choice or a chance to think about it.
The doctor did determine I needed an episiotomy, so he gave me a little numbing shot and took care of that. All it took was 5 or 6 good pushes, and I felt my little boy come out of my body and they put him right up on my stomach. He was born at 7:59 AM. The experience at that moment is just indescribable. What a rush of relief and amazement and happiness and exhaustion all at the same time! I was so happy to be able to hold my baby right away. Since Claire came early and had some complications they whisked her away almost immediately. But this time I got to hold him right away, and the wonderful doctors and nurses left him with me for a while, only taking him away to weigh him and then they brought him right back.
He was alert and looking around and crying out in anger at having to leave his warm home. He had a head full of dark hair, and was just the most beautiful thing. It's amazing how as he was in my arms I hardly even noticed everything else going on as they delivered the placenta (ew) and stitched me up. I was able to nurse him soon after he was born, and after some good cuddling I passed him over to Brady so he could get to know him too. I loved that I was able to get up and walk to the bathroom on my own, rather than have to get a catheter and hours later drag a dead leg into the bathroom. I felt amazing knowing that I had actually delivered him naturally, and felt an odd sense of pride in my body for doing exactly what it needed to do. I didn't need any Pitocin or any other drugs at all and the labor and delivery progressed perfectly. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
He weighed 7 lbs, 6 oz and was 20 inches long. Very healthy and with a good set of lungs on him and a fantastic head of hair. :) We named him Andrew John Paulich and usually call him Drew. I fell in love with him instantly.
My labor and delivery nurse was an absolute saint, and all the nurses and doctors I worked with while there were fantastic. I felt so well taken care of the whole time.
Things have been going well since then. This little guy eats SO MUCH. He's always eating and not super interested in sleeping, but so cute and cuddly. Claire has been doing really well with him and is a sweet helper.
Obviously there is so much more to say now that we are home and adjusting to a new life, but this is long enough so we will recap that another day. We feel so blessed to have two beautiful, healthy children. It is a ridiculous amount of work sometimes, but it is worth it to care for these sweet kids.