Beau is 10 days old now, which is totally crazy to me. I thought I might (before it all escapes me) write out the story of how we met our amazing little guy. This will probably be an epically long story, but I want to get it all down. Be warned now that not only will this be a long story, but it will also include candid writing about lady bits and labor/delivery and some moderately graphic photos right after Beau arrived–not for the faint of heart.
Beau’s birth story really starts on Thursday, May 11. I include this part because it involves me winning a million dollar bet. I spent some time during our 37th week getting prepared for going to the hospital, I had my bag mostly packed with just a few things left to include. On Thursday night, I was chatting with Chad, Mom/Nana and Dad/Pop Pop/Grampa Mark about wanting to make sure that I had the bag ready to go and in the car for our 37 week appointment the next day (Friday). Chad basically said that I was silly for needing to have it in the car and bet me $1,000,000 that we would not be needing it.
The next morning–Friday, May 12–we had our carseat checked out at the pediatricians’ office. The carseat had been in the car since the beginning of the month, because on May 2, we were scheduled to have our original car seat check. The night before (May 1, our one year anniversary!) there was a crazy storm and because the power was knocked out in Boalsburg and there was no one in the office. We rescheduled, finally, for the 12th. We passed our inspection (“Excellent. It’s tough to get the base that tight with leather seats!”) and headed to our 37 week appointment (at 37 weeks and 5 days). My blood pressure was reading high at the beginning of the appointment, I had gained 6 pounds from the week before (hello 190s–yikes!), and I was having swelling in my hands and feet (and face, I think). I had my blood pressure checked again–still high. We saw Dr. Brunner who did a cervical check: 0 cm, 50% effaced; “baby isn’t coming any time soon.” Dr. Brunner wanted to me to chill out for 15 minutes and have my blood pressure checked again. We waited and had it read again. Again it was high (we’re talking 160s/100s–high for me). Dr. Brunner came in and said that she would like to send me to the hospital for additional testing and monitoring. She also said that she thought it was very unlikely that we would stay at the hospital, but that 1 in 1,000,000 times in medicine doctors end up eating their words.
We got to the hospital and they set us up in a delivery room–just in case. I was put on fetal monitoring, contraction monitoring and a blood pressure cuff. We waited almost 3 hours before the doctor came in–there was a baby boom; three littles were born during our wait. The nurses seemed to think we were headed home, I thought we were headed home, Chad thought we were headed home. Dr. Patel came in and said that because my blood pressure was still very high, in consultation with Dr. Brunner and Dr. Hovick (the doctor on for the weekend), they decided that the best thing to do was to deliver the baby.
UMMMMM…. WHAT!?!?! I was so sure that we weren’t staying that minutes before the doctor came in I was texting Mom and Dad (who were scheduled to fly out the next morning) asking them where they wanted to go for their “last night in town” dinner.
It was not easy to process this information. There was a lot of “Soooo, we’re not going home?” “We’re going to have the baby this weekend?” “We aren’t leaving this room without a baby?” kind of questions. Dr. Patel was very patient and explained, “Yup, baby is coming.” Essentially, because my blood pressure was high and I had so much swelling the doctors were concerned about preeclampsia. They didn’t feel comfortable sending me home to wait out for the next week. They thought that the best thing for baby and I would be to induce labor and deliver over the weekend. Once we wrapped our brains around the baby coming, we called Mom and Dad and asked them to bring some stuff from home (including Chad’s bag, he didn’t have his in the car like I did… This is where I won the $1,000,000 bet).
Because my body was not at all ready to start labor on its own, the plan was to begin my induction with a cervical foley catheter. The idea is insert a balloon above my cervix and inflate it with water. The pressure from inside my uterus pushes on the balloon which (in theory) expands my cervix with the hope that labor would start as my cervix expands. The catheter was meant to stay in until I was dilated to 3 cms, at which point it should come out. At that point, they would begin pitocin–a drug that mimics oxytocin, the hormone that naturally gets labor going. They guessed that I would be 3 cms dilated around midnight.
I had the catheter inserted around 5 pm (OUCH!). At this point, they let me eat (thank goodness–I hadn’t had anything since 9 am!) and we had Mom and Dad come visit/bring our things. During their visit, we all decided that (of course) they should stay to meet Beau, who we imagined, would be arriving Saturday evening or Sunday (inductions can take a long time).
Chad and I walked the halls, charted contractions, played games and watched TV. I had some legit contractions while we were walking but as soon as I was back in bed (which I needed to be every hour or so for a half hour of monitoring) labor progress stopped. We ate again around 10 and I got a shower and we tried to get some sleep. At midnight, the balloon had come out and I was 3 cm dilated. We asked to wait until about 2 am to start the pitocin so we could get some sleep–for some women labor begins immediately after pitocin starts and we were worried that once we started it, we might not sleep again. We napped for 2 hours and began pitocin. The pitocin is administered by IV drip and each half hour, the volume of the medication is increased until labor begins. The maximum volume of pitocin without consultation from the doctors is 20 ml per whatever. By 7 am (with some limited on-and-off sleeping) I was at 20 ml per whatever and still only 3 cms dilated and having more frequent, but not more intense, contractions. It seemed like nothing was happening; it was very frustrating.
Dr. Patel decided that the next intervention in my induction should be to break my water. Within 5 minutes of announcing that this was the plan, my water was broken (with a giant crochet hook–seriously). Within half an hour of my water breaking, I was in labor–blindingly painful, frequent, “so intense I felt like there was no way I could handle them” contractions. It was insane how fast they came on and how strong they were. I was so uncomfortable and the contractions were so frequent that I asked for the epidural.
The anesthesiologist came in and examined me. He gave us the run down about the epidural and I had it placed. (I was a big mess, the contractions were so awful). All seemed successful, but after about 10 minutes, we realized it was ineffective. Contractions were getting more intense (how is that even possible??) and closer together and I was feeling every single thing. I was in full on panic attack mode–crying, hyperventilating–and at this point, I was stuck in bed, so I couldn’t even wiggle out the contractions (which had been helping). I was an absolute disaster. There was something so defeating about anticipating relief and getting none.
We ended up having to have the epidural removed and replaced. It was really scary and I was in so much pain, I couldn’t hardly hold still. Within about 5 minutes of having it replaced, it worked! I could feel contractions but there was no pain! It was incredible.
Dr. Patel checked me once more before leaving her shift. And despite all the contractions, I was only 4 cm dilated. I felt so little pain that I actually managed to grab some more sleep. It was about 9:30/10 am at this point. I napped and flipped from side to side a few times to make sure the medication was dispersing. I woke up from my nap around 11 with terrible contraction pain on my left side. I told our nurse (Joanna, who was incredible), that I was having awful pains; perhaps there was an issue with the epidural again? She said that that could be the case, but before she called the doctor in she wanted to check my cervix.
Joanna checked my cervix and looked at me and said, “Oh my gosh, you are 8 – 9 cm dilated, 90% effaced… You’re complete! I just need someone to confirm.” UM WHAT (again)!?!??! I’m complete?? Like… baby is coming? Everything had progressed so slowly that we were all shocked that it was go-time and that Beau was like really on his way! In the space of an hour’s nap, I had gone from “Not ready, baby will probably be here late Saturday/Sunday” to “This baby will be here within the hour!” Just like that!
There was a flurry of activity because we were going to being pushing in 10 minutes! (This is a lot to deal with when just waking from a nap!) Joanna gave the Dr. Hovick the heads up that it was time and started prepping the room. She gave me a crash course in pushing. (At this point, I got the shakes/trembles like crazy. It was like I imagine hypothermia sufferers have, except I was hot and sweaty. The shakes disappeared as we began to push.) Chad grabbed my right leg and Joanna took my left and we started pushing. In between contractions, Joanna would set things up for delivery. Two more nurses came in and started readying the room for the doctor.
After about half an hour (felt like 30 seconds), Dr. Hovick came in. I pushed on two contractions and he started to gown up and distributed what looked like welding masks to everyone. Beau’s heart rate was starting to drop (normal during pushing) but was not recovering after pushes as it should. He needed more oxygen and needed to come out. I was put on oxygen to try to help Beau get more air. Dr. Hovick explained that we had two more contractions to try to get Beau out and if he hadn’t come when they were over he would have to use the vacuum extractor (the welding masks were in case the vacuum broke suction–ew). On the next contraction, we could see the head (I had a mirror, so I could see too). I was able to reach down and feel Beau. It was totally incredible. I started to cry. Chad was the best coach ever and was encouraging me that he was almost here. We knew that the next contraction was our last chance to get him out without the vacuum extractor and so I pushed really, really hard three times during the contraction and once right after and that was it, he was here!
The doctor and nurses put Beau up on my belly. They examined him and cleaned him and we met our sweet little boy for the first time. It was so incredible to see him. He was totally perfect even though he was purple and COVERED in vernix (cheese-like coating). We cuddled and hugged and kissed him. It was the most incredible thing in the world (I’m sobbing as I type). Chad was the perfect labor partner and coach, it was so amazing to do this truly incredible thing together.
There was so much going on that I didn’t hardly notice delivering the placenta (or being sutured because my perineum tore). Chad got to cut the cord–it was easier than he thought it would be. Beau was perfectly healthy (despite the scary low heart rate situation) and so we got to skin-to-skin cuddle until it was time to breastfeed. I was able to breastfeed right there in the delivery room. After about an hour and 15 minutes of cuddling, Beau had his exam. The nurses conducted the exam in the delivery room so we got to watch. They weighed and measured him, administered eye meds and a vaccination. He had his footprints taken. They cleaned him up some more. His official time of birth was 11:52 am on 5/13/17, he weighed 7 lb, 7 oz and was 20.5 inches long.
We had lunch (they messed up and brought two lunches, so Chad got to eat too!) and then I took a shower–assisted by three nurses, ha. I was able to put on a clean gown and then it was time to move to our postpartum room– it felt like everything happened incredibly fast.
We moved to postpartum and got settled in, we breastfed again and we got started spreading the news that Beau was here!
We spent the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday (my first Mother’s Day) visiting, recovering, feeding, napping and getting to know Beau. My mom and dad met Beau on Saturday afternoon.
On Sunday we saw Mark and Kathy again, Beau met Memaw Patty and Jennie (Aunt Ney-Ney??).
By Monday when it was time to leave, we were ready to go.
It was a truly incredible experience. It was such a shock to meet Beau two weeks and a day before his due date. It was so wonderful that his grandparents were able to stay to meet him too; I think it was all meant to be. The whole weekend was a lot of hurry up and wait followed by these crazy bursts of activity. I’m so glad we had a safe, not-too-scary delivery and that Beau is the healthy, happy, sweet boy that he is. I felt so much support from everyone, especially Chad and my parents. We wouldn’t have been nearly as ready for Beau without the support of my Mom and Dad, and they helped us get settled after we got home too. I also have to say, Chad is truly the most wonderful human I know, and there is no way that I could have done this without him. I am so lucky to have him and Beau in my life.
So that’s it: my story of meeting Beau!