I'm sitting here in the hospital trying to gather all my thoughts of the past 24 hours. Right now Andrew is having 3 hours feedings in the level II nursery (half-way between the regular nursery and the NICU) so I decided to come back to our quiet room and write down the birth story before I forget everything.
Before I say everything that happened let me preface this. A couple weeks ago when I was 32 weeks along I hadn't felt him move around very much so I went in for a non-stress test. Thankfully Andrew was doing fine, but the nurses were concerned that I was having contractions every 2 minutes apart. With all that said, I went home and was put on semi-bed-rest, meaning that I could still teach at school, but other than that I had to take it easy. I was careful to drink a lot of water and careful to take it easy at work, and the contractions definitely slowed down.
I had a few tender mercies happen before I went in to labor on Sunday. Last week I really felt the urge to get my copies and lesson plans done for the rest of the year. I figured if I did I could just relax for the rest of the year and take it easy at work that the rest of my pregnancy would be a lot easier. Little did I know what would be coming a few days later. Another tender mercy happened on Sunday during sacrament meeting at church. I just felt the most overwhelming sense of peace--one that I've never felt before and I didn't know why at the time. Looking back I can now see that Heavenly Father was giving me peace because of what would be coming in a couple hours.
I had been drinking a lot of water on Sunday morning because drinking lots of water is supposed to help keep contractions under control. I probably had 50 oz of water that morning. After church on Sunday when we went home I went to the restroom and after I was done there was still trickling coming out. It wasn't a huge gush, but I figured I would get it checked out anyways. I didn't bring anything to the hospital--not even my cell phone. I was just expecting to go make sure it wasn't amniotic fluid and get some peace of mind and go home to take a nap. Grant was in the middle of cooking some pizza, so he just left all the ingredients out thinking that he would be back to finish it in about 45 minutes. So we went to the hospital and sure enough--it was amniotic fluid (it was about 1 pm). They checked me and I was 100% effaced and was dilated to 2 cm. I was also at a +1 position, and +3 is when you start pushing (it's how far down the canal your baby is). At this point I had a flood of emotions come over me. My sister-in-law, April, gave birth to a 34 week old baby girl a few years ago and so from her experience I knew that 34 weeks was the cutoff to delay delivery, and I also knew that we wouldn't be taking Andrew home with us and was expecting him to struggle with breathing and nursing, so that made me very sad and nervous. On the other hand I was so excited to meet our son! I am so grateful Grant was there. I started crying because I was scared and concerned about Andrew's health, and also nervous about going through the labor process.
Grant started notifying his family while I called Emily and Stephen and asked them to stop by our apartment. I had no idea what on earth to pack for our bag, so I just told Emily where everything was and basically just said "Can you just bring whatever you think we need? K thanks!" Her and Stephen were seriously a life-saver. I also called a fellow math teacher at Lone Peak and told her what happened and basically said "Uhh, I called in a sub but have no idea if they know math. Can you just take care of my classes for the next week? K thanks!" I have such wonderful family and friends and am so grateful for all the support they give me.
I then called my mom who didn't answer her phone, so I called my dad and told him what happened. He told me mom was in a meeting but he went over to the church and told her she had to get to Utah because her grandson was on the way. She was on the road 45 minutes later. I'm so grateful to both of my parents who have seriously dropped everything for me and Grant. Now that everyone knew, we were ready to get going.
Even though we had only been to one birth class (I was expecting 4 more!) I had read a lot about labor and talked to so many people about their experiences that I also was filled with courage. All along this labor I wanted to go un-medicated, so I figured that even though I only had one birth class we would still give it a try. The nurses then moved me to labor and delivery and prepared me to get started on pitocin. After asking for a few minutes alone with Grant so he could give me a blessing, they started me at a level 4 on pitocin around 2 pm. My contractions were about 3 minutes apart at this point and then at 2:30 pm they upped me to a level 8. By this point my contractions were coming on pretty quickly and lasting for a while. They were a minute apart and lasting for a good 45 seconds to a minute. They checked me at about 4 pm and I was at 5 cm, so I knew that I was progressing fairly quickly. They left the pitocin at an 8 (thank goodness!) and we decided to keep going. Grant was a freaking champ! He seriously was my professional doula. He knew exactly what I needed and how to give counter pressure, and he knew exactly how to encourage me. He was seriously the best support I could ever ask for. By about 5 pm I was at a 6 +, and at 5:30 I was at a 7. By this point the contractions were still a minute apart but lasting about a minute and a half and were pretty intense. I knew that I could go the rest of the way un-medicated if I had made it this far, but I also realized that this was really the last time that Grant and I would have as just us 2. I wanted to be able to relax and spend time with him--especially since we weren't expecting 6 weeks to be taken from us, so I decided to get the epidural. We notified the nurses and the anesthesiologist was on his way. As soon as I found out he was on his way I started to lose focus. I wanted nothing more than to just get the epidural so I could spend time with Grant. It took him about 20 minutes to get to the hospital because he was at home and let me say I was not too happy about that. I remember saying to the nurse "Is there only one freaking anesthesiologist for the whole hospital?!" Looking back now I can crack up about it, but I was a little frustrated. I am proud that that was the only rude comment I made to the nurses while in labor :) I then got the epidural and was on cloud 9. It was wonderful to spend time with Grant and just relax with him. All kidding aside, this is probably my most fond memory of labor. Grant sat on my bed while we talked about the past 3 years since we met each other, and we talked about how awesome our new baby boy would be. I was very concerned about him, but Grant was constantly reassuring me, and gave me courage to get through the pushing stage.
Finally at 7:15 pm I was complete and ready to start pushing. At first pushing was a little difficult because I couldn't feel anything and wasn't sure if I was making progress, but after about 15 minutes I started getting the hang of it...the reason why? My epidural was starting to wear off. The nurse offered to give an extra dose, but when I saw how much more effective my pushing was without the full on effects of the epidural I turned it down. It was so much easier for me to feel contractions and feel myself making progress with pushing. I really enjoyed this part because there were many times where it was just Grant and I. The nurse left a few times to go check on other patients or go make phone calls to my doctor, and just said "K, you two just keep pushing." At first I thought "Is this lady crazy? We have no idea what we're doing!" but it was such a bonding experience for it to just be Grant and I pushing together. Grant was so great about counting while I pushed and also coaching me through it. He was good to remind me to relax my shoulders, breath deep, and bear down. He knew more about pushing than I did! He really was a natural at being my support man. We brought in a mirror so I could see the progress, and then we later took it away. It was so much more encouraging when I would see Grant get excited when I was pushing. He would look and see Andrew's full head of hair and get a big smile and look at me while he was counting and just nod to encourage me. He was letting me know that Andrew was close, and that's all the encouragement I needed. After about an hour and 15 minutes it became a party in the labor and delivery room. Andrew's pediatrician came, the doctor came, the head nurse from the NICU came, we had a respiratory specialist there, and a couple labor and delivery nurses. The knew Andrew was coming out soon and wanted to be ready to assess where he was. After an episiotomy and 15 minutes of more pushing Andrew was born at 8:52 pm. I burst into tears as Grant smiled and kept saying "He's out! You did it! We have a son!"
About a minute after the placenta came out and my doctor starting stitching me up. I think he was startled when I yelled "OW!" when he started stitching me. All he said was "Yep, your epidural definitely wore off" and he gave me a local to numb the pain while he stitched me up. During this time my body was shaking all over and I was watching Andrew and asking every 5 seconds if he was ok. I was nervous because I hadn't heard him cry and his body was pretty limp, but no one seemed all that concerned. Soon he started to cry and flex his little fists and feet, so he was doing better. Grant was wonderful to reassure me and held me tight as they assessed where Andrew was at. He started to breath on his own and they took him down to the nursery level II to do more tests. I told Grant I'd be fine and to go with Andrew--I didn't want the poor kid to be alone.
It was like a tornado disappeared. When Andrew was gone so was everyone else and it was me and one nurse left in the room. I called my mom who was pulling into town (Yes dad, she beat the 7 hour record) and she came straight to the hospital. I was SO HAPPY to see her! With Grant being gone I felt alone and scared about where things were with Andrew, so seeing my mom was a huge comfort. Grant kept texting me updates telling me that Andrew's breathing was great and he was doing so well, so that helped me relax a little bit. About an hour later I was able to go to the nursery and see him get bathed for the first time and then get him situated into his little spot in the nursery. I will say it was hard for me as a mom to see a little IV in him and wires attached everywhere, but the kid is a fighter! He has a strong grip and is breathing like a champ. I couldn't be more proud of him.
We will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow and Andrew can't come home with us. He still needs to learn to latch and nurse, so we'll just play it on a day-by-day basis. Hopefully he can come home within a couple weeks, but it may be more. Right now he's on a feeding tube, so once he can stabilize his weight without that we should be good to go.
I know Andrew is big for a premee and doing so well with breathing on his own, but it is still emotionally challenging to think that I won't be just a few steps away from my son. He's right across the hall right now and so going home without him will be so hard. It will make all those sleepless nights seem like blessings instead of trials though. I love Andrew and am so excited to be a mom!