I find Miss A's birth story to be quite entertaining at times. Mostly because it all basically starts on our anniversary. Nothing says "celebration" like an OB appointment, right? When we found out that Miss A was head down I started to cry. It was one of the best things I had ever heard. I so desperately wanted to try for a VBAC and my OB said as long as she was head down and I went into labor on my own (no use of labor inducing drugs, etc) then I should be fine.
The week prior to this particular appointment (36 weeks) my OB checked me and said I was at least 4.5 cm -- she said she couldn't quite give me 5cm. She said let's see what happens over the next week and if I want I can have my membranes stripped the next week.
Fast forward to the next Thursday (37 weeks) and it's our wedding anniversary. My dad drops me off at my appointment while Husband's parents watch Miss L. We did it this way so that after the appointment Husband and I can go to dinner together in one car. It's just nicer that way, you know. I meet with the doctor and confirm that I am nearly at 5 cm but not quite and about 90% effaced. Can you say, "ticking time bomb?" We talk about the possibility of stripping my membranes. Let's face it. It's the end of August in the Valley of the Sun. It's hot. I'm big. I want this baby to come on out. I'm done. Husband and I look at each other and say, "Sure." The doctor stripped my membranes and off to dinner we go. I had heard that some people could go into labor 12 hours after having this done. Some 24 hours later. Some it doesn't really do much of anything. Depends on how ready you and baby are. We didn't really know what to expect.
Husband and I enjoyed a lovely dinner at a local Italian restaurant. We basically had the whole place to ourselves until about the last 15 minutes we were there. It was awesome. We had a lovely dinner and some yummy dessert. As we were getting in the car I could tell something was happening and mentioned as much to Husband. We arrive home in time to put Miss L to bed ourselves. We also tell Husband's mom to go home and get things ready as we think Miss A will be arriving sometime during the night. At this point my contractions are starting to build. Some are enough that I need to stop talking to concentrate to get through them. It turns out that I am in labor just three or four hours after having my membranes stripped! Nutty.
We head to the hospital around 10:00 PM. Longest. Ride. Ever. The hospital we went to is a bit of a drive from our house but it's not horribly far. I'm pretty sure it felt like we were driving to California. However, I was thankful for an app that Husband had on his phone that we had been timing my contractions with during the evening. It gets to the point where it is able to predict your contractions. I liked having a few seconds to mentally prepare for the next contraction and to be able to see potentially when it would end. It was pretty accurate! I finally understood all the talk about how difficult and painful it is to labor laying on your back or sitting can be. I needed to be on a ball or the best for me was kneeling on the bed "on all fours."
The nurses had a hard time keeping the monitor on me and were very supportive of me moving around. So, every 20 minutes or so they would hold the monitors on me to get a reading and then leave me be. I wanted to go as long as I could without medication. I got to the point where I was just shaking through contractions and couldn't stay up. Throw in the towel. Show me some epidural love. It apparently was just the right timing for me because the anesthesiologist was available almost immediately rather than the over an hour wait I had been warned about. Ahh... relief. I think at that point I hadn't progressed much beyond 5 cm. Te doctor talked to me about breaking my bag of waters and seeing what would happen. It was nice to be able to rest. Husband was a little nervous at this point that I would stall and have to have a c-section again. Epidurals can help but they have also been known to hinder. I told him, "Well, we'll just have to wait and see what happens." We went to sleep. Weird, right?
After a couple of hours the nurse (Nurse Laura?) came in to check me. 7cm! Yeah for progress!! Husband was amazed. So we kept sleeping. Each time they checked me another centimeter progress. Moving right along. At sometime before 6 AM I was fully dilated and ready to push. The doctor told the nurse to go ahead and have me start pushing and he would be there soon. Apparently I was a better pusher than anyone anticipated because soon the nurse stepped out to call the doctor down and to hurry. Unfortunately, there was a point where Miss A was "right there" but couldn't quite push her through. After nearly an hour of pushing the doctor asked what I thought about an episiotomy. "No way, Jose!" was my response. However, he told me why he was thinking about it and after awhile I consented. The only reason it was ultimately worth it was because Miss A came out on the next push! YAY!! Miss A was born at 7:09 AM (the day after our anniversary...whew!), 6lbs 9oz, and 19 inches long.
Dr. J had told me when we started that he likes to put babies right away up on the mother's chest and let the mothers clean the babies. So, I was waiting for that. However, when Miss A came out he just held her. He looked up and said, "Her umbilical cord is too short to reach your chest so we have to cut it before you can hold her." Random and funny all at the same time.
Miss A was perfectly healthy. After some time they moved us to a "shared" room and hoped to move me to a private room later in the afternoon. Once settled into the private room I was a bit more comfortable with everything. The healing process from a c-section vs. successful VBAC were very different. Each with their own pros and cons. The details of each I won't go into here. Some small and some significant.
The first night the nurse came in to do some measurements and other tests on Miss A. They had to take her and that was no big deal. When she came back she made the comment, "This is one of the strongest babies I have ever seen! I usually weigh them on their tummies so they are not so wiggly and your baby rolled right over!" I laughed. Indications of what was to come? Maybe.
Miss A started to show some signs of jaundice. Doctors said we could go home as long as we had he blood levels checked the next day (which was a Sunday) -- we located a place that would be open on Sunday and we were discharged Saturday late afternoon. Awesome!
We took Miss A in for a blood test and her jaundice was a bit increased. They told us to see out regular doctor on Tuesday. So, in we went to our regular pediatrician. Unfortunately, by Tuesday even I could see that Miss A was a bit "yellow." Our pediatrician was concerned and upset at the advice to wait from the other doctor. He sent us on chase to try to get Miss A's blood levels checked. However, it was late in the day and most places were closing up. In the meantime our doctor went ahead and ordered a bili-blanket for Miss A to start right away (home light therapy) which was delivered to our house. Needless to say, we didn't find a place to have her blood test that night but went in right away Wednesday morning. We got a call back by noon that day from our doctor confirming that her levels were high and to keep using the blanket. She had to be getting the lights except when she was nursing. He warned that if her levels remained high the next morning then we would have to go to the hospital. Her levels came down and we had to go in for blood tests the next three days as well as keep her in the blanket. I was glad we could treat at home but a little scary, too. We learned a few things for sure.
We had more nursing issues with Miss A like we did with Miss L -- to be anticipated at some level. We hired a private lactation consultant and it made a world of difference. I produced more milk this time around but still had many struggles and frustrations. But it was all worth it.