First, let's go back to where I left off! The ladies at church threw the FOURTH and final baby shower, a week or two after our Lake Placid trip. Lots of women came and showered us with so much love! The decorations and cake were super cute, too.
Awesome diaper cake!
When all was said and done, it was time to wash the plethora of baby clothes (including the ones Hayley gave me from Aevry, going up through 2 years).
I think it's safe to say that he should never have to go naked.
Last big event before baby's arrival...Brad graduated! He completed his coursework for the MBA in Accounting back in November, so he wasn't really jazzed about walking in the June ceremony (the only one they do, since it's a small program overall). But I made him do it, so that I could take pictures for his family :)
He walked right past me during the processional! Quite different from a Baylor ceremony.
Family photo. Wow, it's already weird to look back at my pregnant belly!
Soon after that (the next week? Who knows, everything pre-baby is kind of a blur), it was time for me to go on maternity leave. On my last day at work, Sue baked for me (and another guy, who was leaving for Idaho for a summer program) and we had a little celebration. When I left, I had to turn in my badge, and it felt really weird! Walking away from my desk I felt like surely I was forgetting something...once I had turned in my badge and was driving away, I realized -- I hadn't left any out-of-office messages. And turning in the badge was kind of a permanent thing, till coming back from leave. Oh well. Everyone figured it out eventually, haha.
The funniest thing that happened on that last day was as I was driving in, though. I'd been using Brad's truck, since he takes my car on his hour-long commute to work (for the better gas mileage). So it was already comical enough clamoring in and out of this big F-150 at 38 weeks pregnant, but when I drove to work on that last day I happened to be chosen for random vehicle inspection. The guy walked up to the window, and said "I'll have to ask you to step out" -- he looked inside, saw me in my "state", and said "Never mind, you can stay right there." But they have to get into every door, so he came around to the passenger side...which was locked, and Brad's truck doesn't have power locks. I ended up having to stretch all the way across the cab, with my uncomfortable pregnant self, to open the door from the inside. Would have been easier to get out after all! It was really funny that I just happened to get chosen on my very last day before leave.
That weekend, it didn't yet feel like leave since it was just the weekend...then I had Monday, when I started to get things sorted out around our disaster of an apartment. The rest of the week was to be spent organizing, getting ready, FINALLY packing my hospital bag ;) but Baylor had other plans! I went into labor the next day, Tuesday, at 39 weeks. Perfectly normal, I just was really hoping to have that last week of preparation. Of course, we're never really fully prepared for a baby! I've typed out my birth story already (wanted to get it all down to remember the details!) so I'll just paste it here :) Edited down a bit from the 6-page Word document (wowza!), so if you'd rather skip the details and just see some cute baby pics, scroll to the bottom!
I woke up on Tuesday, June 24 with a couple of back aches. I was 39 weeks. I noticed very light spotting too. After Brad went to work, I had another back ache at some point. I called the nurse’s line at my doctor’s office and left a message, mostly about the spotting since I had not spotted at all during my pregnancy. I was texting my mom about the symptoms, and she said I needed to call back right away and insist that they fit me in for an appointment! My response: “But I was going to make banana bread!” I had thawed some over-ripe bananas and they were currently looking gross in a bowl in the fridge – I really wanted to get that bread made! She said “Well go and get checked out, and if you’re fine then you can go home and make your bread.” She also suggested that I bring my hospital bag, in case they would be sending me directly to the hospital after they checked me out. I thought surely it’s not time yet, but I pulled my hospital bag together. It was good that I had this motivation, since the hospital bag was just a few piles around the apartment at that point, and it had been hanging over my head for weeks to actually pack the thing!
I was able to get an appointment for 10:30, after talking to the nurse who said “you’re probably fine, but if you want to come in for peace of mind we can check you out.” I loaded the bag into Brad’s truck (he had been using my car for the long commute to work) and drove to the doctor’s office. My appointment was with a doctor who was new to the practice, so we hadn’t met before. I noted that I hadn’t been checked at my previous appointments – 37 and 38 weeks, which is typically when doctors like to start checking. Dr. Daniel had been very “chill” about it, saying “we can check you if you want, but it’s not like we’ll send you to the hospital at 3 cm if you’re not having any pains, so if you’d rather not then that’s fine – it can be uncomfortable”. So I had declined! This doctor did the check (which didn’t turn out to be too bad) and said I was 2 cm dilated, 60% effaced. His head was also far down. She said I could end up hanging out at that stage for another week (this had happened to my friend Caitlin), or, the baby could be coming today! I was holding out hope that he’d stick around longer – especially because my mom had booked her flight to come in that Saturday. The doctor’s hunch was that it would be today or tomorrow – but again, who knows! She said to head back home, and call if my water broke or if I was having contractions 5 minutes apart.
So I went back home, and I made that darn banana bread! And, I worked on organizing a few things around the apartment – since it was my plan for this nice long week of leave, before baby came, to finally get the apartment looking livable. Sometimes I would notice a contraction, so I started writing down times. They were all over the place – nothing consistent, usually at least 20 minutes apart.
After 3:00 or so, I noticed my times were getting more regular, and the contractions were getting more ‘noticeable’, so at 4:00 I started using the contraction timer on my phone. (There’s an app for everything!) This had the contractions at 9 minutes apart. At the end of each one, I could rate the pain level. I rated most of them as “very mild” or “mild”, because I just kept thinking “I know it has to get a lot worse than this!”
Brad came home around 5:00, and my contractions were still 9 minutes. Some of them were making their way up to “moderate” pain! I found that walking around the apartment and using a focal point were the best ways for me to handle them. Many of them were in my back.
Brad had a church softball league playoff game that night, starting at 6:15 so he would have to leave soon for it. I knew that even though my contractions were regular, it could still be a long time before baby, but eventually I said “I think you should call Bob” (who was in charge of getting the team together). He called Bob and said “my wife is having contractions”. Bob said “so does that mean she’s asking you to stay home?” I didn’t want to be the mean wife, but I said “…Kind of?” So Brad ended up missing the game. I had also told him, “As I’m checking in with my mom and your mom, if you’re at the game and I tell them that’s where you are, you’ll have to answer to them!”
Time went on, there was more bleeding but my contractions were still 9 minutes apart. I didn’t want to call the doctor too early, and I didn’t have 5 minute contractions or my water breaking, so I was sticking it out! Still walking around, sometimes using some yoga poses I had learned in my prenatal yoga class. Brad pulled together his clothes and toiletries for his part of the hospital bag. He picked us up Taco Bell for dinner and I put in You’ve Got Mail for our mealtime movie. My friend Marybeth and I love this movie, especially to watch when either of us is not feeling well. It’s the ultimate comfort movie. I even texted her about it…contractions count for “not feeling well”! At around 9 or so I realized Brad could have gone and played his softball game and come back, so I felt bad! But it was good to have him there with me.
My aunt Kim had worked out with my mom that she would drive up to be with me whenever I was going into labor, if in fact the baby did come before my mom got into town. Kim is in Baltimore so it was a 6 hour drive. Around 9:00 I texted her my situation and said “not sure if you want to hit the road now, don’t know how long it could hang out at 9 mins?” She called and determined that she should go ahead and drive up. Around 9:30 my cousin Hayley texted to check in on me, she knew Kim was coming and asked if I was on the way to the hospital. I told her I was waiting since there were still 9 minutes apart, but I mentioned the blood and she said “I would call them – just tell them what is going on and they can let you know what to do.”
So I called the doctor, got the answering service and was told the doctor would call soon. Dr. Daniel called – I was glad she was the one on call, since she had been the doctor I’d seen all along! I mentioned the blood, then talked about the contractions being 9 minutes apart. She said “Well you could go ahead to the hospital and get checked if you want, worst case you’re still 2 cm and they’ll send you home…” I said “So the blood is okay?” and she said “It was just a couple of spots, right?” I said “No, [I'll spare the details].” She paused, then said “Yeah, it’d probably be a good idea to go to the hospital.”
So, it was time to step into action! We grabbed the last few things we wanted from around the apartment, and brought the bag and the carseat down. We had installed the carseat base the week before but the seat was hanging out in the apartment…once Brad snapped it in place, we realized we needed to pull the front seat forward a lot, and I wasn’t going to fit in it with my pregnant belly and contractions! So I sat in back behind Brad (on a trashbag and towel in case my water broke along the way – pro tip!) and off we went. I had a few contractions on the way, which were harder to handle because I had to be seated and not moving around as much.
Brad pulled me up to the front, then went to park. I checked in with the front desk, then by the time he came in we were ready to go to the labor and delivery floor. Checked in there, and Mary the nurse came to bring me to triage. It was a fairly small room, with curtain dividers so that three beds were set up in there. I know there was a girl in at least one of them (since I heard her talking with her friends later). While we waited on Mary to come back (it felt like a really long time), Brad sat in the seat crammed back by the bed and I stayed standing mostly, since that felt better when contractions came. When Mary came in, she had me lie down. She asked lots of questions (basically to check me in, family history etc.) As the contractions came, I had to stop and find my focal point, and usually moved a leg or something since I didn’t get to walk around now. She would stop asking questions and wait for it to end. I wasn’t making much noise, just deep breathing.
Once she was finally finished with questions, she said she was going to check me. She looked at me pointedly and said “You’re at about a 7.” I was shocked! I had gone through that whole active labor phase we had learned about in birthing class, while at home and here in triage. The phase where you would normally already be checked in to your L&D room! I thought about the contractions and how I would expect them to have been much worse for being in that stage (though there were indeed some painful ones!) Mary had asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10 when I was first there in the triage room, and I think I had given it a 4. Mary also said I was “paper thin”. Baby was definitely coming!
So, it was time to put me in a room. We got in, I laid on the bed and Brad sat in a chair nearby. Mary told me about the buttons on the bed, and the one I could press to call her in. She said “You’ll notice that if you jar it much, you might set off an alarm, and you could have like 100 people coming in here…we’ve been meaning to get that fixed.” Then she asked what I wanted to do about pain management. Without hesitation I said “I want the epidural.” She said “Really? But you’ve been doing so well!” This was true, I had surprised myself with how I’d handled the pain up to this point, but I was still terrified of pushing without the epidural! I told her as much, and she said she’d need to do a blood test and get those results back, then they’d call in the anesthesiologist. She set me up with the IV, etc. then left for a while. Again, the contractions were difficult because I had to just lay in the bed. I fixed on a tear in the wallpaper as my focal point, and moved my leg to help me through the contractions. I think I had only had a couple there in the bed, when my water broke…then I had another contraction, and this one was so much worse! I just batted at the button that would call Mary, figuring it would set off the alarm she had talked about, and sure enough I heard beeping outside at the nurse’s station. Thankfully Mary went by and turned it off, before coming in, so it didn’t actually bring on the crowd of people she had warned about.
I was still having the contraction, and said through short breaths “I think…my water…broke!” She checked and confirmed, then I guess cleaned it away – I was too busy being in pain to know what was going on. Then she left again. I had several contractions in this new state – very painful! I was so ready for the epidural now. I was making more noise – not so much screaming, but loud breathing noises. Brad said “What’s wrong?” like a helpful husband :) I just said “The contractions…are just… much worse now.” I was glad I hadn’t been swayed by Mary’s vote of confidence and had already gotten the epidural request underway. I’m not sure how many contractions I had before the anesthesiologist finally came, but it may have just been a few.
He was a very friendly man, and he and Mary joked back and forth. I had been nervous about this part since I’m such a needle phobe, but it wasn’t too bad – I think I was more ready for the pain relief than thinking about the length of the needle, etc. Apparently it took a couple of tries, because the nurses noted later on when I was in recovery that I was bruised in the area. Once I was all taped up, he had me lay back down. More contractions came and of course it didn’t kick in right away, but I knew it would get better soon. At some point I could feel that it was numb, with the exception of one spot. In birthing class she had mentioned that some women get “hot spots”, where the epidural somehow didn’t numb one little spot and so the pain was felt fully there. I was scared that this was the case for me, and that I’d feel it there through the delivery. But then that pain went away, and it was blissful – I couldn’t feel the contractions at all. I think right after he put in the epidural Mary had said I was at 9 and a half. I guess I got fully dilated quickly, because soon she was saying “Let me know when you feel the urge to push – in the meantime, you should rest.” But first, she noticed that the baby’s heart rate had dropped, so she turned me on my right side, and this seemed to help. She said it was probably because he was so far down, so putting me on my side gave him a better angle I suppose.
I didn’t feel anything down there – certainly not an urge to push – so I went to sleep. It was an amazing sleep, I thought of it as “the best I’ve ever had”. I pretty much forgot that I still had a big job to do! So Mary at some point said “Okay, let’s try” since I clearly wasn’t initiating the pushing on my own. She put me back to my back position (positioning was comical since my legs were dead weights) and had me try to push. It was very weird and I don't think I did much, because after my three pushes she said “Okay, let’s try again later. Let’s put your leg back down to the side” – and I just let it flop down, since of course I had no control! Then, I got some more amazing sleep. Brad apparently wasn’t able to sleep during this time, but I felt great.
At some point it was time to try again – prompted by Mary, because I still wasn’t feeling any urges. We got positioned again, and I pushed – this time I felt better about it, and Mary was happy too because she said she was now going to call in Dr. Daniel. We kept pushing during contractions with just the three of us, then eventually Dr. Daniel came in. We continued on, and it was still hard for me to feel any progress. But Mary and Dr. Daniel were very encouraging on pretty much every push. I wondered to myself if they were just encouraging like this as a matter of policy, so that the mom doesn’t give up hope – because I certainly didn’t feel like he was moving at all!
Pushing was taxing, but mostly in my face. I tried not to strain my face so much and focus more of that energy downward, but it was difficult. Mary commented on how my contractions had been shorter (finally, less than 9 minutes) but that now they had slowed down again. She joked that I was making her mad by slowing down my contractions :) So there was a lot of waiting time in between, and soon Dr. Daniel wanted to speed things up. She told Mary to ease off the epidural and start Pitocin. I didn’t really hear what she said, I thought it was a joke since she and Mary had also been joking back and forth, so I kind of laughed. Mary busied herself with my IVs, then we went back to pushing. At first I didn’t notice a difference, but I got to the point where I could feel the contraction a little bit – so I would tell everyone I thought one was coming on, since these feelings were coming before they were seeing anything on the monitor. And we would start pushing based on what I said.
At some point they had me reach down and feel his head – this was pretty amazing! And encouraging, since all along I still didn’t really believe I was making progress, so this was something tangible. Dr. Daniel started saying he needed to get his shoulders past my pelvic bone, then it would be easier. Before I knew it, she was saying “He should come on the next one”. And sure enough, during the next round of pushes, all of a sudden I felt plenty of movement through me, heard Brad say “Wow!” and heard some very LOUD screams coming from our Baylor Kent! It felt like just seconds before they put him on my chest, and I was in awe. He was still wailing up a storm :) I said, “Oh my God!” (maybe several times?) and just stared at him, smiling, saying “Hi baby boy, Hi Baylor!”
Those first moments were very surreal – hard to believe I now had my son! While he was on my chest, they clamped the cord and Dr. Daniel asked Brad if he wanted to cut it. I vaguely recall seeing it in front of me. I guess he was gentle at first because she said “Go ahead, you’re not going to hurt him.” I don’t think I actually watched as it was cut since I don’t really remember that moment! Brad was such a champ through the whole delivery – it’s a good thing he’s not squeamish about blood like me! When they put him in the crib to check him and clean him up, etc., I just watched him in amazement. I remember he would suddenly stick his arms and legs out straight every once in awhile, and they’d be shaking – a nurse later explained that this was his “startling” motion, that his limbs were so used to being in the womb so it was a shock to go far out.
Dr. Daniel mentioned that Baylor had come out with his arm by his face – not surprising since he always had his hands in his face during the ultrasounds! And even now, this still holds true – he loves his hands :) Also, the cord had been wrapped around his neck. She said if not for these two things, the pushing would have been easier! They told me that overall, pushing lasted about an hour. We had all wondered about the placenta, because of all the bleeding I’d had (even I wondered, because I had used my trusty Google at home and seen that it could be a placental rupture – it’s probably never good to try to self-diagnose with Google!) But the placenta was completely intact. (So they said -- I wasn't about to look at it.)
We had our little blessing, and it was wonderful. It was neat to watch Brad holding him some time after that, and he agreed that it felt pretty surreal. Soon they transferred us to the recovery room. They were able to grab Aunt Kim from the waiting room on our way – since we didn’t have any reception in the delivery room, we wouldn’t have known when she got there! But it turned out that she had arrived after he was born, so she didn’t end up missing out just due to cell phone service :)
About 12 hours from the time my contractions became regular to the time he was born (4 pm to 3:38 am)…I’m very thankful for a smooth delivery and a relatively short process (especially for a first time mom). Love our little Baylor Kent Doherty!