At my 41-week appointment on Tuesday, May 1, an ultrasound revealed that my amniotic fluid level (AFI), which had been holding steady in the 7-8 cm range over the past few weeks, was down to 4.5. Initially, I was so disappointed (think, crying uncontrollably in the ultrasound chair) when they told me the AFI number because I assumed it meant I would have to go have an immediate c-section, just like I did with Owen. (You can read more about that story here.) Instead, I was assured that we could still try to "induce" labor to the extent possible, given the risks for a VBAC (more on that, here), AND that I could wait until the next day to actually head to the hospital. (One doc even said that I could wait it out until the end of the week to see if maybe I'd go into labor on my own, but I felt a little uncomfortable with that and opted instead for the "tomorrow" plan.)
So, as Jack Bauer might say, "The following takes place between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 2, 2012." Ha ha!
6:00 a.m. — Drove to the hospital (after backing into our neighbor's mailbox and denting the back of our car...oy vey!)
7:00 a.m. — Checked into the hospital, dilated 1 cm (same as the past couple weeks).
10:00 a.m. — Midwife Jenny (love her!) broke my water and I started having contractions, but nothing too strong.
Sitting around, waiting for the show to get on the road. Ryan enjoyed keeping track of each and every contraction as recorded by the monitors, while I enjoyed a popsicle!
12:00 p.m. — Checked my cervix, dilated about 3.5 cm. Yay! Progress!
2:00 p.m. — Started pitocin and checked my cervix again, this time dilated 4 cm. (Yay! More progress!) Contractions started coming on stronger after this point.
Mom came to visit while things were still "fun," as I later remarked. Notice all the smiles.
4:00 p.m. — Checked my cervix, still dilated 4 cm, increased pitocin slightly. And by "increased," I mean bumping it from 1 mU/min (and I have no idea what "mU/min" actually means, but that's what I found when I googled the unit used to measure pitocin) to 2 mU/min. This is compared to the maximum dose of 20-30 mU/min that they would eventually give someone who wasn't doing a VBAC and running the risk of uterine rupture. 2 mU/min was as high as anyone was willing to go in my case.
Both my sisters arrived around this time, just as the contractions started getting much stronger. I asked Rachel to help me pull my hair back. She failed. (Ha!) But then, after these photos were taken, the trained cosmetologist (and photographer!) sister, Jackie, stepped in to help.
I love this photo, taken mid-contraction, and wish I had more like it. Unfortunately, as Jackie was about to snap another, I barked something about not wanting any photos right now and she politely obliged. Darn it if painful contractions don't make you say things you'll regret later!
Something that struck me throughout the labor process was that when I wasn't mid-contraction, I actually felt really, really great! Having never gone through it before, I don't know what I was expecting, but as you can see in the picture here, I was perfectly fine and dandy only moments (seconds, really) after the above picture of intense pain. Such an odd thing.
Me on the birthing ball with nurse Stacy checking my blood pressure. She was awesome and so sweet!
6:00 p.m. — Checked my cervix again, still dilated only 4 cm. Blerg! I should mention here that apparently you need to dilate at least 1 cm every two hours to be considered making forward progress. And since I had been stuck at 4 cm for 4 hours at this point, the consulting doctor on call advised against going any further and wanted to do the c-section right then. But my awesome midwife, Jenny knew how badly I wanted to keep trying and managed to talk the doc into letting us go 2 more hours. However, I was extremely worried about the need to be put under full sedation in the event of a uterine rupture and emergency c-section, so we started discussing getting an epidural at this time.
7:00 p.m. — Got the epidural, partially to prevent the need to be put under sedation in the event of an emergency c-section, but also because of the pain I was in at that point. It got real, people!
8:00 p.m. — Checked my cervix again and, much to everyone's disappointment, I was still only dilated 4 cm. So after 6 full hours of no forward progress and a recommendation against increasing the pitocin any further, it was clear at that point that a c-section was the appropriate plan of action. I'm not gonna lie, I cried a little at this point. Maybe more than a little. But I was not going to jeopardize my baby's health (or mine, for that matter). I just needed a few minutes to mourn the loss of my final opportunity to birth a baby on my own. And then...we started prepping for the c-section.
This is possibly the least flattering photo ever taken of me. And check out Ryan's crazy hazmat-style get-up!
I think the look on my face in the picture below says, simply, "nervous." An intense moment lying there on that operating table. One other thing I remember feeling was cold. It seemed freezing in there! Not sure if it was the epidural making me so cold or if it really was frigid in that room, but I remember just wanting to be warm.
8:42 p.m. — Nora Cecilia Peterson was born! (Although, she was not officially named until the following morning, so she was just "baby girl Peterson" at that point.) She weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and was 20 inches long. But the thing I remember noticing first when they held her up over the screen for me to see was all her dark, dark hair. It was such a shocking sight since Ryan and I have fairly light hair.
Love at first sight. I couldn't wait to get my hands on her!
The funny thing about these next three photos is that my whole body was still so numb from the epidural that I could tell I was falling over to my left side, but I could not actually do anything about it. I kept saying, "could somebody please prop me back up?" I actually didn't even have the strength to hold my new little bundle very securely. I also wanted very badly to nurse her ASAP, but when I finally did get the chance, my hands and arms were so locked up that I wasn't able to. So frustrating!
The grandmas! Grandma V (my mom) first, followed by Grandma J (Ryan's mom). I cannot tell you how sweet it was to know that we had a waiting room full of loved ones anxiously waiting to get their hands on our new babe. What a completely different experience from Owen's birth out on the West coast, with nary a single family member present.
Auntie Rachel adoring her new niece.
The rest of these were taken the following day, when big brother Owen came to meet his little sister.
We heard him outside the door before he came in
Some other stuff worth mentioning...
I had stated in a previous post that I was kind of concerned about the "baby blues" that I experienced very strongly when Owen was born, but I am so pleased to share that I have not really felt them at all this time around. In fact, at one point, I wondered aloud what I had been so afraid of three years ago. Granted, Nora seems to be a much calmer and more content baby than Owen (so far!) and I now have nearly three years of parenting experience under my belt. But honestly, I feel like things are falling into a nice little groove and I am just loving how precious and sweet our newest family member is. I'm just so in love with her and don't wish away a single moment of this newborn stage.
Part of that sense of peace is surely related to the fact that breastfeeding is going SO.MUCH.BETTER this time around! Nora is a great nurser and my milk supply seems to be doing well at this point, too. No sore nipples to contend with (praise God!!!) and based on her weight at her 2-week doctor appointment, she seems to be thriving. The goal is for a baby to have at least gained back to their original birth weight by two weeks, which for her, was 8 lbs, 2 ozs. Instead, she was 8 lbs, 14 ozs! So, yeah, I'd say it's going well!
Physically, I'm feeling very good after the repeat c-section. I was concerned about how recovery from surgery was going to go with not just a newborn, but also a 2 1/2-year-old in tow, but as of this week, I feel absolutely great!
A big thanks (as always) goes out to the great Jackie Petersen Photography for many of the amazing photos in this post. And here's a few more photos from the past few weeks...
Papa Vern meeting Miss Nora (his first granddaughter) for the first time.
Squishy, squishy cheeks!
First day at home...
Cuddling with Daddy on her first night at home.
First trip to the grocery store. (She slept the whole time.)
First trip to the park with big brother, Owen. (Again, she slept the whole time.)
Mother's Day (and Nora's baby dedication at church)...
I am so grateful for all the help we've received from family and friends in these first few weeks. And I know Owen appreciates all the extra special attention he's received, like this fun trip to the park with Grandma V.
Since life has been hectic enough that it has taken me almost three whole weeks to get this post published, I think I will probably take a brief hiatus from blogging so that I can fully enjoy my new family and not stress myself out about keeping up with regular updates. If something comes up that I can quickly post (or share photos of), I will sure try to do that, but in the meantime, just assume that we are all enjoying one another's company and living life to the fullest. Oh, and hopefully doing some of this in our downtime...