Lexi’s Birth Story-or- The Day I Found the Mama Tiger Inside Me Who Was there All along

Here is the story of  not only Lexi’s birth, but of me discovering my own strength in so many ways. i see myself so differently now. more on that in the next post.

July 21, 2012
This whole day i was kinda nervous, because Ashley (my doula) was in North Carolina getting married, and it was basically the one day i wouldn’t have access to her if i went into labor. I had this sense of “because this is the one day i don’t want  it to happen, it’ll be the day it does.” i remember remarking at 2PM “well, they are getting married now…can’t bug them after this…” everything stayed quiet all day- i think at this point i had only felt a few contractions total in my whole pregnancy, so i still wasn’t sure what to expect. Around 730 that evening, i felt a contraction starting and i told Scott to start “practicing” with his contraction timing app on his phone. then, about 10 minutes later, i felt another contraction.And then 10 minutes later, another. This continued for a couple hours, and i started to get nervous and excited, but decided not to bother Ashley on her wedding night. We told Scott’s parents what was going on, and i texted my dad and messaged my mom on facebook.  Scott’s mom was going to meet us at the hospital when it was time so i would have someone to help me through the birth since it looked like Ashley would miss it. The contractions stayed steady at 10 min apart for awhile, then started getting closer, longer, and more intense. Eventually, after probably a few hours i had to really start to focus to get through them. we tried to go to bed around midnight but i just couldn’t relax, so i decided to take a shower. through all of this, Lexi was very active.  after my shower, i got in bed, and the contractions started getting closer. by 2 AM they were 6 min apart…
July 22
at about 2 AM i decided to call the dr’s office and see if they thought i was ready to come in yet. When Dr Haigh (the on call dr) called back she said to wait till they were 5 min apart if i wanted to stick to the plan of having a low intervention birth, so we decided to do that. the contrax stayed at about 6 min apart until i was finally willing to get in bed at about 6AM. between 2-8 AM i tried to doze a bit between contrax, then i moved back to the couch. at this point we were in a 10 min apart holding pattern. I got in touch with Ashley around 930 AM via text, and she called up a back up Doula for me, Alli Halpin. I knew immediately upon talking to Alli on the phone that i loved her! she was so bubbly and friendly!  we went for a walk around 11am to try to get Lexi to drop more. My sister Christina got tired of waiting at home for news, so she got to our house around 1PM. we spent the rest of the day watching Scott play assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, eating Ice cream (christina went and got me some!), and watching episodes of My Boys. i spoke to Alli a couple  more times throughout the day, (just to tell her nothing was really changing)and around 7PM she advised me to get on all 4s and/or use an exercise ball to help Lexi drop more. i did this, and it seemed whenever i’d get into position on the ball, i’d have a really strong contraction. the contrax hadn’t gotten closer through the day, but boy howdy had they gotten stronger! we took another walk , and by 8 pm i was  having to moan to get through many of the contrax. i think this disturbed Christina a bit, and she said to me “you’re way tougher than me. i’d have been at the hospital, had all the drugs, and gotten that baby out a long time ago!’ i said “well, thats not how i wanna do it if i can help it.”  we had Chipotle for dinner, and Scott coaxed me into bed around 10 pm and again i dozed between contrax all night, experiencing a lot of pain and very little sleep. Scott was incredibly sweet comforting me through the pain.
July 23
when i got up around 7 i was so exhausted. the contrax were still about 10 min apart, and i decided to call and see as soon as the office opened if i could get my appt for that afternoon switched to ASAP. i called Alli to tell her what was going on and then we took  all the  stuff for the hospital and headed to the Dr. Christina was on fire with excitement, and Scott and i were already just plain exhausted. when we got in to see Dr Reutinger,  he examined me and said “ok, we are gonna have a baby today! i’m gonna send you over to the hospital, and i’ll come over and break your water.” i told him i wanted to do it without drugs and he said “that’s up to you, but just remember you don’t get any extra points for hurting.”  when he left the room, i broke down in tears, Scott held me and let me cry. i was just so tired, and so afraid of what was to come, pain wise and concerned for Lexi’s well being. Probably mostly tired though.  When i pulled myself together, we left the exam room and said to christina “ok, we are going to the hospital!” when we got in the car to drive the ¼ mile to the hospital entrance, i called Alli to tell her we were headed over, and she could meet us there. Then i called Ashley to tell her what was going on, and she suggested that i walk around the mall awhile to see if things progressed before officially checking in and getting things rolling at the hospital. this sounded like a good idea, so we drove toward the mall, and i called Alli again. Alli said that based on the lack of sleep and all the pain i’d been in that i probably shouldn’t use the energy i had left to walk, since i’d need it for pushing. this made even more sense to me, so we headed back to the hospital. i was pretty fuzzy and overwhelmed as we went inside, and Scott and Christina had to do all the thinking and help us get where we needed to go. I remember when we walked into the L&D waiting room, i was just a mess. i started bawling right as Alli introduced herself to me and just kept repeating how scared i was. in hindsight i really think a lot of it was the sleep deprivation and pain of the past 40 hours or so. After we got all the paperwork filled out and waited a bit, the nurse came to take me back to my room. we then found out that i could only have 2 people in the room with me till after the birth, and they weren’t interchangable, so Christina had to stay in the waiting room. that was a painful moment. My nurse, Reid, was really nice, and reassuring. as she helped me change into my gown and stuff i told her about my birth plan, and how i wanted to do this as naturally as possible, and she told me she’d been a Doula and apprenticed to be a homebirth midwife. Instantly i felt so  much better and less afraid. we mostly just hung out and got me hooked up to all the monitors and got my IV started ( i didn’t want this, but it was hospital policy, so whaddya gonna do?) until about 1PM when Dr Reutinger came to break my water.
The water breaking was pretty anticlimactic. there was a little pop and i felt the fluid start to drain. He told me there was light mec staining, which Alli said isn’t anything to be really worried about, since it was really light. at this point all we could do was wait really, since i was 4 cm and about 90% effaced still, same as i’d been at 10 am at the dr office. Dr Reutinger said i could keep waiting to progress for awhile and see if breaking my water was enough to move things along, but that if i didn’t progress in 2 hours he was going to want to talk about pitocin. for the next couple hours, Alli, Reid, Scott and i hung out and talked (i was out of bed some) between contractions, which were still 10 min or so apart.  I started to feel a bit nervous realizing that it was unlikely that Dr Reutinger was going to deliver Lexi. At about 4PM Dr Reutinger came in, we decided on the pitocin, and he was gone for the night after that. Reid went and got the bag of pitocin, and as predicted, right after she brought it in the room, my contractions picked up. However, it didn’t last, and we went ahead and started the drip at 4:40 at 2mL/hour. my contractions started to get a little closer, and at 5:22 and 6:14 the dosage was upped by 2 mL at a time. once the pitocin was started, the pain intensified, and the contractions were clearly coupling (happening on top of one another) and Reid could see on the print out from the monitor that my uterus was tired and irritated from the constant work for almost 2 days. the pitocin was helping push it over the hump and do its work. i spent some time on my  exercise ball, both seated and leaning on it while standing next to the bed while Alli did some low back massage. shortly before 7 the Dr who’d be taking care of us overnight, Dr Davis. came in to examine me, and wow was this exam more painful! she said i was at about 6 cm, and the pitocin was bumped up to 8mL per hour. at 7 it was time for Reid to leave, and my night nurse, Keri came in. She was very sweet and soft spoken and soothing. the past hour and a half or so the pain combined with my  exhaustion had become just too much for me to handle, so around 730 i asked them to call the anaesthesiologist for my epidural- i swore i wouldn’t have one, but after 48 hours of contrax and no sleep to speak of since the 20th, i just wanted a break and to conserve my remaining endurance for pushing. the doc came with her magic cart around 8.
   Getting the epidural was kind of a surreal experience for me. Everyone but Keri had to leave the room, since it was such a delicate procedure. the dr was awesome and talked me through everything she was doing, and Keri stood in front of me, helping me stay steady, which was good, because the contractions were really strong and close together. it’s all fairly fuzzy, but i remember the doc telling me she was numbing me with tiny lidocaine shots, then that i might feel muscle spasms as she inserted the needle, and to do my best to hold still. i felt the spasms in my right leg, but managed to control them, and the doc said that i’d start to feel warmth at my toes and rising up my legs, and slowly i did. she also said the extremely painful contraction i was moaning through as she taped me up would be the last one i’d feel, which i was skeptical of, but by the time keri got me lying down, i could feel no discomfort at all!
    i was so relaxed by the time scott and alli came back in-and a bit loopy from exhaustion and relief. Alli told me that her client who was due the same day as me was headed to the hospital, so she needed to go. I called Ashley(who was back in town by now), and she said to call her when i was almost complete, and she’d come help me through the rest of it. i talked with Scott a little while, then went to sleep- this whole long day, Lexi had been very active, and i was so thankful for that, as well as for being able to hear her little heartbeat on the monitor. it was hearing her steady heartbeat that lulled me to sleep for awhile. i dozed on and off for a few hours while nurses and Dr Davis came in and checked my progress, emptied my bladder, and other things.  Dr Davis determined Lexi was in OP (face up) position, which was probably part, if not all of why i’d been progressing so slowly. because of this, and in order to get her to turn on her own, they had me turn from my left side to my right, which let me tell ya took all the upper body strength i had, since the bottom half of me was almost totally numb. i dozed off a bit in this position.
July 24
 i startled awake and called out to Scott when suddenly Lexi’s heartbeat sounded different. sure enough, Keri came in and watched the monitors for a few minutes. This happened a few more times ( apparently at the beginning of contractions) before they turned me back to my left awhile, and things looked normal again. we still needed Lexi to turn over, though, so they would switch me back to my right every once in awhile with the same effect. Suddenly a bunch of nurses were in my room looking at the monitors. (Keri told me that when things were fairly quiet on the hall, the nurses would help each other out like this.)They turned off the pitocin to see if that would help, and gave me an oxygen mask to make sure Lexi was getting enough oxygen to her brain during contractions. not having the pitocin on slowed the contractions, which wasn’t helping me progress, so after awhile, when Lexi’s heart rate became stable, they turned the pitocin on at 10mL/hour . the theory was that Lexi was laying on her cord, which became compressed during contractions, lowering the ability of oxygen to travel to her brain,so i guess the less powerful contractions or whatever from less pitocin eliminated this issue. i kept the oxygen mask on, and Dr Davis came in and worked on turning  Lexi over as i continued to progress. When i got to 9cm scott called Ashley and she was on her way. at 2AM they said i was complete and ready to push!
As they turned me over and helped me get my legs into the stirrups, Ashley came into the room! Perfect timing. at first i was a bit afraid, and kept saying i didn’t know how to push, especially because i couldn’t feel anything! Keri told me to focus on pushing like i was trying to have a BM, and *that* i felt i could do. The next hour and a half or so  was SO exhausting but went in kind of a blur- probably from being so exhausted, but i worked SO hard. i could feel more once i started pushing- enough to know when i was having a contraction and be ready to push. they generally had me push 3x per contraction, and if it was longer they’d ask if i had one more in me. progress was coming, but very slowly. from almost the beginning the nurses and Ashley were telling me i was pushing really well. Dr Davis came in and finished getting Lexi turned around, and i think that helped my pushing become a bit more productive. after that first 90 min or so, Dr Davis popped her head in and asked if i could take a break for about 20 min while she delivered twins down the hall! AAAH! this wasn’t a problem for me really, because i couldn’t really feel the urge to push through the epidural. During this break, Ashley prepped me on another pushing position or 2, and when we got the okay, we tried it, and it really helped for awhile. i had better control of my legs than expected, which really helped, i felt like. At some point during this second stretch, everyone who could see was buzzing about all the hair Lexi had. i thought that was cool, but i was SO tired, i just wanted her out so i could rest and hold her. i was very tired and frustrated , and felt a bit like i must  not be doing it right, even though everyone said i was doing great. Ashley said it was a lot of 2 steps forward one step back for awhile. After i’d been pushing for 2 hours, Keri said i pretty much needed to get the baby out asap, so i needed to choose between the Vaccum or a C section. i chose the vaccum, because after all that work i wasn’t gonna just get cut open! when Dr Davis came in she told me i needed to push with all i had during these contractions, because if the vaccum came off 3 times they had to do the C section. i’ll never forget what Ashley said to me during these last minutes every time i pushed: “Push Mae, Get pissed at her!!” and i just  gave it all i had.  i heard Dr Davis say “oh this baby is coming out on the next contraction.” and that  gave me the final burst of energy i needed. I pushed with all i had, and felt all the pressure disappear from my pelvis, i heard the doctor say “We have a nuchal cord” and Ashley follow with “which is perfectly normal”, then they lifted her up, and i saw her, dark haired and covered in blood- MY BABY! i gasped and sobbed and cried “ God is SO Good!”  But  she wasn’t crying! was she okay? Everyone assured me she was. i then delivered the placenta, which Ashley and Dr Davis examined intently. Scott seemed pretty interested too, like in every other aspect of the process. The doctor said we wouldn’t be able to delay cord clamping because her lungs needed to be suctioned, so she said to Scott “Dad, do you want to set her free?” and Scott cut her cord. Then they placed her on my chest, and it was unbelievable. the first thing i remember thinking was “wow she smells so Good!” i mean, she was still all covered in blood and fluid, but there was something kinda primal, and that’s the first thing i remember. I also remember it being so surreal and hard to grasp that she was real and she was mine! i kept asking “Is she ok? Why isn’t she crying?” and Ashley and the doctor assured me she was- “ look  at her color!” Very quickly though, the doctor said “i’m sorry Sweetie, i’m gonna have to take her” and took Lexi and examined her a little bit before handing her to the nurses who whisked her away to the other side of the room where they were cleaning her up and suctioning her lungs out. there was a lot of fluid left in there. The doctor sewed me up while laid there yelling to scott “What’s Going ON over there? is everything ok?” i’m sure i was obnoxious, but it was driving me crazy not knowing what was happening with my daughter. After what seemed like foreeeeeever, they had weighed Lexi, and brought her back to me. i held her and just drank her in. skin to skin, i felt like everything was exactly as it should be. After awhile longer of just us, i asked them to call Christina to come in. Poor girl had been waiting so long all by herself with only updates from Scott once in awhile. I was so happy to introduce my little girl to my little sister. christina stayed and held Lexi for a little while, and then headed home. i snuggled Lexi for as long as i could before they had to take her away for her initial assessment and bath.
    at this point i knew i should settle in and go to sleep for awhile, but it took me awhile- adrenaline rush i guess. shortly after i laid down to sleep,  it was time to meet my new nurse, Kathryn, who was a really sharp older woman. then Dr Davis came to check and make sure my bleeding looked good, which it was. Then my breakfast came, and after 24 hours of working hard and eating only 2 popsicles, i was SO hungry! when my tummy was more full (i was still ravenous!) i lay down again to try to sleep, and a few minutes later, i heard the door open, and i was very pleasantly surprised to see Dr Reutinger! we talked about how my Labor and Delivery turned out, and he congratulated me and left. NOW i went to sleep for real.
   I woke with a start some time later- i’d no idea how much- and called out to Scott “ Where’s the Baby?”  because i had no idea how long i’d slept, but she was only supposed to be gone and hour, and i missed her! he said she was still gone, and when my eyes focused enough to see the clock, i realized it was only 9, so she’d only been gone 2 hours or so. But still, i wanted her back, so scott called the nursery and asked about her, and they told him it’d been a busy morning, and she’d just finished her bath and would need to spend an hour under the warmers  to bring her temp back up.Scott must’ve sounded unhappy with that, so as an alternate solution they offered that she could warm up by having skin time with mama. scott told them he thought i’d prefer that, and they said they would send her over soon.
While we were waiting, i got to talk to my Papa on the phone, and that was really cool. i loved hearing how excited he was to meet his grandbaby and just share this amazing day with him. it was one of the best parts of the day for me.
when they wheeled Lexi in in her little plastic bassinet, i said “there she is!” and lexi immediately turned her head! the nurse said “Oh, she knows her mama’s voice!” my heart melted at this, and i was eager to get my gown open so she could be on my chest. Lexi and i snuggled awhile, until Kathryn came in to help me with my first bathroom trip- which was far more dramatic than i expected to be. i was proud of myself when she went to help me slowly ease out of bed (because i might not be able to find my feet after the anaesthesia) and i just bounced right up with no unsteadiness at all. Kathryn taught me all the hygiene stuff i’d need to know, and had scott come in and help me get a sponge bath. once i was all cleaned up and in my own nightgown, i ventured out to see Scott and Lexi again. I was suddenly hit by a wave of lightheadedness and pain though, and quickly lay down on the couch while Kathryn went and got me some motrin. the warmer that was in the room when Lexi was born was removed and replaced by a small recliner for me to sit in and later nurse in. Kathryn got me all set up in the chair, and taught scott how to make ice packs for me to sit on. i sat there, held Lexi, and watched Tv with scott awhile, but i have no idea what we watched because all i could see was my little miracle! Scott held her while i ate lunch, and at some point they took her temperature to make sure she was staying warm enough, and she was just a teeny bit cold, so they had me have more skin time with her. She didn’t warm up enough, so it was back to the nursery and the warmers, which made me a bit sad and Scott a bit irritated because she was jsut a tenth of a degree off from being allowed to stay with us. While she was gone, scott went and had his own lunch, and when they brought her back to us, the lactation consultant came too!
   My first time feeding Lexi went so much better than i’d even hoped. with the help of the LC, she nursed for 10 minutes on one side, and a few on the other. she had a harder time latching on the left (which, 6 weeks later, she still does!), but i figured we’d get the hang eventually.  
shortly after this, the influx of visitors for the evening began. Scott’s parents, Dominic (Lexi’s Birhtday buddy- the whole pregnancy he insisted i have her on his birthday, and i thought it unlikely, but sure enough!), Sheryl, Mike, Scott’s grandparents, Then Kelly, and her friends Christin and Grace. Mike stayed for most of the evening with me while scott went home to get a few things and grab some dinner. our second nursing session was less stellar, but i got some help from a nurse and things went better. after Mike left, i got in bed with Lexi’s bassinet right next to me, and Scott made the couch into a bed for himself. it wasn’t long before Lexi was crying and acting hungry, so i started nursing her again. this “feeding” went on 2 hours before  my nurse came in and put a stop to it and got me a pacifier. apparently comfort nursing isn’t the ideal (though i let her do it once in awhile now if she’s really upset.). Eventually we both went to sleep awhile, and that was the end of a long and exciting few days- but the beginning of an amazing journey!

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