That’s what I’ve been saying since it all happened, “I can’t believe I actually birthed a person. That really happened!” I just can’t get over it.
As you already know I was scheduled to be induced on Tuesday, August 17, 2010. The instructions were no food or water past midnight and call us at 5:30am for your instructions. Of course I woke up at 1:30am totally excited. It was like Christmas morning. There was no going back to sleep after that, even though I knew I’d want rest for later that day.
I called L&D at 5:30am on the dot ready to hear, “Come on in!” But no, they were super overwhelmed and I would have to wait for a while. Long story short... I got a call around 10am that said, “Can you be here in the next hour, we have a bed for you?”
Me, Chris, Nils, Katie and Emery all started jumping around in celebration and started running all over our house getting ready.
Last belly pic: 40 Weeks and 3 Days
The drive there was surreal. Knowing how spiritual Chris and I are you can imagine we spent the whole drive in prayer and worship. Totally kidding. We couldn’t. We were so excited we turned up our dance music tracks as loud as they’d go and had a massive dance party down 610. It was perfect.
As we arrived at L&D, we turned the corner to the nurses station and, no joke, there was a line of nurses and they all started clapping and cheering. It was so fun. Our nurse Laura grabbed us and showed us to our room. (Side note: One great perk at Women’s Hospital is they have one-on-one nursing.)
We weren’t going to have any family or friends come back at all, but Tammy came with us and we didn’t want her waiting in the waiting room by herself till everyone got there. So all our family lucked out and got to sneak back one time to say hi.
Let me say one quick thing about my nurse. Well two quick things. First she was just amazing. Perfect personality for us. But second, her husband has the same disease that I have. I can’t even tell you what a relief it was for us to have someone there that really knew and understood my medical issues. My mom, of course, started sobbing as soon as she heard (that was basically her state the whole day).
I got checked right away and was 4cm, 70-80% effaced and soft cervix (day before I was 3cm and 70% effaced). Laura said this was a great starting place for induction! Hooray! At 11:47am they started my pitocin. By 2pm Pitocin was at it’s max levels. My contractions were coming every 1-3 minutes. While they were very regular, I still wasn’t feeling bad pain... yet.
As you can see labor was really rough at this point. ;)
At 2:30pm they decided the next step was to break my waters. OH. MY. WORD. This was the most hilarious thing I have EVER experienced in my life. Having it done isn’t painful. However the doctor did make a joke that he was going after my tonsils (because basically it’s the same as The Exam, they just have a fish hook thing with them). Instantly you feel this gush of warm fluids that you can’t control. I felt like I was peeing in my pants. I could not stop laughing. And every time I laughed it pushed more out. It was a hilarious moment.
A not so great moment is, just like Laura said would happen, as soon as my water broke those contractions got REALLY painful quickly.
I knew going into this I was going to get an epidural once my labor was active and got to be painful. After about 30 minutes of really painful contractions I turned to Laura and asked, “At what point do I consider asking for the epidural?” She said you are in active labor now, so whenever you want it, I can call them in.
I hesitated and kept asking Chris what I should do. I think I felt like as a woman I needed to experience a certain amount of pain for this to be considered legit. I know it’s ridiculous, but its what I felt. Plus, the brief moments between contractions don’t hurt a bit. So when I wasn’t having them, I really thought, “Oh this is fine, I can go longer.” But then I realized, why go through the pain if I don’t have to and I don’t want to.
At 3:55pm I got the epidural. Good thing I asked for it when I did because it took them an hour to get to my room. I am so thankful I heard so many horror stories because I had really bad expectations for getting an epidural. And it was nothing. Basically the pain is like when the dentist gives you that numbing shot before he goes to town on a cavity. By 4:10pm I was feeling good again.
Best part of my epidural: I COULD FEEL EVERYTHING. I had always heard that one of the reason not to get an epidural is how disconnected you are from labor. So far from true. I could tell the nurse when contractions were coming and ending before it showed on the monitor. I had full control of my legs. I had all the sensations one would have without an epidural. All but the breathtaking pain I had before it. It was glorious. I was able to really rest and enjoy the process. (Note: This is not a knock to natural births, I have even more respect for you now. But I hadn’t been told that epidurals still allowed you to be this connected to labor).
I just had to share the look on my husband's face the entire day. I have never seen so much joy in his eyes before. I can't even express how deeply in love I am with him and how much more I respect and admire him after this day. I will treasure those moments of just the two of us for the rest of my life.
At 6:30pm Dr Cone came in to check me again. There was NO CHANGE. He said, “I have to go do another delivery when I come back we are going to have to talk about options.” When he left Laura told us that we should be prepared to hear that a c-section might be the best option. At that point we started blasting worship music and prayed. Our prayer was simple: The Lord knew the plans He had for Karis and me. He knew whether a c-section or vaginal birth was best for Karis and my body. So we asked that the answer be very clear when Dr. Cone returned. Then we just rested in the worship music and waited to see what He would do.
At 7:45pm (an hour and 15 minutes later) Dr Cone came in to check me and he said... “Awesome!” We were all surprised by his reaction (he's not one for positivity). Then he continued, “You are 9cm and 100% effaced!” He turned to Laura, “check her in 45 minutes.” Then turned to us, “You’ll be pushing within the hour.” We were floored and so elated!
As soon as Dr. Cone left the room the iPod started playing "You Are For Me" by Kari Jobe. I love putting iPod on shuffle and letting God be the DJ. This was one of many times the songs would come at the perfect time. At that moment tears came to both of our eyes knowing that I wouldn't have to have a c-section and that God had willed for me to be able to birth her and this was the best thing for my body and for Karis.
At 8:30pm Laura checked me and I was at a 10cm. She started prepping the room. And we were freaking out excited that IT WAS TIME TO PUSH!!
At that time we had the rep from MD Anderson come in to process our paperwork for cord blood donation. If you are pregnant or will be at any time in the future, I encourage you to check into donating your baby’s cord to them. The rep paused half way through and said, “I’m so sorry, I’m distracted. I’ve never been in a room where worship music was playing. I really hope I’m in the room during your birth!” It was really neat to see how the Lord was ministering to her in the middle of her day through our delivery process.
At this time they took my temperature and it was over 100 degrees. Dr. Cone said that if the fever rose above 101 is when he passes is comfort level. Not knowing if there was an infection in my uterus and fluids and if the baby was contracting it or not. Again we prayed.
At 8:45pm pushing started. Now this was very interesting. I am so thankful that the epidural allowed me to feel everything... everything but the pain. I had full control of moving my legs. I felt every contraction-- in fact, I’d give the nurse and Chris a heads up that one was coming and I needed to push. They held my legs back and I curled my chin up and would push 3 times a contraction for 10 seconds straight. It took several times to be able to tell where to push. At one point Laura put me on an oxygen mask. That helped with breathing a lot.
Chris didn't feel like he was doing much, but as you can see in this picture he was my constant encourager. I have never physically and emotionally had to rely on someone's support like I did with him during that hour of pushing especially.
Around 9:30pm Dr Cone was in the room and was all dressed up in the medical garments. The room was filled with people (medical staff, Chris and I wanted it to be just us). Next thing I know Dr. Cone moved to where Laura had been and said OK we are going to push really hard on this next contraction three times. So I bear down and push once and then take a deep breath for the second push and he said, “OK you are done.” What? I'm done?! Next thing I know she came out.
7lbs 13 oz and 19 1/4 inches.
There are no words to describe that moment.
I do have to say one of my first thoughts was how strange my body felt immediately, it was instant relief. At that same moment I’m staring at my daughter as Dr. Cone cleans her off. I look and confirm out loud that she is in fact a girl.
The nurse handed Chris the scissors to cut the cord and Dr. Cone said, “Come on, do it.” Don't you love the look on Dr. Cone's face (see below)? And he did. He said it took two cuts and it felt very strange but was glad he did it.
The nurse laid her on my chest and finished cleaning her off. That was when I got to touch my daughter for the first time. Unreal. The love was instant.
Then they took her over to the warming station to get her foot prints and whatever else they do. Chris went with her and held her hand the whole time. That was when the nurses noticed that her lungs had a bunch of fluid in them. After siphoning it out for some time they told us they needed to take her next door for a minute to use the machine to get the fluid out.
My daughter has the most delicious lips and the most hilarious pout. This still has not changed. She is a pretty content baby, but she can turn the pout on pretty fast when hungry. It still makes me laugh often.
At that time they took my temperature and realized that my fever was over 101 degrees. That would put both me and Karis at harm for infection.
That’s when Dr. Cone told us that my tear was really bad. Tears range from 1 (small) to 4 (tears all the way into the anus). I had a 3 plus and it tore in the shape of a star-- he said it was very unique. Why thank you Dr. Cone.
At that moment the iPod played my song through this whole pregnancy, “Healer” by Kari Jobe. He knew in that very moment the song I needed to hear. My fear this whole pregnancy with a vaginal birth was tearing and not being able to heal (like has happened with my previous surgeries in life). But I took this as His way of saying it was going to be OK.
Then Chris went with the other medical team and Karis to the next room to siphon out her lungs. When they came back they said that Karis would need to go to the NICU 2. Both to get treatment for the fluid in her lungs and also to monitor if she caught whatever infection/fever I had. Chris went with Karis to the NICU and was able to show her off to all our family in the hallway (yes all those people were just with us). When he came back he said she might have to stay in the NICU 2 for two days.
An hour later I was wheeled to my room and Chris and I were told that we couldn’t see Karis until I could walk around and had used the restroom. The nurse said she wouldn’t feel comfortable with me even trying for a couple of hours.
As soon as she left, I lost it. I was heartbroken that my baby was just down the hall and I couldn’t even be there. Chris held me and we prayed. And then I asked for a lot of water and got to chugging. Also, we ordered a pump and I was able to pump 7mL to take to Karis. Less than an hour later I was able to walk to the restroom and relieve myself. Grin. I was determined to prove that nurse wrong.
Going to the NICU was so sweet. I was able to see Karis and talk to her. We got to connect with the nurses that were taking care of her, such sweet women. They all loved Karis and couldn’t stop telling us how beautiful she was. Also at that time we were told she’d be in our room around 5am.
That next morning they brought our baby girl to our room. We were together, just the three of us. Alone. It was beautiful beyond words.
for being there during this special moment to take pictures. I will treasure these for the rest of my life. I encourage you to contact her if/when you are going through labor to have her take pictures during this time (or at least tell any preggo girlfriends you have about her). I honestly forgot she was even in the room, so don’t worry about her invading that intimate time. Instead she captures it for you.