Vera Kate: a birth story

baby vera

Last month we celebrated our baby girl’s 1st Birthday. This is her birth story.

This is a long post. One I so enjoyed writing. So birth enthusiasts and all else curious, read on.

*no details spared. Continue at your own risk 😉

Friday, November 28, 2014: Today was your due date, baby girl. We have been anxiously awaiting your arrival. Thanksgiving Day was spent at home. I baked my first turkey—at 39 weeks, 6 days pregnant—and all the works that go with a Thanksgiving meal. Dad helped a lot, too. It was a good day. But you weren’t here with us. The last few weeks, though most moms are super miserable during that time, I was pretty content to have you snuggled safe inside. I still had so much to clean and organize. And I was just fine at 38 weeks and 39 weeks, but come today—your due date, I wanted you here! But you had other plans.

Each day that passed seemed like a year! Since Friday, your due date, I had been having on and off contractions all the time. I thought surely you must be coming soon! I had such a hard time resting—because I kept expecting you to come at any moment! And I had no idea what to expect! All those stories about the 2nd baby and how labor is likely to be shorter and I just had no idea how things would go! I was hoping that on the BIG day, I’d be able to get a good night’s rest, and wake up, with contractions starting during daylight and that we wouldn’t have to rush out in the middle of the night–waking Luke etc. I was hoping I would have time to labor at home, do some last minute packing of the hospital bag, get Luke’s things together and bring him over to our friend’s and then we would eventually head to the hospital.

Sunday, November 30th:  I didn’t go to church today—I was tired, feeling blah, and I just couldn’t muster up the energy to be asked “no baby yet?” a million times—so I stayed home. Sunday evening, my doula came over. She brought a birthing ball for me to use for laboring at home and we discussed my birth plan. Just a list of things I put together—that if things were to go my way, this is how I would like them to go.

                                                                  Desired Birth Plan

1.             Labor at home for as long as possible

2.             Non-medicated birth if possible

3.             Like-minded nurse

4.             No Pitocin

5.             No IV-unless absolutely necessary and/or epidural is requested

6.             Room with tub

7.             Birthing Ball

8.             Relaxing Music Playlist Prepared

9.             Delayed Cord Clamping

10.           Call for Dr. Sundstrom—if he is on call/available

11.           Gradual pushing (history of tearing)

12.           Breastfeed

Shandra also brought some of her essential oils and massaged my feet/ankles—in such a way that is ‘supposed’ to help bring on contractions. No such luck, but the massage was relaxing. Shandra showed me how to take pressure off my back by using the birthing ball, to massage my hips..talked about the importance of keeping the pelvic floor open and relaxed. She encouraged me that I could do this birth all-natural! That’s the goal—though when I really thought about it, I doubted whether I could endure the pain.

Wednesday, December 3rd: Today was the MOPS Christmas party meeting—but I had my 41 week check up with Dr. Sundstrom at the same time—and as much as I wanted to be at the party with the other moms, I dreaded being asked all the questions that come with ‘no baby, yet?’.  I went to my appointment. I was interested to see if I had dilated any further and I knew Dr. Sundstrom would talk about setting up induction if you didn’t come soon. I wanted to wait 10 days past my due date before scheduling an induction. The appointment went pretty well, except when he was ‘checking’ to see how dilated I was, I soon was like, “Owww!” and he moved out. He then said he had just started to strip my membranes! “Um what?!” I didn’t ask for that. Whatever. I was five days past due at this point, so I didn’t really care. He said I was 80% effaced and 3cm dilated. I was pretty happy about that, as I was only 2cm dilated after 9 hours of labor with Luke—and not being in labor yet this time around–3 cm–woo-hoo, but I also reminded myself of all the other moms who had told me they walked around for weeks at 2-3 cm dilated. Either way, I was taking it as a win. A step closer to meeting our girl.  He confirmed I was not in active labor but that he wanted to have an ultrasound done to check my fluid levels—if they were good, then Dr. Sundstrom said he would wait until Monday to schedule the induction. *Fingers Crossed* I was really hoping my fluid levels were good, because 4 days past due with Luke my fluid levels were dangerously low.

Once in the ultrasound room, the tech soon shared that everything looked perfect! I had plenty of fluid surrounding baby girl. Dr. Sundstrom talked about the induction process with me, saying he was on call Monday—and they would start by breaking my water and start some slow Pitocin—which immediately sent red signals to my mama heart and desired birth plan—because I knew the use of Pitocin greatly increased the likelihood of rapidly increased contractions, needing an epidural and even a C-section.  He then sent me over to a nurse to fill out appropriate paperwork. It felt surreal- like I was just going through the motions for their sake. I just knew I was having this baby before Monday. At least, I desperately hoped so.

I texted my doula, Shandra, to let her know how the appointment went and that I was 3cm dilated. She responded with “Good. 4 is active labor. You’re doing great.” I was encouraged. She also shared that if they break my water then it means I must deliver within 24 hours—so she was also hoping baby girl was here before Monday and she said, “I’m sure she will be”. Woo-hoo! Positive thinking for the win.

Friday, December 5th:  D-Day

8:35 am:I think today is the day. Been having some contractions the last hour..nothing crazy. But not Braxton Hicks. So, just getting ready for the day, eating breakfast and making sure things are all ready for Luke etc. But wanted you to know”—text message sent to my doula. I let Isaac know that I was pretty positive today was the day! We went about our morning routine. He took care of Luke. I double checked my hospital bag, and Luke’s bag and overnight things. I made sure things were tidied up for our return home with baby girl –things were a bit slow going as I was kneeling down every few minutes to breathe through the contractions, but I was feeling good. I was SOO thankful that the contractions waited until morning to start coming on strong. It was just as I had prayed.

10:34 am: text message to Shandra: “It’s getting tougher for sure. Last contraction was just about a minute long. We are about to drop Luke off with the family that’s going to watch him..that will take at least 40 min.. So I’ll let you know how I’m doing by then, might need to head to hospital.. So hard to tell how far I am..But I don’t want to be stuck in triage for hours, that’s for sure.”

10:54 am: text message to Shandra: “About a min long..40 sec- minute..three minutes apart..3-4 minutes”  She replied with, “You’re looking for a consistent time of about an hour when contractions are around 4 minutes apart lasting a minute long. Any questions please call. I’m getting ready now so I should be available to meet you whenever you want me.

11:10 am– We just dropped off Luke. I wasn’t even able to leave the car as I was breathing through a really long contraction. The car ride to the hospital was about 20 minutes and I was having contractions about every three minutes—and they HURRRTTT!

Tallahassee Memorial Women’s Pavilion

11:45am– We parked as close as we could to the entrance-top level of the parking garage- grabbed our things and Isaac helped me as I leaned on him through contractions. They were coming so fast now. We made it to the check-in counter, which I leaned on for support as I breathed through another contraction. The lady at the counter looked at me with a “Can I help you?” look on her face and then pushed over some paperwork for me to fill out. I quickly told her I already pre-registered and that I was in active LABOR!! I guess she’s used to women coming in there all the time thinking they are in labor when they aren’t, well, I can assure you, lady—this is the real deal! I signed the consent forms and any other form she insisted needed to be completed and then she led us back to triage.

They had me lie down on the gurney, and then put two or three straps over my belly to monitor me. Then a nurse came in, wheeling her computer on a cart, as she proceeded to ask me a hundred questions—really, I think a hundred. My medical history. And so much more. Finally finished. She left and another nurse came in to ‘check’ me. Finally. I waited with baited breath as she backed away and said, “You’re gonna be happy. You’re 6cm dilated. This is it.” Woo-Hoo! I was so relieved! I felt proud of myself—I wanted to labor at home and my goal was to wait until I was a 6 or 7—even though I had no way of knowing when I was there—and I did it!

12:09 pm: I texted Shandra to tell her how far dilated I was. She was almost to the hospital. The contractions were coming stronger and they still had me strapped down to the bed/gurney thing. I told the nurse that I was really trying to do this birth without medication and it was getting really difficult to get through the contractions while being all strapped back. There were two different nurses coming and going. I really liked the one who took my medical history—but she told me she was just the triage nurse, not labor and delivery. Sad day. I liked the other nurse, she just seemed..less nurturing and more abrupt. Something. But she would soon prove to be SO helpful in getting me through contractions!

Anyways, it was almost 1 o’clock and I was still in freaking triage! I told Isaac I need a room NOW! “Go find out what’s taking so long!” He leaves and I soon hear him returning with a nurse and before she even reaches me (I’m behind a curtain in the tiny triage space) I hear her say something like, “Calm down. What’s all the commotion?!” which I in no uncertain terms respond, “I need a room!!!!” She enters and goes over to clickity click on the monitor and says it will be a few more minutes before a room—AHHHH—here comes an unbearable contraction. The nurse had me lean into her for the contraction (while still strapped on the gurney) which surprisingly helped SO much.

The next twenty minutes happened so fast..a blur..yet clear as day. I see Shandra arrive out of the corner of my eye just as Isaac and the nurse start walking me down the hallway to my room—stopping every few moments to lean into her and breathe through the contractions. In the, what seemed to be a mile, walk to the room—we run into a couple we know who are also having their baby girl that day! In my brief assessment, I see that she is in the go-walk-around-the-hospital-to-help-bring-on-active-labor stage, hurrying past, I smile and nod, realizing they have no idea I’M ABOUT TO DIE over here!

We get to our room- FINALLY- and the nurse has me sit on the bed, which I quickly told her I wanted to get in the tub. She goes to start the tub, I ask Isaac to hand me my bathing suit top from my bag and I make my way over to the tub. Slowly sitting down, the warm water and pressure jets feel amazing—did I mention I’m having terrible back labor, too—again!

Trying to be comfortable in the hard porcelain tub, there seems no way to get comfy and one of the pressure jets is annoyingly blasting right up know what—so I’m holding one hand against that annoying jet as my other hand alternates between holding onto the side of the tub or quickly trying to hold pressure on my lower back as the contractions hit. The nurse has left the room. Isaac is at my side by the tub and Shandra is in the room starting some tranquil music. She then returns with her essential oils and begins to rub them on my forehead..something..all I know is I immediately felt sick, nauseous—worse than I felt before! And I remember Shandra quickly retreating from the bathroom and then returning to my side..with a warm washcloth, I think.

Next thing I remember (I’ve been in the tub about 4 minutes at this point) is turning to Isaac and saying I NEED an epidural. “Is it okay if I get an epidural?” I said rather I knew our goal was my going without medication. He quickly nods his head with, “Of course, honey” and leaves to go find the nurse to tell her I want the epidural. The next moment was one of the most terrifying of my life!! All of the sudden I yell, “SHE’S COMING!!!” I can’t even begin to adequately describe what was happening, except that it had nothing to do with what I wanted or didn’t was happening! I felt an intense pressure– like the baby was about to come out NOW!

Isaac and the nurse hurry back in the room and to the bathroom. The nurse quickly leaves to try to find the doctor, Isaac and Shandra manage to get me out of the tub and over to the bed—the whole time I’m being told not to push and to WAIT. Hold on, they say. “What do you mean WAIT??!! I CAN’T!!!”  They laid me on the bed on my right side and told me to keep my legs together—telling me to wait, not push. Wait for the doctor. I hear the nurses scurrying around and saying, “Where’s Dr. Dixon? Where’s Dr. Dixon?” Next thing I know the nurse is yelling, “THIS IS GONNA BE A NURSE DELIVERY. This is gonna be a nurse delivery!”

In my haze, I see nurses quickly milling about in the room; Nurse Terrie comes over and turns me from my side to my back and suddenly my water breaks-explodes-all over her, I could hear the splash, like the pop of a water balloon. Next thing I know I’m screaming as my body starts to push. I yelled—but it was as if it was my body’s response to the pain. I wasn’t trying to yell. Or trying not to yell. I just remember hearing myself scream. I see the doctor rush in. In the distance (I say distance because it sounded distant, in reality, she is directly beside me), I can hear the nurse telling me I’m doing great, and then my body begins to push again, I scream even louder, the pain incredible. Then the nurse says, “Great, that’s the head. Now the shoulders.” I was about to punch someone!! What?! I thought I just pushed her out and now I still have to –AHHHHHH! My body pushes one last time and she’s out. Four pushes.

They quickly whisk my baby girl away—I tried reminding my doula that I wanted delayed cord clamping, but they said she may have swallowed meconium –something about meconium and they needed to clear her lungs. I hear her cry. I can just barely see her- over in the corner, with two or three nurses around her. Isaac is at my right side. I remember turning towards him as he was grasping my hand and I said, “I did it” with tears in my eyes and a flood of emotion. I wanted so desperately to have this baby with no epidural. Nothing against moms who do—I just really wanted to do it without. And I did. I did it. I felt empowered. And oh so exhausted. I turn my head to the left as I see Nurse Terrie setting up an IV on me .. “What?.. why..” They explain that they’re giving me Pitocin. I didn’t understand. I didn’t want an IV or Pitocin..but the baby is here. Goal was to avoid Pitocin and IV while laboring..and I didn’t have energy to question or figure things out. Thankfully, the nurse got the IV in with ease, and I later found out that the Pitocin was given to prevent excessive bleeding.

So many things are going on as I remember back to write this today. I remember a nurse at the foot of the bed asking questions and filling out paperwork, saying usually they would have done that earlier before the baby was born, but that it all happened so fast. Nurse Terrie turns to Isaac and me and says, “Make sure next time you tell them you progress FAST!” I remember Nurse Terrie putting her hand on me and saying she knew I could do it—that when Isaac came asking for the epidural, she knew I was going through the worst of it and was about to have the baby. I remember back when I was screaming bloody murder, that Nurse Terrie nodded and just told me to let it out and scream. I see babyfoot.JPGmy doula leaning over Baby Vera as she is being evaluated by the nurses in the corner of the room and she comes back and tells me that she has my toes.
She then proceeds to lotion my feet and put them in warm, fuzzy socks—my feet were so cold for some reason.

But before all of that I remember just wanting to hold my baby girl. I remember wanting to just close my legs and curl over on my side and have all the nurses and doctor leave. I remember having to push my placenta out—and dreading more pain, but I felt so relieved afterwards—as if before I was tense and couldn’t relax, and then push! and sigh, it’s all done. But no, then they move my legs and lift my feet into the stirrups so the doctor can stitch me up. I remember trying to ignore the pulling, poking pain and just steal a glance at my baby across the room over the doctor’s shoulders, holding Isaac’s hand and basking in the fact that my baby was here and I did it. But then I did all of that, and doctor was still a’stitchin’ a way, so after 15 or so minutes, I finally ask, “How much longer??” “Um, well, you definitely didn’t tear as bad as with your first, mostly reopened old scars, uh, I’d say another 20 minutes or so”. I sighed out of ..I don’t know, frustration, and tried to take the pain in stride (remember, no epidural this time to make the lovely stitching up process all numb).

The nurse brought over my baby and laid her on my chest to nurse for the first time. She latched right on. She was and chubby. With squinted eyes-BLUE eyes and so I held her. Looked at her. Held her. Our Vera vera.JPG

Finally the doctor finishes and I draw my legs together, curled up to me and have the blanket cover me. The two nurses that had been with baby girl came over and explained that she had swallowed some meconium but that she was all clear now, they weighed her- 8 pounds even. I remember asking, “8 what?” nope. Just 8 pounds. And 20 ¾ inches long. Born at 1:25pm. Such a shorter laboring experience than with Luke! Only 5 1/2 hours! I was so thankful. Incredulous really.

Time to go to Mother/Baby. I was able to get up and walk unassisted! After having Luke, I could barely hobble, even with the nurse and Isaac assisting me.The nurse got a wheelchair for me and I was wheeled down the hall, Isaac at my side—and then a quick stop at the ‘button’ to ring in that a baby was born! We pushed the button and a lullaby sounded on the floor. There we are! See how pink she is! hospital2 (2).jpg

The next 36 hours are nothing too eventful, but let’s just say, I was not about to stay the entire 48 hours after our night of uh, 2 hours of sleep and countless interruptions. They came to take my labs at 3am—jabbing me with a needle and taking multiple vials of blood. Constantly weighing Vera. Checking her pees and poos. If she’s jaundice. Has she seen the pediatrician? Has she nursed? Have I peed? And on and on. I was about to lose it. Not to mention that they didn’t let Isaac eat any of the food on the menu (in VA, we were both able to get room service) and the cafeteria was so expensive. And we had requested a cot for our room for Isaac and been assured he would have one. Well, he didn’t and he had to sleep on a chair that was as comfy as a rock.

So, I requested to leave early. Who would have known the outcry that was going to cause? The nurse started telling me that babies are likely to get diseases in the first 48 hours and have to be monitored and a bunch of other things. Making it sound as if I could have my child taken from me if I tried to leave the hospital early. I finally got through to our pediatrician, who said Vera was the picture of health, and had no problem with us leaving early as long as we come in on Monday for her first check-up (the nurse said he [pediatrician] would hold all responsibility if something happens). Woo-hoo! Mommy for the win. Isaac went to pick up Luke and he came to meet baby sister for the first time! He was confused at first and stepped around rather cautiously. But was glad to be with mom and dad again. It was surreal being together as Terry, family of four.

Big brother so happy to meet his new sister!

It’s now almost 5:30pm on Saturday and the hospital photography services came by—for what was supposed to be a quick visit, but ended up taking over an hour and leaving us all frustrated as the photographer attempted to pose and repose our one day old daughter. I had brought blankets and bows and was so excited to hopefully get some good pictures! And the lady seemed promising. She began with telling us how beautiful our baby girl was—always a great start, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was as I was talking with Shandra and watching Luke, Isaac saw the photographer lady remove Vera’s Band-Aid on her heel (from one of her shots/tests) and then her heel began to bleed and the lady was still trying to pose Vera for a picture. Nope. All done.  The lady still kept trying to pose her bleeding, little foot and eventually, FINALLY left. Below you can see two of the cute pictures we got from …the ordeal. I am glad I have them.

Writing this also makes me wish I had more pictures from my birth experience. Whenever I’ve thought of birth photography, I see myself all sweaty, icky and otherwise unattractive and can’t fathom why I’d want to frame a picture of that. But then I see some truly precious moments that birth photographers capture. And well, if I can afford it next time, I think I just may do it. I’m such a private person—that I still have my reservations about someone else being there with me-besides my husband and nurse and doula. Hmm, we shall see. Maybe.

My doula, Shandra was just lovely the entire time. A true blessing. Earlier, when we left Labor & Delivery for Mother/Baby, she left to go buy us lunch from the cafeteria. She brought it back to us, along with a gift bag for me with special body soap (which I used in the shower I took! Oh, that was heavenly to feel clean), lanolin, the fuzzy socks I was wearing, some snacks and a few other goodies and necessities. Then she left so we could have some time with just us and baby girl, get some sleep and that she would be back later on to come see us. I was so glad to have her there with me, as my mom wasn’t able to be there – it was as though the Lord sent a stand-in nurturing spirit to me. Shandra was so serving, sweet and kind. She came at the end of the day as we were about to leave.

We loaded up our moving cart with all of our things, put our brand new baby in the car seat for the first time, said goodnight to Shandra and goodbye hospital and made our way home. Other than some other little details of giant, mesh granny panties, a passed clot the size of a golf ball, horrendously painful uterine contractions brought on while nursing and a few other doozies, that about sums up my birth experience with Miss Vera Kate Terry. All in all, it was great. I got everything on my birth plan. It was such a quick labor. Vera was completely healthy and I was actually able to walk around the same day! Let’s do it again! Or, maybe in a few years. Ha. Thanks for reading! Until next time

Going home!