My Birth Story Part 2 – Labor and Delivery


(Part 1 is here)

If you had asked me even a day ago, “Candy, where would you want to have your water break?” I would’ve never said “My friend’s house!” Just imagining the shock and the embarrassment of someone having to deal with your amniotic fluid was too much to even fathom. Little did I know, it was the best thing that could’ve happened.

My friend T had recently given birth 3 months earlier and sprung into doula mode. I asked for a pad, she handed me Depends. After spending a whole minute trying to decipher the front v. the back the Depends, I came out of the bathroom and handed me her phone with Tim on the line. He had left the party early to shoot a family session and was just on his way back to his car when his phone rings. The conversation on my end went something like this: “hii. umm, my water broke. yeah, i’m okay. yeah we should go to the hospital. i’m sorryyy.” We had just talked about today how we really really needed baby to stay in for 2 more weeks because his work was seriously nuts. I know it’s not my fault in any way shape or form  that my water broke, but the water did come out of me. And I was really sorry for the timing!

T graciously left the party she was hosting and her baby to come home with me to pack my hospital bag (which was honestly on my to do list for the weekend). I grabbed TWO laptops (my work AND personal), chargers, a kindle, my phone, a change of clothes, toiletries, glasses, fuzzy socks, more Depends, slippers, nursing bras, HR forms, 2 going home outfits for W, a beanie for him and a swaddle blanket. We threw the uninstalled carseat into the backseat figuring I’d be in labor for a little bit of time for Tim to figure out how to install the thing. We make it to the hospital about an hour after my water breaks and head into the observation room. I immediately recognize the nurse because he gave me a shot 6 weeks ago to accelerate baby’s respiratory system development. He was so memorable because when he gave me the shot, he counted down (which I hate) and then said OUCH when he was giving me the shot. I was really confused because I thought he had hurt himself. No, he was just saying OUCH for me (?). Anyway, I tried to cut him some slack since he was a Cal Bear. Nurse OUCH attached some monitors on me to monitor baby’s heart rate + contractions while he did a pH test to see if my water really did break. The attending OB came into get a sample of my water to look under the microscope just to be extra sure. Meanwhile WES’ heart rate was thumping right along and my uterus decides to have stage fright and not contract. The microscope slide comes back positive. She said it was without doubt my water as it had crystalized the whole slide. The good news about your water breaking so dramatically is that it really speeds up the whole L&D process whether you are contracting or not. Since I was so comfortable and smiley, the doctors wanted to start me on Pitocin to get things moving.

6:00-7:45 We settle into our gorgeous L&D room. Ernest was with us and Tim’s parents swing by and bring over dinner for the boys. I even get dinner!

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My last meal before going into labor. It was slightly worse than airplane food but I was just grateful to be allowed to eat. I hear sometimes hospitals put the kibosh on eating!

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Clearly too happy to really be in labor.

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With the grandparents-to-be!

8:00-9:00pm – I say goodnight to my in-laws and my brother. My brother proceeds to spend the next 5 hours setting up the nursery with the help of awesome friends. Around this time I discover how awesome the ice chips at Kaiser are and can’t stop popping them in my mouth. IV is hooked up to me. I start receiving penicillin and pitocin. Nurse OUCH messed up putting the IV in my arm and had to put it in my hand instead. (At this point, this was the most painful part of my entire day)

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Evidence of IV fail.

9:00-9:30pm – I stop smiling. I start to feel the contractions. It’s such a weird pain to put into words. For me it was this dull yet intense pain that would start in my back and radiate to the front. I lay on my side and try to breathe deeply through each contraction. I don’t really make a sound so Tim continues to code on his laptop 7 feet away.

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I look asleep but I’m groaning inwardly.

9:30-10:15pm – The contractions are getting closer and closer together. I believe at this point they were somewhere between 2 to 2.5 minutes apart. The nurse suggested that I stand up so he could apply compression pressure on my hips. This  helped a lot. We did this for awhile. Each contraction was getting exponentially stronger. I asked the nurse how long did he think I was going to be in labor for… he said… “since this is your first…hmm maybe 11 hours.” Oh dear God.

People asked me if I hated Tim in that moment or said any expletive to him. I actually had no such feelings toward Tim. I did think “#%^! Eve” at least 3 times. (Let’s put blame where it really belongs right?)

The real reason why labor sucks.

10:15pm – Tim tells me while he’s helping me the bathroom, “Candy, remember you said there’s no point in putting off the epidural if you would get it anyway….” I love this man. We come out of the bathroom and tell the nurse, “We’d like one epidural please!”

10:15-10:40pm-  We labor for a little longer and the anesthesiologist comes in and works her magic. Instant relief. They check my cervix for the first time that day. I was at 8 cm.

10:40-12:00 – I feel so good I’m playing on my phone again.  There’s a change in nurses and I meet Nurse Kim who is going to coach me through my delivery. She asked me what I did and I told her I was a high school Biology teacher. She told me how much she loved her science teachers. She told me about one of her teachers who gave the best reason why they should care about school: “We (teachers) tell you that you have to do well in school so that you can go to college and have a future and make a decent living for yourselves… but I’ll tell you the real reason why you should do well in school. Have you guys ever met someone that was dumber than you? Do you remember how you felt talking to them? Remember how annoyed you felt and how you just wanted them to stop? This is why you try hard at school because you don’t want to be THAT DUMB PERSON.” It was pretty much the best sales pitch for doing school that I’ve ever heard.

12:00-2:00am – I force myself to sleep at midnight because I remembered that I still had to push this baby out. At 2:00am my nurse comes in with the OB resident. They check my cervix and I am at 10 cm station +3. Wait WHAT. What is this station business!! I had never heard of this on Baby Story! They quickly give me a 15 second explanation that amounted to basically woman your baby’s head is RIGHT there and it’s time to push.

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Quick picture lesson on fetal descent.

2:00-2:15 – Nurse Kim preps me for pushing. She wants me to push for 10 seconds take a deep breath and go right back to it. She tells me for some people it feels like a bowel movement and reminds me to not worry about having a bowel movement. I start worrying about having a bowel movement.

2:15-3:02 – Pushing time! Since I wasn’t feeling the pain of the contractions and only the pressure, I felt like I had ample energy to push. every 2-3 minutes I would push, push and push. Nurse K kept telling me that I’m a natural at this and that my pushing is really good. This made me feel pretty awesome and it made me want to impress her more with my pushing skills. I told Tim the day after that pushing a baby kinda feels like this exercise we do at crossfit:

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This is called the hollow rock. You crunch down on your abs making sure that there is no space between the floor and your back and then you rock back and forth like a bowl. It’s fun for about 2 seconds. It’s the most intense ab exercise I know of. Pushing a baby is like doing Tabata Hollow Rocks. Tabata describes the interval you would do – 20 seconds of rocking, 10 seconds of rest. And you would do this for 4 minutes for a total of 8 rounds. Now obviously it took me more than 4 minutes to do this “workout” but I did get to rest a lot more than 10 seconds in between each round.

I pushed and rested for about 40 minutes. I am encouraged by the fact that the whole team (baby nurse, ob and l&d nurse) was there for the last 20 minutes since that must’ve meant I was getting close. I scared my doctor a little bit because whenever I would push, they could not tell baby’s heart rate apart from mine. His would drop and mine would rise. They put in a little monitor on baby’s head to get a more accurate reading and we resume pushing. Not long after, my doctor had to do a little episiotomy and baby WES came out with the next push. He came out face down and quickly spun himself around to check out the world. This is us moments after.

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And a couple hours later, our first family portrait as three.

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Welcome back Summer! (and my Birth Story – Part 1 of 2 The Countdown)


First of all let’s talk about the real news. Summer Candy is back!

Summer was supposed to arrive around 3/21 when baby was due. I was going to take the rest of the school year off and I would have a good 5 months to bond with the baby before we would have to think about work (or not work). Well as luck would have it, summer came early. 3 Weeks Early. I have a feeling that this summer will be slightly different from the last one but it will nevertheless be wonderfully glorious – filled to the brim with hanging out at home, family, google breakfast and lunches (of course), celebrations (two weddings of dear friends), crossfit (fingers crossed) and Hawaii.

Onto the next biggest news, Happy 1 week to the newest addition to our family – WES! Before complete delirium and this alleged disability called Mommy Brain hits hard, I thought I should document the days leading up to one of the most memorable days of my life – meeting our first kiddo.

This is one of my favorite Wes faces. I call it the Preburpie Cast. This was him this morning with Grandma Lam.

This is one of my favorite Wes faces. I call it the Preburpie Cast. This was him this 3 days ago with Grandma L.

My Birth Story – Part 1 

The Birth “Plan” and the days leading up to WES’s 0th Birthday.

Candy the Teacher “Obstetrician”
Before I was pregnant, before I was married, before Tim, I was obsessed with birth stories. I don’t even have a good reason for it. I was that person that would watch A Baby Story on TLC for hours. So when my friends started having babies, I was that friend that wanted all the details. I loved hearing how people described the pain, pain management techniques, the rate of dilation, pushing, the aftermath, all of it. What struck me the most was how incredibly different everyone’s story was! No two are alike! They are much like engagement stories (and I love hearing about those too) but a little more sciencey. However instead of getting a ring, you get stretch marks and stitches. Obviously, totally the same.

One of the things your OB (or any pregnancy book) may have you think through is your birth plan. This is also a topic of great interest to people when you are pregnant. “Are you going to GO NATURAL?” My answer was always, “Well, that would be quite a feat, but I’m not married to the idea.” This was a total people pleaser answer as it basically was a nice way of saying I don’t know / get off my back / mind your own business! I had hard time having a strong stance on it because of my years of experience watching A Baby Story on TLC has taught me that everyone is different. If someone could promise me “From the onset of your first contraction, you will labor for 6 hours and 45 minutes and then push for 90 minutes” I could plan for that. Granted this may come off a little opinionated, but honestly, I just had no idea how to come up with a plan for something I had no control over (come to think of it, this is true of every thing in life not just L&D).

I had a talk about going “natural” at length with my OB and I so appreciated what she said about it: Gosh, I wish we would stop saying that! Pushing a baby through your birth canal is about as natural as it gets. Saying the word natural gives people the impression that there is an unnatural way of giving birth. We should call it medicated v. unmedicated to remove the stigma. She also confirmed my suspicion that everyone’s experience is different. Not all natural births are equal. A six hour labor and delivery is vastly different from a 34 hour one. We had a long talk about all the options regarding pain relief and she even shared this story how her cousin went to a Lamaze like class where the instructor asked who was planning on getting an epidural and her cousin was the only one who raised their hand. Well-meaning mommies questioned her decision and caused her cousin some guilt and sadness. Fast forward to 2 months later. Everyone had delivered and the instructor asked “who here actually got an epidural?” Every. single. woman. raised their hand. I had a good giggle but I came away from that conversation trying to focus less on the prestige of going “natural” and instead focusing on taking care of a newborn. I took 4 classes in total (1 on breastfeeding, 2 on newborn care and 1 class entitled – now what?! surviving the first 6 weeks at home). I’m so glad that I went to those classes. They prepared me for the reality of breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, diapering, bathing and loving on your baby. Now that we are home, I’m glad we spent so much time preparing for that. It made a huge difference for us!

At the end of the day I didn’t have much of a birth plan except I only wanted to have Tim in the room with me during labor and delivery, I wanted lots of skin to skin time as possible post delivery and I wanted Tim to cut the cord.

Here’s a snapshot of my last couple days of pregnancy – unbeknownst to me.

WES’s Birthday -4 Days (Wednesday)

At my 36 week check up, Dr. B tells me that W is head down, my cervix is soft and I’m 3.5 cm dilated. She tells me that dilation at this stage is normal and actually not a great predictor of when labor will begin. It could be tomorrow… it could be 4 weeks from now. We kidded about how it would be just my luck that I would have to be induced at 41 weeks. As some of you this pregnancy was closely monitored by a perinatologist (MFM) since week 15  so being induced for being overdue would be the irony of the century. I started to believe that this pregnancy would hit 41 weeks.

WES’s Birthday -3 Days (Thursday)

I’m at work getting ready to take maternity leave in a week. At work my friend who also teachers Biology takes one look at me and says you are not going to make it over the weekend. “Your BELLY is SO LOW.” I laugh it off but inside I vow to prove her wrong by making it at least until my maternity leave date (3/7). That day was a 14 hour work day as I had to chaperone the Winter Concert. Thankfully the music teacher gave me the best job – sitting at the box office and selling tickets.

WES’s Birthday -2 Days (Friday)

After work I grab boba with my friend L and she asks me about what you actually are supposed to pack in a hospital bag. I pull out a list and we talk about what to bring. I asked if it would be too much to bring make up? She says absolutely not. I decided that even though make up was okay, maybe the hair straightener would be too much.  After boba, I go to our Crossfit box to watch Tim do his 14.1 workout of a 10 AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of 30 Double Unders and 15 Snatches at 75#. Tim did great! Someone at the box asked me when I was due and when I told them 3/21 they said – perfect! Just in time for 14.5! I jokingly said “if I’m still pregnant, I will totally do 14.5”

That night we went out to Yard House with our friends. I ordered a roasted turkey melt with a side of onion rings. Tim ordered a turkey burger protein style with sweet potato fries. Tim washed it down with a Dogfish Head and a Brother Thelonious while I drooled in envy even though I hate IPA’s.

WES’s Birthday -1 Day (Saturday)

I have the best brother in the world. He took a weekend out to come help us out with getting ready for baby. Both Tim and I have been slammed at work and so worked like crazy on the weekdays and devoted every weekend possible to do baby things. Seeing as a 9 month pregnant person is pretty much good for nothing when it comes to manual labor, we thought we could use the extra brawn (and brain!). I picked him up around 8am that morning and we headed to Philz to fuel for the morning. I got my pregnancy favorite – House Decaf medium medium to con my brain into thinking I’m getting some much needed caffeine. We make it to IKEA  5 minutes after opening and make a beeline for the shelving and dresser units avoiding the laminate path and cutting through the bedrooms. We measure, we grab, we load and we leave. We get home and assemble 2 pieces and head out to lunch to meet up with our friends.

Our friends T & B hosted a reunion slash welcome baby Scone party for us at their place and we had a great time catching up and laughing over great food. After lunch we played some Wii U. I get such a kick watching others play so I was content being a bystander until someone convinced me to try my hand at the Candy Hoarding Game. I don’t know what it was about the game, but I got REALLY into it. I think it had something to do with ganging up with others to chase the villain… or working together to run away from the fork and knife! After all the laughing I had to use the bathroom which was a regular occurrence at this stage of my pregnancy. I did my business and just when I thought I was done, a rush of water came out. Not once, but twice. I just sat on the toilet thinking “oh…. my…. gosh….. ” I knew what this meant. I was going to have a baby probably by tomorrow.

I walk out of the bathroom and from the corner of the room say “Hey guys… don’t freak out, but my water broke.”