Monday, December 9, 2013

Stella's Birth Story: Part 1

Our Last Week as a Family of 2
 A week passed by between my last prego update and Stella's grand arrival.  That week was full of anticipation, fear, extremely numb hands, lots of resting and some final nesting.  I got to the point where I couldn't hurt my back and gave me Mark drove me to my 38 week doctor appointment.  Doc couldn't even tell if I was dilating because Stella was sitting so low.  She was also still posterior (facing outwards as opposed to in) so she told me there was a chance of a C-section, but most babies turn prior to delivery.  I read over the C-section chapter in my book but wasn't too concerned about it (in hindsight I should have read a little more!).  Then on Thursday of Week 38 I swore my water broke around 10am.  I called the doctor and she said to go to the hospital to have it checked.  I called Mark, he rushed home, we grabbed the bags and headed out.  I wasn't having contractions, so all I felt was excitement!  Was this it??  We arrived at the hospital and they performed the test...negative.  They also checked (again) for dilation and couldn't tell either.  Man does that test HURT!!  After half an hour of monitoring they sent us home.  I was disappointed, Mark was relieved.  See, he had been working 12 hour days 7 days a week in busy season and still had lots to do before he felt comfortable taking a week off, so this was a wake up call for him.  I guess you could say it was for me too, because I spent the entire next day cleaning and tying up all loose ends.  She could be here any day!!  (Little did we know "any day" would actually be Saturday...the very next day!)

The last weekly picture I got to take!!
It's Time!  (for real this time!)
On the Saturday of Week 38 I wanted to go to Wal Mart.  Ok, not wanted to go as much as needed to go.  However, I just felt really tired and couldn't bring myself to go.  I spent the day lounging on the couch while Mark worked.  It was rainy and crappy out, so he came home early around 2:30.  I popped a lasagna in the oven and we watched TV all afternoon.  Around 7:00 dinner was almost ready and I made a quick trip to the bathroom before we sat down to eat.  I felt something funny but just shrugged it off...already made that mistake of thinking my water broke once...surely I'd be able to tell if it actually did!  Then as I was washing my hands I felt kinda funny, like I was still going pee (again, the modesty is gone, sorry if you think that is gross).  So I sat back down, but didn't have to go.  Weird, but again I figured it was nothing.  Then the contractions started.  They were decently mild in the beginning, but still unmistakable.  We decided to go ahead and have dinner (that lasagna and some garlic bread, which turned out to be a HORRIBLE decision), but I told Mark he better get ready because I think this was it.  We both grabbed a quick shower and by 8:20 I decided to call the hospital.  My contractions were between 7-12 minutes apart, which I knew wasn't close enough, but I was paranoid and ready to go in.  They told me to go ahead and come in, so once again we grabbed our bags, checked over the house, and headed out into the night.

This trip wasn't as enjoyable, my contractions got closer together and they hurt!  We arrived a little after 9:00pm and headed in.  After checking in at registration the nurse put me in a wheelchair.  I insisted I could walk, but she said policy made her push me.  So I just enjoyed the ride.  When we got upstairs they had me change into a gown and pee in a cup.  That is so hard to do when you are the size of a blimp!  When I came out of the bathroom the nurse told me I was walking funny and asked if I was leaking.  I told her I had been for months and was checked on Thursday.  She said they better check to see if my water broke just to be safe.  Once again they performed the test (put a stick inside you and then swirl it in a solution...2 lines if it broke, 1 if it didn't, just like a pregnancy test), only this time it was positive!  The nurse said she was glad they checked, because if my water hadn't broke they would have sent me home!  She told me I wasn't going anywhere now! (sidenote:  these 2 nurses were my favorites throughout our stay, they made me feel so safe and I just can't say enough good about them.  it made all the difference in a time of fear and doubt.)  So then came the dreaded dilation checks, again yielding no knowledge if I was dilated or not.  Stella was low and ready to come out!  Now it was just time to be admitted and play the waiting game.  After lots of paperwork, and IV and a blood draw, they left us to wait.  We watched an episode of Breaking Bad on the Ipad and tried to get some sleep.

All smiles until about midnight!!
Around midnight my pain intensified.  I was squeezing Mark's hand with everything I had at each and every contraction.  It was around this time that I came to regret my dinner.  The pain made me throw up.  And throw up.  And throw up.  I threw up so much I was dry heaving in a few minutes.  This was so out of character for me, I think I've had the flu twice in my entire life.  But I couldn't stop.  Around 1:00 am they finally gave me medicine to stop the puking, and put some pain medicine in my IV as well.  However, the pain medicine only worked for an hour and could only be given every two hours.  For me, it didn't work at all.  Around 3:30 I couldn't take the pain anymore.  The nurse asked if I was ready for my epidural and was I ever!!  The anesthesiologist came in quickly.  They had to switch out my bed because the one I had didn't break down for labor.  It hurt to stand.  My favorite nurse said if you sway back and forth it helps the pain, so she held onto me and I swayed.  I'm sure it looked like we were dancing, but at that point I couldn't care less what I looked like...anything to stop the pain!  They couldn't believe how well I took the epidural, I didn't so much as flinch.  It's because all I kept thinking was "the pain is going to stop!!"  And it did.  For about an hour.  During this time I could actually think straight, so Mark was able to call my mom and tell her I was in labor.  We also asked her and my dad to go get Kaiser (our dog) and take him to her house.  We are so grateful they did this, it was one big concern off my mind.  Mark also texted the nursing student who was going to observe my birth (lucky her!!)  Around 5am I felt so much pressure in my uterus I thought I was going to blow up.  Unfortunately the epidural doesn't help that.  I kept telling them my catheter hurt.  They inserted and re-inserted it 6 times trying to get it right.  That was extremely painful.  Once it was in right and still hurt, I figured out it was just pressure from Stella being in the birth canal.  After several more dilation checks (which didn't hurt anymore compared to everything else) it was determined I was at a 7.  I went from 0-7 in a few hours and stayed there.  And stayed there.  I was begging them to let me push, but it wasn't time.  After a few years (or so it seemed) my doctor came in at 7:00am.  I wanted to jump up and hug her.  She'd been there since 3:00am, but was letting me try to get to a 10 on my own.  She checked me and told me it was time.  For a C-section.  Damn.  At this point even that seemed to be good news, I just wanted Stella OUT!  I remember crying as she explained I wasn't dilating anymore, Stella never turned from her posterior position, and she'd been in there too long so it was time to get her out.  My tears were a mixture of pain and joy.  Everything moved fast after that.

They immediately wheeled me down the hall to the surgery room.  Much to my dismay, it was shift change for the nurses.  My 2 friends were leaving.  In my emotional state, this was devastating.  I remember crying when they said they were leaving, asking if they were coming back.  I was like a little kid being abandoned.  One said she would be back the next day (and turns out she called Sunday afternoon to check on me before she came in) and the other wouldn't be back during my stay (but she came all the way in 2 days later just to see me and Stella.  again, can't say enough good about them.  they were like my angels).  Adding more fear to this, Mark couldn't come with for the surgery prep.  He was washing up and changing into scrubs.  I felt really scared.  I couldn't stop shaking from the pain.  The prep took about an hour.  The anesthesiologist came back.  When administering the epidural he seemed cold and distant, but he proved to be so soothing and helpful during the surgery.  It didn't take long for the drugs to kick in.  Although I was awake, I felt like it was a dream.  There were about 200 nurses and doctors (OK, only about 10, but they were everywhere!) getting me ready, organizing tools, and talking amongst themselves.  After about 3 years Mark was allowed in.  The curtain was hung and they began cutting.  It didn't hurt, but I felt pressure.  And I knew what they were doing.  Cutting through 7 layers of muscle...yuck.  I was saying "oww", but Mark told me suddenly I just started silently mouthing it and didn't make a sound.  I remember him telling me it's OK to say something or be in pain, but I just wanted it to quietly be over.  And then I heard her cry.  My life as I knew it changed in that second.  I remember tears running down my face, only this time they were only tears of joy.  I looked up at Mark and he had tears in his eyes too.  He went to cut the cord (something he swore he wouldn't do), and saw me cut open in the process.  I couldn't handle this, but it didn't phase him.  He even asked if I wanted a picture of it!  Heck no, I didn't want to see that!  When he was tending to Stella, the anesthesiologist kicked in as my caregiver.  Since I was still pretty freaked out, he took over Mark's job and held my hand.  He told me he had 5 daughters.  He must be a great dad because he sure helped me feel better until Mark returned.  As they stitched me up I drifted off to sleep.  Or passed out from the drugs, I'm not sure.  All I know is that at 8:27am, on November 17th, 2013, Stella Anne Bomleny joined our family.  She weighed 7lbs, 8oz and was 19 inches long.  After she was cleaned up and evaluated (Apgar score was 8!) they brought her over to me.  I had never seen such cuteness.

I was frustrated because I couldn't hold her.  My entire body was numb.  They placed her on my chest and held her there for me so we could get a picture.  And then they took her for more testing. 

After the surgery was finished I was taken back to my room.  I was groggy and on so much medication that the few hours after surgery are a blur.  I had an IV, epidural, catheter, weird puffy things on my legs to prevent blood clots that puffed up at certain time intervals and made me sweat like crazy, oxygen in my nose, (I had to have a mask throughout my 12 hours of labor...that sucked because it also made my face sweat.  Contrary to what it should have been doing, it made me feel like I was suffocating and couldn't breathe.  I kept taking it off.) and a black and blue arm from having so much blood drawn.  And I couldn't have been happier.  I was a mommy.

In my groggy state I remember the nurses telling me I couldn't hold Stella or have her in my room.  She was having trouble breathing.  They assured me this is common in C-section babies.  Removing them so suddenly without the process of pushing them out puts their body in shock.  She wasn't quite ready for the world on her own.  They had to put her under an oxygen hood to keep her breathing on her own.  Her blood sugar levels were also low, so she had formula the first 24 hours.  This was upsetting because I figured there's no way I'd be able to breastfeed now.  Adding to my dismay she had a pacifier because she kept trying to nurse her oxygen hood!  I hated not being able to see her, but since I couldn't even sit up yet and they assured me she'd be fine, I took the day to rest.  My mom, dad, sister and nephew came to visit us first.  I knew it was raining out, but after I got back to my room I found out there had been devastating tornadoes around Peoria.  My sister had even driven through terrible weather to come visit.  Stella was certainly born on a day where the weather would go down in history.  They could look at Stella through the nursery window, but that was all.  Mark's parents came to visit later in the day. 

One of the only things I remember from that afternoon was being so thirsty, but I wasn't allowed to drink, only munch ice chips.  That was torture.  When I handled them OK, they let me have some water.  After our parents had left, Mark made a run to Wal Mart.  He also wanted to announce Stella's arrival on Facebook.  We wanted to be the ones to announce it, and unfortunately some people don't think twice about sharing someone else's news.  So we only told our parents until he posted a picture from a hotel computer.  While he was gone I was allowed to order broth and jello.  When Mark returned the nurse had promised me she would wheel me down to the nursery to see Stella.  I hadn't really seen her except for a few seconds after birth.  I was so excited!  However, getting out of bed proved to be quite hard.  I couldn't even sit up on my own.  They had this "binder" (basically a stomach cast) around my waist.  It felt so weird when the nurse helped me up (it was one of my original nurses again!!).  I couldn't stand.  I was so swollen and my feet wouldn't work.  I was horrified at all the blood I lost when I stood up.  I was sweating like crazy, but couldn't have been happier. 

Seeing Stella was good for my soul.  She was wide awake and very alert!  She held Mark and my fingers and just stared at us.  I think she knew us right away.  She was precious, tiny, and a true miracle.  I cried (again, good thing I was getting fluids because otherwise I'm sure I would have been dehydrated from all those dang tears).  We just sat there for the longest time, and were able to capture some great pictures.

These are my favorite pictures from Stella's birthday.  You always see the picture of the happy family, baby girl in her headband ready to go home.  But to me that doesn't explain the reality of birth.  It's emotional, it's painful, it's exhausting, and it doesn't go like you imagined.  I couldn't even hold my daughter, couldn't breastfeed her.  But it was the best day of my life.  She was here.  She was beautiful.  And she was going to be just fine. 

It was hard to leave the nursery, but I needed to rest and wash up.  They got me a bowl of water and a washcloth, and Mark cleaned me up as best as he could from my wheelchair.  I don't know how people do it without such a loving husband.  Granted, I could do it, but it was so much easier with him by my side.  I went to sleep that night very content.  I still didn't sleep well, the nurses were in every hour with medicine and to check all my machines.  Of course I asked about Stella each time.  She was doing good, but still under the hood.  They hoped to take her out in the morning.  I couldn't wait for morning!!

***Stay tuned for Part 2.  I'll finish the details of our hospital stay in that post!!

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