Saturday, February 18

Not how I planned it

Wow. Our little girl is here. Olive May Langford, born February 8, 2012 at 6:55 am. She weighed 8 pounds, 12.5 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. She sure surprised us.

About 15 minutes old.

Instead of waiting until 7:00 for my scheduled induction, she decided to come a little earlier. Around 3:30 in the morning I began having contractions. They were about ten minutes apart, and at 4:15 I woke Andrew up, fairly certain I was in labor. It seemed early in the process, so I took a leisurely shower, even taking the time to shave my legs and curl my hair. (What? A girl's gotta look good when her dignity is about to be taken away from her in a room full of medical personnel.)

Contractions started coming closer together, but they seemed fairly erratic to me. Some really close together, some farther apart. None lasting more than 30-40 seconds. Since we were following the 5-1-1 rule--contractions five minutes apart, lasting for one minute, going on for one hour--before calling the doctor, I didn't think we were in any hurry. We considered whether to wait and just go into the hospital at 7:00 like planned, or whether to go in early. I called my doctor and she said we should head on in.

Well. Good thing we did. In the 15-minute car trip, I had four contractions, each lasting about a minute. And man, did they hurt. Every contraction was stronger than the last, so strong that I was literally shrieking in the car. But we made it to the hospital and got taken to my room (Room 314, in case you wondered. Which you didn't, I imagine).

I undressed, put on the gown, and they checked my cervix. Or lack thereof. The nurse couldn't find it, so she called in a second nurse to check. Turns out there was only a sac present, cervix was gone. I still didn't quite understand what was going on, but suddenly there was a flurry of nurses in the room and the overhead surgical lights were on. One nurse said something about me being ready and to call the doctor. I said, "What? Ready? Like I'm fully dilated?" She said yes, fully dilated and ready to go. Andrew said, "So there's no time for an epidural?" Um, no. No time.

And this is when the mild panic set in. No part of my birth plan mentioned anything about no epidural. I did not like the pain, I did not think I could handle the pain, I wanted to be blissfully unaware of when my uterus was contracting. But I didn't get to make that choice. I was going to have this baby the old fashioned way whether I liked it or not.

With every contraction I desperately wanted to push. The nurses kept telling me I couldn't, that the doctor wasn't there yet. "Why can't I push?" I shouted at them, still shrieking. (I did not imagine myself as much of a hollering type when in pain, but apparently I am.) Thankfully it was just a couple of contractions later that my doctor arrived, and literally one contraction and three or four pushes later, my daughter was born. Five minutes before we were supposed to even show up at the hospital, she came out, crying like a little goat.

She's so beautiful, looks so much like her brother, but with more hair. Darkish hair, with a reddish tint. Ish. She has tiny little dimples in her cheeks, and the loveliest skin. She's so big, but so small. I marvel at her tiny feet and her itty fingers, with their long narrow fingernails. Absolutely perfect.
Proof that she's mine.
Beautiful. And looks a lot like her brother, I think.

But. Because I tested positive for Group B Strep, I was supposed to get four hours of antibiotics via IV during labor in order to prevent Olive from getting an infection. Clearly the antibiotics during labor didn't happen, so she had to get her blood tested several times. Each time, the doctors were concerned by something. Red blood count not in the normal range, white blood count too high. Her slight fever kept her in the nursery for observation while a blood culture was sent off for testing. A second blood test confirmed that her levels weren't improving, so into the NICU she went for her own course of antibiotics. She had an IV in her foot, that looked so uncomfortable. She had wires attached to her chest and two long cords connecting her to the computer. Her hands and feet were bruised from all the pokes she'd gotten.

While I know that Olive was by far the most robust baby in the NICU and that we are so lucky that a little infection was the worst of her problems, seeing her there in that sterile dim room was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I felt so useless, so unable to be there for her. Every time I left her side, I felt guilty and sad. Leaving the NICU to eat lunch or shower felt like a small betrayal. I know that if she had been in my room the whole time, I still would have set her down in her bassinet to eat and shower, but she would have been close enough to hear my voice and feel like she wasn't alone. In the NICU, all she heard was the sound of machines beeping, alerting the nurses to the other babies' irregular heartbeats.

I cried a lot in the hospital. Cried for my baby, worried about whether she might really get a terrible infection and for the pain she was in when her IV was jostled. I cried for myself, for the physical pain from delivery. Cried for Milo, for how I had just turned his world upside down and that uncertain look on his face when he saw Olive. Cried for no reason other than ridiculous hormones and lack of sleep. It was a difficult 48 hours to say the least. There's something about being in the NICU that made me feel like I was being scrutinized at every turn. I am breastfeeding Olive, and so I spent many hours in the hospital nursing her, which can be a tough thing for a brand new baby. Every time she cried trying to latch on, a nurse would pop in to make sure everything was okay. If we had just been in my room, we wouldn't have had that same level of awareness. I felt all this pressure to get her to latch immediately, and extreme frustration if it took more than 15 seconds. I can't tell you how many times I was asked if I felt like my milk was coming in. Even though Olive only lost a very average amount of weight, the doctors and nurses acted very concerned. I felt like they were placing blame squarely on my shoulders. The only time they didn't seem worried was when I told them I had nursed my son for about 13 months. That seemed to alleviate their fears that I was going to starve or dehydrate my child.

I hated the NICU. Even though the staff was generally wonderful and Olive received great care. I hated that experience and would not wish it on anyone.

We were told that at a minimum, Olive would be on antibiotics for 48 hours. Since she didn't start them until late Wednesday night, we thought she wouldn't be able to go home until Saturday at the earliest. But we got lucky. Her blood culture didn't grow anything, and her blood counts returned to normal levels. After a final dose of antibiotics Friday at 1:00pm, we were both discharged with a clean bill of health. It felt amazing, knowing we were all going home together.
Olive in her adorable going-home outfit.

Nothing about my labor, delivery, and hospital stay happened the way I thought it would. I can't say I wouldn't change a thing, because I actually would change most things about it. However, I am proud of myself for getting through labor and delivery without pain medication, and I'm proud of the way Andrew and I handled Olive's complications. I have an amazing family, I really do.

So that's Olive's birth story. And it only took me ten days to find the time to finish writing this post.


Grandma Susan said...

I think you did an amazing job of keeping it all together. I know Olive felt loved every moment. She is a beauty and I LOVE those dimples!!!

Stephanie said...

Omg! Those dimples are adorable, I think I Only saw one when holding her. I'm so proud you of as well for giving birth naturally (not that you had any choice really).
COngrats to your entire family if four!

Lindsay said...

So proud of you. And so glad sweet little Olive is here!

The Mudds said...

I am sorry it didn't go as planned but so proud of you guys. I am happy you are all home and doing well now. Can't wait to meet her!

Briana said...

Sounds like you did an amazing job, Megan! Can't wait to meet your beautiful little bundle! Congratulations to all of you!

Linda and Matthew said...

What a sweet face! Lucky girl to have such a brave mama. Glad she is home, safe and sound!

Judy Fisher-fellows said...

Megan, you should be a writer. Your words and thoughts flow from one sentence to another. I thougly enjoyed reading about Olive's birthday. Nice of you to share your story. Congratulation to all of you.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow! Not as you planned and not what I expected to read, funny how that works, lol! I am so glad she got to come home with you. The NICU is not a fun experience. We were not there at birth but after this past week I can relate to everything you said on so many levels. Thank God that the care is there but it is a place I pray neither of us have to see again!

She is beautiful. And I adore her name, so sweet! The going home outfit is amazing! Congrats girl, she is perfect!

And pat yourself on the back for delivering without an epidural. Thank goodness it was quick, I can't even imagine! SO PROUD OF YOU!