On May 21, our family of 2 became a family of 3. We welcomed sweet Rowan into the world at 8:49am, and have been smitten ever since. She is perfect in every way and our days are spent just staring at her, wondering how we got to be so lucky with such a beautiful baby girl.
Rowan's Birth Story
May 16, Rowan's due date, came and went without much fanfare. We had made no plans for the week in hopes that she'd make her grand debut somewhere close to her due date. But that day passed, and we headed into the weekend. I'd had Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks, and I kept hoping that they'd start coming with more regularity. However, they did not. When we had gone to the doctor for my 39 week appointment, my OB said that I didn't meet enough of the qualifications yet to be induced, so we set up an appointment for May 20 to check her size, weight and position. He also wanted to see if I had dilated at all. Then they'd be able to make some decisions about getting her out (thank God).
Our ultrasound showed nothing unusual, but they were concerned that she was almost 9 pounds. That was just an estimate based on measuring her head, torso, arms, legs, etc. so we knew that that could be off. But it was still something worth noting. Luckily I had dilated to 2cm, which was our golden ticket to begin the induction process. When our doctor said that we could be induced, I started crying with relief. I had been so incredibly uncomfortable for weeks and would have given anything to get her out. The doctor assumed I was nervous, but I assured him that I was ecstatic, and couldn't have hoped for a better response. So finally, after 10 months, the end was in sight!
Our doc told us to go home, pack our stuff, and they'd call us and tell us the plan. So we went out to lunch, Patrick went back to work to wrap up a few things, and I went home to tie up some loose ends for myself with work and get our bags together.
We went to the hospital around 8pm, and it took several hours to get me into my (glamorous) hospital gown, get monitors hooked up to my stomach, take my medical history, start IVs, and give me the rundown of how everything would work. Starting at 11pm, the labor and delivery nurses would give me Cervadil, a cervix softening gel that helps get your cervix ready for delivery. I would have that until 7am the following morning, and at 8am they would break my water and start Pitocin to get labor going. I was deathly afraid of Pitocin because of how intense your contractions are from the start (rather than letting your body work up to that level), but I was so ready to not be pregnant I would have given myself the IV to get it going.
Once the Cervadil was inserted (it is like a really small tampon that gradually releases the drug over several hours), Patrick and I each settled in to get some rest for the night. The nurses told me that I had a couple of pain management options, as the Cervadil can cause some crampiness. They assured me I probably wouldn't feel much, but to call them if I wanted something.
I tried to rest for a little bit, but after about 2 hours, I was really uncomfortable. I could watch my contractions and the baby's heart rate on my monitor, and I could see that I was starting to have some pretty regular contractions. I would watch them rise and fall every 2-3 minutes, so I knew that my body was making some progress. I had had a friend who had recently had a baby, and Cervadil was used on her (as Pitocin is not used in Germany where she lives) to induce labor. So I knew going in that Cervadil could be really helpful, and as I was watching (and feeling) my progress, I hoped that my body was further along than it started.
At about that 2-3 hour mark, I was starting to have trouble breathing, and couldn't really focus on anything but getting through each contraction. I was still assuming this was the "crampiness" so I didn't say anything to Patrick and let him rest. I did call the nurse and ask if I could have some type of shot or narcotic to help with the pain, so she gave me (an incredibly painful) shot in my left hip. Several minutes after the nurse had gone, I heard a pop and felt water gushing out of me. I didn't say anything right away because I didn't know what the point would be, as my water breaking was just a sign that things were still moving in the right direction. But I was curious if I had dilated any further, so after several minutes I called the nurse and told her my water had broken, and would she mind checking me again. I didn't wake Patrick up, but he heard my call to the nurse and got up and came over to the bed with me.
The nurse confirmed that my water did break and that I was at 4cm. 4 CENTIMETERS!!! This was probably close to 3-4am, so I asked if I could have an epidural (for my sake and everyone else's). I know that nurses try to make you wait until 4cm to give you one, so hearing that I was there was such a relief. The contractions were fairly intense, and if you've been pregnant before, you know that sleeping in the last month is virtually non-existent. So I was exhausted and uncomfortable, struggling to breathe as my contractions were getting closer together, so the nurse went ahead and called the anesthesiologist. He came within minutes, although I had been warned that it usually takes 30 minutes to an hour for them to get there, and then putting it in is about a 15-20 minute process. Seeing his face was wonderful. The nurses and Patrick propped me up in bed, and the anesthesiologist numbed my back first (which hurt worse than the epidural itself), then inserted the IV into my spine. He did it between contractions so that I would be as still as possible, and he was incredibly quick. The medicine took effect almost immediately.
I laid back down to rest, and around 5:30 or 6 the nurses told me I was at 9 1/2 cm! Once I got to 10, the doctor came in to help me start pushing. We had noticed that the baby's heart rate would drop every few contractions, and the doctor said that she wanted me to push so she could watch how the baby would do with the pressure. After 3 pushes (in very strange positions), the doctor told me that pushing was causing too much strain for the baby. She explained that labor is just as much a workout for the baby and their little hearts as it is for us, and that her heart was getting tired and not pumping well enough to her body. So she said that they were going to prep me for a c-section to go on and get the baby out. I wept uncontrollably for several minutes upon hearing that news, because I felt like all of that effort getting up to the 10 centimeters was wasted. I knew I was proud of myself for getting to that point and seeing that I could do it, but I was still sad that I wouldn't be able to have a vaginal delivery.
I have a dear friend that is a NICU doctor at the hospital who came to my delivery room just as they told me about the surgery. She hugged me, and asked if I'd like her to come with me to the OR. Of course having a familiar face was so welcome, and I'm even more grateful for her now than I was then. They took me to the OR, and took Patrick somewhere else to get suited up while they got me and the room prepped for surgery. Wendy, our friend, stayed with us through the whole operation, and once the baby had been pulled out of my stomach, she stayed with Patrick and the baby to help explain what was going on and to just keep an eye on everything. They showed Rowan to me, but I was so bleary from all the anesthesia that it hardly registered to me that she was mine. I wanted to have this huge monumental moment with her, but I didn't. And to be honest, she didn't look anything like me or what I expected, and she didn't yet feel connected to me. I knew that she had grown in my stomach for months and months, but the pieces weren't all connecting for me emotionally yet. But I knew she was healthy and safe, and in that moment that was all that mattered.
Rowan's heartrate was the reason we needed to have a c-section. We learned later that her umbilical cord was wrapped around her chest, and that was preventing her heart from pumping blood effectively through her body...hence her low heartrate with each contraction.
Once she was out, they took the baby and Patrick to the recovery room to wait on me to be stitched up, and then they wheeled me down to the recovery room too. I watched the nurses give Rowan a bath and teach Patrick how to swaddle her, and I was so grateful that he was with her for every second since I couldn't be. I knew that the next few days would be a very tough recovery for me, so getting to watch Patrick change her diaper, swaddle her, put socks on her feet and mittens on her hands, and bring her to me whenever it was time to eat...my heart just melted over and over. Getting to watch him become a dad was the most beautiful thing of the whole experience.
The next few days were really hard on me recovery wise. I couldn't sit up on my own or do any walking, and my sweet Patrick had to help me do everything. It was such a humbling experience to not be able to bend over or sit down or turn over in the hospital bed, or even pick up my new daughter. I couldn't shower alone, go to the bathroom alone, or get dressed. And I didn't have time or energy to be weird or awkward about it because I had no choice. I needed help. Every second. And Patrick didn't bat an eyelash when I needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and he had only slept for 30 minutes. Nor did he get frustrated when the baby cried, or when nurses were in around the clock taking my blood pressure, checking my incision and levels of bleeding, or taking my temperature and handing me my medication. I thought he was going to break in the first 2-3 days at some point, but he was just so attentive and patient, taking pictures of the baby for us, watching her sleep, adjusting her blankets, and making sure I had no need in the world. There were times that he'd just sit and hold her, tears streaming down his face, and talk about how beautiful she was. For a mom who couldn't do much, these moments were priceless and precious. I feel like God was showing me these depths in Patrick's heart that I had never seen before. I also feel like watching him love her helped me connect with her too. Being so distant the first few days kept me from feeling truly connected to her and the experience, but Patrick was what brought all the pieces together for me. I seriously couldn't be more grateful for him throughout this whole process.