Sunday, January 25, 2015

a birth story

I've been working on writing Rockwell's birth story for some time now. I feel like without the notes that were taken I would have already forgotten so many details about the day. 

My experience was pretty text book, but it was also a very special day in my life. So here it is for me to remember and for you to read if you'd like to...

The morning of June 4, 2014 we woke up at about 9 am. We knew our days of sleeping in were numbered, looking back now I am SO glad we got a good nights rest. It really helped sustain us for the long night ahead. I woke up to a text from our dear friend and birth photographer, Wendy, asking how I was doing. She was supposed to go out of town the next day and would miss my induction date, tentatively scheduled for Saturday. I replied that there was no progress yet. I was so sad that she wasn't going to be able to be there for the birth. 

10:00 am: I went to the bathroom when we got downstairs and after I finished I felt my first contraction. I ate a piece of toast and more contractions came. We started timing them on my phone. They were consistently 2-4 minutes apart. There were a few 6-8 minutes gaps, but they were rare. I texted Wendy and she was able to get a sitter. We took showers, got our bags ready and called the hospital. They told us to come in.

11:30 am: We left for the hospital. I remember the drive being awful. I was banging my fist on the dash and the car door whenever a contraction came. It was totally like you picture in the movies where you yell at your husband to drive faster while you try to breathe. It's funny now, but in the moment that drive felt like it was going to take forever! 

We got to the Hospital around noon. Tyler dropped me off and I headed up to labor and delivery on the third floor. I arrived and they took me right to my room. The same room my niece, Brylee was born in. The nurse gave me a gown and left. I went to the bathroom to change. I couldn't figure out which way to put it on. I was having contractions, Tyler was parking the car and I was standing in the bathroom crying, staring at the gown wondering what to do with it. Once Tyler came in, he helped me get my gown on and helped me into the bed. Shortly after, my nurse, Karen, checked me. I was dilated to a 4 and about 80% effaced. I told her I was ready for a epidural whenever they could get me one. Luckily I didn't have to wait too long.

1:00 pm: My contractions were really tough and I was ready for my epidural. Dr. Chung, the anesthesiologist came in and gave me my epidural. I felt relief pretty much instantly. As soon as the epidural was in I was completely at peace. I had a mellow playlist on in the background, but never used the television, lap top or games like I thought I would. My family arrived just after my epidural kicked in. It got loud and crazy at times, but I'm glad they were there. It entertained me to have people coming and going. It helped the time pass. Looking back now, I really should have taken that time to sleep, but we were newbies and we had no idea how exhausting the next 48 hours would be. 

1:45 pm: My nurse had everyone leave and put in my catheter and checked me. I'm at 5 cm. Then, around 2 pm the on call doctor, Dr. Henderson came in and broke my water, I'm dilated to 6 cm. My doctor had been on call the day before and was planning on inducing me that Saturday. We were both very pleased with Dr. Henderson though. He was wonderful. 

My dear sweet Wendy. Her presence was priceless. I am so thankful she was there and we will be forever grateful for the beautiful memories we have because of her. We truly couldn't have done it without her. She was such a blessing for us on such a special day.

4:30 pm: Karen checked me and I am dilated to 8 cm. I remember this being a turning point. My body was tired. It was working hard to bring my son to me. I didn't want a lot of company. I just wanted to relax and breathe. My body was doing exactly what it was supposed to and I started feeling it. I cannot imagine going through what I did without the help of an epidural. It was seriously heaven sent.

6:30 pm: Karen checked me again. At this point I was fully dilated to a 10, but she recommended I labor for another hour so the baby could come down more (he was still a little high).  I felt pressure and I knew that I was getting closer. I was in a lot of pain and this is when things started to get real for me. There were very few people in and out of the room. I was quiet and focused. Tyler comforted me, fanned me when I get hot flashes and encouraged me. 

6:45 pm: Dr. henderson came in to let me know that I am first in line for delivery. I was really uncomfortable from hunger and indigestion. My heartburn during my pregnancy was so awful that I would wake up in the middle of the night and take medicine and eat crackers to absorb some of the acid. I asked if they could give me anything for it and they eventually gave some to me after I complained enough. I should have just eaten some crackers or something throughout the day instead of trying to go on with an empty stomach. 

7:45: The new nurse, Michelle, came in. She was loud and sarcastic. She wasn't warm at all. Since Karen hadn't left yet, I told her I felt a lot of pressure. I was so tired and I was so ready to start pushing. Karen and I joked about how loud the new nurse was just before Karen said goodbye. I was so sad that the shift change happened right before I started pushing. I had so little time to get used to a new person during the most important part of the process! 

Just before 8:00 pm my mom left the room. Tyler and I got to have some quiet, one on one time together. The pain and pressure were intensifying and I knew that I was ready to push. I started groaning in pain and urgently asked Tyler to call the nurse. I was feeling a lot of pressure and my breathing started to get deep and fast. I told Tyler how scared I was. He comforted me and assured me that I was going to do great. The room was quiet until the nurse came. 

8:15 pm: I started "practice" pushing with the nurse to try to bring the baby down. I remember trying to figure out how to push. Sometimes Michelle would encourage me, but I remember her telling me I was doing it wrong. At times she would shake her head and say, "No, that's not the way you're supposed to do it". She wasn't very encouraging or motivating. It was such a bummer. I remember being able to feel a lot of stretching and pressure. I asked if my epidural was working properly and the nurse explained that it's normal to feel a lot of pain during the delivery. Thanks lady. 

8:30 pm: The nurse tells me I have a low temperature and that the baby's heart beat is getting higher, which is normal. Then, I feel like I need to throw up. Keep in mind that I haven't eaten anything since my one piece of toast almost 12 hours ago. I threw up a bunch of bile and water. At one point, before Tyler could hand me another bucket to puke in I threw up again. Some made it into a cup and some got onto my arm and gown. I asked the nurse for some water to wash down the nasty taste in my mouth, she proceeded to make a disgusted face while telling me that if I drink anything I'll just puke more. 

I didn't like her. Not one single bit. 

While throwing up the doctor came in and the nurse informs him that I just started pushing and that "theres a long way to go" and "a lot of work ahead". This is when Wendy (who took most of these notes for me, wanted to punch the nurse in the face). :) Me too Wendy, me too! 

I kindly asked her for water to swish out my mouth and soothe my now burning throat. The nurse then proceeded to mock me and chuckle, telling me I'll puke again, this isn't her first rodeo, she knows what she's doing, blah, blah, blah. Give me my water lady! That was the end of Michelle. She was terrible. 

8:35 pm: Once Michelle left the room. It was just Tyler next to my bed and Wendy was behind the curtain. Our quiet little angel, there at the ready to help us in any way she could. I asked her and Tyler what I should do. I remember saying, "Well I am almost done with this. I'll push the baby out and then go to recovery. She isn't that bad. I can stand it for a little while longer, right?" Then Wendy said, "She's awful!". I didn't want Tyler to leave my side, so Wendy sweetly went out to the nurses station and requested a new nurse for us. 

While Wendy was gone, I asked Michelle to please help me clean the throw up off of my arm. She said she would leave it since I'll just keep getting dirty anyway. She was so terrible. She left and I expressed that I felt kind of bad asking for another nurse. Wendy said, "You had to ask her to clean the throw up off of your arm"... Yep, she was pretty bad and I definitely do not regret asking for a new nurse. 

I never saw Michelle again. Thank. Goodness! 

8:50 pm: The new nurse arrived. Josie! She was a sweet little filipino lady. She was a breath of fresh air. So positive and encouraging. Such a difference from Michelle. I began pushing on my side. Josie explained pushing so well and I really started to get it. She would tell me I was pushing perfectly and that I was an amazing pusher. Her presence was such a game changer. I vocalized that I was in a lot of pain and how not fun pushing was. Tyler then starts cracking jokes. All the while, holding my hand. 

8:57 pm: I laid on my back to be checked by the new nurse. I told Tyler how scared I was. Tyler tried to calm me down and encourage me. I started breathing and moaning through contractions as the pain got worse. I was so worried about pushing and enduring all this labor, just to end up with a c-section. It had happened to so many of my friends and we knew our baby was big. It was on my mind until the very end. 

9:00 pm: Josie tried to turn the baby. She mentioned my temperature and asked me when I last had water. Tyler counted and led me through each contraction. He was awesome. 

9:10 pm: Lolly, another nurse came in to help turn the baby's head up. The nurse had her entire hand and half her forearm inside me trying to turn him. It. Was. Painful. I remember seeing their gloves every once in a while and noticing the blood, realizing it was mine was a little intense. Kind of freaked me out. 

Tyler reminded me to breathe. Then, Lolly informed me that I now have a little vaginal tear from how the baby is positioned. She assured me that it's nothing that the nurses or I did wrong, it's just from his position. At this point I asked for more epidural hoping it would help with the pain of moving him. They didn't give me an extra dose, but looking back now I'm kind of glad they didn't. Although pushing as hard I was glad to have felt enough to know when to push. Lolly encouraged me and let me know that I was able to bring the baby down a lot with the last set of pushing. He was staying down and I made huge progress. 

9:18 pm: Lolly tried moving the baby again because he was in a weird position. She informed us that his position was the reason "all of this is happening". I just wanted him OUT! Another learning experience for me, I would have been much more inquisitive about what was happening, why they were trying to turn him, etc. I was just so out of it at that point and so unsure of everything that I didn't think to ask. 

9:20 pm: The baby rotated back. I continued to push and made a lot of progress. In order to help get me and the baby more oxygen they gave me an O2 mask. I felt better, but the mask made me feel so smothered. It was hard to try to push, breathe and keep the mask on. I would usually hold it away from my face in-between contractions as I rested. 

9:30 pm: After a big push session, I started to get really emotional. Josie tried to tell me not to cry so I could reserve my energy and reminded me that I was doing really well. She told me my pushing was really great and that he was starting to come down a lot and getting right in place. They can see more of his head now. I was getting into a good groove with pushing. I knew what I needed to do, I just needed to muster all of the energy I had left to do it. 

Since I was able to photograph my nieces birth at St. Jude Hospital, I knew when my sister was close to delivering. It was when the additional nurses came in, the legs went into the stirrups and the medical equipment for after the birth was brought in. It was when the additional lights were turned on and the little light and scale where they would lay the baby was turned on. I kept pushing and every so often looking for all those signals to tell me I was almost done. 

9:40 pm: Finally, his head was coming down. I felt myself getting stronger and more emotional. My body knew exactly what to do and I could feel it starting to take over. It was so overwhelming. So amazing. It was then that I realized that I was born to do this. I was so thankful that I was blessed with a healthy body that could bring my child safely to earth. It was then that I stopped thinking about it so much and my body just did what it was supposed to. It was such a tender experience for me to feel my body take over my mind in order to bring my son into the world. It was so empowering. With each set of pushes I became more and more emotional. I knew I was getting close. Then they put my legs in the stirrups. I knew he was almost here. I knew that I was almost done pushing. 

9:50 pm: My emotions took over. I was in pain. I was tired. I wanted the baby out. I wanted so badly to be done pushing. I was so exhausted. I wanted to meet my son. I wanted the mask off my face. I felt like I couldn't breathe with it on. I felt overheated and smothered. I held the mask close to my mouth while Tyler fanned me during each contraction. He continued to encourage me through it all, while we were both thinking "Is she going to be able to do this? Can she push this big baby out?"

10:00 pm: I've pushed as far as I can without the Doctor. Josie tells me to stop pushing and reaches over my head to push the call button for the Doctor. This was it. I was going to deliver my baby boy. Me, my body, I did it! The baby was visible and in the canal just waiting to come out. She urgently told me not to push while asking where the Doctor was and telling another nurse that she "needs help in here". Wendy wrote in her notes that Tyler looked unsure of what to do. I never even noticed. He was by my side faithfully encouraging me, holding my leg and fanning me all the while. He was amazing. Such a rock.

Dr. Henderson came in the room and put his gown and gloves on. As he was getting prepped I urged him to hurry. He told me not to push. I shouted "You can't tell me NOT to push!" My body was taking over. It was nearly impossible to stop pushing. I remember looking at him just as Wendy captured the image below. I remember saying out loud "Please hurry!!!" Once he was ready and in position he guided me through a couple pushes, while urging me to push slow, small pushes. It wasn't easy to do, but thinking about it now, it was probably because he didn't want me to tear too much. I'm glad he knew what to do. He was wonderful.

10:02 pm: And then he was here. 
All 10 pounds, 4 ounces and 22 1/2 inches of him. 

I felt a rush of warmth leave my body and felt instant relief. 

Then I saw him. 

I remember Dr. henderson saying "Big Boy!!!" as he pulled him out. He was smiling, the nurses were smiling, Tyler was smiling, we were all smiling. It was such a relief. Just like that, our son was here. The one we had waited to meet our whole lives. I was a mother, Tyler a father. We were a family. 

Tyler cut the cord and I waited for them to place Rockwell on my chest so I could meet him. 

We met through tears of joy. I held his sturdy, warm body close to mine. Staring at him in awe of what my body was able to do. In awe that Heaven had just sent me an angel. In awe that my Father in Heaven had entrusted me with one of his choice spirits to nurture and to love. From that moment on I would never be the same. From that moment on my son became my entire world. There in that room, on the third floor, in Fullerton California, my two boys looked at me and I at them. A forever family. An eternal bond that will never be broken. A love that is all consuming. A love I cannot imagine my life without. 

After Rockwell was born, Dr. Henderson helped me deliver the placenta. He was about to stitch me up and to make sure I had enough medicine left he pricked me gently with a needle and asked if I could feel it. Yep, I felt it. So he left for another birth while I waited for the anesthesiologist to return with some more meds. I remember everything feeling so strange. I was relaxed because I was finally done giving birth, but my body was shaking like crazy. I laid on the bed, my feet in the stirrups, shaking, while my son was measured and cleaned. Eventually, once the computer system was up and running again, I had my meds and the doctor returned to stitch me up. I had a second degree tear with internal vaginal tearing. I remember feeling the stitching sensation for days after.

There was a point in time where there was no one in our room and we weren't sure what to do. Tyler held onto Rockwell while he was lying alone because we weren't really sure if we could hold him or what to do. It was strange. I think it was while the nurses were trying to figure out the computer glitch they were having. Next time I will be much more assertive and just have Tyler or I hold the baby whenever we want. We were so unsure of the protocols that we just waited to be told what to do. Next time, it will be different. 

Dr. Henderson did a wonderful job. He was kind, soft spoken and seemed to treat the experience as a sacred one. We so appreciated his calming presence. When he was finished he stood near the door as we thanked him for such a wonderful experience. He congratulated us as he put his hand over his heart and so kindly said, "Thank YOU". I will always remember that.

Rockwell was a pretty good nurser from the start. I had to train him to open his mouth wider for the first week or so and then he got the hang of things. The nurses and lactation specialists helped a lot.

Because he was such a big baby, his blood sugar dropped significantly the first few hours after he was born. We supplemented with formula while we were in the hospital while we waited for my milk to come in. Once we were home my milk supply came in and we didn't have to supplement anymore. Rockwell has been exclusively breast fed ever since. I feel very grateful that I had a supply and that Rockwell took to nursing so well. I know that some people have a hard time and I feel really lucky that nursing works for us.

I nursed him for a little while and got some skin to skin time with him before our family came back into the room to meet the precious little boy they had all waited so long to see.

Our family was anxiously waiting in the lobby to meet our sweet Rockwell. Because it was such a busy night, getting me and Rockwell all cleaned up and ready for visitors took a little longer than normal. But many of our family members were able to stay. It was such a wonderful experience to watch each of our family members greet him for the first time.

It was also nice to finally get to eat. I was cautious about what I ate because I had thrown up earlier. So I had a few bites of a cheeseburger and some french fries from In N Out. Food never tasted so good.

We didn't get up to recovery until 4 am. We were zombies. We were so worn out we could barely see straight. I remember a nurse helping me into the wheel chair and I felt like I could barely take the few steps from the bed to the chair. Tyler was a mess, we were so exhausted. We finally got settled into our room on the fifth floor just as the sun was coming up. We slept any chance we could get. 

The next 48 hours were really tender, quiet and exhausting. I'm so thankful for the experience we had at the hospital. We were given such wonderful care. We didn't have so many visitors that it got overwhelming. We were able to enjoy the quiet moments as we got to know each other. It was a very special time for me. Exhausting, painful, but oh so special. A time I will always remember as tender and dear to my heart. 

We ate and slept when we could and just got to know our baby a little better. He loved to be snuggled and swaddled. I was able to shower each day that we were there and that always helped me feel better and a little more "normal". We had family come visit us and bring us food and gifts. I learned how to pump to help get my milk supply going. We learned that each and every nurse had her own way of doing things and different things to share with us. It was nice to get different advice from so many people. On Thursday Rockwell was circumcised and there were no complications. We got to talk to a lactation specialist and a pediatrician. They answered any questions we had and made us feel at ease. 

We had friends who had had their baby girl the day before us and came to see us before they checked out on Thursday. Then on Friday, before we checked out we got to visit another couple we know who had their baby the night before. It was so much fun to have buddies in the hospital with us.


Brylee loved Rockwell right from the start. From the moment they met she asks about him, wants to see him and play with him. She gave him kisses and helped feed him. It was such a sweet and tender moment for me to hold them both in my arms and watch them interact. 

Shira came right before we were supposed to check out. She was able to help us get our things together and take a few very special pictures of us just before we left to bring Rockwell home. I'm so thankful she was there. It was perfect. 

When we arrived at home we were greeted with a cute sign and banner, a quiet, clean house and freshly cleaned sheets. We are so blessed to have wonderful family that took care of us those first days as new parents. They bought groceries, cooked meals and helped however they could. It was such a blessing. 

Those next days at home were hard and yet, very special to me. I already feel like my baby isn't so much of a baby anymore. Now that I am a mother I realize just how quickly time moves. I want to cherish each moment with my son while in each and every stage. He is such a blessing to our lives. From the start, parenthood was challenging. More taxing on my body and my emotions than I ever dreamed of. But this life is good. It is oh so good. Our son brings us so much happiness. He is my little buddy, there for me when I need a hug or a smile. He loves me no matter how impatient I am. He smiles at me even when I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. He has shown me Christ-like love each and everyday. Because of him I have become more than I am, I have a stronger capacity for love and I think about myself less. I am forever changed. I am forever grateful. I am forever in love with my beautiful son. 

Rockwell, thank you for coming from Heaven and into my arms. Thank you for making me a mother. Thank you for loving me so perfectly. I will always, always love you.