Our little Rebecca Grace was born on October 11 at 8:38 AM.
She was born in perfect health and is doing great. Here is her birth story.
My pregnancy with Rebecca was calm and peaceful. My blood sugar was well-controlled and my blood pressure was fine- until the last week. One week before her due date (October 12) I went in on Friday for my regular weekly check-up and my blood pressure was elevated. It was not dangerously high, but it was higher than optimal, so the doctor wanted to see me the following Monday for another blood pressure check. She said it needed to be lower or I should prepare myself for an induction. On Monday I went in again and it was higher still. The doctor told me to lay on my left side for 30 minutes, then came back and took it again. It dropped down a bit into a lower range but it was still too high. I was told to go home and rest. I was put on modified bedrest, meaning I could get up for showers and meals and I could be up and about some, but not doing anything strenuous. I was told by the doc that if it raised that I would more than likely be induced. I did as he suggested and rested as much as possible for the next two days.
When I went to the doctor on Wednesday, my blood pressure was higher still, this time in dangerous levels. He sent me straight to triage for observation. He wanted to get blood pressure readings every 15 minutes for a couple of hours to see what it was running. Duncan had joined me for this appointment, knowing that the doctors were talking about induction- something we both wanted to avoid if possible. After being in the room for an hour or so, they came in and put in an IV with fluids. Even though no one told us so, we knew we were not probably going to leave the hospital until the baby was born. Duncan started to call our parents to make arrangements for the kids, and Christina called to see what we needed brought to the hospital.
The doctor on call for deliveries during the time I was in triage came by a few hours later. By now, I was already moved to labor and delivery, had on a hospital gown, and was on monitors for the baby. She looked perfect and healthy according to all indications and my blood pressure was the only concern.
She sat down and told me my options. I could be induced using pitocin. I could do nothing, just stay on the monitors for 24 hours and see how my blood pressure did. I could use a gel to thin my cervix (I was only dilated to 1 cm) and see if that was enough to encourage labor naturally. Whichever one I chose, I was not going home before the baby was born.
Duncan and I agreed very strongly that we did not want pitocin. Dr. Brown said she felt like the cervidil gel that would help thin my cervix may be enough to get things moving, so we decided to go ahead and give it a try. By this time we had been at the doctor or hospital for 7 hours, so she told me to go ahead and get a shower and a meal if I wanted one. They let me off the monitors for about two hours.
Around 6 PM they came to insert the cervidil. It basically is inserted, then 8-12 hours later is removed. It is not intended to cause contractions. What it is supposed to do is thin the cervix. Within about an hour I started to have contractions. They were minor, but regular. I was having them about 5 minutes apart. Over the next several hours I continued to have contractions that increased in length and discomfort. Duncan and I had plans that night to go to a preview showing of a movie, and knowing I was no where near delivering, I encouraged him to go ahead and take one of the girls in my place. He left, but Christina stayed with me in the delivery room the entire time.
For the next 12 hours I labored, but the contractions, while uncomfortable were not unmanageable. Around 11 PM, the doctors changed shifts again and Dr. Pridham came in to check on me. He asked how I was doing and I told him I was having pretty good contractions, but that if I were home, I would not be ready to come to the hospital just yet. He asked if I had eaten, and I told him not since they started the cervidil stuff. He said that I could eat something up until the point where I would normally come into the hospital, so I had a turkey sandwich.
Around 6 AM, the contractions were started to get more intense, so I had Christina wake Duncan and he started coaching me through them. They removed the cervidil and then, the contractions got even stronger, so I asked for the doctor to come and check on my progress. I was getting really tired. Laboring all night while strapped to monitors in a hospital bed is more exhausting than laboring at home where you are free to move around and have lots to distract you from the aches and pains. I told Duncan that if I had not progressed to at least 6 cm dilated, I was seriously considering an epidural. The pain was not terrible, but I knew I was getting really weary. Fortunately, I was at 6 when they checked me. I thought this was very encouraging, and I continued to labor naturally using Lamaze techniques I learned before my first delivery, 22 years ago.
As the contractions worsened, I started to get excited. I started to get the sweaty, uncomfortable feeling I usually get when entering the transition phase. After several intense contractions about 2 minutes apart, I asked to be checked again. The nurse said I was at 7, almost 8. I was sure the time for delivery was very close. Again, a doctor shift change had occurred and the nurses were also changing shifts. Since it was a pretty busy time, my daughter caught another nurse in the hall and told her I wanted to be checked. I fully expected to be at 7 or 8, and estimated I was about 15 minutes or so from delivery. When the nurse came in to check me, she said I was only dilated to 6.
At this point, I was very upset. I told Duncan there was no way I could continue to labor at this level of intensity. If I was at 6 I could still have four or more hours to go, and my pain sure felt like I was going to delivery at any minute. We wanted to see the doctor right away. Christina went out to find the doctor and he came in. I told him that if I was only at 6, I wanted an epidural, but by now, my contractions were only a minute apart and they pain never really went away.
He checked me and agreed with my assessment- I was at 9 cm dilated. I was so thankful! The end was very near.
I had four very intense contractions, then I felt the baby move into position for delivery. I told the nurse: “I need to push soon.” Two more intense contractions, and with each one, I told the nurse, I am going to need to push soon, get the doctor. On the fourth contraction, I knew I could no longer control the urge to push. I was trying to “blow, blow, blow” to keep myself from pushing and Duncan was encouraging me not to push as well, but suddenly I could no longer control it. The doctor came into the room, and as he entered, Rebecca Grace entered the world all on her own. The delivery was fast and intense, but she was perfect. They asked if I wanted to hold her immediately or if they should wipe her off first. I had them wipe her off while the placenta was being delivered. I had torn some, so I got a couple of stitches. I remember saying right after delivery, “You people can’t say I didn’t warn you that she was coming.” The doctor was very encouraging and kept saying, “You did a great job, it was a fabulous delivery.” The nurses were telling me that the baby was beautiful and healthy.
Finally, after the stitches were done, I was ready to hold my little baby girl. She was 9 pounds, and 21 and a half inches long. Christina and Duncan were there through the whole thing, and I was so thankful for their help. They took care of my every need.
Holding Rebecca was so wonderful. She was calm right away and snuggled up beautifully. We were able to do kangaroo care for about an hour, including about 20 minutes of her nursing vigorously. The nurses asked if they could finish cleaning her up, and they took her foot prints and such right in the room with me. She also got her first bath, then was bundled back up and handed right back to me.
Not too long later, my mom brought all the children up to the hospital to meet their baby sister. They were all overjoyed. I was getting really tired by this time. My father-in-law also came up to see the baby and I fell asleep at some point during his visit.
Since she was released from the hospital, she has been an absolute joy. She is content and happy. She sleeps and eats well, in spite of having jaundice. The hardest thing since having her is that my blood pressure has remained at dangerously high levels, so I am now on medication for it, and being monitored very closely. Since it has stayed so high, I have continually been on the verge of being readmitted to the hospital. They have just doubled the medication and now it is started to be better controlled. This problem has meant that I have not been able to get back into my normal routine and have been forced to rest more that I would prefer. With so many other children needing me, I feel bad having to just rest and leave all the work of the children to Duncan- but my mother has been an enormous help, bringing come meals, keeping the boys, running errands, and taking care of some of the things I cannot do. Christina has also been over helping. I am so thankful for them. I am a little worried about how I will handle everything once Duncan returns to work, but I have faith that the Lord will give me the strength I need as he always has, and before long we will be settled happily into our new normal.
Now, we are trying to work with her on a routine. We make sure she gets plenty to eat in the daytime, and hope that she will continue to go for longer stretches at night – her longest so far has been seven hours at night- at eight days old. We are having difficulty nursing, so right now I am having to pump and give her bottles of breast milk. On Tuesday we go to see a lactation consultant. I am hoping I will be able to transition her back to the breast. Additionally, on Monday I have to go back for a blood pressure check. I am hoping for good news there because if it is still high, I was told to pack and bag because I would be admitted to the hospital. I was told that I could bring the baby with me, but that she would need an additional caregiver there 24 hours. If that should happen, it would be very difficult with Duncan working and all the other children needing me at home.