WARNING: THIS POST MAY NOT BE FOR ALL AUDIENCES! JUST SKIP ON THROUGH IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE DETAILS.
I decided to write this birth story so that I would remember the details, but also because the fact I had read other people's stories definitely helped me through our morning of surprises.
As our due date of August 25th approached, it became clear to everyone that we were having a bigger baby. By bigger I mean we thought she might hit 9 lbs. Since Brennan had been bigger than expected, at 8 lbs. 11 ozs., my doctor decided to set an induction date at 39 weeks. We were scheduled to go into the hospital at midnight on the 19th.
I had been having irregular contractions, mostly without pain, and lots of pressure for a week. When I went to the doctor on the 14th, I had progressed from one centimeter to three centimeters dilated. On Friday night, the 16th, Mike went to Huntsville for his fantasy football draft. I had woken that morning feeling great. I decided to take Brennan for a frozen yogurt date that night. We had been home a lot in the previous week because I just didn't feel like being far from the sofa or Mike in case something happened. We enjoyed our little trip, and I came home and made a list of last minute tasks for Saturday (laundry, groceries, etc. ). Mike made it home around 10 p..m. and we went to bed about 11p.m. (me on the sofa...the only place I could get remotely comfortable). Around 2 a.m., I awoke with what felt more like real contractions. At first they were 20 minutes apart and just strong enough to wake me, last less than a minute, and then I would fall back asleep. After two of those they became 10 minutes apart and still less than a minute in length. Very quickly they started to come closer together. I started timing them and wondering if this could really be it. I got up and moved around but they continued. They were uncomfortable but manageable. They were also irregular. One would be 5 minutes apart, then 7, then maybe 4. When one came three minutes later and I started to feel more pressure, I decided it was time to take action. I got Mike up and told him I thought I might be in labor. I called Mom to come and pick up Brennan. Then we started throwing our last minute items together. I had made lists of last minute items for us and for Brennan. I'm so glad I had because we would have definitely forgotten some important things if I had not had something to remind me. It was about 3:30 when I woke Mike. We were headed to the hospital by 4:15. I still was worried that we would arrive only to be sent back home. We got to the hospital at 5:00, parked right up front, and walked up to labor and delivery. It felt better to be up and moving than sitting at that point. We checked in, payed a nice big "copay" that we weren't expecting since we had already paid when we preregistered, filled out a few more papers (why did we preregister) and finally waited about 10 minutes for a nurse. At this point I was feeling more sure that we would stay and wondering why they would leave a laboring woman waiting so long. I had trouble focusing enough to time contractions at this point but I felt like they were closer and lasting longer.
At about 5:30, a nurse took us to a delivery room. She had trouble detecting the contractions when she first hooked up the monitor and asked if I was actually feeling a contraction as I was trying to breath through one. It was still manageable but more uncomfortable at this point, and I'm thinking are you kidding me....you can't tell I'm having these. When she checked me she became a believer, I was 6-7 centimeters. She said we would in fact be staying and started all the blood work and prep. She asked if I planned to have an epidural. I said yes and I was ready as soon as possible. We had to wait for all the lab results and she said they would try to speed those up. About 45 minutes later, we heard her outside the door say, "Ok, here we go." I'm expecting her to walk in with the doctor for the epidural. She walks in and says, "You know sometimes things don't go as we expect them to." She told us that my platelets were extremely low, and I seemed to be preeclamptic. I had preeclampsia with Brennan, but had not had any problems with this pregnancy. I had not noticed any of the signs for preeclampsia either. I was very surprised. She explained that because of the risk of bleeding out, no epidural could be given. We asked if there could be a mistake with the lab work, but she felt pretty confident about them. My options were some pain medicine that would possibly take the edge off in the middle but could cause breathing problems for the baby, or nothing. She left us to talk it over. I cried for a few minutes then asked Mike to pray over us. I was honestly terrified of what was to come. Brennan's delivery took three hours of pushing, and we knew this baby might be bigger. The epidural wore off twice with Brennan so I was aware of what the pain could be. After we prayed, I sent out a Facebook status asking for prayer. I was well aware that by God's grace was the only way I was going to do this. We (I) decided that if I had to go without the epidural, I was going to go without any pain meds. I just couldn't bear the thought of causing Rowe problems. Dr. Wheeler was the doctor on call. He came in, talked with us a little about our situation, answered our questions, and kept reiterating that I was doing great and it would probably go fast. They both felt sure it would be a fast delivery and kept reminding me that once it was done it would be complete relief.
Around 8:00 a.m. I think, Dr. Wheeler broke my water. He explained that it would cause the contractions to be stronger, but would also ensure a faster delivery. It took a few contractions to notice a change, but then things got really uncomfortable. I decided to try a labor ball (exercise ball basically). It felt good to be out of the bed and able to move a little. The back labor was the worst part. Mike would apply pressure to my back while I had a contraction, which helped considerably. The contractions got to the point they would start, peak, descend slightly, peak again, then finally fade away. Those were the worst with no relief in between! The nurse warned me there would be a point where I felt out of control and that did happen. My body sort of took over and handled it all while I tried to go to another place. At one point I had the nurse check me and I was only to an 8. That was possibly the worst moment because I started to doubt if this would go quick. I remember saying aloud, "God please get this baby out fast." Within about 10 minutes I felt a marked difference. We called for the nurse, and called again, and called again. Within those few minutes of waiting I began to feel that it was definitely go time. When the nurse arrived, she confirmed that we were ready, called the doctor who I had already told to stay close because I wasn't waiting for him :), and got things set up. That was about 10 a.m. Dr. Wheeler did use a local anesthetic so that I didn't have to feel everything as she came. I don't remember how many times I pushed, although that was one of the best parts, but Rowe arrived at 10:27 a.m.
The moment I saw her was one of the most surprising moments of my life I think. She had a head full of dark hair and was so big! The only thing that even resembled Brennan was her nose. She was gorgeous, and so alert. The whole room was surprised when her weight was announced: 10 lbs. exactly. I had a good laugh since I had told my doctor the week before I thought she was 10 lbs., though I was mostly joking. My greatest emotion was just relief. Relief from the pain, relief that it happened quickly, and relief that she was a healthy girl.
She got her first bath by her daddy and the nurse, right beside me. With Brennan, this was done in the nursery and I only got to see pictures. My aunt had made it to the hospital before she was born, and she got to come back to visit. After about an hour, we were moved upstairs to our room 565. We had a little time to settle in and then got to introduce Miss Rowe Catherine to family and friends. She was with us the entire day, and settled right in to life as she'll know it. We are all in love already!