February 23, 2013

Wren Winter: A Birth Story

Wren's Birthday
Arriving at the hospital // Heading to our room

Because I was scheduled to be induced, Wren's birth story starts out pretty peacefully. My mom, dad and sister flew into the Nashville airport and drove to our house the afternoon before my induction, and we all went out for a pizza dinner at our favorite restaurant that night. Afterwards, we went to bed early, and surprisingly, I slept like a rock! (I thought my nerves would keep me up, but they didn't.) 

The next morning, Jon and I woke up at 4:45am and got ready to head to the hospital. We showered and dressed, finished packing our hospital bags, took one last belly photo and jumped in the car. It was still dark outside on our drive, and we called Jon's sister, Kelli, on the way. The night before, we had told everyone that the baby's name started with "W," so Kelli tried to guess the name, then gave me some advice and encouragement for the day ahead. (Wren was one of Kelli's name guesses, but we didn't let on that she had gotten it right.) 

Once we got to the hospital, we went in through the Emergency Room (since the main lobby wasn't open yet), and they sent us up to the Labor and Delivery floor. Checking in felt very surreal - it was hard to believe we were really having a baby that day. 

We arrived on the Labor and Delivery floor around 5:30am. The nurses showed us to our room (which was so nice, spacious and comfortable), and I was told to change into my gown. I remember being unsure of what - if anything - I was supposed to keep on under the gown. No one told me, and obviously, this was my first time having a baby so the whole experience was new! I decided to go with nothing, except for the tube-top-like thing around my belly to hold the monitor on. 

After I changed, I sat in one of the chairs in the room and was talking with Jon when the nurse came in to get my IV going. She told me to get in the bed so we could get the show started, and that's when it really started to feel real. She was super nice and kept me chatting about my pink nail and toe polish while she put my IV in. I was nervous about that part (I really don't like needles), but she did a great job and it didn't hurt at all. By 6am, I was comfy in the bed, the sun was coming up and the Pitocin was flowing. 

Wren's Birthday
In my hospital gown // The Pitocin is flowing

Just a few minutes after my IV was in, the nurse came in again to check my contractions on the monitor, and surprised Jon and I by letting me know I was already having contractions. I swore that I couldn't feel them at all. Jon watched the monitor and told me when I was having a contraction, and I figured out that what I had been feeling for a few days (what I thought was the baby stretching out really far and pushing into my ribs), was actually a contraction. I still remember feeling that exact same thing at dinner the night before - so funny that I was having a contraction and didn't even know it! That got us pretty excited.  

For our first few hours at the hospital, it was just Jon and I in the room, and Jon went around taking pictures of everything, including the little station they had set up and waiting for our baby girl. During this time, I continued feeling the contractions as pressure in my rib cage, but they didn't bother me at all. An hour or so in, the nurses on duty changed shifts, and our new labor and delivery nurse, Sherry, came in and introduced herself. (After that, she would come in every hour or so until delivery to check my dilation and increase my dose of Pitocin.) At this point, I felt fantastic. We took some videos, talked to our families on the phone and tried to relax.

Wren's Birthday
Everything ready and waiting for little Wren

My family arrived at the hospital around 9am. When they arrived, I was still feeling great and had dilated a little bit. They made themselves comfy in the room, and we took photos, looked at magazines, watched TV and played on our phones while we waited.

Wren's Birthday
Waiting, waiting, waiting // Family photo op

An hour or so after my family arrived, my doctor came by to check things out for the first time and decided to break my water. I was really nervous about this - I had read that it could be painful - but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Jon was able to stay in the room with me and hold my hand, which helped a lot. It was definitely an uncomfortable feeling, followed by a rush of warm water, and then it was over - but once he broke my water, the contractions definitely got worse. 

What I was feeling as pressure in my rib cage, moved down to my lower stomach, and the contractions started to feel more like period cramps. At first, I was able to talk and joke around during contractions, but as they intensified, I had to stop and focus on my breathing to get through them. They went from feeling like mild period cramps to feeling like a metal belt was around the lower part of my belly and every few minutes, it would heat up really, REALLY hot and there was searing white hot heat around the bottom of my belly.

During one of the first bad contractions that I had, I was holding Jon's hand but my eyes were all over the room, jumping from place to place. Jon kept telling me to look at him, look at him, so I finally did, and - as weird as it may sound - I found that staring directly into his eyes during a contraction really helped me focus and get through it. There is something a little unnerving about starting directly into another person's eyes without looking away (even if it's your husband's eyes), and I feel like it helped take my focus off the pain and gave me something else to think about. For the rest of my labor, I would stare into his eyes every time something hurt, and even though he'll tell you it made him feel kind of weird at times because of the intensity of my stare, I honestly believe it's one of the things that helped me through the pain the most. (I also had my teddy bear with me to squeeze - a stuffed animal I've had for 10+ years that always makes me feel comforted. Jon joked that most people would bring a stuffed animal for the baby, not for the mom. Haha!)

Wren's Birthday
The contractions get more intense // Jon helping me through a contraction

After a couple hours of the more painful contractions, the nurse came in to check me again, and I was dilated to three. She checked with my doctor, who said that I could get an epidural at that time if I wanted to. I had it in my head that I needed to wait until I was dilated to four to get an epidural, so I told the nurses and my family that I would hang in there until I was at a four. 

Right after I told everyone that, the contractions got worse. Where it had been feeling like a hot metal band around my lower belly, it was now a crushing pressure in my pelvic area. In addition to staring into Jon's eyes, I was also crushing his hand with each contraction. My family encouraged me to go ahead and get the epidural (there really was no sense in waiting for one more centimeter), so I told the nurse I was ready for it.

When the anesthesiologist came into the room, she told us that everyone would have to leave - including Jon - for her to do the epidural. I immediately felt panicky. I didn't want to be by myself. I needed Jon to hold my hand because I was scared (I had watched videos of epidurals on YouTube and had totally freaked myself out about them), but out everyone went, and I was alone with the nurse and the anesthesiologist. 

They had me sit up in the bed crossed legged, facing one side and hunched over, and asked me to relax my spine. This was way easier said than done, since I was a nervous wreck about the whole thing. I tried my best to relax, but didn't do a very good job. I could feel the needle poking on my left side and it hurt, so while I tried to hold as still as possible through the pain, the anesthesiologist said I was moving too much and got a little frustrated with me. She finished putting the epidural in, and left the room. When Jon and my family came back in, I was a little upset. I told him that I had tried to stay as still as possible, but that it had hurt and I was worried the epidural didn't go in right. (I had heard too many stories about people having to get them done twice because the first one didn't work, and I really wanted to avoid that.) 

Sure enough, a few minutes later, the right side of my lower body was completely numb, but my left side (the side I had felt the needle poking me in) felt totally normal. We told the nurse, and she had me shift in the bed so that I was lying toward my left side to see if the medicine in the epidural would drip down to my left side to numb it. 

It didn't work. Thirty minutes later, my right side was blissfully numb, and my left side was in so much pain it was almost unbearable. By this time, my contractions had intensified immensely, and although I couldn't feel them on my right side, the left side of my pelvis felt like a semi truck was backing over it. The pressure was so intense that the best way I can think to describe the feeling is something like what your bones would feel like if they were getting crushed by a car. The contractions were coming every three minutes or so, and I would stare into Jon's eyes, smashing his hand and trying my hardest to relax my body - sinking into the overwhelming pressure - breathing through it - until it passed.

Forty five minutes later, we told the nurse about the pain, and she suggested we redo the epidural. I agreed, and my family left the room while our nurse went to find the anesthesiologist. Jon and I were left alone in the room while we waited, and that was the only moment during my labor that I began to panic. The pain was so intense that I literally felt like I would not be able to go on if the epidural didn't work the second time. For the first time all day, I started to cry. Jon did his best to calm me down, telling me the second epidural would work and I would be fine.

Once the anesthesiologist came in, I was determined to be relaxed and as still as a stone this time around. Thankfully, the first epidural had numbed me enough that I didn't feel a thing the second time around. I was able to hold as still as she needed me to be as she went up a vertebrae and re-inserted the epidural catheter. The anesthesiologist, my nurse and I made small talk about Taylor Swift, since one of her songs was playing in the room. (Jon and I made a special playlist for the day with only the artists/songs that I love - it included plenty of Taylor Swift, Mumford and Sons, Phillip Phillips and Bruno Mars - and it was so nice to have the room filled with my favorite songs during labor and the rest of our hospital stay.) 

Five minutes after the anesthesiologist finished and left the room, I was in heaven. My left side went completely numb, and I was the happiest woman on the face of the earth. Jon came back into the room before the rest of my family. I was nervous for him to go get everyone else until I knew for sure that the epidural had worked, so we chatted for a while until it kicked in. When my family came back in, I was a laughing, joking machine, and everyone could tell it had worked the second time. 

My nurse checked me a few minutes after my second epidural, and I was dilated to five. She put my catheter in (which I was scared about, but I didn't feel at all), and we all settled in for more waiting.

Wren's Birthday
The anesthesiologist arrives for my epidural // Dilated to five

While we waited, Jon took more videos of me talking about the day and how I was feeling. We hope to one day edit all of the videos that he shot into one birthday video for Wren. Because I couldn't eat after midnight the night before the induction, I was SUPER hungry once the day got started. At one point, we asked the nurse if I could suck on a candy cane or some kind of hard candy since I was so hungry, but she said no - only ice chips (and oh, how many ice chips I ate!). I would definitely say I was surprised by how hungry I was all day long, and it was a constant, intense hunger that lasted all the way until my family brought me a Steak 'n Shake burger and shake by request post-delivery (Yum!!).

Wren's Birthday
Jon captures the day on video // Me and my sister, Brianne

A couple hours later, after a few almost-naps (I seriously almost fell asleep a few times after I had the second epidural - that's how relaxed I was despite my mountainous contractions on the chart), my nurse came in to check me and was surprised to learn I was dilated to nine. That woke everyone up! 

My nurse rushed out to tell my doctor, and I decided to touch up my hair/make-up (A girl's gotta look good when having a baby, right?!). The next half hour was filled with excitement and anticipation as my nurse and other nurses bustled in and out of the room - setting things up, moving things around and getting everything ready for a baby. As my sister and dad left to wait in the waiting room (my mom and Jon stayed with me during the delivery), I started to cry out of sheer nervousness. Yes, I was excited that it was finally time to push - this is what we had been waiting nine months for! - but I was also terrified

My nurse, Sherry, had been terrific the entire day, but she truly shined during the next hour. She was the best labor instructor I could've asked for. Before we started, she described how I should push in a way that I could understand (remember, all of this was new to me!). I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get the hang of it, but I gave it my best shot when she told me to push for the first time - with Jon on one side of me and my mom on the other side. After my first push, everyone was so encouraging, telling me I did great and encouraging me to give it my all again. I remember thinking they were all just being nice. I couldn't possibly have done it right - I had no idea what I was doing! But my nurse swore I was doing a good job, and continued to count and encourage me through every single push for the next hour. (At one point, during a break, I told her how amazing she was. I still can't imagine what it would be like to deliver babies everyday for your job. She was the best coach I could've asked for, and I'm so glad she was there that day to be with us. We were all so thankful to have her.)

After pushing for a little bit, I started to regain some feeling in my legs and lower body, which was actually really helpful during the delivery. I started to be able to feel when a contraction was coming (instead of having the nurse tell me from looking at the chart), and I would say "I need to push," and everyone would be there to encourage me as I did.

Looking back on the entire experience, I can say that the contractions didn't feel anything like I thought they would, but the pushing was exactly what I had expected. It felt like what you would think pushing a baby out of your body feels like.  For me, the fact that I was so hungry, made the pushing even harder. Sometimes, a wave of hunger would come over me with such intensity that I didn't have the energy to push until it subsided. (You know how sometimes you get so hungry you feel nauseous? That's how it was during the pushing, which was terrible - I just wanted to EAT.)

Thirty minutes into pushing, Sherry started telling me that she could see Wren's head when I pushed. At first, I found it motivating. Her head! She was there! She was coming! But then I started to get grossed out. I really don't have a strong stomach when it comes to certain things (like blood and guts and babies coming out of bodies), so when she started telling me all about Wren's hair (She has so much! And it's dark!), I had to stop her. I still laugh when I think back to that moment. I told her I wasn't trying to be rude, but asked her to please stop telling me about the details of what was going on down there - I didn't want to know. Ha!

Once I had been pushing for about an hour, my nurse decided it was time to get my doctor. Up until this point, it had been just me, Jon, my mom and Sherry in the room. Once Sherry went out and got my doctor, things got a little more exciting. Suddenly there were other nurses for me and nurses waiting for the baby, too. I could tell it was getting close. 

Once my doctor came in, he watched as I pushed a couple more times and made a joke about the music in our room being better than the music in the room next door. (He said the girl next door had whale sounds playing, which made me laugh!) Then everything happened in a blur of quickness. I remember hearing my doctor ask for some sort of tool. I remember feeling him cut something (but not feeling any sort of pain from it). I remember Wren's head plopping out immediately after the cut. (I say "plopping" because that's seriously how it felt.) I remember both Jon and my mom's hands jerking up to cover my eyes as my doctor held Wren's head and cleaned out her mouth (they both knew I would get queasy if I looked). I remember feeling the need to push and asking "Can I push again??" and being told "No, not now!" I remember a few seconds later being able to push and feeling the rest of her body come out. I remember opening my eyes (I kept them closed through the last pushes) and seeing Wren for the first time as the doctor held her and saying "That's so crazy. That's so crazy!" over and over again. I remember telling Jon to "Go, go!" over to be by Wren and take pictures while they finished with me. I remember being so glad that my mom was there to hold my hand while I finished the delivery and they stitched me up. And I remember when they were finally done with me and with Wren, and Jon brought her over to me for the first time.

She was crying at the top of her little lungs, and the nurse told us it was good for her to cry because she had a little bit of fluid in her lungs. I was shaking so much, and even though I wanted to hold her, I was so, so nervous because I couldn't stop shaking. (Those of you who have been induced know that the Pitocin brings on major, teeth-chattering body shakes. It was definitely disconcerting.) Jon kept asking me if I wanted to hold her, but I kept saying not yet. She was so tiny! And I was terrified of holding her before I got my body under control. 

Wren's Birthday
Wren Winter makes her debut at 4:38pm // 7lbs 8oz, 21 inches long

A few minutes after they finished with me, my nurse asked me what I'd like to drink - I could have Sprite or water. I chose Sprite and was overjoyed that I could finally eat/drink again! As soon as she brought it to me, I chugged it like someone dying of thirst in the desert. Once I had something in my system again, I felt myself - and the shaking - relax a little. I told Jon I was ready to hold her, and he handed her to me for the first time.

She was just the tiniest, cutest, funniest looking thing I had ever seen! Her face was sort of bruised along her cheekbones and she had goop all over her eyes, but still, she was so, so cute - and TINY! If anything, that is what stuck with me the most. She was the tiniest creature I have ever seen, and I was literally terrified of hurting her because she was so small. I remember wanting to talk to her so she could hear my voice (because supposedly babies can recognize their mom's voice from being in her belly for so long), and I remember feeling so unsure of myself and so scared that I would hurt her (because she was so tiny!) but desperately wanting her to know how much I loved her.

Wren's Birthday
Holding Wren for the first time // The Klock Family

Even now, more than three months later, I still think about the day Wren was born all the time, and I'm pretty sure I always will. It was the most surreal, 'is-this-really-happening' day I've ever experienced, the most painful day I've ever experienced (even with the epidural!) and the most awe-inspiring day I've ever experienced. Knowing her now - her little face, her little smile, her little personality - I can't believe that was her in my belly all along, just waiting to come out and join our family - but I'm so glad it was. She is absolutely perfect for us, and we could not possibly love her more.

Wren Winter - Your birthday was the best day ever, and I hope you know how loved you are -  now and forever.



Janice MacLeod said...

This is a fantastic play by play. And everyone looks so happy. Girl, good move with the hair and makeup. So many ladies don't think of that and the photos last forever and everyone sees them. You're tres intelligent.

beingbreezy said...

Thanks for sharing!! What an odd sensation to be able to feel one side and not the other. So glad you had a lovely birth in the end though! And stop, your sister is Brianne? Our girls have the same birthday AND your sister shares my name. Crazy. ;)