Well, since my last post was announcing the gender of our baby, and since she’s now two months old, I guess it’s fitting that this one is to announce the arrival of that baby (see also: I’ve been a terrible blogger and need to repent)! Our daughter was born on 09 January 2014 at 6:15am. She weighed in at 7lbs 9oz and measured 19.5 inches long. We’ve named her Maeli Esther Hansen. Maeli is Mandarin (pronounced May-lee) and it means beautiful. We later found out it also means calm, or peaceful in Polynesian. Esther is Eric’s paternal grandmother’s middle name, as well as obviously the name of the biblical heroine.
Note: This post is extremely long (no surprise there), I wanted to document a lot of the pregnancy and some experiences that lead up to Maeli’s birth for my own sake as much as anything else. If you’d like to skip that and just read the actual birth story you can click here to skip to that part of the post. Or feel free to just scan through for pictures, I won’t be offended :)
We went through a lot of debate on what to name her. Maeli has been on Eric’s list of girl’s names since we first got married since it’s a Chinese name, but one that doesn’t sound strange to an American ear. I loved the idea when we first were pregnant with Sam but obviously, he wasn’t a girl so we didn’t use it then. Since then, I’ve found that I loved having scriptural names for both of our boys so that as we’ve read our scriptures I could point out to them “Hey look, Samuel the Lamanite, just like our Samuel!” or “Hey, we’re talking about Daniel and the lion’s den, we have a Daniel in our family too!” I really like having good role models for them to look up to in the scriptures. So I wanted our daughter to have a scriptural name. I’ve also liked that our boys have middle names that are family names (Samuel Eric obviously after his dad, and Daniel Curtis after my dad). I wanted to do the same thing for our daughter, but we weren’t planning on giving her a middle name – which meant we had a pretty tall order to fill. Maeli didn’t fit either of those criterion. I also feel like physical appearance is too big of a focus for most women and I didn’t want a daughter being raised thinking that physical beauty was what we prized above all else in her. So there was a lot of back and forth. Maeli wasn’t sitting right, and neither was Esther or any of the other names on our list. I just didn’t feel settled. Finally one day I had the idea of breaking tradition and giving our daughter a middle name. Suddenly the name just felt right – Maeli Esther. I really like the way her name all goes together with the meanings too. Beauty, both in appearance and spirit, was obviously a quality of Queen Esther that factored heavily into her story. Esther in Persian means star, so Maeli is our beautiful, peaceful star. I especially liked passing along Eric’s grandmother’s middle name after getting to know more about her during her funeral in December of 2012 – not long before we decided it was time to have another baby. She was an incredible woman and someone that I’d love for my daughter to emulate. I’d like to think that Maeli and her Great Grandma Leona spent some time together on the other side as they were coming and going.
Anyways, that’s how Maeli got her name, here’s the story of how she got here. As those of you who follow me on Facebook probably already know, this was a rough pregnancy for me. I can’t complain too much because I know there are many women who have much worse. Even still, this pregnancy was a lot tougher than my previous two and I felt pretty beat up overall. First of all, my “morning” sickness was much worse this time around than with Sam or Danny. I’ve heard some women say that they have easier pregnancies with girls, and some say they have easier pregnancies with boys. Apparently I’m the type of woman that was made for bearing sons, not daughters. With Maeli I was sicker and for longer. I only actually threw up once (yes, I can hear those of you who’ve had real issues with morning sickness starting an orchestra with the world’s smallest violins) but I felt like garbage for about 4 months. Food was very unappealing to me and I was near throwing up on a daily basis. I was only able to keep it under control with a regimen of vitamins and forcing myself to eat the right things at the right times even when I didn’t want to. My gag reflex was also so much more severe for the whole pregnancy than it usually is, and while it’s better now, I’m starting to think that my normally strong gag reflex might never return.
So, that part wasn’t very fun, but that wasn’t what really made this pregnancy difficult. The real problem was my back. I’d had some problems towards the latter end of my pregnancy with Danny, but this time around I started having problems at around 8 weeks. By the time I was about 14 weeks I had frequent days where I would not be able to walk at the end of the day because my back was in such terrible shape. I was really worried about what I was going to do. Dealing with some issues for the last few weeks of a pregnancy is expected, but starting at 8 weeks?! Not being able to walk for 7 months was not really an option as a mother of two boys. So, I started to go to a chiropractor. I’ve always been a little dubious of chiropractic care but, through regular visits she was able to get me back on my feet and I was able to walk again. I still had to limit what I did so that I didn’t push myself too far. However, by 25 weeks I stopped having episodes of not being able to walk. Our house didn’t stay especially clean and I felt exceptionally lazy, but being able to walk up the stairs at the end of the day was worthwhile.
After I got my back under control then my blood pressure started getting low. Luckily, this had also happened with my pregnancy with Daniel so I knew what to expect and how to keep that under control as well. Lots of water, don’t freak out when it feels like your heart can’t keep up, lay in specific positions etc. As scary as the feeling is, knowing what was going on made it much easier to work with. Then at about 32 weeks I started having lots of contractions. I’d had some Braxton Hicks with both of my boys so I wasn’t surprised to have the contractions, but I was surprised at the frequency and intensity so early on. Every time I would get up and try to do just about anything – picking up toys, fixing meals, washing dishes – I would start to have regular contractions that would only be stopped when I sat down. I was very concerned that I would end up having Maeli prematurely. My sister had her baby at 35 weeks and so I’ve seen that those babies turn out just fine. But I’ve also seen how miserable their first few weeks of life are, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I mentioned these contractions to my midwife and she told me what I expected to hear – my cervix wasn’t changing yet (which is what they would worry about) but don’t push it. If activity made them come on stronger, then I needed to limit my activity. Simple instructions but I was again reduced to feeling terribly lazy.
Luckily I continued to not make progress for another 5 weeks. Once I got to a point where we safely could have her (37 weeks) I started trying to do more of my regular activities, and pushing myself further but of course, if I induced lots of contractions at a time I just felt like garbage by the end of the day. Over the next three weeks I tried lots of things to help convince Maeli to come a little bit early. I was hoping that she would arrive before the new year so that we could have all of the medical bills in one year. Plus, it would certainly have been nice to have gotten the tax break for another dependent for 2013. Even more so, my parents were able to come to Utah for Christmas and the week or so following and were hoping for Maeli to arrive before they left. Well, they all came for Christmas and I hadn’t had the baby yet. The boys all went skiing on Christmas and my dad injured his knee requiring further surgery – no baby. My brother Cody stayed up here to have sinus surgery and my mom stayed with him for an extra week while he recovered, still no baby. My mom and Cody finally decided they would stay up until my due date, and then they would have to give up on me and go home.
The day before my due date (03 January) I had an appointment with my midwife. All this time I’d been having so many contractions, I’d been drinking red raspberry tea, using sage oil, walking stairs, and trying all kinds of things to induce labor. While all of those measures would get contractions going, even going at a relatively regular pace, none of them got actual labor started. So when I went in to my midwife I was feeling pretty run down. I had thought that she’d said that at this appointment they were going to perform a non-stress test on the baby and do an ultrasound to check if it was time to give the baby an eviction notice. Apparently I’d misheard because that was actually what would happen at the next appointment if I made it that far. But thinking it was this appointment I brought my mom, the boys and Eric to the appointment since I thought they would all enjoy seeing Maeli in the ultrasound. I felt like a bit of an idiot when I discovered my error. At the end of my appointment my midwife told me that whenever I wanted to have the baby she’d be happy to have me come to the hospital and she would break my water. I’d made enough progress that she could induce me by breaking my water (which would be my preference) rather than using pitocin. She had another mom laboring that night so she seemed to be hinting that as long as she was there she might as well have two patients.
I was really torn, I was very done being pregnant, my mom was going to leave the next day, it was a Friday afternoon so we’d have the whole weekend for rest and recovery… the timing was very appealing. However, I have a strong personal belief that it’s best for babies to let them stay put until they’re done, not just when the mom is done. I just think that Heavenly Father designed the whole process so that the baby can come when it is totally developed and really ready for the world. I know that babies are just fine when they are induced, but it just seems like they’re better off if they can come on their own timing. I’d also read a blog post that put forth the idea that maybe babies that are overdue are saying their last goodbyes and getting their last bits of instruction on the other side, and it’s a little rude to take that away from them just because we’re uncomfortable. Obviously that’s not doctrine, but the idea sat well in my mind. So, I had a hard time thinking of forcing Maeli out before her time. Also, it’s rather difficult to think of making yourself go through labor right away. Even though it would make me much more comfortable in the long run, and I was going to have to go through it eventually anyways, it was still hard to contemplate making myself do it. I waffled for a lot of the evening, and finally my decision was made for me as much because it had gotten too late as anything else. In the end I did feel better about that decision (or lack of decision), but I did feel like I was cheating everyone else out of an easy fix just to accommodate my birthing preferences.
A day or so after my mom left Eric made the comment to me that he didn’t really think that I’d ever go into labor on my own and that we’d probably end up inducing me anyways. While that was sort of how I was feeling too, him saying it out loud sort of broke my spirit. While I’ve always had these beliefs that the best thing to do is to let babies come when they’re ready, I’d never gone into labor on my own before. I’d ended up being induced with both of my boys out of medical necessity. I was desperately hoping to go into labor on my own, but I was starting to believe that despite all the contractions that I’d had, it was just never going to happen. Maybe my body just didn’t know how to initiate labor. I was crushed. I spent the next couple days in a bit of a funk and just feeling depressed that it wasn’t ever going to happen. I’d sent my mom back home (who I would have liked to have had there for the delivery) and I’d end up being induced anyways. Eric didn’t know before reading this post that his comment had hurt me so much, and I don’t blame him for how I was feeling at all. These feelings had been there before but him saying it made me face them. It was just the thing that pushed me over the edge. I was in a bit of a dark spot for a few days.
Then on Tuesday, 07 January one of my friends posted a link to this article – God will give you more than you can handle: I guarantee it. Basically the post says that life is hard, it’s supposed to be hard, and it’s even supposed to be more than we think we can take, but if we turn ourselves over to Christ He can help us through it and we can handle our trials with Him. (Obviously all that was expressed much better in the author’s blog post than I did in one sentence, but that was my basic takeaway) I cried as I read through that post. That was exactly how I’d been feeling. While the trial I’d been given surely wasn’t to the magnitude of Job, I was about to the end of my rope and didn’t know how much longer I could hold on. After being sick, having back problems, contractions without end for months, I just was worn out. I knew I could turn to the Lord for help, but somehow this helped me realize that I needed to, and it was ok. I wasn’t just being a baby. This was why Christ suffered for us, so that He could help us in times of need and that I not only could but should turn to Him for help. I prayed more diligently for help and I really felt a lot better and like I could handle what I was going through. I was even able to accept that I probably would have to be induced, and that that would be ok.
In the evening on Wednesday I was having regular contractions again, but that had happened towards the end of just about every day for the last month so I tried not to get my hopes up. After the boys were in bed Eric and I spent a little bit of time together and watched a show. I also drank some more red raspberry tea and used more of the sage oil. The contractions weren’t really letting up, even when I laid down. I was getting hungry so I got up and made myself a quesadilla, just in case I did go into labor I didn’t want to be hungry. The contractions were getting pretty regular but I decided I’d try to get some sleep and figured that if I could sleep through them then they weren’t intense enough for me to go to the hospital. So I went to bed around 11pm.
Sometime after that Danny climbed into bed with Eric and me. I wasn’t sleeping really well, but I was at least resting and getting intermittent brief naps. At about quarter to 2am I woke up with Danny’s head against my head, pushing me out of the bed. Annoyed, I decided to get up and go to the bathroom rather than attempting to just reposition myself. While I was going to the bathroom I realized that my contractions were really getting to be rather uncomfortable and that I’d had 3 of them within 10 minutes. I imed Eric (who hadn’t been able to sleep either but was trying also to rest a little bit) and told him that we should probably get going to the hospital. He quickly got out of bed, and started gathering the few things that we would need to go to the hospital. He called his parents and asked them to come stay with the boys. When we were pretty much all ready to go Eric called one of our neighbors to ask her to come wait with our kids until his parents came. I felt really bad in retrospect about having her come because as we weren’t 5 minutes from our house when we saw his parents’ van driving down the mountain to our house. We’d thought it would have taken them longer to get out the door and didn’t want to wait for too long before leaving, but we could have certainly waited 5 more minutes had we realized they were that close. On the way to the hospital I texted this picture to my family:
To most people it probably seems exceedingly stupid that I sent my family a picture of Baby Mario from Mario Kart Wii. It probably is. But it’s an inside family joke. When I was pregnant with Sam my family was really into playing Mario Kart. If you play Mario Kart as Baby Mario his little catchphrase is “Baby time”! So towards the end of my pregnancy with Sam my family would text me, or call me, or message me and ask if it was “baby time” with Baby Mario’s silly voice. This was my way of letting them know that it was in fact, baby time :) Like I said, it really was stupid, but I’d thought of it a few days before and downloaded the picture of Baby Mario to my phone just for the occasion. My family got a kick out of it and it told them everything they needed to know. This picture was indeed worth a thousand words!
We arrived at the hospital and were into the room by about 3am. The nurses called my midwife to see if she would admit me. I was 3cm dilated and fully effaced (if my memory serves me correctly) and having contractions about every 3-5 minutes, so the nurses were reasonably certain I’d be admitted. Eve approved my admission and things got started. I’d thought that Eve and I had made a deal beforehand that I didn’t have to have an IV (if you haven’t been a previous reader of our blog I have a pretty severe phobia of needles). Apparently the deal I’d actually made was that since they had to do blood work anyways they could set up an IV then. Boo. So the nurses tried to get an IV in me between contractions. The first attempt failed as they hit a valve in my hand. My hand was bruised for probably 3 weeks afterwards. Luckily, the other part of my deal with Eve was that we would only make one attempt with the IV and if it failed we’d just do the blood work the easier way and forego the IV. My contractions were strong enough at that point that I was having to really focus and breathe through them. I was loath to lose my down time between contractions freaking out about having the blood work done. Finally we decided to just do the blood work during a contraction and even though it made for a more miserable contraction, we were able to get the blood work done and I didn’t have to give up my brief resting period. I don’t know exactly how long everything took, but Eric posted to Facebook at 4:30am that we’d successfully completed the blood draw and that contractions were coming 2 minutes apart at that point. That’s probably about right with all the admissions questions that were asked, getting changed, calling the midwife, two attempts at the bloodwork etc, an hour and a half doesn’t seem unreasonable, but my sense of time is very skewed as you might imagine.
By 5:09am I was dilated to 6cm, but my water still hadn’t broken (yes, I’m relying on the posts Eric did on Facebook to help me with my timeline, they’re the only real markers I have). I think it was a little while before or just after that check I needed to go to the bathroom so they disconnected my monitors and Eric helped me to the restroom. I was very uncomfortable at that point and hoped that emptying my bladder would help a little. While we were in the bathroom I asked Eric to run back to the bed for one of the vomit bags, and then I rid myself of the quesadilla I’d had the night before. Guess I would have been better off being hungry when I went into labor :P As intense as labor was getting at that point, I did feel a little better after that. At least all of the action was concentrated on the main event and not split with my digestive system.
When we went back to the bed I don’t think my monitors got hooked up correctly and they stopped registering my contractions, and we didn’t have those monitors working for the rest of the time. I know a lot of women don’t like the monitors but they were really helpful for me because Eric could see when I was having a contraction and would help talk me through them. However, luckily Eric is awesome and quickly learned to take me squeezing his hand as a signal that a contraction was starting and would help count off the rise and fall of them without the assistance of the monitor from that point on. One of the nurses even commented afterwards that she wanted to have Eric come in and train all the dads on how to support their wives during labor. I don’t think she was just being nice either, Eric really has been an incredible support to me in all three of my labors. I don’t know what I would have done without him.
A little before 6am I asked Eric if he could give me a blessing between my contractions. However, after the next contraction I told him that I was having a hard time not pushing against the contractions. He called the nurse and asked her to check me. They didn’t really think that there was going to be much progress made because I’d been laboring pretty quietly. They thought they’d be coming in and telling me I’d made minimal progress if any. However when the nurse checked me she was surprised to find that I was almost fully dilated. They quickly called Eve and told her it was time to come in and deliver this baby (she was still at home in bed at this point)! The next 10 minutes while we waited for Eve to get there were some of the longest of my life. Any woman who has had the urge to push and tried to hold back against it knows that it is one of the hardest things you could ever have to do. There really isn’t a comparison, but imagine the urgency of an EXTREMELY full bladder, like you’ve drunk 2 gallons of water all at once type full, and now you’re locked in a room watching videos of waterfalls and are not permitted to pee. It’s not a perfect analogy, but that’s an idea of what the feeling is like.
After the nurse checked me and had left the room Eric gave me the requested blessing. It wasn’t a long blessing (there was only about 60 seconds between my contractions at this point), but it gave me a lot of comfort. Basically I was told that I was so close to the end and that I wasn’t alone and that everything would be ok. I was once again so very grateful to have my wonderful Eric there with me.
Finally Eve came. After a contraction she checked me and said there was just a tiny bit of cervix left before I should start to push. After one more contraction that was gone. She broke my water and then I was ready to push on the next contraction. On the first contraction afterwards they could see Maeli’s head. The nurses and Eve told me afterwards they were impressed with the control I had to push her out slowly which saved me from much tearing. On the next contraction I was able to push her out completely. They cut the cord and we had our sweet Maeli here. I thought they’d already delivered the placenta but I still felt weird, like there was still something inside of me that wasn’t really part of me. A few minutes later they delivered the placenta and I finally felt like I was normal again. I don’t know how else to describe the feeling of relief and peace from being done with the whole ordeal. I certainly wasn’t normal again, I’d just gone through childbirth, a process that certainly deserves some recovery. But after the whole ordeal of pregnancy, with back pains, nausea, tons of contractions… it felt so good to be done. I feel like I really understand why they call it being “delivered” of the baby. I did feel like I’d been delivered from a very difficult ordeal and it was finally – after 9 long months – over.
One of the awesome things about the hospital we delivered at (Lone Peak Hospital) is that they have rooms that are LDRP – meaning that you stay in the same room for labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum. With Sam and Danny I’d had to move rooms after a brief recovery period (like one hour) to another unit. It was so wonderful to not have to move! They had Eric help wash Maeli in the sink right there in the room and everything that was done was done right there in the room. The only time they had to take Maeli out the entire time we were there was for a brief hearing test. It was wonderful.
As soon as the nurses had pretty much cleared out (probably by 8am or so?) Eric called his parents to see when they could bring the boys to come meet their new sister. They decided to come around 10am. Eric changed into some pajamas and almost immediately passed out on the couch. When the boys came in they tried snuggling with him and talking to him, but he was out cold. He did sort of say hi to the boys and give them hugs, but he didn’t even remember doing that much later. Luckily the boys were just happy to see Maeli and their mom and didn’t mind too much that their dad was unresponsive.
Eric was rightfully extremely tired from the whole ordeal. Although, he did say it was better that he hadn’t gotten to sleep the night before because if he’d only gotten a few hours of sleep and then been woken up he probably wouldn’t have been nearly as helpful as he was during the birth. It wouldn’t have been so good to have mostly asleep, non-responsive bear Eric during labor :) I on the other hand tried to sleep but I was too amped up from the whole experience and couldn’t really sleep. I rested and tried to even do so with my eyes closed, but I finally accepted that it was just as good to rest with my phone in my hand and playing on Facebook as I was pretending that I was going to get any sleep. When Eric woke up we watched some TV together and just enjoyed a day of resting, being together, and having our new baby there.
My sister Taylor came with her husband Ryan and son Skylar in the evening, along with our boys and Eric actually got to see them that time. I hadn’t realized it because we’d had the blinds drawn in our room, but that day we’d had a pretty significant snow storm. We were really lucky that Maeli came when she did because we were able to drive to the hospital in a lull between the storm. It had been snowing really well in the morning on Wednesday and I’d expected terrible road conditions but we were pleasantly surprised. When we drove down the mountain in the middle of the night the roads were actually totally clear and we’d had perfect visibility the whole way. When my sister was driving back to my house on Thursday night the roads were pretty bad again. I think angels were definitely watching over us and making sure we didn’t get stuck in that storm!
We sent Maeli to the nursery for the night so that I could actually get some sleep. The next morning we were ready to go home. We got the ok from all the doctors and by noon we were discharged and heading home to our sweet boys. They’d had a pretty rough time with us gone and it was good to have us all home and get to start our new chapter of life together as a family of five :)
Once Daniel was born I sat back and relaxed. I couldn’t believe how quickly that had all gone, and how intense that whole process had been. From the time they got the IV set up till the time he was born was only 5 1/2 hours! It turned out that it was a very good thing that I had been induced after all because otherwise there was no way I would have gotten to the hospital in time for the antibiotics to be properly administered before Daniel arrived.
One of the great things after Daniel was born was that they were able to just put him on my stomach while they cleaned him off. With Sam they wanted to get him off to the NICU right away (he had meconium in the amniotic fluid) so I only saw him for the briefest of moments right after his birth. It was cool to be able to touch him and have him be right there right after birth. Granted I was pretty tired at that point and not really able to take too much advantage of him being right there, but it was still a really cool experience. Then they took him over to clean him off while the doctor stitched me up.
I think the doctor was mad at me for birthing Daniel so fast because he was pretty rough while stitching me up. Eric could tell from the faces that I was making and the way that I squirmed with each stitch that it wasn’t exactly a gentle process. Luckily that was soon over and the doctor left pretty soon after. Laurel stuck around for a little bit longer but there wasn’t too much for her to do at that point so she went home to her own family not long after the doctor left.
Within minutes of the stitching being completed Taylor and Ryan arrived with Sam so that Sam could meet his new little brother. Sam was really excited to see Daniel and it was so awesome to watch him interact with his brother. He’d been excited for most of my pregnancy to talk to the baby in my tummy and snuggle with my tummy. We’d been talking about baby Daniel coming to be part of our family for a long time and it was cool to see that Sam really understood that better than we’d fully expected. Sam also came up and snuggled with me on the bed, which was probably one of the very best things for me. I was pretty shaky after that whole process so I didn’t dare hold Daniel yet, but Sam didn’t need my support so having him come be next to me wasn’t a problem. Sam and I are buds and just having him cuddling with me was very calming and just helped me feel a whole lot better. I was really glad to have him there, and it was awesome that we got to share some of those first few moments of Daniel’s life with his big brother there too. It was a really neat experience to get to have as a whole family. Sidenote: We have awesome video of these first encounters of the brothers and the first bit of Daniel’s life, but it was going to take too long to put it together for posting it here. But I promise, once we get it put together we’ll get it up!
After a little while the Lockwoods left and my mom took Sam back to our house. The nurse asked me if I wanted to try and nurse Daniel right then or if I wanted to wait awhile. I was still a little bit shaky so I said I’d probably wait a little bit and let Eric hold him while I ate some of the snacks that Eric had gotten for me from the Labor & Delivery snack stash. After a few snacks I felt better enough to hold Daniel and he immediately started rooting around. I had thought it would be easiest if we waited until we were down on the recovery floor to feed him but I couldn’t resist his insistent rooting, so I started to nurse him. I figured it would probably just be a failed attempt anyways since Sam took probably a week to really catch on to nursing. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Daniel latched right on and ate for a good 15 minutes right away! Way to go kiddo! That’s proven to be a pretty accurate indication of what he’s been like ever since. He pretty much always wants to eat whenever he’s awake and he does a great job with nursing.
After I finished nursing Daniel he went with Eric downstairs for his first bath and getting fully cleaned up in the nursery. I was left in the room on my own for a few minutes just in a state of slight shock from all that had just happened. Even though I’d been through the whole childbirth process before it still doesn’t really prepare you for that moment afterwards where you think “holy cow, did that just happen?!?” I was kind of glad to have those few minutes to just process the experience. Then the nurse came in to help me clean up a little bit and wheel me down to the recovery room.
Eric was in the room not long after I got in there. Daniel had come back with Eric from the nursery and I had nursed him some more, but then we sent him back to the nursery so that we could get as solid of a night’s sleep as possible. I think it was about 1:30am at that point, and we were both a little bit hungry. So Eric went down to the cafeteria to get us something to eat (luckily the cafeteria didn’t close until 2am!). It’s a good thing he did, neither of us thought we were super hungry until we started eating the food. He came back with a burger, some nachos and some chicken fingers… and they disappeared much more quickly than we’d expected. Eric climbed onto the bed with me, which was very comforting, and we watched a show on his Xoom while we ate. It was just nice to be with him and relax together after the whole process. Once the show was over Eric went and set up his pull-out couch bed to go to sleep. We both would have preferred if he could just stay in the bed with me, but we also both thought it’d be awkward with the nurses coming in and out.
Eric fell asleep almost immediately and didn’t wake up again until after they brought Daniel back in the morning. I on the other hand had a really hard time getting to sleep. My heart had started doing its racing thing again and nothing I did seemed to get it to settle down. I really wanted to wake Eric up and have him come back and hold me, since just having him close usually helps. However, I resisted waking him up as I knew he was pretty exhausted as well. It took a few hours but I finally fell asleep around 4am.
The rest of our hospital stay was relatively uneventful. We only stayed until 9pm on Saturday because we figured since both Daniel and I were doing well we could recover better at home in our own beds than we could in the hospital. Especially since it would mean no nurses popping in and out through the night and that Eric wasn’t stuck on a couch bed. It worked out well since my mom was still there to help take care of us during the next day, and we definitely got more rest that night. I think we were all much happier to just be home :)
So, that’s the story of how Daniel came into this world. I can’t believe we’ve had him for almost 3 weeks now. He is an awesome baby. He sleeps well on his own, and eats really well! That’s about as high praise as you can get for a three week old! It’s so interesting to me how different he is from Sam. We love him so much and are so excited that he’s in our family!
Friday morning we woke up and started getting ready for the day. We’d been told that we’d get a call with the time we should come in sometime before 8am. When 8am had come and gone I called Labor & Delivery to see what time I should come in. They said they were waiting for some rooms to clear out and to call back in a couple of hours if we still hadn’t heard anything. So we continued getting ready. A couple of hours came and went so we called back. We were told that they were still working on discharging some people but that if we were to head down to Provo and get some lunch it shouldn’t be too much longer. So we packed up the car and went to Provo.
We took our time at Subway but even after we’d finished our sandwiches the hospital still hadn’t called back so we decided to go bide our time at my sister’s apartment until we were called. After waiting for awhile I decided to call the hospital again to just see if I could get an update. When I called the nurse told me she thought I’d already been called and told to come in but that she’d need to have me talk to the charge nurse. She said she’d have the charge nurse call me back in a few minutes. Half an hour later when I still hadn’t been called back I decided to just have my mom drop us off at the hospital (we just have one car and my mom would need it while we were in the hospital so she could take care of Sam, so as funny as it seems to have my mom drop us off at the hospital to go have our baby… that’s what we did). I figured that if we were in the waiting room we’d be more likely to get the attention of the people who would get us admitted. I was a little bit worried that it would get too late and they’d just tell us that we had to wait until the next week to come in, so I wanted to give us the best chances of getting in.
When we got there we found out that the Labor & Delivery floor was just a really busy place that day which was why it had taken so long to get us in. We waited for another hour before they were finally ready to admit us. In some respects I was ok with that, I’d told people earlier that having a scheduled induction reminded me of a quote from Swan Princess – “Go on Jean-Bob, race to your death!” As much as I really don’t fear childbirth… it’s still not exactly the funnest thing to go through. So while I wanted to get it over with, I wasn’t in the biggest hurry to get it started either. But we did finally get admitted and were in the room ready to start the IV at 4:30pm.
Now, in case you somehow read our blog but didn’t know this, I have a pretty severe phobia of needles. I don’t know where it’s come from or why I have it or even what it is about needles that gives me problems, but I have a tendency to pass out whenever I have to get even minor shots. Pass out cold, to the point where I turn grey and convulse, and it has taken a few rounds of smelling salts to bring me back to consciousness more than once. It’s a pretty scary thing to watch (so I’m told) and really not much fun to go through either. So, as silly as it may sound, getting that IV set up is the worst part of childbirth for me.
So around 4:30pm the nurse looked over my hands and found the best vein and Eric did his best to distract me from the needle so that I could remain conscious. It took a lot of deep breathing and talking about other things but she got the needle in and was setting it up when I heard her say “shoot, the vein collapsed”… That was NOT what I wanted to hear. I was so proud of myself for remaining conscious and to find out that it had failed was a pretty tough blow. So she went to try and find a better vein on my other hand, and Eric kept doing his song and dance to help keep me conscious… and that vein collapsed too. So my nurse brought in another nurse and they started hitting my arms to try and bring out a good vein, they found a promising vein… another failed attempt. So they went out to get the charge nurse to see if she would have better luck. While they were out of the room Eric asked if I would like another blessing, which I quickly accepted. It may not take long to read through those three attempts but it had taken about 20-30 minutes of being hit and poked and it was really taking a toll on me. Even without passing out it’s so draining to try and remain conscious that I was really feeling worn out. I don’t remember anything that he said in that blessing but I do remember feeling strengthened by it.
The charge nurse came in and hit my arms some more, and used some lidocane to help numb my arms so that it at least didn’t hurt as much, poked around… another collapsed vein. So they said they’d go try to get the anesthesiologist to come and set me up, since he obviously has good experience with setting up IVs. When the nurses left the room I started to cry. Of course the one thing that I have a very difficult time with was what was going wrong. This was about the worst nightmare that I could have come up with for the delivery. The crying actually helped me feel better strangely enough, and I think it got my blood flowing a little bit more. They had also brought in a warm blanket to put over my arms which not only was helping bring my veins out but helped me feel a little better too.
Somewhere in all this my friend Laurel arrived. Laurel had just completed the first part of her doula training and needed to attend a few births in order to finish her certification. I had volunteered to be one of her first births primarily because Eric had had a business trip to Japan scheduled when I reached 37 weeks. That same week my mom had Japanese foreign exchange students that would be in town so she would be unable to help me as well. I knew that Murphy’s Law would come into play and that I’d end up having the baby by myself. So I wanted to make sure that I had someone who could be my labor support if the baby decided to come that week (as it turned out Eric’s business trip was cancelled in the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan). However I’d also been curious about using a doula. Since I try to birth naturally, and since my mom wasn’t planning on being there for the birth I really wanted to have another woman in the room to help coach me through the process. Even though I’d done it before, and Eric is awesome, there’s something different that a woman who has been through childbirth can really add to the experience.
Eric asked me at this point if I wanted to just go home and try again another day. The honest answer to that question was a resounding YES… except for the coming back another day. I knew that if I left at that point it would be harder the next time to set up an IV because I would be more hysterical knowing that we’d failed this time around without a positive resolution. The only positive outcome at this point was to get the IV started this time so that whenever I next had to encounter needles I didn’t have an awful unresolved experience that I was coming off of. So, I told him no, I’d stick it out until we got it set up right. He then asked if I wanted my mom to come and I don’t think I hesitated long to respond with a yes to that offer. There are very few people who really understand my needles phobia and how to deal with me and to work with nurses/doctors to help get done what needs to get done, and my mom is one of those people (Eric obviously is another but I think he was getting a little worn out too).
While we were waiting for my mom to come and the anesthesiologist to be available my nurse came back in and said that they had the people who go with the EMTs there that could get my IV set up. They had some sort of ultrasound machine that helped them find particularly good veins and this was basically their job was setting up IVs. They were off the clock in a few more minutes so they could either come in and give it a shot now or we’d lose the opportunity for their help. I only vaguely understood what was happening because I was pretty upset and into the hysterical but luckily I told them to have them come in, even though my mom wasn’t there yet. So, in came two more nurses with their gear to see what they could do. More arm slapping ensued and pointing at different veins (most of which had already been the victims of those failed attempts). I don’t even know if they ended up using their cool machine but after some more lidocane and another needle in my arm they were finally able to successfully get my IV set up. They didn’t have the right gauge of needle in my arm for some reason but they said just not to tell the anesthesiologist and we’d be ok (apparently it only mattered if I was getting an epidural whether they had the larger needle). I was SO relieved to finally have that done. We put my arm down to the side of me and kept it hidden under that warm blanket for the rest of the night.
It had taken 5 nurses, 5 different attempts, 7 needles and 1 hour to get that IV set up. The main problem was that I hadn’t been well hydrated (totally my own fault, dangit) so my veins weren’t as nice and plump as would have made for an easy IV set up. But in the end the biggest achievement – I didn’t pass out once! I didn’t even get super close to passing out! I was really glad for that because I feel crummy after passing out and not in a state that I want to be in when going into labor. I was especially proud to have lasted that whole hour of poking without passing out! I’m SO grateful for Eric helping to talk me through everything and especially for the blessings he gave me. I know that I couldn’t have made it through all of that without the help that I received from both him and the angels that I’m sure helped pull me through.
My mom came in just as they finished getting the IV set up so she was a little late to help with that but I was still glad to have her there. They started me on pitocin and the antibiotics and left to let my body do its thing. My mom recommended that I use this time to take a nap and just rest. However we’d already decided that it would be good for Sam to come and see where I was and what was going on before things got too intense. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the pitocin was going to make things much more intense much more quickly than my last labor. So I had her call my sister to bring Sam over sooner rather than later. Plus I was a little keyed up from the whole IV experience so I wasn’t likely to be able to really rest for awhile anyways. I think Laurel left not too long after we got things set up with the IV since there wasn’t much for her to do while we just waited for the contractions to set up a pattern. It was a good chance for her to go home and take care of her kids and get them ready for bed while she was less needed at the hospital.
So Taylor and Ryan brought Sam over to the hospital, which was really good. He was very happy to see us and know what was going on, apparently just that short visit helped settle his mind a lot more for the rest of the night. We’d talked him through the routine of what was going to happen many times before so he wasn’t surprised to see us in the hospital, but I think it was good to really see where we were and that everything was ok. While they were there my mom stepped out to go get some dinner for her and Eric. When I’d been in labor with Sam they’d allowed me to eat bread and I was hoping for a repeat of that, however apparently the pitocin is what tends to cause nausea so I was limited to ice chips and water, boo. At lunchtime I had decided to just split a foot long sub with my mom so that I wasn’t too full going into Labor & Delivery (since I was thinking I’d be in there pretty much immediately after lunch). I definitely regretted that decision because it was 4 hours later and I was getting hungry, but there wasn’t much I could do about it at that point. The Lockwoods left with Sam an hour or so later when the nurse came in to check my progress.
I had come into Labor & Delivery dilated to 2cm, about 60% effaced and the baby was floating. I was told that I needed to get to 3cm with the baby dropped for them to break my water. My original hope had been that they would be able to just break my water and let things progress naturally from there, i.e. without Pitocin (like we’d done with Sam). However I found out that with the baby still floating there’s a danger that if you break the water the first thing to drop down might be an arm or a leg instead of a head – which would mean I’d end up having a c-section. Since a c-section was pretty close to the bottom on my list of things that I wanted to have happen we obviously went with pitocin instead. I think when the Lockwoods left I was still at 2cm and the baby was still floating. My contractions hadn’t quite set up a steady pattern yet so they cranked up the pitocin and left us to go again.
In case you were wondering, pitocin is horrible, awful, nasty, mean, no-good stuff. Even those contractions that weren’t setting up a good pattern were a lot more painful than I remember with Sam. I had to start using relaxation techniques almost immediately after starting the pitocin whereas with Sam I had about 3 hours before the contractions even started to bother me.
Around 8:30pm they checked my progress and declared that I was far enough along for them to break my water – hooray! So the doctor came in and broke my water and left us again. Unfortunately they didn’t turn off the pitocin at that point, but I think they did turn it back a notch. To give you an idea of what a nasty drug pitocin is, even as my labor was increasing in intensity I got a good deal of relief every time they turned back the pitocin even just a little bit. Things were picking up pretty steadily and it was definitely taking a lot of concentration, breathing and support to get me through those contractions.
Laurel either came back just before they broke my water or sometime after. I really wish I had a better idea of when she came back because she was very helpful, but the ensuing hours were sort of a blur.
About 9:30pm the nurse came in and checked me again. My contractions were less than 2 minutes apart and they were taking all of my concentration and energy to get through them. The nurse told us that I was dilated to 4cm and I told Eric that I wanted “some something” which he luckily correctly interpreted to mean that I wanted some Fentanyl. I really don’t like the way the Fentanyl made me feel, I just don’t like the out of control, fuzzy feeling that narcotics give me, but I really needed something to help get me through at that point. The pitocin induced contractions were really spikey and just more intense than natural contractions. I wish I could better explain the difference but I can say that I really understand now why women who are induced pretty much always go with an epidural and think they can’t go through labor on their own. It was helpful to be able to really let go between contractions and rest, and it did take off some of the edge of the contractions, but it definitely doesn’t take away the pain by any stretch of the imagination. Unfortunately Fentanyl doesn’t last very long and within half an hour the contractions were back to being full force. As the Fentanyl wore off I was starting to feel like I didn’t know if I could do this with the pitocin. I started seriously considering an epidural. If you understand my phobia of needles just the fact that I was considering the epidural should tell you how nasty pitocin is. But since it had taken so long for me to get to 4 cm I didn’t think I could make it through hours and hours of this super intense pitocin labor.
I think it was at this point that they were having a hard time picking up the baby’s heartbeat as well as tracking my contractions with the external monitors, so the nurse asked if it was ok to put internal monitors in instead. Honestly, I really didn’t care at that point so long as it just got done. In fact the most annoying part was just her explaining the monitors to me, because I just didn’t care. Plus I’d done my homework and already knew what the monitors were so the idea of them didn’t scare me. The internal monitors weren’t too bad, and actually I think they were more comfortable than the external monitors, just a little weird feeling as they went in. I wish in retrospect they’d just put internal monitors in when they broke my water so we weren’t doing it during active labor, but I think they wait to do internal monitors only if the external ones aren’t working well enough because the bother other women. The nurse checked my progress again and said I was to 8cm. That was a HUGE relief. Knowing that I was that far made me feel like I could make it through the rest of the labor. I think this was around 10:15pm – 10:30pm? (The only reason I have any sort of timeline is that Eric was posting my progress to twitter, unfortunately this check didn’t make the twitter feed). I think they called the doctor at this point to let him know I was progressing fast and he probably ought to come in soon.
The doctor arrived within another 15-30 minutes (I really have no idea of how long it was) and they checked me again and I was fully dilated! So the doctor started scrubbing up to prepare for the delivery. They were telling me not to push, but that is the hardest part of labor is not pushing when you’re all ready to push. It’s what makes those last few contractions so hard is not pushing against them. But since I was fully dilated I knew that there was no good reason not to push from a medical standpoint (before full dilation I know that you can cause the cervix to swell and make labor last longer – that’s enough incentive to keep me from pushing too early). So, since I knew that it wasn’t detrimental to me or the baby to push at that point, I might have cheated a little and pushed just a little bit to relieve some of the pressure on a couple of the contractions that I wasn’t supposed to be pushing against (shh! don’t tell!). Finally they said I could push against a contraction and so I gladly gave a full push. The doctor still didn’t have his gloves on and wasn’t really watching me yet, but luckily Eric was paying attention and said “Uhm, I think that’s the head”. To which the doctor replied “Oh! I guess I’m not getting gloves on.” He pretty much turned around to see Daniel crowning. I pushed his head out on the next push. He told me not to push any more while he suctioned out the mouth and nose. However, the urge to push was unbearably strong, I think I was able to hold off for maybe one or two urges to push… and then my body took over and said “bite me, this baby is coming out!”… and with another half push out came the rest of Daniel! To give you an idea of how quickly things went, Eric posted on Twitter that I was fully dilated at 10:56pm and Daniel was born at 11:00pm. I was not expecting that at all since it took about an hour or so of pushing for Sam to be born.
Daniel weighed in at 7lbs 9oz (ok 8.9oz… but I feel good about rounding that up) and was 20 inches long. His 1 minute apgar score was an 8 and his 5 minute score was a 9 so he looked pretty good right from the get go. I think part of what helped him be born so quickly is that he was over a pound lighter than Sam (8lbs 11oz) and his head circumference was considerably smaller too.
Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll tell you about Daniel’s first few hours in the world, meeting Sam and there should be lots more pictures and videos!
About a month or so before I was due I started noticing that I had some weird things happening with my heart. I started having times where I would feel like my heart was racing for no particular reason. Not even while I was walking around or doing anything, but while I was just sitting around watching TV or laying down in bed. It was weird enough that I decided to mention it to my doctor at my next appointment, but I wasn’t too worried about it. She wasn’t too concerned either and told me that my heart was working really hard to keep me and baby alive, and sometimes things like that happened. As long as my heart rate didn’t jump above 140 I didn’t need to worry about it. So I downloaded an app that could track my heart rate (it’s a pretty cool app if you have an Android phone, I recommend checking it out and playing with it) and didn’t worry about it too much further. I saw my heart rate get up to 120 fairly regularly but it would come back down so while I kept monitoring it I didn’t worry too much.
Then a little over a week before I was due (Wednesday, April 6th) I was getting ready for the day and sitting in the bathroom drying my hair when I had one of those heart racing episodes and felt like I was going to pass out. I quickly got myself from where I was sitting and moved to my bed. I was able to avoid passing out but it was a pretty scary moment. I realized that I was home alone with Sam and that if I *did* pass out and hit my head or something there’d be no one to take care of me or Sam until Eric came home later that night. So I sent an im to Eric to ask him to at least check on me periodically throughout the day. Eric wasn’t satisfied with that solution and insisted on coming home and working from here, just in case. We had my mom do a Skype video call with me so that someone was keeping an eye on me and Eric came right home. We also called the doctor’s office to see what their thoughts were on the situation. They told me to drink more water and eat some high protein foods and let them know if I had any more episodes. Their thought was that it was most likely dehydration or not eating enough so if I got on top of my nutrition I should be ok.
My biggest concern was that I was developing pre-eclampsia since I’d started to show signs of pre-eclampsia at the end of my pregnancy with Sam and my sister had it seriously enough that they induced her 5 weeks early. Pre-eclampsia can have serious consequences for both moms and babies so with my medical history, I definitely wanted to keep an eye on that. So I had Eric go to the store and pick up a blood pressure cuff so that we could monitor how my blood pressure was doing. We found that it was pretty much always normal, except during my heart racing episodes where it would suddenly jump super high (like 159/111 high) and then go right back down. In fact they went back down so quickly I had a really hard time catching those blood pressure spikes. After catching a couple though we called the doctor’s office, when we reported those readings – even with surrounding normal readings – they said to just come straight in and have the doctor check me out.
Of course, when I got to the doctor’s office I looked just fine and my blood pressure was normal, so they scheduled me to come in and see the doctor on Monday (the doctor was out and I just saw the nurse practitioner that day) and sent me home. I asked the nurse practitioner what their policy was on elective inductions. I’m not a big believer in elective induction but I could tell there was something wrong with my body and I knew that getting the baby out was going to be at least the first step in getting better. Since I was to a point in my pregnancy where the baby should be fully developed I was at least considering that option. She told me that their policy was that they would schedule an elective induction after 39 weeks. That helped a little bit since I knew that I’d be 39 weeks the next day, but I had to wait until my appointment on Monday to talk to the doctor about that.
I continued having these heart racing episodes and they seemed to be getting more frequent and lasting longer. So Eric put me on bedrest so we could let things work themselves out. We also asked my mom to come out that Friday so she could help out with things while I was trying to keep my blood pressure down and after the baby was here. We thought it was likely we’d be heading in to the hospital some time that weekend and it put our minds at rest to know that there was someone around to take care of Sam when we went in as Eric’s parents (our first plan for taking care of Sam) were in Indiana that weekend.
So we picked up my mom on Friday night and tried to keep me off my feet that weekend. Saturday I was feeling great and started to feel really silly for having my mom come out and putting everyone on alert. However, by the end of church on Sunday I was starting to feel like I was going to pass out again so we went home and put me back on bedrest. On Monday I woke up and felt awful. The feeling of my heart racing was present for the majority of the morning and I just felt crummy. I thought for sure we’d head into the doctor’s and that my blood pressure would be high and we’d be heading for an induction that afternoon. Eric gave me a blessing before we left and I was blessed with peace and confidence in my decisions regarding my health and the health of the baby.
So we got to the doctor’s office and checked in and I was still feeling pretty lousy. I had found that it helped to lay on my side more than sitting or standing or laying on my back, but obviously there wasn’t much side laying I could do in the doctor’s office chairs so my heart felt like it was working really hard when I finally got into the examination room. That’s the best way I can describe what the feeling was like, it felt like my heart was struggling to keep up with the demands of my body. So, we waited in the examination room for the doctor. Now, I should note that the doctor I was seeing wasn’t my normal doctor. She’d had her own baby on Thursday and was obviously on maternity leave at this point. I’d known this was going to be a likely outcome all along but I was still a bit sad to not have my own doctor that really knew me.
The doctor came in and looked over my chart and did a quick checkup and basically told me that pregnancy is rough and that new moms can get really anxious at the end of a pregnancy. He scheduled me for an induction on Friday and sent us on our way. I was really frustrated with that because I *knew* that what was going on had nothing to do with anxiety (I’m a pretty low key kind of person, and I’d already gone through the childbirth process once and had everything go great so… no anxiety there). Plus I knew that pregnancy was uncomfortable and rough, and this pregnancy had been very uncomfortable and rough, but that what was going on with my heart wasn’t just a pregnancy thing. I felt like the doctor hadn’t really listened to me and had sort of blown me off, which was more frustrating since I felt like my doctor knew me well enough to know that I wouldn’t be coming in for just anxiety. But there wasn’t really much more I could do except stay off my feet, try to keep my blood pressure down and wait for Friday.
On Tuesday I finally decided that I was going to just get up and do as much as I could to do work around the house and such. I figured that if I walked around I could either get myself to go into labor or my blood pressure would go high enough that the doctor would take me seriously. Well, neither of those happened. In fact, the opposite happened – I felt better than I had in about a week. That was almost more frustrating because it made me feel like I was being hypochondriacal, which is really not like me at all. I was very confused, although grateful to be feeling better.
On Wednesday my mom was talking to my Aunt Petrine about the weird heart episodes that I’d been having. Petrine’s husband had lots of different heart issues in the years before he passed away and so she had some experience with these types of issues. After hearing my symptoms Petrine thought that my problem was probably low blood pressure. A quick google search for symptoms of low blood pressure pretty quickly proved that I matched her diagnosis – in particular the fact that all of my blood pressure readings (except for the weird spikes) had been on the very low side of normal. However since we were worried about high blood pressure, low readings hadn’t bothered us. All of the things that were causing me problems – sitting, standing in one place, hot showers etc – were things that can exacerbate low blood pressure. On the other hand walking around and laying on my side were good things to help make it better. Suddenly everything that was happening with my body made a LOT more sense, and we realized why bedrest wasn’t helping! Everything I was doing to try and keep my blood pressure low was the opposite of what I was supposed to be doing. Doh!
I was very relieved and took the necessary steps to help make me feel better. I was pretty frustrated though that the solution to my problem was so simple and that if my doctor had listened to me a little more he could have diagnosed the issue earlier on and the one thing that *was* causing me anxiety (these weird heart episodes) could have been taken care of much sooner. But I couldn’t complain too much at that point since at least we did figure out what was wrong and I was feeling much better.
Of course then my problem was deciding what to do about the induction date. Like I mentioned earlier I’m not a big fan of elective inductions, I believe that in most cases the best thing for babies is to come when they’re ready to come and we can cause problems by messing with a process that nature has pretty well figured out. However I was still having the issues with my low blood pressure, even if we were managing it better, and the following week was set to be a busy one. My sister was graduating on Thursday & Friday, my brother was going through the temple on Saturday and we were hoping to be able to bless the baby in church on Sunday while my family was in town. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to participate in those activities from a hospital bed. More importantly though, my strep B culture had come back positive so the doctor really wanted me in the hospital 4 hours before I delivered the baby so we could get a full round of antibiotics in me and him to avoid any complications. Since Sam had come in about 8 hours from the time they broke my water and second babies are supposed to come faster, and we live about 45 minutes away from the hospital I was concerned that I wouldn’t get to the hospital in time for the antibiotics to be properly administered without it being a scheduled induction. So, after some careful thought, consideration and prayer I decided to go ahead with the induction on Friday.