8lbs, 21inches long and the sweetest, best behaved baby from the instant they laid him on my chest.
I'm trying to write down Leo's birth story before I block out all the details from my memory :)
This is going to be LONG. get ready.
So, a quick recap of the last week... Sunday I miraculously finished my last paper for my master's degree. I submitted it at 2:30AM and began my nesting.
Monday I didn't have to work because my boss was in California, but I was supposed to work Tuesday-Thursday this week. Monday I spent the day cleaning. Deep cleaning the living room - moving furniture, sweeping, dusting, wiping down base boards, organizing, sweeping out the couch cushions, washing windows. The whole 9 yards.
Sometime that afternoon I noticed I lost my mucus plug.
Gross I know, but a real thing that happens even though Lee told me I probably wouldn't even notice....I totally noticed. The best way to describe it, like a friend of mine did, is it's like a slug. (are you gagging? sorry) so I googled about 50 different things about that and lots of websites assured me that it could still be 2 weeks until I went into labor.
My friend Amber however, knew better. She said "I bet you go into labor TONIGHT!"
Late Lee came home from work early and we planned to go to Cheesecake Factory to celebrate my finishing school and as a last date before the baby arrived.
Dinner was delicious and we walked around the mall for a couple hours looking for baby newsboy hats (but didn't find one) and then I got super, super tired. I started walking slow and felt a little like I was doing a pregnant girl waddle.
We got home around 9 and went pretty much straight to bed because I was planning on getting up and going to work at 7am on Tuesday.
Flash forward a couple of hours, around 1am, I rolled over in bed and felt quite wet. I attempted to ignore it and then more and more wetness came. I put my hand down on the bed and the sheet was soaked! Yikes! I shot up in bed and hit Lee and said "I think my water broke!!!"
He bolted up and was like what?!
I ran to the bathroom.... leaking all the way.
While Lee followed making comments like "are you sure?" "is it possible you could have peed?" "only 10% of women have their water break before contractions start"
YES LEE! THIS IS NOT PEE!
I continued to... leak for several hours but no contractions.
I called my mom to let her know that sometime within the next 24ish hours we'd be having a baby regardless so she could get started towards Michigan.
I attempted to go back to bed since I hadn't had much sleep the night before either... but that proved to be impossible, obviously. So I got up and finished some cleaning that I hadn't got to. I swept the kitchen and bathroom floors. Painted my toe nails red and my fingers with a clear coat. Repacked my bag. Lee made the bed in the spare room.
Around 3am I had a few mild contractions. Not regularly spaced at all, sometimes 12 minutes, sometimes 6.
I ate breakfast and had a big drink since I knew when I got the hospital they wouldn't let me.
At around 6:30 I text my boss and told him I wouldn't be coming in to work and we called our parents to let them know we were heading to the hospital soon.
I got dressed, fixed my hair, and put on make up :)
We decided to go to the hospital, probably a little prematurely since my contractions weren't regular, but I was losing a ton of fluid and a little bit of blood and was slightly freaking out. You know first time mom and all that. We decided to go in early so I could see my doctor on his morning rounds before he went to the clinic.
I got checked in and taken to triage to be checked by a PA and nurse before admitting me. Apparently they get a lot of women coming in thinking their water has broken when it really hasn't. Thankfully I wasn't one of these women. A quick check and they were positive it had in fact broken, but I was only 2cm dilated.
I was soooo disappointed at that. I wanted them to be like wow you're already 5! You have the easiest labor pains ever..... yea... not so much.
I talked with the nurses about my plans to go totally unmedicated, including no pitocin for as long as would still be safe for the baby (when your water breaks they typically want to speed along labor after a certain time period because the risk of infection increases after your water breaks)
and since it was time to switch shifts I heard the nurse Holly talking to another nurse in the hall and she said "she doesn't want any pain intervention so please find her a nurse who is going to be sensitive to that and help her with ideas for how to deal with it"
I will forever be grateful for that sweet woman's request. Any nurses out there - seriously, just a little intuition/thoughtfulness like that can make such a difference.
Anyway, I was taken to a birthing suite around 8:30ish and began the waiting game.
We took the first while to get settled in. Lee brought all the stuff from the car, I watched The Today Show, and continued to have contractions that I thought at the time were sorta painful but in retrospect were not even blips on the radar.
My doctor came by and we discussed the options, I told him again that I was not interested in receiving any medication and he said that was perfectly fine, but around 7pm (18 hours after my water broke) he'd like to talk to me again about using pitocin if my labor wasn't progressing.
I got EXTREMELY lucky and it just so happened that Tuesday night was my doctor's on call night. If I had had Leo on Wednesday night I wouldn't have had my doctor, but I just so happened to land on his night. Praise ye the Lord. Seriously. That was a God thing. I needed that man later.
I did get an IV though for fluids as they banned me from anything to eat or drink once they admitted me. I was welcomed to my room with a cup of ice chips and a basket of dum dum suckers to last me the day.
A couple hours with the IV and I noticed that my wedding band was getting really tight, which makes me claustrophobic. I made it 9 months of pregnancy with my rings fitting just fine and the day of delivery I had to take it off. My nurse brought me an ice pack and I held it on there until my finger shrunk enough to yank it off my finger. I was so sad to take it off because it was the first time in our entire marriage I've had my wedding band off... but it's just a ring. So off it came. Later shortly after Leo was born Lee put it back on my finger.
My mom made it in from Ohio around noon.
Around 3 the contractions started picking up. I was having a difficult time getting comfortable and switched from pacing around the room, sitting on the birthing ball, rocking in the rocking chair, and lying in bed.
Soon however I was pretty much only in bed except to go to the bathroom.
The nurse they assigned to me, Kelly, was awesome. She was very no nonsense, but supportive and positive.
As the contractions got worse I started to get very nauseous and soon at the peak of every contraction I was puking... but I hadn't eaten anything since about 5am but dum dums so I was dry heaving pretty badly. Dealing with uterus splitting pain AND gut renching vomiting is not something I recommend, but the nurse said that my vomiting was actually probably progressing my labor along, moving the baby down ? so whatever works, right?
I asked for someone to please come check me because I was convinced I had progressed far enough but I was extremely disappointed to hear that it was only about 6cm.
That combined with the fact that I was still vomiting and the pain had become VERY intense I hit a breaking point.
I looked Lee in the eye and told him there was no way I could go on and absolutely had to have the epidural. But.... I had told him before if I did ask for it to talk me out of it. And he did. He did such a good job explaining to me my options and being supportive... but still gently avoiding letting me actually get the epidural.
I did however get zofran for the nausea. I really wanted to go 100% medication free... but the vomiting was not something I had anticipated and it was pushing me over the edge. After they gave me that I stopped throwing up. Thank goodness.
My mom was great too. I am so glad that she was there. She's had 5 kids so she has a little experience in the area. She would have been supportive either way because she obviously knew what I was going through, but she helped me focus on my breathing and stay calm through the really bad contractions.
Soon I found a zone as Lee called it.
For me I needed to avoid any sensory stimulation at all.
I had to have my eyes closed. Quiet. No touching.
Pretty much lying completely still in bed and breathing very deeply and slow through the pain.
Those breathing exercises they taught in my birthing class were crap.
There was no he he ha's or hee hee ho's or whatever.
It was more like deep breaths through my nose and loooooooooong sighs out my mouth.
for hours. and hours. and hours.
Lee and my mom actually thought that I was taking a nap at one point.
Meanwhile I'm in my own head trying to remind myself that there is a baby involved in this torture and of all the reasons why I had convinced myself that I didn't want that epidural.
Anytime I opened my eyes and allowed myself to focus on what was going on in the room I lost it again.
I remember telling Lee and my mom some weird things and not feeling at all like myself. I felt like I was trapped inside of a body that was being crushed and some crazy lady was saying all sorts of non sense.
I repeatedly said "guys, I am freaking out!"
hahaha and I was. I don't want to completely scare someone who is pregnant, but this was pain like I've never experienced. It hurt so much more than I expected, but like they say, the human body is amazing and somehow I was able to focus on my breathing and survive.
I then begged for my doctor again. I now completely understand why women get so attached to their OB. For some reason just seeing that man's face was what I needed to keep going. I needed to hear that everything was going alright/normal and that yes I would at some point have this baby.
He came back and checked me again and I was at 8cm dilated.
EIGHT. ugh. I was seriously mad.
I kept asking how much longer?! and obviously there was no way he could know. I don't even remember what he said now, but he didn't give me a time frame.
I'm pretty sure I told him some story about how this was harder than I ever thought possible and if I didn't have this baby soon I was going to explode and he said "well at 8cm it is not too late to have the epidural if you want it" and I said "I wanted you to tell me it was too late!!!!"
apparently that was pretty funny and the whole room had a good laugh on my behalf. lol.
but seriously. I wanted to hear that I had made it passed the point of no return. I did NOT want the epidural, but I also would have felt more at peace knowing that it wasn't even an option.
At some point in there the nurse from the morning shift, Holly had come back for her evening shift and came to be my nurse. Thank you Jesus for Holly!
She was actually trained as a midwife and was getting ready to leave for a new job. She was very into natural labor and was such a blessing to me. I almost want to cry thinking about it.
Between Lee, my mom, Holly, and my Dr. I couldn't have had 4 better people at my side.
The time from 8cm to 10cm went fairly quickly and by that point I really think that I had mastered my breathing and concentration and could on some level deal with the pain.
Cue in a complete change....
I was not prepared for the pushing.
I can vividly remember the moment that I'm lying there with Lee and Mom on my right, Holly on my left, and my Dr. at the foot of the bed and he announces that on my next contraction I could start pushing.
I freaked out again.
I got overwhelmed with fear. I expected to feel very, very differently by the time the pushing stage came around. I expected to somehow feel more..... open? For things to be looser or something.
I looked around at everyone and was like there is no way. I cannot do this. I am exhausted and am mentally weak.
Again I said "I'm freaking out!"
and they assured me that they had in fact seen women freak out and I was not. But I felt so out of control. My mind and emotions were all over the place and I was just talking. Saying crazy things about how I could not push this baby out.
I think I let at least 5 contractions go by without pushing. I was so afraid. That's the only way I know how to describe it. I was in so much pain and yet my body felt no differently than it did the day before and now I was expected to literally PUSH a human being out a very small space.
A medical student came in to observe and they asked me if it was ok...
I very frantically said "do I know you?" and he said no
I pointed at Lee and said "do you know him?" and he said no
so I said "whatever!"
Holly got down at the foot of my bed and held my hands and talked me through some different pushing techniques. I now know that she was doing stuff very much so from a midwife approach. My Dr. stood to the side and allowed her to take charge for a little bit and just over saw everything.
He was so patient with me.
I ended up pushing for 2 hours. Looking back it felt like an eternity, I have no clue how it was humanly possible for me at that point to push for so long. I don't know where that strength or energy came from. After every single push (I think I got like 3-4 pushes in per contraction) I felt 100% drained and on the verge of death basically.
It didn't seem like it took long for them to see the baby's head. And from what I've seen on TV I was pretty convinced that once they could see his head it wouldn't be much longer until you know... he came out.
Not so much.
His little head was crowning forever. Everyone kept encouraging me saying things like "he's almost here, just a few more pushes"
but it started to just make me mad. Don't tell me just a few more if it's really going to be an hour more! But really there was no way they could know, so I forgive them.
It's such a bizarre feeling. I could feel him coming out, but then once I'd relax after a push I'd feel him sorta go back up in. It was so frustrating!
They kept asking "are you sure you don't want to see? His head is there! You can see it, you're almost there!" and I was like NO. I do NOT want to see. I knew it'd freak me out.
I was pushing with every single fiber of my being.
Every single muscle was strained beyond anything they have ever done. Muscles I didn't even know I had, but would realize existed the next day.
I tried several different positions - holding Holly's hands down by my sides with my feet pressed against a bar, Holly and my mom holding each of my legs back and pulling with my hands on the handles, and finally what worked was a combination of those with Lee pushing me into a sitting up position.
My Dr the entire time was massaging and applying pressure to make sure that I didn't tear. I think he even got some kind of surgical lubrication to try to make the babies head a little more slippery. I don't know what all he actually did, but whatever it was was a miracle. Two hours of extremely intense pushing and not one tear or stitch to show for it.
Towards the end I completely ignored the whole push on the next contraction bit. I pushed about 20 times right in a row. I was like get. this. kid. OUT!
I felt a definite release when Leo's head fully emerged and from how I was positioned, sitting up I saw it all. I saw what I thought at the time was a huge head and the Dr. moved the umbilical cord and wiggled his shoulders out and I remember saying "am I supposed to still be pushing?!" haha
I thought he was huge!
They laid him on my chest and I was just overcome. He was so perfect. I just held him and thanked God that labor was over. I remember feeling bad for Lee because there was no way I was letting him go. Lee didn't get to hold him for over an hour.
We just studied each other. I inspected his long fingers and big feet to make sure there were 10 fingers and 10 toes. Traced his tiny ears and kissed his squishy cheeks.
Then the nurse came and helped Leo and I get started with our first nursing experience. I swear the skin-to-skin contact was amazing. He just knew exactly what to do. He latched on instantly! I was blown away! He nursed for 40 minutes, 30 on one side and 10 on the other... at less than an hour old! I had been really nervous about breastfeeding and whether or not I'd be able to do it or how hard it would be and this was just another major relief to me. I was just so excited. That hour and half after he was born was just such an amazing time...
While this was going on Lee was cutting the umbilical cord and they saved his cord blood for the community bank at the hospital.
My Dr. made sure everything was fine with me and "delivered" the placenta. That was... painful, but nothing compared to what I had been through and I had my baby so I didn't really even care.
Then once he was done nursing it was time to get him cleaned up a bit and weigh him. We made our guesses and I ended up being closest! I guessed 7lbs 12 oz and he was 8lbs even.
While they were doing the vitamin K shot and putting the stuff in his eyes my nurse came and got me and took me to the bathroom and got me cleaned up a bit and to pee. I don't really remember why, but they wanted me to pee.... maybe because I hadn't for HOURS. (oh and btw I asked Lee later and I didn't use the bathroom during the pushing. shew.)
I was so surprised that right after giving birth I was able to get up and walk to the bathroom. I mean I was tired, obviously but fully functional. I really think that not getting the epidural made my recovery so much quicker.
When I came back into the room, with a clean gown and my face washed, they had brought me a wheelchair and my baby was ready to go to a new clean room with his mommy.
And I have been living on cloud 9 ever since.
Being Leo's mommy is the most amazing feat of my life.
My Dr. said that since I didn't get the pitocin or an epidural my labor was able to progress exactly as my body needed it to and everything happened very naturally... slowly, but naturally.
Pushing took 2 hours, but because it was slow my body was able to stretch slowly and perfectly according to Leo's size. And let me tell you.... 5 days later I am SO thankful that I didn't tear or have to have stitches or anything. I was definitely still sore, but today I'm starting to feel almost totally normal.
I'm going to do another post someday about my "postpartum" experience this first week. So stay tuned for all the gory details.
and lots and lots of posts about the amazing Leo Coghill of course.
and btw. It has taken me 3 days to finish this post. typing a little here and there. I'm not even sure if it makes sense so cut me some slack.
About 12 hours after birth :)
Coghill Family of Three :)