Monday, September 5, 2016

Leo's Birth Story

We were so happy to find out that I was pregnant in the beginning of December. My period was about a week late, but that wasn’t unusual for me because of the PCOS. I normally didn’t think anything of it, but I decided to take a pregnancy test just to see. I remember being in shock when the test came out positive! I was going to tell Matt in a cute way an hour or two later, but he woke up from his nap early and found the test in the bathroom on his own! He yelled, “Baby, are you pregnant?!” and I said yes and remember seeing the hugest smile on his face.

My pregnancy went pretty well despite a lot of stressful life events during that time. I only threw up twice, and both of those instances were because of food poisoning. The biggest symptoms in the first trimester were constant nausea and just utter exhaustion. I remember coming home from work and just laying on the couch all night until it was time to go to bed. 

In the second trimester, we stayed with my sister for about a month after moving back home to Utah. We were waiting for our renters to move out of our house. This is when the pregnancy insomnia started. Other than that, I felt really good during the second trimester. I loved seeing my belly get bigger and feeling him kick for the first time.

In the third trimester I started working full-time again at Boostability. I got HUGE and remember being hot all the time. I didn’t sleep well, but I kept busy with work and getting ready for the baby. His kicks got way stronger and more frequent, and I loved it. 

Overall, I was in good spirits my whole pregnancy and just really happy to be pregnant. Matt was really supportive and understanding and let me complain to him about my weird symptoms. We were both so excited to be having a baby. 

Around 36 weeks, the doctor told us the baby might be really big (he used the term “Michelin baby” haha). I started preparing for the possibility of early induction and a probably c-section. Each week at our appointment, Dr. McCarter just kept saying, “We’ll see how things go next week”. We had a lot of extra ultrasounds to see the baby’s size. At 38 weeks, he sent me to a high-risk doctor at the hospital who cleared me for induction at 39 weeks. Because I have PCOS and am on Metformin, a drug used by diabetes patients to regulate blood sugar, she said my GD test results could have been skewed. So she was going to treat me like a patient with GD, which meant it would be safer to have Leo out of me at 39 weeks than inside for another week or two. 

I was happy to get induced because I was SO done with being pregnant. I was so so huge and really uncomfortable and really done with working full-time at that point. 

We went in to the hospital at 39 weeks (6am on August 15th). Matt’s mom met us there and we checked in to our room. My doctor never put in an order for a specific drug, so we had to wait until 9am to get pitocin. The Olympics were on so we watched a lot of that. I wanted to go natural for as long as possible, just to see what it felt like and if I could handle it or not. I was only dilated to a 1 when I got induced, so maybe going natural wasn’t the smartest idea, but I’m glad I did it. I was having irregular little contractions for about 4 hours. They didn’t really hurt at all. My sister and mom came and we actually all started playing Phase 10! Then the dr came in to break my water and it was game over after that. I still remember how weird it felt to have my water broken without an epidural. I actually started laughing because it felt so strange (in between cries and yelps). 

Once my water broke my contractions meant business. They got really regular and very painful. Matt sat by my hospital bed and held my hand the whole time. After about 4 hours of regular contractions and a lot of pain, it got so unbearable that I started crying. I asked for an epidural even though I was scared of the side effects. I just couldn’t handle the pain any longer. Once I got the epidural, I felt so good. I’m glad I went in to my birth with an open mind about my options. I didn’t put any pressure on myself to do a natural birth. And I’m glad I didn’t, because I think it would have been really traumatic for me. I was only at a 2 when I got the epidural, so going to a 10 and then pushing naturally would have been unfathomable. 

I remember the nurse telling me I had to lay on my side during labor, which was pretty uncomfortable. She noticed the baby’s heart rate when down when I laid on my right side, so she kept having me switch back to my left side. She was so calm about it, but after the birth I realized it was because the baby’s cord was wrapped around his neck and he wasn’t getting oxygen. They had me on oxygen for a few hours, but I was as calm as could be. I think a big reason for this was because Matt gave me a blessing the night before that our birth experience would be calm and peaceful, and that I would be calm, too. 

They also put me on antibiotics because I had a fever. After the birth, I was told it was because my amniotic fluid was infected. I think they kept a few of these things from me to keep me calm, and I’m glad they did. Someone else might have wanted to know in the moment, but I’m happy I was taken care of and didn’t have to worry about the baby’s cord or an infection the whole birth.

When I got to a 10, it was about 11-11:30 at night. The nurse had me start pushing, and Matt, my mom and Mary all took turns holding my legs up while I pushed. I remember being so out of breath during pushing because they counted sooooo slow to 10 every time! We weren’t seeing a lot of progress, and I ended up pushing for 3.5 hours! The baby’s head was so big that it got stuck. And he was also face up. 3 weeks later and he still has a little ridge on the top of his head where he was stuck for an hour or two. I remember being really thirsty and asking for ice chips a lot. And HUNGRY. I was so hungry. After about an hour of pushing, I got so tired that I started falling asleep between every contraction. They had given me antibiotics (that I was allergic to!) and Benadryl to prevent an allergic reaction to the antibiotics, so I think that made me even more sleepy. I remember falling asleep, then being woken up to push, pushing really hard 3 times every contraction, then falling immediately back to sleep again. Nobody talked during the breaks. I was so out of it and so tired. 

I was also getting discouraged that I was pushing for so long. But I remember the doctor telling me a few weeks earlier that if I pushed too long or the baby seemed too big to fit through my birth canal that I could end up having a c-section. The thought of a c-section terrified me. Hello, major surgery while you’re AWAKE? I can’t even barely handle getting fillings because it freaks me out, so a c-section was just out of the question for me. That’s what got me through all that labor. I was bound and determined to avoid a c-section if I could help it. I’m so happy the doctor was determined to avoid a c-section, too. I pushed so hard for so long…every push that the baby didn’t come out, I got more and more scared that I’d have to go under the knife. So my pushed towards the end got really fierce. I mean like, grunting and shaking and probably the most intense faces you could possibly imagine. Everybody in the room cheered me on during the contractions and it was so nice to have so much support. I’m really glad that both of our moms were there. Matt was so so helpful, too. 

One last push and the baby came out. He was face up, which is another reason why I was in labor for so long. When he came out he didn’t really cry, so they took him to the warmer for evaluation before I got to hold him. After a few minutes, they gave him to me for a few seconds and then took him away again. He was pretty lethargic and floppy. Looking back, it was probably because he was so tired from the birth and on Benadryl! He ended up being fine. I fell asleep after this but I think they might have taken him to the nursery for evaluation. But holding him for the first time was so cool! He was so little and had so much dark hair. I was so relieved that it was over, and so proud of myself for growing and delivering a human being out of my body. That feeling of pride and accomplishment was amazing. 

I remember Leo sleeping for most of the first night. He only woke up once to breastfeed. It seemed a bit weird to me but the nurses didn’t seem to be bothered by it, so I didn’t think much more of it. He seemed to be eating ok, even though he wasn’t latching too well and was jaundiced. But a couple days after taking him home, we realized something was wrong. He kept Matt up two nights in a row all night just crying. He was normally a very good-natured baby, but he wasn’t pooping or sleeping so I took him to the doctor. It turns out that he lost 1.5 lbs in the first 4 days of life. He was dehydrated. Even though I wanted to exclusively breastfeed so bad, we had to start supplementing with formula. I started pumping and realized that I had almost no milk whatsoever. He was crying and fussy because he wasn’t getting any milk at all. Once we started giving him formula, he went back to his good-natured self and his jaundice went away. He also started sleeping again. 

I looked it up and realized that my milk never came in because of my PCOS. The hormone imbalance means my body didn’t tell itself to make milk. I had some tears over it because I really wanted to feed my baby naturally. And honestly, I didn’t want to deal with the opinions of people when they found out I stopped breastfeeding. But it’s a myth that all women can breastfeed. That’s why wet nurses were a thing. 

I tried pumping a lot. I tried to get him to latch a lot. I tried supplements. I tried drinking a ton of water. I did my best. My body just didn’t make any milk. Honestly it sucks to find out that my body can’t do ANOTHER thing like it’s supposed to. But on the bright side, this means that Matt can help me feed him and I know for sure that Leo is growing properly and getting enough nourishment. In our situation, fed is best. And our pediatrician got us onto this formula study so we get 4 months of free organic formula, which is a huge blessing considering how expensive it is.

At 3 weeks old, Leo is a very easy baby. He cries when he’s hungry or has a dirty diaper. He sleeps a lot. He makes crazy noises when he’s eating. His hair is the most precious thing ever. He’s the snuggliest. I love all of his facial expressions, and especially his long, floppy legs and arms. I love being his momma. 
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