Friday, August 16, 2013

Sweet Caroline

In case you haven't heard the news, we welcomed our precious daughter into the world outside the womb on Sunday, August 4th, at 5:38 pm.  Miss Caroline Avery Gilles weighed 6lbs 13oz and measured 20in long (and that was with a little extra incubation time -- I was due July 31st).  For those who weren't able to be with us during labor & delivery or haven't heard the details from that weekend, here is Caroline's birth story:

I started early labor on Friday (2 August) around mid-day.  We did a lot of work out in the barn installing a new stall mat system in Cora's stall (Kevin did MOST of the work) and we also vacuumed the pool by hand...I guess this was my version of some last minute nesting.  We started timing contractions and they were getting pretty consistent and close together so we made the call around 9:30pm to go ahead and make our way to the neighborhood of the hospital.  We loaded Riley and our bags up and went to my folks' house to get Riley to bed and hang out for a bit before heading in to get checked.  I could still pretty well talk through contractions at this point, but they certainly were not going to let me get any sleep.

We made it to the hospital a bit after midnight (now 3 August) and waited in triage for a relatively short amount of time before getting checked.  We really thought I'd be at least 3 or 4cm dilated at this point...I was a whopping 1 cm.  FAIL!  I was pretty dismayed at this point because I hadn't had any sleep since Thursday night and I really didn't know how I could handle going a whole lot longer without some rest and still have a chance for a successful VBAC.  We went back to my parents' house rather than making the trek home and spent most of the day there waiting for something to change.  We went for a walk, I contracted regularly the whole time.  As soon as we got back to the house, nothing.  I had almost 25 minutes between contractions at that point.  We decided to load up and go back home for the night to see if I could get some rest while the contractions seemed to have tapered off.

Saturday morning.  Waiting for something to happen, watching Cars, and building seats out of cardboard bricks.
Something must've changed on the drive home, because I had what seemed like one marathon contraction for about the last 20 minutes of the trip.  I managed to eat a little bit when we got home (I hardly ate anything the whole day) and tried to get my body to relax a bit by taking a couple warm baths.  The baths offered a little relief, but the second one was far from soothing.  From about 8pm until 5am the next morning, I tried everything possible to get comfortable and ended up spending the night in bed tossing and turning, walking around our bedroom, swaying, or sitting on an exercise ball and leaning on the bed.  At 5am, Riley woke up and came in our bed and cried every time I had a contraction (poor kid).  So, I sent my mom a text asking her to come to our house as soon as she woke up -- luckily, she was already up and made it to our house by about 6:30am to take care of Riley and the animals while Kevin and I headed back to the hospital.  We were both really nervous about going back, because the contractions were super intense, but were still pretty far apart.  In fact, I probably only had a handful of contractions on the 45 min drive to the hospital.  So, we braced ourselves for the possibility that I'd made no progress and would either have to wait it out longer or that I'd be admitted for an induction or c-section or something else (I don't really know what the next step would have been).

We made it to the hospital a little before 8am and the triage routine went much more quickly this time.  Our nurse was fantastic and brought in this poor brand spankin' new resident to check my progress.  I may have been the first OB patient he'd seen...but he had a great bedside manner and I'm sure he'll make a great doctor.  Anyhow, he checked me and looked at the nurse with some doubt and said "um, uh, I think she's a 5 or a 6?"  I was ELATED!  The nurse checked and confirmed his assessment.  We were on our way!!  I swear, the pain melted away to a certain extent after that.  I made my epidural request immediately so I could get a little rest before I needed to push.  Again, we really lucked out in the nurse department.  We had a wonderful woman named Debbie take care of us through labor and delivery -- she was determined that Caroline would be born before her shift was over at 7pm.  She was really fantastic and so supportive and POSITIVE!  The labor part was pretty uneventful except that I didn't progress for a few hours after they started my epidural and broke my bag of waters, so they started the dreaded pitocin (I was gun shy from last time) to help get the contractions more regular and efficient.  The intensity of my contractions didn't need any help, but the interval between them needed to be shorter and more consistent.  Within about 2 hours of starting the pitocin, I was 7cm dilated and received a redose of my epidural.  We had evidently found the sweet spot for the pitocin, so I tried to rest as much as I could while Debbie prepped the sterile table full of all the fun tools to aid delivery (if the need were to arise).  That was when it started getting real for me -- we were only a few centimeters from meeting our baby girl and from me having a successful VBAC.  About an hour and a half later, I asked Debbie for another redose of my epidural.  I could feel very little from just below my hips down (including the REALLY important part), but I was able to feel each very strong contraction pretty well at this point and it was getting tough to talk at all during the contractions again.  We decided together that it would be best to get checked before doing a redose in case it was time to push.  I would probably have a lot more success pushing if I could feel a little more than I wanted to than to be completely numb.  So, Dr. Payne (I know, right?) came in shortly to check me and looked up at me with a very dry manner and said "so, what would you say if I told you that you had no cervix left?" And I think I replied with something along the lines of "I would say that is AWESOME!"  He declared that I was fully effaced, fully dilated, and that Caroline was a +1 or +2 station.  It was time to push!

At that point, it was just me, Kevin, my mom, and Debbie in the room and I started pushing at 4:52pm.  Debbie coached me through a few contractions and I got the hang of it remarkably quickly.  I had a mirror, which at first made me feel completely defeated and I wondered if I could do it, but a few good pushes later and I could see the top of her head and that mirror became my focal point and a source of incredible inspiration.  Pushing was not one of the most physically grueling things I have ever done, but the emotional aspect of it made it one of the most intense experiences ever.  About three contractions into my pushing effort, Emily made it back to the hospital and joined my bedside support team.  They were absolutely wonderful and kept things light between contractions and focused during them.  I'll be forever grateful that they were all able to share that experience with me.  After 30-35minutes of pushing, Dr. Payne returned to observe my progress and after just a few contractions, Caroline was crowning.  I was able to rest through two or three contractions while the doc, nurses, and the poor newbie resident dawned their gear...then Caroline decided she was going to go ahead and come out on her own whether they liked it or not and the delivery team kicked it into high gear/catch mode.  Before I knew it, she was out, stretched out on my belly, trying to scream.  And I was crying and couldn't be more in love.

Saying hello to my sweet girl.
I was able to hold my sweet girl for a while until the umbilical cord stopped pulsing (per my request).  After it was clamped and cut (my mom did the honors), the nurses worked on sucking all the gunk out of her mouth -- she pinked up right away despite being rather congested.  She really handled that long labor exceptionally well and never had any dips in her heart rate and stayed spunky and active the whole time.  I am so excited to see the person develop and emerge from this precious little bundle.  For now, I am soaking up every sweet moment and loving each second with this sweet little girl.

Caroline is a blessed little girl to have such a fun, loving, crazy big brother.  Riley has adjusted very well to the changes that come with a new baby in the house.  He was freaked out by me in the hospital until I could get out of bed and hold him on my lap for a story.  Then it was game on, unless of course I was holding the baby -- it took a few days for him to come near me if she was in my arms.  Now, he crawls up in a chair to snuggle with us and has even given his baby sister a few sweet kisses on the top of her head -- he has also already accidentally smacked her in the face (the first of many such "accidents" I'm sure).  He is definitely amused by his little sis, especially when she has the hiccups, and I see that amusement giving way to love and protectiveness very soon.

Kevin and I are so truly blessed by our two amazing, beautiful, healthy children.  They are our everything, even during epic meltdowns in the car or lap-running marathons around the kitchen island punctuated by high-pitched squeals.  We think we couldn't possibly love them any more...and then we do.  I can't wait for you all to meet our lovely Miss Caroline.  Until then, here are some pictures.


Pretty sure that Daddy is actually the one wrapped around her finger...


Baby feet!

Love.

How's that hand taste?

Taking a well earned nap after a long few days.


So cuddly!

Going home!

Ah!  Home at last!

I love these babies (and the crazy bed head)!