Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Five.

There are five of us now. FIVE! Which means I am one of the most neglectful bloggers ever. So, as I sit next to our precious one almost THREE month old, I thought I would dust things off and brush away the cobwebs to share her birth story.

Due date: Oct. 3, 2016
Cameron Grace Gilles joined our family on 7 October, 2016 at 2:39pm. She was due 3 October and clearly shared her siblings' tendency to arrive fashionably late. It was a wonderful pregnancy, but I definitely felt like my body had been through it before...and not in a good way. I carried low throughout the pregnancy and Cameron managed to drop lower and lower those last few weeks which made things pretty uncomfortable at times. 

I figured I would probably deliver late (which was important because my folks didn't get home from Europe until the night before my due date), but I was pretty determined that I would not make my 40 week appointment (which was actually at the 40 weeks 3 days mark). True to form, my child proved me wrong. I had been having some light, early labor type contractions throughout the day and when my OB checked me, I was dilated 2 cm and about 60% effaced -- which encouraged me that things were getting ready to roll, but I also knew it could still be a few days. 

That evening, I went for a walk, read a special book to Riley and Caroline, and went to bed. I was still having contractions, but they were pretty far apart and still somewhat inconsistent. This was nothing like my early labor with Caroline, I was able to get some rest and sleep before the real deal commenced. I woke up around midnight contracting and having symptoms of active labor. As the contractions ramped up, I picked out clothes to change into and made sure I had everything in my hospital bag. I fixed Riley's lunch and laid out the new "big brother" and "big sister" shirts I had picked up for Riley and Caroline. I even managed to put together an overnight bag for the kiddos' stay with Grandma and Grandpa while we were hospital bound. I timed contractions and as they gradually got closer and closer together, I got in touch with my mom sometime between 5 and 6am. She was able to make it to the house to help feed kids, get Riley ready for school, and wrangle Caroline so I could shower and try to relax between contractions. I gave myself a goal to stay home until the OB office opened at 8am so I could just call the regular nurse triage line -- they asked me to come into the office across from the hospital so they could do a labor check, I told them I would be there around 9am which would allow me to get Riley on the bus before we had to go. All the parents at the bus stop took one look at me and knew I was in labor -- ultimately, I didn't stick around for the bus and waddled to Kevin's car and we drove past the bus on its way to pick up the kiddos on our way out of the neighborhood. Our sweet bus driver saw us leave and apparently asked Riley if his baby brother or sister was on its way -- pretty sure Riley was beaming all day, excited to be a big brother again (and not so secretly hoping for a baby brother).

Contractions had been pretty manageable all morning and while I was uncomfortable during contractions, I was able to move around and talk pretty easily between them. We arrived at the OB office around 9am and I was anxious to confirm that this was, indeed, active labor. I had been laboring for nearly 9 hours at this point and contractions had been about a minute long and about 3 minutes apart for the last few hours. In typical fashion, I opted to walk to the front door of the office instead of having Kevin drop me off. We waited briefly while the office staff figured out which doc could squeeze me into their schedule for a quick check. It wasn't long before we were in a room and a doctor came in to make sure baby was doing well and that I was in active labor -- sure enough, baby was sounding strong as ever and I was dilated 5 cm. At that point, we headed straight to the hospital to be directly admitted.

Once at the hospital (which is a stone's throw away from the OB office), we had a short wait in the lobby before they assigned us a room and escorted us upstairs to L&D.  As we navigated the L&D hallways, we realized we were headed to the exact room we had occupied on 4 August 2013, so we felt like we had some good karma lingering from Caroline's birth to help us through this one.  I got into my fancy hospital gown and we finished up paperwork.  On more than one occasion, I was asked if I was there for an induction or if I was in labor...I guess I should play poker...I was still in a pretty manageable stage of labor, but I had less and less patience for idle chatter as time passed.  By the time we finished paperwork and I had my IV antibiotics going, it was probably close to 10am.  I asked for a wireless monitor, so I could move around as much as I wanted after I finished the first round of antibiotics (highly recommend that option).  I spent awhile wandering around the room and tried to sit on the labor ball, but I already had so much pelvic pressure, that it was not in the least bit comfortable.

Contractions! Weeeeeeeee!
I really lost track of time at this point and ended up getting back in bed after an hour or two (??) when the doctor came in to check my progress.  I had dilated to 8 cm at that point, but we decided to wait to break my water until I could have another round of IV antibiotics (unless, of course, my water broke on its own).  Once I was back in bed, I was afraid to get out again, because I was pretty sure my legs would buckle underneath me.  I tried to keep the incline pretty steep so that gravity could contribute and I reluctantly labored through a few contractions on one side, then the other.  Probably a little after 1pm, I really felt like the pressure had intensified and started to feel the urge to push.  I made all sorts of weird sounds, starting with a low hum/groan type sound all the way to an all out yell/scream.  I had a white knuckle grip on the bed rails and made Kevin push on my hips during each contraction (so, he actually got quite the workout, too -- what a champ!).  I never took a child birth class or really practiced any coping techniques, so I just thought about prenatal yoga relaxation exercises and breathing and tried to keep my mind right -- I wasn't in pain, because I wasn't injured, I was birthing our child!  It's kind of amazing how you can kind of guide yourself through labor by being very logical and rational about why you're feeling a certain way...purposeful discomfort is a lot easier to deal with, if you ask me.  It was a bit like really pushing myself through ACL surgery rehab exercises, except times about a thousand.  While I had intended to give it a go without an epidural, I hadn't really thought about how I would make it a reality.  I think I only said "I don't know if I can do this" one time -- and I believe Kevin replied "Well, you're doing it."  And that was that.  I was going to have another VBAC and it was going to be unmedicated...and it was almost like I was just along for the ride.  There's something to be said for inertia.





Somewhere around 2pm, I was doing a hybrid grunt-scream trying to keep myself from pushing and it was getting ridiculous, so the doctor came in and confirmed that I was fully dilated and +2 -- my 2nd round of IV antibiotics had just finished and I could push as soon as she broke my water.  At that point, I was just eager to do what my body was trying to get me to do for what seemed like the last hour.  I was completely exhausted from the contractions and having to fight my urge to push, and I would actually fall asleep between contractions.  I think that little bit of "rest" gave me the extra energy I needed to really push effectively and efficiently.  I started pushing around 2:27 pm and just about 12 minutes later, the most petite little red-headed baby girl (Kevin made the announcement, which was cool) was placed directly on my chest. I'm sure it helped that Cameron was so teeny, but I didn't really think the whole "ring of fire" thing was that bad...It was almost a welcome relief, because I knew that labor was ALMOST over (except for those pesky contractions that keep happening every damn time you breastfeed for weeks after delivery). Once the cord stopped pulsing, Kevin was able to make the cut and I attempted to get Cameron nursing right away -- she kind of figured it out, but was super content just to cuddle and suck on her hand.  Unfortunately, I had to be hooked up to pitocin at that point to try and get my bleeding stopped...it wasn't life threatening or anything, but I was definitely bleeding more than they like to see.  My nurse made it her mission in life to get every last little clot out of my uterus before I went to the Mom/Baby unit -- her uterine massage was the most brutal thing ever, but it did the trick.  After a solid hour of skin to skin with our little girl, they did the standard vitals work on her to make sure she was in good shape.  She ended up being "SGA" - small for gestational age - so, she had to have blood sugar checks periodically over the next 24 hours.  I started having lots of mom guilt at that point because I had worried that I hadn't gained enough weight at the tail end of my pregnancy -- Cameron grew fine, but didn't put on a lot of fat.  I struggled with a lack of appetite in the last month of pregnancy and clearly didn't force myself to eat enough.  But everything else checked out fine and she was incredibly content, even through all the extra sticks to check her blood sugar...we barely heard her cry during the entire hospital stay.

So, there you have it.  A long overdue post to an utterly neglected blog.  Too bad I already used the title "Better late than never..."  Promise I'll be better at keeping this thing updated.  Cameron continues to be a pretty super chill baby, so I actually manage to sit down a few times a day...<knock on wood>















Cameron on the left, Caroline on the right.

 Welcome home, baby girl.  We love you SO much!