Ava’s Birth Story

Where to start, where to start. First of all – what a pregnancy this was. I joke that I’m not a good pregnant person and manage to have things that are quite uncommon happen to me in my pregnancies. Having Milly in the special care nursery for eight days was extremely difficult, but I won’t count that as the worst thing since it didn’t actually happen during my pregnancy. So the worst thing for me happened this pregnancy – the placental abruption and bleeding from weeks 18-21. I really thought I was going to miscarry, and it was devastating. I got to feel Ava kick starting right at 17 weeks, and I did not want to lose this sweet baby girl. Thankfully, the bleeding stopped, but the fear that I would go to the bathroom and see it again never left.

I could go on and on about the pregnancy, but let’s fast forward to Wednesday, September 23. I woke up like normal at 5:30am, had my coffee and then went downstairs to work. I was extremely sore “down below”, so much so that walking around and wiping hurt. I looked it up and found that baby girl had probably “dropped.” This was not something I remember experiencing with Milly. Around 10am, I took my temperature after feeling all around sick and achy and saw that I had a fever. I ended up being so sick, achy, and feverish all day. It was miserable. I had never felt so sore and achy in my life. After calling the midwife, they of course wanted me to go get tested for Covid, so I scheduled that with confluence health for Friday morning so I could have results that same day. After a long and painful night of very little sleep, I woke up the next morning with no fever!! I took the day off to rest, but ultimately felt so much better all day. Whatever I had was only a 24 hour thing.

Friday morning we loaded up and drove into town for my Covid test right when they opened. I felt completely back to normal, but knew my midwife would want me to take it still. They did the cotton swab up both nostrils and we were on our way. We stopped at Safeway for gas and some more yogurts, then swung through the Starbucks drive through on our way back home. By the time we were on the highway, I was extremely crampy. I was complaining to my husband and he joked about me being in labor. We had a good laugh about it and I assured him I just needed to pee, and once I did that the cramping would stop. It was a pretty uncomfortable car ride, and I ran to the bathroom when we got home – about 10am. When I sat down on the toilet, I noticed blood on my panty liner. Not a ton, but there was more with each wipe. I said a silent prayer of gratitude that I had just turned 37 weeks the day before, and that if the placental abruption was resurfacing, baby girl was good and grown. I went out to tell Marty, and then I called my midwife. It was then I realized that going to the bathroom did not alleviate my cramps, and I was having consistent contractions- which I thought were Braxton Hicks. She told me that everything sounded fine, but to rest and see if things eased up at all. I went ahead and started working, but things never eased up. I started timing the contractions and they were sporadic, but they never stopped for longer than 6-7 minutes.

After another call to my midwife, we decided to drive to town for food, that way if things progressed we’d be close. Once we made it to the Wendy’s drive thru I was in pretty good discomfort. We decided to go to the hospital to get checked.

Once I got all settled into the room, then Stacy came in to check me. It was about 7pm, maybe a little after. She told me I was dilated 5 cm already, and would likely be having baby girl. My mom arrived shortly after that.

At this point I was able to breathe along with the contractions no problem. I sat on the medicine ball a bit, and just did movements that I hoped would help progress the labor. I’m not sure at what time, but at some point the husband and I decided to take a walk around the hallways for awhile. We made it maybe like a loop and a half, when I started feeling really leaky. I had still been bleeding since the morning, so I didn’t think too much of it, but it was uncomfortable enough for me to want to go back to the room and wipe. It was then I noticed this was runnier. My nurse got a test strip and confirmed it was amniotic fluid and my water had broken. I did have some really large gushes and ended up having a lot of blood come out too which I really struggled with. Everyone assured me it was normal but it was SO MUCH. I could not let it go, I was just constantly feeling the blood come out. (Looking back on this I am certain it was NOT normal, and was a result of my abruptions.)

My timeline is a blur. I have no idea what time things happened at all, so I’ll just share the things I do remember. I remember crossing over to midnight and realizing 9/25 would not be baby girl’s birthday. I remember getting to the early morning and feeling glad that baby girl would be born in the daylight. (Spoiler, it was still dark out when she came, but the sun started lightening up immediately after and it was magical.)

The pain got really intense and I was so tired and wanted sleep, so I did a dose of the fentanyl. This was the most rest I got the whole time, and it was really nice.

There was a time when the nurse told me I was 8.5 centimeters, only for Stacy to tell me later that my soft cervix had likely caused her to think I was farther than I was, and I was actually at a 6. I think we had decided I would try another dose of fentanyl, but it didn’t work like the first dose and I was still in a lot of pain. At hearing I was only at 6, I said it was time for the epidural.

I was hurting so badly. I had the shakes again, I cried for reasons I’m not even sure. I don’t remember crying during Milly’s labor, but maybe it happened? I just felt control-less and it was miserable. They tried giving me a third dose of fentanyl to “calm” things, which I’m sure meant my crazy shakes and writhing in pain. It didn’t feel like it did a thing. The epidural was super uncomfortable just like I remember, but I wanted the pain to stop.

When I got positioned and waited for it to flow, I could hear it and feel the liquid going in. My right leg got numb to the point that I couldn’t lift it, and it seemed like I couldn’t feel contractions on the right side. The left side was like there was no epidural. I was in PAIN. They tried repositioning it, upping the dose but NOTHING. I was in SO MUCH PAIN. The only other option was to take the epidural catheter out and try it again, which never happened. Everything was a blur from this point but basically I was at my peak of pain. I could not tolerate it and yet I had no choice. Every time one would end I would say I literally cannot handle another one. And then another one would come and I would have no choice. I felt trapped. I felt sick. Like I was going to puke from the pain. I can’t even explain the pain, but it was just awful. I don’t even remember what time it was or how long it went on, but it was very clear the epidural wasn’t going to work and I was going to have to finish the labor feeling every single ounce of the contractions. I remember everyone waiting for me to say I felt like pushing, but I couldn’t even fathom the thought of pushing when I was in so much pain. At some point Stacy made the decision to check me – probably because I was writhing in so much pain, pushing had to be near. She said something along the lines of “it’s time to have a baby!” That was some sort of a relief, there was a finish line in sight finally.

An extra nurse (maybe more?) came in and it was quickly time for me to start pushing. Now, I will say that the epidural did not work an ounce on my contractions, but my area was numb. So that’s probably a tiny blessing. It did make me feel like my pushing was doing nothing. Thankfully that was not the case! I pushed as hard as I can with each contraction, and everyone would get excited when I did – like they could see progression. In my mind I was like, this isn’t doing anything – why are you all excited! Just because I couldn’t really feel the progress. It got to the point where when I would catch my breath between contractions – Stacy would tell me to keep pushing, I think because she was so close to out. I’m glad I did – because baby girl was out in about TEN minutes! Ten minutes of pushing from when I swore I could not endure another contraction, and it was all over. All of the pain was gone in an instant and I had the tiniest little babe set on my belly. I could not believe how fast she came out, considering Milly was over an hour of pushing.

After she was on my belly, Marty cut the cord. She was much more covered in the white stuff and blood than Milly was, probably because she was earlier and I had been bleeding so much. She did cry, the tiniest baby cry, and I was adamant that the nurses confirm she sounded okay, looked okay, etc. They kept telling me she looks perfect, she’s doing great – and I’m pretty sure they thought I was a paranoid lunatic but I did not want to be blindsided with my teeny baby girl being taken from the room and not coming back. Thank you Jesus – that never happened!!! We got to have the normal, very short hospital stay that I had dreamed of. It was amazing and baby girl knocked everything out of the park. And she never left our sight once. Even when the nurse took her for her hearing test and all the other tests, Marty went with. (Bless him for wanting to do that, it made me feel so much better. I didn’t even ask him to, he wanted to on his own, and asked the nurse if it would be okay if he went along. I would guess not many dads do that. One of the reasons I love him so.)

Milly got to see Ava via FaceTime that first day, which was super sweet. She said “awww she’s so cute” and then proceeded to sing her a lullaby, which totally made this mama cry.

So, just 24 hours after her birth, we were crossing off all the things to be discharged. We were leaving the hospital by lunch time on Sunday, and stopped for a festive pumpkin cream cold brew from Starbucks on the way home. It was a beautiful warm day for a drive and my iced coffee, sitting in the backseat watching our sleeping newborn looking extra tiny in the car seat.

When we got home, Milly ran out to the car and saw baby sister for the first time. When we got inside, she got to hold her right away. So freaking sweet. And here we are. Just like that we are a family of four, and I am going to soak up this time like crazy, hold my baby girl as much as possible, kiss those soft newborn cheeks everyday, and watch my girls grow together. I know we have all of the adventures to look forward to from here, and all the memories to make as a family. Here’s to knowing time will fly by in a wink, but hoping that just maybe it doesn’t.

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