I’ve been wanting to write about Heidi’s birth story for awhile now. I am sure tiny shreds have left my memory, but I did take some time to type out the events of that week while I was in the hospital. In fact, I just read through it and it made me cry. Ha. So here we go.
I originally wanted to have Heidi naturally…sans drugs. I had done some reading and lots of talking to friends (I have several rockstar momma friends who did it), and I felt like it was totally doable. I was convinced my body would work the way it was supposed to, and that if I wanted it bad enough for the health of myself and Heidi, it was possible. I was mesmerized by the idea of having that experience tucked away in my repertoire of life events. The more I read, the more confident I felt.
It didn’t quite go like that. In fact, on the surface, it turned out to be a pretty standard birth. Nothing special. I was induced. Got an epidural. Had a baby. Millions of birth stories go like that. But anyone who has had a baby knows the intricacy of these stories…the extreme ups and downs, the beauty, and the life-changing journey you feel like you shoot through in only a few hours, regardless of what kind of birth you have.
On Monday, August 23rd, Heidi was due, and I had a doctor’s appointment to re-check my blood pressure, which kept going up. I was praying it had gone down because I didn’t want to be induced….but alas, not only was it high, but I was showing other early signs of preeclampsia. The doctor gave us two options: I could come in THAT NIGHT (Cody and I both got wide eyes when he said that…there’s a difference between knowing she can come any moment and the doctor saying, let’s take her tonight!) or wait until Thursday to give Heidi a few more days to come on her own.
We asked the doctor what he would do if his own wife was in this situation. I was pretty disappointed I was having to choose because already, being induced was NOT part of my plan. He responded honestly, saying preeclampsia was nothing to flirt with and he recommended that we come in asap. So we took a deep breath and agreed to come back to the hospital that night at 5pm. We left the hospital in a daze. So we celebrated by going on a date. We had lunch at our favorite restaurant (Stone Creek), had our favorite food (and Cody got his favorite very strong drink, haha), got ice cream, and went home to take naps and pack.
My heart was in my throat the whole time. Not only was I nervous that she was really coming, but I was nervous to be induced. I kept wondering if we did the right thing. The only problem with wanting a natural birth is that everything you read about it usually condemns any kind of drugs or other interventions. Cody convinced me that I shouldn’t hold my desire for a certain birth experience over the health of Heidi or myself, and I knew he was right.
That evening, we got settled into the hospital. I was not supposed to get pitocin until the morning so there wasn’t much to do that evening besides sit, be nervous, and watch season 5 of Grey’s Anatomy, which I had brought to the hospital (and sadly enough, I’ve gotten caught up all the way to season 7…is that good or bad?? Haha). They did give me cervadil and some sleeping meds. But poor Cody had to sleep on a teeny, tiny fold-out couch (you would think they would have better accommodations for daddies!) and of course, didn’t get any sleeping meds.
I remember just being so uncomfortable before I fell asleep and wanting to cry. I HATED hospitals. I hated waiting. I hated being nervous. My IV site was super sore, my body was sore, they wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom because of the cervadil, and Heidi was pushing RIGHT on my bladder. I remember hoping I would just go into labor that night.
In the morning, my nurse thankfully let me shower and have breakfast before giving me pitocin. As I got ready, I put on a little makeup (for the pictures afterwards, of course!) and I braided my hair so it was out of my face. I had this idea that as soon as they gave me pitocin, the contractions would hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought to myself, she’ll be here by dinnertime! And everyone will come when they get off work and see my baby and take lots of pics and we’ll all be asleep by 10pm.
By four pm, not much had happened. I wasn’t even feeling my contractions. I kept checking the monitor, which showed I was contracting every three minutes, but they were hardly noticeable. At this point, I was getting discouraged. My family was in the waiting room, but I didn’t want to see anyone. I was so sure that since things were going so slow, the doctor was going to have to do a c-section. My friend Mandy happened to drop by the hospital after work, and as soon as she walked in, I burst into tears. I told her nothing was happening…that I thought I’d have my baby girl in my arms by now….that who knew how long this would take…that I didn’t want a c-section but what if they do one?? Mandy held my hand and told me that no matter what happened in the next few hours, Heidi would get here safe and healthy. Whether things went the way I wanted or not, I was in a hospital and Heidi would make her way out just fine. Her heart rate had been “happy” (as the doctor likes to put it ) all day so we knew she was doing ok.
Soon the doctor came in and said I had progressed enough to break my water, which he did at about 5:30pm. This sent me straight into active labor.
Remember that time I wanted a natural childbirth? Yeah. I made it an hour and a half. After the first 30 minutes, I got panicky. I went from feeling nearly nothing to feeling EVERYTHING. It got to the point, where I began to sob between contractions because I was so scared for the next one. It felt like a crushing weight in my pelvis that threatened to undo me.
I have to also interject here and brag about my husband. He was the BEST birth coach. Thinking about it now makes me tear up. I don’t think he’ll ever really know what an amazing job he did, no matter how much I tell him. He coached me, rubbed my back, encouraged me, stroked my hair, wiped my tears, held back my hair while I threw up (from the epidural) and was by my side the entire time. *hearts*
Soon my tears were coming not just because of the pain but because I knew I’d have to ask for an epidural. I was disappointed. I felt guilty, but not for long because I realized I didn’t stand a chance. I remember looking up at Cody, crying, “I can’t do this.” And he immediately went to get my nurse, Amy, (who was amazing) so we could call the anesthesiologist. Within ten minutes, Dr. Bryan was in my room with her little cart, cleaning up my back for the epidural. I was scared….what if I couldn’t feel my legs? What if it slowed down labor? What if it affected Heidi? What if I got paralyzed? As the medicine was inserted into the catheter in my back, it felt like ice up and down my spine. Immediately, there was relief. She did an amazing job. I could still feel and move my legs, and I could even still feel the pressure of my contractions. My tears of pain quickly turned to tears of relief. I probably thanked Dr. Bryan a thousand times.
The rest of labor was spent with me relaxing in bed while Cody held my hand. Amy came in periodically to check my progress. I remember feeling warm and snug, so relieved, so glad I could still move my legs, and so glad the pain was gone.
Around midnight, Amy paged the doctor and told me we’d be ready to push soon. I suddenly got really nervous. Somehow, I had forgotten about this part. I had been so preoccupied with the LABOR…the contractions, the breathing, the pain…that I forgot about the time I’d have to push. I had begun feeling a little more pressure so I asked Amy if I could get more of the epidural. So Dr. Bryan came back to up my dose, and as soon as she did, I got the shivers and got nauseous. That, mixed with my nerves, made me sick. My doctor came in and as they were getting me ready to push, I asked if we could wait just a bit while my nauseousness passed.
So we waited. And waited. And it came down to Amy, the doctor, and Cody all sitting by the bed staring at me, waiting for me to get myself together and push. Which is kind of funny looking back. I was so nervous, and I knew I was stalling.
Finally I sucked it up and told them I was ready. Amy explained to me how and when I was to push. She was on my right. Cody on my left. And….I started pushing.
At this point, I remember thinking, there is no way I can push her out! This isn’t possible, she’s too big, I’m not strong enough, they are going to end up cutting her out, etc. I don’t remember why it felt so impossible but it did. Yet Amy and the doctor all said the pushing was going great and to keep doing what I was doing. Cody, who always said he would never watch, watched the whole thing. He’d call out when he saw something new…”Babe, I see her hair! Oh, and there are her eyebrows! She’s almost here!” The doctor asked me if I wanted to watch, to which I emphatically answered, “No!”
It was closing in on an hour of pushing, and I was getting so tired. I was thinking I couldn’t do it much longer. Suddenly everyone was getting excited and saying she was so close. Right when I was giving up, I felt half her body slip out. So I gave one last little push and a wiggling, screaming girl was literally thrown onto my chest. The breath felt knocked out of me, and I began to sob…deep sobs where I could hardly breath.
I looked in her face and gasped. I couldn’t believe how pretty she was. And that’s exactly what I said: “She is so pretty!” Her eyes were wide open and seemed to be looking me right in the face.Our baby girl. Fully formed and beautiful and all arms and legs and wet and alive and moving and crying. It was surreal.
They whisked her away to test her blood sugar, (since she was “big”….8 lbs. 8 oz. and 22 inches long) and I just buried my face in my hands and cried. I was overwhelmed with so many emotions. And Cody hadn’t stopped kissing my face since the moment she came out, his tears mixing with mine. He kept telling me what a good job I did, that she was really here and was ok.
I actually didn’t get to hold her for the first 30 minutes. The doctor was stitching and cleaning me up while the nurses gave Heidi some tests and cleaned her up too. I kept straining to see her and asking if she was ok. Finally, Cody got to hold her. And I watched him stare down at that little face and …I got really jealous. I was getting angry at the doctor, who was still poking and prodding and pushing. I was ready to kick him in the face. I just wanted my baby!
Soon it was my turn. They put her in my arms. The weight of her on the outside of my belly instead of the inside was so crazy. She was what I freaked out about last December when my heart jumped in my throat at the little pink plus sign. She was the tiny little peanut on that first ultrasound! She was what had been kicking me all these months! I just looked in her eyes and cried. A living, breathing little person just came out of me. She was so calm, just looking around with those big blue eyes of hers.
Both sets of parents had been in the waiting room since the afternoon. They came in at about 3am to see Heidi. I had finally composed myself, but as soon as I saw their faces, I started crying again. Here was their granddaughter. And I couldn’t help but wonder if my parents remembered all the details of the night I was born, and how unreal it was to see me with my own little girl. Their visit with brief. They kissed me, and they kissed Heidi. And I knew I’d see them again the next day.
The hours following Heidi’s birth will always be special for me. Cody left the hospital at about 4am to go home and get some sleep. Two nights of zero sleep were starting to catch up to him, and he needed to feel good to help me out the next day. The doctors and nurses had left. My room was dark and quiet. It was just Heidi and me. Every time I looked down at her face, my heart ached a little…almost as if it were breaking in order to make room for her. I remember thinking I was glad to be by myself that night. Cody would have his moments with her, but I completely cherished those hours she and I had alone. It was like my heart and my mind needed the time and space to warp and change and make room and adjust and grow.
I was in the hospital until that Friday, and I never left the room. It was like being in a time warp. It was gorgeous weather outside all week, but since I was healing and caring for Heidi, I stayed put. I didn’t sleep much that entire week. The days were spent visiting with friends and family who came by the hospital, and the nights were spend nursing Heidi, looking at her, snuggling her, and crying.
It was a beautiful week, and I am glad I have those moments to look back on when Heidi won’t stop screaming or when I am questioning whether we can actually do this or not. I am sure I will continue to have those moments for years.
But for now, I look at her sweet face and am so thankful God entrusted her to Cody and me.