January 27, 2013

My First Delivery, Ava's Birth

Well, she's almost 2 months old now and I have a number of friends who are about to have a baby, let alone their first! In my last two weeks of pregnancy I couldn't get enough of hearing different people's experience with birth, wondering what I still didn't know or how I could still prepare.
It's time I finally write her birth story!
(if you have any questions feel free to ask)
Back up a week. Ava was DUE on Monday, November 12th.
She didn't come on Monday, November 12th. 

In fact, I had a doctor appointment that day and I was hardly even dilated to a 1.  I was scheduled to be induced on Tuesday the 20th if she didn't come sooner.
I also went a did a free car seat safety check at the hospital to make sure I knew how to install everything correctly.  Be prepared!  That is not something you want to have to deal with before being allowed to leave the hospital. Besides needing to check our car seat, we had a few other things that needed to be done before she came like:
All of which were pretty big tasks in and of themselves so we were happy to have the extra time, despite how excited we were to meet her! 

Friday, November 16th came and I was getting more anxious to have her so I went researching all the ways to try and induce labor naturally.
I went to lunch that day for work and
  • ordered the spiciest thing on the menu
  • the night before I walked for a long time on my friend's treadmill
  • that night Devin and I went to see a movie and I walked with one foot on the curb and one foot on the street all around the parking lot from our car to the theatre and back (it was packed - we had a long way to walk!).   
Then someone told me that 3 of her friends who have recently had babies went bowling and then went into labor within 24 hours. so, we went bowling on Saturday night with some friends!
 (I promise I didn't just stick a ball under my shirt, there was really a baby in there!)

When I read about people's births, I was happy to read their honesty and details so...here is where it gets more detailed - don't say I didn't warn you! 
Photos: by Devin Harper 
Sunday morning, 6:30 am - Woke up to go to the bathroom and something other than just pee was coming out BUT I had been having some clear discharge off and on for about a week, so I wasn't sure if this was really my "waters".  I stayed on the toilet for about 10 minutes because it just kept trickling.  When it stopped, I went back to bed wondering if that was really my water breaking because I was feeling a little bit of pressure in my abdomen, assuming I was having really small contractions but also wasn't sure if it was Braxton Hick's or not.  Basically, I was really confused! 

Then between 7 and 7:30 I had more trickling that I couldn't really control so I went and sat on the toilet again so I wouldn't soak my pants! Devin had a late night previously, so I didn't want to wake him until I knew for sure that this was it.  Every time I'd get up off of the toilet I'd feel like more stuff was going to come out so I just stayed there for a while.  

8:15 am - I finally decided to wake up Devin and tell him that I think my water was breaking (it doesn't always come as a gush like they say! I always imagined that "my water would break" all at once) and that I thought I might be having contractions. Except - this was the day of the Boise Temple Dedication and the first broadcast of it was at 9 am.  So, what I really said to him was, "I think I might be having contractions, but I can make it to the dedication and then we can leave for the hospital right after."  Devin obviously thought I was CRAZY for wanting to go to the broadcast still!  He was trying to talk me out of it and we then realized that he didn't have a white handkerchief for it so that's when I realized okay, we're not going.  But he was so bewildered that the "reason" we weren't going to the dedication was that he didn't have a white hankerchief, not because I was in labor! haha. Yeah, I realize now that it would have been really stupid to go because I started feeling the contractions a little more.  
9:00 - Now that Devin was really awake and we both knew this was happening, I was totally giddy.  Like, dancing around the house getting last minute things together in my bag, singing things like "we're having a baby today!".  Honestly, dancing/moving around/being upright was helping my contractions feel almost nonexistent opposed to sitting down.  
10:15 - Ate some scrambled eggs and toast and were finally on our way to the hospital.  I realized I had only started packing a bag for myself the night before and hadn't really packed anything for Devin or thought about what he should bring, so next time I will make sure to be packed as much as possible for the both of us BEFORE HAND. I'll do another post probably on what we packed and wished we had or hadn't packed!
I really didn't know what to wear to the hospital.  Did it matter? No. I wet my pants on the way there and changed into the gown almost imimmediately anyway! 
**On the way to the hospital we still weren't sure if we knew what her middle name would be.  It was then, while driving past colorful fall trees and drizzly rain, that we decided on Autumn.**
----By the time I got to the hospital, it had been about 4 hours since my water broke---- 
10:45 - Got into triage and they confirmed that my water had broken (I was pretty sure of this by now, considering my pants were totally soaked.  I have never felt so not in control of things down there before!). It was here that I got the monitors put on my belly - it was SO exciting after hearing about and seeing monitors to see that they were actually reading MY baby this time! 
  They called up to get things ready for me in Labor and Delivery and I was wearing the gown. This was happening

I went in planning to give birth naturally with a birth plan typed out and everything, which they gladly accepted.  Trust me, I read a LOT before making this decision/plan and knew that I shouldn't feel like a failure if I didn't end up doing so, etc. 
My reasons for wanting to do natural:
-I'm not usually one to pop a pill/medicine at the first sign of pain/sickness and was nervous about how my body would react to an epidural.  
-I didn't want to be strapped to my bed because of IVs and stuff when trying to deal with contractions. 
-I wanted to be able to eat/drink what I wanted, when I wanted (epidural meds don't interact well with food, I guess)
-If I wasn't going to do it natural, I wanted it to be TOTALLY PAIN FREE. But an epidural requires a needle in your back, which I thought was stupid.  
-I heard/read that recovery is much better when you deliver natural because your body did exactly what it was supposed to on its own and in full control.
- I wanted to feel the natural reward of exerting myself once she was out, the natural high afterwards from endorphins and working so hard.
- I wanted to be alert and in control, able to respond to my baby.  I heard both ways that sometimes the pain meds can affect you or the baby to where you are out of it and sometimes they don't, but I did not want that to be the case.
-This was hardly a reason, but yeah - it would be cool to say I did it naturally. 
However, I said this all along - it totally depends on duration. My fear was having a 12+ hr labor and the thought of being in pain for THAT long just didn't seem worth it to me, so I knew that getting an epidural was a possibility.  It's when I know "the end is near" that I can usually tolerate pain pretty well and stick through it.  

      So, I got up to the labor and delivery room and met my nurse, Kelli.  She was new to the hospital (not new to being a nurse) so she had this older lady with her kind of showing her protocols and stuff that she might not know about the hospital.  It was fun because Kelli was young and nice and the older lady I could tell had a lot of experience, was a bit of a jokester, and made me feel really comfortable.  They weren't quite what I was expecting, but their personalities together helped me a lot.  
      This hospital (St. Luke's Boise) was GREAT for anyone who wants to deliver naturally and still be in a hospital.  Very respectful of my wishes and had wonderful things to assist with dealing with pain, like a jacuzzi tub, yoga ball thing to bounce on, warm towels at my service, and a nice TV.  Kelli even told me, "I won't keep bugging you about your pain level or ask if you want an epidural if you don't want me to.  I'll let you work through the pain how you want and you can let me know every once and a while where you're at."  Something like that.  Anyway, I just knew I wasn't going to have any pressure from her to do anything I didn't want to do.  
       I tested positive for Group B strep when I was pregnant, so as soon as I got up to Labor and Delivery they got me hooked up to an IV for the antibiotics. My nurse said they couldn't check me to see what I was dilated to unless it became an apparent need to check me.  They didn't want any risk of infection so putting their hands up there the least amount of times was optimal.  She told me, "If getting an epidural is dependent on how dilated you are, then we can check you at that point."  I decided to wait because I was still in this au natural mindset and not feeling too much pain.  
       Devin was pretty exhausted so he tried to get some shut eye in on the pull out bed thing near me until my contractions got worse. Luckily, the bands around my waist that read the baby's heart rate and contractions weren't attached to anything else so as soon as the antibiotics got into me, I was able to get up and move around. It was a good thing too because it was around...
12:30 p.m. - my contractions started becoming more intense.  It's true when they say it's like a wave, starting out small and then really strong for a couple seconds(or a lot of seconds), and then tapers back down.  I quickly moved from bed to exercise ball.  What helped the most was straddling the ball and rocking in a circular motion or side to side.  
1:30 - Contractions were really strong now and the exercise ball wasn't enough to relieve my discomfort so I asked Kelli to get the jacuzzi tub ready.  Oh. my. that was heavenly. Hot water and jets coming from all sides!  Even though I was in a ton of pain, this feeling alone was worth not being strapped to the bed for an epidural...yet.  
1:45 - Okay, the water isn't quite so wonderfully hot anymore and the jets are just becoming annoyingly stimulating.   Please bring me a warm towel!  
1:50 - All sense of privacy is gone . Yeah, this should have been a given from the very beginning.  Knowing that I only had a short amount of time before the next wave of contraction came, I was not about to spend that precious time trying to get myself covered up out of the tub.  So, I pulled the nurse chain, waited until I heard Kelli come in the room and quickly got up and out of the tub.  She looked a little surprised to see that I was just willing to let her see me in the buff. And from then on...who cared?!
2:00 I decided to try the exercise ball again because I couldn't even sit still, thanks to the pain- that's why the tub was starting to be so uncomfortable. The bed would have been torture.  Don't get me wrong, all I wanted to do was LAY still but that was not an option during contractions. Their strength was starting to wear me out! I think I literally took microsleeps between contractions while sitting on the ball.  I was so tired that my eyes were uncontrollably shutting, even while Kelli was trying to talk to me.
2:15 - Devin asks if I'm sure I don't want the epidural.  I just looked at him and thought, maybe I doThen I said it out loud.  Then I said it to Kelli.  BUT - I had to know how dilated I was!  If I was an 8, then I could stick it out. But if I was a 4, I don't think I can last all the way until a 10.  So, they brought the doctor in to check me and I was only a TWO!
2:20 - "I want it.  I really want it," I said.  (Insert STRONG contraction here) "Devin, I don't care how much it costs." Kelli asked me if I'm sure, I confirmed, she called the anesthesiologist - aka. my best friend.   Meanwhile, I was receiving lots of encouraging texts from mom, Nicole, and Corina to name a few :)  Thanks guys!
3:00 - SUCH A LONG WAIT!  Waiting "in line" for the epidural felt like waiting for Santa on Christmas morning.  Best present I could have asked for - I mean, SECOND best present. Ava would have to be first best :) He finally got there and did his thing. I think I officially had the epidural in at 3:10
3:50 - Seriously?  It took that long to kick in? Next time I probably won't wait QUITE so long. Little did I know, epidurals work from the bottom up. The numbing started in my feet and my abdominal section, ya know - the part with all the pain, got it last. Turns out, sticking through some major contractions before getting the epidural was a good idea because they checked me after getting it and I was dilated to a 5!  Those strong contractions in that last hour must have really gotten things going and I'm so glad my body was able to work through it.  
   I had forgotten what it was like to lay still, relax my muscles, and eat jello!
Gosh that tasted good, hadn't eaten since right before we left for the hospital!  Speaking of which, neither had Devin! Now that he knew I was well taken care of and not in any pain - he got himself some lunch.  He left me in peace to watch some 7th Heaven episodes that I had brought.  Yeppp, my fav feel good show from the 90s. 
     I had brought a 7th Heaven season, a Seinfield season, and a "Miracle of Birth" dvd.  I figured I should have something heart warming, something funny, and something applicable to delivering that might actually help me. Watching t.v. during contractions was like the last thing I wanted to do.  Unless it was right in front of my face, but the tv was way up in the corner of the wall/ceiling.  
4:15 - I only watched one episode so that I could sleep. Good choice. The episode I happened to watch was about Annie, the mom, being hormonal in her pregnancy and finding out that they were having TWINS. Wow, was that the perfect thing to watch!
      ONE - I was happy I wouldn't be pregnant anymore in a few hours.
      TWO - I was happy to know there would only be ONE baby coming out of me in a few hours.
5:30 - Woke up from a snooze feeling great! It was CRAZY to be watching the monitors and see monstrous contractions happening and wanting to cry tears of joy that I wasn't feeling any of it. Throughout the day I kept thinking about the pioneers and wondering how. they. did. it.  Let alone anyone I know who has given birth naturally. The old lady nurse came in to see me and I told her I "gave in" and got the epidural.  She assured me I wasn't a failure or anything of the sort.  I assured her I didn't feel like one and even if I did, the feeling of being able to relax was worth feeling like a failure! And...I asked for more Jello.
Between 6:00 - I was trying to sleep/rest some more but I started feeling some cramping in my side.  It felt like the epidural was wearing off, which made me kind of freak out.  I liked this no-pain thing too much!  I told Kelli what I was feeling and asked if I could get "topped off" or something. They decided to check me again and I had dilated to an 8! She said I was so close to being fully dilated that having more medicine would only keep me from being able to push well. dang it. sure enough, I kept progressing because I was starting to feel the contractions more and more, little by little. 
Had to get a chubby pic in there somewhere.  I've had a ton of fluids in me by now, been drinking all day plus IVs and am resting up for some serious pushing!
7:00 p.m. -They checked me again and I was at a TEN and told it was about time to start pushing! My nurse Kelli's shift was now over, so they brought a new nurse in, she was young and sweet but pretty confident, so I told her I needed her to tell me what to do while pushing because I have no idea how! I always imagined I'd have that "urge to push" when it was time to push, but I didn't really.  Probably due to the epidural. But that's okay because I could at least feel when my contractions were happening (yes, for once I was happy to feel my contractions).  This was a good thing because you are supposed to work WITH the contraction to push the baby further down the birth canal.  While nurses were switching I was texting people that I was about to start pushing. The one text I still have is from Alex: "Push push push!!!!!!!! Love you!!! Praying for a healthy Ava :) :)" and then I started.  Thanks for the encouragement!
7:15 - The new nurse was a fantastic coach. She talked me through everything about what I should be feeling, how I should be positioning every part of my body for pushing.  Forget the stirrups, it REALLY helped to have someone at each leg to hold my foot and push against my heel.  She told me some people push for 10 minutes and some push for 3 hours.  Yikes. 
7:30 - I always imagined the pushing to be the most painful part, but it actually relieved the pain of those intense contractions! I would have pushed forever except...I had to breathe! These were my instructions:
-When I could sense a contraction starting to come, take a deep breath and push has hard as I could.
-keep this "push" for 10 seconds (Don't try and count yourself, ask the nurse to count for you, that helped so much in focusing on what I was supposed to be doing with my body!)
-let go and take another quick deep breath and hold for another 10 seconds, and repeat once more. By this time the third 10-second push is over, the contraction should be on the down hill.
8:15 - Still pushing and wanting to fall asleep between each contraction, except as soon as one finished the next one began. brutal. By this time I am thinking that I am going to be that "3 hour" person and wanting my money back for the epidural that was supposed to be taking away all the pain I was feeling!  ...until I started really getting cheered on by the nurse and Devin* who were starting to see some of Ava's head!  That was some serious motivation right there.

     *Devin always said he didn't want to watch or see anything.  Well, he was recruited to hold one of my legs while the nurse held the other.  He didn't have much of a choice to see what was going on! I was proud that he didn't faint or toss his cookies and...that he ended up saying that it was actually quite fascinating (as fascinating as disgusting can be) :)  Because she was crowning, they were keeping the on call doctor updated and finally decided to tell her to get ready to come to my room and told me I'd be having this baby before 9:00!! 
8:30 - by this time, much of her head could be seen and I was getting some serious encouragement by Devin and the nurse.  With every push they acted like they could see more of her and I was told "oh you're so close!" like...20 times in the next 10 minutes.  Talk about frustrating and exciting at the same time! I knew what was happening just by watching Devin's face, though.  I knew they weren't really pulling my leg (I mean pushing. ha) about doing a great job because every time I pushed Devin's eyes would get wide and excited due to how much more he could see of her head every time :) I was getting so anxious!  Because I was so anxious, I decided to sacrifice being able to breathe and was trying to do 4 "push sessions" instead of 3 because...I just wanted her out!  Amidst all of this, they took my temperature and I was up at about 100.5, so around
8:40ish - the assistant doctor (not sure what she was, but I loved her) came close to me by the bed and explained that Ava's heart rate was elevated and because I had a temperature they would be calling a NICU rep to come in, just in case she needed care when she was born. That made me a little nervous but I was so glad she explained things to me in such a calm manner.  It made me trust that they would do whatever they needed to and I was just SO thankful she wasn't telling me they needed to do a C-section, my biggest fear of the whole day!
8:45ish - I did one really hard "push session" which got her head completely crowned - I could feel her totally stretching at the top and the bottom.  The doctor just screams "STOP! Stop pushing!"As she is frantically getting gloves and yelling at everyone to get things ready. I looked at her like she was crazy! I actually did yell, "WHAT? Are you KIDDING me?? I can't stop now!!!" People were seriously RUNNING around the room getting things ready and I said - It's probably too late to ask for a mirror to watch it happen?  Yeah, that totally slipped my mind so I'll have to remember next time!
 That cool washcloth was heavenly, especially after realizing that I had a bit of a fever
8:49 - Finally, after a couple hard pushes and the doctor's maneuvering, Ava was born at 7 lbs, 20 inches! The poor thing was not what I expected - she was quite limp and purple.  The doctor yelled to get the NICU team in there, which was obviously kind of scary. The doctor asked Devin if he wanted to cut the cord (he was still holding my leg) but was looking at him like just let me do it. She did it - we didn't even care, we just wanted Ava to get taken care of.  They whisked her over to the baby station in the room and had a gazillion people surrounding her.  I was SO exhausted that all I could be was relieved to be done pushing but at the same time, I could not take my eyes off of where they had her until I heard her cry.   Click Here for the rest of the story and Ava's first week in the hospital. 
The Aftermath
While Ava was being looked at in the NICU, I was getting stitched up.  This took like 45 minutes! She said I had some internal tearing and some other mumbo jumbo to describe my tears, but all I understood was that I tore in an intetersting way that she doesn't see a lot.  She was supervising the assistant doctor as she stitched me up which made me hope everything was going okay down there.  I asked her what "degree" she would call it and she said between 2nd and 3rd degree.  I was still numb so I just took her word for it. I had my legs up in the stirrups and could not believe how sore my inner thigh muscles were from stretching my legs open that wide for so long!
   I didn't realize how hungry I was or how long it had been since I had eaten until I was finished getting stitched up and they brought this glorious platter of food.  Chicken salad sandwhich on a crescent roll, cheese and crackers and fruit, chocolate chip cookies, apple juice, etc. Okay, it wasn't that fancy but it tasted so delicious at that moment.

Will I ever try giving birth naturally?  Probably not, at least not intentionally (I know some people just get there too late and don't have time for the meds.  In which case, would be fine. Because like I said, it's all about the duration, for me).  But my reasons for wanting to go natural ended up being resolved anyway, like:
-Trust me, I felt PLENTY exhausted, relieved, "natural high", and endorphinated from pushing and getting her out.
-The epidural wore off PERFECTLY to the fact that I felt in the perfect amount of control for pushing but still numb enough "down there" that tearing and her actually coming out wasn't so painful.
-When I could feel my contractions, I was in too much pain to even eat or be up and moving around so being confined to the bed and eating jello was A-O-K.
-The needle for the epidural wasn't that bad
-Recovery? As far as I know I bled about the same as anyone else and could walk okay (not great) after 2 days and was pretty up and at it in about 4 days (Thanksgiving!). I was off the grandma pads in 2-3 weeks, with only spot bleeding after that.  As far as I can tell, I had a pretty good recovery.

But to those who do - more. power. to. you.  You have my respect and blessing!!

Pin It


  1. K, I seriously loved this! For some reason I thought I had heard Ava's birth story before but I definitely hadn't. And I'm so glad everything turned out okay despite the whole fever scare! Birth stories are so fun! And so are babies!! :)

  2. WOW! Thanks for sharing! I also love birth stories these days, and it's great to read one from a friend... Makes it a little bit more personal. So amazing. I just can't believe what a miracle all of pregnancy and birth is, it truly is incredible. And in the end you come out with a beautiful baby!

  3. Oh wow! I admit, I laughed out loud when you wrote about the amount of pain and that you were at a TWO! I can so relate! I'm glad you got the epidural though so you could relax and let your body do the work. That sounded like a hard day. Reminded me a lot of my birth with Brighton. Trust me, the next one will be SO much easier. I think I could have done Deacon naturally. Not Piper, cause she was another crazy one. I love hearing birth stories too! -Brooke

    1. I know, I felt so pathetic! haha I was soooo happy to hear you say that you had to push for less amount of time with each kid, that is so encouraging :)