Two Saturdays Prior
At my last several OB appointments, I had clear instructions from my mom to grill the doctor for any signs that the baby would come early because she desperately wanted to be here for his birth. Dr. Bridges made it very clear that there was simply no way to know or predict these things. However, because of signs that he may come early (he was shockingly low, beginning to dilate, etc) and our increasing panic, Grandma came out two weeks early so she wouldn't miss his arrival.
Then we waited...and waited...and tried every silly labor promoting strategy that we knew and took several pictures of "is this the moment labor is starting?" Here is one of those shots.
It wasn't...and so we waited some more!
Friday 5pm: Early Triage
On his due date, I was concerned that I may have developed a UTI and called the OB. Since the office was about to close, Dr. Bridges sent us to OB triage at the hospital to be evaluated. When we arrived, the nurses at OB triage were so confused since I wasn't in labor nor concerned that I was. After some awkward debates about whether or or not they were obligated to treat me since I wasn't in labor, they finally evaluated me and ruled out a UTI. When the on call OB, Dr. Kurachi, came to discuss the results, she partially swept my membranes during her exam and commented "I hope I see you later tonight!"
Friday 7pm: Belltown Pizza
We went to meet up with Evan at Belltown Pizza and told him about the surprise membrane sweep, and how we were not sure how to feel about it. I had discussed this with my regular doctor, Dr. Bridges, who had advised against it since I was Group Strep B positive. On the other hand, I was VERY ready for labor to start and part of me wished that she had done a full sweep!
Friday 8pm: Uncomfortable
Soon after the membrane sweep, I started feeling crampy, but assumed (and was told) that was normal post sweep. We did lots of googling, and read that it was in fact normal. Evan made me a cup of the raspberry leaf tea that Dr Kurachi recommended to stimulate labor. Since it wasn't bad, I had two cups. We went to bed, and I neglected to tell anyone that my back had started to hurt, too. This didn't even strike me as unusual at the time, since my back had been hurting for months.
Saturday 9am: Not Sleeping In
Sleeping in is my favorite, but I had a hard time sleeping in in the last few weeks of the pregnancy. That, plus lots (5+) of middle of the night wakings to pee. The next day the cramping continued and intensified moving into back and hip discomfort. Without any contractions to track, we weren't sure if we were in labor or just uncomfortable post sweep. I was convinced it was not labor, but my mom thought it sounded like back labor. I kept drinking as much of the raspberry leaf tea as I could, but I wasn't very interested in food.
Saturday 5:42pm: Walk
I became increasingly uncomfortable with constant pain, and still no contraction spikes. So, we decided to go for a walk to distract me. From the beginning, Evan and I said that we would walk the baby out by playing Pokémon Go. At this point, I was so uncomfortable that that didn't sound very fun anymore, but I caught a Squirtle, Natu, and Omanyte anyways.
We didn't make it very far before I declared that I was too tired and uncomfortable to keep walking. We made it just six blocks to, ironically, the Labor Temple.
I came home and put heat packs on my back and sat in our oversized bean bag. After some tears and a memorable mom pep talk, my mom (who was sure I was in labor) convinced me to call my doctor because even if I wasn't in labor we would need to figure out what to do to manage how uncomfortable I was already. My mom is obviously the best and was thinking way more clearly than the rest of us!
Saturday 8:05pm: Bath
Dr. Bridges was very nice even though I tearfully told her I wasn't in labor 18 different ways. She encouraged me to try to time the cramping intensity, which would fluctuate, but that was difficult since the back and hip pain were constant. While we timed them, I got in the bathtub to try to ease the pain. After an hour, we thought they were happening every 4 min for that hour, which is as close as I could tell the magical 4-1-1 or 5-1-1 call your doctor time when the contractions are 4 minutes apart and one minute long for an hour. My doctor asked us to come in just in case. When I got out of the tub to go to the hospital, it got much worse... still I was sure this wasn't labor.
Saturday 8:40pm: To the Hospital
On the way to the hospital we text our friends and call our parents to tell them that this may be (but most likely NOT) happening!
Saturday 9:05pm: OB triage
Since I clearly wasn't in labor, I didn't want Evan to bring any of our bags in, and everyone humored me. We checked into OB triage and they hooked me up to a bunch of monitors. The nurse quickly confirmed that I actually was having contractions, was actually in labor, was actually 5 cm dilated, and was being admitted! I was shocked, relieved, and burst into tears asking her to tell me again that it was real. Triage felt like an eternity and we watched Fresh Off The Boat on Hulu on Evan's phone to distract me. The pain was constant and getting worse (still no clear contractions spikes from my perspective). I threw up several times while we waited.
Saturday 9:55pm: Birthing Suite
Once we moved to the labor and delivery suite, we met the best nurse of all time, Sarah. I begged her to let me get back in the tub as fast as possible, as it was the only place I found relief. Evan did the intake questions with Sarah for me so I could get back in there faster.
While we waited for her to fill up the tub, Evan used one of the back labor techniques we had learned. It helped.. kind of, but I just wanted the tub!
Saturday 10:18pm: Tub
I fought to wear my bathing suit so I'd be more comfortable and watched Blacklist: Redemption on Evan's phone as a distraction.
Saturday 10:55pm: Requested Epidural
What felt like an hour later (I got through an episode and half of Blacklist, not that I could tell you anything that happened), I asked for the epidural. They told me to ask for the epidural about 10 min before I wanted it, as it would take that long for the anesthesiologist to get there. Sarah wanted me to get out of the bathtub once I asked for the epidural, and I convinced her to let me wait out my 10 minutes in the tub. I'm glad I did because 40 minutes later I was still chilling in the tub waiting.
Saturday 11:35pm: Water Breaks
When I stood up to get out of the bathtub, my water broke and there was meconium (baby poop) in it. Immediately, the pain intensified times a million and they made me get out of the tub. The anesthesiologist was still no where to be seen. The pain was so much worse and I was terrified that I would "miss the window." I kept begging for them to go get him, and asking if they would promise me that he would do it no matter what since he was the one who was late. The nurse said she's never had anyone wait more than 20 min for the doctor, and kept promising only 5 more min.
While we were waiting, Dr. Bridges came by to check my dilation. Have I mentioned yet that my regular doctor, Dr. Bridges, was the on call doctor that night? We were THRILLED! Unfortunately, I was really struggling and couldn't sit still enough for her to tell. She guessed that I may still be 5 cm, but she said she'd check right after the epidural to be sure.
Saturday 11:50pm: Anesthesiologist Arrives
After an hour, the anesnteiologist finally came, and said "sorry I'm a little late." I not so graciously responded - "A LITTLE late?!?! Oh man, I'm sorry. I'm just in pain. Please hurry. Promise me you'll do it!" He did the epidural.
Sunday 12:05am: Labor Down
Dr. Bridges came back right after the epidural, and said I was actually at 9.5 cm dilated. No wonder I was struggling to wait for the epidural! I'm glad they gave it to me anyways. I was very panicked about missing it. Dr. Bridges wanted me to rest and "labor down" for an hour. She also noticed that the baby had turned slightly so they rearranged me to try to help him out. I tried to rest, but I couldn't. My back and hips were still uncomfortable, but I was no longer dying. Plus, my thoughts were going so fast. My mom came to sit with me and talk, and Evan took a nap.
Sunday 4:21am: Pushing
Four hours later, Dr. Bridges came back, confirmed that I was fully dilated, and announced that it was finally time to start pushing. However, when I started pushing, my contractions slowed down and they had to add several doses of pitocin to help speed them back up. I had really wanted to avoid pitocin to start labor, but was happy to have it at this point. It didn't make things as bad as I had heard; instead, it felt helpful!
I threw up several times during the pushing, too. One time, I was convinced I threw up on Evan, but he swears I didn't. I was also shaking uncontrollably, which I thought meant I was cold but the nurse told me it was adrenaline. During the pushing, Sarah realized that I had a temperature, and they were worried about the possibility of infection for me and the baby. They gave me Tylenol and said that we would be put on an extended protocol to be monitored for 48 hours and given antibiotics to fight off any concern of infection.
Evan was the absolute best coach during the whole process, but especially the pushing!! He kept giving me ice chips and a cold rag between contractions, and cheering me on! The nurse also would count how long to push, which was way more helpful than I realized! At some point the counting stopped, and it was much harder to keep pushing! After 3 hours of pushing, he was very close to coming! I remember being struck with how insanely surreal it was that I was finally here and this was actually happening. They asked me if I wanted to feel his head because I had previously said that I didn't want to. Dr. Bridges encouraged me to feel to help motivate me and see how close we were. I was shocked and it actually was really helpful to motivate me to keep going! After one more set of pushing, he was HERE!
Sunday 6:49am: Official Birth Time
As soon as he was out, extra doctors checked his respiration due to the meconium and evaluated for infection. So, they were not able to give him to me immediately. They took him to a side table and evaluated him quickly. I asked Evan to go over and be with him while they looked at him, but he couldn't. He sat in the chair overwhelmed with emotion. It was so sweet! They quickly gave him the all clear (and an APGAR score of 9.5) and brought him to me! We got to have skin to skin time and then began breastfeeding. He was just so sweet and precious with the cutest little sounds. He was 9 lbs 0.3 oz and we both remember being surprised at how NOT little he seemed! Dr. Bridges asked us if we had a name. Evan and I exchanged glances, and after a long pause Evan said "His name is Gabriel Evan." What you may not know is that we had been vacillating between middle names up until that exact moment, and we were waiting for a game time decision. When the time came, we both just knew! Evan wrote a thorough article about naming Gabriel Evan Chiu.
While Dr. Bridges helped me deliver the placenta, she said that I threw several clots. I also tore 3 layers while pushing (ouch!), and she sewed me up. We delivered 10 min before shift change, and were so thankful to have my regular OB and the most fabulous labor and delivery nurse for our entire stay!
After resting in the labor and delivery suite and letting the epidural wear off, they want you to get up and go to the bathroom before they discharge you on the post-Partum suite, where we would need to stay for the next 48 hours. However, as soon as I stood up, I almost passed out with the nurse catching me. They were surprised, and then they got back my test results saying that my hematocrit dropped crazy low from the blood loss during labor.
Sunday 12:37pm: Post-Partum
After moving to the post-partum room, they started an iron infusion, but my hematocrit kept dropping. The doctor came in and said that our best course of action would be to go ahead with a blood transfusion. After the first transfusion, my iron had risen but only slightly. They did a second transfusion, and while my iron didn't rise as much as they had hoped it helped enough to allow us to go home.
Tuesday 2:52pm: Heading Home
After several courses of antibiotics, visits from Grandpa, Ben, and Marci, and his first bath, we were finally cleared to head home. We put on our matching shirts and brought our bundle of joy home!
Several days later, Gabriel had lost too much weight since my milk was delayed due to the blood transfusions. We had begun supplementing with formula and were getting his weight checked again, which was starting to go back up!
I stopped in to see my OB after our second pediatrician appointment, since the offices are across the hall on the same floor. I was still getting dizzy and almost passing out at home. At the OBGYN, I briefly passed out while they were performing a vitals test. The doctor was concerned that my iron was still very low, and re admitted us directly to the post-partum unit.
When we arrived at the post-partum unit, we waited for the doctor to get my blood work back. When she arrived, the doctor said that my hematocrit wasn't as low as they expected. Therefore, we did another iron infusion instead. This seemed to do the trick, and I finally started to get my energy and appetite back.
Meanwhile, Evan was having quite the adventure with Gabriel where they ran out of diapers and wipes because no one expected us to be out of the house this long, but that is a story for another day.
The next week we noticed that I had developed oral thrush from the antibiotics given post-partum. We began treating this and I was finally starting to begin to feel like myself again!
It was a difficult first few week of recovering for sure, and this wasn't how I imagined labor or recovery going. I've since had my 6 week post-partum check up and I've recovered better than I expected given all that happened! My iron/hematocrit is now back within the normal range!
Not What I Expected
Overall, I would say that labor did not go as I expected. Not in an "I didn't follow my birth plan" kind of way. Rather, it felt like I never experienced labor similar to what was described to me in any of our birthing classes or the books I read. I don't feel like I ever experienced a contraction like it was described - a tightening of your stomach where the whole belly is hard like a bowling ball. However, when talking to a bunch of new moms, apparently, all of them felt that way too in their own ways. Regardless, I'm so incredibly thankful for our precious Gabriel no matter how he arrived!!
We are just so immensely thankful for Gabriel to finally be here and we felt so blessed and lucky to have him! I can't express how grateful I am to the absolutely incredible medical team at the Polyclinic OBGYN, my parents being here to do literally everything for us, and both of our parents and friends who brought us so much wonderful food that we didn't cook until 8 weeks post-partum! We are also so thankful for the Dr. Thyer, nurse Shannon, and the whole team at Drsttle Reproductive Medicine and Dr. Wysick and the team at Baystate Reproductive Medicine without which we wouldn't have been able to get this far.
I'm so thankful for how God used each one of these people to bring Gabriel to us. We are so blessed by His goodness and His faithfulness even on the waiting. As my favorite song reminds me, "what hindered Love will only become a part of the story." It is so incredible to look back at God's steady hand at each part of our story.