Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Birth Story - Part One

Who washes their hair, shaves their legs and paints their toenails after their water has broken, when they really should be heading to the hospital? Oh, that’s right. I do.

But let me back up first…

It was mid-January 2012 in Clarksville, TN and I was 38 weeks pregnant, still moving around, hitting the gym, walking the dog and getting stuff done as if I weren’t even pregnant, all in preparation for our first daughter to be born. Unfortunately, I was doing all of the nesting alone, as my other [and better] half is in Afghanistan serving our country [instead of serving me breakfast in bed. The nerve!]
During my 36 week appointment on January 3rd, I got a huge shock to my system when I was told I was measuring almost 5 weeks ahead. An ultrasound reassured me that I wasn’t a month off but that our little one was a bit big. Unlike most pregnant women, I was not in any rush for this little girl to come out. With Justin at a remote base temporarily, he had no access to Skype and little access to a telephone and I wanted him to be able to participate in the birth as much as possible. So I was staying away from everything known to induce labor…spicy food, red wine, balsamic vinegar, you name it. I also laid off the gym, which was very hard to do! Given my family history [my mom was three and a half weeks late with me], I was pretty sure she was going to come late. So sure, in fact, that I booked my mom’s flight to come out to Tennessee just three days before my due date. What can I say? I'm a gambler.

Also, because I was so sure I was not going to be delivering anytime soon, I procrastinated doing all my pre-admission paperwork and getting my name changed on my military ID to reflect my husband’s last name, not my maiden name. [We got my military ID before I did all the name change stuff so that I could get on and off base without my husband {read: he wouldn’t have to go to the commissary anymore} so it’s had my maiden name on it. I had the fullest intentions to get it changed before now, really I did. But there were many more important things to do, like watch Real Housewives and shop online.]

I took a lot of comfort in the fact that I was still not experiencing any Braxton Hicks contractions, I didn’t feel a super-full-speed nesting urge kick in, there was no sign of a mucus plug being lost and people were telling me I was still carrying high and she hadn’t dropped yet. Sweet. I had my 37 week appointment on Tuesday, January 17th and stopped in to say hello to everyone in Justin’s Clinic. They all noticed I had indeed grown since they saw me before Christmas but agreed with me that she was still flying high in the sky. Their medical opinions sealed the deal - we were staying put for a few more weeks.

I woke up on the morning of Friday, January 20th and looked in the mirror as I passed to make my way to my second home, the bathroom. Whoa…she totally grew overnight! I snapped a quick picture of my belly to email to my husband then went to pee for what would probably be the first of 27 occurrences that day.January 20 - 8am

For comparison, here I am just three days earlier...

I saw via Twitter that Courtney was watching Stephen Colbert on Morning Joe so I turned it on to start my morning off with a barrel of laughs, while texting Court throughout.

I called Justin’s Grandma to update her and left a voicemail sharing my confidence that the first member of our next generation wasn’t arriving anytime soon. (I also made a mental note to text Justin’s parents and also tell them I was in good shape but never got around to it that day.) I then went to the commissary to stock up on some groceries but was extremely pissed off when I realized I had left the majority of my freshly printed and cut coupons at home on the desk. “But that’s ok…I guess I’ll come back later this afternoon or tomorrow morning.”

After getting the groceries put away and spending some time doing little things around the house, I relaxed in the glider in the nursery and had a catch up phone call with Lindsey. We talked all about the pregnancy and how we couldn’t believe I was almost done. I’ve been very honest with people about how easy my pregnancy had been and this conversation was no different. I bragged about my lack of waddling, feet swelling, stretch marks and heartburn but did confide in her that I had been struck by one pregnancy demon in the last few days: WRETCHED gas. She’s a BFF so it’s okay to share that kinda stuff with her. We talked about Lindsey’s plans for the weekend (she had none) but I again relayed my confidence in the fact that Adrienne wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This was important for her to know since, being 4.5 hours away in Atlanta, Lindsey was my emergency contact should I happen to go in labor before my mom was here. The first thing I was supposed to do was call Lindsey so she could hit the road and be here for me. But that didn’t matter because, AGAIN, Adrienne wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We got off the phone when I realized the sun was going down and I still needed to take my sweet puppster on a walk. I nixed the idea of going back to the store out of sheer laziness. Looking back, I do remember feeling a teensy, and I mean TEENSY, tinge of nausea when I started up the car. I'm also pretty sure I remember thinking “They say you get nauseous before labor. I need to remember that…”

I bundled up and took Lily to a little elementary school down the street to let her roam, sniff and do her bidness. It was my 2nd to last Friday alone EVER since my mom would be arriving next Saturday so I decided to stop at the Dollar General for some candy on the way home. (I had cleared the house of ALL sweets since the weeks before had brought on some chocolate massacres that I was extremely ashamed of.) Our walk was uneventful and I noted how good I felt. Some walks in the previous months had led to a small bit of muscle discomfort since the puppster sometimes likes to walk a little fast. We walked around for almost 45 minutes and then made our way to Dollar General.

I pulled into the parking lot and reached over to grab my wallet out of my purse in the floorboard. I sat back up and turned off the ignition and then, at 6:55, I felt it.

Holy crap. I just peed in my pants!

I didn’t know what to do…I REALLY wanted some candy so I contemplated how I could maneuver this without being known as “Pregnant Pee Pants Girl” around town. I was wearing black leggings so it wouldn’t really show…but was my jacket long enough? I decided it wasn’t and my vanity trumped my craving. I guess I would just have to pour some chocolate syrup down my throat and call it a day. Humph. My heart was racing a bit but not once did the thought of my water breaking cross my mind at this point.

I made the 2 minute drive home and as I got closer to the house, I felt the urge to pee more. I held it in (barely) but when the garage door shut, I tore out of the car faster than ever and made a beeline for the bathroom. As I stopped to turn off the alarm, I felt the wet spot on my leggings spread even further down my legs and a huge gush of water went into the toilet right as I sat down. This was humiliating. I took off my leggings and went to clean up some trickles that had landed on the floor. There was a pair of cotton pants hanging over the back of the couch so I put them on and sat down on the couch next to Lily, feeling dejected. And three years old. Then it happened again.

WHY COULDN’T I FEEL THE URGE TO PEE?!?!?! I ran to the bathroom and as I was peeing, started Googling my butt off. “Bladder control third trimester”, “I can’t feel the urge to pee while pregnant”, etc. etc. etc. My jaw dropped as I realized I was the victim of the bitch named Karma. I had bragged to Lindsey about how easy and joyous this pregnancy was and here I was, 38 weeks pregnant, and would have to wear a diaper for the remainder of my pregnancy. Tons of thoughts went through my head…”I have a TON of stuff to return to Target tomorrow and I have to go back to the commissary! I can’t do that if I’m peeing all over the place!” “Should I call Courtney and see if she went through this?!” And finally, “Hmm…I wonder if this is my water breaking.”

It couldn’t be. This was a TON of fluid and I was habitually drinking over a hundred ounces of water a day. I decided to do my own experiment and stop drinking water for the next couple hours and see if it continued to happen.

Feeling all “pee-y” I headed upstairs to take a shower and sulk and mourn the loss of my carefree pregnancy since I would be strapped to the John for the next couple weeks. Lily followed and I noticed she had a bit of a concerned look on her face. She had been attached to me at the hip for the past couple days and I think she knew something was definitely up. I had to stop off at the toilet again before making my way into the shower. I got out and threw on some comfy pants and one of my husband’s sweaters and headed downstairs to watch TV. I had planned on having a yummy dinner of Annie’s White Cheddar Shells that I had mixed with Brussels Sprouts and Turkey Sausage but I had no appetite.

When I felt leakage for about the 7th time, I decided to pick up the phone and call my mom. It was around 7:10 when I made the call and as soon as she answered the phone I said, “Okay…don’t freak out…I’m either leaking urine or my water just broke.” She stayed surprisingly calm as did I. I told her I wasn’t sure what was going on and asked if there was any way she could go ahead and come tomorrow morning instead of next Saturday. She said absolutely and I tasked her with communicating with Southwest to change her flight while I called Courtney to get her thoughts. If need be, I would call the hospital as well to see what they told me to do.
We got off the phone with our to-do lists and I then immediately emailed Justin:

From: Shelby Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 7:19 PM
To: Justin

Subject: Can you call me please?!
I'm okay...but some things are starting to happen and I would like to speak with you! I've changed my mom's flight to come in tomorrow morning instead of next weekend. I'm leaking some stuff and I don't know if it's urine or amniotic fluid but I'm going to go in tonight to get checked. I’m holding off on calling your parents since it’s late and I don’t want to worry them if it’s nothing. I don't think that's completely necessary at this point. I'm going to have Anna and Jeff look after Lily and Shoshanna is the backup.

I'll keep you posted...I love you so much!!!


I then called Courtney, who I knew was on her way to D.C. for her first overnight without Evelyn. I think she heard the calm panic in my voice and immediately asked, “Are you in labor?” I risked sounding like a paranoid first time mom but responded, "I think so!” I explained what had happened and she said to call the hospital and get their opinion and call her back. I really couldn’t believe this was all happening. Was I really calling the hospital? Could this little girl really be coming early? I picked up the phone and told the story a third time, this time to the L&D Advice Nurse at Blanchfield. Her instructions were to put on a pad and if I saturated the pad in 30 minutes to come in and get checked out.

Thirty minutes? That sucker would be filled in five! I called my mom back and told her I was going to head to the hospital, just to be safe. Her flight was switched and she would now be arriving the next morning around 9:30am. She asked if I was going to call Lindsey and get her to head out here but I wanted to wait until I knew for sure. I would hate to have her drive all the way here for nothing on a Friday night. I gave Courtney the same update I gave my mom and she kept expressing her excitement for me. I promised to keep her in the loop as much as possible and we hung up the phone.

I then looked around my house and got a bit stressed. Tomorrow, Saturday, was going to be my final “cleaning and nesting day” and the house definitely needed it. I decided that since I wasn’t feeling any contractions or pressure or anything else that would make me feel like it was urgent to get to the hospital, I would take 20 minutes to straighten up as much as I could. If this was the real deal, this place was in no condition to welcome a newborn!

I went full speed ahead – emptying the dishwasher, wiping the counters, sweeping the floor, putting away laundry and cleaning the toilets. Once I was satisfied with how the house looked, I glanced in the mirror at my 4-days since last washed hair, a face that was in dire need of exfoliating, legs begging for a shave and toenails screaming for some polish. I was definitely in no condition to welcome a newborn!

I decided that since I was still feeling no pain and there was no sign of blood or anything, I would be safe to shower and get myself ready. At this point, I called and notified my neighbor across the street, Shoshanna, that I was feeling some laborish symptoms. Her excitement was hard to hide and she immediately offered her assistance in getting me ready. I told her I was good but I would need her help with Lily that evening and the next morning possibly. She couldn’t believe how calm I was and was even more shocked that I was going to take a shower and get ready! I told her I would call her when I was ready to go so I could give her the tour and info on Lily. At this point, Courtney called and asked if I was on the road to the hospital yet.

“Um no…I’m getting ready to take a shower.”

“Okay well take a quick one. And get. to. the. hospital.”

She also asked if I had called Lindsey. No, I hadn't. Because I wasn't. in. labor.

I showered and started putting myself together. As I was bustling around the bathroom and bedroom, I also added finishing touches to my overnight bag and Adrienne’s bag. Thankfully our bags were about 80% packed so there wasn’t much I needed to add.

As I was blow drying my hair, my phone rang again. This time it was Lindsey.

“Ummm…what are you doing?”

Dammit Courtney! I knew immediately that she knew. I told Lindsey I was getting ready to go get checked at the hospital and she said, “And what were you supposed to do if and when you had to head to the hospital early?” I told her I didn’t want her driving all the way for nothing but she said that was the point! If I were in labor she didn’t want me to be alone. I promised her I would call her on the way to the hospital and we would discuss if/when she should get on the road.

I tried to continue getting ready but my neighbor Shoshanna called again to check on me. I assured her I was fine but needed this time to myself. Hopefully, she’d get the hint and let me finish getting ready in peace. (Foreshadowing: she didn’t.)
While I was getting ready, I loved on little puppster Lily, knowing this would be the last time she’d have my full attention. I knew she was going to be scared and confused since her Dad was already gone. Now I’d be leaving her too!

My goal was to leave the house at 9pm. A few minutes before 9, I put the finishing touches on myself, grabbed my bags and headed downstairs to load up the car. (For my memory’s sake, I was wearing Citizens of Humanity “Kelly” Maternity jeans, a purple long sleeve top from Motherhood and my tan Revas.) I greeted my neighbor outside and brought her in to give her instructions for the dog, alarm, etc. I made a PB&J sandwich and threw a banana and coconut water in my bag since I had no idea when I’d be eating next. I kissed my sweet doggie goodbye and said adios to what could be a babyless house. I got in the car, got ready to drive away and…CRAP! I forgot the carseat. (Totally wasn’t installed yet…truth be told there is a fire station on the way to the hospital so my plan all along had been, “Hey, I can just stop off on the way!” But now that it was the real deal, it wasn’t happening.) Ran inside, grabbed the carrier and carseat base and threw them, literally, in the backseat.

And with the close of the garage door, I was on my way.

I talked to Lindsey on the way there and we got a game plan together. We both kinda knew I wouldn’t be heading home that night so she told me she was going to go ahead and pack her bags and hit the road. I also called Courtney and gave her the update that I had in fact put down the straightener and was on the way to the hospital. Both were SO excited for me!

The hospital is just an 8 minute drive away, door to door, but as luck would have it, it started pouring rain as soon as I pulled into the parking lot. Great. Because that’s just what a 9-months pregnant and in labor woman with two leather bags and leather shoes needs.

I headed up to L&D on the 3rd Floor and checked in with the front desk. They had me wait in the waiting area for a few minutes. While there, I eavesdropped on a couple family members who had been waiting for a few hours. Whomever they were waiting on had just started to push. They called my name and I was taken back to a triage area and this is where I met one of my favorite midwives of the weekend, Leigh. She had me drop trou, and then hooked my belly up to a couple monitors. I could hear another couple on the other side of the curtain being given the “close, but no cigar” diagnosis. She was 3cm dilated but her water hadn’t broken yet so they were being sent home.

Leigh checked me out and confirmed that I, too, was 3cm dilated but because my water had indeed broken, I wasn’t going anywhere. They told me I would have to wait a few minutes I had to wait a few minutes before being taken to my delivery room because the wing was full. (A huge unit had returned from Afghanistan about 10months ago and thus a huge baby boom began. I was told they were very close to shutting down and diverting patients to the nearby city hospital, Gateway.) Leigh left my curtained off area and went to begin paperwork [my pre-admission paperwork I never got around to. Oops!]

I lay there kinda pinching myself, not really believing this was all about to happen. And then they came…the tears.

Holy shit. I was about to have a baby. And I was alone. And terrified!

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