Wednesday, July 29, 2009

birth story

I happen to have a few spare minutes (that's a big deal with an infant and a 3-year-old, by the way), so I figured I could share the story of how Leah entered the world. You know, in more than one word. Usually when people ask me about the experience, I just say "long." And it was. But we'll get there.

My due date was July 2. When my weekly doctors' appointments started in June, my nurse practitioner checked my cervix, found that I was already dilating and effacing, and said, "Oh, I don't think you'll make it to July." Awesome! I'd love to have this baby early. Like before this Minnesota summer gets really hot. Well, I made it to July. I made it to my due date. I even made it to the 4th of July, which was really the only day I didn't want to give birth. I mean, who wants to share their birthday with the country? I had a weekly appointment on July 6, at which time my doctor performed a non-stress test and scheduled an induction for the following Monday, July 13. REALLY not a route I wanted to have to take (mostly because I was planning on a natural birth, and my confidence in that dwindles at the very mention of pitocin). Anyway, since I had to work until I went into labor, I just kept trucking in, my very presence answering the ever-present "you're still pregnant?" questions. But I hung in there. All the way until July 8.

July 8 would have been a great day to have Leah. Not only would her birthday have been 07-08-09, she also would have shared her birthday with her Poppa (my dad). But that didn't happen. Not even the tiniest hint of a contraction. However, I woke up on Thursday, July 9 at about 5:00am with more than just hints of contractions. I was pretty sure these were the real thing. And I was excited! I went to the bathroom and came back to bed and told Dan that he probably shouldn't go to work because I was pretty sure I was in labor. He took Jack to daycare and came back and made me some toast. I had started timing contractions and was just watching TV in bed. Well, by mid-morning, I was only having a couple contractions an hour. We decided to go for a walk. Rather than get things going again or speed things up, the walk seemed to stop things all together. Great! So I think I took a nap. A few hours later, I started to get contractions more regular again. Okay, here we go! Nope, they stopped again after a while. Dan picked Jack up in the afternoon and we all took a little trip to the Maple Grove Farmers' Market after supper. We went on with our evening and I went to bed convinced that I would, indeed, need that induction on Monday.

Then I woke up at about 2:30 am on Friday, July 10. This time I was confident that these were the real thing. :) I started timing contractions again, sent Dan downstairs so he could actually sleep, and watched the hilarious middle-of-the-night television selection. Luckily, these contractions actually stayed pretty consistent and some were pretty intense. Yay! Maybe this is it! Dan took Jack to daycare again, with plans for my parents to pick him up (you know, in hopes that we'd be at the hospital or something). Well, although the contractions stuck around all day, they never really got bad enough to go to the hospital. They would be between 3 and 6 minutes apart, varying in intensity. I was sure I'd be doing this for a while, and I was a little discouraged. Finally, around dinnertime, things seemed to pick up. I was needing to really concentrate during contractions and they were finally getting closer together. At about 7:00pm, I had been having contractions 2-4 minutes apart, lasting 45-80 seconds, for about two hours. So, we decided to head to the hospital.

I was a little nervous about getting to the hospital too early. With Jack, I was only at 2 cm when I arrived and STILL at 2 cm about 6 hours later. Depressing! This time, we arrived at the hospital at about 7:30 pm, got up to OB triage, and got settled so the nurse could check me. I was at 4 cm. Okay, better than 2, but I was hoping for at least 5. Due to the shortage of nurses and rooms not being ready, we had to walk around for a while. After about an hour, I really just wanted to sit, so we went back to our triage room. It wasn't much longer before we had our own room, which was lovely. We met our awesome nurse (Erin), one of the on-call OBs, and a great attending. The nurse and the attending were around quite a bit, and they were great at distracting me between contractions. During contractions, I found it most comfortable to rock in the rocking chair. Dan was fantastic support, and we had an awesome playlist going on our laptop.

At about 11:30 pm, my nurse decided to check me again. I was at 5-6 cm. This was my first clue that I was in for another long labor (oh, did I mention that Jack's was just over 30 hours?). Dan called my mom, who wanted an update before midnight and then not again until the baby came. We continued to labor and things got more and more intense. I was sure I must be dilating really quickly, and hoped I was nearing transition. My nurse checked me again at about 4:00 am and I was at 8 cm. Progress! Slowly but surely. I decided to have them break my water, hoping to speed things up a little. (Unfortunately, they found that I had meconium--baby poop--in my fluid. It would require a couple extra people at delivery to make sure Leah didn't aspirate any of the fluid). All breaking the water did was make the contractions nearly unbearable. It's amazing what a little cushion of amniotic fluid can do! The intensity had me convinced that I must be close to complete, so I asked my nurse to check me again around 5:00 am. Unfortunately, I was at ALMOST 10 cm. There was just a lip of cervix left. Piece of cake, I thought. I'll get rid of that lip in no time. False. at 5:30 or so, the lip was still there. I was clearly frustrated, and in pain, so my nurse offered to push it back during a contraction while I started pushing. It sounded brutal, but if it meant getting to 10 cm and ACTUALLY pushing this baby out of me, I was for it. Yeah, brutal doesn't even come close. I'm pretty sure I thought I was going to die. But it worked! And my little girl started descending almost immediately.

"I have Erin Bennett ready for delivery in 352." A more perfect sentence had never been spoken by my beautiful labor nurse. :) In came the on-call OB, the attending, at least three pediatric nurses, and two more OB nurses. It was quite the party. I started pushing and she started coming pretty quickly (I joke that my gift after long labors is quick deliveries). Once she crowned, I slowed down the pushing a little bit. Then all of a sudden, her head was out, and with one more push, all of her was out! Seriously, the most amazing feeling in the WORLD! Official birth time was 5:53 am. Due to the fluid issue, Leah was clamped, cut, and whisked away before I even had a chance to look down and see her. They brought her to the warming bed and started working on her lungs. Basically, they wanted to get as much as they could OUT of her lungs and mouth and everything before she started crying and breathing. So while they finished with me--placenta, a few stitches, etc--Dan went between me and Leah, giving me updates and taking pictures. Finally, they were done with both of us and I got to hold my sweet girl! My sweet LITTLE girl, at 9lb 13oz. :) She beat her brother by 5 ounces! I guess that's what an extra week in the womb will do!

And what timing she has--she just woke up. :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Leah, in pictures

Posting a few pictures is about all I have time for. :) So without further ado, a few shots of Leah's first (almost) two weeks of life!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Leah Margaret

July 11, 2009
5:53 am
9 lb 13 oz
22 inches
practically perfect in every way

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Yes, I'm still pregnant

I'm not even a week overdue, and I'm overwhelmed by the number of people (in real life and in computer life, thanks to things like facebook) who are shocked that I'm still pregnant. So here's my little public service announcement moment for everyone:

"A 'normal' pregnancy lasts anywhere from 38 to 42 weeks."

I had my first "post due-date" doctor's appointment yesterday. Little did I know that would mean my first-ever non-stress test! The nurse took all my vitals like normal and then had me get on the exam table. I got hooked up to one monitor for Leah's heartrate and another one to keep track of any contractions I might have. I also had to hold a little Jeopardy-buzzer-type-thing and press the button every time I felt her move. Before she turned anything on, the nurse asked if the baby had been active recently. I said it had probably been about an hour, so she gave me a tiny can of orange juice to wake her up. I was skeptical, but WOW did it ever work. In a matter of minutes, she was going bananas. So the nurse left, and I got to listen to the heartbeat, watch the little machine spit the graph paper out, and press my button over and over and over. My doctor (actually, nurse practitioner, but whatever) came in after a while and watched the graph paper with me. She was very pleased with her heartrate and movement ("well, she should just crawl right out of there if she's moving that much!"), but bummed that I wasn't having any contractions. Then she uttered the dreaded word: Induction.

Crap! I don't want to be induced! But she said once we hit 41 weeks (which I'll be on Thursday), then we need to at least set a date. And since the non-stress test is "good" for a week, she thought it would be easier to schedule induction for next Monday rather than another prenatal appointment with the non-stress test. (The truth is that she would have let me come in today to be induced, but she's very sweet about my wanting to avoid it, and Leah looked JUST fine after the test, ruling out any medical need for induction).

After unhooking all of the monitors, she checked me for dilation. I've been about 1 cm for a month or so, and just recently started effacing. She was VERY pleased to find that was closer to 1 1/2 cm and still quite soft and 70% effaced. So pleased, in fact, that she said she was quite certain that I wouldn't need my induction date. I hope she's right.

So now my job is to get this baby out before Monday! It is nice to know that regardless of how or when she comes out, I'll have her by next week at this time! But until then, YES, I am still pregnant. :)

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Dear little Leah,

Congrats, darling! We've made it to your due date. People said it couldn't be done! Actually, I think a lot of people are just really anxious to meet you and figured you'd feel the same way and come early. But you didn't. :) And I'm really okay with that. You'll come when you're ready. (but this weekend would be great).

Speaking of this weekend, I have to let you know that Saturday is the fourth of July. Now, you are free to come whenever you want, and Saturday would be a fine day to be in labor. Just know that for the rest of your life, you'll share your birthday with the date that marks our country's independence. And that isn't all bad--fireworks on your birthday! (That's more than your brother can say!) But I can pretty much guarantee that your birthday party might not get to be ON your actual birthday very often. But really--it's totally your choice.

People are constantly asking me how I'm feeling. And understandably so--it's not exactly super comfortable to be pregnant in the heat of the summer. But this week has been heavenly! We even turned off the AC. And I'm trying to enjoy these last days of carrying you inside instead of outside. (As one friend put it, "This is the easiest she'll ever be to take care of!") Being pregnant is a very special thing, and I've had a great nine months with you. It started with a little more nausea than I had with Jack. And the heartburn has been a little more intense than the first time. But I know that once we meet you, that stuff is going to seem so small in the grand scheme of things. It's a tiny price to pay to bring a new life into the world!

I remember when we found out that you were coming. I promised myself I wouldn't take a pregnancy test too soon. But one night, I just had a feeling. So the next morning, I did what I promised I wouldn't do and lo and behold--two pink lines! I was shocked. And so excited. I think your dad was taking a shower, and I told him as soon as he came upstairs. It still took a little while for it to sink in--I think I took two more tests that week. But it was true--we were having another baby. We decided not to share the news right away. We told Mimi and Poppa and Gigi a couple weeks later, and nearly everyone else by way of our Christmas card.

Of course, for a few months you were an "it." But we knew that we wanted to be able to call you "he" or "she." Well, we had our ultrasound in February and you were not exactly cooperative! In fact, you sat in your little butt with the cord between your legs for the whole thing. I love that you're modest, but really. Not even a peek? Of course, everything else in the ultrasound looked fine. But we were kind of bummed! Luckily, we learned from our clinic that we could go to Argosy University for a FREE hour-long ultrasound because they teach ultrasound technology and need test subjects! Hooray! So a month after the first one, Dad and I trucked down to Eagan and got to see you again. You were so beautiful! And you were a SHE! (For the record, the technician from the first ultrasound did give us about 70% girl, but to me that was about on par with "Well, I'm pretty sure it's not a puppy!"). So we officially named you Leah. How wonderful to have something to call you!

You have to know that your brother is SO excited to meet you. He already loves you so much--he kisses and hugs my belly and tries to feel you move. He even took it upon himself to also be pregnant for a few months. It was complete with complaints about his heartburn and telling me that his baby was kicking him. Too cute. Now, I think Jack is pretty sure you're going to come out ready to play baseball and build things with legos. So don't take it personally if he's a little disappointed at first. I'm sure he'll also love holding and kissing you. ;)

We've spent the last few months getting the house ready for another family member. Once we knew you were a girl, we felt the need to add a little bit of pink to the bedroom that you'll eventually share with Jack. We filled your half of the closet with dresses and put sweet little onesies and socks and diapers where they needed to go. I packed our bags for the hospital (and one for Jack to bring to Mimi and Poppa's house). Needless to say, we're ready. But if another week is what you need, then take it. We'll be here when YOU'RE ready.

I love you, sweet girl. I can't wait to see you and hold you and kiss you and feed you. You are already so loved by so many people. We know that God is blessing us so richly with the gift of you.