Thursday, July 19, 2012

Welcome baby Ella!

Well, I'm glad I wrote my pregnancy reflection post when I did because three days later, little Miss Knowles made her arrival.

Ella Christine Knowles
May 16, 2012
Ella Christine Knowles

Labor & Delivery
During the final weeks of my pregnancy, everyone would ask if I was ready for baby to come. While I was excited to finally meet my baby girl, I wasn't ready for her to arrive until after May 15th. Ethan's preschool graduation was the evening of May 15th and I didn't want to miss this important milestone. When I told Ethan that there was a possibility of Mommy and Daddy missing his program, he looked at me heartbroken and said: "But Mommy, I'm the puppy and it's very important." After that, how could I miss it? I think I told everyone that I talked to that I was going to make it until after the graduation program.

The morning of the 15th, I had my weekly doctor appointment. I was up 15 pounds, 3 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I had experienced a few contractions the night before, but they were more than an hour apart and then stopped completely the next morning. My doctor said it could be that day or not until next week. Without regular contractions, there was no telling.

My dad drove me back home from Beloit (he took me because driving in the car for that long was killing my upper back) and I went about my day.

Now it was time for the important Preschool Graduation program. Here's Ethan being a puppy:

Ethan's Preschool Graduation Program

During the program, I experienced my first hard contraction. I probably only had three contractions during the program. I wasn't sure if they were real or Braxton Hicks. The program ended and Ethan received his diploma. Kindergarten, here he comes! Following the program, we went to the Chicken Inn for ice cream to celebrate. I should have known something was up when I wasn't hungry for ice cream and didn't get anything. I NEVER turn down ice cream.

We went home and I tucked Ethan into bed. I decided to get on the treadmill and see if walking eased some of the pain I was having in my back. I walked two miles and experienced some painful cramps/contractions but nothing bad enough that I had to stop or even slow my pretty brisk pace. After my walk, I thought a hot shower would feel good to my back. In the shower, I had some more contractions and they were strong enough that I had to stop and lean over through them. However, they were still completely irregular and ranging about 20 minutes apart.

At 10:00 pm, I decided to go to bed. I was timing my contractions, not sure if they were real or Braxton Hicks, and they remained very irregular. I'd have a few small ones 5 minutes apart but then I'd go 20 minutes without a contraction.

Jim came to bed a few minutes later. At that point, the contractions were pretty painful but still were remaining irregular. As Jim climbed into bed, I decided that we should go to the hospital. I figured it was the most convenient time, before everyone was settled into bed and asleep. With the long drive to Beloit ahead of us, I thought we could head down there and see if labor picked up at the hospital or, if it wasn't real labor, we could just stay at the Super 8 hotel and look at induction options, like breaking my water, in the morning with my doctor. I made the call to my Mom to come over to our house and stay with Ethan. I had decided to leave him home sleeping since there was no reason to wake him up in the middle of the night to hang around the hospital for hours waiting for something to happen.

Mom came over to our house shortly after 10:30 pm. I gave her some instructions, apologizing for calling her over late at night, and then we were off. I told Jim not to drive recklessly as we had all the time in the world. I also sent a text to my doctor to let her know we were starting the 1.5 hour drive.

By the time we reached Kirwin, about 20 minutes away, I told Jim to "Drive Fast"! The contractions were now regular and less than 5 minutes apart and hurt! I was beating the car dash, spinning around in my car seat to try and find a comfortable position and in pain. Sitting in a car seat is not the optimal laboring experience.

Jim's experience driving police cars fast came into great use. We did the rest of the drive going 100+ mph. Seeing deer on the edge of the road added an extra layer of fear for myself. Jim did an amazing job remaining calm, holding my hand, rubbing my lower back, breathing with me, all while maintaining the car at a very fast speed.

We called the hospital when we reached Downs, about 30 minutes from hospital, and warned them that we were almost there and that the contractions were now only about 2 minutes apart and very intense.

When we pulled up to the hospital, the nurses met us in the parking lot. They instructed me that I wasn't allowed to have the baby in the parking lot and that we had to make it into the delivery room. It took everything I had to get out of the car and into the wheelchair. I told them that I wanted to be checked and then given drugs.

I stripped off my clothes as quickly as possible and got on the hospital gown. They checked me and I was 5 cm. At that point, my legs started shaking. They tried to start an IV but had trouble. They checked me again and I was at 8 cm dilated. They called the doctor in and went back to trying to get the IV started. They told me that they had to have a bag of fluids in me before they could contact the anesthesiologist for an epidural. They finally got the IV in after multiple attempts, which were actually a welcome distraction from the contractions, and started pumping it to try and rush the fluids so that I could get drugs.

The doctor arrived about 20 minutes after my arrival and check me for progress. I was at a 10 and ready to push. Then the bad news, there wasn't time for pain relief. I kept telling them that this wasn't my plan! Didn't they know that I'm a planner and I hate when things go off course? I had no intention of having a baby drug free!

Soon, I was pushing and holy heck did it burn! I cussed, accused the nurses of "not helping me" and was slightly panicking. (There was a student observing in the room and I made her cry. I guess she wasn't prepared for the screams of pain that I was dishing out...oops.) Jim, of course, remained calm throughout everything. He did a great job of helping me to focus and breath. The doctor reminded me that the better I pushed, the faster the pain would be over. After that, I got down to business and focused.

Ella was born, after three pushes, at 12:50 am on May 16th. I was at the hospital less than an hour when she made her appearance. Thank goodness the labor and delivery went so quickly! I can't imagine doing a natural childbirth through a long labor and delivery.

Immidiately Following Delivery @ Beloit Hospital
The student observing took this picture immediately after birth.
We look exhausted, but we were so happy!

I can't believe how quickly the pain was over after the delivery and how different the recovery was in comparison to Ethan's birth. I felt like Wonder Woman having given birth naturally. It was painful and it terrified me, but, in hindsight, it was amazing. The recovery difference was so worth the extra pain during delivery. That pain is temporary and then you feel so much better after the delivery! No spinal headache, no back pain from the epidural, no drugged out baby, etc. If we have another child, I will opt for a natural birth plan.

My parents brought Ethan to meet his little sister later that morning. One of the happiest moments of my life!

Daddy, Brother & Sister

We immediately fell in love with our little girl. She is a welcomed addition to our little family.