Monday, January 28, 2013

Ava's Birth Story

Ava Grace Norwood is here!  Ava was born at 7:11 pm on Sunday, January 20, 2013.  She weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces and was 21 inches long.  She is now one week old and as precious as can be.  She takes up approximately 100% of our time, but I did want to find some time to record her birth story here on the blog!

My due date of Wednesday, January 16 came and went.  On Friday, January 18, I had a few signs that labor was imminent.  I was excited and totally freaked out at the same time.  We knew it wouldn't be immediate, but Brent and I went into nesting overdrive.  When I got out of the shower, I found Brent cleaning the floors and packing his bag.  I did a few last minute things and tidied up the house.  Friday night we stayed at home and had homemade pizza for dinner.  I didn't feel any contractions Friday overnight, but I was expecting them at any time!  I woke up on Saturday and immediately felt something had changed.  I felt some definite contractions and pain way down low in my belly.  I had read that "real" labor would be up high and in my back, so I thought that that maybe this was not the real thing.  Still... it was hurting, and it was pretty regular - about every 10-15 minutes.  I had a haircut appointment at 11:15, and I was determined to keep it.  I made Brent come with me since I didn't want to drive with contractions.  Bless my stylist's heart.  She looked a little worried when I told her I was having contractions.  I was pretty excited that I was probably going to the hospital with a fresh haircut and style!

On the way home from the salon, we stopped and got one of my favorite lunches from Saladelia Cafe.  We also called the doctor on call at the hospital (since it was the weekend).  She agreed that I was in early labor and told us to come to the hospital when contractions were five minutes apart lasting one minute each for the span of an hour.  At this point, we also called our parents.  We tracked contractions for the whole afternoon with my iPhone app and watched HGTV.  Things did seem to be progressing, and by around 4 pm, I was in definite pain.  Brent took Blazer to stay with some friends, and for some reason, that made me so sad!  I cried because I felt like it was the end of our old life as a married couple with just a puppy.  I had a "last supper" of plain pasta before we packed up and headed out to the hospital!  Thankfully, I wasn't overly emotional about leaving home - I just was ready to get this thing going!

Once at the hospital, we had to wait in the emergency room with a ton of sick people (super annoying!)  Brent wouldn't let me sit down for fear of germs, so we stood to the side until the L&D nurse came down to get us.  We filled out paperwork and I got my gown on.  We arrived right at a shift change, so we had a bunch of different nurses and attendants for the first 15 minutes.  Here's my last pregnant pic.  Notice the hair, please.  Thank you.

We finally got settled in around 7:30 pm, and the doctor came to check me.  She said, "You're going to be disappointed."  I was only 1 cm dilated.  Boo.  She then stripped my membranes to speed it along, which was, um, less than pleasant.   She asked me to walk around for an hour or so to see if we could get things going.  Brent and I walked laps around the L&D wing, stopping every time I had a contraction.  Two hours later, she checked me again - 1.5 cm.  Lovely.  At this point I knew:  we were going to be here a long, long while.  Thankfully, I fully expected Ava to come late.  I also fully expected to have a long labor.  I also didn't really have any strict "birth plan" or preconceived notion of what my birth 'had' to be like. I just decided to be patient and go with the flow, which I think served us well.  I found it easiest to trust the expertise and advice of the doctors and nurses.  Although I ended up doing things and getting meds I didn't think I would, it was definitely for the best.  At this point, they officially "admitted" me and did all of my lab and blood work.  I labored in the room for several hours.  The contractions were pretty intense for just being 1.5 cm dilated.   The only thing that made them better for me was standing up and leaning over the bed with my head down.  

At 12:30 am, I was given IV pain medication and something to relax me.  I didn't think either worked very well. At 2:30 am, they suggested I get in the jetted tub to relax. I stayed in there about an hour, and it did seem to help a bit.  After I got out, they gave me more pain & relaxation meds plus an Ambien.  I tried to sleep, but I woke up with every contraction, so it was a very fitful and disoriented sleep.  At 9 am on Sunday, the doctor checked me again, and I was at 2 cm.  2 cm after all of that???  I tried hard not to be frustrated.  I had a GREAT doctor who was very sweet and understanding.  She really wanted to move things along while keeping me comfortable.  Even though I was not yet at 4 cm, she suggested I get the epidural since I was in a lot of pain and I was exhausted from laboring for almost 24 hours with no progress. I got the epidural at 10:30 am, and it wasn't too bad except that they had to do it twice because the first time they hit a nerve that sent bursts of pain down my legs.  After the epidural, things were great.  I felt awesome and was able to sleep on and off all day.  I think it worked to relax me and speed things along because they checked me an hour later, and I was at 4 cm.  At this point, the doctor broke my water, which was painless since I had the epidural.  She discovered that Ava had passed some meconium in the womb, which meant that she would need some special care once delivered.

For the rest of the day, I lay in bed waiting for my body to do its job.  In the afternoon, they began giving me pitocin to speed things up.  The nurse helped me switch sides every 30 minutes.  {Side note:  Brent was so awesome this whole time.  He barely slept either, and he was always ready to give me juice, water, and encouragement.   I also had the BEST nurses. The one who was with me most was so kind and sweet.  She really helped me get through it!}  Fast forward to 6 pm on Sunday.  I was FINALLY 8 cm!  They predicted she would arrive within 2 hours.  At this point, I started to get a little freaked out.  Also around this time, my mom arrived from Texas and was brought to the hospital by a friend.  My heart rate was setting off all kinds of alarms in the room because it was so high.  We had my mom leave the room so I could breathe and calm down.  At 6:00, my sweet doctor had to go home (she had been on for 36 hours, so I don't blame her!)  I had a new doctor from another practice I had never met before, but it was OK.  He was just there for the delivery.  At around 6:30, I was finally at 10 cm, so they had me start to push.  They expected me to push for hours, but by 35 minutes, the doctor was called in and the neonatal specialists were poised in the adjoining room to tend to Ava once she was born.  Here I am in the last stages - ready for a baby!

Although the pushing wasn't painful, I could definitely feel the contractions and the pressure.  Ava made her entrance into the world at 7:11 pm, and it was wonderful, but also a bit stressful!  As he delivered her, the doctor saw that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck TWICE and completely knotted in another location.  I did not know what was going on, but Brent saw the whole thing, and although the doctor was very calm, he definitely had a sense of worried urgency.  Before she was completely out, he had to cut the cord while it was still around her neck.  The Lord was truly merciful to us to give us this safe delivery.  It was actually a pretty scary situation that no one could have predicted.  The doctor was so skilled and calm, and we are grateful for that.  

Once she was born, she was whisked off to the specialists.  She was not breathing (because of the meconium), but this was expected.  They worked on her for a few tense minutes, and I finally heard her cry for the first time.  The whole thing was a very surreal experience.  Because of the issues with Ava, she could not be brought to me right away, but the doctor worked on me and Brent got to go see her and take pictures.  Look at all those hands of wonderful people there ready to help her!

About 20 minutes later, they let her lie with me for about 3 minutes.  I got to see her and hug her and kiss her.  

Then they took her to the nursery for some monitoring for about 30 minutes.  Brent went with her, so it was kind of lonely for a while!  Finally, she came back, and we got some family alone time for around an hour.  I got to nurse her for the first time, and we could admire her tiny little features.

After a dinner of pizza brought by my mom (I hadn't eaten in about 30 hours), we were taken to what would be our room for the next two days.  More to come later on Ava's first days!  Here she is with my mom (her Winnie) that first night.  These were days I will never forget, and I thank the Lord that my labor and delivery, though long, were smooth and safe.  The Lord is good!


Shayla said...

Congrats, Katie! Ava is absolutely precious (and I see some resemblance to her mama!). What a beautiful birth story. I'm so glad she arrived safe and sound. Um, 30 are a CHAMP!

Liz said...

Love the line "Look at all those hands of wonderful people there ready to help her!" While mine wasn't long or painful, we did experience those few VERY tense and a little scary few minutes of no breathing/crying. So thankful she is perfect and healthy!

I am just amazed and so proud of your patience and calm during all this! Not that I would EXPECT anything different, but you went against all your natural tendencies of being in control and it served you so well! You're already a wonderful mama. :)


Nicki said...

Katie, CONGRATULATIONS!!! I was almost brought to tears as I read all about your experience, and I'm so glad that beautiful Ava is healthy. Thanks for sharing your story and pictures - prayers for sleep and lots of special bonding moments together! :)

Laura said...

So glad Ava is here and is healthy!!! She's perfect! Hope you are doing well:)

Mindy Rives said...

What a perfect birth story!! So glad Ava is here...she is beautiful, just like her momma!!

The Womacks said...

Love this story and it definitely made me tear up! She's beautiful, Katie, and you did an amazing job. Give her a big hug and kiss for me!

Haley Chance said...

Congratulations, Katie! Even though this story slightly terrifies me, I am so glad and thankful that you had a safe delivery and that little Ava Grace is healthy. I can't wait to see and hear more about her first days and your first days as a mommy. So exciting!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! She is beautiful.

Sara said...

Congrats Katie! She is gorgeous! Excellent work!

serafina said...

You are going to be a great mama. You just radiate love and grace...after a long day at work in my selfish little world, I am inspired by your big heart and joy for being a new mom. Ava is a lucky little girl. Hugs to you and Brent. xoxo

Marisa Frizzell said...

Awww...congratulations! She is so sweet! And congrats to you on making it through a long labor process! :) Hope things are going well and you're getting some sleep here and there.

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