The marvelous day! Or rather dayS...
We hope you enjoy these pictures of Gabriel John's first moments in the big, cold world. (And pictures of mom & dad's first diaper changes...) Sorry if some seem redundant - every facial expression is just too precious not to share! And if you're interested, here is the labor story:
2am on Sunday, 6/29: I woke up having contractions. Contractions were fairly short and far apart so I moved down to the couch and tried to doze, unsuccessfully. Philip woke up about 7 and the fun began. :-) We spent the day around the house (walked the dog, unloaded the dishwasher, cut up watermelon, watched movies). By lunch we were timing all contractions and they were definitely getting longer, stronger, closer together - and much more painful!
6pm: Contractions were 4-5 min apart and at least a minute long (and had been for over an hour) so Philip called the Dr. We got the last of our hospital bag items together, he ate a sandwich, I ate a granola bar, and to the hospital we went! With 4 contractions along the way... I should say that our goal was to have as natural a labor as possible. We're not totally opposed to medication or anything (as you'll soon see) but our hope was to deliver Gabriel without medication if at all possible. We were so grateful for our birthing class and all the breathing/relaxation techniques we learned that we were planning to use.
7:30pm: Admitted at the hospital. 6cm dilated! I really wanted it to be more than that... but Philip was appropriately excited and encouraging that we were that far along which helped. They hooked me up to the monitors to watch contractions & baby's heartbeat. They took 5 or 6 vials of blood (and left me with a nasty bruise) and then came the saline lock saga. Our nurse couldn't get the saline lock into my left hand (after many attempts, lots of pain, and another big bruise). A second nurse couldn't get it into my right hand. They brought in the "IV team" who pricked at right and left hands again and then put a port in my left elbow-pit. It was large and very, very uncomfortable but ultimately was a good thing they got it (foreshadowing). And of course, all that pricking was happening through contractions!
Labor continued on, progressing as it should. Contractions were incredibly painful. I tried sitting on the birth ball, standing, kneeling (which had worked well at home) but nothing helped for long. By 10 or 11:00 I really just wanted to be in bed.
11:00: 9cm! I finally hit 9cm around 11 or 11:30. I definitely felt like I should be at 10cm by this point... but I was grateful to be at 9. The Dr offered to break my water. Knowing that would probably speed things up, but also make them more intense, we asked to wait it out a bit longer. We gave in at midnight and asked her to break it. Contractions were incredibly painful at this point. I was gripping the bed rails and shaking them, gripping my stress balls so hard they fused together, and even beating on Philip's back. Philip was absolutely amazing through everything. He was so encouraging and supportive. During this stretch we learned that baby only wanted me on my right side. When I rolled to the left his heart rate dropped. And at some point his heart rate dropped enough that the nurse put an oxygen mask on me. They weren't super-concerned, it was likely he just rolled onto his umbilical cord or something, but it was enough to warrant oxygen and some extra fear in me & Philip. The nurses also had me try laying on my side & putting a peanut ball between my legs. For many women that supposedly helps them get the last couple centimeters. It did not help me and maybe just made me hurt more.
2am on 6/30 (24 hours in labor): Still at 9cm... I stalled. I was devastated. The Dr thought it was due to how tired I was and how tense I was. I'd been in labor for so long she thought maybe my body just couldn't relax enough to open up that last centimeter. She was incredibly supportive and said "we'll keep going naturally as long as you want to - but at this point I would recommend considering an epidural. If you're at all interested now would be the time because the anesthesiologist is here." (At our small hospital there is not always an anesthesiologist in the hospital so in the middle of the night it can take a while for him/her to arrive). I said "yes, let's do it." Philip followed our plan and looked me right in the eye and said "are you sure" and I said, through tears and the oxygen mask, "yes, let's do it." I was just so exhausted and devastated. The nurses were incredibly supportive and said "this is in no way a failure! You did so good! And the woman down the hall, who came in at the same time and also wanted to do it naturally, gave in and called for an epidural a while ago!" (She was why the anesthesiologist was there.)
2:30: The anesthesiologist got the epidural in and the nurses had saline running through the port in my elbow-pit. Getting the epidural in through really painful contractions was rough. Once it was in I had almost immediate relief. Philip and I both dozed for a while and I had contractions without feeling them. It was really difficult to be grateful for the relief & rest but also sad that baby and I were now full of drugs. At some point through here the oxygen finally came off.
5:30: I was finally at 10cm! But a lip of my cervix was still in the way. A nurse tried to push it back and didn't succeed but then the Dr did. Once that was out of the way we did a few test pushes. This happened several times.
7am: I started pushing for real. They turned down the epidural so that I could feel what was going on which was a real mixed blessing. I needed to feel what was happening, but man did it hurt. And hurt... and hurt... for 3.5 hours it hurt... Philip was holding one of my legs - bless him! We were hoping he could stay up by my head & be encouraging from there but instead he saw, well, everything. He was so encouraging and is the only reason I made it through 3.5 hours of pushing.
10:23am on 6/30 (32 hours in labor): Gabriel John entered the world screaming & crying his head off. And his bottom lip was quivering so hard I thought it might come off! He confirmed right away for me that his name was Gabriel - entering the world blowing his trumpet. I am embarrassed to say that the nurse had to prompt me "open your eyes and look at him." I'd had my eyes closed for so long I didn't even open them right away to see my boy. But when I did I saw an angel who landed right on my chest and snuggled into his mom right away.