Our little Shepherd Warren decided to make an early arrival yesterday at 12:42am, almost a month before his due date.
We had just taken our maternity photos this past weekend; I was 36 weeks pregnant. We had a bunch of meetings and dinners planned for the week, and I was supposed to start my series of breastfeeding classes next week. We had most things set up and ready, but still thought we had a lot of time.
I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom around 2am on Tuesday 9/26. Typically at this phase of my pregnancy, I'd get up anywhere between 3-8 times in the middle of the night to pee. I felt like I was leaking a little something when I woke up, but didn't think too much of it and went back to bed. At 4am, I woke up again -- this time my shorts were completely soaked. My initial thought was that I had peed my pants. I ran into the bathroom and took my pants off to investigate. It was clear, and it didn't smell like pee. I sat in there for a while trying to wake up and get my brain to wrap itself around what this might mean. Matt woke up and asked me what was going on. I said, "Either I just peed my pants, or my water broke." It kept leaking. A lot.
We looked at the booklet that was provided to us in our childbirth class to see if it had any info that would be helpful about water breaking. Only 10% of women's water breaks before they are in labor. And an even smaller percentage of those women are pre-term. We decided to play it safe and call my doctor. After describing to her what had happened, she told us that it sounded like my water broke and that I should come into the hospital in the next hour or so. She told us we had time to eat breakfast, shower, and pack things up. I emailed my boss and told him I'd keep him in the loop, but that I likely would be offline for at least a few hours while I was confirming whether or not my water did break.
This was not what I expected the going to the hospital situation to look like. We got cleaned up, loaded our bags into the cars and ate a hardy breakfast. On the way to the hospital, we listened to my workout playlist to get our heads in the game.
Getting Checked Into the Hospital
Upon arrival, I was still not in labor at all. But I was leaking a ton. They asked me to change into a gown and they did a few tests to confirm that my water did in fact break. They hooked me up to the non stress test monitor to track baby's heart rate vs movement. Everything looked good. I answered a million medical history questions, and the nurse informed me that since my water did break, I would be living in the hospital until the baby arrived. And that labor could be anywhere between today and two weeks from now.
They walked me over to my new room, and I worked from the hospital room for about half of the day. My OBGYN came in to look at me and decided that they would induce me. They gave me a little half pill to start contractions around 10am or so.
I worked through the first part of labor. I had some time-sensitive work stuff that I really wanted to finish off on, plus it was a nice distraction when it just felt like bad period cramps. I was on the monitor still, with them tracking baby's heart rate vs my contractions. Eventually, my boss told me to sign off, so I did (somewhat reluctantly because there was still so much to do).
Early labor was not that bad. I sat on a yoga ball and Matt rubbed my back. They told me that it seemed like my body was taking the hint and I didn't need anything else to push me into labor. My body was doing its job.
I didn't really have firm preferences about pain killers, so I just figured I'd play it all by ear.
I labored for about 7 hours without drugs. It was very different than I expected it to be. We found that when I laid on my right side, baby's heart rate would drop drastically, so I did most things sitting up or on my left side.
The pain was getting really bad. I was getting pretty vocal. My OBGYN came back and told me that she wouldn't be on that night and that I'd have a doctor that I've never met before deliver this baby. I WEEPED. She said she had never seen such a strong reaction to that news before. I think part of it was fear, part hormones, and part labor pains. She watched me labor through 3 or so contractions and suggested that I get an epidural. I didn't argue at all.
Coming into all of this, I had a few hesitations about the epidural. I was afraid of the pain and the needle, and I didn't want to not be able to get up to go to the bathroom. After being in labor, I didn't care about any of this. The anesthesiologist numbed my back with a shot before the epidural went in, and I didn't feel the epidural at all. At first, it was only my left side that felt the numbing, and my right hip was still in shooting pain. They gave me a second dose, and that was really great.
At the end of the day, I was very happy about getting it and would do it again for sure.
I was able to just relax once they got that medicine in me. My nurse worked me through a few different postures to open up my pelvis, including one very strange situation where she twisted my hips and massaged olive oil onto my butt and all the way down my legs. With the epidural in, I had no control of my bodily functions, so I definitely farted a few times, which I felt really embarrassed about, but she was not phased in the slightest.
I'm a pretty modest person, so people seeing these sides of me and seeing my naked body were things that I was really not looking forward to. My friends told me that when you're in the moment, you don't care anymore, and that was so true.
There were several very strange moments where baby's heart rate would drop and like 8 nurses would rush in the room and get me onto all fours (butt hanging out for all the world to see). So many people heard me pass gas. So many people checked my cervix. So many people. All stranger doctors/nurses, so that was good. We had to rush my brother-in-law, Mason, out at one of those moments so that he didn't get a graphic show.
Once I was finally ready to push, they told me to act like I had been constipated for 2 weeks and wanted to clear it all out. They told me to hold my breath through it because I was pushing so hard. I'd take a deep inhale and push through contractions with all of my might.
I pushed through one contraction, and they told me he was crowning.
I pushed through another contraction, and they asked me if I wanted to feel his head. It felt like a strange squishy orb. They told me I was making really fast progress and encouraged me by saying that I was a really good pusher.
I only pushed for a total of 6min. And didn't end up with any stitches/tearing -- benefits of having a tiny preemie.
After he was out, they told me that his cord was wrapped around his neck 3 times, which was why his heart rate would drop when I was on my right side. Matt said that when his head came out, the doctors really swiftly unwrapped it like it was no big deal. Thinking about it in hindsight is kind of scary that things could have ended up badly, but I'm so thankful that it went as smoothly as it did. And I'm thankful for hospital staff with such expertise.
Holding Shepherd for the First Time
As soon as he was out, they unsnapped my gown and put Shep on my chest. I cried. I'm pretty sure Matt cried. He was so tiny and so precious and so perfect. I didn't care about him being slimy and gross like I thought I would.
I held him for a long time before they took him to weigh him and wipe him off. I nursed him for a little bit. It was such a sweet time. Worth everything that you have to go through to get to that moment.
Shepherd was born at 12:42am on 9/27, but I didn't even get an opportunity to rest until after 4am that morning. There were a lot of things they needed to do with him and with me. I had to get my stomach "massaged" (painful) every 15min to get my uterus to start going back to the right size. They checked his blood sugars, they checked our heart rates and all sorts of other things. I probably slept 1-2 hours that night after being up since 4am the night before. It was exhausting, but I did not/do not care.
All I care about is that Matt and I now have this precious human to love.