I thought it would be fitting to share Lyla's birth story on her 1 month birthday. Disclaimer: This account is detailed and not edited for content, and some of the photos may be considered "graphic." Squeamish be warned.
Our estimated due date was July 1, and as I had suspected, the day came and went without so much as a blip on the radar. On Saturday July 3, though, I was feeling quite crampy most of the day, so we wondered if things would get going that night. I went to sleep around 10pm, thinking that it wasn't time yet, but was awakened around 3am with contractions that were a bit erratic, but I couldn't sleep through them. I got up and walked around a bit and then settled in on the couch with my hypnobabies tracks on and got a couple of hours of sleep. Over the course of the morning on Sunday, July 4, everything slowed down and then completely died down by about 1pm. So we went about our day, and again I went to bed and was able to get to sleep, even though I was thinking that things would probably rev up again that night. We had our on-call people ready for Timothy in case things went faster than last time, but I figured we were safe letting him go to sleep here since nothing was really progressing yet.
I woke up at 1am Monday morning, and this time the contractions were much stronger. I tried to stay in bed and rest through them, but I was very uncomfortable, so I got my birthing ball and sat next to the bed so I could put my head down and concentrate when the contractions came. I did this until about 4am and then finally woke Billy up because I needed help focusing and staying relaxed. He timed the contractions and they were coming every 5-6 minutes and were about a minute long.
Around 8am, we called our doula, Rachel, to let her know what was going on. By that time, the contractions had really intensified, and I was vocalizing a bit through them. They weren't getting any closer together, but they also weren't dying down. We had also called Peggy to come pick Timothy up, because I was having a hard time focusing while worrying about him. My hope was that things would progress and Lyla would appear by that evening, or at worst sometime in the night, so that Timothy would only have to spend one night away from us. This was going to be his first night without either of us, which was a major source of stress for me.
Things finally picked up in the early afternoon, and the contractions were getting very intense, and were 4-5 minutes apart. We had Rachel come over around 4 or 5, I think. I was having a lot of pressure and pain in my back, so Billy and Rachel took turns applying counter-pressure, which was the only thing that helped. Around 7 or so, Billy made dinner for himself and Rachel, as I was not interested in eating at that point. I was doing okay with the food smells, and I thought I felt like laying down for a bit while they ate, but after one contraction in the bed, I had to get up and throw up. Of course, as dazed and uncomfortable as I was, in the back of my mind I thought maybe I was in transition. (I wasn't.)
After that, the contractions got much more intense and closer together, and it felt like I had no break in between, and the pain in my back was all but unbearable. I also felt like even after the contractions peaked, the lower part of my abdomen and back didn't really relax and I wasn't getting any reprieve. I got in the shower a couple of times, but the last time it didn't offer any relief. Right after I got out, which was 1am-ish, I knew it was time to go to the hospital. I had also decided that when we got there, if I wasn't 8+, I was going to ask for pain relief, because I just couldn't take it anymore.
The ride to the hospital was horrendous. The contractions didn't slow down at all, and it just felt like it took forever. When we finally got to our room, I let them check me, and the first nurse couldn't tell how far I was dilated because the bag of waters was bulging. A second nurse checked me, and she said I was complete!!! I couldn't believe it, and I also couldn't understand why, if I was complete, the contractions weren't changing to "pushy" ones. It was both encouraging and discouraging.
I did start to feel a little pushy after a while, but not like it was imperative that I push, but it felt good to bear down a bit through the contractions. At that point, though, they were double-peaking, and my back was hurting so much that I was starting to feel really out of control. I was on my hands and knees, and all of a sudden, my bag of waters just exploded - and I mean it literally exploded all over the lower half of the bed, like in the movies, seriously! And again, I didn't feel pushy. Very odd. The scary thing was that there was meconium in the fluid, so they wanted to keep me on the monitor (they had been monitoring intermittently up until then), which was fine with me, because the last thing I wanted was to get up at that point. I was so tired!!
So, they checked me again, and all of a sudden there was confusion. I heard someone say "five or six" and someone else said "eight or nine". I totally freaked out. I mean, I had been under the impression that I was complete, so what was happening??? So, I asked Billy to go get the nurse who had checked me so that she could explain what was going on. Apparently, the bag of waters had been bulging out so far that it seemed like I was complete, but when it burst, they found that I wasn't, and because I'd been bearing down through some of the contractions, a portion of the cervix was swollen and looking like a 5-6. So I asked for the epidural. I was so exhausted and in so much pain, and I was really starting to lose it through the contractions, and I just knew I had to get some relief.
Rachel was amazing through all of this. Last time, with Timothy, after laboring for 50-something hours only to find out that I was only at a 2, my doula left when I asked for the epidural. This time, Rachel said, "birth is about surrender, and we never know what it is that we will have to surrender to in any particular labor until we get there." It meant so much to me that she wasn't judging me for what felt like failure on my part. I have no idea what time it was at that point - I think about 6am on Tuesday July 6.
So, I got the epi and felt much better, though it didn't take away all sensation. I was able to rest a little bit, too. So, around 8am, my OB came in to make sure I was progressing. She checked me and I was at a 9, and the swelling had gone down, but even though the contractions had not slowed down, they weren't very intense. She asked if I would be okay with them augmenting with pitocin at a very low level, and I said yes. Rachel and Billy talked and decided that it would be a good time for Billy to run and grab a bite to eat, and Rachel would go when he came back.
And then things got scary.
They lost Lyla on the monitor and couldn't find her. They kept moving the thing around, and the only heartbeat they could pick up was mine, or so they thought. So I agreed to an internal monitor. As soon as they got it in, they found that her heartbeat was really low, and they couldn't get it to pick up even by poking and prodding her and turning me from side to side, so the OB said that she needed to come out NOW. I totally lost it. The last thing I had wanted was a repeat c/s - I was so scared of trying to recover with a 2 year old to deal with. It was at that point that Billy came back to find me crying hysterically and the Dr. trying to snap me out of it to get consent. So, I finally calmed down enough to consent (of course) and off we went.
Billy was not supposed to be allowed in because it was truly an emergency, but our OB was awesome and she made someone go get him after I was prepped. The surgery went much better - in terms of how/what I felt during - than the last one; no referred pain in my shoulders, no horrible tugging and pulling. And then I looked over and Billy was crying hysterically, and I didn't know why. They were working on Lyla - I didn't even realize she was out because she hadn't cried yet and no one had said anything. The anesthesiologist was trying to reassure Billy that she was fine, and that she wasn't breathing because they didn't want her to until they could suck out the meconium and fluid she had swallowed (so that she wouldn't aspirate any of it).
And then we heard the most beautiful sound - her first very strong, loud cry. They had sucked out about 20cc's of nasty fluid/meconium, and then she was fine. They wrapped her up and handed her to Billy, and she was so beautiful! She looks so much like Timothy, only she has very dark hair, and it looks like dark brown eyes.
They let Billy take her out of the room as they got ready to take me back to my room to recover, and he and Rachel were able to bring her in about 10 minutes later. She was wide awake and latched on on her first try, and nursed for 40 minutes on one side and then after a minute or two, another 30 on the other side! I'm pretty sure she took some sort of nursing class through osmosis while in the womb - she is an absolute nursing pro!!
The really crazy thing is that when my OB came to talk to us in recovery, she said that my uterus had done something that she's only ever seen 2 other times. Apparently, the lower 1/4 or so of my uterus had formed a contraction band that was contracting constantly, and it was constricting Lyla's head, preventing it from moving down any further and also probably causing the horrible back pain I was experiencing, and the constant feeling that the contractions never fully let up. So, whether we'd gone complete and started pushing or not, this was going to be the outcome, so it was good that it was caught when it was.
We stayed at the hospital until Friday afternoon, and my recovery is going 100% better than the last time. I don't know if it's because my doctor this time is a better surgeon, or because I only labored about 1/2 the time as last time, or a combination, along with the fact that I'm feeling much better mentally/emotionally, because this was most definitely a necessary procedure, as opposed to last time.
Welcome to the world, Lyla Mae! You may not have arrived as planned, but you're here and you're safe and healthy, and mama wouldn't have it any other way.