On October 6, 2009, we discovered we were unexpectedly pregnant. After 6 positive pregnancy tests and two blood tests later, we accepted it to be true (and we were utterly amazed that God would choose to bless us with a child!)
October 27, 2009 was the first day we saw our "little peanut", so named because she was precisely the size of a peanut on the ultrasound picture. It was amazing to imagine that such a tiny grouping of cells could (and would) become a baby in 33 weeks (and it was exactly 33 weeks to the day from that first ultrasound!).
On January 26, 2010 we learned that our little peanut had grown into a baby girl! Not just any baby girl either - the most perfectly formed (and beautiful) baby girl we could have prayed for.
June 14, 2010 promised to be a good day. Jim had taken the day off from work (in honor of my birthday) and we were going to celebrate with a lazy day. We went to breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants "Ripples". During the drive to the restaurant, I noticed I was contracting again (see previous pregnancy posts!) but these contractions felt different.
Halfway through breakfast I realized the contractions were VERY different and I lost all interest in eating (which was very sad because I had ordered my favorite french toast - yes, the leftovers are sitting in our fridge!). They were anywhere from 5-10 minutes apart and very irregular, but painful. Jim was concerned, but I stubbornly decided we should go grocery shopping. I was convinced that there was no way I could be in labor on my birthday (of every possible day this baby could be born!).
By the end of our grocery shopping (at Target and Costco), the contractions were between 2-5 minutes apart and growing more painful. Jim suggested we go home and relax, but instead I decided to clean our house. I also started sending text messages to my friend Shannon (who happened to be working as the lead nurse on the Birthcenter that day) about my day. She suggested I come in, but I was still in denial that this could be true labor.
Cleaning proved to be therapeutic, and my contractions spaced out to 5-7 minutes apart and grew less painful. I figured this meant we were in false labor, but just to test that theory, Jim and I went to the mall to walk around in air-conditioned comfort. By the time we made it across the mall, Jim was timing the contractions with his iPhone and we were anywhere from 2-4 minutes apart. Jim also recalls that I grew very flushed with each contraction and was radiating heat (and sweat - that part I do remember!)
We decided to leave the mall and head for the hospital. Once I got there, they took us to an exam room and left me to change. 30 seconds later they came back and instead decided I should just be admitted. I remember protesting this and pointing out that no one had checked me yet or even hooked me up to the monitor to see if I was really contracting. I remember Shannon coming in and saying "Daja, let's just have a baby"... but I was still in denial. This was my birthday, after all!
We were admitted around 5:00 PM. Jenny, a fellow nurse, started my IV and did my paperwork to prep for an epidural. The contractions weren't terrible, so I chose to wait on the epidural and Jim and I walked the halls for awhile. By 6:00 PM, Dr. H was in my room. I remember him sitting down and asking "What's the plan?" to which I responded "I want to go home". He laughed and decided to break my water instead. I don't think he realized I was serious!
I know I mentioned in previous blog posts that Baby girl had a lot of amniotic fluid (which is very good!) but I didn't realize exactly how much there was until Dr. H ruptured me. Baby girl's head was VERY low, so he had to push her head up to allow the fluid out. That part was *slightly* uncomfortable, but after Jenny cleaned up the original mess, I decided to sit up... and flooded the entire bed. It took three people to clean up the mess! I'm certain as well that I lost inches of my abdomen (and several pounds at least!) after the flood.
At 7:00 PM, I went ahead and got an epidural. The contractions still weren't as painful as I had anticipated they would be, but I was very fearful of a) being in labor for a long time and growing very tired and b) tearing badly. Bill was the anesthesiologist on and did a beautiful job on my epidural. I love getting my patients epidural because of how smoothly it makes their labor go afterwards, but I didn't realize until I had mine that after the epidural was the best I had felt the entire pregnancy! No pain, no nausea, no sore joints, no needing to pee every 5 seconds... just utter relaxation. Also I learned that a little Fentanyl goes a long way for me. I felt quite drunk the whole rest of the labor (turns out Bill may have hit a blood vessel on the way into the epidural space so a little Fentanyl was floating around my brain - and Dr. H pointed out that I was not drunk, but rather a little high!)
I was dilated 5/90%/0 after the epidural, which really wasn't much of a change from admit (4/90%/-1), so we started a little Pitocen to help. Apparently a small amount of Pitocen goes a long way, because exactly 1 hour and 45 minutes later I had progressed to 7/100%/+1. An hour after that, I started to notice the contractions again as dull pain in my tailbone. I remember telling Hilary and Rachel that I felt like a wuss, but "these contractions kinda hurt". They cleared everyone out of the room and sure enough, I was almost completely dilated and +2. The on-call anesthesiologist came in to give me a little extra medication in my epidural (which proceeded to make my legs completely numb but did nothing for the pain) and Dr. H came in.
Many of the details of that night were (and are) spotty, but I will never forget when Hilary said "Daja, it's time to have a baby!". I remember crying (not unusual these days!), holding Jim's hand and telling him "We're going to have a baby". I'm not sure if the reality of it sunk in then or not, but I remember being overwhelmed by the thought.
At 10:00 PM we started pushing. I never realized why my patients struggled with pushing despite my instructions to "push like you are having the largest bowel movement of your life" until I started to push. My legs were too numb for me to hold on my own so Hilary and Rachel each had one leg and Jim held my hand and rubbed my back. I was so numb that I had no idea if I was pushing correctly at all (or making any progress) but everyone in the room assured me that I was. And I must have been, because 27 minutes later Halle Arianne Brown entered the world.
Dr. H delivered her to her waist and then allowed me to reach down and pull her out the rest of the way myself. She immediately began crying (even before her chest had been delivered she was making trying to make noise!) but once I pulled her up to my chest her eyes met mine for the first time and she stopped crying. I remember telling Jim "She knows who I am!" in amazement.
I could not have been blessed with a better labor and delivery experience, and I am so grateful to each person who went out of their way to make it special for me. Hilary, Rachel, Nickole and Hailey all went out of their way as both my nurses and my friends to take the best care of Halle and me (from laboring me to working the cameras so Jim and I could enjoy the moment and even setting up a mini photo-shoot of Halle after her bath). Dr. H did a fabulous job - not only with putting up with me for the past nine months, but making my delivery a wonderful experience (he even will admit he had a great time at my delivery!).
Last year I thought I would never top spending my 23rd birthday in Hawaii. Thank you God, for proving me wrong... and blessing me with a daughter for my 24th.
Halle Arianne Brown
June 14, 2010 10:27 PM
7 lbs 3.4 oz, 19.5 in