Friday, December 31, 2010

Our birth story

This story is just so near and dear to my heart (big shocker there) and though it is totally wordy, each detail is just so important to me.  So I thought I would share our birth story with you all. 
prego pic taken by my sister bridget

I was due  Oct 13th, 2010.  We decided not to find out what we were having and we were eagerly anticipating the baby's arrival.  I was continuing to work as a labor and delivery RN  and feeling great doing so.  That is until I was in the OR circulating during a case and felt like I was having consistent but painless contractions at 32 weeks and 1 day.  This was back on August 19th.  So I finished in the OR, recovered my patient and then had a nurse/friend put me on the monitor to see.  Sure enough, I was contracting about every 2-3 minutes, I could feel the tightening in my abdomen but they were really painless and I may have just ignored them if it weren't for the fact that I was so early.  A midwife checked me and told me that I was in-fact fingertip dilated (between 0 and 1), 90% effaced (thinned out), and at about 0 station (how high or low the baby's presenting part is).  Needless to say, I was pretty frightened.  Mike came home from work and met me at the hospital assuring me all would be okay.  Being a labor and delivery nurse and seeing and knowing more than I would like to at times can often be a bad thing.  The midwife sent an FFN (a culture to test the likelihood that I would deliver within the next 2 weeks) and the culture came back negative (thank God).  She checked me again 2 hours later as my contractions were continuing to come every 2-3 minutes and I was unchanged.  We discussed the likelihood of my delivering in the next 2 weeks, which was about a 2-7% chance, so I declined the steroids given for fetal lung maturity, and she advised me to go on light activity.  Keep in mind, I get my care at a birth center about 45 minutes away but this was all at the hospital where I work.  Calls were made back and forth and my providers took me out of work saying that bed rest has never been proven to do anything, but that I should take it easy. This was a Thursday and we had Ray Lamontagne/David Gray tickets for the following night and a maternity photo shoot on Saturday.  The midwives all agreed that I could attend both.  This was such a blessing because the concert was incredible...second row seats for my birthday from Mike!  The photo shoot was with our wedding photographer Kevin McPherson and was just so much fun. 
us at the concert
You can view the pregnancy photo shoot here.
After that I really took it easy, something that was extremely difficult for me.  My contractions would come and go, more often at night, but were still painless and far less frequent than the day at work when this all started. 

this is me on light activity...folding tons of hand-me down baby clothes
Fast forward to 35 weeks exactly.  I had an app't with the birth center and GBS culture was done.  The midwife checked me and said I was 1cm dilated/100% effaced/0 station.  Well crap!  My body was definitely changing and I was just not ready for it!  I really liked being pregnant and I was scared because it was still too early! 
The following day, Thursday September 9th, exactly 3 weeks to the day I was taken out of work, I started having some back pain.  Felt pretty much like my period was coming...mild cramps, nothing major, and certainly nothing in my abdomen.  I watched the Bethenny Getting Married marathon on Bravo and took it easy.  Mike was at work, so I called him at 4:07 (Mike remembers exactly) and told him that I thought something was happening but that it was all in my back, wasn't what I was expecting, that he should keep his phone on him in-case, but that he didn't need to come home from work yet.  I then lit some candles, got in the bath, listened to music, got out and did my hair and make-up...totally in denial that this could be it.  Two of my sisters were flying in from Boston that night and we had dinner plans.  I even spoke with them when my back pain first started and they were boarding the plane.  They were headed home for my shower which was happening that Saturday.  So yes, I was in denial.  Plus, it really wasn't painful.  I started to time the back cramps and they were everywhere from 2 to 12 minutes lasting 30 to 90 seconds.
At about 5:30 I was uncomfortable and texted Mike to tell him to come home as soon as he was done training (he is a personal trainer).  He called me immediately and told me that luckily he hadn't listened to me, had already cancelled his remaining clients and was headed home from the shore (where he owns a wellness studio).  I called my mom at work in Philly and she said she would come over too.  I called my midwife who told me it sounded like early labor and to call her if anything changed or else call her in one hour.
By 6:15 when Mike arrived, I was only comfortable on all fours when the back pain would start. He did some counter pressure and some massage (a true Bradley Method student).  At about 6:45 we called the midwife again who told us we should leave for the hospital that is affiliated with the birth center (we were too early to deliver at the birth center).  So Mike and my mom got our bags together and got the car ready.  I kept making trips to the bathroom and found myself most comfortable on the toilet.  At this point I made it to the front door and could not go any further.  I was hunched over the couch and moaning.  I got on all fours and could not be convinced to get up.  They called the midwife again.  She could hear me in the background and said to take me to the closest hospital.  Mike and mom picked me up off the floor, got me into the back of the car, and took me to the hospital down the street and around the corner.  The car ride was honestly not that bad...shockingly.  We got to hospital at 7:15, were taken right up to L&D, the nurses all stared at my like I was crazy when I started rattling off my labs, saying I was GBS unknown because the culture had just been done yesterday, and "yeah right, this girl is having her first baby and is probably not doing a whole lot!"  They took me into a room, I stripped down, got on the monitor (the nurse in me wanting to hear the baby on the monitor for a bit), the Dr checked me at 7:20, and I was completely dilated/100% effaced/+1 station with a bulging bag.  I believe now that I had transitioned at home on all fours in front of the door and was complete before I even left the house.  So the birth plan remained in my bag, the nurses ran around completing paperwork, starting an IV (I could have cared less whether I had an IV or not at this point) and the doctor changed into scrubs in a hurry.  He then broke my water which felt like a relief to my surprise.  My mom had one leg and Mike had the other.  The nurses asked if I planned to go natural, I said yes, they laughed and said good...obviously because there was no time for anesthesia anyway at this point.  The back pain was incredible and I am not sure I even got a break between contractions.  I was sweating, Mike was giving me ice chips and a cool cloth for my forehead, he stroked my leg between contractions, and he and my mom were quietly encouraging and supportive.  Mike asked the doctor if he could help catch the baby, to which the doctor replied "do you have a license for that?" So Mike was not allowed to help catch.  I did say at one point that I wasn't sure I could do this because they all said that I was pushing well, but they hadn't called the neonatal intensive care unit team yet, so I was skeptical.  I pushed for 45 min and Quinn was born at 8:29p.  In all the craziness, I opened my eyes as this beautiful baby was being born and said "It's a boy!" 

Because he was early, the pediatric team took Quinn to the warmer immediately.  I wish I could have fought more for him to come right to my chest, but I was overwhelmed that I was early and that it had happened so quickly.  Mike was with him the entire time.  Quinn cried right away, his Apgars were 9 and 10, and he was 4 lbs 7.6 oz and 17 3/4 in long.  Because he was late preterm, he had to go to the intensive care nursery (ICN).  I got to hold him for a bit but was not allowed to breastfeed (again, something I would have fought harder for in hindsight).  Mike never left his side and he was escorted to the ICN.  My nurse got me a sandwich and some orange juice and took a few blood pressures.  Oddly enough, the sisters that were flying in from Boston had landed while I was pushing, got my dad to drive them immediately from Phila Airport, met my other sister (there are four of us) at the hospital, and they were all there waiting outside the door when Quinn was born.  

here are my sisters and my dad outside the delivery room waiting anxiously (otherwise known as having a grand ole time taking pictures while i was working harder than i have ever worked before!)
We hadn't planned on having anyone else there but the two of us, but with this whirlwind birth, it was so special that my entire immediate family was with us, especially with my two sisters living so far away.  Additionally, my mom had delivered my three sisters at this very hospital (she delivered me at home, but that is a story for a different day).  So there we are in my labor room looking at one another and remembering that the last time we were all in this hospital was for my sister Bridget's birth back in 1984.  It was so surreal.
this is me right after giving birth...sweaty and exhausted.  

Before my hour of recovery time was up, I convinced the nurse to let me go to the ICN to see Quinn.  It was overwhelming to have had him early, to not be able to hold him like I wanted to in the quiet of my room, to see him hooked up to the cardiac monitor, etc. But he was perfect...just a little early.  They gave him one feeding with formula because of their concern that his blood sugar would drop.  I began pumping immediately and was fortunate to get a ton of colostrum and then a ridiculous amount of milk (hello engorgement!!!).  So from then on, Quinn received only breastmilk.  The following morning, I was allowed to nurse.  We still had to nurse and then bottle feed him the milk I had pumped so that nurses and docs could quantify how much he was getting.  They were concerned about getting his weight up, about his blood sugar, and about jaundice.  He had an IV at one point that was quickly weaned and he had an NG tube because he was spitting up much of the milk the first day.  Quinn actually pulled that out himself.  
here we are the day after quinn's birth in the ICN

I was discharged that Saturday 9/11 but they allowed us to "nest in" and stay in our room until Tuesday because they weren't busy.  This was a miracle and I had never heard of a hospital allowing this.  My shower went on without me and I hear it was a great time.  
pics from the shower
My family came that night and brought some decorations, food, and gifts.  The lactation consultants and staff were so supportive and nurturing.  We were with Quinn to breastfeed every three hours, bottle feed him the breastmilk, change all his diapers, take his temp, take him out from under the bili lights...they let us be almost independent with his care.  When we were finally asked to leave on Tuesday (the same day Quinn was transferred to the transitional nursery because he was doing so well), we simply moved to the "nesting room" which was a sofa, a few breastpumps, and a TV right next to the nursery.  We stayed there and were allowed to wheel Quinn in and just hang out there taking care of him.  We did go home twice for a few hours at night because I couldn't tell whether I was coming or going and needed sleep (and I cried most of that time). We spent our fourth wedding anniversary in the nesting room (Sept 16th) with Quinn, snuggling and staring at Quinn and falling in love all over again. 

He was discharged on the 8th day and was already up to his birth weight!  The staff had predicted 10 to 14 days in the hospital, so we were elated.  I attribute it to being able to stay as long as we did, breastfeeding, and being able to bond and care so much for him despite his being in the hospital.  So we took a little 4 lb 7.6 oz baby boy and almost 40 bottles of pumped milk home.  
we were walked out to the car by kay, quinn's fabulous nurse
here we are...finally home!  those are all of our shower gifts behind us...thanks family and friends!

He has been exclusively nursing ever since and and was already 8.2 lbs at 6 weeks, now over 13 lbs at 16 weeks.  We are all doing very well, sleep deprived, but could not be happier. 

You can view Quinn's professional photo shoot here, also shot by Kevin McPherson.
So there it is, far too long and wordy, but it is so fun to re-tell such an amazing and special story.  It was definitely not what I had planned and it was crazy and intense, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat.  


  1. LOVE IT. read every word.

    i think its hilarious to read about your pushing and dilation and effacement and then see the pictures of us goofing off in the hall. no respect!

  2. glad you LOVED it. quite a whirlwind. and yes, it was completely disrespectful that you all were having such a great time while i was going through it! but it was all worth it and i was so glad to have you all right there!

  3. love it. love quinn. love mike. love you. love the miracle of birth. love family. shall i go on?????

  4. Amazing thing to witness a daughter giving birth -- even more amazing when done so efficiently!! Yeah God.

  5. sistaaaa. i just reread this since, ya know, i'm gonna be doing it in a few days/weeks and i loved it. i am all the more sensitive to him with his little tubes and being small and having him be down the hall in the NICU now that im approaching birth myself. gosh what an emotional time it must've been! i knew that at the time but i feel it more now!

    so glad that boy is so stinking happy and fat now. love him and love you.

  6. Aw. This is so sweet! What a little trooper he is! (and you are!) :)