We have a baby boy! Lars Snyder Woolston was born on Saturday, January 28, 2017 at 10:03 am. He was 6 lbs 9 oz and 20 inches long. It was a whirlwind delivery and it's been a whirlwind ever since.
It all started on the morning of Friday, Jan 27th. Greg and I were discussing something about the future baby that I thought was a good idea but he didn't. I told him that he "could just deal" because I wanted it and it didn't matter that he didn't. Then I started crying. I apologized for my snappy behavior and said that I didn't want my life partner and father of my child to have to "just deal" with a decision I had made about our son. Then I started thinking back to how I snapped at Greg the night before about some process he had done while doing the dishes that I didn't approve of. I panicked and thought, "Is this how I am going to be as a mom? Am I going to think I get to call the shots and Greg just has to do what I say? Is our relationship going to be tainted because I act like I know what is the best way to do things for our family?" So I had a little breakdown and cried and cried and apologized and promised to calm down. I complained about still being pregnant and how I just wanted my body back and how I didn't know if I was being mean because of pregnancy hormones or if I'm just going to be a mean person when I'm a mom. Needless to say, there were a lot of tears and when I cry a lot, I get a headache.
I couldn't linger too long because I needed to hurry off to my weekly OB-GYN appointment. I always scheduled them for Friday mornings at her first opening of the day so I could go to work after. As I was driving in, I tried to drink a lot of water because my head was hurting. I had only taken Tylenol one time in my pregnancy so I didn't have any with me. But I decided I would ask the nurse for some Tylenol because I was going straight to work after my appointment and then Greg and I were going to meet up downtown after work for a 3 hour workshop about financial planning. So I knew I wouldn't be home for another 12 hours with a full day in front of me- seemed like a good idea to ask for some medicine.
The nurse took my vitals like normal. But for the first time in my 9 months of appointments, she said my blood pressure was high. She wanted me to sit still for a few minutes and then she would come take it again. She came back in with the Tylenol and retook my blood pressure and it was still high. So the doctor came in and she said I'm worried about this headache and high blood pressure. So I told her about my morning and how much I had cried and how I was tired of being pregnant. Keep in mind this was my 39 week appointment, meaning I only had 6 more days until my due date of February 2nd. She was nice and listened to me and said, "Well I'm worried enough about this blood pressure that I want you to go have your blood drawn so we can see what's going on. And I don't want you to go to work today." She talked to me about what we're looking for in the blood and a few options for what might happen.
Option A- It's just high blood pressure and the blood is fine. She would give me some medicine to lower the blood pressure and send me home to be on bed rest until I go into labor.
Option B- The blood doesn't look right and we will need to induce labor today. Then she talked me through her weekend schedule so I would know when she would be available or at what point the doctor on call would need to help me.
Neither option sounded great to me. Yes, I was feeling tired of being pregnant, but not enough to do something about it. The whole thing sounded a little frightening. So I called Greg and he came down the mountain to be there for the blood work.
I assumed I would just go to the lab to get my blood drawn, but my doctor told me to go to the hospital to labor and delivery. I checked in and they had me put on a hospital gown and got me settled into a delivery room. I was super confused and a little worried that they were going full monte with the check-in. Someone came in and took my blood and the nurse came and checked a bunch of stuff. She got the results of my blood test and said that they would be sending me home. Then an hour later, my doctor came over on her lunch break. She said that the platelets in my blood were low, meaning that my blood might not clot well during delivery. This means I could get a hematoma during the epidural or during the delivery, I could be bleeding a lot and if the blood doesn't clot, I could lose too much blood and die. Not a comforting thought. She told me that I have late on-set pre-eclampsia (or if you watch Call the Midwife, they called it toxemia back in the day). She said that my numbers are worrisome enough that she's concerned for the baby's safety and being that I was already 39 weeks along, she felt it would be best to induce labor and get him out. She said we could wait it out, but she was worried he could be stillborn if we didn't induce.
So we obviously took her recommendation and started the induction. They started me on a vaginal suppository to soften the cervix, because I wasn't dilated at all. She warned us that she wanted to induce me very slowly so it could be as long as 3 days of labor. That didn't sound awesome, but I was on board to make sure that we didn't rush anything if we didn't really need to rush. I sent Greg home to get our hospital bags and every other thing I wanted to do for 3 days. While he was out, I asked my friend and co-worker, Marissa, to bring me my laptop and charger from work so I could finish up a few things.
In the afternoon, they started the suppository and gave me an IV. The IV was one of the more traumatizing parts of my stay. I have very thin blood veins and I've always had a hard time getting my blood drawn or an IV placed. The nurse attending to me took one look at my arm and said she wasn't going to try because she wasn't confident enough about any of my veins. So she brought the head nurse into my room. She tried twice and couldn't successfully attached the vein. Apparently they kept hitting a valve? I don't know what these things are. But all of them were painful attempts. Keep in mind, I already had a headache, my blood pressure had gone up even more ever since the doctor told me she was inducing labor, and I have a history of queasiness when I get my blood drawn. So the combination of all these things was just really adding up for me. After their second attempt, they called in the anesthesiologist. He came in and tried two times on the left arm (I requested the left arm because I wanted to do a lot of stitching on my latest quilt if I was really going to be there for 3 days). They felt confident that the 4th attempt was working and they connected the IV fluid, but I told them it felt very off. I felt like my arm was swelling and that it wasn't actually in a vein, but there wasn't a physical change in my arm so they kept it in. After about 10 minutes, I got a little more vocal and said, "Really, this IV is not inserted correctly. I can feel it swelling my arm." After a deeper examination, they came to the same conclusion and had to undo it. So that was fun.
Then they attempted my right arm. The second attempt on the right arm finally worked. But I was nearly passed out at this point. So it took 6 attempts in the end and I have the bruises to prove it! I thought, hey if I can survive this then the labor should be a piece of cake! Ha!
I had the suppository in for about 10 hours. I ordered dinner and tried to enjoy it. I sent Greg out to get some food at a real restaurant because we anticipated this would be the most calm point of the delivery. When he came back, we watched the movie Matilda. I tried to quilt a little but everything was just pretty uncomfortable.
My doctor called in the middle of the night (she was monitoring my contractions and Lars's heart from home) and said that she felt like I could move onto one unit of pitocin (which they give me through the IV). At this point, they had a fetal heart monitor on my stomach and also a contraction monitor. As soon as I got the pitocin, I felt a huge difference. I learned what a contraction was pretty quick and I was validated by the monitor because I was having them every 2 minutes or so. The whole thing was a bit cumbersome though because they were pumping me with IV fluid and my bladder had already been compressed as a pregnant lady, so I was needing to use the restroom rather often. Every time that happened, I had to unplug all of my monitors and walk with my IV into the restroom.
I got up to visit the facilities and realized my water had just broke. It had only been 30 minutes after getting the pitocin, but luckily the nurse was already in the room and helped us figure out what to do. Such a weird experience!
We had heard in our birthing classes that once your water breaks, you have to deliver in 24 hours or else you and/or the baby can get infection. So we were excited that we knew his birth date and knew that it wouldn't be a 3 day process, but we'd get to meet Lars a little sooner than we had expected. But the nurse told us that it actually doesn't have to be 24 hours. So she set me up with a catheter and told me to still prep myself for the long haul.
The contractions were coming on much stronger now, but I was still only dilated to about a 2. I tried to sleep through the contractions but they were quite painful. The nurse gave me fentanyl every time she gave me a new unit of pitocin (just one unit). It worked the first 30 minutes each time and I felt like I could finally sleep or bear the pain, but it quickly wore off. When morning came around, I asked for the epidural. I had heard lots of concerns about epidurals but mine went just fine. In fact, it was much easier than the IV. The only difficult part was trying to stay still during the contractions.
In the morning, my doctor came to the hospital. She was there for a scheduled c-section but she came to check on me first. Her biggest concern was that Lars's heartbeat didn't have a lot of variability, it was very stable. But typically when a mother is in labor, the baby's heartbeat will rise and fall with the contractions. In my case, it was as if Lars was rejecting the labor and wanted to stay in the womb. I still wasn't dilated much and she was worried that if we up my pitocin levels, Lars would continue to reject the labor process and it wouldn't be good for his heart. She had to leave for her other c-section but she said she would check in afterwards.
While she was in her other surgery, the nurse on call stepped away from the surgery and said, "The doctor has been watching your baby's heart monitor in her surgery and she doesn't like what she sees. She wants to do a c-section as soon as she is out of this one."
Greg and I kind of panicked. All of our updates thus far had been straight from the doctor and not from the nurse, so it caught us off guard. Then the anesthesiologist came in and said that he was going to up my medications in the epidural to prepare for surgery. When he was done, our doctor came in and explained that she was nervous about the baby's lack of response to the labor. She said I'm not going to call it an "emergency c-section" but I do want to move quickly. So Greg got into surgery clothes and we asked the nurse for a few minutes of privacy so we could say a prayer together. There were a lot of nerves in that room so I'm happy we took a few minutes alone.
I was wheeled into the operating room and at this point the new meds in the epidural kicked in and I wasn't exactly sure what I was feeling. It's a very weird experience to be cognitive but not feel anything lower than your shoulders. My head felt very light and my mouth felt funny. I knew I needed to be alert but I just wanted to snooze the medications away. I thought I'd get to stay on the soft bed for the operation, but a team of people picked me up and literally put me on a table. Maybe that's less odd if you're fully knocked out, but when you can hear everything, it's a little uncomfortable to hear them say, "No we need more people to help lift her up." Ha ha.
Before they got started, they did a few checks to make sure I didn't feel anything. Then the anesthesiologist asked if I wanted to play some music. I was like, "Uh, well I don't have my phone but maybe Greg could go grab his and uh..." The whole thing caught me off guard. He said we could just choose a pandora station on his phone. He said it might calm the nerves so I can focus on the music instead of their conversations in the operating room. So Greg said, "The Weepies. Look up The Weepies and she'll like that." I was glad he could answer for me when I was so out of it. But as we all know, Pandora doesn't just play the music you choose. It also plays similar artists and you don't have control of the songs. So I start hearing songs by Joshua Radin and I listened to a few but then one came on that I wasn't a fan of and the volume seemed really loud. I kept asking Greg to turn it down and then when some ads came on and I didn't really want to hear about the latest deal I could get online. Ha! So I asked Greg to turn it off. Be warned if you're pregnant, you might want to have a playlist ready for the delivery!
I can't really say what went on after that but at some point, they lifted Lars up above the curtain that was between my neck and the rest of my body. It was a very Mufasa Lion King type of moment when they held him up. I remember only being able to really see his foot, so I could see he really was a baby and he was inside of me! Sweet Greg was quite emotional and kept saying, "We have a son!" But I was just so out of it that I was just glad he was there and that he was crying and breathing. Greg stayed holding my hand but I told him I was OK and he should go and make sure our son looked real good. They have a little window from the operating room to a small room on the side where they clean him, weigh him, and all that immediate stuff to make sure he's OK. So Greg got to be in there for all that while they measured him. Meanwhile I was listening to the doctors chat about something that had happened at their office while they stitched me back up. C-sections are just odd! Ha!
They cleaned me up and wheeled me back to the recovery room and Greg brought little Lars in on one of those hospital rolling cribs. I was so out of it and so worn out so I took a few minutes in the room to just breathe and try to be present for when I got to meet my son. I didn't have any feeling in my arms, so I worried I would drop him if I tried to hold him. Greg held him on the little couch and I could hear Lars's little cooing sounds. It was pretty incredible when I finally got to hold him. It's hard to explain when you meet someone that you've been sharing a body with for 9 months. It's like we knew each other but had never met. A little Saturday's Warrior-esque "I've seen that smile somewhere before... it seems we've talked like this before..."
He was so peaceful and calm and it seemed like he would be content just laying on my chest forever. It was really special to me that Greg was the one to hand him to me and I loved that we got to have that private time for awhile as a new family. There were a lot of happy tears shed in that room. After awhile I called in my nurse to help me get him to latch on for breastfeeding. I had read that it was important to start breast feeding as soon as you meet your child, but even after the classes, I wasn't really understanding the mechanics of it all. So she came in and helped me get him to latch on and I feel so grateful that breast feeding has gone well for us ever since.
|Greg took this picture on his phone and texted the family to let them know he was here!|
We were then taken to the maternity portion of the hospital where they have the nursery and all the postpartum care.
Greg went to the cafeteria to get some food after I was settled in my new hospital room. It was my first time alone with Lars so I took a picture from the bed, still grasping the concept that I had a son!
The rest of the stay was difficult but had some bright moments. My doctor came and visited often, which was very kind. She reviewed the surgery and gave us some good advice for my recovery process. We really loved her so it was good to have a familiar face in the hospital and know that she was still supervising my care.
Greg ending up getting a migraine one of the nights he was sleeping at the hospital. He has medicine to stop the headache before it develops but he didn't catch it quite in time so he was in a bad way. His migraines are absolutely terrible and they wipe him out for about 24 hours. I could barely walk but I wanted to take care of both him and Lars. I spent most of that night in the nursery so that the room could be quiet for Greg. I tried nursing in the nursery but it has big windows and the nurses weren't keen on me nursing in public- ha! So they put me on a folding chair in the dark in the back of the room. I was glad to have a place outside of my room, but it felt a little bit like Mary and Jesus trying to find a safe place. I ended up keeping Lars in the nursery that night so that they could take care of him when he got fussy. And I would walk back and forth to the nursery to check on Lars and my hospital room to check on Greg. It was my first time having to take care of both my boys and it stressed me out. At one point, I was crouching on the ground trying to give Greg a head massage because he was really struggling. Man, those migraines are so hard and it's really hard to watch someone you love suffer so much when there's not much you can do. Ideally we would have had him go home but it's unsafe for him to drive once they've hit.
The remaining nights, my mom kindly stayed with me and Lars at the hospital so that Greg could go home and sleep. They both took shifts feeding and burping Lars before my milk came in, supporting the breastfeeding process, helping me order my food, helping me to the bathroom, and ask questions to the nurses and doctors. I think I could have stayed a little longer in the hospital, but we were ready to head home after a few days.
We loved being at home. We got more sleep that first night at our house than we did the whole time we were at the hospital. After a couple days monitoring my blood pressure at home, it was high enough that my doctor wanted to see me. I had to have my blood drawn again and they decided it was dangerous enough that they needed to readmit me. Apparently my blood pressure was so high that it put me at a seizure risk. I had to be on magnesium for 24 hours to bring my blood pressure down. That was a really hard day for us. My mom and Greg took care of Lars and I pumped milk to feed him because I was too weak to hold him. That day was probably the hardest of my life. The stress of being sick again, the possibility of a seizure, the hormones, the magnesium, breastfeeding pains, and trying to stay sane was a lot to bear. I had lots of crying fits throughout the day and my boys pulled me through and we came away with more confidence about how to take care of Lars. Luckily my nurse was a lactation consultant and she spent lots of time educating us. And we were so lucky that my mom could spend the evenings with me and take care of Lars at night. Even though Greg hadn't spent much time around babies, he was the sole caretaker of Lars during the day and picked it up so quickly. We were so happy to finally be released from the hospital and take our precious little bundle home.
I wrote the bulk of this the week after I delivered, but I'm now finishing this blog post 5 weeks later. I've had some time to do a bit more processing of the birth experience. Lars is growing like a champ and the bulk of my recovery from the C-section has passed, but when I was in the thick of it, it was really really hard. Even though I was surrounded with so many people to help and this new little baby, I felt very alone and in a lot of pain. I knew it would be a transition but I wasn't mentally prepared for the C-section recovery and just how involved that would be. I didn't get the movie version of the birth I had envisioned and I had to come to terms with that. Waking up all the time to feed Lars was so much harder than I expected. The incision was/is painful and I had to wear an abdominal binder to feel comfortable. You know you'll be sleep deprived but to actually BE sleep deprived is tough.
BUT. The big BUT. Hindsight is 20/20. And even though I've only known my son for a short 6 weeks, I already know that he was 100% worth all the struggle. I feel like the fog has lifted and I can finally focus on this sweet little gift from heaven. Our little Lars has such a gentle demeanor and we love getting to know his little baby personality. He makes little noises when he stretches, he can now respond to our smiles, he is so happy on his changing table, he nurses like a champ, and he looks adorable in any clothing item we put on him. We've spent hours and hours just staring at him and I miss him when he sleeps. He has my eyes and he has Greg's chin. I cry when he throws up or cries too much because I feel so sad that he's in pain. I talk to him all day long and explain everything I'm doing around the house. We go on walks everyday and I show him the ducks. When he sleeps longer than 3 hours, I go into his room and make sure he's OK and still sleeping.
The transformation of two young married kids to parents of Lars has been more involved than we anticipated, but what a gift it it to have a perfect little boy to teach us and love us. As Greg says everyday, "Don't you just think we're the luckiest parents in the whole world?" Yep, I do. I really do. Welcome to the world, Lars! We're so glad to have you.