Monday, May 1, 2017

Finn's Birth Story

One of my favorite things to do while pregnant was read and listen to birth stories. There are a TON on the internet, all unique and special in their own way.  I loved The Birth Hour podcast, which has tons of women telling their birth stories. I think I went into labor feeling much more prepared and confident because I had heard so many different scenarios and situations that I knew what to expect.  So, while this is definitely out of my comfort zone, here's Finn's birth story.  Brace yourself, it's a long one. 

The week leading up was pretty uneventful.  On Monday, I saw the substitute doctor (my normal doctor was on spring break) and she confirmed that there were no signs that our guy was coming any time soon.  Despite the fact that I had been feeling very impatient, I walked away from the appointment feeling a sense of peace that it could be a few more weeks before Finn decided to make an appearance.  Isn't that how it always is?

Fast forward to Wednesday, April 12th.  We were planning on going to the Spy Museum but were also waiting for packages to be delivered (in Germany, they won't leave packages at your door.  They'll give them to neighbors who are home at the time, so we usually try and be home if we are expecting something, just so we don't have to hassle our neighbors).  Ultimately, we decided to stay home and wait for the packages and I honestly think someone was looking out for us.  I went to the bathroom around 3:00, came out, felt funny and went back and all of a sudden, there was a huge gush (like the movies!).  Can you imagine if we had decided to go to the Spy Museum? Cue all of the awkwardness. I'm just picturing a very awkward metro ride back home....

I had been imagining what this moment would look like throughout my pregnancy and it was equally as stunning as I imagined. I yelled for Mike and said "I think my water just broke."  We both agreed and began getting ready for the hospital since the hospital policy was to come as soon as your water broke, regardless of how your contractions were (mine were non-existent).  I called my mom, Mike finished packing some last minute things, and then we called the midwife, Michelle who confirmed that my water had most likely broken and called the hospital to let them know we were on the way. Surprisingly, I was pretty calm.  Mike says I was acting nervous, but I think I was more excited than anything, thinking that we would get to meet our little guy soon.  Wishful thinking....

One last picture before heading to the hospital.  Excuse the outfit, we were obviously scrambling....
This is our "We're excited! We're heading to the hospital!" selfie
We arrived at the hospital and a midwife checked and confirmed that my water had indeed broken, which meant that I wasn't leaving.  We got checked into a room and, since I wasn't having contractions and wasn't dilating, I was encouraged to walk.  So for the rest of the evening, we walked. They checked my heart rate and the baby's heart rate around midnight and confirmed that everything was okay, but that it was probably going to be a while.  All along, we had planned on Mike staying the night with me on the (very small) couch in my room, but we were told that Mike wasn't allowed to stay, which brought about many tears from me. Since we weren't sure when things would start, having him leave was nerve wracking, but ended up being a good thing since he was able to get a full night of good sleep.

Mike returned around 8:00 am and around 10:30, we met with the doctor to do an ultrasound to make sure everything was still okay, which it was.  She told us that we had 24 hours since my water broke to get things started before they would have to take matters into their hands.  We both really wanted to avoid a Cesarean,which we knew was more likely with the more interventions put in place and the more time that passed, so we followed her advice to get walking. She also said that they would try a low dose of some medicine (like Pitocin) to get my contractions going after lunch.  If my body reacted well to the low dose, they would increase it a few hours later to really get the party started. So, around 12:30, I was hooked up to the heart rate monitor again and took the medicine. About halfway through, baby's heart rate dropped and in flew three midwives and the doctor.  I have to say, that was scary.  I had no idea what was going on and all of a sudden there were a lot of people telling me to sit up and change positions.  Luckily, that only happened once and they said that was pretty common. I stayed on the monitor for an extra half an hour to make sure it didn't happen again and after what seemed like forever, we were cleared to get up and moving. We walked around outside for a while, ate dinner and then around 6:00 pm got hooked back up to the heart rate machine and took a stronger dose of medicine.  This is when the fun really began.

I began feeling mild contractions when hooked up to the heart rate monitor and knew that this was the start. Luckily, everything went smoothly this time with his heart rate and we were told to keep walking.  At this point, we had exhausted the grounds of the hospital, so we walked to a shopping center nearby.   While walking, I was timing the contractions and they were about five minutes apart and lasting for a minute. They were strong enough that I couldn't ignore them, but still not as strong as I imagined they'd be or that I couldn't talk through them.

We headed back to the hospital after walking for an hour and Mike encouraged me to sit on one of the big bouncy birthing balls.  This really helped get the contractions going, to the point where I didn't want to sit on the ball anymore.  It was a love/hate relationship, knowing that it was bringing painful contractions while helping speed up this labor process. At 10:30pm, the night nurse (this was the third shift of nurses we had been present for!) came in and wanted to monitor the heart rate and contractions. Having to lie on my side for 30 minutes was painful and at one point, I vomited from the pain.  I also started shaking, which was kind of scary, but the nurse reassured me it was all normal and a sign that my body was progressing. I was about 5 cm dilated, so things were moving along.

After getting sick, the nurse asked if I wanted to get in a warm bath to see if this would help relieve some of the pain.  I quickly agreed since the contractions were intensifying and I'm glad I did because the warm bath provided a huge reprieve for a little while.  After about a half an hour, the contractions became pretty intense and left me clinging to the tub and to Mike for dear life (I'm pretty sure this is when he took off his wedding ring for the sake of his fingers).  After an hour or so, I began to feel the urge to push during each contraction, but the nurse said I was still only 5 or 6 cm dilated, so I needed to fight through this.

This is when I knew that I wanted and needed the epidural.  I had always planned on having an epidural unless things progressed too quickly (ha! wishful thinking!), but also knew that I wanted to make it until I was at least 5-6cm dilated because sometimes the epidural could slow down contractions.  I'm glad that I called for the epidural when I did because it took a couple of hours for the doctor to come and administer it and those were a long couple of hours. I got out of the tub because it really wasn't doing anything anymore and my short body was having a hard time staying above water and comfortable during each contraction.

Around 3:30am or so, the doctor came and gave me the epidural and man oh man was that incredible.   Pure bliss. I felt like a whole new person.  Before the epidural, I felt like I couldn't even open my eyes or really even relax between contractions. Once the epidural was administered though, I was able to rest and actually take in my surroundings.  Since I was only 6cm dilated at this point, the nurse told us they would give me some more medicine to get things moving, but that it was time to rest.  Mike went back into our room to sleep and I slept in our labor and delivery room with the understanding that one push of the button would bring Mike back. I think I got about 45 minutes of rest before I paged the nurses to get Mike because I was once again having the urge to push (but not the pain of the contractions....God bless the epidural!). They also realized that they were having a hard time getting a good reading of the baby's heart rate.  The monitor said it was really low, but they weren't sure if that was the baby's or mine because of the way the monitor was positioned, so they decided to insert an EKG.  After all was said and done, everyone agreed that the original reading must have been my heart rate because baby's looked great.

After getting all of that figured out (about 6am), the nurse went to get Mike who had woken up just in time to listen to the Caps win the first game of the playoffs in overtime! C-A-P-S! Caps! Caps! Caps!  Priorities, amirite? Ha!  Mike came back in the room and they measured me at 8cm dilated.  Still not all the way there, but progress. Considering I had been at 5cm for what seemed like for-ev-er, an 8 was pretty exciting.

The next hour is kind of a blur. The midwives switched shifts and our midwife (Michelle) who was going to come help us at home after the birth was assigned to me (!!!) as well as another great midwife. Side note: When we called Michelle on Wednesday to let her know my water had broken, she said she wasn't working until Friday morning and jokingly said something about us hopefully delivering before then.  Guess the jokes on us! Another side note: Around this time, Mike made a joke that I had been at the hospital for a full 40 hours, so I had worked a full work week.  For some reason, I found this really funny.

Anyways,  Mike and I both agreed that these two midwives were our favorite and we're so glad that it worked out that they were there for the actual delivery. Around 7:30am, I was given the cue that in fact, I was FINALLY 10 cm dilated and could actually push. After hourssssss of resisting the urge to push, those words were music to my ears.  At one point, Michelle asked if I wanted to reach down and feel his head.  I said no at first because I think I was just so focused on pushing that I didn't want to mess that up.  After another push though, I agreed and Mike said my face lit up when I felt his head.  Definite motivation to keep pushing! A few more pushes and at 8:15am, we met our baby boy!  Mike said, once again, my face lit up when they held him up and I remember just feeling this intense sense of disbelief and joy that the baby I had carried for nine months was actually here.

After 41 hours of labor, Finnegan Michael Hogan was born, weighing 3200g/7.05lbs and measuring 53cm/20 inches long. Mike cut the umbilical cord and the midwives took him to be cleaned up and measured before he was placed on my chest for some skin to skin time and, eventually some breast feeding.   Pure joy.

 At one point, the room started getting blurry and they realized that I had lost a lot of blood.  Mike began talking to me about burritos and Mexican food to keep my attention while the midwives helped get my body back to normal.  I'm still taking iron supplements to help recover, which isn't surprising considering the bed I delivered in looked like a war zone!  

After about an hour, they gave him to Mike to do skin to skin time.  Watching the two of them together was the first time I cried through this whole process.  Mike was absolutely incredible throughout the whole labor and he made the labor a million times easier.  Having him breathe a short breath in and a long breath out with every contraction helped me focus on breathing instead of the contraction, which made the entire labor bearable.  I knew that I would want him there for the labor, but I could have never predicted how amazing he was.  And watching him as a dad?  Absolutely mind blowing.  I didn't think I could love him more...and then he became a dad. 

We spent the rest of the day soaking up lots of newborn snuggles, taking a much needed (long) nap, and enjoying being a family of three!

Baby's first selfie!

I was telling one of my friends about labor and delivery and how impressed I was with my body.  I like to think I'm a pretty humble and self-aware person, knowing my strengths and weaknesses. After giving birth, I felt so proud of my body for the intense amount of work it did and how natural labor came.  I don't think I've ever felt that way about anything I've ever done before and it's a feeling I hope I remember.  The human body is an amazing thing and, as I progress through my recovery, I'm always finding new things to be amazed at.

So, 41 hours and a beautiful baby boy later, we closed the chapter of our lives as Hogans party of two and welcomed this new chapter as a family of three with open arms.