Before I get into my birth story, I think it is probably a good idea to give a bit more detail into our pregnancy story. At my 18 week ultrasound they noticed a bright spot on the heart called an echogenic focus. While these usually turn out to be nothing of concern, my ObGyn thought it would be a good idea to send me for another ultrasound mainly just for reassurance (I had opted out of the maternal serum testing early on in the pregnancy so therefore they could not check this against my screening for any other chromosonal issues). I went to this second ultrasound around 21 weeks and the doctor said he was not too concerned about this at all but at that time he noticed the baby was measuring on the small side. I was diagnosed with IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction) and from then on would be seeing a high risk specialist on regular basis as well as my regular ObGyn. At first I went for regular ultrasounds every 4 weeks, then as the pregnancy progressed every 2 weeks and then in the last 5-6 weeks, I was going every week and sometimes twice a week. John and I decided not to discuss this issue with our families as we didn't want to cause any worry or stress and having everyone ask me questions would also add extra stress on us. I told only a couple close friends and my boss who had to be in the loop since I was going to so many doctor's appointments.
Now while at first I will admit I was majorly worried and stressed over this, with time I began to feel that things were going to be just fine. In the beginning Dr. C talked that if the baby dropped below the growth curve he/she was charting or if there was another issue (such a cord blood flow, placenta, fluid, etc) then we may have to consider taking the baby early - look at if the benefits outweigh the risks, etc - this made me feel a bit frantic. But as the ultrasounds went on I actually started to relax a bit. The baby, while on the smaller side, continued to follow the growth curve so we were remaining constant for growth and not dropping which was good. We were in excellent hands with Dr. C and he and my ObGyn, Dr. L consulted with each other often. At around 34/35 weeks I also had to begin going to fetal assessment every week as well for bio-physicals and here we monitored the baby via ultrasound and also monitored the heart rate for 20 minutes every week. I felt very well taken care of and I think I relaxed a bit because of this. Sure it was scary but I really felt that if there was any kind of issue we would know right away because of how closely we were followed. I know this may sound corny but as a mom I just had a feeling things were going to be okay. Every time we went to an ultrasound we reminded them we didn't want to know the sex and we were both shocked that during all those ultrasounds (and there were A LOT of them) we didn't catch a glimpse once. They would tell us to look away when they were in that area. At 39 weeks, Dr C noticed my fluid levels were starting to drop as well as blood flow to the baby so he decided right then and there to not let me go past my due date so he booked my induction. I will admit that I was disappointed and upset. I hated being induced the last time and was really hoping to avoid it this time around. We discussed it in detail and he said to have one more check 2 days before and see from there but that likely he would not want me to go past the due date due to the IUGR. I just wanted what was best for the baby so I went home with my induction booked and did everything known to man to try and induce labour on my own. No luck. And so I proceeded with the induction plan Dr C had booked - prostin gel on Thursday followed by the pitocin drip.
On Thursday August 30th, I went in at 8:00am for the dose of prostin gel that they insert into the cervix to try and soften the cervix before the pitocin drip. They administered the gel, I was monitored for an hour and then sent home. John and I headed for home but decided to stop at Starbucks for a quick coffee (decaf) date alone together before things got going. It was there that I started to feel some cramping. They intensified but nothing too drastic just uncomfortable. I went home to rest and walk a bit before heading back into the hospital for 2pm. My mom was home watching Forrest and Erin and Fisher were just getting ready to head back to Nova Scotia when we arrived at home. We headed back to the hospital, again I was monitored for about 20 minutes and I was checked. I was only 50% effaced and dilated at about a 1.5cm. One of the fetal assessment nurses wasn't too sure about administering a second dose after looking at my contractions on the monitor but the other (more experienced one) said yes go ahead. Within 5 minutes of the second dose the cramping and contractions were insane. Since I had to lay there for an hour to be monitored I was writhing in uncomfortable pain. I just wanted to get out of that bed and walk as just laying there was horrible. The nurse came in to check my contractions, the baby's heart rate and my pulse and went in to get the other nurse. I remember telling John something was going on because the contractions were registering very high on the monitor, I was beyond uncomfortable and was even having to utililze my breathing techniques and when we looked the contractions were coming every minute and lasting longer than the breaks were. Both nurses came back into the room to tell me they were sending me to Labour and Delivery because of this. I know John got high hopes that things would go fast from then on because I could just tell from his excitement...I was hoping so too. When we got to labour and delivery my cervix had not changed. It was still a 1.5 cm and 50% effaced. We walked and walked and walked trying to get things going. The nurses and doctor on duty that day were definitely not my favorites nor were they really my 'style'. I know that may sound weird but the resident kept mentioning pain meds to me (morphine) even though I felt I was well able to handle the pain at that point and had told them I really didn't want anything. I also made it pretty clear that the only type of pain control I was willing to consider later on would be an epidural. I was completely against morphine or anything else. The resident lacked some bedside manner and although I understood they were busy, I felt she was too rushed.
The contractions started to space out and lessen in intensity and when I was last checked there was still no change. Discouraged, frustrated and exhausted I was sent home. We got home around 9pm Thursday night and I showered and then tried to sleep. The contractions came to an almost complete stall so I was able to get some sleep. As great as it was to sleep I knew this couldn't be good for progression. Through the night I experienced some cramping but nothing so strong I would classify it as a contraction.
We got up at 6am on Friday morning and called labor and delivery as instructed. They told us to come in for 8am so off we were to get ready and head to the hospital. They checked me again and said that because there was little to no change (again) I would need a third dose of the prostin gel. At this point I was beyond discouraged and in tears. The prostin gel is hell - it brings on these intense contractions and cramping and then I had found out each and every time it wasn't working. I had visions of myself being pregnant for months to come. With Forrest the first (and only) dose of prostin was enough to kick start my body into labour right away and the entire process lasted 19 hours start to finish. The doctor on duty that day was a specialist I had seen once when my regular specialist was out of town. He was extremely nice, calm and professional and I was so relieved to see him. The nurse that was assigned to me was the wife of the guy I trained to take my place at work and she was extremely nice to me (her name was Angela). After the third dose of prostin gel was administered I had to be routinely monitored for the hour to which Angela came in with a huge arm load of hats and said "we have some work to do". She had both boy hats and girl hats and said I could pick one of each out for when the baby was here. She said they didn't have a lot of boy options because they had a lot of boys being born but that they had a lot of really cute girl hats. She was right there was only 1 blue hat (and a couple green ones) and there were so many cute girl hats. I took the only blue hat and then picked a super cute pale pink hat. One thing I learned from both of my birth experiences - the nurses LOVE when the patients don't know the sex. They get so excited and you can really see that excitement and it made me even more excited. After I was monitored I was sent home again to labour at home. Angela told me to take my hats home with me and then bring them back in to make sure I got the ones I wanted. We headed for home as I awaited what I knew was coming - cramping and contractions. Sure enough by the time I got in the parking lot of the hospital the cramping had started. By the time I got home they were becoming intense. Mom was home with Forrest and it wasn't long after I got home that he was napping so I was able to concentrate on getting through the contractions without worrying about scaring Forrest or him looking for our attention. John and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood and then because it was sooooo hot we stayed inside and I walked around my house with the fan on while mom and John sat in the living room. Then I decided to take a bath before having to head back into the hospital for 3:45. By this time Forrest had woke up so my mom took him for a walk to leave John and I in the peace and quiet while I was labouring. After the bath we decided to head right in. At this point I was experiencing intense contractions every 3 minutes about 45 seconds to a minute long. We arrived at the hospital, the connected me to the monitor for 20 minutes and then came in to do a check. I was about a 3-4cm and 70-80% effaced. After being monitored and checked Dr A said that they would not be able to administer any more pros tin at this point because of the contraction intensity and how close they were. We discussed options and we both agreed to see if my body would take things from here on their own before jumping to the pitocin/oxytocin drip or breaking my water. They also said I would not be going home so John went to the car to get out belongings. After this we walked and walked and walked and then walked some more. It felt good to walk and I just wanted to keep walking. The entire time I was in labour (from the very first dose of prostin gel actually) I experience tingling and numbing in my right leg. It was just like an intense sciatica feeling only my bum and leg felt numb and after walking so much I'd have to take a little break and sit down (which I didn't want to do - it was a double edged sword, the labour felt better by walking and standing up but then my leg would be so numb I'd have to sit down). I decided to get on the birthing ball which helped both the contractions for a bit and the leg. I still preferred walking and so we walked on. We walked inside and outside on the terrace and we breather through the contractions together. I went back to my room and took a shower in hopes that it would make my leg and bum feel better. I let the warm water hit me and it did feel really good so I stayed in there for a while with John holding the shower hose over my back. John was a fantastic coach again and helped me through it all and encouraged me every step of the way. After the shower we continued walking. Angela was ending her shift and a new nurse (Katelyn) was starting - she was young, had just started her career in May and was such a sweetheart who was obviously (in my opinion) born to be a nurse. At around 7:30 I was starting to become completely exhausted after the long 35 hours I had just endured. The pain was becoming too much and so I discussed an epidural. The anaesthetist was going into an emergency surgery with Dr A so they said they would be up afterwards to see if I was interested in an epidural. I had already decided that I would be. We continued to walk and breath through the contractions which were every 2-3 minutes and about a minute to a minute and a half long. I was still 3-4 cm and 70-80% - and beyond frustrated. At about 8:00 I just couldn't walk anymore. I stayed in the room and used the birthing ball a bit. It was rapidly increasing in intensity. At 9:20pm Friday night the anaesthetist was called in to perform my epidural. In walks this VERY young looking Dr Mc Dreamy type doctor and I will admit I felt a wave of panic. I thought he looked more like he belonged on Greys Anatomy than shoving a needle and cathedar in my spine. He introduced himself as Dr O and he was very nice and relaxed so I tried to relax as well. I didn't want John to watch the process (I was worried his facial expressions would make me panic or worry me) but he wanted to so he did while trying to comfort and help me through the contractions I was experiencing during the epidural process. With Forrest the epidural was nothing. I barely felt it - this time I felt it. It didn't really hurt at all just felt uncomfortable - like someone was digging around my back with a big needle haha! It more freaked me out than anything. The nurse was great and Dr O talked me through it and was very calm and relaxed which helped me and within 10-15 minutes it was in. It took about a half an hour for me to feel the effects so I was definitely surprised when 5 minutes after the epidural was in I felt my water break (at 9:40pm Friday night). This epidural was definitely not as strong as my first with Forrest. That was a good thing. I could move my feet and legs a bit - the nurse said that a lot of the newer younger docs tend to not give them so heavy. I could still feel the contractions and pressure and even when it came time to push I could tell them before a contraction even registered that it was coming. It was a much better experience.
Dr A came in and checked me and I was still at a 4 and contractions were still the same - 2 to 3 minutes apart about a minute long. He thought that since my water had broke and I was not progressing that it would be time to start the pitocin to which I agreed to. They started that at 10:25pm Friday night. By 12:30-1:00 am on Saturday September 1st things were still the same even with the pitocin and so they continued to increase the amount which increased the contractions both in intensity and kept them close together. Because I was induced and had an epidural, a nurse had to stay in the room with us round the clock. Katelyn stayed with us and she was so sweet and such a great nurse - we chatted about lots of things in between dozing in and out of sleep. We did meet the other 2 nurses on that night as well when they relieved each other for lunch breaks and such. They were all extremely nice and chatted with us. Around 2:40 I asked Katelyn when she thought I might be checked for progress again and she said another hour or two unless I thought it should be sooner. I was quiet for a few minutes and then I said "yeah I really feel a lot of pressure, I think maybe you should check me now". She checked just as the charge nurse came in and she said in a very surprised voice "she's a ten, she's ready". I thought I was hearing things so I said "what? what did you say?" and she laughed and said "it's time. You're ready to push now, yayyy". I began to shake uncontrollably (the same way I did when it was time to push with Forrest). The charge nurse asked me if I was ready and if I wanted to do some practice pushes. I had a funny feeling that it wasn't going to take long so I asked if the doctor was coming. Just as I said that Dr A came in the room. They were all so helpful, comforting and encouraging and John was so excited...I could see it all over his face. He kept rubbing my arm and telling me how great I was and then it all started. And so, at 2:55am (September 1st) I began to push. I had remembered with Forrest's delivery, how tired I was immediately into the first set of pushes so I decided to really concentrate, and go into my pushes gradually but definitely hard and determined. I just felt like I knew what I was doing a bit more this time around. The doctor and nurses and John all kept telling me how great I was doing and really encouraged me through it (my own personal birthing cheerleaders - but NOT in an annoying way at all). Dr A asked how long I pushed with Forrest and when I told him 45 minutes he replied "well you definitely won't be pushing that long this time". I gave another couple set of pushes and Dr A said I could touch the head if I wanted to. John wasn't sure I'd want to but I definitely did. I reached down and felt our baby's sweet little head and that was it. I was never more full of determination, pride, joy and excitement and so I gave it my all in the next set and this time they said "hang on hang on..." The cord was loosely wrapped around her neck so they had to cut it instead of John (but they left a piece of it for John to cut after the fact which was nice). I only pushed for 7 minutes because at 3:02am on September 1st, after 42.5 hours start to finish, our sweet little Lilah Isabelle Walker came into our lives and immediately filled our hearts with so much joy and love. I could hear her little cries and I was waiting patiently to hear what our baby was. The doctor knew that I wanted John to be the one to tell me what the gender was and so after what felt like forever (really only a matter of seconds) Dr A said "well Dad, aren't you going to call it?" and John said "it's...it's...it's a...." and then finally he said "it's a girl". I looked at him and he had tears in his eyes and then of course so did I and they asked me if I wanted her immediately on my chest or did I want them to clean her up first. I of course wanted her with me immediately. Looking into her beautiful eyes, feeling her heart beat as she lay on my chest and kissing her sweet face made my heart swell. I completely forgot about the long labour and the rough pregnancy (honestly) because it was just so utterly and completely worth it all. They let us bond for a while before taking her to clean her up, put the clamp on the cord, weigh her, etc. She was 6 lbs and 9.5oz and 20 inches long. I was so in love, John and I just stared at her in awe and amazement. We had a girl to add to our family. Forrest has a little sister. By the time the doctors had finished everything it was after 4:30am and they left our room and left us have some time with our new daughter. We all fell asleep together and woke up around 7am when we called our families to share our wonderful news. Everyone was over the moon excited.
John was amazing! He was so great walking the halls with me, rubbing my back and talking me through the contractions. He rubbed my head as I lay in bed having contractions and he made me laugh when needed too. I feel so lucky to have a supportive partner by my side 100% of the way.
Everyone on staff Friday (both day and night) were AWESOME. I have not a bad thing to say about any of them. I even said to John after Lilah was born that although the labour was LONG and rough, I was glad she didn't arrive until Friday because the staff were more 'me' and just such friendly people who were great at their jobs and made the entire birth experience so relaxed, calm and actually enjoyable. We joked around a bit, they made me laugh, the made me feel relaxed and at the end of their shift as I was being wheeled to post partum recovery and they were leaving for home Katelyn thanked us for being so awesome. It was pretty cool I must say.
My Dad and Ivy arrived early that morning. Then my mom brought Forrest in and Mom, Dad and Ivy all waited in the hall way while we had some time just the four of us introducing Forrest to his new little sister. John and I both had tears in our eyes. What a truly awesome awesome awesome moment!! Forrest didn't say too much at first. He just looked at her with a funny, confused facial expression. Then he just kept saying 'baby' over and over again. We had bought him a little gift and had it ready for him. It was a big brother t-shirt, a big brother teddy bear and a book about being a big brother, and of course a toy to really get him excited. We all had a great visit and tried to get a few pictures of us as a family of four.
Janet and Rick came later that afternoon excited to meet their new grand daughter.
We asked if things were okay would there be a chance we could be discharged after 24 hours. The doctor agreed so we headed for home on Sunday afternoon, excited to bring Lilah home and to see Forrest (I had never gone 2 nights without him and I missed the little guy). Taking our little girl home to our house was a great feeling. My mom, Janet and Forrest had been out shopping for pink so they were just getting home as we arrived as well. It was nice all having supper together that night! Rick and Janet left Monday and my mom stayed until the following Monday.