She's HERE!!! Elisabeth Ann Stubblefield ("Lizzie") entered this world on Monday, July 18th at 3:13pm!!! She's our 8th miracle baby, and the second one that the Lord has allowed us to raise here on earth. I'd written in my last post about our plans for a scheduled induction, so now is the time to fill everyone in on how it all went down!
I tried to be good about documenting the last week leading up to induction. Jojo and I had two special Mommy-son lunch dates, one at Chick-fil-a and one at Qdoba...
|Chick-fil-a with my boy!|
And, on Thursday night, we set up Lizzie's cosleeper next to our bed, meaning our master bedroom got a bit more cozy in preparation for now having not one but two kiddos in our room...
|3 bedroom house, 4 people...all in one bedroom. Makes sense, right? ;-)|
|Lizzie's bed to the left, Jojo's to the right|
On the Saturday before induction, my in-laws graciously came into town to be here for the delivery and to stay with Jojo while we were at the hospital. Jojo was super happy to get to spend time with their dog, Rocky!
On Sunday, the day before induction, I was feeling very excited and very nervous, and so was David. I'm not sure which of us was most nervous exactly! My in-laws took one last picture of Jojo as an only child, and a last picture of us as a family of 3.
For dinner that night (for my last "pre-labor" meal), we went to Sticks and Stones. It was delicious as always!!! I wanted something with a good carb/protein balance to fuel up for labor.
After we got in for the night on Sunday evening, I decided I wanted some good snuggle time with Jojo before he went to bed. As crazy excited as I was about Lizzie's arrival, I'd also been feeling increasingly emotional about Jojo no longer being an only child and about the changes about to happen to his life. I was also feeling very emotional thinking back over the long journey to having a second child. So, while David and my in-laws watched TV in the den, I took Jojo to our bedroom and put him in our bed and laid down with him for a long, long time. I told him that I had loved being just a mommy to him for the past 3 years, and that Lizzie WAS going to change things, but it would be in a good way, and that we would have so many fun times and exciting adventures together as a family, and that her addition would never make me love him any less. Then I reminded him that when he woke up the next day Mimi and Poppy would be with him, and that Mommy and Daddy would be at the hospital having Lizzie, but that we'd be back home in a few days and that he could come visit lots at the hospital. He said, so seriously and so sweetly, "Oh, I will miss you, Mommy." Then he curled right up against me and went to sleep. He felt so little there cuddled up to me. I bawled my eyes out. So many emotions.
After that, I got myself together and returned to the den and watched TV with everyone until it was time for us to leave for the hospital around 11:30. David and I had both decided there was no point in us going to sleep that night at all, since we'd just be getting right back up and likely be too excited and nervous to get to sleep, anyway. The 4 of us watched TV, finished up a few last-minute things and, around 11:25pm, David and I were ready to walk out the door. I had my mother-in-law take one last picture of my baby bump, and right as we were walking out the door she took a picture of David and I together.
We got to Maternity Admissions at Women's Hospital around 11:50am, and finally got officially admitted at around 12:20ish. A nurse met us and took us to a Labor and Delivery Room and got me all gowned up and reminded us of how the process would go down. Then, two other nurses came in to get my IV port in my arm. They had a terrible time...found a good vein on one side but it blew out when they were trying to insert the needle. Then it took several attempts on the other side to get it correctly placed. I don't mind needles too badly, but this was for sure a little uncomfortable. Finally it was placed correctly. Then a phlebotomist from the lab came in to take some blood. They got me hooked up to the fetal monitors and the nurse was surprised to notice I was having what she said were "real contractions." I'd been feeling what I assumed were "stronger" Braxton-Hicks contractions that entire day on Sunday. But, according to her, the contractions I were having were real contractions, not Braxton-Hicks, and thus prodromal labor. I was excited that my body was at least doing SOMETHING on it's own. She checked my cervix and I was about 1.5cm dilated, just like I had been when Dr. Lowe checked me a few days before. We were told that they were going to start the very lowest-dose Pitocin available (common to start with the lowest dose in VBAC scenarios to ensure a lower risk of uterine rupture) and keep me on it the rest of the night until about 6:30am when they would start upping it. They told us to try to get some sleep, since the next day could be a long one.
|About 1:50am, just after they got the lowest dose of Pitocin started|
David and I both dozed in and out the rest of the night, but neither of us slept successfully. They kept coming in and out of our room to adjust Lizzie's heart rate monitor and change IV bags, etc. And I kept having stronger contractions, although none of them were really "painful" at that point, just uncomfortable enough that I couldn't sleep through them. I had one around 4am that almost hurt a little, but other than that things were pretty uneventful.
The next morning, early, they started upping the Pitocin dose in my IV slowly. I was checked again and still just at 2cm. I was getting a little frustrated that not much was happening, even though I knew inductions tended to go slowly. Shifts also changed and we got to meet our Labor and Delivery nurse for the day. To be honest, at first, it didn't seem like she had much personality, and I was a bit nervous about her being our nurse for the day. But she quickly proved to be a sweetheart and to have a heart of gold, so I'm super glad we ended up with her.
|Early Monday morning, having only mildly painful contractions, and feeling a bit irritated at how slowly things were moving.|
I was so so happy to see Dr. Lowe come in the room soon after! He asked me if he could sweep my membranes and then break my water to try to get things moving. I was a little nervous about that, because I knew from friends experiences that, once they break your water, things tend to get intense VERY fast, and I was only 2cm and knew I had lots of labor left and thus a lot of time for things to be intense. I said "Do you think that's what we should do?" and he laughed and said "Well, it's up to you, but you do want to get this baby here, right?" I decided he had a point and told him to go ahead. The membrane sweep was quite uncomfortable...loooooots of cramping...and I told him "Okay, this hurts!" in the middle of it, haha. Him breaking my water didn't hurt. As soon as that happened, he and David got engaged in like a 30 minute conversation about restaurants, and during the time they were chatting I quickly noticed that my "uncomfortable but not painful" contractions were turning a bit, well, painful. I was so excited for progress! Before he left the room, he told me that he thought I'd be in active labor by lunchtime, and would probably deliver that evening. When I wrinkled my nose at the news that he predicted not until that evening, he smiled, winked, and said "But feel free to prove me wrong." Apparently my body took that challenge pretty seriously!
I asked the nurse if I could use the wireless fetal monitors so that I could be upright and walk the halls. She did everything she could, but could NOT get either of the wireless monitors to work. I was so disappointed I almost cried. Not being able to use the wireless monitors meant being hooked up in the room to a monitor station right next to my bed, thus limiting my mobility AND keeping me from taking a hot shower during labor. Mobility and hot water were two major things I was counting on for coping with pain and for getting the unmedicated birth I wanted, and now those were out of reach. But, once David and I were left to labor in private, it didn't take long before the intensity of things gave me little room to focus on anything but coping with the pain of contractions. Things got intense SO SO fast. Looking back, I feel like I WAS somewhat well prepared for the intensity of the Pitocin-induced contractions. What I was NOT prepared for was how quickly things moved, and how fast contractions started coming together in a short period of time. Basically, I went from almost no labor to early labor to active labor incredibly quickly. I think David and I were both a bit surprised when my contractions suddenly went from hardly-there to 2-3 minutes apart. I was also having a lot of of whats called "coupling," where every once in a while I'd have a series of contractions that were literally back to back (like, a minute apart). Not having a wireless monitor really did stink. Even just for me to to go to the restroom, David would have to unhook 2 monitor cords, undo my blood pressure cuff, and roll my IV poll with me to the restroom. Lots of work! And I was just shocked that we were in active labor so quickly.
I'd been sitting on the birth ball with David rubbing my back through some contractions, but quickly that felt too intense for me and I needed to stand up. So, I changed to standing up, and when a contraction would come I would grab David around the waist, and moan, and sway, and clutch at the back of his shirt. This is how I spent the next couple of hours of active labor. One thing that was bothering me was that our nurse kept coming into the room to adjust various things with the monitors. Like I said, she was so sweet, and it was NOT her fault...she was just doing her job and making sure Lizzie and I were safe. But I feel very inhibited showing pain in front of anyone other than David, so having her in the room would sort of throw off my rhythm (Dr. Lowe is a little different because we've been through so much with him that I'm pretty uninhibited if he is in the room...but these nurses were still sort of like strangers to me). I was able to vocalize through contractions but definitely not talk through them at this point. Our nurse told me, after one contraction, that I was doing a good job coping, and that was nice to hear. David was AMAZING. He would talk me through each contraction...he was watching the monitor, so he would tell me when a contraction was peaking and then encourage me that it was coming back down and almost over. That was so, so helpful, especially at the hardest points. He was so sweet and encouraging. At one point in between contractions he asked me if I wanted something for pain and I said "No, I'm coping okay at this point." But then things took a rapid turn in terms of intensity. Within the next two contractions, I felt completely out of control with the pain. I went from being in control, to sobbing at the end of contractions. At one point I said "Oh Jesus help me!" and even asked David at one point "Why can't YOU help me?" Hahahaha!
David knew how much I wanted to do this without pain meds, so we had devised a "code word" for me to use if I decided I really, and I mean REALLY, felt I needed drugs. Because David is a Seinfeld fan, our code word was "lemon tree." I've never really been a Seinfeld fan, but supposedly this is hilarious to those who are. Anyway, a few contractions later that was it...as a contraction ended I managed to tearfully murmur "Lemon Tree!" David didn't miss a beat. He asked me if I was sure, and I said yes. Then he asked if I wanted narcotics or an epidural and, in desperation, I said an epidural. I was a little panicked and felt out of control with the pain. He immediately called the nurses station and told them.
Then, as we waited for the epidural, I really proceeded to have a break down. Contractions were right on top of each other and I was having trouble coping physically, and I was extremely distraught emotionally at knowing I was giving in and getting pain meds. There are only a few things that I wish had gone differently about my labor, but one of them is that I didn't insist on getting checked again before getting the epidural. If I had known how I was progressing, I maybe would have tried to hold out longer without pain meds. MAYBE. But I didn't insist, and last I had known I was only at 2cm, and I just got very overwhelmed. If I had known how quickly my labor was going to progress from that point on, I DEFINITELY would have held out, but no one could have known that.
By the way, there are no pictures from this part of labor. I couldn't stand for David to get even an inch away from me during contractions because I needed to hang on to him, so walking across the room to get his camera was a non-option.
The anesthesiologist was in about 3 (very difficult) contractions later. The epidural itself went pretty smoothly. He had to stop once to let me get through a contraction, but after that he got the epidural in relatively easily. The nurse checked my dilation after the epidural was in and I was up to just over 5cm. I got back in bed and prepared for relief. But here's where things get interesting...epidurals don't always work well, as I soon found out!
I say they don't always work "well" because technically mine did work a little. For about 30 minutes, I felt really good pain relief. I still felt the pressure from each contraction, but not much pain. I felt good enough that I realized I was really missing Jojo, and asked if he could come up to see me. Turns out my in-laws, Jojo, and my parents were downstairs eating in the hospital cafeteria. So my sweet mother-in-law brought him up right away and left him with us for a little bit so that he could have some time with mommy and daddy. It was so nice to have him up there for a bit.
When she came back about 30 minutes later to retrieve Jojo from us, I was noticing a disturbing trend. I was starting to hurt again! At first it just felt like extreme pressure, but that pressure was so extreme it was quickly turning into pain. There was especially one area on my lower left abdomen where I was feeling a LOT of pain (turns out this was an epidural "hot spot" where the epidural doesn't really take any effect in one particular area of your body). I was feeling a ton of pain there and a good bit of painful pressure all over my pelvic area. The numbness that the epidural promised was just not there, other than in my right leg, which was 100% numb as if it had all nerve endings to it cut (which, would have been fine, were I having contractions in my right leg...but since you don't contract in your legs the numbness there was pretty useless!). I've since read a LOT of stories of women whose epidurals didn't work well, didn't work for long, or didn't work at all. I had a lot of sciatica issues this pregnancy, and I read that when that happens there is often a risk of the epidural not working on that inflamed side of your body, and I believe that played into things because it largely didn't work at all (other than those brief 30 minutes) on my left side, which was where I'd had all my sciatica issues. I don't think it was anything the anesthesiologist did wrong, it just was what it was.
Since I was getting so uncomfortable again (I was having trouble sitting still in bed during contractions, but couldn't get up because of my numb right leg), I asked the nurse if there was anything else they could give me. When I described all the pressure I was feeling, she said "Let me check you again real quick." The thought that I could be fully dilated HAD NOT even crossed my mind. I was 5cm dilated just 45 minutes before, so I figured I'd MAYBE gained an extra cm by that point. So imagine my shock when she said "Oh, that's the reason for all the pressure...you're complete and her head is sitting right there." I wasn't sure I'd heard her right, so I said "You mean complete as in 10cm?" and she said "Yup!" I was in disbelief. David immediately said "I have to call our parents and tell them not to leave the hospital" (we'd told them to go on home since she wouldn't be here until evening, but he caught them in time), and the nurse told we'd try a few pushes and then she's go get Dr. Lowe to get his thoughts.
I should add in a funny note here...Dr. Lowe had cleared me for a "clear liquid only" diet during labor, since as an induction and VBAC candidate I was at higher risk of needing a quick c-section. This meant I could order something to drink and some broth from the cafeteria during labor if I wanted. As soon as I got the epidural, I decided to order a Diet Coke and some beef broth, just to give me some energy, thinking I had a ton of time left in labor. It arrived to my room as soon as the pain was becoming intense again. I managed to take one sip of drink and two spoonfuls of broth in-between contractions before I found out it was time to push. The tray was rolled away and there went my food. For some reason, this is funny to me. After she was born, the lady from dining services came in to take the tray, saw the uneaten broth and untouched Diet Coke, and said "So, was your food not good?" I laughed explained to her that it was good, just a bit too late! So much for that meal! ;-)
So I was back in a ton of pain, and ready to push. At this point, Lizzie's heart rate started to drop a bit during contractions, which led to a whole different issue...I was going to have to push on my side to keep her heart happy. Plus, there were very few upright positions I could have used, anyway, with one leg being totally numb. I knew this was going to make things difficult, as not being in an upright position makes it much harder to push a baby out. But there was really no choice at this point. I started pushing on my left side, with David holding my numb right leg and both the nurse and David counting to 10. I pushed through maybe 3 contractions like that, then Dr. Lowe popped in to see how I was doing. I was crying at the end of contractions at that point, because I was in such a non-productive position and I was in so much pain from all the pressure. Dr. Lowe examined me to see how well I was pushing and watched me push through a few contractions and gave me a few tips. He had a few other patients there to go check on, so he said he'd be back later.
|At the start of a pushing contraction...being pretty vulnerable in posting this here. Not. My. Finest. Moment.|
So I pushed, and cried, and pushed, and cried, for a solid two hours. So much for the "short pushing phase" I'd hoped to get from all that red raspberry leaf tea throughout pregnancy, haha! Lizzie's heart rate kept dropping on and off, so the nurses made the decision to turn off the Pitocin to keep from stressing her so much. At one point her heart was only happy with me FLAT on my back, with David holding one leg and the nurse the other...the absolute WORST position to try to push in. I was pushing as hard as I could but felt like it was getting me nowhere, which was so frustrating. Then her heart rate dropped again and they flipped me to my right side. My pain was getting worse, BUT at least on my right side David didn't have to hold a leg anymore, and the nurse had my other leg, so he was free to fully comfort me. He was so encouraging...telling me how good I was doing even though I didn't feel like I was moving her down very much. Lizzie's heart rate continued to fluctuate, and they put the oxygen mask on me. I was allowed to take it off during a pushing contraction, and David held it on my face in between contractions.
|I pushed so long that Jojo took a nap in the waiting room while waiting on Lizzie to be born, lol!|
After I'd been pushing 2 hours, and Lizzie's heart rate kept dropping lower than they wanted, the nurse said she was going to go get Dr. Lowe and discuss options with him. David and I both thought this probably meant discussing a c-section. I was okay with whatever got her here safely, but also a little bummed that I would have worked so hard to have it end in surgery. He was in the room almost immediately. I was crying from pain, and Dr. Lowe told me on the next contraction just to bear down to comfort and enough to relieve the pressure, that I didn't need to push as hard as I could and to just take a break real quick while we discussed our options. I followed his advice and the next contraction was the only one in all of pushing that wasn't excruciating. So thankful for his insight...I think he knew I was about to lose my sanity and needed to rest.
|In between pushing contractions...somehow managed a little smile!|
After that contraction ended, Dr. Lowe felt where Lizzie's head was and, to my surprise, offered me the option of the vacuum extractor (as opposed to a c-section). He said our options were to do that, OR they could try to re-dose my epidural (which may or may not work) to get me comfortable and let me push longer. Initially I chose the 2nd option, but I also knew I would only be allowed to go so long with her heart rate plummeting, and if it got too low we'd be headed for a c-section. He left the decision up to me, but he did say "With the vacuum, you can be breastfeeding in 10 minutes." That sounded good to me, so we went with that. Dr. Lowe got the vacuum ready and explained that I was still going to need to push on the next contraction while he pulled.
On the next contraction, Dr. Lowe attached the vacuum and pulled while I pushed. That brought Lizzie to crowning verrrrrry quickly (which was way intense), and everyone was telling me to look in the mirror at all her dark blonde hair. I couldn't believe that, after my bald little blonde Jojo, we made a baby with a head full of dark hair! The next contraction was the final one and crowning was definitely the most intense sensation of my life. I am NOT going to lie. I screamed my head off. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought "How can our parents not hear this in the waiting room down the hall?" It was so intense that I screamed "Please don't make me do this!" which makes me laugh now thinking about it...I must have sounded ridiculous. But then Dr. Lowe said, "Lisa, look down, look down at your baby!" I thought he meant look in the mirror, and I already was. But he said, "No, look DOWN at your baby!" so I did, and saw her entire body delivered. It was so so intense and yet so amazing. She was born at 3:13pm (Jojo was born at 3:02pm, so our babies seem to prefer that hour!). After all my anxiety this whole pregnancy, and all we had been through prior, I couldn't believe that a healthy, squirming baby was in front of me. But there she was! I kept saying "Is she okay? Is she okay?" and the resounding response from Dr. Lowe and all the nurses was "Yes, she's perfect!"
She immediately started crying. We had asked for delayed cord clamping, which they did, and as soon as the cord stopped pulsating Dr. Lowe showed David where to cut it. Then she was on my chest for skin to skin while Dr. Lowe delivered the placenta and finished things up. Amazingly, she latched on and started nursing within 10 minutes of birth, with virtually no help from me, just like, in an ideal world, breastfeeding is supposed to happen. So cool.
|She's probably 3 minutes old here, maybe.|
|Elisabeth Ann Stubblefield. Born at 3:13pm on Monday, July 18th. 6lbs, 5oz. 20 inches long.|
She got to stay skin-to-skin with me for a solid two hours after birth, during which she cuddled and looked at us and breastfed wonderfully. We couldn't believe all her dark hair, or how little she was! We had expected her to be at least 7.5 pounds, but we could tell she was smaller than that (they don't weight babies at Women's now until they are 2 hours old, so we didn't know exactly how big she was at that point). The two nurses predicted she was around 6lbs 10oz or so. But Dr. Lowe said "No, she's smaller than that...I'd say 6 pounds, 5 ounces." And wouldn't you know, when she finally was weighed...she weighed in at 6 pounds 5.1 ounces! David had laughed that, throughout this pregnancy with her, I had very little appetite and didn't eat much, and he said "I guess now we see why you didn't eat much" when we saw how petite she was. David texted pictures to our parents and told them they could come see her as soon as we moved to a Mother-Baby room. David was dying to hold her, but tried to leave her skin to skin with me as long as he could. It was such a different experience than Joseph being whisked away from me for 7.5 hours after delivery!
After Dr. Lowe finished up everything he needed to do, he said "Well, you got your VBAC!" He was simply amazing...I could tell he was as happy for us as we were happy. He left the room to go check on other patients, but was called back quickly. The nurses were worried about how much blood I was losing and were considering giving me a shot to keep me from hemorrhaging, a common issue especially after a long pushing phase. They called him back in the room to get his thoughts, but at that point the bleeding started to get under control and I didn't need anything further. I couldn't believe I'd just gotten my VBAC! Dr. Lowe was absolutely incredible throughout this entire process...the entire pregnancy, labor, and delivery...just as he was incredible throughout Joseph's pregnancy, Joseph's delivery, and our journey through infertility and miscarriages. I sincerely could not imagine having a different care provider...he treats our family with so much concern and care. He worked so hard to make sure I got the VBAC I wanted. I'm so grateful for a doctor that is not only someone I trust, but is someone that feels like a true family friend.
Once my right leg started to regain feeling we were moved to a mother-baby room. Jojo got to come meet Lizzie, as did the 4 grandparents. My in-laws went to Outback right behind the hospital and got me my post-delivery request...a cheeseburger and fries. It was an enormous burger and I ate the WHOLE thing very quickly, while they all admired Lizzie. It was an amazing experience.
|Lizzie meets Mimi (David's Mom)|
|Getting weighed...our petite little peanut!|
|Lizzie meeting Papaw (my Dad)|
|Jojo watching his little sister|
|Lizzie meeting Nonie (my mom)|
|Snuggles with Daddy (that poor blue shirt he's wearing is the one I nearly destroyed during labor with all my grasping ;-) )|
|Lizzie meeting Poppy (David's dad)|
That night, Lizzie woke up on and off to nurse (a lactation consultant came in, saw how well she was doing, and declared our nursing a success lol) while David and I drifted in and out of sleep. Staff came in and out to check my vitals and Lizzie's. They were concerned for a bit about how low my blood pressure was, and kept asking if I felt lightheaded (I didn't), but I think it was just all from the blood loss after delivery, so I was never very worried.
Early that next morning, around 6am, they came to give Lizzie her first bath and asked if David would like to help. This little girl so, so, so enjoyed the warm water and her daddy bathing her and washing her hair!
|Getting footprints done!|
After the bath, as the sun came up, she got to do some skin-to-skin snuggles with her very smitten Daddy, too...
Jojo got to come back up mid-morning and actually hold Lizzie for the first time. SO sweet!
|Love Lizzie's expression here|
Around lunchtime that day, while David's parents and my parents and Jojo all went out to lunch together, we found out we'd likely be approved for early discharge that afternoon, instead of having to wait until the next morning. I was thrilled!
|The grandparents and Jojo out for lunch at Phoenix Asian|
|I took this when she was right around 21 hours old|
|Ready to leave the hospital|
|Front yard decor|
|And we're home!|
|First picture as a family of 4!|
|Meeting her great grandmother!|
Our first few days at home have been amazing! David has had the whole week off with us and will work half-days a lot of next week, so that's been great. Jojo has done really, really, really well adjusting. He for sure loves his little sister. A few little jealous spells, but overall he's been amazing. Lizzie continues to nurse great! We took her for a weight check at 3 days old and she had lost down to 6 pounds, 1 ounce, which is just a 3% weight loss and well within the normal tolerance. No jaundice, and the mark that the vacuum extractor left on her head initially has long faded and isn't even bruised. We've gotten out and about with her early. When she was less than 48 hours old, we went to La Bamba on State Street for Mexican food for lunch, because Mexican queso is what I miss most when pregnant (and because of the listeria risk, pregnant women aren't supposed to eat it), and La Bamba is the first restaurant we took Jojo to after delivery as well. Lizzie slept peacefully against me in the Boba while we enjoyed our food. My recover has been very easy. A little discomfort and a little washed out, and my stomach muscles are really store from all the pushing, but otherwise super uneventful.
|TWO kiddos in the back seat! :-)|
|Oh. My. Word. Queso. How I've missed you.|
Our other adventures in this first week have included Triad Park, the library, and the Farmer's Market. Little lady is pretty easy and seems happy with our little adventures.
|I took this right after she nursed one morning...breast milk coma!|
|Little derby girl in her giant sun hat! My Southern Belle!|
|A very in-love daddy!|
|Taken on her due date, July 22nd, 2016|
Reflecting back, I could not be happier with our entire birth and postpartum experience. Would I, looking back, wish I wouldn't have had an induction, an epidural (although I feel like I can only half count the epidural since it wasn't very effective) and the vacuum? Well, in an ideal world, probably. But overall I reached my goal...a healthy baby...and she came via a vaginal delivery, which was a huge desire of mine. After all of our heartache. After all of our losses. After all of our tears and all of our worries. With my best friend, David, at my side. And with a care provider who did everything possible to empower me to make the choices I wanted. I cannot believe how well everything went and I'm so happy with how things turned out.
Looking forward to many, many more adventures as a family of four!