Thursday, November 24, 2016

Ollie's Birth Story

For Thanksgiving this year, we welcomed little Ollie Mae Pham into the world. Every day I feel like time is flying by too quickly and pretty soon she's going to be five feet tall and leaving home. But, we're definitely enjoying her snuggly newborn phase, and most of all we are just glad that she is here. Nathan and I keep saying how lucky and glad we are that she is ours. I've been around a lot of babies, and cared for so many newborns and babies, but it is just so much different and so much better now that it's mine.

Ollie's due date was December 2nd, but all throughout our pregnancy we've said that ideally, she would be born the week of Thanksgiving. By then, most of my school stuff for the semester would be over, Nathan's work would be in a pretty good place for him to go out for a week, and there would be a lot of family in town already because of the holiday. Also, Rachel would be home from the Coast Guard, and Suzanne would be here before her and her new husband left for another work trip. So, we were hoping for a Thanksgiving baby, and getting excited about the fact that she could arrive any day.

I went to the doctor on Thursday the 17th, and my doctor asked me if I wanted her to strip my membranes to maybe kick-start labor. As tempting as it was (because we really wanted to meet this little girl), I said no. To which she said that if I wanted her too, she could do it at the next appointment, which was Tuesday the 22nd. Nathan and I decided we would go ahead and try it. That afternoon arrived, we went to the office, and my doctor checked me and stripped my membranes. I was about 1 cm dilated, and 60% effaced. I'd been sitting like that for two weeks now, nothing had changed.

After that, Nathan and I went to grab an early dinner together at an Italian Deli nearby, and then went over to walk around. We walked around for an hour and a half there, mostly just window shopping. Nathan was on the hunt for a frilly baby girl Christmas dress, which we ended up finding. We bought that, and headed home. Occasionally as we were walking, I would notice that my belly would tighten up, and got excited as I thought these were probably early little contractions.

We got home and by the time I hoped in bed, my belly wasn't getting tight very much anymore, so I told Nathan I was going to go take the dog out for a walk. It was only 30 degrees and dark outside, and Nathan didn't want me going alone. So all three of us bundled up, and walked as quickly as we could around the neighborhood for 45 minutes, and my belly started getting hard and a little crampy, and a lot more often. This was my first baby, though, so I was still unsure if these were real contractions, or Braxton Hicks, or just cramps. But even after we finished walking, they stayed pretty constant, and were getting just a little bit uncomfortable. Still very tolerable, though. Sometime around midnight I started timing them just to see how often they were coming, and they were about every 5-6 minutes. At this point both Nathan and I were pretty hopeful that we would be having a baby sometime in the next few days.

Throughout the night, the little crampy/belly tightening contractions kept coming, and I was having a good amount of bloody show and discharge. I was sure there were some changes going on and that this was all early labor, and I was pretty excited. At one point I was pretty uncomfortable, and left the room to lay on the couch so I wouldn't wake Nathan up. I couldn't sleep very well, though, and neither could he. We dozed in and out, and about 8:30 the next morning we decided we would go to the hospital.

Suzanne had driven through the night from Blacksburg to be here just in case a little baby would be arriving. So she took a picture of Nathan and I before we left, and off we went. We got to L&D, and were triaged. As I was lying on the bed, I noticed things had slowed down a little bit, and I wasn't really sure why. We walked around outside for an hour, still no real changes. When I was checked, I was still only 1 cm dilated, which was pretty frustrating, because the crampiness/contractions were only getting more uncomfortable. And I had so much bloody show and everything, that I was sure things were changing. But, in the end we were sent home, which I was glad about. If nothing was really happening, I just wanted to be home and in my own space.

Our last belly shots from this pregnancy: 38 weeks and 5 days

On the way home I asked Nathan to go buy me a slurpee--it was pretty much all I could even imagine being able to stomach. We got home, and I was still having the crampy/belly hardening things going on. But, at this point I wasn't even sure what they were. I thought they were early contractions, but nothing really was showing on the monitors at the hospital. So maybe they were just cramps from having my membranes stripped? Regardless, I took my orange slurpee, and I crawled into my bed. I was able to sleep for about forty five minutes before I woke up from a very painful crampy feeling. Then, the next five hours I pretty much fought against these cramp things. They really picked up and got very painful. I tried laying in the warm bathtub, which didn't really help. I clung onto Nathan and just cried pretty much. I just kept telling him how I couldn't do this--how if I couldn't even handle stupid cramps there was no way I'd be able to push a baby into this world. I remember telling him I didn't want to have a baby anymore. He tried to comfort me and talk me through them, but I wasn't very consolable. I was nauseous, and hurting, and upset. As they got worse, and I got more dramatic, Nathan got more worried. About five pm, he took my phone and called my doctor, to which I angrily hung up the phone. I kept telling him that probably nothing was actually going on, just like the night before, and that the cramps we just had to deal with until they went away. And Nathan was getting frustrated with his stubborn wife.

Thankfully for both of us, my doctor called back pretty quickly, and asked what was going on. I told her that the cramps were still going on, and they were really bad, but that also with each cramp my belly would get hard, just like the night before. But, I still wasn't sure if these were actually contractions, because the night before I thought they were, and then nothing happened. About six pm, my doctor checked me, and I was 3 cm dilated, and she told me that those crampy feelings were contractions--she could feel my uterus contracting as my belly would get hard. She asked me if I wanted to keep laboring at home, or go in to the hospital to be admitted. Without a doubt, go to the hospital. I did not want to be at home any longer.

On the way to the hospital, the contractions and nausea were pretty bad. Nathan had to pull over, I jumped out and threw up. We got to the hospital, got admitted, and as soon as I could, I got some pain medicine. IV Fentanyl--instantly I felt the room spin a little bit, and the pain quickly decreased with each contraction. For about an hour, I was able to relax a little and doze off. I was also pretty dehydrated when we got to the hospital from not being able to eat anything, and from vomiting so much, so they gave me a bunch of fluid. As they rehydrated me, my labor actually slowed down a little bit. Initially, the contractions were showing on the monitor about every three minutes, and they had decreased to about every eight. I wanted so desperately to have this baby, and to not have to have my labor augmented medically, so Nathan and I decided to walk around the unit for about an hour. It worked, and things picked back up. We went back to our room, and at that point, Suzanne, Rachel, and my Dad had arrived. Mom was already at the hospital with us.

 Dad ended up staying the whole labor and delivery, and I am so glad he did.

Since the contractions had picked back up, the pain was coming back right along with them. All throughout my pregnancy I had said that I wasn't planning on getting an epidural or not getting one--I was just going to see how things went, and if I wanted one, fine. But, I also liked the idea of laboring on my own just so I had the freedom of movement and positioning and all that. Well, back when I was at home with just those cramps, I had pretty much decided there was no way this wimp was making it without an epidural, so I wanted one eventually. I decided to first do another dose of the IV Fentanyl though, because I didn't want the epidural to slow labor down since we were still in the beginning. With the second dose, I was again able to fall back asleep for about an hour. I woke up around ten as the medicine wore off, and shortly after my doctor came up to break my water to keep things moving along. After she broke my water, we decided to get the epidural.

She broke my water, and I was about 5 cm dilated. As soon as she broke my water, and I lost that cushion between the contractions and my cervix, the contractions were ten times worse. I was shaking uncontrollably, and began vomiting again. I hobbled over to the bathroom, shaking like a leaf, so that I could pee before getting my epidural. At this point, I think my Dad and Nathan were both a little worried about me, because I was so shaky, vomiting, and obviously in pain. But, the epidural came quickly, and somehow I was able to sit still through the procedure. I'm definitely glad I had my husband there to lean on. I remember at one point I bit his shoulder during a contraction just because I couldn't think of anything else to do that would help. Poor thing. Five minutes after getting the epidural, though, everything was better. Each contraction was so much different, and I began to not be able to feel them. I felt my legs and thighs begin to go warm and tingly, and my legs became dead weight.

With the epidural, I was able to sleep off and on. I drank some ginger ale, and ate half a popsicle, both of which I was finally able to keep down. Everyone in the room fell asleep, and prepared for the morning to come. The nurse guessed that maybe by six am we would have a baby in our arms, which was exciting, and I looked forward to labor being done. Around four am, I noticed that I was able to feel and move my left leg pretty well. I tried laying on that side and bolusing the epidural medicine to try and renumb that leg a little--it didn't work though, and only made my ride side more numb. I was feeling the contractions on that left side, and then things got very crampy again. I tried to just deal with it, because I didn't want more medicine as I was getting close to being complete. However, after some time, I couldn't handle it anymore, and I asked the nurse to get the anesthesiologist to give me a little bit more medicine. Instead of rushing to do that, the nurse said that sometimes as the baby moves down into the pelvis, the pressure and cramping increases, so she checked me, and I was complete: 10 cm and 100%! In fact, the crampiness she guessed wasn't necessarily with my contractions so much as just because the baby was so close and pushing right against me. My nurse called my doctor, who said to go ahead and start pushing and see how I did.

A little video I took on Snapchat--if you look closely, you can see Dad asleep in a chair, Nathan asleep on the couch, and Mom, Suzanne, and Rachel asleep on the floor under a blanket.

About 5:20, I began to push. I pushed a little bit with just my nurse there, and shortly after my doctor showed up. I felt very in control, and I was glad that even with the epidural, I could feel my contractions and knew when to push, and when to stop. In the beginning, my doctor just kept saying how much fluid I was pushing out, and I could feel it gush each time. Eventually they started to see a little hair, and they were commenting about how it looked strawberry blonde (which I was really surprised about, given how dark Nathan's hair is). They also started guessing how much she would weigh, and most people guessed around 6 1/2-7 pounds. It seemed like the talking and pushing went on forever, and my doctor said I would know when we were close when I saw her gown up and change the bed into position. I was waiting to see that happen forever, but finally she gowned up, and everyone was saying how close I was, and how with each push the baby's head would come farther and farther. I was getting really tired, and it seemed like even after everyone said I was almost there that I kept on pushing for another half hour. At one point, Nathan had leaned in close and rested his head on mine during a contraction, and I headbutted him as a way to tell him to back up, because I needed some space while I was pushing (poor guy... he understood what I was saying though). All in all, I pushed for about 2 hours, and she was born at 7:26 am. Feeling her head finally come out and the rest of her body follow was the most surreal moment, and such a feeling of relief. Nathan cut the cord, and finally our baby girl was here. They laid her on my chest and all I remember was saying how beautiful she was. I couldn't believe I actually just had a baby.

 Right when Ollie was laid on my chest for the first time. So many emotions.

Ollie with our amazing doctor. So thankful she put everything aside (the holidays!) to ensure a safe and smooth delivery. 

Ollie Mae Pham was so perfect. she had the widest eyes, and she was so much bigger than everyone thought--8 lbs, 2 oz, and 21.25 inches long. She definitely did not have blonde hair, but a nice full head of dark hair, just like I imagined she would. She has Nathan's nose, just like we thought she would. While she was being checked out, my doctor delivered the placenta and stitched me up (I had a really small first degree tear). After that, Mom, Dad, Suzanne, and Rachel all held her for a little bit, and then everyone left to let Nathan and I take it all in, and enjoy our first few moments as parents. Ollie took to breastfeeding pretty quickly, and I sat with her right up against my chest for a while as she slept. Seeing Nathan as a dad was very special. He already loved his little girl, but it was so cute to finally see them together.




All in all, I feel extremely blessed. Everything went so smoothly, and so many loved ones were there to share our excitement with us. I have the best husband in the world, and he is such an amazing dad. Ollie arrived as a perfect, healthy little girl, and I can't describe how grateful I am that I get to be her mom. She is so very loved. I wish I could take all the feelings I felt throughout her birth and just bottle them up and remember them forever. Giving birth to my first daughter was such a challenging yet rewarding experience, and one I want to be able to remember forever.

We love you, Ollie baby.

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