Jolie Kate Ackermann is 13 days old today. We're sort of starting to settle into a routine around here, and it's high time I told the story of her birth!
I will offer this disclaimer: this blog is a personal archive of our family; something for me to look back on in years to come. If you think some parts of this post are TMI, sorry.
March 11 - 3:00am
I woke up to use the bathroom for the 27th time since going to bed, as usual. While in the bathroom, I noticed that I had lost my mucus plug! I, of course, got very excited, but with only Braxton Hicks contractions for the past 2 weeks, tried my best to go back to bed.
I awoke sometime later with my first true contraction. Definitely different than Braxton Hicks, which was a relief to me. I woke up Drew and we started timing them. By 6am, they were getting stronger and closer together. Drew and I both thought it was the day! We called the doctor around 8 and they said to high tail it to the hospital. I wanted to shower and eat breakfast, so we didn't leave until about 9. By then, the contractions were a lot closer together, but they were starting to become less painful. Weird.
They literally stopped when we walked into triage. I was hooked up to the monitors for an hour or so, then they sent us home. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. We spent the rest of the morning in Annapolis, trying to walk around, hoping that the contractions would come back or that my water would break in some dramatic fashion. I didn't have a contraction while the sun was still up. Boo.
That night, we watched a movie with Tom and Renata at home and I realized that I was getting contractions again. They started around 15 minutes apart, but they hurt a lot more than the previous ones did. We went to bed at 10, contractions still far apart and very bearable and I fell asleep until 1.
March 12 - 1:00am
I woke up to pain with excitement! I could no longer sleep through the contractions. On the 1-10 scale, they had climbed to about a 5 and were about 8-10 minutes apart, so I woke up Drew. He told me to try and rest and that when they got closer together, we'd start really timing.
I laid awake contracting the rest of the night. By 6am, they were 5-7 minutes apart and had climbed a 7 on the pain scale. I couldn't talk or move through them anymore. We called the doctor and headed to the hospital once more. I tried not to get myself too excited, and kept telling myself that they could still send me home.
Sure enough, my body hates me and the contractions slowed in time and intensity as soon as they hooked me up the machine. I was only dilated about 3cm and it looked like it might be another disappointing morning. Boo again.
My doctor was not available and was being covered by the doctor on call. A nurse came in and said that the doctor would like to admit us and get me started on Pitocin! We were really surprised, but told her we wanted some time to think about it.
Drew and I really wanted to let my body go into labor on its own. I was scared of Pitocin, as I heard it made contractions a lot worse. We spent a good 20 minutes discussing whether or not we wanted to be admitted or to go home and wait it out. Under no pressure (which was wonderful) and some prayer, we decided to stay. It would be my actual due date, plus it was a Friday which meant Drew wouldn't have to take off work to stay at the hospital and I was ready to not be pregnant anymore. We came to the conclusion on our own and both felt great about it.
March 12 - 10:00am
We were checked in and I was hooked up to a lot of IVs, including the Pitocin drip. Our wonderful nurse Mary (wonderful does not describe her well enough - she was awesome!) made sure we had what we needed and we were off!
Contractions started picking up almost immediately on the Pitocin. I had planned to not make a definite decision about an epidural until I was actually in labor, as I wanted to feel contractions for myself and not be pressured either way. I labored unmedicated for 4 hours, which got pretty intense. By the time 1pm rolled around, my contractions were 2 minutes apart, lasting a good minute and a half (so only 30 second breaks) and a definite 9 on the pain scale. Drew was awesome. He kept reminding me to breathe and that each contraction was one less I had to do again. I decided on an epidural at 1:30 and they came to administer it at 2pm.
I was a little nervous about the giant needle being stuck into my spine, but all went great (and it really didn't hurt). I did have one last contraction during the procedure and must've squeezed the color out of Drew's arm, but then it was done. The second that it started working, I was so happy. Just ask Drew. I kept saying, "Drew! I am so happy right now!" I promptly fell asleep soon after I was checked at 4cm.
By 4pm, I had slept almost 2 hours and the doctor came to check me again. We were surprised to find out I was at 10cm already! Jolie was still up pretty high, but I would start pushing fairly soon. I tried to get some more rest, but it was hard. The epidural made me a little nauseous, plus I was anxious to get started.
Mary came back in at 6 to get the pushing started. They told me it could take up to 3 hours of pushing, but I was hoping to be lucky. :) No such luck. I pushed for 2 and a half hours. During the first 2 hours, I was literally trying to get her past my pelvic bone with not a lot of success. My contractions actually slowed down a little, too, which was frustrating. I was getting so discouraged. I was tired, nauseous and pushing is hard! Drew tried to keep my spirits up and was wonderful. The nurse finally convinced me to look in a mirror, which was super encouraging. Drew got to see her head before it crowned.
Finally, at 8pm, things started happening. With one good push, half her head was out, the next contraction brought her whole head and with one last push, she was born. Drew was a mess as soon as her head came. When she was born and put on my chest, we both lost it. I was super surprised at the overwhelming amount of emotion from both of us. I'm tearing up thinking about it now. What a wonderful memory.
Drew stayed with Jolie while they weighed her across the room. I got stitched up and enjoyed watching Drew with his daughter. Funny enough, we had to take our first pictures of Jolie with a cell phone because we forgot a camera! She didn't open her eyes until she was in Drew's arms for the first time, which was wonderful.
Our stay at Anne Arundel was amazing. Our nurses were all awesome. Even though I was in pain and pretty much bed ridden, I will cherish those memories as some of my sweetest.
Now, 12 days later, Jolie sleeps in her cradle next to my bed, still captivating us with every little movement and facial expression. It's still pretty hard to believe that she is real and mine and that I am part of my own family. Learning to completely give of yourself is a super hard lesson. But Jolie is worth it.