Monday, November 18, 2013

Declan's birth story

I prefer to keep my blog posts in order, regardless of how far behind I get. But I just can't get myself to blog about things like my birthday and Halloween and other random happenings when I could blog about how I had a BABY!! :)  So here is the story of Declan's birth. And it's the long version. The very long version. I want it documented so here is the place, feel free to skim.:)

The little guy was due to arrive on November 3rd. Despite my ginormous size, which everyone seemed to comment on, that date came and went without a baby. Surprise, surprise. Apparently my babies take a little longer to cook. At my 39 week appointment my doctor offered to induce me the day after my due date or 6 days after, her two days on call that week. I decided on the latter, hoping to give him more of a chance to come on his own. I really, really hoped he would. I had a feeling Friday night would not be fun for me if I knew I was going to be induced the next morning. I have a lot of childbirth anxiety, more than the average woman I guess, and it just seemed like it would be better if labor was a surprise, not a planned event. No such luck. 

So my parents came down and had dinner with us Friday night and then took Tatum home with them. What a blessing to have them so close so they could watch her for us. It was my first time being away from her overnight and I actually cried when they drove away (must have been the pregnancy hormones ;)), but I'm sure it would have been much harder if I didn't know she was somewhere she felt comfortable with people she knows and loves. Saturday morning we woke up at 6 to call the hospital to make sure they had a bed for us. They did, so we got ready to go and arrived there just before 8. I felt very rotten all morning. My lower back hurt quite a bit and I just didn't feel well but I chalked it up to nerves. After we got checked in and I was in the bed I felt fairly certain I was having contractions. But I had been having contractions quite regularly for many weeks so I didn't think anything of it. They hooked me up to all the monitors and got an IV in me to start antibiotics (I tested positive for group B strep this pregnancy which means they want to get antibiotics in you 4 hours before delivery.) The plan was for my doctor to come in to see me sometime around 8:30 and break my water. At my last appointment I was about 4 cm dilated so we were hoping breaking my water would be enough to put me into labor and we could avoid pitocin. Well as we sat there waiting I really felt like my contractions were quite regular so I started checking the monitor and sure enough there were peaks every 3 to 5 minutes. My doctor came in a little while later and said "I checked the monitors out there and asked the nurses who my other laboring patient was. You're in labor and we didn't even have to do anything!" I guess the little guy decided if we were going to evict him from his comfy home then he'd just come on his own. Dr. Wenzel checked my progress (a 5) and decided to not break my water since we didn't want him to come until 4 hours after the antibiotics were started. So we hung out for the next 90 minutes watching home improvement shows on HGTV. My contractions got increasingly painful and I felt them all in my back. Ouch ouch ouch. Dr. Wenzel came again between 9:30 and 10 and I was at an 8! She told me she could break my water and I'd probably have the baby within a half hour or so, but again because of the group B strep she really didn't want to do that. She told me if I really didn't want an epidural we could do that and hope for the best, but if I wasn't completely opposed to one I might consider it. It would naturally slow down labor and then allow me to just wait it out.  I opted for the epidural. I was pretty nervous about getting it and was having some pretty intense contractions by then so holding still was interesting. Having the epidural placed was a very strange sensation and even though they say the poke is like getting an IV, I would beg to differ. It hurt a lot more than an IV in my opinion! But the next contraction wasn't as painful and the one after that I couldn't feel at all-the nurse had to tell me it was happening! Pretty amazing stuff. After that I just laid on my side and napped off and on while Brennan watched the Iowa football game. I was able to feel and move my legs the whole time which I was happy about but the epidural gave me the shakes. My whole body pretty much just shook uncontrollably. It would die down every once in awhile and I was able to sleep through it in little spurts but it still made it a little less pleasant. 

At 12:30 Dr. Wenzel came to check on me since we had reached the 4 hour mark. I was at a 9 so she broke my water and said she would be back in about a half hour and maybe we would be ready to go by then. Well about five minutes later I was feeling the contractions again (not fully, but it was definitely uncomfortable) and I had a lot of pressure. I waited through a couple of contractions and then had Brennan go tell the nurse. It just felt totally different with the epidural so I wasn't sure how much pressure was noteworthy. The doctor came in a few minutes later and said I was at a 10 so they got all ready to go. Pushing was a completely different experience with the epidural. With Tatum I was just so relieved to be at the end and the pushing actually made me not notice the pain of the contractions. Plus there was so much pain and pressure down there that I didn't necessarily feel her come out. But this time the urge to push wasn't really there, the nurses had to tell me when to do it. And oddly enough I feel like I felt his entrance into the world much more than I felt Tatum's. His head was out with the rest of him still inside of me for entirely too long. Ouch. But after about 15 minutes of pushing (And the doctor turning him. He was posterior, hence the back labor.) Declan Jeffrey Harding made his grand entrance into this world at 1:01 pm weighing a whopping 9 lbs 1 oz and measuring 22 inches long. 

The first thing Brennan said after they laid him on me (about the time this picture was taken) was "he looks like a Cardon!" Since then most people have said he looks like Brennan or Tatum (who are twins so it's basically the same thing.). I don't really know who he looks like, I'm not very good at that and I feel like his looks change every day. But at least for a minute I got to hope that some of my genes won out this time. :)
Getting all checked out. What a cutie.

Now I'm not saying I look wonderful in the picture above, but compared to how I looked after Tatum I look like a million bucks. That is one thing I loved about the epidural. I felt much more aware and with it right after he was here. I was able to talk to my doctor and get the low down on the damage he did. (A second degree tear, compared to a third degree last time. Apparently his head came out fine and she thought we were good to go, but then his shoulders got me. Recovery has been better, not sure if it's the slight difference in tearing or just that I've done it before.) But more importantly I got to really enjoy Declan. Not that I didn't enjoy Tatum but I was pretty well spent by the time she got here. So would I get an epidural again? I really don't know. It would depend on what labor was like. I really didn't feel like I needed anything until I was at an 8. If that's how it happened again I would probably just tough it out for the last 30 to 60 minutes (assuming I was negative for group B strep in the future), but I definitely think it was the right choice for this labor.

Mom and Dad brought Tatum to see us at the hospital later that afternoon after we moved to recovery. She didn't quite know what to think of it all. She was pretty excited about the baby but very leery of me which was hard.
Don't mind Brennan. He was participating in no shave November. Thank goodness he got tired of the beard a few days later. I wasn't sad to see it go.
While they were visiting us a nurse came in to prick Declan's heel. Since he was so big he had to pass a certain number of blood sugar tests to make sure it didn't get too low. This picture shows Tatum's reaction. She was not okay with someone hurting him. Her eyes filled with tears and eventually she just threw her face in her hands and sobbed and sobbed. Papa finally had to take her out until they were all done. It's interesting because she never cared when he cried anytime after that until the nurse came for the home visit a few days later. So it's only when a stranger is involved in making him cry. Anyway, I thought it was sweet.

Isn't that the sweetest?

Tatum actually helped us name Declan. We had it down to two first names and two middle names, but we were having a hard time deciding after he got here. Surprise, surprise. First we thought Declan, then we were leaning toward Beckett. But when she came to see us every time we asked her what we should name him she said Declan. In the weeks leading up to this she would switch back and forth between the names or say both of them. But that day she only said Declan so we went with it. :) Thanks for helping your indecisive parents Tatum!

Whitney came to see us the next day, just before we left the hospital. She just happened to be in town for the weekend.
Headed home and super thrilled about it as you can see.

We had a really great experience at Mercy. I had some stellar nurses that took awesome care of me. They really went above and beyond. Our exiting nurse was not so awesome and it was a frustrating day, but I think the other amazing nurses made up for it. Having my own doctor there made the experience night and day different from last time. It really seemed like she was invested in the outcome and wanted me to have as good an experience as possible. With Tatum's delivery I was never checked by a doctor through all of labor. Then she came in, caught Tatum, stitched me up and left. She didn't even have a conversation with me. Just a totally different experience.

We have now survived a week at home. Luckily my mom came and stayed with us for a few nights. That was a lifesaver. I was sore and tired and couldn't do much with Tatum and Brennan had classes and homework so it was a huge help to have her around. Tatum also got up a lot at night with a darn cough she has had for awhile and mom would often intercept her on her way to our room. It was also so great to have her when Declan was screaming and screaming because he wasn't getting any nourishment from me. She knew just what to do. Thanks mom! We couldn't have done it without you.

Here are some pictures from our first few days at home.

She's a saint.

Don't mind the lack of pigment to my skin. Something about childbirth makes me completely colorless for weeks.

Mom slept on the couch so she could be more helpful at night (or maybe because she is scared of our downstairs because she thinks it is a basement ;)). She really is the best. Here she is snoozing with Tatum one morning.

And there you have it. We are so happy to have Declan in our family. Adjusting to two is definitely going to take some time. We made it to church on Sunday, but not on time. We'll get there. And it's hard to see Tatum so emotional but I know she will adjust. I just hope I do the right things to help her adjust as quickly and easily as possible.