Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Emily's Birth Story {Part 1}

Warning:  This post is loooooooooong.  Shep and I wanted to capture as much detail as possible so we could always remember how our little Emily entered the world.  Most of this is likely not interesting to anyone else but us, so apologies for boring you and feel free to skip over it!

Like many couples these days, in anticipation of our little one's arrival we created a "birth preferences" plan. Thanks to the plan we filled out, the childbirth prep classes we took, and some stories we'd read about labor and delivery, we knew generally what to expect.  But like most births, Emily's arrival didn't go exactly as expected.  Here is our birth story...

Emily was due on May 25.  Throughout the night of Tuesday, May 20th leading into Wednesday May 21st, I woke up with menstrual-like cramps.  This wasn't anything new -- I'd been feeling these kinds of cramps off and on during the night for a couple weeks -- but this time it was a bit more constant and kept me up most of the night, though there wasn't really anything with a stop or start that could be timed or tracked.  I just generally felt crampy.  Needless to say, the morning of Wednesday, May 21st I was feeling less than stellar and asked Shep to stay home from work with me, just in case anything started happening.  Around 10:30 that morning, I got what I thought could possibly be a first "real" contraction, but I wasn't sure!  Apparently {and despite our childbirth instructor's sermons to the contrary} it is not easy for everyone to tell the difference between a really strong Braxton-Hicks and a weak early labor contraction!  I experienced another similar feeling around 30 minutes later, and then again another 30-40 minutes later, so after the 3rd one we figured perhaps they really were contractions!  Around noon, I called our birth doula to let her know what was happening.  She said there was no need to keep timing at that point, unless they started feeling stronger or closer together.  She said I should go about my normal day, make sure to eat and stay hydrated, perhaps go for a nice walk, and to keep her posted.  But, by the early afternoon, the contractions began tapering off instead of maintaining a pattern.  Shep considered going into work for a partial day, but realized that by the time he'd get into the office he'd only have a few hours to work before heading back home, so he continued working from home for the remainder of the day while I sat around exhausted from not sleeping and feeling like a dope for keeping him home for a "false alarm".

I watched some television and tried to rest during the late afternoon, feeling more random contractions as the afternoon progressed.  Some of them started getting a tiny bit uncomfortable, though nothing I'd describe as painful -- but the duration and interval between them was all over the place.  All the materials we'd studied in childbirth prep class said that as labor progressed the contractions would start forming MORE of a pattern and get closer and closer together, while becoming more intense.  Well, not mine...

1:09 pm - 56 seconds
1:21 pm - 1 minute 5 seconds
1:23 pm - 1 minute 54 seconds
1:37 pm - 21 seconds
2:28 pm - 2 minutes 18 seconds
2:41 pm - 45 seconds
3:11 pm - 2 minutes 30 seconds
4:43 pm - 1 minute 8 seconds
4:44 pm - 3 minutes 11 seconds
4:54 pm - 22 seconds
5:23 pm - 1 minute 42 seconds
5:34 pm - 4 minutes 2 seconds
5:39 pm - 1 minute 19 seconds
5:43 pm - 42 seconds
5:50 pm - 2 minutes 6 seconds

The contractions that were lasting 3 and 4 minutes were especially confusing because nothing we'd learned about the early phase of labor indicated that they'd last that long.  In early labor, we were taught, contractions usually last 30-60 seconds and are 5-20 minutes apart.  Then in active labor, contractions can last 45-60 seconds long and are 2-5 minutes apart.  But mine were coming every 2 to 30 minutes and were lasting 20 seconds to 4 minutes long.  Shep looked on several websites that indicated such long contractions were "false labor" contractions, not real labor.  But they didn't exactly fit the description of Braxton Hicks either.  While they were only in my abdomen, they didn't stop or go away when I changed positions, and they did seem to be getting stronger.  We were stumped.

Shep made dinner around 6pm {my stomach was feeling pretty upset by this point so it was just   gnocchi with a tiny bit of butter for me} but by the time it was ready I began to get more painful contractions and didn't think I could eat.  I managed to take 2 bites of gnocchi, but that was it.  At this point, my contractions were even moreso all over the place -- lasting from 10 seconds, to 1 or 2 minutes!  They were also coming more frequently -- every 15 or so minutes.  It was hard to see a pattern, but the one thing they had in common was that they were now all painful to me.  Shep and I looked at the birthing class materials yet again.  Though we had originally assumed these were pre-labor contractions because they were so erratic, the one tell-tale sign of pre-labor contractions is that they are not painful, and these contractions were definitely hurting big time.

6:06 pm - 2 minutes 39 seconds
6:18 pm - 3 minutes 45 seconds
6:25 pm - 53 seconds
6:34 pm - 1 minute 25 seconds
6:41 pm - 10 minutes 42 seconds (!!)
6:55 pm - 51 seconds
6:56 pm - 19 seconds
6:56 pm - 50 seconds
7:00 pm - 6 minutes 57 seconds
7:10 pm - 53 seconds
7:18 pm - 5 minutes 10 seconds
7:25 pm - 42 seconds
7:33 pm - 3 minutes 22 seconds
7:44 pm - 54 seconds
7:49 pm - 2 minutes 18 seconds

So, I was having erratic contractions that were painful.  And by about 8 PM, they were increasing in duration {including the monster that lasted over 10 minutes} and becoming more painful with each one.  Using the contraction timer app, Shep told me that they were averaging about 2-4 minutes in length and coming every 5-7 minutes at this point.  We called our birth doula Annette around 8:15 and she recommended to drink a lot of fluids and take a warm bath.  She hypothesized that my contractions were coming in clusters due to my uterus being "agitated" {possibly the result of my vaginal exam two days earlier} and thought the bath would help to relax the uterus and regulate the contractions.  I drank tons of water and Shep ran a warm bath for me, which I stayed in for an hour, but the contractions kept coming and coming.

7:57 pm - 2 minutes 42 seconds
8:03 pm - 4 minutes 2 seconds
8:08 pm - 1 minute 23 seconds
8:10 pm - 1 minute 26 seconds
8:13 pm - 3 minutes 41 seconds
8:21 pm - 4 minute 56 seconds
8:28 pm - 2 minutes 48 seconds
8:33 pm - 30 seconds
8:38 pm - 3 minutes 39 seconds
8:45 pm - 1 minute 42 seconds
8:51 pm - 3 minutes 27 seconds
8:57 pm - 2 minutes 52 seconds
9:02 pm - 4 minutes 37 seconds
9:09 pm - 41 seconds
9:15 pm - 3 minutes 5 seconds
9:24 pm - 2 minutes 46 seconds
9:32 pm - 1 minute 43 seconds
9:36 pm - 1 minute 57 seconds
9:39 pm - 3 minutes 53 seconds
9:44 pm - 38 seconds
9:48 pm - 2 minutes 32 seconds
9:53 pm - 2 minutes 2 seconds
9:56 pm - 1 minute 13 seconds

By about 10 PM, Shep noted that I had been having contractions more often than not having contractions. We called our doula back who recommended we meet her at the hospital, instead of her coming to our home as we originally planned, since I was already in pain from the contractions and not getting any rest in between {which is the whole point of laboring at home as long as possible}. When I spoke to the on-call doctor and told her that my contractions were very close together and lasting 2 minutes on average, she replied "I've never heard of that", with a tone in her voice that made me think she didn't believe me!  Not exactly the reassurance I was looking for at that moment.  She then asked: "What do you want to do?" and I said I wanted to go in to the hospital.  She seemingly reluctantly agreed to call the hospital to let them know I'd be coming in, which is when the reality set in..... we were going to have our baby very soon!!!

Even though we already had our bags packed and ready to go, we still scrambled a bit in getting all our stuff to the car. You think you are ready for something like this but the reality is you are never 100% ready.  I quickly got dressed and grabbed 2 pieces of plain whole wheat bread to take with me while Shep threw some last minute items in our bags, and off we went!  While Shep pulled the car around to the front of our condo building, our front desk concierge sat with me, repeating over and over again that she was "so excited!".  After a mercifully short drive into Manhattan {thankfully long past the typical gridlock rush hour that plagues New York City} we arrived at the hospital at around 11 pm.  When we entered the lobby the security guard offered me a wheelchair, but I said I was fine to walk, even though I had to stop and take a few breaks on the way to the elevator.  Some nurses saw that I was in pain and even offered to help carry the 4 bags Shep was holding!  We zipped up the elevator to the 8th Floor, marked "LABOR AND DELIVERY" in big letters, to the reception area we'd been told to go to.... and it was empty.  Dark and deserted.  Shep started to get nervous, asking "where the f*** is everyone?!" but luckily a nurse walking by directed us to proceed straight to the nurses's station.  I handed the nurse my ID and insurance card, and looked at the clock.  It was 11:15 pm.


  1. So excited to hear the rest of the story!

    1. Kudos to you for not falling asleep during this rambling long post! ;) Thanks so much for always being so supportive! xo

  2. Hi Nicole! I loved reading the first part of Emily's birth story! Looking forward to hearing the rest of it :) I'm glad that she's doing so well and that you and Shep are loving being parents!!

    I've been following your blog, but haven't commented in awhile because....my twins made an early arrival on June 5th! Ashton Carter and Avery Caitlin decided that 34 weeks 4 days was long enough (medication did not slow down my preterm labor), and I had them via c-section. I've been so looking forward to telling you! However, things didn't really go as I had thought they would....Both had serious respiratory distress at birth and had to be transferred to the NICU at another hospital immediately after birth. I was able to get released less than 24 hours later to be with them (apparently, that is NOT the norm, lol! I was just really motivated to get out of there and to my babies!). Avery developed some other complications a couple days later that resulted in a tear in her lung. She was moved to the NICU core and was put on a ventilator. After two failed attempts to evacuate the air from her chest cavity with small catheters, they ended up putting in a chest tube Thankfully, that worked, and she was able to come off of the ventilator and move back into the room with Ashton a few days ago. The chest tube has since been removed, and she's making small improvements. Avery's condition was serious, and it has set her back quite a bit -- she continues to have trouble regulating her respiration, and therefore is not able to take a bottle or nurse yet. However, Ashton has been doing great and they told us last night that as long as he continues to do well, he will come home within the next few days. We are so happy that Ashton has made such good progress, and we can't wait to have him home, but we are also feeling very conflicted since Avery will have to stay in the NICU -- this will will be the 3rd time we've been separated since their birth. But, I know it will all work out....just another step in this crazy journey I've been on for the past year! I just can't wait to have them both home together :)

    You take care and can't wait for your next post!

    1. Allie, I am so glad to hear from you!!!! I've been thinking about you and wondering how you and those 2 little treasures were doing! Ashton and Avery are BEAUTIFUL names -- CONGRATULATIONS!!! I'm sorry to hear that they came a bit early and that Avery has had a particularly tough start.... I can imagine that is very stressful for you. But, on the bright side it sounds like Ashton is a champ and his sister is following in his footsteps and getting stronger and better, which is such great news. I will keep all of you in my prayers and hope that Avery gets to come home very soon. Please keep me posted!!! (P.S. -- So sorry it took me so long to respond... I thought I had already but then realized I never did! Mommy brain...)

  3. Yesss! So glad you are posting this :-) I've been waiting to read about how sweet Emily arrived. Sounds like you had some crazy early labor...I'm curious to hear how far dilated and effaced you were when you went in!

    1. It was crazy alright!!! Totally NOT what I was expecting. ;)


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