If you have been following our Facebook and Instagram accounts you have been able to see that Harper's birth turned into quite the journey for us. Today I'm sharing the first part of her birth, before the nightmare started.
The Monday before she was born I went to the doctor for my 37 week checkup. To our surprise there was protein in my urine and my blood pressure had skyrocketed compared to the week before. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and put on bedrest for the week. Our doctor told us that I needed to come in again on Thursday and that I would most likely be induced on Friday depending on what my tests showed during Thursday's appointment. I also had an ultrasound to check on Harper's weight and my amniotic fluid level. I know that there are a lot of stories about the ultrasound weights being way off target late in pregnancy but in this case the ultrasound was only off by 1 ounce! Skyler and I were both shell-shocked on the way home. Our doctor had wanted to induce me by week 39 due to Harper's size, so I had that date in my head. Two weeks earlier than that caught me a little off guard, especially work-wise. I spent the week on bedrest and on Thursday we went to our appointment. My blood pressure was down but my protein levels had increased so the doctor told us to check into the hospital that night to start being induced!
We headed to the hospital that night with so much excitement and nervousness. That night they started me on a cervix softener that basically hurt worse than child birth to insert. My cervix was literally a rock, I hadn't started dilating on my own at all. They gave me an Ambien to help me sleep but I was so excited sleep was impossible. By early morning I was starting to have contractions and had dilated to a 2. The doctor came in early on to break my water and at that point I decided to get my epidural as the nurse said my contractions would get worse now that my water had been broke. During my epidural a few things were weird. The anesthesiologist said that the space where the epidural was supposed to be inserted was very narrow, and it took 3-4 shots of the numbing medicine before I didn't feel the epidural which was rare. Well we found out that the "weirdness" meant that the epidural didn't work. I had about an hour where it worked before I started to feel the contractions. Once they started to get stronger the doctor came in and inserted 2x an epidural dose in my line...but that didn't work. An hour later he came in and inserted half a c-section dose, which should have rendered me unable to move at all. I could still feel everything and move my whole body, it was awful. For three hours I felt every contraction full strength..I can now say that I have basically experienced a natural birth. (Surprisingly I still think my endometrial cramps are worse than labor which gives you a picture of how bad my periods can be).
During those three hours the nurse wasn't checking my progression at all as we were trying to get my pain under control. Finally the anesthesiologist came in and redid my epidural in a different place in my spine. Once that started working the nurse checked me again and to everyone's surprise (and my relief) I had gone from a 3 to a 10 during that time and it was time to push. We hurried and texted our birth photographer, Cali Stoddard, and she arrived right as I started pushing! Since first time moms usually push for awhile before the baby comes we decided to do some practice pushes which means the bed wasn't broken down, and the doctor hadn't arrived yet. Little did we know I'm a boss at pushing babies out because it only took me 4 sets of pushes (about 10 minutes) to push our babe out. The surprised nurse ended up catching her and then called for doctors to come in. My doctor arrived 2 minutes later to start stitching me up as I had torn a lot pushing her out that fast. Harper Rae was born on 2/17/17 at 5:17 pm weighing 8 pounds 3 ounces and measuring 20.75 inches in length.
Words can't describe how amazing and overwhelming it was to hold her for the first time. After over 4 years of trying for a baby and so many fertility treatments it still didn't feel real that my dream of having a baby had come true. She is the greatest blessing I have ever had in my life besides finding Skyler.
After placing her on my chest and doing about 20 minutes of skin to skin Harper unfortunately began to show signs of sickness while laying on my chest. She started to have trouble breathing and turned purple so she was taken by the nurses so they could listen to her lungs. After examining her they placed her on oxygen and decided to take her up to the special care unit (they didn't have a NICU at that hospital) for further tests. Everyone assured us that she would be fine and most likely just had some fluid in her lungs that hadn't come out because I pushed her out so fast. Skyler went with Harper upstairs and I stayed in the room while they finished stitching me up. Right after my doctor finished I asked to be wheeled upstairs to see her. Her breathing had become very rapid and uneven but we were still assured by everyone that she was fine. After an x-ray they didn't find signs of infection but decided to start antibiotics just in case. I then returned to my room alone to be checked out and get some sleep while Sky and my mother-in-law stayed with Harper in her room. Little did we know how bad the following week was going to be.
Part 2 to come soon...
This experience made me so grateful that we chose to use a birth photographer, and we couldn't have asked for a more amazing photographer than Cali Stoddard. (And no, this is not a sponsored post, I just loved having one so much I wanted to share my experience). I didn't get to hold Harper or nurse her for over a week because of how sick she was so pumping was my only option to help my little girl. I was so grateful to have these pictures to look at my baby and help at night when I couldn't be with her. Cali actually sent me multiple shots right away which really helped me to make it through the first couple of days with such limited time with Harper.