To preface, I had no idea what to expect child birth to be like. I had heard so many stories from so many different people. And my Type-A personality couldn't really handle the uncertainty and mysterious timeline of it all. People would always say "women have been doing this for centuries" "our bodies are made to do this" but I had my doubts. Maybe I would be the one anomoly that couldn't live up to the task. Maybe I would just keep this baby inside forever. They would just become a part of me. However, after going through this experinece. I couldn't be prouder of myself and my body. It was such an empowering moment. Also. I left out all of the gory details so this post doesn't make you pass out or throw up. But I will have a post about the raw truth of childbirth that most people don't tell you about. I would have liked to have been prepared for that part. But that post is for another day. And I will warn you in advance.
Before I dive into the birth story, I first need to give you a little backstory. So I am a 4th generation breech baby, and we assumed that Baby Klepac would be too. However, according to my OB this is not hereditary and is totally random. But I had my doubts. I mean. 4 generations. Plus I was kind of pumped to have a c-section. A planned date, no pushing, etc. Although after taking our birthing classes and seeing a few videos on natural childbirth, I was mentally preparing myself for a vaginal birth just in case, and I was actually excited about it. It didn't look that bad.
Surprise surprise at my 34 week appointment this baby was officially breech. I knew it. Even though the baby could still turn on their own, we went ahead and scheduled a c-section for January 25th just in case. Surgery dates book up fast you know. My OB said that if the baby didn't turn by 36 weeks then they probably wouldn't because they would be running out of room. She also said that there were several remedies I could do in order to get the baby to turn, but they all either sounded really scary or really made up. Each day I could still feel the baby in the same position so I was convinced that they weren't going to turn on their own and that a c-section was going to be our story. At my 36 week appointment I was mentally prepared for a c-section. Surprise again! The baby turned and was now head down. I was so confused because I could feel two large masses in my rib cage which made me think that the baby was sideways, but apparently that was their back and butt and not their head (which now makes a lot of sense knowing how our baby likes to sleep outside of the womb). So then I had to re-get my game face on for a vaginal delivery. As a planner, this flip flopping was stressing me out. So we held the January 25th date just in case, but if baby stayed head down then we would just cancel the c-section and let nature take its course.
The weeks went by and January 25th came and went. I attended my weekly appointments but I was still only 1cm dilated at each visit and the baby's head was still high, and really never "dropped" which I knew because I could feel so much pressure in my lungs and ribcage, so we were thinking that they could still turn back into the breech position. There was even a pool going on at my office where my co-workers were trying to guess the due date, and as each day passed another person would come up to me and say "you were supposed to have the baby yesterday!" or "wow you're still here" every. single. day. Needless to say I was feeling pretty big with my January 31st due date right around the corner. I was constantly having people tell me how huge and tired I looked (thanks for that lady in the elevator), and having to get up and pee every 10 minutes. I had been taken off all projects at work because no one knew when I would just vanish one day. So I was pretty much ready to have this baby any day now.
The morning of Monday, January 29th I woke up at 6:00am with intense cramping. Was this a contraction? I had clearly never felt one before but was told it feels like heavy cramping. I got out my little contraction app and started timing them. We were told in our birthing class to call the OB when your contractions are 1 minute long and 5 minutes apart and that it has been consistently this way for an hour. Well mine were on average 40 seconds long and 2-3 minutes apart. Which totally threw me off. They were too short and too close together and not very consistent. I didn't want to go all the way to the hospital (a 30min drive) if they were just Braxton Hicks, so after texting a few of my mommy friends and doing some quick googling, I drank a TON of water and they slowed down big time. Like 10-20min apart. So I decided to go into work anyway. By the time I got to the office they were a few hours apart. By lunchtime they were completely gone. Yep I guess they were Braxton Hicks!
That evening around 11:00pm I started feeling them again but this time they were quite painful and spaced out evenly. I let them go on for a few hours and drank a ton of water again to see if they would stop. By 2:00am I had just about had enough and they felt like they weren't going away. Since it was the middle of the night, we called the on-call doctor (who was clearly sleeping) and she said "yep that sounds like labor!" I still wasn't convinced. But we grabbed our hospital bags and told Geoffrey we'd be right back assuming they were Braxton Hicks again. Luckily at that time of night no one is on the road, so we made it to the hospital in 15 minutes. Since it was so late we had to stop by the ER first to get examined. That place was a ghost town. All of the lights were dimmed and we were the only people there. It was actually pretty relaxing for an ER. They had me change into a gown and as I was walking back to my little triage bay I lost a bunch of blood. Derek just about passed out. They went ahead and examined my progress and I was already 5cm dilated! Okay. This was it. Go time!
They admitted me and we waited in the triage bay until a room opened up. Fun Fact: the next day (my actual due date) was not only a full moon, it was a super moon, a blue moon, and a lunar eclipse. According to the nurses there are the most births during a full moon, and all of these other moon things were just adding to the chaos so the L&D rooms were completely full. We finally got settled into our room around 4:00am and met the nurse who would be my person for the next couple of hours before the shift change around 7:00am. I don't even remember her name I was so out of it.
My birth plan was to go completely natural and drug free, however if the pain was too much then I was on board with having an epidural at that point. But I really wanted to experience as much as possible and I had no idea what to expect. It was around 5:00am when I started thinking about how I hadn't slept since the night before (Sunday night) and I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me. So I opted for the epidural so that I could get some sleep before the real fun started. A little side bar about epidurals. These aren't your mom's epidurals. They are sort of like a slow drip constant that you can add to as much as you need depending on your pain level. Sort of like a morphine drip. So there aren't "its too late" windows or "it ran out of juice" scenarios anymore. I had them set it to the lowest setting so that I could still feel the contractions and feel that labor was progressing, but that it would help take the edge off so that I could maybe get a little nap in. The anesthesiologist came in and told us that I was his last patient of the day after a 24hour shift. That probably should have been a red flag right there, but I was tired and didn't think twice about it. I have a huge needle phobia, and you'd think it would have gotten better after being a pin cushion during my pregnancy, but nope. The fear was still very real. The actual epidural didn't hurt, but the numbing shot beforehand felt like a little fire ant bite. Snaking in the epidural catheter actually felt like someone was lightly tickling my back. Such a weird sensation. I almost immediately felt my right leg go numb while my left was still fully functioning. They told me that epidurals tend to "choose a side" and that the other side would kick in soon. I tried to take a little nap but I was interrupted by the nurse every 15 minutes to check progress and vitals and the baby's heartbeat. Derek took this downtime to go home and pick up Geoffrey to take to our friends' house for his puppy slumber party while we were in the hospital. By the time he got back (about an hour later) I could feel everything. And it was 10x as intense as before. I tried boosting the epidural. Nothing. We even maxed it out and nothing. In fact my right leg was now only numb around my calf and that was it. We had the new post-shift-change anesthesiologist come and relocate the epidural. Still nothing. They asked me if I wanted to replace the epidural with a brand new one and essentially start over. I was already freaked out about the complications associated with epidurals so I really didn't want to press my luck having a second one inserted. I took this as a sign that I was meant to do this as I had originally planned: 100% natural.
Luckily since it was now the next day Tuesday January 30th, and I'd most likely be delivering during normal business hours, I was able to have my OB there rather than the sleepy on call doctor. And can I just say that my OB is seriously just the best in these types of situations. She literally makes you feel like you can do anything. After the 7:00am shift change, I had THE most amazing nurse Samantha (Sam) and a student nurse (it's a teaching hospital) taking care of me all morning. He was so sweet and so excited to be apart of our special moment. He even had to write a paper about his experience. So basically I'm a celebrity. My favorite moment with Sam was when she guessed that I was a lawyer because I had cool glasses haha. In another life Sam. In another life.
Around 9:00am my OB came by to check on my progress and break my water. So no dramatic Hollywood water breaking over here. My biggest fear was that I'd be at Target buying pillows and my water would break. This didn't speed up the contractions fast enough so she also started me on Pitocin to ramp things up. That was super fun. My OB came back by to check on me again at 10:00am and said that I'd be ready to push by 10:30am! I was so excited to meet our baby, but also so nervous because I had no idea how to push or really how I was going to accomplish this altogether. I started pushing at 10:30am as planned but the baby wasn't progressing and it's heartbeat was dropping. They examined me again and it turned out that the baby was in occiput posterior position which meant that they were head down but were facing the wrong way. They said I could deliver like this but that it's very dangerous and that it would be extremely painful. And since I was clearly not feeling the effects of the epidural anymore. I was terrified. I immediately assumed I'd be whisked away for an emergency c-section which I was pretty upset about after going through labor already for several hours. However, the nurse had me rotate onto my right side for 15 minutes (while still stirrup-ed) and then onto my left for 15 minutes to get the baby to turn around. Meanwhile as I was doing this I had some intense contractions that were just on top of each other at this point. They told me that if it was more comfortable to push than suffer through the contractions, I could. So I kept pushing as I rotated from side to side. After rotating a couple of times the baby turned around and I was able to resume pushing normally. The cool thing about being able to feel everything is that you naturally want to push and you can sort of work with the baby as they progress. My OB randomly came by for another examination, but saw that the baby was already crowning and that this was it. Go time! Up until that point I was "pushing" but it never really felt like I was accomplishing anything. The process of pushing was actually really difficult (to me). You are basically in a crunch position with nothing supporting you but your own ab strength (and if you've ever been pregnant you know how weak your abs are toward the end of pregnancy). I had Derek holding my right leg and the student nurse holding my left leg, but other than that it was pure ab strength keeping my torso off the bed. Also. Being in a crunch position with a watermelon in the way is definitely a task in itself. I then had to do three rounds of 10 second pushes. When I say 10 seconds, it goes something like this: "ONE! okay you're doing great keep adding to it.. TWO! thats great keep going you can do this just a little longer.. THREE!.. " and so on, which basically means that 10 seconds is about 30 seconds. I was thinking it would be 10 Mississippi's obviously. Then you go into the next round without relaxing. So by the third round you are just totally wiped. And this is all right after having a contraction. I was starting to feel like I was going to be doing this part for the rest of my life because I couldn't feel the baby progressing whatsoever. They asked me if I wanted to grab onto something to counterbalance the pushing. I said YES! Why was this not offered to me sooner?? So they had me hold onto these handles down at my side so it was almost like I was in a rowing position. These handles were everything. I now had something to pull on and not rely on my sad little abs. They said I did about 5 rounds (of 3 sets) of pushes total and the next thing I knew after one final push she was here. Olivia West Klepac, our beautiful and perfect baby girl with a full head of dark hair, arrived on Tuesday January 30th, 2018 at 11:47am weighing 7lb 9oz and measuring 20" long. We both were beside ourselves when we saw that Baby Klepac was a girl. Especially considering that EVERYONE was convinced she was a boy because of the way I was carrying. I even starting thinking we were having a boy. But when we saw our baby girl we both just kept saying "It's Olivia!" "We have a daughter!" "I can't believe we have a baby girl!"
The next thing I knew she was being whisked away to be poked and measured and cleaned up. The room went from a quiet dimly lit space with 1.5 nurses, to a bright bustling room with about 15 people in it in under 10 minutes. After she was all cleaned up and swaddled they gave her to Derek to bond and cuddle with while they finished up with getting me all squared away (more on that later. yikes.) Once I was all cleaned up and on the mend, they brought her over to me for our "Golden Hour" of skin to skin bonding. Our hospital is very big on respecting the Golden Hour period and they will let the mother and baby bond for a solid hour uninterrupted. This was such a special time. She immediately nursed and looked up at me with big beautiful eyes. I had been so nervous up until this point to meet this little person that I felt like I already knew for 9 months, but that was also a complete stranger. Would she like me? Would we bond? Would she know I'm her mother? The amount of love that instantly filled that room was palpable.
With both of our families living far away, Derek and I had told everyone that we didn't want any visitors in the hospital and wanted to just spend these first few days as a new family of three. It felt like time stood still during this moment as we stared at her every feature trying to figure out who's eyes she had and she clearly had Derek's nose. We just stared at her in awe. In the last month of pregnacy I started to worry that something would be wrong with the baby. How could two unqualified people make such a perfect little person? I mean when you think about the complexity and mystery of pregnancy that literally cells and DNA are coming together to create a tiny human with tiny organs and a tiny circulatory system is sort of mind boggling. As we held her though, we just couldn't stop gushing over how we made her out of thin air. After years and years of hoping and praying. Knowing that if our first pregnancy would have went to term we wouldn't have our Olivia. In that moment we saw God's plan and we knew that everything happens for a reason. She has ten fingers and ten toes and is a thriving tiny human. And she is all ours. It was a lot to take in.