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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Grady's Birth Story

On Saturday October 12, early in the morning, I awoke to real contractions. I knew they were the real thing as they felt as intense as the ones that caused Harper to be born less than 4 hours after I felt the first one. I knew "this was it" though the contractions were still far-ish apart, about 5-10 min. We called our friend Megan to come over and stay with the girls, grabbed the hospital bag that had been packed for weeks and off we went!
We got to the hospital and I was 4cm 100%. Since I was still in early labor and a week from my due date, they asked me to walk around and then checked me again...no change. The contractions were definitely intense but pretty far apart and irregular. I got sent home.
I was embarrassed and disappointed and frustrated. We came home and I sheepishly sent Megan home and thanked her for coming over. My mom offered to come down and help with the girls whether or not I was actually in labor, so we all went to the beach so I could walk the stairs and in the sand, trying to encourage labor to continue and regulate.

Last picture as a family of 4!
Tamarack Beach, 10/12/13 trying to walk baby brother out

We had a nice day at the beach and my contractions continued to be painful, but far apart and irregular. We had friends over for dinner, they brought a spicy pasta dish and I continued to contract, each one causing me to catch my breath and wince. Ugh.
My mom stayed the night and I was able to sleep for a few hours. At about 12:30 a contraction woke me up. Fearing false labor again, I laid in bed and using an app on my phone, timed them for over an hour. They continued to be painful, but never got closer than 5 min apart, although they were coming more regularly now. I went to the bathroom hoping my water would break, no luck. At around 3, I called the nurse and she suggested getting in the bath tub. She said to try and relax and if they got better, then to go back to sleep (false labor) but if they stayed painful or got worse, to come on in. I sat in the bath for about half an hour and they were definitely more painful than before and remained regular. We decided to head in. Luckily, my mom was already there to be with the girls so we just told her we were going and we'd keep her posted.
I was admitted at 4:30am on Oct 13 and was ELATED to hear I was 6cm 100% and would run NO risk of being sent home. YAY! Our son would be born TODAY! I labored naturally and comfortably walking around and on the ball, but surprisingly, my favorite position was sitting in bed. I asked to not have an IV or constant monitoring and Scripps was more than accommodating to my natural labor requests. My nurse, Amy, was incredibly helpful and make me feel so comfortable.

Labor was slow but steady, my contractions never getting closer than 5 min apart. I was checked after 2 hours or so and was at an 8. I said out loud to Alex "This is super painful, but totally manageable with my position (sitting as straight up in bed as I could get, with my legs in a butterfly position) and my breathing/concentrating. I am not even tempted to get an epidural!" An hour goes by and I am still an 8, and I am SO FRUSTRATED with how slowly it is progressing compared to Harper's 4 hour labor from start to finish. I ask the doctor to break my water and she does. I continue to labor comfortably for another hour or so and then...I am 9 cm. HOLY COW!! The contractions are finally right on top of each other and I am in excruciating pain, can no longer breathe properly, relax or imagine "ribbons" or "opening blossoms" as I was before. I squeeze my eyes shut, grip the side of the bed and beg for an epidural. The nurse tries to tell me to breathe, knowing I wanted a drug free labor, and finally concedes and says she will call the anesthesiologist.  Whether or not she actually did remains to be seen as I never got my epidural!
I am begging to push, feeling immense pressure and wanting this to be OVER WITH. The nurse says, "You can't push yet, you are only at 9cm and if you push now you could tear your cervix." The baby starts moving down without my control and I tell her I am pushing anyway! Lots of action then, bottom of the bed falls away, bright lights are brought in, doctor arrives and moves the last centimeter of cervix out of the way and I push. I push for about 15 minutes, through 3 or 4 contractions, which doesn't sound very long but seems like AN ETERNITY, and I am feeling every single thing, including a minor tear which feels like I am being ripped in two. It is hard to catch my breath in between pushes as I am laying flat on my back and I can feel the baby kind of hanging out and it is so uncomfortable I just want him out!
Finally, at 10:16 AM, after 10 hours of natural, drug-free labor, Grady Alexander enters the world and our hearts, 8lb 12oz, 21.5" long. The cord is loosely wrapped around his neck, but he is perfect. I am elated it is over, the relief and joy is instantaneous. With the girls, I thought to myself at that moment "I cannot wait to do that again!" This time, after first confirming that it was indeed a boy, I said out loud to Alex, "We are NEVER doing that again, ok?" Alex agreed. Everyone laughed and told me what a good job I did. I apologized for being crazy at the end there, and they all laughed again and said "we have seen much worse, you did great."

He's here! The FB announcement pic

Big boy, 8lb 12oz

Daddy and his son

Grady latches on without any issue and is a sweet, perfect boy. Since he was a large baby, the standard procedure is to test his blood sugar with a heel prick (poor guy) and since it was low, they required that I give him formula. I was NOT happy about that, but the same thing happened to Harper being a 9lb 5oz baby. She had one dose of it and was fine after. Well, since we were in a different hospital this time, their required number was higher and he had to have formula through a tiny tube at my breast at every feeding until he tested out of danger. It was messy and annoying and caused him to burp and choke more than I thought was normal. They also had to prick his heel every time to test his blood. I told the lactation consultant and the pediatrician that I had no plans to continue this at home and I knew my milk would come in like gangbusters in a day or so and he would be totally fine.
crazy big sisters

first bath


12 hours old

I could not WAIT to get out of there and see my girls and take a shower and just be home. The girls visited a few times, but each time they did, it was chaos! They were running around, Harper was crying when being told no, they demanded snacks and food...ugh. My incredible husband sensed my dread and nervousness so he booked me and Grady a hotel for the night! When he picked us up to take us home about 24 hours after Grady's birth, he said "You have a room at the Pacific Palisades hotel across from Legoland. Repack your bag and I will take you over there to check in." At first I was reluctant. No, I want to go home! I want to help with the girls! He said "either you go with Grady, or I will go with the girls." And so, I came home and repacked my bag, Alex broke down Grady's bassinet and we all got back in the car.
So small in the car seat! 

The hotel was AMAZING. I took a long shower while Grady slept in his bassinet. I fed and cuddled him in the huge, clean fluffy bed. I ordered room service and drank the beer I had been craving for months that Alex had snuck into my bag. I watched whatever I wanted on TV and dozed. Best. Day. Ever. Just me and my boy. I will be forever grateful to Alex for arranging that for us and for taking care of EVERYTHING ELSE while I was away.

In the hotel

Cheers! My first post-partum drink was delicious

Grady, 48 hours old. 
Me feeling rested after sleeping in a king bed by myself!

Though I doubt many husbands read this blog, but if there are any out there and your wife is expecting your second or third child, DO THIS FOR YOUR WIFE. She will be thrilled and everyone will think you are the second best husband in the whole world. After mine, of course :)

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