On September 7, 2019 at 2:14 PM our little 6 pound 11 oz peanut, Vivien Breen Norley arrived!
As I talked about before, I really thought she was going to arrive early and believed I had all these signs that my body was telling me she would. I was clearly wrong as I was exactly 41 weeks pregnant when she was born - a full week past my due date.
This is a bit of a long story because we went through a great deal the week before to help bring her into this world! The week before really tested us - it was hard. As everyone says, it was all worth the wait and all the physical pain and mental exhaustion is a distant memory the minute you are able to hold your baby.
so here goes…
My last three doctor’s appointment my cervix was completely closed. I had mentioned this before in my 40 week update as well as how devastated I was each time leaving the OBGYN office - mainly because I wasn’t sure if my cervix would open or what the reality of that meant when it would be past my due date. I was anxious, feeling frustrated, scared, and a bit depressed not understanding why my body wasn’t “working” properly and why it didn’t seem to want to go into labor spontaneously. During my last appointment, which was on a Thursday, the doctor had scheduled me for a Cervical Ripening apt. on the following Monday. What this means, is that my cervix needed to be soften to help bring on the onset of labor and it can be done through medication or mechanically- depending upon what the doctor feels is the most beneficial and healthiest for you. You can not be induced until this happens. It is the step before induction if you are not dilating. However, you truly don’t know how well it will work for you as it is very different for everyone. It could take anywhere from 24-36 hours or in my case a FULL week….
The doctor had schedule me to head into the hospital late Monday evening to begin the cervical ripening. Todd and I thought that I would be staying overnight and then by the following day or Wednesday the latest our girl would be born. Foolishly we brought all of our bags into the hospital and were sent home about 2 hours later. For this exam, the baby and I were monitored on a screen - watching her heart rate and my contractions for about 2 hours. During that time I was given medication orally and after the 2 hours we were sent home and told to come back the following morning to continue the process. We were still a bit hopeful but super frustrated that we had to pack all our stuff back home and essentially “wait it out.” Well, I woke up on Tuesday still no signs of labor and we headed back to the hospital for out 7:30 AM apt. We checked in, waited a few hours, and then continued the medication and the monitoring for another 2 hours. My cervix was at about a 1 cm dilated but it wasn’t enough to be induced - so we had to come back 4 hours later for the same routine. When we went back in the afternoon, my contractions were too close together and too strong to receive more medication and I thought that my cervix would start to open more and I would eventually go into labor! The doctor told me to come back 4 hours later that same day to monitor myself, the baby, and the contractions and receive another dosage. So we did just that.
Tuesday was mentally exhausting not only on myself but on Todd as well. We were stuck in a small room with just one bed and a monitor for hours - this continued on until later Thursday night. We went back and forth to the hospital multiple times each day and received the same news each time. We felt pretty hopeless and honestly tired of the medication not working for me. There weren’t many other options either. My cervix wasn’t ready for any mechanical means and truthfully I wasn’t interested in doing them as it seemed pretty uncomfortable and painful.
We went home late Thursday night after eating dinner and around 2 AM I noticed that I was bleeding a great deal. Obviously I freaked OUT, started to shake, and become extremely nervous. I called the OBGYN and they had us head into the hospital immediately. We rushed there, checked in, and I was brought to the same room to be monitored and checked out. Luckily, we could hear the baby’s heart and I could feel her move - there was nothing wrong with her - thank god.
We ended up waiting in that room - tied to the bed - from about 3 AM to 1030 AM. The hours DRAGGED! The hospital was extremely busy with women giving birth and the doctor was so tied up that we had to just sit and wait until she was available and to figure out the next steps. When we finally saw her she had explained that since I was bleeding many of the options to help open the cervix were completely out and just not safe. However, she was able to give me a medication that is inserted in you called Cervidil. We decided to go along with that and I was truly hoping for the best. They also weren’t sending me home anymore because I was approaching 41 weeks and had bleeding. To be honest, I think if that wasn’t the case we would have been sent back home and told to come later on during the weekend because of how busy the labor unit was.
We were finally able to leave the triage room and sent into a labor room! This was a huge step and a big deal because it meant that one way or another this baby was going to be born at some point over the weekend. The room was much bigger and way more comfortable for the both us to be in. There, I was given the Cervidil and we had to wait 12 HOURS (yes, 12 HOURS) until it could be removed. I had to sit in the bed the entire time. Mentally that was draining and physically my body had been sitting for almost 24 hours straight and I was getting extremely uncomfortable. Luckily I had Todd with me and we tried to make the best of the situation - but we were losing it!!
Around 1030 PM the Cervidil ended up falling out completely on its own and I only had about another hour left so the doctor decided to not re-insert it. She checked my cervix and I was a little more than 1 cm dilated - still disappointed but it was enough for her to induce me.
The doctor ended up breaking my water as well. It didn’t hurt - but I will spare you with how they did it. After she broke my water my body felt this huge sensation of relief and my stomach deflated a bit. It was one of the strangest feelings!! Once she broke my water she decided to induce me to help bring on labor. Looking back, none of this was obviously in my birth plan and it is amazing how much I changed my mind when it came down to it. I didn’t want any of this to happen - the medication, being induced, etc - but all of that went out the window when it came down to it.
Once I was induced, again I had to stay in the bed and both the baby and I were monitored. Her heart against the rate of my contractions. After about 3 hours around 2 AM the contractions were INTENSE. They came in waves, starting off small then increasing, and then slowing decreasing again. It happened about every 5 or so minutes and when they weren’t happening I wasn’t in any pain. Looking back I laugh at all those times I thought I felt labor contractions at home - when you have them you JUST KNOW. I can’t even begin to describe how painful and intense the contractions were. My entire body was shaking uncontrollably, sweating, I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t talk nor move - it was the most pain I have ever felt in my life. I truly couldn’t take the pain as it was all around my abdomen and my low back. Three hours later I received the epidural and within 20 minutes the pain was gone. Todd had told me he had never seen anyone in that much pain for 3 plus hours and then within 20 minutes have it disappear. Say what you want about the epidural, but it truly helped calm and relax my body and help open my cervix to deliver this baby.
Around 7 AM the epidural started to wear off and I was now having intense back pain along with contractions. The doctors gave me a stronger dose and the contractions went away but the back pain grew in intensity. Turns out she had flipped and was facing sunny side up. Her skull bone was pressing against my back - back labor is intense and I was hoping that she would flip as it isn’t ideal to give birth this way - especially for the safety of the baby. Around this time she also checked my cervix and I had dilated all the way to 7 cm - just overnight - which was amazing!!! I thought that within the hour I would give birth and we would finally meet our little girl.
Just our luck, I was checked again three hours later and had no improvement at all. My doctor had explained to me that if my cervix did not continue to progress then a C-Section would take place. I truly wanted to have a vaginal birth and started to pray that my body would become ready. The nurses did everything they could to help - they flipped my on my side, placed a yoga ball that was shaped like a peanut in between my legs and I laid there for another 2 hours. At this point - I was running a very high fever, my blood pressure was rising and I hadn’t eaten anything since the day before at 5 PM - almost 24 hours. (You aren’t allowed to eat once you receive the epidural).
Right before my doctor had left to deliver another baby, I asked how will I know when I am in true labor. She told me two things to look out for and I swear 10 minutes after her leaving the room both of those happened - the contractions were beginning to intensity and I had severe pain in my lower half that would NOT go away with the amount of medication I had received. I kept whispering to Todd that I thought I was in labor and wasn’t sure what to do - I was also doubting myself because we had already been there a week and by this point so tired of it all! I told the nurses (who were AMAZING by the way - I couldn’t have done it without them) - that I thought I was in labor and to get the doctor to check. They told me to rest and that the doctor couldn’t come yet because she was delivering a baby. Internally I was freaking out a bit because this new pain was something I wasn’t feeling before and I just KNEW that this was happening. I was legit thinking she would just fall right out - her body was continue to move down.
2 plus hours the doctor came back to check on me and I was still experiencing the same intense pain - she checked and sure enough I had dilated to 10 cm and we were ready to go! To be honest, I had never been more excited to give birth in my life haha - at this point I wasn’t nervous, anxious, or scared. I was about to give birth vaginally but felt calm. I was ready. However, during birth my temperature was still rising and my high blood pressure was stressing out the baby. I tried to stay as calm as I could, but it was intense. I felt sick to my stomach and at times I really didn’t think I could do it. I was tired, hungry, had no energy, felt so weak, and it was the most unreal experience I’ve ever been through. I also had tearing, which was so painful. I knew that I had to keep going and the more focused I stay the faster we would meet her.
This was around 1:30 PM and at 2:14 after 45 minutes of pushing she was here. When she was born she had meconium in her body and wasn’t crying as she should so the doctor took her immediately to clear our her airways etc. Then, we were finally able to hold her!!
Honestly, looking back it is hard to remember all these moments - it was pure bliss and I was on a cloud. It is a feeling you can’t put into words. I couldn’t believe that she was finally here and we were holding her! It was surreal to know that she was in my body for 41 weeks and now here - in our hands. We were able to be with her for about 45 minutes and then she had to go to the NCIU because of my high fever. Unfortunately the poor little thing had to receive an IV as well as antibiotics incase she received an infection from my fever. Todd went with her and she did great! She had to stay there for about 2 hours and would have to continue the medication for 48 hours - the entire time we would be there. I felt so guilty and bad that she had to receive antibiotics and have a little IV placed in her arm. It definitely made her uncomfortable but I knew that this was the best and a no brainer decision. She needed this or we could risk that the fact that she would become very sick post hospital.
Once she was finally back in our arms, we moved to a new floor where we would stay for the next two days. I was able to breastfeed her immediately and it felt so surreal having her with us. She was doing better and I felt pretty good as well. Mentally I was energetic and extremely happy but physically I was in a lot of pain - my back, I was bleeding like crazy, and still receiving a few contractions (which is normal), it hurt to walk around, sit straight up, was given high blood pressure medication, and my body felt like it had ran 5 marathons in a row.
Todd and I were able to spend time with her before our parents, my sister in law, and brother came for a visit. We couldn’t stop staring at her and felt this incredible bond amongst the three of us. Pure love and I felt even closer to Todd. It was so nice having our families there with us to celebrate the birth of Vivien and it didn’t even feel real to me! It was the best moment of my life. I couldn’t believe that I did this.
Once our families left, we had ordered pizza since it was our first meal in over 24 hours. I continued to feed her throughout the night and she was continuously monitored as well. Once our time was over at the hospital, we were finally able to head home - just the three of us! I think I was the most nervous then, about having her in the car and driving on the highway!!
Once we made it home - it has been a whirlwind ever since. Our hospital bags are still packed and the apartment feels crazy - but in the best way possible.
Since we have been home she already has had two doctors visits. For her first one she had lost 1 oz, which is totally normal and we went back on Friday and she gained it all back and then some! I was getting nervous and extremely stressed out the first week because my milk was not coming in and I was afraid that she wasn’t getting enough. It took about a solid week for it to become noticeable and to the point that I could pump. You have no idea how happy that made me.
As for me, I am still recovering and feeling all sorts of pain. The more that I try to do the worse that I feel - even slow walks around the neighborhood are hard right now but I know in a few weeks I will get better. Postpartum recovery is something that I am getting used to. No one warns you or prepares you for after baby and I will say it is a very humbling experience as to what my body is going through right now. I am drinking TONS of water and eating well to continue to heal my body and make sure I am properly nourished so I can continue to feed Vivien. As of right now we are cluster feeding often times during the day and then usually 2-3x at night. It is pretty much on demand, but I do love spending that time with her. Breastfeeding is no joke - there are times this week that I have been so overwhelmed and crying and then other times it comes so naturally. It is definitely a learning process. Ill share more later!
Anyways…that is my birth story in a nutshell! We are extremely grateful to have a healthy beautiful baby and can’t believe the love that she is already receiving from everyone! She's perfect!
I can’t wait to continue to share more with you as I start this new chapter!