Greetings from Brooklyn! We are settled in at our Airbnb in Prospect Heights and Henry & I are having a quiet night in to recoup from our travels (Todd is at a bachelor party/dinner for our friend who is getting married next weekend, one of the reasons we are in NY).
For starters, we made it! The last leg of the trip was a bit rough - combine 3 days of non-stop travel + a tiny room and you get some grumpy Bermans. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me recap the trip as best I can!
California, Nevada, and Utah
Monday we left Emeryville on the California Zephyr and made our way through Northern California & the Sierras to Nevada and Utah. We had a family bedroom, which was waaaay more spacious than I had expected and afforded us a lot of room to spread out and relax. (The family bedroom sleeps two adults and two children, so it was more than enough room for us.) It was also nice to have a private room that was large enough to hang out in during the trip, instead of having to go to the observation car.
Our sleeping car attendent, Alarick, was great! Super friendly and helpful & I hope we get him again on our way back (although the chances of that are pretty slim, I guess.) One thing I took away from this train trip is that Amtrak employees are generally happy. Or at least they pretend to be. Not like airline employees who are generally crabby. Like, everyone on the train was smiling, happy to help, and actually treated you like a human being!
After our stop in Reno, there weren’t really any big city-ish stop until Salt Lake City - and that was at 3:00am. Totes slept through that! Which was amazing because I did NOT sleep well at all on the train pretty much the whole time. I think the combination of the small space + having Henry in bed with me made me uber-conscious of how I was sleeping, so I kept waking up and had a hard time getting comfortable.
They do give you a lot of pillows though, so there’s that. (I love pillows.)
Anyway, UTAH! I woke up around 5:00am to a view of snow-capped mountains right outside our window. That was pretty cool. I tweeted about how it was like waking up North of the Wall in Game of Thrones. But with less wildings and less undead zombie people, of course. The mountainous part of Utah was very beautiful, I wish we had gone through it at a time of day that was photograph-friendly.
Good morning, bed head!
After Utah we travelled through Colorado and the Rockies and that was insanely picturesque. There are parts of the trip that are only accessible to trains (or if you manage to get a raft and float down the river, I guess), so that was pretty cool.
Colorado wasn’t very kind to our schedule though. Due to thawing and snow melting, there were quite a few rock slides (!) and we had to stop a few times so that they could get the rocks off the tracks and repair the fences on the sides of the train. At the time it was no big deal - we had a 7 hour layover in Chicago coming up so we weren’t in a hurry - but it turned out to be the beginning of a lot of delays.
We ended up pulling into Denver 3 hours behind schedule, so there wasn’t much to see but the lit-up Coors Field (the Rockies were playing, I tried to take a photo of the stadium but they all looked like an ugly blur of lights). Coors Field though, is huuuuuge. It seemed much bigger than AT&T Park, but I am also not very good at judging those sorts of things.
I was hoping we’d make up some time overnight, but that didn’t really happen…
I slept through pretty much all of Nebraska. Sorry, Huskers!
Here is a photo of the Omaha train station:
Iowa and Illinois
Our schedule woes continued into Iowa and Illinois, only this time it was due to flash flooding and getting stuck behind freight trains (commercial train traffic trumps passenger train traffic). It was rainy rainy rainy! At one point Todd said he was looking out the window and wondered “what lake is that?” so he looked it up on his phone and it wasn’t a lake, IT WAS A FIELD. A giant, flooded field. So yeah, rain.
Oh, I forgot to also mention that Wednesday was my birthday! We were supposed to meet up with Devon and family in Chicago for a birthday dinner and celebrations, but the rock slides + weather/freight delays meant we didn’t arrive in Chicago until nearly 8:00pm. We were supposed to get in at 2:50. So, that didn’t happen, which made me suuuuper bummed and I was like “I hate my birthday!” but thankfully Todd and I talked about it and decided to change our return trip to include a stopover in Chicago for the day/night so I could get a do-over. It also magically saved us $100, so hooray for us!
Birthday bathroom selfie. I am 34.
We had to leave the creature comforts of our family bedroom on the California Zephyr and transfer trains in Chicago. There are no family bedrooms on the Lakeshore Limited train, so we had a roomette. It was wee! There was a toilet in our “room”, but honestly I could’ve done without the private toilet (which is not really private when it’s right next to one of the seats in your room, ifyouknowwhati’msayin’) for a little more space. I totally forgot to take any photos of the room because by that time I was a little travel-delirious. I will try to get some on our way back, if we don’t end up upgrading our roommette to a bedroom.
Oh, one nice thing about our Chicago mini-layover is that we had access to the Metropolitan Lounge because we were sleeper car passengers. It’s basically just a nicer waiting area, but believe me, by the time you get there, especially after being delayed for hours and hours, you will take any semblance of luxury you can get! They also allow early boarding in Chicago, and they host a wine and cheese reception (!) in the dining car for sleeper car passengers. I already had my own cheese, crackers, and grapes (they were the only food available by the time I got to the food court) so we had our own cheese reception in our room with Henry and the New York Times Crossword app on my phone.
Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania
We slept through most of these states too. Sorry, home state!
I used the term sleep loosely because again, I did not sleep well at all. Because the roommette is small, I have a very tall husband, and I had a 6 month old sleeping in bed with me, H & I ended up sleeping on the top bunk (which was wider, but closer to the ceiling, obvs). It’s a good thing there is a safety harness on the side of the top bunk because my bum was probably in that thing all night!
Henry, of course, slept like a…baby (heh) the whole trip.
The second half of the trip through NY was very beautiful - the Catskills are picturesque and of course made me think about Dirty Dancing (Kellerman’s!).
I was so bad about taking photos on this part of the trip! I promise to do a better job of photo-documentation on the way back.
We arrived in NYC at Penn Station, got our 5000 bags (babies, so much stuff!), hopped in a cab and headed to Brooklyn. As I mentioned earlier, we got an Airbnb for the ~2 weeks we are here and it is great! I will post about that later, as well as some takeaways & tips from the train trip, in another post! I am le tired. Goodnight!
Well, technically we’re in New York (Syracuse), but not in NYC yet.
Our connection to the Internets has been spotty at best, so for now I’ll just post photos when I can and will do a recap of our travels later!
Todd, Henry, & I are on a cross-country train trip to NYC. I KNOW, RIGHT? We just left Reno & our next stop is in 3 hours in Winnemucca, NV. Yeah, I don’t know where that is either.
Some of you may be asking “But, whyyyyy?! It takes so loooong.” I would probably be asking you the same! Well, Todd has an aversion to flying (to put it mildly) and we have a wedding to attend in NYC in two weeks. Todd is actually a groomsmen in said wedding, so we kind of have to be there. We decided to take a few weeks to travel to New York, visit friends & family while we’re there, and make a vacation adventure of it! Hence, the train.
I know some of you are probably curious as to how a nearly four-day train trip is with a 6 month old (or even just with a husband) is, so I’m going to try to blog about the trip as we go - Internets connectivity permitting.
All aboard! Toot toot! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
I have about 20 mins in a coffee shop - ALONE (!) - so I will try to hammer this post out! (Update: That didn’t happen. It’s a week later, but I’m finishing it now!)
The second half of our week-long kind-of vacation in LA was much more eventful than the first…
Tuesday - Todd still wasn’t feeling great, so Henry & I took a solo trip to the LACMA to see the Stanley Kubrick exhibit. Lil dude is becoming quite the museum patron! LACMA is beaaaautiful - open air and gorgeous architecture. That’s what you get to do when you have a museum in Southern California I guess.
The Kubrick exhibit was much larger than I expected - the exhibit hall sort of wound around from room to room, movie by movie and it was very…thorough? That sounds so clinical for what I really mean, which is that there was a lot of stuff. (Now that just sounds dumb. Ha!)
Henry was pretty interested in everything, and of course liked looking at all the people too. Near the end of the exhibit he started getting a little antsy (I had him in the wrap), so I kind of had to breeze through the last few rooms (The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut) but I did manage to get some good photos. I got over my weird feeling about photographing art exhibits since in my mind this was more like movie props instead of “fine art”. (And please don’t lecture me on what constitutes art, I am not diminishing the artistry of filmmaking, mmkay?)
Tuesday evening we had dinner with our friends Jason & Claire at MessHall in Los Feliz - it used to be the Brown Derby back in the day! I had the fried chicken sandwich and it was delish. Henry fell asleep halfway through dinner. Typical Henry.
Wednesday - Todd had a work meeting, so Henry & I adventured on our own. We went to Griffith Observatory and observed. Great views and the exhibits are definitely good for little kids, not so much infants. But, lil dude was a sport.
We had some time to kill before Todd’s meeting was over so I took Henry to The Grove. Todd’s mom and sister mentioned that it was kid-friendly and nice to walk around, and it was a nice day so I thought - why not! (It’s basically an outdoor shopping mall.)
I would like to note that I did not see a single famous person the whole time I was in LA. Not even at The Grove! There was this dude in Nordstrom who kind of looked like Elvis Costello but I doubt Elvis Costello spends his days walking around the shoe department at Nordstrom. Just sayin’.
Wednesday evening we had Chelsea, Nashie, Elya, and Judd over to our Airbnd for pizza and to watch the Tarheels game.
Thursday - Our good friends Jonathan and Kestrin just had a baby girl about a month and a half ago, and our Airbnb was like five blocks from their house, so we went over to meet little Elektra and to hang out with them for the afternoon. She is adorable and so teeny! When I see newborns now I cannot even believe that Henry was ever that size, and he’s still on the little side!
(J & K are our friends who run a mobile karaoke RV called the RVIP and it is amazing and spectacular. Kestrin also just made a movie called Let’s Ruin It With Babies which is timely!)
We headed back to SF on Friday and managed to leave early enough that we only stopped once. ONCE! What a good little travel companion Henry is – for now at least.
And that was our first official family vacation!
We just got back It’s been a few weeks since our trip to LA. Henry’s first road trip! (Actually, his first trip in general, unless you count driving to Target in Colma, or to Alameda, as a trip.)
I actually started writing this when we got back but ummm, I forgot that I even started this post…
So - LA! Todd had a work-related meeting down there (no, we are not moving to LA) and since we hadn’t been to LA in nearly a year, we decided to stay the week and see family and friends, too. Insta-vacation!
We used Airbnb for the first time and I must say it was a great decision: the place we stayed in was in Los Feliz (close to friends & probably the most “us” neighborhood in LA), it was super cute, the perfect size for a week-long stay, and was much more comfortable than a hotel. I knew that we’d need to be flexible with our schedule and activities because of Henry, so having an actual living room to hang out in and kitchen to use was very convenient. Also, Todd got food poisoning (blech!) so he appreciated having somewhere to be miserable that wasn’t a hotel room/bed. Bright side, anyone?
A recap of the first part of our trip:
Saturday - We left relatively early given that we have a 4 month old and have never had to pack our car full of our luggage plus all the stuff that comes with traveling with a kid. Seriously, now I kind of get why people by minivans and SUVs. Kids = stuff. No more getting away with packing both my stuff and Todd’s stuff in a carry on suitcase.
Henry was pretty much a dream on our trip down. We stopped once for lunch (for us and him) and once again right before the Grapevine so he could nurse. He was a little fussy as we climbed up and back down the mountains, but overall was a pleasant little buddy!
We didn’t do anything Saturday night because, well, we were tired from the drive and basically we are lame now.
Sunday - Drove to Encinitas to Todd’s uncle’s house to celebrate his Bubbie’s birthday. This was also the first time we got to meet Elya, our nephew, in person! And the first time Bubbie got to meet Henry, too.
Monday - After two days of driving from SF to LA and from LA to Encinitas and back, we wanted some downtime. Henry & I went to the grocery store and took a long walk around Los Feliz. The sidewalks in LA are not very stroller-friendly – so many cracks and general jacked-up-ness happening!
Henry chillin’ by the pool - vacation face!
Monday evening we had plans to have dinner with Dara, who recently moved back to LA after finishing grad school in SF, but about an hour before dinner Todd started feeling pretty crummy (foreshadowing the aforementioned food poisoning, I will spare you the details) and so Henry & I went to meet up with Dara on our own. Between my having a baby and her finishing grad school, we really didn’t get to see each other much over the past 4 months, so it was great to catch up!
Dara fun fact: She designed the invitations to my baby shower! So talented, that lady.
(Part two on the way!)
Last week I took Henry on his first trip to a museum. SFMOMA had a Jasper Johns exhibit that I really wanted to see & it was ending on Sunday, so the lil dude and I packed up and headed downtown.
It was really great! And since it was Tuesday the museum was relatively empty and I didn’t feel like we were disturbing people with Henry’s occasional coos and shrieks. One older lady stopped me and said “Oh, how wonderful, you’re introducing him to the arts at such a young age.” Ha!
Henry was actually very good (as per usual these days), which was probably aided by the fact that I had him in his Sollybaby and not a stroller. Usually he falls asleep within 10 mins of being in that thing, but he actually remained alert & awake the whole time we were there - maybe the kid likes art?!
After we walked through the Jasper Johns exhibit I had to go take a look at my favorite Rothko, too. Baby’s first Rothko!
This is the only photo I took while we were there because I’m super uncomfortable/self-conscious about taking photos in art museums. So, no photos of the exhibit or Henry & I. Womp womp.
Fun fact: When we initially found out we were having a boy, Jasper was at the top of the name list for a while (inspired by Jasper Johns). But then we found out that one of the characters in the Twilight books/movies was named Jasper and decided against it.
Tuesday, October 2nd
This is where the time starts to get fuzzy for me. After I decide to get fentanyl, Angela comes in to administer my first dose. I am on the bed at this point, and laying on my side. I know at some point, Angela is concerned about Henry’s heart rate not recovering as fast as it should (which would come up later in my labor), so she has me put on an oxygen mask. Oddly enough, neither of these things made me freak out. I totally trusted that Michelle & Angela were doing whatever was best for me and for Henry and that if I should be concerned they would let me know.
The fentanyl didn’t really help that much, other than let me relax and recover between contractions. I’m sure this part of my labor would’ve been even more intense and painful if I hadn’t had the fentanyl, but it was stil pretty friggin’ painful so it’s not like I was all of the sudden liberated from pain. Fentanyl also doesn’t last very long (they say 45 mins to an hour, but I feel like it started wearing off after about 30 mins). I remember laying on my side in the bed, grabbing on to the side rails as hard as I could during each contraction.
The fentanyl had worn off and my contractions were very very very painful (understatement). I started feeling the urge to bear down with each contraction and (per the notes I wrote down in my phone later on in the day Henry was born) “SHIT THEY REALLY REALLY REALLY HURT”. I am certain that I cannot make it through several more hours of this, even with more fentanyl. With each subsequent contraction I feel the urge to push & can feel fluid coming out as I do (not sure if my bag of waters broke again at this time? I know they say sometimes the amniotic fluid can fill back up again and re-break during labor. I also read that sometimes it’s the hind waters that break initially, and this could have been the forewaters breaking).
It’s at this time that I say to myself, “Eff it, get the epidural”. I think I just blurted it out to the room in general, and my mom ended up going out to tell Angela.
They move me into the birthing suite and Dr. Tim, the anesthesiologist, arrives. Dr. Tim is awesome. I’m sitting on the side of the bed & he sort of crouches down so he’s at my eye level and very quietly explains what he’s going to do. I really really appreciated this. They let us know that only one person could be in the room while I get the epidural so my mom stays in the room with me & Todd waits outside.
While Dr. Tim preps everything I have about four or five (or six? I can’t really remember.) more contractions while standing up & leaning (laying) against my mom & Angela. These are actually a little bit more tolerable, but I attribute that to the second dose of fentanyl I got right before we moved rooms. Or maybe it was because I knew I was getting the epidural and only had to tough it out for a few more of them!
Epidural IN. The pain relief is immediate & I feel like a completely different person. A sane person! Todd comes back into the room. Angela asks me if a want a popsicle - yes, please! I get a catheter and because there is some blood in my urine Angela checks the cath & notices that I’m complete - 10 cm dilated. What the what? Michelle comes in to verify & yep, I’m complete and Henry is at 0 station.
I’m kind of fuzzy on the next order of events, but at some point they are concerned that Henry’s heart rate isn’t recovering as it should so they roll me on my side and put the oxygen mask back on. After monitoring him for a while longer, they decide to get Dr. Norell, the OB/GYN on call that night. Dr. Norell is the gynecologist of a friend of mine (and the reason I decided to go to St. Luke’s in the first place) so I’m glad she’s on call.
Dr. Norell comes in and they continue to monitor Henry’s heart rate. They decide to have me try pushing on my back with my feet in the stirrups. I can’t really feel anything, but Angela & Michelle assure me that I’m doing a great job and that my pushing is actually moving him. Some progress is made, but his heart rate is still a concern, so they roll me on my side again and have me push from that position.
I push a few more times, and they have me rest. Dr. Norell decides that a vacuum assist is necessary. They call the on-call pediatrician & pediatric nurse to come to the room (I guess this is standard practice for all vacuum-assisted deliveries), get Dr. Tim to come back in. There is a lot of commotion all of the sudden, which was a bit freaky since it had been so calm in the room prior to this, and I’m pretty sure this was more scary for Todd & my mom than it was for me. For some reason I felt pretty calm and I trusted Dr. Norell, Michelle, and Angela and honestly, I trusted my body.
Mom & Todd step out into the hall while the pediatrician/nurse are getting all their equipment ready and Dr. Norell & Angela are getting the vacuum ready. I’m not sure if they asked them to do this, or they both just needed a breather! I remember asking Michelle if we were going to be able to do skin to skin right after he was born (I was really worried about that) & she said that as long as he was breathing okay we’d be able to. I also remember being like “Um, so is this about to happen?!” while they were getting the vacuum ready and telling them to please go get Todd & my mom!
I pushed a few more times while they were setting everything up and then Dr. Norell attached (?) the vacuum and I pushed again. The vacuum popped off the first time they tried, whoops! So they have to recalibrate & reattach it.
Last set of pushes! It’s at this point that I can actually feel pressure in my pelvis so I know he is close to being born. I push as hard as I can and see his head come out! Angela grabs my hand and has me touch his head. I remember thinking, OMG he has so much hair!
While this is all happening I cannot, not look. I thought I wouldn’t want to see what was happening down there but I can’t help it! One more push and his head it out and his eyes are wiiiiide open & he’s crying (good sign!). One more push and he’s out!
Henry is born!
The pediatrician puts him on my chest and I think I said “Ooooh, he’s so soft!”. She has to take him away after about a minute to check him out, but they bring him back pretty quickly. I deliver the placenta & get stitched up (I had a very minor tear, no episiotomy). Hilariously, Dr. Norell has my mom take a photo of her with the placenta, holding it up like a fisherman with a big catch. Ha! (That might give you an idea of her personality.)
I can’t believe it’s over - Henry is finally here!
Monday, October 1st - Noon
My mom & I arrive at the hospital. They put me in one of the triage rooms because I’m not yet in active labor. They have me give a urine sample (I can’t remember why, I guess to check my urine for protein & signs of preeclampsia) & hooked me up to a fetal monitor. I asked the nurse who the midwife on call was, and it was Emily, my midwife. Yay!
[St. Luke’s Labor & Delivery is pretty small: there are three birthing suites and three triage rooms. The triage rooms are tiiiiny. Basically, they fit a twin-size hospital bed and one or two chairs. There is a shared bathroom (toilet only) between the rooms. The birthing suites have HARDWOOD FLOORS (!), are very spacious, have their own bathroom/shower, and convertible chairs that you can sleep in. All of the medical equipment is kept behind a sliding door in the room, so it feels more like a bedroom than a hospital room. Needless to say, the birthing suites are preferable for laboring in.]
Emily arrives to do an exam & check my fluid. She used a piece of paper that looked like litmus strip and it turned blue, which typically indicates amniotic fluid. She also took a sample of the fluid to take to the lab and confirm, but said she was 99% sure that my water broke. Eep!
I hadn’t yet started real contractions, so we discussed starting pitocin. Emily said that it could take up to three days for contractions to start once your water breaks. I asked about the chance for c-section if we did induce, and she said that it would increase my odds for cesarean, but that being GBS positive and not going into labor for three days would also increase those chances, and would probably be more likely if it did take that long for contractions to start. She said it was up to me though and let me have some time to myself to think about it while she went to look at the fluid on the slide to confirm that it was indeed amniotic fluid.
I called Todd to tell him that he should come to the hospital!
We decide to start pitocin and they also hook up my IV for the antibiotics.
After this, a bunch of nothing happens for a while. We watched A League of Their Own & Todd tried to find out if they hospital got ESPN (to watch Monday Night Football, of course.) (They didn’t.)
My contractions start getting a little more intense. I could still talk through them, but I could also anticipate when one was coming. They were probably about 5 minutes apart and lasted for 30 seconds to a minute.
Emily left & the new midwife, Michelle, arrived. I had seen five of the eight midwives in the St. Luke’s midwifery program (and had seen Emily throughout, in my centering classes), but not Michelle, so I have to admit I was kind of bummed that the midwife on call wasn’t someone I already had at least a cursory relationship with. Nothing against Michelle, of course. She is basically the opposite of Emily though: very reserved, quiet, matter of fact. Emily is very boisterous & injected a lot of humor into the process, which worked very well for me. Anyway, Michelle came in to introduce herself and check on me. Two new nurses, Rachel & Larry (a nursing student) also came on shift. Rachel was awesome, very friendly but also left us alone except to check our vitals.
A bunch more nothing happens for the next several hours. We ate dinner (tacos from Taqueria Cancun!) and watched tv. I got up & walked the L&D hall a few times for about 30-45 mins each time to hopefully get the contractions going. My contractions were still about the same intensity & still about 5 mins apart.
While I was out & about walking, I ran into one of my centering classmates, who was due on the same day that I was, and whose water had also just broken! She ended up in the triage room next to mine. So, that was kind of cool.
We were watching Castle (<3 Nathan Fillion! But I digress.), my contractions were getting even more intense but still not anything I couldn’t easily handle. I do remember telling Todd & my mom that I was not going to remember a single thing from that episode, because every 5 minutes I would have to concentrate on getting through a contraction.
I seriously at this point was like “I got this.” Hahahaha. Silly, silly Ali.
I think (?) around this time Michelle came in to check on me & said it could be several more hours before anything really started happening. She advised my mom that if she wanted to get a good night’s sleep that she could go home & they’d bring in a sleeping chair for Todd.
I am totally glad my mom did not listen to her because we probably would have called her to come back less than an hour after she left.
I decided to get up & walk again to hopefully get things moving. Another nurse shift change and the new L&D nurse, Angela, came on. I didn’t know it when I met her, but Angela was going to be the most important & amazing staff member during this whole process. She was seriously THE BEST.
Around this time is when things started GETTING REAL.
I would have to stop walking and basically sway side to side during each contraction while holding on to the wall. But, I felt pretty good - I mean, they hurt - but I felt like, okay, these contractions are actually doing something. And that was encouraging!
Note: No one has checked me to see how much my cervix had dilated since the previous Thursday at my dr’s appt. (I was 2 cm dilated at that time.) This is because if you’re GBS positive and your water has broken, they don’t want to potentially introduce any of the bacteria into the womb.
Okay, holy crap, these contractions hurt. I had moved back into my room & Angela brought in a birthing ball for me to sit on. That wasn’t really helpful for long, which was surprising to me because in my head I totally pictured myself using the ball a lot. I tried leaning against Todd while basically squeezing his hands so hard he thought I might break his fingers. I eventually moved to the sleeping chair they brought in for Todd, but was sitting on my knees, with my head facing the back of the chair and my hands on the armrests. During a contraction I would put my head on the back part of the chair and stare at the pattern on seat cushion (it was floral, in case you were wondering). Of all the focal points to have! But whatever, it worked. For a while.
I also felt like I had to throw up during this time. Angela assured me this was a good sign!
So after about an hour of real talk contractions, about 3 mins apart, they were getting progressively more intense and my resolve was starting to wane. I was totally NOT prepared for this kind of pain! I don’t even know if pain is the right word for it, it was more like a primal, intense feeling that I can’t describe or equate to anything else. The closest I can get to describing it that it was like every 3 minutes a whole-body electrical shock ripped through my body. I imagine it’s what getting hit by lightening feels like? Although I’m sure it’s nothing like that! I couldn’t help but let out a guttural moan with each contraction. I (felt like I) had no control over my body or my reaction to the contractions as they came in intense waves.
(I remember thinking that I had a pretty high pain tolerance before going into labor. I’ve had migraines for like 20 years and have developed a pretty reliable ritual for working through the pain and sort of getting inside of it in order to relax my way through it. This was NOTHING like that. At all.)
Around this time I asked Angela to get Michelle and told her I’d like to be checked for progress. I needed some sort of idea of how long this was going to last, to mentally prepare and reassure myself that I could do this naturally. Michelle came in & just stood there, quietly, for what seemed like an eternity. (It couldn’t have been more than 2 minutes because my contractions were 3 minutes apart and lasted for about 45 seconds to a minute, and I think she only stood silently for one contraction.). I told her I wanted to be checked. She asked me if knowing that information would change any part of my birth plan (basically, is this going to discourage you? I’m sure she knew I wasn’t dilated very much & knew my birth plan was to do this naturally.). She said I should think about what I wanted to do if I wasn’t progressing, and that she would come back in 10 minutes.
[10 minutes later]
I decide that I definitely want to be checked for progress. I need to know what I was facing. She did an internal exam (remember, I haven’t been checked at all during the 12 hours I’ve been at the hospital) and I’m…3 cm dilated.
I am CRUSHED.
How can I only be 3 cm?! All of these contractions HAVE to be doing something, right? Ughghghgh.
I think to myself (and I think I also said this to Todd), I cannot do this for another seven hours. I just can’t. I am still not wanting to get an epidural at this point, so I ask what else we can do. Michelle says I can get a dose of fentaynl. I told her that I didn’t want to feel drunk or drugged or out of it, and she said it wouldn’t do that, but rather “take the edge off”. So I decide to get the drugs.
I will note that no one at St. Luke’s ever offered me interventions, but rather let me bring up the idea, which I appreciated. They really do try to help you stay on your birth plan, but are also there to answer questions/provide support.
(continued in Part Three - where the action happens!)
Helloooooo, poor neglected blog! I can’t believe it’s already been
six seven weeks since I last posted. I’ve been meaning to post Henry’s birth story and never feel like I have adequate time to sit down and write it all out in one fell swoop. So, instead I’ll just post it in parts (hat tip to Devon for the idea!).
Here we go!
Henry’s Birth Story, Part I:
This is how I thought the lil dude’s birth would go:
- My water wouldn’t break. I would be able to labor in the comfort of our home for some time before needing to go to the hospital. Take a bath. Listen to my labor playlist. Nap. Do some embroidery. (I was Group B Strep positive, so if my water broke, I’d have to go to the hospital to start antibiotics.)
- I would be able to deliver naturally. I read all the books! Watched all the videos! I bought a yoga ballI was totally prepared! A labor warrior!
- I would have my doula (Sharon) there with me.
- I would NOT get any painkillers
- I would NOT get an epidural.
- I would NOT lose my mind.
Umm, so basically NONE of this happened.
Where should I start? The last post I made was on my due date. Things were swept and encouragement was given. I was 99% hopeful that I would go into labor over the weekend. I kept reading about momma’s who had their membranes swept and how they went into labor that day, or at least 48 hours later. My friend Meryd emailed me that she went into labor with her little Olive the day after she had things “stirred up”. Unfortunately that is not what happened for me.
The weekend came and went. It was friggin’ HOT that weekend too. Like 90 degrees in September hot. I remember going to Easy Breezy (our local frozen yogurt shop - and yes, it’s organic, I live in Noe Valley. Duh.) with April on Sunday and thinking “I bet I’m going to come here a lot this week.” I was actually kind of looking forward to it! Hey, the frozen custard there is REALLY good.
Monday, October 1st:
Monday morning I started making a little plan for the day in my head - I’d drop Todd off at work (yep, I was still driving around), come home and clean the house a bit (nesting much?), maybe go to lunch with my Mom, maybe go to a movie (it was supposed to be amazingly scorching that day and we don’t have A/C), get some frozen yogurt (see above), try to relax and not be super annoyed that I *still* hadn’t gone into labor.
When Todd & I were leaving that morning, my Mom said her usual “goodbye/have a nice day/see you this evening” and Todd replied with “Or maybe sooner!” or something like that. I didn’t think much of it when he said it, but he later told me he had a feeling that I might go into labor that day…
(Adding a break because if you don’t want to read about water breaking and the ins & outs of my labor, etc., you might just want to stop here.)
Well, I had my last dr’s appointment today and turns out my due date (I am STILL mistyping that as “dude date” - heh) is actually TODAY! What the what?! I AM 40 WEEKS PREGNANT!
Due dates are only accurate to five days before or after anyway, but when they initially determined my due date based on my LMP (last menstrual period for those not familiar with the nomenclature of pregnancy) they used a chart that said my due date was 9/29. But, the midwife said that it should’ve actually been 9/27 based on the computer program they also use, that is more accurate. Or something. This doesn’t really mean much other than I can be induced two days earlier than I thought, should I not start labor on my own.
Here’s the scoop:
- I am 2 cm dilated!
- Baby Berm is slightly posterior, or “sunny-side up”, which isn’t ideal (he could still turn, more on that later).
- If the little dude doesn’t arrive on his own by next Thursday, I will go back to the hospital to Labor & Delivery (not the clinic) for some routine 41 week tests. They will also induce me at this time, should we decide to go that route.
- This is encouraging because I thought they’d make me wait until 41 weeks 4 days to induce and man, that just seems like a long way away right now.
- My midwife did a sweep of my membranes (sometimes referred to as stripping the membranes) today so hopefully the above will be moot.
What does a sweep of the membranes entail, you ask? If you’re already a momma you probably know this, but it’s a way to get the labor process going naturally by sweeping or stretching the cervix. My dr’s office just happens to do this at 40 weeks if you haven’t already gone into labor.
For those interested in some potential TMI:
The doctor will insert a gloved finger into your vagina and move it back and forth to separate the membrane that connects the amniotic sac to the wall of the uterus. This is called “stripping the membranes,” and it causes the body to release hormones called prostaglandins, which ripen the cervix and may lead to contractions. You may feel some cramping and have some spotting after this procedure. Usually this method of inducing labor is done in your doctor’s office, and you’ll be sent home to wait until contractions begin.
For the record, this procedure was not at all pleasant, but I also know that it is nowhere near the level of discomfort and pain that I am about to get myself into, so I’m not complaining. :)
I am still not sure if I’m having actual early labor contractions now or continued Braxton Hicks. See, people, this was my fear! Right now it just mainly feels like my abdomen is tightening for a bit and then it relaxes. And then tightens again a while later. But nothing regular at all. I have some very mild cramping, which is likely attributable to the membrane sweep. And is also not regular at all. We’ll see what happens in the next 48 hours!
For the posterior position stuff: I had a prenatal massage appointment today anyway, so she did some gentle massage to try to get him to move into position. I also have an acupuncture appointment tomorrow morning at 10:00am, and they can do some stuff to get babies to turn apparently. Hey, whatever works, right?