Like Nicola’s birth story, this one has been hard to write. Unfortunately, not because I wanted to get it perfect, but because I didn't want to relive it. After Nick’s birth I felt very empowered and even said right after he came out “I can do that again!” This time it was the opposite, the whole experience was frustrating and stressful. (and involved lots of moments where I sobbed in the bathroom)
Despite being on the other side of the country and far away from the midwives and hospital where I had delivered Nick, I really wanted to replicate his birth experience as much as possible. Part of doing that consisted of me switching from the Army hospital to a civilian provider halfway-ish through the pregnancy so it could be possible. With such a hard pregnancy I was really hoping that the birth could be a high note at the very end of all of this. I still wanted to labor naturally and hoped to recover quickly so I could be back on my feet as soon as possible once Oskar arrived. So I think the most frustrating thing of all was that what I wanted ended up being entirely possible and definitely could have happened if I were back in North Carolina with the same provider. What I went through the last couple weeks of this pregnancy and on until I checked out of the hospital with Oskar was a complete 180 from what a woman should experience at any time, pregnant or not. (and what was really frustrating was that all the work it took to switch providers ended up being worthless as the two big things I was trying to avoid ended up happening... not knowing the person who would deliver me and not being allowed to walk around once my water broke)
That said, I’m sure you are all now very curious what went on… I started writing a play by play of the whole experience, story format, but it was really stressing me out and making me upset all over again to relive it like that. So instead, I am just going to do some highlights/bullets of what went down then commence with the happy parts!
First, my body did the exact same thing as with Nick where I started dilating early (yay!). At 36 weeks I was 4 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced. Oskar had also dropped and was uncomfortably low in my pelvis. Unfortunately, at that check up I also found out I had high blood pressure. Luckily, I had no other symptoms of preeclampsia, but I was put on bed rest in hopes that would solve the blood pressure issue.
Then my midwife goes out of town for the next week and I am told I cannot see one of the other midwives but a random doctor for my 37 week checkup.
The days leading up to my 37 week check up I lose my mucus plug, have lots of indigestion (something my body does when labor is imminent), and in addition to the Braxton Hicks I’ve been experiencing for forever I start having irregular contractions.
Rob also informs me that he has been selected to go on a testing mission at Ft. Sill the beginning of August but if I don’t have the baby by that upcoming weekend they wouldn’t let him go because it would interfere with his paternity leave. And he really wanted to go so he really wanted me to have that baby asap (like I have any control over it…)
I plan on seeing if my membranes can be stripped at my upcoming checkup since at this point I just need something to jumpstart labor and I’m on the verge of being full term. Oh, and there’s the whole high blood pressure thing too. (if there’s nothing medically wrong with you they are not able to start labor until 39 weeks. [found that out with Nick] But high blood pressure means something is medically wrong)
At my 37 week checkup the doctor is just what I feared she would be; arrogant and condescending. My blood pressure is still high but there are still no other preeclampsia symptoms. However, she decides that I should do all the preeclampsia labs because she had a patient who developed preeclampsia after having high blood pressure once. (never mind her patient was only 30 weeks and it was her first pregnancy) And makes an appointment for me to come back the next morning to go over the labs. Oh, and refuses to strip my membranes because I’m only 37 weeks. Never mind I have high blood pressure and the only way to resolve that is to get the baby out of me…
Rob and I go down to the laboratory to get said labs done (I should also mention that I did NOT want these done as it involved a 24 hour urine draw, not to mention I’d had preeclampsia with Max so the symptoms are forever engrained in my memory [it’s not something you easily forget] and this was completely different from that) only to find out I have to be fasting for 8 hours before they can draw blood and the urine draw has to start with the first pee of the day. So I cancelled the appointment for the next day.
I decide to take matters into my own hands and try out a couple old wives tales to jumpstart labor. And they work. About 10pm that night I start having regular, strong contractions.
They continue all night and by 6am they are about 5 minutes apart and a minute long so I call my midwife and she says to go to the hospital (and that she’d let them know I was on my way).
Rob, my mom, and I arrive at the hospital close to 8am, expecting this baby to be here by early afternoon. (once my water is broken it doesn’t take long for the baby to come out)
I’m sent to triage and they are sent to the waiting room.
This takes hours, with my mom and Rob completely in the dark as to why it is taking so long.
Despite my midwife calling ahead (she is still out of town so can’t be there herself) the doctor on call in triage does not want to check me in because I’m only 37 weeks.
One of the other midwives shows up and is willing to let me have this baby (like they had any choice, I mean I was IN LABOR), but is worried about preeclampsia too so orders all the labs done and talks about giving me the magnesium. She also wants to give me pitocin and I refuse both that and the magnesium.
I try to explain that once they break my water it won’t be long until the baby comes out and then no one needs to worry about preeclampsia anymore! They don't listen.
I’m sent to a room.
And it’s already mid morning.
My group B strep was positive (that’s a story in and of itself) so I have to have the antibiotics.
I’m hooked up to the monitors and everyone leaves.
And we are all alone for 90% of my labor and delivery. (quite the change from Nick's labor and delivery where my nurse was by my side the entire time)
I handed off my birth plan when I got to the room and they are ok with it. They seem to focus on the stuff I don’t care as much about (like leaving my baby at my side as much as possible; I meant this in that I get to hold him first before they whisk him away for a bath and keeping him in my room. They end up leaving the room after he is born and showing up awhile later to ask if he can be cleaned up. Not what I meant…). I have on there that I would like our son to be circumcised and they inform me they do not do circumcisions at the hospital. That is something we have to schedule with his pediatrician (this too is a whole story in and of itself…).
Eventually a nurse comes in with the antibiotics and I ask about getting my water broken. I’m told that can’t happen until I’ve had two doses of the antibiotic. (And I am like, GIVE IT TO ME NOW!!!! And had I known that I would have made sure you gave it to me HOURS ago!!!!)
I want to walk so I can progress and birth this baby as soon as possible (speed is your saving grace when delivering naturally) but the IV machine thing has a low battery so it has to stay plugged into the wall.
Once the antibiotics are done the midwife eventually comes in (it is now the afternoon) to break my water. I am told that once my water is broken I am not allowed to walk around because the cord might fall out. However, if they had enough nurses I would be able to as they could have one walk with me. (at the time they are telling me this there are probably 15 nurses just hanging out at the nurses station and only two patients [me being one of them] in the whole labor and delivery wing giving birth)
After an hour of staying in bed like a good girl I get fed up because I am not progressing at all. I get up and walk around the room as much as I can hooked up to everything.
Labor finally gets real!
And I start to be in a lot of pain.
There is no tub in the bathroom, so laboring in the water is not an option. (I had been told it would be)
Things get really, really painful. The monitors and IV line get to be too much so I rip everything off and have Rob take to IV out.
We finally see some nurses! And they don’t appear to be happy as I refuse to put anything back on. (they pretty much would only come in if something messed with the monitors. Even if we paged them it would be awhile before they showed up)
I’m checked and am only 7 centimeters dilated. I start freaking out because I’m in a lot of pain and don’t know how to deal with it and am sure I still have hours and hours ahead of me.
Drugs are not an option at this point as it could hurt the baby.
I finally find a position I can make it through the contractions in. I sit on the edge of the bed with my feet on the wheel, leaning into Rob’s stomach and gripping his hands.
Unfortunately for him, I cannot move out of this position until the very end so he ends up standing for a couple hours.
I start to feel the urge to push. They want to check me, but I cannot move. I also cannot talk and am in my own little world trying to deal with the pain.
I push sitting up on the edge of the bed.
Then the ring of fire begins. I panic. I jerk upright and Rob isn’t sure what is happening and all I am able to moan is “He’s coming!”
I fling myself onto my back while everyone whips into action and a whole bunch of people fly into the room. I am in complete and utter agony at this point and am begging them to just pull him out.
After a handful of pushes Oskar Royal Datus Harmon is born at 5:59pm. He is perfect and beautiful and I am so relieved he is out.
I get to hold my sweet boy and despite being uncomfortable, am in heaven. Then my arm starts burning. I ask what they are giving me and it’s pitocin. I tell them to stop it so they do, thankfully.
I deliver the placenta and everything and didn’t tear or have any wounds at all down there. But I start cramping horribly. Like, I feel like I’m in labor again kind of horrible. They give me some motrin for the pain but it does nothing.
Rob leaves with Oskar so he can get a bath and the nurses start to get me ready to move to my room. This involves punching down on my uterus while I am in the middle of a very painful contraction. The animal in me reacts and rips her arm away from me. The nurse is not happy about this at all and tells me she has to do this and tries again. I again grab her arm. She finally waits until I tell her it’s ok once the contraction has passed and her pushing down is only uncomfortable, not painful like before.
Our friends arrive at the hospital with the boys so Rob goes out to see them and bring them back to the recovery room so they can meet their new brother.
My mom and I head out to the new room, my mom carrying everything. We reach the elevators and my mom is told she can’t take these ones (they were staff elevators) but has to go use the other ones.
I get to my room and am left alone. For quite awhile. I manage to have more contractions that are so painful I am sobbing.
A nurse finally comes and starts going over information with me. I ask where my mother is and husband and children and she informs me they are out in the waiting room. And that only one other adult is allowed into the room as visiting hours just finished (they end at 8pm. I delivered at 6pm. It should not take two hours to wrap things up and get into a room). I ask her if they know this and she says no. I do not have my phone (or anything) as my mom was carrying everything and the hospital phone does not do long distance so I cannot inform my family of this. She says a nurse will go tell them. Once she is done giving me whatever information she leaves and tells me another nurse will come to check on me and stuff and that no one can come back until she has completed her check up.
And finally she comes in and does her thing. I’m STILL in a ton of pain and ask for pain meds. She leaves.
Rob comes. At this point I’m in enough pain I ask Rob if I can get morphine. He tells me no.
I let him know the boys can’t come back, something he had not been informed about. The nurse simply cam and told him to come with her and that was it.
I fill him in on the situation and he leaves to go tell everyone else.
It is decided that my mom will stay the night and she comes in with all my stuff.
At some point the nurse finally comes back with my meds. I ask her where my baby is.
It’s probably four hours after his birth before Oskar is finally returned to me. I proceed to hold him all night. (while watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics)
There are a ton more check ups for me and Oskar, my blood pressure is finally down (imagine that!) and we are told we can check out 24 hours after he was born.
The next morning Rob comes back with my sisters and the boys and we have a happy reunion/ meeting of the new brother.
After a bit my mom, sisters, and the boys leave. It is just me, Rob, and Oskar and we just hang out watching TV until it’s time to go.
There are several things that have to happen before we can leave, like me getting a TDaP shot and them getting some of Oskars blood for something. They, of course, do not happen until 6pm.
About 7pm we are finally released and book it out of there!
my feet, during labor. This was before things got really painful. (and I was being good and staying in bed at this point)
Oskar, not long after he emerged.
My sweet boy:
everyone meets Oskar for the first time:
this picture is one of my favorites.
one of the (few) perks of delivering here was the brand new facility. I LOVED the giant window that had a beautiful view of the mountains. Nick, our wild child, loved running along the sill.
Nick also LOVES his little brother. Instead of worrying about jealousy or resentment we have to worry about him giving Oskar too much love.