For anyone who knows me even a decent amount, they know that with my pregnancy with Briz I got this freakishly random disorder during my third trimester called Cholestasis. This whole pregnancy, I was unsure as to whether I would get it again. In the readings I had done (thank you WebMD and Wikipedia) I had read that there was anywhere from a 70-90% chance that it would reoccur with each pregnancy. However, I was still hopeful that perhaps I would escape these odds and have an itch-free last few weeks. With Briz, the itching started at about 29 weeks or so. Right before I got it, I had a terrible flu. None of this had occurred and I was in Utah for a Cottle family reunion. I had decided to stay an extra week or so to see friends (was still not enough time by the way) and visit with family a little bit more. It was during this second week after Nick already flew home to go back to work that the itching occurred randomly out of nowhere. I was about 30 weeks. I noticed it at night at first. And then it soon became nonstop. When I got back to Oregon, I told my doctor and the frequent doctor visits began. Because it is so rare and weird, there is very little known about it, so I heard the word "precaution" a lot. It seems that no one is quite sure exactly how it can affect the baby, so just in case, I got to basically live at the doctor's twice a week. I would receive non-stress monitoring on the baby, a doctor's visit, and generally about two ultrasounds a week. The upsides of all of this: I got to know my little girl pretty well (how she moves, how her body works, what she looks like). The other upside: Briz LOVES going to the dr.'s and is best friends with everyone there. She named the baby in her belly, and now the baby doll she plays with, Teresa, after her favorite nurse. She loved going so much that I often would bribe her to do things. "If you let me brush your hair, we can go to the dr. tomorrow!" What a strange kid.
Having cholestasis was really rough not just because of the dr.'s visits, but because of the sleepless nights. I would say on average I got about 4 hours of sleep at night. I was big and pregnant and tired and grouchy. That made for a very impatient parent of a toddler. Not to mention the fact that Nick was hardly home at all. So now I'm also a single mom. Poor Briz. And for anyone who knows Briz, she's a bully. She is smart and manipulative and could sense my weakness. She took full advantage to run the show around the house and rebel as much as she possibly could. I thought I could handle this for a while, however. I was wrong, around 35 weeks I was done. Ready for this baby to get out of me.
I worked with my doctor to set a date around 37 weeks. The 23rd of August put me at 26 weeks and 6 days. It was a good thing too, because the week before my delivery, my levels of toxins in my blood spiked and the perinatologist recommended the baby come out a.s.a.p.
My doctor told me to come in at 12:01 a.m. on the 23rd. They were going to give me some medicine to get my body ready for delivery. And hopefully by the morning I would be more ready and they would put me on pitocin. I went in to see the dr. the day of the 22nd to see how ready I was. And yeah! I was dialated to a 3. So they let me push back the time to a 6 a.m. and were just going to put me on pitocin right away. The night before I was able to get Briz' stuff all ready, take her to my parents house, shower, shave, pack my bags, and try to prepare myself mentally for labor. Yikes! Still only slept 2 1/2 hours.
I have to say, overall, labor was an amazing experience. I never thought I would use that word to describe labor, but it was. Now, this is all relative, because I thought I was going to die the first time. It was traumatic. I still can remember the pain. People say they forget, but I have not. So I went in a little nervous. I was about 90-95% sure that I would get an epidural, feeling pretty open minded to drugs because like I said, I could remember the pain from the first time and I was not excited to experience that again. Nick and I checked in at 6 a.m. I told them right away that I did not want to be put on pitocin. I asked my doc to break my water and that we could take it from there. My dr. is the best. Really, I love him. And I knew he would do what I wanted. They broke my water. I had already been having little contractions. But within an hour, I was having serious contractions. In the delivery room, there was Nick, my Mom, my cousin Madisen, my little sister Sierra, and my aunt/doula Sharyl. They all got there pretty quickly after my water was broken. I was able to be up and moving most of the time. I was walking, using one of those big exercise balls, standing and swaying a lot, etc. They have to monitor me the whole time, but luckily they had a transportable monitoring thing that I wore like a purse. I postponed getting checked as much as possible because I didn't want it to mess with my mind. I was very very relaxed and very very focused. My aunt would massage me during contractions. She would encourage me and help remind me to breathe down into my stomach. It was the craziest experience because I felt so connected with my body. I could actually feel little Holland moving down inside me. I could still feel her little foot pushing up at the top of my uterus. I like to think she was helping me out a bit.
After a few hours, I decided to get in the tub. And I progressed a ton in there. If anyone ever has access to a jacuzzi during labor, I highly recommend it. I used it with Briz as well, and it was probably the least traumatic half hour of her delivery. But this time it completely sent me into transition. Another thing that I did differently this time is that I made a lot of noise. When I was having a very painful contraction, I would let out really deep moaning noises. And I pictured physically moving Briz down as I would sort of yell. But it was still very controlled and I tried to stay with my pain as much as possible. I got back to the room and I was at a 7. At that point, I decided to forego the epidural because even though it was painful, I felt pretty good. Transition was hard. I'm not going to lie. But with Briz, I didn't have any breaks between contractions. This time, I did. I had breaks inbetween contractions the whole time, even up through pushing. That made it tolerable. I experienced transition for about an hour, and I started to get emotional. A lot of it was out of just being in a lot of pain, but the other part of it was me feeling very sentimental about the moment . This pregnancy has been very hard for me. I have had some rough moments during the pregnancy and during this time in delivery, it all clicked and made sense. It all of a sudden seemed worth it. I was able to sort of forget myself and think soley about this little girl inside me. I realized that she is a little spirit and this was a very important spiritual/eternal moment to have her be born and join our family. I was overwhelmed with love at having these people around me during delivery. They were helpful and loving and I couldn't have done it without them. It was just very special.
This special moment quickly left when I started pushing :) The dr. came in and checked me and I was at a 10. I was ecstatic and even chanted in the air. But that's only because I had no idea how hard pushing would be for me. I pushed for about 45 minutes but I sort of lost it. They were trying to get me to push three times during a contraction and I absolutely refused. I just kept screaming, "I can't do it!" My dr. was extremely patient with me and let me breathe through some of my contractions. But he would also warn me that the less I pushed during a contraction the longer it would take. And I would think to myself, "Damnit!" I started telling the baby she needed to get out of me right away. I started pleading with her. And then I started to think, "How can I get out of this at this very moment? There's got to be a way." I literally did not think the baby would ever come out because I just didn't think I could do it. My final tactic was to start negotiating with the dr. I pressed him to give me a number of how many more pushes. He would say something like, "A few." And I would respond with, "Like two? Will she be out if I push two more times?" I persisted for a while and continued to negotiate. But somehow, someway, I was able to push her out. When her head came out, I sort of thought I could give up. But her damn shoulder got in the way. And then she was out. And I cried and cried simply because it was over!!! And I held her slimey, white body and was just so ecstatic that she finally came out of me. And I loved her right away. I had the thought, "Of course, here she is. It's perfect. She should be here right now at this very moment."
These might sound like very unenlightened thoughts, but they meant a lot for me because as I have said, I have struggled during this pregnancy a little. I questioned how I would feel once she was born. Don't tell Briz, but I think I may love her a little more :)
During labor. My doctor came in at one point and I was smiling. And he goes, "Still smiling, okay, I'll come back and check you later." In other words, clearly I couldn't be too far along. Sierra made me smile for this picture. It was the last in the series of "I hate having my picture taken when I'm pregnant!"
Nick, Mom, and Sharyl analazying the charts and my contraction. It was a fun group activity :)
Sharyl at work during a more serious contraction. So focused I can't even make my "Please don't take a picture of me" face.