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Welcome, Clark!

August 29, 2010

Warning: If you don’t want to read about the gory details of a birth story, do not read on.

Thursday afternoon, we welcomed the addition to our lives that made us into a family. Clark Allen Howard was born at 12:56pm on Thursday, August 26th at 37 weeks 4 days. He weighed 7 pounds 7.2 ounces and was 20 1/4 inches long. He is the most amazing little baby and soooo easygoing and we have already had our hearts completely melted by him!

Onto the birth story – all the details that everyone keeps asking about 🙂

Wednesday, I was feeling very stabby and frustrated because I had been in quite a bit of uncomfortable pain for weeks with several rounds of contractions but not really any progress. At my appointment the previous Friday, I was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced, but nothing had happened since. I was feeling very frustrated because everyday people were calling to ask about my lady bits, or stopping to see me and asking why I was still there, but yet I was still over two weeks from my due date. I felt like it just wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, despite feeling like I was going to go early for weeks. I left school pretty late after a meeting that made me miss a friend’s baby shower, with my desk in a terrible mess that I had resolved to pick up the following day. I went to Burger King to eat with Jason, then walked around Target for a bit and finally got home around 9 pm. At 10 pm, I went to bed, and heard Jason pop in the door at 10:30pm from work. At 11pm, we were both sleeping pretty soundly.

Just like any other pregnant lady, I woke up to pee around 12:35 am, and went through the ordeal of getting up out of bed and then getting resettled. When I got back in bed, I noticed I had wet pants. I really didn’t think anything about it because it wasn’t much at all, and again, pregnant women leak all the time. I got up around 12:45am to change my underwear and all of a sudden, it started gushing. I quickly soaked through two ginormous Grandma sized pads (that I had bought at Target that day for after the birth lol thank goodness!), so I woke Jason up. We didn’t rush around too much because I didn’t start having contractions for about 20 minutes, and then when they did come, they were about 7 minutes apart and very mild.

We finally left about 1:30 to head to the hospital, and the tires started shaking after about 10 minutes on the highway. We pulled over and sure enough, the tread had ripped off my front passenger tire. Jason changed the tire quickly and we were on our way again, although Jason thoroughly enjoyed telling everyone that I changed the tire in four minutes flat the rest of the hospital stay as the running joke. We got to the hospital at 2am and unloaded at the emergency entrance because the entrance to the birthing center was closed. Ironically, the wheelchair Jason pushed me in had half-flat wheels, too, which made it really hard for Jason to push. We got into the room and settled in, knowing that I was in for a long haul since my contractions were still far apart.

After hanging out and trying to sleep (although it didn’t happen at all due to the excitement), at 9am they checked me and I was only 3-4 cm and 80%, exactly what I had been the previous Friday. They started me on Pitocin, which I wasn’t happy about, but I knew that due to the risk of infection, I only had about 16 more hours until they would start talking about a C-section, and that was something I absolutely did not want if I could avoid it. The Pitocin didn’t really help that much, but my contractions were more often. I was able to breathe through them pretty easily until about 11 am, when they started to become a little difficult. At 12 pm, my contractions finally started to pick up and so I asked to be checked at 12:30 pm. When the midwife checked me out, I was 100% effaced but only 6 cm dilated. I had a monster contraction just after being checked that made me lose my focus and stopped my ability to deal with the pain, and from what my mom and mother in law said, the measuring instrument started going crazy when this happened. The midwife finally told me that even though I was planning to go natural, I should consider an epidural because at that point, I’d have several hours of labor left, and if that was too much to handle, I would be too exhausted to push, especially since I had already been in labor for 11 hours with only 2 hours of sleep from the night before and no food since 8pm. While being talked to, I had another monster contraction, one that actually made the other people in the room start to cry. I looked at Jason and said as calm as can be that even though I didn’t want the epidural, I was too exhausted and I couldn’t take this if the rest of the contractions were going to continue this way. He knew I was serious, so he said yes to the midwife and she walked out of the room to put the order in with the anesthesiologist after having upped the Pitocin even further.

The next seven minutes were hell on Earth. I had four more life-shattering contractions, lasting about 90 seconds each and only about a minute apart. They were so bad they made my mom and Jason cry, and my mother in law and grandma had to walk out of the room. All of a sudden, I couldn’t stop the feeling of wanting to bear down. I tried so hard not to push because I wasn’t ready, but my body just kept pushing. My mom ran into the hallway, and the midwife was kind of upset because she said there was no way I should push – I was just at 6 cm only a few minutes ago, but my mom insisted that she come and check me. Just as the midwife was checking, the anesthesiologist walked in with the epidural cart, but she yelled at him that it was too late – Clark’s head was about ready to crown! They screamed for a table to get me pushing, and just a few short minutes later, Clark was born. Honestly, the pain of those final contractions was soooo much worse than actually pushing and crowning, which is not normally how it feels. Pushing felt like a relief compared to the contractions, and it really does feel like you are pooping a very large watermelon. Clark came out crying, which was kind of weird because they didn’t have to do much to get him going. The cord was wrapped around his neck, but not tightly, and the midwife wisked it off super fast, but since he was crying there was really no danger.

After giving birth, I was so exhausted, but I had to birth the placenta, which wasn’t bad at all compared to what had just happened. Then they started stitching. Because I progressed way more quickly than normal, my perineum didn’t have time to stretch and it tore. I had second degree tears, which she assured me would only take about 20 minutes to stitch. They offered to let me hold Clark, but I had no strength in my left arm due to the IV, and I was so exhausted and hurting from tearing, so Jason held him next to me so I could see him.

The stitching took much longer than expected – every time she would put in a stitch, a small blood vessel would pop and I’d start to bleed even more. This meant that it took over an hour to stitch me up and that I got twice as many stitches as I would’ve needed. I finally got to hold Clark an hour after he was born. I felt so terrible for this, but I held him for only a minute and then wanted lunch and a small nap. I wanted to be with my little one, but I knew that I couldn’t be a good mom if I passed out on him and that emotionally and physically I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t bond yet. Thankfully, Jason and everyone else understood and let me eat and doze off for about 20 minutes.

When I finally got a chance to really spend time with my little one, I felt terrible because while I was so happy he was here, I was in so much pain and I still didn’t really feel like he was mine. I know it was just the overwhelmed feeling of everything that happened and so quickly, but it made me feel really terrible. I started Kangaroo Care with him, and that made it better. Slowly but surely, I realized that this was my little one, and that all our hard work had paid off.

Clark is an amazing baby and now, three days later, I hate having him away from me for more than a few seconds! I’ll write more details about the first few days later, but for now, let’s just say I’m happy that the birthing part of the experience is over.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Ashley permalink
    August 29, 2010 10:45 pm

    OMG I HAVE BEEN WAITING DAYS FOR THIS UPDATE

    ngl, i was tempted to write you an email and ask for an update, but i realized how selfish that is–you just gave birth like 2 days ago!! i am so happy to know that everyone is doing well. flat tire?! seriously, that was pretty ridiculous. i was literally going OH HALE NO in my loud voice (thank god i don’t have a roommate!).

    and now for the questions: how were you certain that the water break wasn’t just pee? those prego ladies on TV that yell about slaughtering people because of the pain weren’t exaggerating? was it the sharp omfg i’m about to barf pain, or the long enduring i think i’m going to pass out pain? what is pitocin anyway? why did you need a table if clark was almost out? since the perineum didn’t stretch, did that hurt too or were you too busy with labor to notice? why was clark so pink and ashy in the first picture? since you couldn’t hold clark for the first few minutes, what did you do with him? what is kangaroo care? where do you find diapers that small?

    you can take as long as you need to reply. please let me know when you’re comfortable with visitors and i will make a trip up to see you all. also, if you need a weekend babysitter let me know and i’ll camp out to take care of him for you. congrats again!

    • August 29, 2010 11:25 pm

      Wow Ash! Okay, so here goes:
      – You won’t mistake your water breaking. Your bladder can’t hold that much pee. I soaked through my pants plus 20 ginormous pads in 20 minutes. It’s clear fluid, and it comes out of your vaginal cavity, not your urethra. Trust me, it’s unmistakable.
      – Prego women on TV are a bit different. I was more crying really hard and begging someone to kill me. Imagine the sharpest, most horrible pain you’ve ever felt, magnify it by 50, and then have it last for 90 seconds. You want to pass out sooooo bad but it just doesn’t happen. Yeah. Before that, the contractions were bad pain, but I could focus really hard and breathe and tell myself, “I can do this. I can do this.” and I’d get through it. I wonder if I had not dilated so quickly in the end what those last contractions would’ve felt like. I think I would’ve probably never given into the epidural if so (although I never did get it).
      – Pitocin is a synthetic version of oxytocin, which is what naturally stimulates contractions (among many other things) in your body.
      – The table was so they could set my butt up to make sure it didn’t move around and to get a good view/grip on everything. They basically dropped the bottom half of my bed and scooted my butt onto the table. It’s also for keeping me up during stitching.
      – Have you ever had a really hard poo when you were on your period with a cramp? That’s kind of to a much lesser degree what the perineum stretching feels like. I felt it tear, but I don’t remember it clearly. I just remember that even though it hurt like crazy, the pressure was relieved and it kind of numbed itself from the crazy shock of pain.
      – Clark was ashen because he was covered in a yogurt-like substance called vernix. As you get closer to the due date, the vernix wears off. It’s to protect the skin while floating in the fluid so it doesn’t get all pruney. The parts of him that were pink were partially blood stain and partially from where the nurses were rubbing his skin to stimulate good circulation.
      – Jason held Clark until I could, so for the first hour.
      – Kangaroo Care is where you hold baby on your chest, skin touching skin. I’d usually put him diaper only in my shirt with his head sticking out. Because baby already knows your smell, being against your skin and feeling your body heat increases the bond. It also works for fathers, too, even though they don’t know their dad’s scent yet.
      – Diapers come that small. They are called newborn size lol. They are adorable!

      Let me know when you want to come up. We’re pretty fine with anything as long as you let us know in advance. The weekend of the 12th is out, Beth and Ryne are coming in to stay with Ryne’s mom and are going to watch Clark so we can go on an anniversary date 🙂 Keep in mind that we don’t have a guest bedroom anymore, so it’ll have to be a day trip.

      • Ashley permalink
        August 30, 2010 3:24 pm

        thank you so much for answering all my questions! childbirth doesn’t seem as scary as i formerly thought, but i’m still skeptical =] you’re so strong for going through all of that! and with no drugs!! that’s amazing.

        the weekend of the 12th is out for me anyway (baby shower). let me get into the swing of things with classes and i’ll let you know (at least a week in advance). is there anything else clark needs right now? i can have it shipped ot you.

  2. August 30, 2010 8:12 am

    I loved reading your birth story and wow what an experience!! I hope you guys are all doing well, he is just precious. 🙂

  3. Ashley Colagross permalink
    September 12, 2010 3:08 pm

    Congratulations again Amanda! Thank you for sharing your birth story.

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