Thursday, February 1st, 2018
I had Braxton Hicks contractions throughout my entire pregnancy pretty regularly. During week 39 I more pain with the Braxton Hicks every night. On Thursday, February 1st I had more pain with my Braxton Hicks contractions during the day which was different than the previous days. I had a midwife appointment that day to listen to the heartbeat and do a checkup. I told her I was having more pain with my contractions and they were coming every 5-7 minutes. She offered to check to see if I was dilated and to strip my membranes if I wanted to do that. They never offered to check me with Linnea and I was curious if I was dilated so I definitely wanted to get checked.
I was dilated to a 2-3 and my cervix was 1.5-2 cm long. She stripped my membranes which was an interesting experience and I went on my way! I continued to have contractions throughout the day that were pretty regular (every 3-5 minutes) with some pain.
Last picture as a family of 3!That night Jake was supposed to go to dinner with some coworkers but I was having more pain with my contractions so I asked him to stay home. I was having contractions every 3 minutes lasting about a minute. They weren't super painful but they were very regular which I never had with Linnea. I called the hospital and they told me I could come in to get checked. Tim, Jake's coworker, packed a bag and came over to stay with Linnea and we headed to Danderyd Hospital which is where I was registered and where we had Linnea.
We got home around 11:30. I was disappointed. I felt bad we inconvenienced Tim and Mona and that we were sent home. Tim decided to stay at our apartment since it was so late and just go to work the next morning. I took some pain meds and we all went to bed.
Friday, February 2nd, 2018
Around 3 am I woke up to a more painful contraction. I started timing them whenever they woke me up. They were coming every 10 minutes and were definitely more painful but I could still mostly sleep through/in between them. We woke up around 6:30 to get Linnea ready for school and my contractions were getting more painful.
I decided to call the hospital again even though the contractions were every 6-7 minutes (I was supposed to call when I had 2-3 in 10 minutes) they were lasting about 1:30 and were definitely painful. When I called I was the first in line. Someone answered within a couple of minutes and asked if they could put me on hold. I said sure. Several minutes went by and I was still on hold. Several more minutes went by and I thought they had forgotten about me. So we called the hospital on Jake's phone and were 2nd in line. We decided to hang up my phone and wait for his line to be answered.
After being on hold for almost 45 minutes someone answered and asked if I could hold for a minute. I said no because I had already been waiting for 45 minutes. She said she would be back in just a minute and placed me on hold. She did come back and I told her that I was having contractions every 6-7 minutes lasting 1:30 and they were very painful. She asked if I wanted to come in and I said yes. She then said they were completely full and so was BB Stockholm (which is the private clinic located in the same hospital as Danderyd). She would have to check to see which hospitals had a place for me.
When you are pregnant in Stockholm you register for which hospital you'd like to give birth at but then once you are in labor you call to make sure they have a place for you. If they don't they call around to see who has a spot and then they send you there. We went to our first choice, Danderyd, with Linnea and had a great experience so we registered there again. She came back and said there was a place at Karolinska which was actually closer to our apartment, about a 10-minute taxi ride, but it was more hospital like and not what I had in my plans.
Last belly pic while standing in the snow and about to have a contraction. I look thrilled.
I used a heating pack on my stomach and back and tried breathing through contractions. The midwives did a great job trying to get me to have heavy shoulders and midsection to help me to relax. Thankfully I wasn't having back labor like I did with Linnea. That was SO painful!
The midwives would come in every15-30 minutes to listen to the baby's heartbeat and to make sure everything was going well.
At 12:30 I asked if I could have an epidural yet ;). She said she wanted me to be at least 5-6 cm dilated before getting it so I asked if she would check me. She wasn't all that convinced I had made that much progress but after a few more painful contractions she agreed to check me and I was 5-6 cm!!! Jake and I were shocked. I was actually making progress . . . in a timely manner, on my own! Woohoo! And with that, I asked for the walking epidural!
At 13:00 they gave me antibiotics because I tested positive for Group B Strep which I also had with Linnea. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to me about the walking epidural. He had me sit up and cross my legs to put it in. (I was laying on my side for my walking epidural with Linnea which was much more comfortable.) I was nervous about having a contraction while he was putting it in. He said he would just stop during the contraction. I felt like he took FOREVER to put it in. I had a few contractions while he was working. One, in particular, I couldn't move at all because the needle was in my back. That freaked me out. Jake stood in front of me and let me grab his arms. At one point I threw my right arm back towards my back which was a sterile environment and the doctor wasn't happy about that. He got it in and I really didn't feel much at all when he put it in.
At 13:30 they gave me the test dose to see how I would react and they took my blood pressure. Everything was fine so they gave me the rest of the dose but for some reason, it wasn't connected right so the medicine shot everywhere. I still got 7 of the 10 ml. Shortly after that, the pain started going away. Walking epidurals are the way to go in my opinion. It is so different laboring with one than without one. I can actually have a conversation and rest while in labor.
We walked the halls and at one point I even fell asleep. I do not know why the US doesn't do walking epidurals. It gives the laboring moms so much more freedom. We can be pain-free but still mobile. I was able to walk the halls, sit on the exercise ball, be on all fours, use a standing table, whatever I needed to do to help labor progress but without the pain.
Even though I couldn't feel the contractions my body was still working really hard. I would often find myself shaking. I wasn't cold but I was shaking. The midwife suggested Jake sit behind me and I lean back on him. I did and shortly after that, I stopped shaking. I'm so thankful she took a few pictures of us like this. Jake did a great job encouraging me during the labor and delivery.
Pushing was different than with Linnea. I could actually feel it and it freaked me out. TMI ahead feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph (cough, cough especially the men): I was so worried about the 'ring of fire' that I kept hearing about. However, it actually wasn't that bad. I mean, I was terrified I was going to tear and I did NOT want to feel that. However, her head just wouldn't come out. So I ended up having another episiotomy. She numbed me before she cut me (at least I think so because I didn't feel it) and then right after that Pizza Roll's head popped out.
Seriously, TMI ahead: The interesting thing to me was when I was pushing they put a warm towel on my perineum to help with the pressure and to hopefully help prevent tearing and hemorrhoids (and all the mamas said Amen). It was actually really comforting even if it didn't prevent the episiotomy. I'm just thankful I didn't tear. I feel like that would feel worse.
I did get hot while pushing. I'm guessing the nerves, the effort, the light, the warm towels, just all of it together. I kept complaining about being hot. I think they all thought I had bigger fish to fry but I couldn't get over being hot. Jake held a cool towel on my forehead and upper back. It helped but eventually, I took off my gown. I mean at that point the parts I'd rather people not see were out there for everyone in the room to see and my gown was only really covering my midback. Of all my body parts to have covered my midback is not one I was overly concerned about being shown.
Our midwife Louise was amazing. She was encouraging and supportive. She told me not to be scared of the pain when pushing. I cannot say enough great things about her. Even though I wasn't expecting to deliver at Karolinska I'm so thankful for the great care we received. It was a wonderful experience which is funny to say because in the moment it was painful and I was ready to be done being in labor but looking back it really was a great experience.
Pizza Roll's head came out and because I was laying on my side I could see it. That was freaky and kind of awesome. One more push and the rest of her came out and she was on my belly and then my chest. She had a pretty gurgly cry and she didn't cry long. I asked if Pizza Roll was a boy or a girl and they told us to look. Jake looked and said "It's a girl" and we both laughed. What the heck? How was Pizza Roll a girl? We were both in disbelief. The pregnancy was so different so I was 100% convinced it was a boy. Jake looked several times to make sure he didn't miss anything and it was a girl every time ;).
Stella was born at 19:33 which meant I went to the hospital and had a baby on THE SAME DAY! I still cannot get over how 'quick' this labor was compared to Linnea. I'm going to say it was about 12 hours or so. That is 25 hours shorter than Linnea. A full day shorter. Thank the Lord!
Our amazing midwife Louise!After Stella was born we did skin to skin for two hours. That is the rule in Stockholm. They don't take the baby to clean it, weigh it or anything else for the first two hours. After two hours they come back in and take her measurements. We did see the placenta this time. It was crazy looking! Our bodies are amazing, that's all I can say. I lost significantly less blood this time around. I lost 300 ml (10 oz) with Stella and 1500 ml (50 oz) with Linnea. Just one of the many reasons I felt WAY better after Stella's delivery.
The hospital also doesn't bathe babies. The coating on their skin is really good for them so they just leave it on there expecting you to wash them. We did eventually clean off her head and give her a little sponge bath. Stockholm also doesn't have a nursery so once the baby is born it is with you all the time.
Look at her hair!
This video is long and I even cut out a few parts (A few highlights - 00:32, 00:56, 1:31, 2:17, 2:27, 2:44)
Checking out her legs and toes!
I love that little finger.
Linnea holding Stella for the 1st time and plus what Linnea thought we should name Pizza Roll.
Our family of 4!
Holding Stella's Hand
My mom bought her a new baby that we gave her in the hospital since she was so convinced she had a baby in her belly. I thought it would be good for her to come home with a baby just like me. She was excited about her baby and we used it to convince her to go back to Tim and Mona's so she could show them her new baby. She didn't want to stay at Tim and Mona's the second night because she just wanted to be with us. It was hard for Jake to leave her but we knew she was well cared for.
Before Linnea was born I remember being sad that we wouldn't have visitors while we were in the hospital. I always liked seeing babies when they are brand new so I thought I'd want someone to visit us. I was wrong about that. I told my friend Chelsea that I would like her to visit us in the hospital and then I had a long labor and delivery and I didn't want any visitors with Linnea. This time around I also didn't want visitors. Yes, I felt better but I just pushed a watermelon out and well that means things aren't quite right and having visitors just doesn't sound like fun. The hospital actually doesn't allow visitors except for siblings and in the winter they even say no to siblings when RSV season starts . . . I wonder why.
Stella did great both nights waking up or us waking her up every 3 hours or so to eat. Jake and I both slept holding her at different points the first night. Newborns just have lots of junk to get out of their lungs and bellies and it is scary when they spit it up or gag on it.
I was thankful we were in adjustable hospital beds. It was nice to be able to put the bed up to feed her and then lay it down. I could also raise the whole bed up so I could see into her bassinet easier.
There is hardly a checkout procedure. There is no wheelchair ride out. You literally just walk out of the hospital with your baby. Seems so crazy!
Elevator selfie!When we got home we walked in to find out apartment decorated with a banner, balloons, and streamers plus food in the fridge. I cried. It was so thoughtful. Mona decorated the apartment that morning. We definitely felt loved.
The recovery so was much faster and easier the second time around. I'm assuming that is the case for most people because your body has done this before plus you know what to expect which helps. But the first week or so postpartum I felt like someone hit play on my life again. Like I was in slow-mo or on pause during my pregnancy and now I was finally able to live life at a more normal speed. Jake kept commenting on how nice it was to see me functioning again. Ha!
Any guesses on how much it costs to have a baby in Sweden? I paid 200 kr ($24.41) and Jake paid 500 kr ($61.02) for the entire labor and delivery including the epidural plus all of my meals were included. It costs 100 kr per night for me and 250 kr per night for Jake. So a grand total of $85.43. And Stella's week-long hospital stay was completely free to my knowledge. We didn't pay anything when we checked in or out and we haven't gotten a bill at all. Sweden knows how to do social healthcare. I realize there are several reasons that it works here (it has been around forever, the Swedish mindset is different than the US, etc) but I can't help but think one of the reasons it works is because the 'other side' isn't trying to prove that it doesn't work by getting in the way of letting it work. Stepping off of my soapbox . . .
I am so thankful for another great birthing experience in Stockholm. I hope you enjoyed reading all about it! Here is Linnea's birth story and a post about having a baby in Stockholm.