Thursday, July 30, 2015

Best BIRTH DAY Present Ever - Linnea's Birth Story

Here is Linnea's birth story.  It might be too detailed for some (maybe the men in my life . . .) but I will try to not be too graphic.  However, "they" say that you will become less modest after having a kid . . . "they" weren't lying.  You might want to take that into consideration before reading.  I am a pretty modest person but something changes during labor and delivery where you just don't care.  So, if you don't want to read this post then skip it :) and come back for another one with cute baby pictures because that will be happening a lot now I'm sure.

I'll give you the cliff notes version if you want it: My water broke at home. I did early labor at the hospital because I needed to get antibiotics during labor. I progressed VERY slowly.  I would make progress and then stall out for 3 hours and then make progress and stall.  I never had regular contractions which made things complicated along with Baker's heart rate dropping whenever I switched positions.  After finally dilating to a 10 Baker wouldn't drop. After giving her about 6 hours to drop they told me I had about an hour to get her out before they were going to do a c-section. (After 36 hours of labor I wasn't about to let the last hour go by without giving it my all to prevent getting a c-section - as much as I could do to prevent it.) They wanted me to try to push her down since she wouldn't drop before pushing her out.  After about an hour of pushing, with the help of a vacuum she arrived squeaky cry and all!

The more detailed story:
The day before I went into labor, July 3rd, I had some mild cramps in the morning but then they went away during the day.  Later that night we went on a walk by the water.  We had been walking in the evenings pretty regularly.  I usually had more pains/contractions in the evenings especially if we went for a walk but they would always calm down and stop once I started relaxing or went to sleep.  On this night I had some pretty painful contractions but they weren't very regular.  I had to stop a few times on our walk because it was too painful to walk through them.

I woke up the next morning, July 4th, to use the bathroom around 4:30 am which was my standard "wake up to pee" time the last several weeks.  After going to the bathroom I noticed I was still "going" but I didn't feel like it was pee.  After sitting there a while I figured it had to be my water breaking because there was no way it was still pee.  I calmly called for Jake and told him I thought my water was breaking.
 The last belly bump pic! 40 weeks and 3 days!

I called the hospital, Danderyds Sjukhus, because you are supposed to call if your water breaks.  I answered several questions and she said it sounded like my water was breaking and that I needed to come in to get checked and to start receiving antibiotics.  I tested positive for Group B Strep around week 26.  They don't routinely test for that here like they do in the US but before I flew home in April I was feeling lots of pressure so they took a urine sample and found it in my urine then which meant I would get antibiotics during labor.  I was thankful that they found it then.  A friend of mine in Stockholm had it but didn't know because she wasn't tested and then her son got really sick after delivery so she really encouraged me to get tested for it if I could.  (It was also really good that I had antibiotics since the labor was so long I had a higher risk of infection but thankfully I had the antibiotics so we were both better protected.)
Excited to meet Baker!  (Kinda glad I didn't know it would be so long after this picture before she arrived.)
We finished packing, ate breakfast, showered, etc. from about 4:45 to 6 am when the taxi arrived.  I wasn't having any contractions so I knew we had time.  I felt a small contraction or two in the taxi before we arrived at the hospital at 6:15 am.  The taxi ride felt really long but I think it was just the anticipation of everything that was about to happen.  They hooked me up to monitors to listen to the baby and check my contractions when we arrived.  They didn't actually check me to see if I was dilated when I showed up like I thought they would.  They didn't want to risk any infections.  So I had no idea how far along I was because they didn't check at my prenatal appointments either like they do in the US.  While I was hooked up to the monitors I called my parents and Jake's parents to let them know we were at the hospital.  

After they confirmed that my water did break but I wasn't having regular contractions they sent me to the postpartum floor to wait for active labor to start so they could then transfer me to the labor and delivery floor.  I couldn't go home because I needed to start getting antibiotics.  If my labor didn't start on its own in 48 hours they would give me something for it to start.  At first they said Jake would have to go home because the room I was going to was a shared room and he couldn't be there because we would be sleeping and there was another woman there.  However, once we got to the room the midwife let him stay which eased my nerves.

Here was my room for early labor.

Stockholm was under a heat advisory while I was in labor.  The high was 81 degrees which is nothing compared to the highs in Kansas but when you don't have air conditioning and you are over 40 weeks pregnant and in labor it is hot.  We asked for a fan.  The first one they brought didn't work.  The second one had a mind of its own and almost flew off the table.  We were laughing so hard.  Finally they brought us a third fan and it worked great.

They hooked me up to a monitor every once in a while to check on my contractions and on Baker.  It was always nice to see my contractions because then Jake could tell me when they were starting to go down.

We had breakfast, lunch and dinner on this floor.   I could easily talk through breakfast, lunch I had to pause a few times because of the pain and I didn't really eat dinner because the contractions were so strong.  At 5 pm, they checked me for the first time and I was dilated to a 3-4 and in active enough labor that they could transfer me to the labor and delivery floor.
Jake was pretty relaxed during the early labor stage.
We arrived at the labor and delivery floor around 6:20 pm.  I keep reminding myself that had I gone into labor with contractions before my water broke this is when I would have gone to the hospital so the last 12 hours of labor would have been at home instead of the hospital.  I was kind of thankful they were at the hospital so I could be monitored but it made for a very long labor and delivery.  We had a midwife and a nurse's assistant in charge of my labor and delivery. (By the time Baker arrived we went through 4 shift changes but thankfully we had one set of midwives twice so we only had 3 teams to get to know.)  I really liked our first set.  They were very nice and energetic.

Around 7 pm, they checked me again and I was only at a 3 according to that midwife so no progress in the last 2 hours.  The midwife came in every 15 minutes to listen to the Baker's heartbeat and to see if I need anything or wanted to change positions.  I used heating pads for pain relief on my stomach and back.  I had lots of back labor which I had heard isn't much fun and again "they" were correct about that one too.  #seemstobethetheme  We got to listen to Baker on the monitor which was fun.  Jake tried to get dinner but he came back empty handed because it was closed.  The midwives offered to make us some sandwiches and bring us something similar to applesauce but apricot and strawberry flavored.

This next part is probably Jake's favorite part of the laboring process: At 8:20 pm I decided to get in the shower to help relieve some of the pain with water.  I sat on a pilates ball in the shower while spraying my stomach and back with water.  Jake was concerned about me falling and just didn't think this was very safe but the midwife said it was fine and acted like it was a normal thing.  While I was in the shower they brought our sandwiches and apricot and strawberry sauce to us on a rolling cart.  So Jake sat on the toilet enjoying a nice dinner while I was trying to breathe through contractions in the shower.  The midwife also came in a few times while I was in the shower to listen to the baby.

 Part of our labor and delivery room.  You can see the pilates ball and the birthing stool.
 Here is a bed that pulled down from the wall.  Jake took a few naps on it during the night.  The big white thing on the bed is a big bean bag that they had me use for different positions.
 Some gåbord, walking tables.  I didn't end up using one to walk the halls but I used one at the end of labor to try to get her to drop.  I'll spare you that picture of me :).
We were in room 8.
Around 9 pm, I got out of the shower and checked again.  At this point the contractions were very strong and my whole body was shaking through them.  I tried using the laughing gas a few times but I hated it.  It felt so claustrophobic having it over my mouth.  I was in a lot of pain and I couldn't figure out how I was ever going to make it to 10 cm without something so I started thinking about asking for an epidural. I should say before moving to Sweden I always assumed I would get an epidural.  I didn't have anything to prove during labor and I wasn't set on going all natural but once I learned more about how Sweden does deliveries I thought maybe I would give it a try without one.  That was dumb.  It was painful and I had already been in labor for about 16 hours by this point and it wasn't looking like the end was anywhere close.

Our first set of midwives left us at this point and we got our second set.  They were nice but not as spunky as our first set.  They were also more cautious which on one hand was nice but it also seemed to drag things out a little.
 Artwork on the wall on the labor and delivery floor.

At 10:15 pm I asked for the epidural and at 10:45 I got it. PRAISE THE LORD!  It was heavenly.  Why did I wait so freakin' long to do that?  I have NO idea!  In Sweden, they do walking epidurals where I am just numbed in my stomach and back but I can still feel my legs so I can walk around, use the bathroom, change positions, etc.  They put a catheter in my back so I can get a refill of the medicine every 2 hours or whenever I start feeling pain again.  Getting the epidural was a walk in the park.  I remember the doctor talking to me telling me all about it and I remember thinking "yeah, yeah, get on with it."   I was a little worried that something could go wrong because there is always that chance but I was in so much pain I didn't dwell on that for long. It ended up being a piece of cake and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  It took about 10-15 minutes to kick in and life was great again.  I also didn't have to sign anything saying I understood the risks which I feel like you have to do in the US, but maybe I'm making that up.

At 11:00 pm, I was examined again and only at 5 cm.  I kept thinking, "all that pain and all I got was a lousy centimeter."  The midwives tickled Baker's head and her heart rate when up from 130 to 150 and then they put a wireless monitor on her head so we could always see her heart rate.  They also told us she had hair at this point which was fun to think about.

Over the next two hours I walked the halls, sat on the pilates ball and ate a little bit of food.  At 1:30 am they checked me again and I was still at 5 cm.  At this point they didn't let me eat any more food.  Since it was taking a while to progress and looking like I could end up needed a c-section and they didn't want me to risk eating anymore.  At 2 am, they started me on oxytocin (I'm guessing it is similar to Pitocin) to try to get my contractions more regular.  I would have 4 contractions about 2 minutes apart and then my body would take a 5 minute break before having 4 more.  They wanted me to be having one every two minutes or about 5 in ten minutes and that wasn't happening.  At this point I was very thankful I had the epidural so I couldn't feel the stronger contractions.  Jake could see the number on the machine get really high and I was just sitting there carrying on a conversation instead of writhing in pain like I had been before.

There were lots of cards lining the walls that we saw as we were walking the halls.  It was neat to see all the babies but crazy to think I was actually going to have one soon.  Soon being relative . . .

Once the oxytocin started Baker's heart rate started dropping.  They stopped the oxytocin to see if she would recover and she did.  Now they weren't sure what to do.  I was at 6 cm now but my contractions weren't as regular as they would like and it seemed that Baker didn't like the oxytocin.  About an hour later they tried the oxytocin again at a lower dose.  We slept for about 30 minutes and I was rechecked and now at a 7!  They were concerned about Baker's heart rate so they wanted to take a blood sample from her head to make sure she wasn't too stressed out.  They ended up having to take blood twice because the first sample wasn't enough for the machine to read.  It came back very low, like 0.7 and the limit was 4.9 so even though her heart rate would drop she seemed fine.  I continued to change positions (on the ball, on all fours, walking the halls, on my back, on my side, etc) to try and help things progress.  We noticed when I would change positions that her heart rate would drop but it would usually recover within a minute or so.  Our second set of midwives didn't like seeing it drop at all.  At one point they both rushed into the room and told me to change positions because she wasn't handling it well.  There were a few positions she liked but whenever I would change even to a position she liked, she would drop again.

At 5:30 am they increased my oxytocin some more to see if it would help me have more regular contractions hoping Baker would handle it okay.  At 6:30 I was still at a 7 but her head was lower.  The contractions were still irregular, 4 strong ones in 10 minutes and then a 5 minute break.  I got another epidural refill.  I had been getting them every 2-3 hours.  Thankfully the refills kicked in really fast.

At 7:00 am there was a shift change and we were back to our original midwives.  I was thankful for this although when they left the night before they said they hoped they wouldn't see us the next morning.  I was rechecked at 7:30 and at 8 cm!  I slept for about 20 minutes before trying the birthing stool for a little while hoping gravity would help things along.

They took blood from Baker again at 9 am to see how she was handling the long labor.  It was still very low.  They joked that she was mocking us by making her heart rate drop and then having her tests come back fine.  I said she must be stubborn like her . . . dad :).  We increased the oxytocin some more.

At 10:10 am I was dilated to a 10! (That is a lot of 10s.)  Now we were just waiting for her to drop.  I fell asleep for about 10 minutes but then Baker's heart rate dropped so they rushed in to have me move again.  At this point we tried lots of positions and her heart rate kept dropping not matter what we tried.  It was very frustrating.

At 2:45 pm our favorite midwives handed us off to our 3rd set.  I almost lost it at this point.  We had now been through 4 shift changes and I still couldn't see the end in sight.  I REALLY wanted to have the baby with our favorite midwives.  I felt like they really fought hard for us and they didn't just give up and push for a c-section.  I was worried our next set wouldn't fight as hard for us and we would end up having a c-section after all this hard work.  Thankfully our last set was great and didn't give up on us.

Around 4 pm they checked me again and decided that I should try pushing her down since she wasn't dropping.  They had me try pushing once and it didn't really go well but they said someone would teach me.  It was hard because they like for you to feel the pressure from a contraction but because I had an epidural I couldn't really feel the contractions.  But once the midwife told me how to push we were in business!

I started pushing around 4:30 pm and they told me I had about an hour to get her out before they would have to do a c-section since I had been in labor and fully dilate for so long they were worried about infections.  I pushed for a while on the birthing stool and then moved to the bed.  They emptied my bladder before the final pushes.  Pushing was a lot easier than I thought it would be.  It didn't hurt thanks to the epidural and it wasn't really a big deal.  They wanted me to push when I felt a contraction so I would push on my stomach until I felt it get tight and then I would push.  (We overheard another woman pushing and it sounded like she was dying.  That was not fun to hear a few hours before I was hoping to be pushing.)  Pushing seemed pretty surreal.  I knew it meant she was close and I kept asking if it was working because I just couldn't believe we were so close to meeting Baker.

After several rounds of pushing they brought a doctor in because they wanted to use the vacuum to help get her out.  The vacuum extraction was actually invented in Sweden so it is kind of their go to helping tool.  At this point I now had 3 midwives, a doctor and a pediatrician in the room because they always have a pediatrician when they use a vacuum.  I pushed with the vacuum a few times but she still wouldn't come out.  So they called for Sophia (we later learned she was the chief doctor) to help.  She came in to help and tried once and then decided I needed an episiotomy.  I wasn't too jazzed about that but it seemed like a better plan than a c-section.

At 5:31 pm Baker finally arrived with the help of Sofia and a vacuum.  Jake said her head was super blue and she popped one of her arms up before the rest of her body was out and it was white.  I think this freaked him about a bit. Soon the rest of her was out and they plopped her on my stomach.  I brought her up to my chest as they were rubbing her to dry her off and help stimulate her to cry.  She cried the cutest little squeaky, gurgly cry.  I remember asking if it was a boy or a girl and they told me to look.  So I lifted up the towel and once I moved her umbilical cord I could see it was a girl!  It was so neat to be the one to find out and tell Jake.  I couldn't believe Baker was here and she was a SHE!  We both called Baker "he" more than "she" during the pregnancy.  I really wanted a girl but I tried to not get my hopes up and then she was here! I might have shed a tear or two.  If you want to read about why we named her Linnea Marie Janzen click on the link.

You can see the vacuum marks on her head.
Our first family of 3 pic! 
 (I thought about not including this one because I look rough but it is such a special picture.)

I held her as they stitched me up.  After the doctor stitched me up and left we realized we didn't get a picture with her.  We asked if we could and that is when they told us she was a very important person and we might have seen her on TV a while ago after the Princess had her baby.  So, the person who delivered the Princesses baby also delivered my baby!  We knew the Princess of Stockholm had her baby at Danderyd and we joked about being in the same room but we were actually delivered by the same doctor.  So crazy!

Jake cut her umbilical cord which was neat.  Shortly after Baker was born I noticed she pooped on me.  They cleaned her up and handed her back.  Jake put on her first diaper which was the first diaper he has ever put on a baby.
Her first bath to wash off her first poop.
 The first of many diapers!
 Dinner after birth.

I called my parents and Jake called his to tell them the exciting news.  They brought us some food which was nice since I hadn't had anything to eat since 1:30 am.  Unfortunately, after eating a few bites I started feeling kind of queasy and then I threw up.  I don't throw up.  The last time I did I was at home watching a Newlyweds marathon on TV, which was about 10 years ago.  Jake took Baker and we called for the midwives.  I think throwing up after birth isn't that uncommon but it definitely isn't fun.  I already looked like crap after being awake and going through 37 hours of labor and adding throwing up on top of that wasn't much fun.  Plus, I found out later I lost more blood than normal because of the long labor which is why I look like crap in most of the post birth pictures.

They left us alone for the first two hours or so after birth so we could do skin to skin and spend time as a family.  Then they came in and weighed her and took her length and did a few other tests.

Her health card that we take to all of her appointments.  She weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces and was 20.25 inches long.

We moved up to the postpartum floor around 9:20 pm.  We started getting in and then they had the pediatrician check out Baker and her head from the vacuum.  We didn't realize until the next day that they were kind of concerned about it.  I was thankful they didn't tell us that they were worried about the spot on her head or that I lost more blood than normal until the next day.  That would have been too much to process on the first night.  The pediatrician checked her out and then we went to sleep for about an hour before they came in again around 2:30 to check her head another time.

 I like the way they display the babies that were born on each day.  
Linnea was the only girl born on July 5th.

Jake's first attempt at a swaddle.  He got much better after she quickly busted out of this one :).

The cutest little burrito!

I'm hoping to write another post about our hospital stay and our first few weeks at home so I think I'll wrap this up here after saying a few things I want to remember:

This birth did not go according to any birth plan I would have written but it is how Baker finally got here and for that I love it!  I am so very thankful we had the baby in Sweden.  In the US they typically don't let you go more than 24 hours after your water breaks before they take the baby.  So I would have most likely had a c-section in the US which definitely wasn't in my unwritten birth plan.  While we were at the hospital I mentioned to Jake that my mom was in labor with my brother for 40 hours and then ended up with a c-section but was only in labor for 12 hours with me.  Maybe I should have let that sink in a little bit before thinking about how my first childbirth would go :).

Overall, labor felt like it was going pretty fast until around 1:30 am on July 5th when they wouldn't let me eat anymore because I might end up having a c-section.

Before going into labor I wasn't sure if we would text friends and family to let them know I was in labor but then we decided to and I am SO glad.  I would not have been able to make it through those 37 hours without texting friends and family.  I needed the constant communication and encouragement.  Several texts made me laugh and helped keep my mind off of things plus the prayers that I knew were following texts I sent helped so much.  Looking back I could have totally freaked out during labor with all the stalling and possible c-section but I think the prayers really helped me stay calm.

I was wondering how I would handle not having friends and family around afterwards to visit.  I had a few friends here who could visit but it was different than if we were back home.  It turns out that the girl who loves to visit babies when they are "brand new" and in the hospital wasn't up for visitors at all after the birth.  I'm sure if we were home we would have had them but I was kind of thankful we didn't have to worry about it here.  I was in bad shape after the delivery and it took me about 3 days to even think somewhat clearly again.

I remember having a hard time that my best friends couldn't be there for the birth but during the labor I realized they all contributed something special.  During labor I kept remembering that Jami said after her epidural she was able to relax and progress which helped me not feel guilty about getting an epidural.  I wore all of Emily's maternity clothes so I felt like she was with me throughout the entire pregnancy but even after delivery as I put on her clothes to wear.  Jan let me borrow hair bows just in case Baker was a girl :).  Kelli had a log book she used for Eli to keep track of when he ate and she gave the files to me and I had one made.  It was neat to realize that all four of them were very much part of my labor and delivery even thousands of miles away.

Hope you enjoyed reading all about Linnea's birth day!  I'm thankful Jake took good notes so I could remember how it all happened.  I'm also really thankful he took pictures right after she was born!  Those pictures mean so much to me!

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