Our little Ivy was welcomed into this world on Thursday, February 23rd at 8:32pm EST. She was 8 pounds 5.2 ounces, and 20 inches long! It was the most surreal experience and words do not do it justice. I kept a bit of a diary on my phone so I would remember everything – this is not an experience I wanted to forget! So here it is – Ivy’s crazy, long, wonderful birth story.
Warning: No really, this is a LONG post. Sorry for any typos etc – it’s been a very wild week!
Monday, February 20th
My due date was 2/20, and it came and went with nothing happening. I was feeling so incredibly uncomfortable towards the end that the aches and pains were becoming unbearable. In addition, my hands and feet and legs were beyond swollen. I looked like I could be easily popped with a needle! Not only that, but all of a sudden my feet and hands started to itch uncontrollably. I couldn’t reach my toes so I begged Mike almost the whole day to scratch my toes so I could get some relief (what a great guy). It wasn’t until late that evening – around 2am the next morning really – that I decided maybe the intense itching of hands and feet were not normal and I should probably do some research.
Turns out there is something called Cholestasis of the Pregnancy, which is a liver disease that happens only during pregnancy. It is mainly uncomfortable for the mother but can lead to some not so fun stuff for the baby so naturally, I freaked out a bit.
Tuesday, February 21st
I called my doctor first thing in the morning to discuss my symptoms and sure enough, they told me to come in for some blood work and a non-stress test to make sure the baby was not under any stress. We made it to his office with all our bags in tow (they had been packed for weeks!) around 12:00 noon. They took my blood, which would take 48 hours to get a result. Then we went in for the NST where we saw that unfortunately the baby’s baseline heart rate was pretty high. They wouldn’t be able to determine if I actually had Cholestasis for two days (it can only be confirmed by blood work). But since I was safely full term at 40 weeks and 1 day, and since the baby’s heart rate was high they gave us the option to induce in order to get the baby out as safely as possible. It wasn’t a dire emergency, but it was definitely in our best interest. Plus, I had been so uncomfortable and was so ready to meet this little girl that it didn’t take much for me to agree to induction.
I was told not to eat anything heavy and head straight to the hospital. So Mike and I drove the 5 minutes from the doctor’s office to the hospital where we would meet out little girl. It was a surreal drive over. We were nervous for the baby but excited that the waiting game would soon be over. We would actually be real parents soon!
Mike unpacked the car and I said my goodbyes jokingly. The last time I’ll be in this car not as a mom! Goodbye car! Goodbye outside! Next time I see you I’ll have a baby! We walked into the Labor and Delivery Unit and started our journey.
We checked into our room where they took all my vitals and hooked me up to the monitors to monitor the baby’s heart rate and my contractions. They did a quick ultrasound to make sure the baby’s head was down, and then checked to see if I was dilated at all, which I sadly wasn’t. Side note: I never thought I would be praying for a very open cervix but there is a first time for everything. We met our nurses (there were several different ones for me since they were totally packed that day) and filled out all the paperwork.
To start the induction process I was given a drug called Cervidil at 4:10pm which is supposed to soften and open up the cervix. It didn’t feel wonderful but I kept reminding myself this would be a laughable pain in terms of what I was about to go through. Cervidil takes 12 hours to work so Mike and I settled in for a long night.
I kept asking if I could eat but no one could get through to my doctor. I was ravenous since all I had that morning was a fruit pouch and a prenatal bar. Mike’s family went out to dinner and brought us some food as well, and when the doctor said I could eat I quite literally wolfed down the entire sandwich. Attractive. I didn’t start having any contractions until of course after this very filling meal, which was fun to experience while sitting on an uncomfortable hospital bed.
They had free movies and TV so we started watching Interstellar, which is even more remarkable when you can simultaneously hear your unborn baby’s heart beating through the monitor the entire time. My contractions started to kick in but they were very mild. I didn’t know I was having anything until I could see the tracing papers.
After a while, I started having very intense feelings about Interstellar not winning any Oscars and the decision to go to Miller’s Planet when the contractions started to get to me. It was less about them becoming more painful and more about me running out of endurance. The pain level stayed the same but I was contracting once every three minutes, then every two minutes, then every one minute. The breathing exercises worked, but I have to say I was not prepared for how much endurance I was really going to need. Each time I felt a contraction build I would start breathing, but it was just so exhausting! Regular aches and pains go away, but these were meant to keep going for a long time.
Wednesday, February 22nd
We gave up on the movie and decided to try and get some rest. I kept telling Mike to go home so he could sleep in a comfortable bed, but he refused. What an amazing guy. He didn’t want to be 20 minutes away in case something serious happened, so he decided to just lay down on the not that comfortable recliner provided.
After trying to sleep for a while, it was becoming clear it would be a long night. We had until 4:10am until they would check me and see if I was dilated more. I wanted to get some rest so if they were able to induce me further I’d have the energy to push. I asked for some kind of pain relief so I would be able to sleep. Since I was contracting at a high level every 1-2 minutes I really was hoping they could give me a little something to just take the edge off.
They decided to examine me to see if my cervix was making any moves, and it was, but nothing extraordinary. I was really hoping I’d be quick because my mother was induced with all four of her children and she labored very quickly and had all four of us within 6-12 hours of checking into the hospital. I was only 1 cm dilated.
The great news was that the baby’s heart rate was fine and my itching had stopped. The doctor said this was likely because of all the fluids I was on – it was definitely a good thing we were in the hospital.
I again asked for pain relief because I knew we had a long road ahead of us. It took them about 45 minutes but after discussing with my doctor’s office they said they could only give me a sleeping pill. I was running low on stamina so I was grateful they were offering anything.
They took the first Cervidil out and examined me again – still only 1 cm. Ugh. But my contractions were still one per minute and very strong, so they decided to let my body do the work and not proceed with any other induction drugs. I passed out and prayed that progress would be made. As the contractions got worse, Mike held my hand and kept breathing with me. I seriously love him.
They let me eat light breakfast and all the nurses told me that hopefully today was the day! I was uncomfortable as hell – sleeping in a delivery bed without my regular pregnancy pillows, plus being hooked up to monitors was the worst. My contractions were still close together and pretty intense, but I was back in the stage where I didn’t feel them. The nurses would look at the tracing and be shocked I wasn’t in pain. I felt kind of like a bad ass?
We were told our only option to try and induce was to continue with another round of Cervidil. I wanted Pitocin so badly to get things moving, but my body wasn’t ready for it. Mike and I agreed to continue with the second dose even though I was still having contractions. It was clear my body was not into the whole dilating thing.
At this point I wasn’t feeling anything. We watched 500 Days of Summer and took another nap. After another exam I was still only 1 cm dilated. Really annoying because I was having contractions every minute and the worst ones were when I was trying to sleep!
The biggest issue I was having at this point was just being comfortable. The bed sucked. The contractions were getting annoying. The huge IV in my right hand made it difficult to do anything, and dragging the IV pole with me to the bathroom was a chore – I had to ask a nurse to help unplug me every time I needed to pee. Every single thing was a production.
They put the second Cervidil in and we said our prayers!
My parents arrived from California! Okay, now it could be go time. I was hoping my body was just waiting for my parents to safely be in New York before making any moves.
Still pregnant, no contractions. Fuck this shit.
We watched Disturbia and I was weirdly craving macaroons? Mike and I were SO BORED. SO SO SO BORED. I was begging for pain and for something to happen. Nothing happened.
My feet were itching again. No contractions. I started to get really pissed off and negative – it wasn’t the baby, it was my body that was not cooperating. My body would not open up and let my daughter out. I was really scared of C-sections and had discussed with my doctor that I wanted to do everything humanly possibly to not have one. I was incredibly fearful of the recovery. Either way, childbirth is not an extremely fun thing to go through no matter how magical and majestic of a miracle it is. But I really wanted to give birth naturally so my recovery would be easier and so I would be able to be on my feet quicker. I know a lot of people who have had wonderful C-sections but I knew the recovery would limit my mobility for a longer period of time and I just was ready to be a real human again.
Okay, I was having contractions that were every 3-4 minutes and were slightly more painful than before. Mike was still by my side, totally holding my hand and entertaining me. I was in love and also in pain.
We got permission to go for a walk around the Labor and Delivery hallways. It wasn’t easy to walk through the contractions but the hallways were short and other couples were walking and clearly in a lot more pain than me so it was awkward. Dragging the IV pole around was weird. We walked for about 20 minutes then got bored. When I went back to lay in bed the contractions got serious again.
We were downgraded to a smaller room because I was not progressing and someone else was. I could hear literally everyone else on the floor giving birth and I was still 1 cm dilated. It started to get to me.
Thursday, February 23rd
My doctor came by the hospital and examined me to again let me know I was still only 1cm dilated. 9 more to go. He offered me another Cervidil or another not that often used drug called Cytotec. The third Cervidil could just not work again, but the Cytotec could potentially stress the baby and lead to an immediate, emergency C-section. Terrifying. We went for the third Cervidil and said more prayers.
I wanted Mike to be able to go home and sleep, so I begged for some real pain meds this time. Boy did they deliver. They knocked me out on something so intense that I would literally forget to breathe if I was thinking too hard. But I felt no pain and Mike was able to go home.
Mike came back well rested and ready for the day. I was having contractions according to the tracing but couldn’t feel a thing.
Still playing the waiting game, I asked if I could shower. They said yes! I never thought I would be so happy to be able to shower?
My contractions kicked up intensity again. Meanwhile, someone else on the floor had her baby and I was insanely jealous. I heard everything: the screams, the coaching, the pushing, the baby’s first cries. When. The. Fuck. Would. It. Be. My. Turn.
The doctor checked me and again, the Cervidil did not work. I was heartbroken and felt like a complete failure. Why was I having contractions but not dilating? Why was my body fighting me so much?
Knowing I didn’t want a C-section, the doctor offered me one more option: a little Pitocin to see if the baby’s head would drop and help soften the cervix. The issue would be that if her head didn’t drop and help soften and open the cervix I would just be in pain for no reason and have to do a C-section anyway. Initially I chose this option – Mike and I had previously discussed it and we really wanted to exhaust all of our options because, again, a C-section just scared me the shit out of me. If I could avoid it I would.
The nurses placed the order for the Pitocin, and Mike started talking to me a little bit more. He told me that I was clearly in pain, and that he knew I didn’t want to do the C-section but at this point the doctor was just trying to give me options even though clearly they weren’t going to work. Three Cervidils didn’t do anything, and if they were not offering Pitocin before this point why would they be doing it now? Only to try and help me stick to my non C-section plan. Not because it was going to work.
I started crying pretty hard at this point – I was mentally and physically exhausted. I was annoyed. And I was heartbroken. I felt like I was not a real woman because my body was not cooperating. I was so emotional. It wasn’t about there being a plan, it was about feeling inadequate. I felt like a failure. I had heard literally every other woman on the floor give birth throughout the past two days. Why not me? Everyone was waiting for this baby’s arrival and my body just would not cooperate no matter how hard I prayed, cried, or tried.
After reconsidering our options and having a good cry, I decided to give up and just listen to my body. Clearly this baby was not coming out the way I had intended. We called for the doctor and let him know we would do the C-Section. Since this wasn’t an emergency, we’d have to wait until after his office hours – around 8pm or so. And so a new waiting game began.
I really don’t remember what happened between the hours of deciding between having a C-section and then waiting for it to happen. I texted some close friends and my aunt who had C-sections. I was disappointed still and didn’t really want anyone to say anything to me – I had heard stories about the recovery and knew the basics about what the procedure would entail. I knew I would be fine, I was just terrified and tried not to think about it. I took a nap or two and just tried to stay calm.
The doctor was on his way, so it was officially go time. Mike was handed his outfit and they gave me a cover for my hair. The anesthesiologist came in (the third one I had met by this time – we had been there so long!!) and discussed the spinal block I would be getting. I let him know about some issues I have with compression in my spine. Nurses were moving at lightning speed. It was happening.
The nursing staff had just changed (they switch shifts at 7:30pm) but we had met our main nurse before since we had been around for 3 days! Her name was Laura and I will never forget how comfortable she made me feel. She was intense and answered every question in a precise manner, but was her obvious wealth of knowledge coupled with her kind personality really put me at ease. She was an expert, and she was nice. I felt safe. Plus, it was good to know that all the nurses were all just starting their shifts to everyone was fresh and ready to work.
Mike kissed me goodbye and I walked over to the OR with Laura. I remember walking pass the big red line on the floor that you were not supposed to pass unless you had been scrubbed or were going for a C-section. I remember walking into the room and seeing the staff there unable to touch anything or help me – all were directing Laura on where the step stool was for me, etc. I remember how white the walls were. The big overhead lights. The fluorescent everything. The huge metal tools in buckets of water that I caught a quick glimpse of and the immediately wished I hadn’t seen.
The OR was an experience. It was something I wanted to forget immediately but at the same time, something I wanted to always remember. This was where I would meet my daughter. Before I lay down on the table the doctor asked me the baby’s name. We hadn’t really said it out loud before that – I kept telling everyone we wanted to meet her before officially deciding. But in that moment I just said it because I knew they were asking so they could make me feel better.
“Ivy. Ivy Christina.”
“Okay, let’s get Ivy out of you then!” my doctor exclaimed. His enthusiasm was appreciated even though I was scared out of my fucking mind.
THEY THEN DID THE “DO YOU CONCUR?” THING! Apparently this is not just from the movies.
I was laying on my back when other nurse Laura (there were two) asked me for my full name and date of birth. I answered but felt like they were trick questions? And my anxiety level was through the roof.
“And what are you here for?” she asked me.
“…. to have a baby? A C-section?”
“Do we all concur?” she asked the staff.
“We just need to do this to make sure you’re not here for a kidney transplant or something” she said to me.
I lay to my side as the anesthesiologist started my spinal block. It went to work immediately – I didn’t feel them insert the catheter and before I knew it the screen was up and Mike was at my side once again.
The doctor was chatting it up with the nurse about a C-section he had done earlier that day where – I kid you not – he said she almost hemorrhaged out and it was a good thing they called him in because he got that baby out in less than one minute. Then they started talking about Caesar salad?! I tried to find comfort in the fact that this was literally just a regular day in the office for them while this was a life altering event for me. I was glad they were comfortable enough to make small talk while opening me up… this meant that it was not a big deal what was happening and I was definitely in good hands.
I started to get the shakes pretty badly and asked if I could put my right arm on my collar bone, which they let me. I was then shaking uncontrollably and Mike was whispering into my ear about how brave I was and how strong I was and how he couldn’t believe we were going to meet our baby soon. He was petting my forehead and petting my left hand, letting me know it was all ok. It felt really nice to have his gentle touch because even though you can’t actually feel what’s happening from the ribcage down, you can fell pressure and pressing and pulling. So having a gentle touch on my face and on my hands was reassuring in a way I didn’t think was possible. I really would not have made it without Mike by my side.
There was a lot of pressure and pulling, and a lot of counting from the doctor and his team. I don’t recall what they counted to, only that they counted a lot and that it all started to sound like a song with the other beeps and machine noises.
“Okay come on Ivy! Let’s go Ivy!” the doctor and the nurses were exclaiming. I looked at Mike and laughed, saying sorry that I gave the name away. He smile and said it was totally fine, still concentrating on me and petting me. He was pretty freaked out and nervous but was not letting it show.
Suddenly we could hear a faint cry. As soon as I heard it I started tearing up. It got louder, and louder, and louder. She was here, and I was sobbing. She was here.
“Here’s Ivy!” we heard a nurse shout.
I couldn’t see her – only hear her – but I was already in love. I couldn’t believe she was out of me and that we were officially a family. I was a mom.
I heard a nurse ask for the time. “8:31? No – it’s 8:32. Welcome to the world, Ivy!” She then started exclaiming “OH MY GOD – she is SO beautiful! I don’t get paid to say this – this is one CUTE baby!”
They put her on the warmer and did whatever they needed to while Mike was able to catch a glimpse. “She is beautiful” he kept saying. “Lara, she is really really cute. She is seriously so cute. How did we make something so cute?” he kept repeating over and over again.
The doctor then started asking the anesthesiologist if the Pitocin was in yet.
“Doctor, is that Pit in yet?”
“Doctor, we need that Pit to be in.”
“Doctor, I need it to go NOW.”
“We need that Pit, doc!”
Mike and I started to freak out a bit because clearly something was wrong. I knew that if I didn’t have Pitocin then the uterus wouldn’t contract properly and I might bleed out. I was anemic during this pregnancy so they wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to lose a lot of blood but it was all starting to get pretty real when my OB was shouting about Pitocin.
The anesthesiologist made some moves and the Pitocin was in, and my OB went back to talking about salad. Things were calm again.
Nurse Laura came over and handed Ivy to Mike – and he held her while still stroking my left hand. I was still shaking this entire time, but now I was crying too. There was so much to feel. I was scared because I was shaking. I was elated because we were parents. I was nervous because I didn’t feel good. I kept looking to my left, where Mike and Ivy were, but my neck muscles were sore from the uncontrollable shaking and I started to feel nauseous. I told the anesthesiologist I felt like throwing up and he placed a little bucket next to me just in case.
Mike kept saying he couldn’t believe how beautiful our little girl was. “She is seriously so cute” he kept saying. I wanted to hold her so badly! I was so grateful for Mike in this moment. I was shaking to the point where I probably could have fallen off of the table, and he was holding our newborn daughter while still tending to me, stroking my hand, kissing my cheek. I never knew I could feel so much fear and so much love in the same moment.
When I was finally able to see clearly, I looked at our beautiful little Ivy and was overcome with emotion. There is nothing in this world that prepares you for this moment. There is nothing in this life that can help you be ready to meet someone that you created. Someone that you get to love for the rest of your life. Seeing Ivy and Mike by my side in this moment was something I will never ever forget. After days of induction and contractions and waiting and crying she was finally here. She was finally ours.
Thank you to everyone for all your love and well wishes throughout the past week. It was been an amazing time in our lives and we will never forget everyone’s kindness as we started this whole parenthood journey.
I’ll always remember this past week as an insane mix of emotions: fear, anxiety, overwhelm, joy, love, and relief. Being Ivy’s mom is the most ridiculously beautiful thing in the world. I can’t believe how lucky I am to call her mine.