I've been wanting to get the details of Julianne's birth story on the blog for a couple of weeks now, but I just haven't had the energy to get it accomplished yet. We are all doing very well adjusting to life as a family of four, and Julianne is a wonderfully laid back little lady (more on all of that later). I'm sure this will be long, so skip the details and just look at the photos if you like, but this is the best way for me to record the details for my own memory, so I'm going to include everything I can.
Julianne's birth story started on cinco de mayo. We had gone to my parents house for a visit and decided to meet up with the rest of the family for Mexican food at dinner time. While we were at my parent's house, I started having what I thought were just more Braxton Hicks contractions. They weren't painful, just a tightening feeling in my stomach.
Shortly after the contractions started, we met my sister, brother and sister-in-law at the restaurant, where we waited over an hour for a table. Chasing Elliott around and trying to contain him in a very crowded restaurant for over an hour while we waited is what I'm convinced sent me into labor. I began to notice by the end of the meal that I was still having contractions, and they seemed to have been happening about every 10 minutes for several hours. I began to get excited, hoping this could be it, but not really sure since I was induced with Elliott and they didn't feel much different than the Braxton Hicks contractions I'd been having off and on for the past couple of months.
When we got home and put Elliott to bed I started timing the contractions to see for sure how far apart they were. They were about 30 seconds long and about 8-10 minutes apart. I went ahead and got my things together and took a quick shower just incase things started picking up, but ended up going to bed around 11. I woke up several times in the night and could tell I was still having contractions, but they weren't strong enough to keep me awake, and they weren't getting any closer together.
When I woke up that morning around 6:30, I began timing them again. They were about 7 minutes apart now, but still not very uncomfortable. I had my weekly appointment with Dr. Chang scheduled for 1:30 that day, but decided to call his office when they opened at 8 to tell them what had been happening and see what they thought. When I called they said I could come on in if I wanted and they would go ahead and check things out, so I loaded my hospital bag just in case and headed on in to the clinic. Gary called work and told them he would be late, and stayed home with Elliott.
When Dr. Chang checked me I was 3cm dilated and 70% effaced. I had been 1cm and 30-40% effaced a week before. He said based on my contractions being 7-10 minutes apart all night, he believed I was probably in early labor. He gave me the option to go home and return when things picked up, or go on over to the hospital to check in, where he could come break my water to try and speed things up. I was torn. Part of me wanted to go home and just see what happened, but the other part of me was completely miserable and had been for several weeks trying to keep up with Elliott while 9 months pregnant. The misery was winning out. I called Gary, and he agreed it was time to get this show on the road, so I headed over to labor and delivery to be admitted, and Gary packed Elliott's bag and took him to his Pia's house to meet me there.
I got all checked in a little after 9:00 and they hooked me up to the monitors. It was about 11:00 before Dr. Chang was able to come over and break my water. I was still at a 3 and 70% when he checked me again. When he broke my water with Elliott, it just took one little poke and was completely pain free, but Julianne was running from him, making it difficult to break. After several minutes of uncomfortable poking around, my water broke, and the wait began.
My contractions did begin to intensify some, but were still very manageable. Dr. Chang returned at 1:00 on his lunch break to check me again, and I was still measuring the same. He asked me if I wanted to try a little pitocin to try and speed things up, but I opted to wait a little longer. I wanted to try and do it as natural as possible this time. I had pitocin with Elliott, and it made my contractions pretty intense.
At this point I decided to change my position and get more upright. When I did this, I could tell my contractions were getting more intense and were closer together, but were still very manageable. My nurse came and checked me again at 2:15 and said I had progressed to a 4-5 and 80% effaced, which was very encouraging.
After she checked me, things started to really pick up. I was having to focus on breathing through the contractions as they were becoming pretty uncomfortable. They were about 40 seconds long and about 2 minutes apart at this point, but Gary and my best friend Laura were there with me, talking and cracking jokes, which helped keep me from focusing on the pain.
When the nurse came to check me at 4:30, I was 6cm and 90% effaced. The check was very painful, and within minutes of her leaving things began to pick up again. Until this point, I had been breathing through the contractions, and talking and laughing with Gary and Laura in between them, but these were different. I was moaning and my teeth were chattering in pain with every contraction, and I was in no mood to talk and laugh in between. They were now only about a minute apart, and I started feeling weak. I told Gary I wanted the epidural now before it was too late. He called the nurse back in and she confirmed by watching me moan and chatter through the contractions I had just been "managing so well", that I was in transition, and likely at a 7-8, so it was now or never for an epidural. I told her to get it going, and at 5:15 they started the epidural.
My right side began to slowly get numb, starting with my toes and working it's way up to my stomach in about 15 minutes, but my left side wasn't working. I was still feeling everything from my toes up. I called the nurse and she turned me on my side to try and move the medicine to the left side, but nothing was happening. I was moaning, chattering and now beginning to cry with every contraction. At 5:45 Dr. Chang showed up to check me. He confirmed that I was at a 10 and ready to push. I looked at him and started crying, explaining that my left side wasn't numb. He kindly agreed to call the anesthesiologist back in to see if anything could be done. Within minutes she arrived and moved somethings around. I instantly felt my toes start to tingle on my left side and the medicine slowly work its way up numbing me completely. Dr. Chang and the nurses waited patiently for me to tell them my stomach was finally numb.
At 6:23 I began pushing. I pushed through three contractions, and at 6:32, she was born. They immediately put her on my chest and my eyes filled with tears as we looked at her for the first time. She was finally here, and she couldn't have been more perfect. She had a head full of dark hair, and looked so much like Elliott. It was love at first sight.
Gary got to cut the cord, and they took her to be weighed, and she weighed in at 8 pounds, 8 ounces and measured 21 inches long.
Once she was cleaned off, they brought her to me to nurse. She latched on immediately, and the nurses left us alone with her. We had about an hour together, just the three of us. Gary said a prayer over her. Thanking God for her life and for giving her to us, and asking for protection and guidance in the years to come, but mostly that she would come to know Him someday.
At about 7:45, Gary went to get my parents and Elliott to meet her. (I hope to post the video of Elliott meeting her for the first time at some point. It was precious.) I could hear him coming down the hall asking "where's Mommy?" When he came in, he had flowers for me and a baby doll for Julianne. He saw us in the bed and lit up. He crawled right up and in a sweet little voice said "Aw Juliannie!" as he looked at her. It was the best feeling in the world, holding both of my babies together for the the first time.
We had several more visitors, including my sister, brother, sister-in-law, Laura, and Brooke and Jonathan. Gary's family is in Texas, and decided to wait to meet her when we got home and were a little more settled. Everyone agreed she looked a lot like her brother did, and they all were shocked at how much dark hair she has.
The first night went pretty smoothly, and we spent most of the first day resting and snuggling with her, taking in every little detail of the little girl we had been dreaming about for 9 months.
The second night was not as smooth. She cried and nursed almost all night, desperately wanting something more than colostrum to eat. The next morning, we were all exhausted and thankful to hear Dr. Chang was discharging me and the pediatrician was discharging Julianne. We were all ready to be back in our own beds, and to see Elliott again.
We headed home after lunch to try and work on bringing her bilirubin level down. She was borderline jaundice, just like Elliott and needed to have blood work done the following day to confirm wether or not she would require phototherapy, but I felt much less anxious this time having been through all of this before.
She slept all the way home, and when we arrived, Gary went to pick Elliott up from Mother's Day Out. It was a strange feeling when he brought him home and we were all alone together for the first time. Our family would never be the same again, but we couldn't have been more excited about this change. Julianne was just what our family had been missing, and now we were all together at last.