08 February 2012

the birth of Cora Elizabeth

Well, everyone loves a birth story, right? (If you don't love 'em, then don't read this.)  I'm not even going to apologize for the length of this post, since I wrote it just as much for myself as for anyone else.  If you want the CliffsNotes version, see the first picture.

Two days past my due date, I woke up around 3am to go to the bathroom.  When I tried to go back to sleep, I was pretty sure I felt a contraction.  I lay in bed for a bit to make sure it wasn't just hunger or something.  But they kept coming, so I got out of bed around 3:30 to work through them on my own.  I didn't feel the need to wake B yet since I knew that I had to go at least 2 hours before calling the hospital.  I knew I couldn't focus on looking at a clock to figure out the intervals, so I googled for contraction calculators and used this one on the Bump website.  I was also updating Twitter and reading some blogs during the intervals.  (That first/bottom tweet was time-stamped at 4:13am.)
My labor tweets that spanned almost a 24-hour period (start at the bottom)
Around 6am, I decided it was time to wake B up and let him know.  Then I hopped in the shower and B packed the rest of the stuff for the hospital bag.  He knew we still had a bit to go, and went in to work (we live really really close) to tie up some loose ends and put in his paternity leave.  Around 7am, he was back, and I called the hospital.  The nurse on the other end asked me a few questions and decided I was still in early labor.  She told me to hold out longer until I couldn't talk through the contractions and got really annoyed if anyone was talking to me while they were happening (the latter never actually happened).  I resumed my internet timing and B and I just did whatever for a few hours.  I needed to try to talk through contractions, but I had nothing to say (for once in my life), so I was trying to name the presidents in order.  I kept getting stuck around number 7 or 8 and it was driving me nuts.  This eventually turned into a day-long joke about our child coming out looking like Martin Van Buren.
NOT what our baby looks like.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day here in Pensacola, so around 11am or so, B suggested we take a walk.  We walked to the mailboxes and around our apartment complex a bit.  I was leaning on him through each contraction, and apparently my neighbors and some of the office staff noticed me laboring.  We found out later that the office sent someone over to check on us at one point, but we had left by then.  It was actually so nice and sunny here that even in my knee-length skirt, I was getting too hot outside.  We came back inside, let it go a bit longer and called the hospital again.  This time, I got some clown (possibly a corpsman) who hardly asked me any questions at all, but I said I'd called hours before, so he just said to come in.

The ride to the hospital was amazingly smooth.  I only had about 2 or 3 contractions the whole time (the hospital is pretty close, so that helped).  B couldn't find any close parking, but decided to park in the open spot labeled "Hospital CO's Guest" with intent to move it later.  When we walked in the hospital, one of my fellow volunteers from Navy-Marine Corps Relief was at the front desk (she also does Red Cross volunteering), and she asked me, "Is this it?!"  My reply: "It better be!"  She wished us luck and we hopped on the elevator.  Which. Stopped. At. Every. Floor.  L&D was up on the top floor, of course, and we just had to endure the 10 other people in the elevator with us.

We got up there, and I bee-lined it for the water fountain, not knowing when my next drink of water would be.  Then we checked in and got put in a triage room.  I labored in there for a bit, the OB on the floor thought my name was "Cather" because it got cut off on the paperwork, and then they tried to check my dilation.  I say "tried" because two different people (both men) couldn't get it.  I knew I was hard to check (I'm super jumpy), but sheesh.  It was decided then that they would officially admit me to L&D and get an epidural started so I could at least be checked.  (I had no real birth plan and was just sorta "playing it by ear," so this was fine with me.)  They made me get in a wheelchair to go a whopping 100 feet or so to the room that would become our new home for a few days.  I wasn't very happy about the wheelchair, and I made that known, but had to cave anyway.
B surprised me by wanting to cut the cord.  He now says he'll never do it again.
Before the epidural, they had to start my IV, both of fluids and one for the penicillin since my GBS test came back positive.  I think they also grabbed some blood samples during that.  The IV in my hand was seriously one of the absolute worst parts of my labor!  I was still doing good breathing through contractions at this point.  The anesthesiologist then came in, and I freaked out because I was so scared.  She gave me some time to calm down and then talked me through it.  It actually was not that bad at all--it felt like getting a shot, really, and it hurt way less than that IV in my hand!  Also, once it took, I realized that it quelled my one and only pregnancy complication--a super-itchy rash called PUPPP that had developed on my belly within the previous week.  Those monitors strapped to me while in triage were a total bear because they made the itch worse, but thank God for the epidural.
Who's about to push out a baby?  This girl!  And for my own memory's sake, I would also like to point out here that I wore my rings through my entire pregnancy, including through labor and pushing.  I call this a victory.
Now it was time to just sit around and wait.  B moved the car, brought up the bag we packed, I watched some TV, called my parents and sister, chewed some ice chips, texted my friends, and just chilled.  It was kinda nice.  My doctor finally came in to check my dilation, and I was already at 7cm!  She actually high-fived me.  (I'm not kidding.)  I was so happy.  Then I finally called her out on her own pregnancy and asked her when she's due.  Ha.

Since I was progressing so well, my doctor was pretty sure the baby would be out that day, and B went out in search of that day's newspaper.  We had decided previously that he should get a New York Times.  He was gone for quite a while, so I thought he'd gotten himself dinner or something, too.  He came back with no food and a USA Today, telling me he went to like 4 different places and no one sells anything other than that and the local paper.  Ah, well. I was still calm and got to watch my favorite show.  Here's me answering Jeopardy! questions while in labor:

We had to wait until 8pm for my second round of penicillin, and then my doctor came in to break my water.  She tried a few times, but my water wouldn't actually fully break.  She asked me if perhaps I'd had a slow leak over the past few weeks, but if I had, even I didn't notice it.  She ended up breaking it a little bit, but there was no big gush or anything.  Apparently the water bag was kinda behind baby's head or something, and it wasn't a huge deal.  After another check, I was pretty much complete, but my epidural was also wearing off a bit on my right side.  Actually, ever since it was put in, my left was way more numb than my right.  (In hindsight, I think this was because the nurses kept propping me up ever-so-slightly with a wedge, but only on my right.  Next time I'll make sure to get them to move it.)  I couldn't even feel my left leg at all when I touched it, but my right leg still felt kinda normal to me.  We decided to get it fixed, and this delayed pushing for another few hours.

I finally started pushing around 10:30pm.  B got the glorious honor of holding my right leg and also counting to 10.  We did each contraction in a series of 3 pushes, wherein each I had to hold my breath for 10 seconds at a time and push really hard.  I wasn't making that much progress after an hour, and my doctor started threatening me about not having enough space and possible C-section.  She knew how much I wanted this baby to be pushed out, and at this, I was more determined than ever to do it my way.  I also reminded her that my mom (who was 90 lbs pre-pregnancy) pushed me out, and she has told me that I've had my "birthing hips" since I was 12 years old.  An older nurse who has been doing L&D longer than my doctor has been alive came in to help and said I definitely had the space.  I love that nurse.

Anyway, I realized later that it just took me an hour to really learn how to push.  I wasn't doing it hard enough, and I wasn't getting enough air on the inhale part to support it.  The next round of pushing went so much better.  The nurse on my left would get quite vocal when my pushes were really strong and she could see good progress, so that was very motivating.  By the third hour of pushing, the old nurse had me going four pushes for each contraction since I was gaining momentum through each series.  I knew I was getting really close when I looked up and there were a ton of people in the room.  The "baby handlers" had come in and it seemed like there were 20 people in the room.  And I did not care one bit.  Everyone was getting really excited and saying the next contraction would be the one.  I did my four pushes, and then both me and the old nurse wordlessly decided I could do a fifth.  And on that fifth push, out came baby!  It had turned into the next day, January 26, at 1:28am.  Yeah, almost 3 hours of pushing!
The Navy Hospital gave her the ugliest hats!  And the crochet one I made was way too long.
I was still wearing a bra and the hospital gown, and they just placed her on top of all that and cleaned her up.  My first words were, "I can't believe something so big was inside of me!"  And then two seconds later I hollered, "It is a girl, right??!"  I gave her a good look, but honestly, I was kind of exhausted and didn't really care whether she was on my chest or not.  B had cut the cord at some point, and then they took her over to the warmer to weigh her and clean her up some more while I delivered the placenta.

While she was at the warmer, her cries got louder, and some medical person in the room declared, "Good set of lungs!"  I had to laugh at that point, and then I shared the story of how those exact words were the very first thing the doctor said about me when my mom gave birth!  Take a listen for yourself:

It took us another half-hour or so to actually name her, and that was hard!  We had two names picked out, and the one I had sorta convinced myself we would go with just didn't seem to fit.  I needed B's help, though, and eventually he said, "Let's go with Cora."  I said it a few times to her, and that was that.  Cora Elizabeth.  Our daughter.  Whoa.



  1. Congratulations! I Love that bottom picture - so adorable!

  2. I DO love a good birth story =) Thanks for sharing. Her name is beautiful and so is she!

    Many blessings in these early weeks!

  3. Congratulations! She's beautiful and I LOVE the name Cora!

  4. Congrats! It's been amazing reading your birth story.

  5. Congrats Cat! I had the same issue with one side of my body getting the epidural. Weird feeling. Anyhow, I love Cora's name, and she is a beauty.

    Brittany (Houtz) Bramlett

  6. Congrats!!! I cant believe you pushed for 3 hours!!!

  7. Congrats again! thanks for sharing i am literally crying right now, I'm so happy for you!

  8. Congrats again! I also love a birth story - thank you for sharing! :D

    When I played the video of Cora crying, Daphne (who was nursing/sleeping) turned around to check out what was going on. :)

    I'm so excited for you! :D Welcome to Motherhood!