Disclaimer – Birth stories aren’t pretty, so don’t read this or scroll down if the thought of birthing a child isn’t pleasant to you!
Around 2am on Monday, April 4th I woke up having mild contractions. I sat up and had a cup of tea before telling anyone – my mom even joined me without me saying a word. I wanted to wait and make sure I was definitely having contractions before getting anyone excited/nervous. By morning, I knew. I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled to check on Maura, and discuss induction options, so I went to be monitored and sure enough I was having contractions and was already 4 cm dilated at 10am. We were told that I could check into the hospital whenever the contractions became regularly spaced around 5-6 minutes apart. By the time we got home – they were! I tried to relax – took a bath – drank a strawberry banana smoothie…. But just a few hours later the contractions had really picked up– I knew it was time to go because I couldn’t imagine a car ride with more intense contractions. I made us walk the hospital grounds for about an hour before committing… and got checked in around 3pm at 6cm dilated.
My goal had been to have a natural birth. I thought I had prepared – I knew to move around during labor, and breath. Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as planned. After 4 hours in the hospital, I was having intense contractions every 2-3 minutes apart. I accepted an epidural around 7pm and was only 7cm dilated at that point. It ended up being a good decision – as it took until midnight to reach 10 cm, and another 3 hours of pushing to finally deliver my perfectly healthy 8 pound 3 ounce beautiful girl, Maura.
Labor and delivery were much more difficult than anticipated, even with the epidural. I ended up quite damaged (to spare the details – although I’m always willing to share TMI if you ask!) and also hemorrhaged causing me to lose a lot of blood and consciousness, but I was ok after some oxygen and medication. To be honest, I think a Snickers would have done the trick after my 25 hour work out!
This photo was taken a few minutes after Maura was born. I’m still on the delivery table and am actually being stitched up (I cropped the photo for you). I’m actually minutes away from losing consciousness. You can’t see any of that, nor could I feel it. All you can see, and all I felt at that moment was complete happiness.
It also included some pretty stressful times. We had our follow up ultrasound to at 28 weeks to double check the baby’s choroid plexus cysts. The technician reported that the cysts were no longer present but that the left ventricle of her brain was mildly enlarged. (Well actually a resident called to tell us her heart ventricle was enlarged, and after a weekend of research and a list of questions, the doctor informed us the resident had read the report wrong and that it was actually the brain! This added to my stress level significantly as I had wasted a whole weekend panicking/researching the wrong organ!) Anyways, her ventricle was measuring at 10 mm, which is bordering Ventriculomegaly. With no other abnormalities, this usually causes no problem but they wanted to monitor it in case it grew. In the case it grew, we were told that it could become Hydrocephaly and she may need a shunt inserted at birth to drain fluid. BUT the Dr. said that the images produced looked “off” in general and she wondered if they had been taken at an incorrect angle altering the measurements…. We decided to see a Maternal Fetal specialist in Eugene instead of visiting the same ultrasound tech again. My thought was that if the images weren’t done correctly once, how could we trust them to be correct another time? Our next ultrasound was done at 31 weeks. The specialist was amazing. She was incredibly thorough and found everything to be perfect! What a waste of worrying!
Symptoms: A little heart burn and acid reflux if I laid down, worsening pelvic pain, around week 37 I just became uncomfortable all over and cranky!
Aversions: None, my appetite was mostly back but I became full very easily
Cravings: Still nothing specific
Weight Gain: An average of a pound a week, a few weeks of 2 pound gain and a few of nothing gained…. The day I delivered I was 34 pounds up.
Fitness: I was able to keep up my gym routine of lifting and the elliptical until around 38 weeks…. After this point, I just tried to walk a few miles each day. I even walked a couple miles worth of loops around the hospital the day I delivered.
We had our anatomy ultrasound at week 19, and my mom was able to fly in from NY to come with us. We found out that we’re having a GIRL! It was amazing to have my mom come to the appointment and share in our exciting moment.
Following this appointment, we learned that baby girl had two choroid plexus cysts in her left ventricle. They weren’t accompanied by any other abnormalities, and generally considered harmless by themselves – but our doctor wanted to schedule a follow up ultrasound at 28 weeks to make sure that they went away. Luckily, I knew of two other people who had very similar findings at their ultrasounds which put my mind at ease… a little.
At week 24, I flew to New York for my baby shower. I had no part in the planning and was so happily surprised at how amazing it was. Our close family friend, with the help of a couple of my friends pulled off a beautiful “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” themed brunch. We kept it simple with just time to eat the delicious food and open gifts. Everyone enjoyed themselves and Baby girl and I were completely spoiled. Unfortunately, I also caught an awful cold while in NY – not fun! But nowhere better to be when sick than your childhood bedroom with your mom to take care of you!
Symptoms: Mild back ache, increasing (and often severe) pelvic girdle pain
Aversions: The foods I ate or smelled when morning sickness first hit! (Salsa, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, the smell of curry)
Cravings: Nothing specific
Weight Gain: A pretty steady 1-2 pounds a week starting at week 14. At week 27 I was up about 20 pounds.
Fitness: I started a weekly prenatal yoga class right at 13 weeks and love the relaxation it brought. Around week 18, I started experiencing pretty intense pelvic bone pain after running, and by week 20 had to stop running completely. I really thought I would be able to run much further into pregnancy but I had to listen to my body. I joined a local gym as soon as I was unable to run so that I had more options to try out – the elliptical felt great and allowed me to still get my heart rate up without the pain. I also took my lifting routine to the gym keeping the weight light but really focusing on my back, hips, legs, and arms. My goal was to maintain the muscle mass I had for as long as possible to make recovery easier – NOT to gain muscle or lose fat.
The first 6 or so weeks of pregnancy, I really didn’t notice any difference from usual. A little more tired, but not noticeable if I hadn’t been looking for symptoms! I had very very mild cramping most of the first trimester, but the doctor said that was normal. Around 6 weeks I began getting very tired, needing naps throughout the day and would often be in bed by 8pm. I admit to closing the blinds to my office on several occasions just to close my eyes for a few minutes – or an hour…..
At 8 weeks – things changed. I woke up the morning of a friend’s wedding – walked straight to my coffee pot as usual, but then realized that I did NOT want my morning coffee… this has very rarely happened if ever. Not only did I not want it, but it sounded disgusting. The smell made me nauseous, the thought of drinking it made the feeling worse and I immediately had to sit down. I love breakfast, but as I thought through my usual breakfast favorites none of them sounded remotely appealing. I got down a little bit of plain oatmeal and some ginger tea and realized morning sickness had arrived. I ended up eating crackers and drinking iced ginger tea and water all day until the wedding. By evening, I was able to eat some of the food at the wedding and fake drinking enough to not give away our secret.
The next 4-5 weeks were similar. I felt like I had one huge aversion to food in general, rather than multiple aversions to specific things like I expected. I would think of one thing I thought sounded good (ex: Eggo waffles, Snack Pack pudding, cheddar and broccoli rice), however after eating it once or twice – I couldn’t stomach it anymore!
Fitness: Unchanged except for doing some afternoon runs instead of mornings when my stomach just wasn’t ready. I was also doing some light lifting at home with body weight and a kettle bell a few days a week.
(Just to be clear – I’m not currently pregnant again…. this is the story of when we told our families we were expecting… back in August 2015!)
My first doctor’s appointment was around 10 weeks, and we were flying to Upstate New York for my brother’s wedding the following week. We wanted to wait until we had an ultrasound done, and then since the wedding was so soon we decided to wait until after to spill the beans to our parents. It’d give my brother the spotlight for his special day, and give us the chance to actually tell our parents in person since we only see them a couple times a year. Unfortunately, we were flying back to Oregon the very next day so we invited both our sets of parents to brunch at a local winery. It would be the perfect setting to share the good news. Once planned, I still had to get through the weekend hiding the fact that I was pregnant. (and luckily the high waisted bridesmaid dress still fit!)
I was so sick the whole time we were in NY but we had decided beforehand to stay in a hotel opposed to either one of our parents homes – this made hiding it a little easier for a few days! No one to offer me a glass of wine that I’d typically accept, no one to question me going to bed at 8pm, and no one to notice that the only foods I was eating were plain bagels with plain cream cheese or scrambled eggs. The real give away would have been skipping my morning coffee… (I seemed to have strange aversions to everything I normally love!)
We did a little photo shoot with our dog, Ramsey before the trip – who proudly wore a “Big Brother” T-shirt for the photos.
At brunch, we handed each of them an envelope and casually said we had some pictures printed for them. They all assumed they were of our wedding that had been about 2 months earlier… They casually opened, still chatting about the night before. Suddenly my mom went silent and we saw her jaw literally drop when she realized what the photos were saying. To this day we wish we had her on video!
It felt great to share the news of the first grandchild for both sides of our family!
(Just to be clear – I’m not currently pregnant again…. this is the story of when I found out I was pregnant back in July of 2015.)
And yes, it WAS a surprise! Although it was planned, we anticipated it taking a few months to happen. It did not…
I realized something might be up about a week and a half after returning home from our honeymoon. My (new) husband had a work trip to Alaska in a couple days and I figured out that the day he left would be the best bet for an accurate pregnancy test. I didn’t want to jump the gun and take one too soon. I took the test the morning he left but then realized I couldn’t tell him (or anyone, since I wanted him to know first) for 3 more days because he was off the grid!!! I was terrified and excited. I didn’t know what to do with myself those 3 long days other than sit on the couch, wait, and not drink alcohol! Ha. I ended up shopping and trying to plan the perfect way to tell him.
He got home at 7 am on a Monday morning but had to hop in the shower and rush into the office – I figured that wasn’t the best time to tell him since he was in a hurry….. While he was at the office, I wrote a card and placed it on the counter with a little stuffed giraffe I had bought while he was away. I knew I wouldn’t be home when he got off work – but wanted to give him time to digest in case he was shocked that it happened as quickly as it did! I knew he’d be excited, but I didn’t want to witness any fear on his face if it was there!!
He later told me that he walked into the house while on the phone with his mom. It didn’t register right away since he was chatting. He opened the card, still on the phone, and then while reading the card it started to click. He had to hide his reaction from his mom while ending the conversation quickly to call me and tell me to come home!
We decided that we would wait a bit to tell anyone else until things were sure. We ended up waiting quite a while because my brother was getting married and we would be back East with our families and able to tell the soon-to-be grandparents in person. (After the wedding of course!)