Our little or not so little guy has finally arrived! This may take me a few days to write, but I wanted to take the time while it is still fresh and write his birth story. I know I have always loved to read others birth stories so I wanted to share his.
For some reason my entire pregnancy Eric was convinced Luke was going to be born December 27th or 28th. He didn't have a good reason why he thought that he just did. I guess he kind of suckered me into thinking the same thing especially once I learned the 28th was a full moon. Not that a full moon has any correlation with birth, but I was being hopeful. I had my 39 week appt on the 27th. The doctor checked me and I was still at only 1cm and 80% effaced. Same as the previous week. She offered to strip my membranes to maybe speed things up a bit. By this point I was open to anything that might work. She even commented about the full moon being the next night and maybe it would help break my water. She warned me after stripping my membranes that I would experience a lot of cramping and bleeding. So we left the doctors office with a lot of hope. Well as the next 24 hours passed that hope quickly disappeared. I didn't so much has even have a mild cramp and no bleeding. I had read that if stripping membranes was going to work it usually does by 48 hours later. The rest of Thursday passed, Friday passed, Saturday passed (with some interesting things starting to happen), Sunday passed and nothing. We tried to stay busy and got the Christmas decorations down, went out to eat for Eric's birthday on the 31st, ran around town. On Sunday we went to church and Eric and the guys went to a gun show and Claire and I went out to lunch with some friends for a play date. After Claire's nap on Sunday Claire and I went for a "brisk" walk. Nothing out of the ordinary. I have walked and tried to stay as active as possible my entire pregnancy although this walk I did push myself to go as fast as possible.
Sunday evening I decided to give up "trying" to make this baby come and decided he would come when he came. I started questioning whether my body knew what to do to start labor. After being induced with Claire I started preparing myself for another induction. I had prayed for many months to not have to be induced again. Not that the induction with Claire was a terrible experience it just wasn't the birth experience I had envisioned. With this most likely being my last pregnancy I really wanted to experience spontaneously going into labor just one time. After lots of prayer I had come to terms that if I had to be induced again it would be ok and whatever God's plan was for my little dude to enter the world was fine by me.
Being due January 4th my Mom and Eric had a little competition hoping he would come on one of their birthdays. Mom's is January 1st and Eric's is December 31st. So after being bummed he didn't arrive the weekend we had "predicted" I decided to look forward to the week ahead and maybe, just maybe, he would decided to share a birthday with his Daddy or Nana. Sunday evening we put Claire to bed as usual and Eric decided to do some work stuff he had put off doing after being off all week. I had not been sleeping well at all lately due to my massive size and read somewhere that peppermint tea is good to help relax. I'm not a tea drinker at all so I was desperate. I sat down on the couch drank my tea and tried catching up on some DVR shows. Next thing I know I hear Eric saying "are you asleep"? I never fall asleep on the couch and some how I did. I guess the tea worked so I headed off to bed. Little did I know my couch nap was probably my bodies way of making me rest because it knew what was in store for me later that night.
Around 3:00 a.m I woke up to go to the bathroom for like the millionth time. This time I felt gassy, but nothing happened. I laid back in bed, but the feeling persisted so I got up walked through the house got a drink and decided to sit on my yoga ball to see if that helped. It was probably 30 minutes later before I realized these pains were coming and going so I decided to use my nifty contraction app. What I discovered was the pains were coming about every 4-5 minutes, but lasting only about 30 seconds. Everything I had read said contractions needed to last at least 1 minute to make cervical change. By 4:00 the contractions were more painful, but still not lasting more than 45 seconds each. I had had a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions over the past few days, but these were distinctly different. As I paid more attention I realized these were lower and wrapped all the away around. I also remembered the distinct pressure in my bottom from labor with Claire. At 4:00 I decided to take a shower and see if that eased them or if they would stop. They were painful, but I could still function through them. I decided before I took a shower to wake Eric and tell him what had been going on. More so if he woke up and found me in the shower he wouldn't be confused. At this point I still didn't think this could be the real thing. Then as I'm telling Eric I had a contraction I really had to breathe through. He gets all excited and instantly knows it's go time. All the while I'm telling him it's probably nothing and to just go back to sleep. Needless to say the shower didn't slow things down. If anything things intensified. Luckily this was the one time sleep didn't over power my husband and he decided he better shower too and prepare to leave. I decided to lay back in bed still not convinced it was the real thing. Eric decides to time contractions since it had been an hour or so since I last had. We discovered they were 3-4 minutes apart lasting 30-40 seconds each. Eric tells me he thinks I should call the doctor and see what she wants us to do. She had told me to call if I had contractions 7-10 minutes apart lasting 1 minute for 2 hours at my last visit. Again I tell him I really don't know what to do since they weren't lasting all that long. I agree to call her after 5:00 a.m. For some reason calling after 5:00 a.m. just seemed more humane to me and not quite so "middle of the night".
Around 5:15 I called the doctor. She told me to go ahead and come to the hospital and we would see what was going on. She asked how long until we got there and I told her around an hour that we first had to find a sitter. Thankfully we have some amazing friends who were all on standby for when the time came since everyone has such different schedules we were hopeful that at least 1 would be available. To our luck and it being New Years Eve and some were on vacation. Brandi came around 5:45 or so to sit with Claire and she even brought my hungry husband breakfast! By the time we chatted a while it was 6:40 or so before we made it to the hospital. If I had any doubts I was in labor the car ride confirmed this had to be the time. Eric thought it was fun to time the contractions on the way and they were now every 2-3 minutes lasting 45 seconds and increasingly painful. They were still manageable with deep breathing. We walked into the hospital (with a few stops along the way for me to hold onto Eric and breathe) and made it to labor and delivery. Thankfully my fabulous doctor already had my records sent over to the hospital so getting to triage was quick and easy. (As it turns out my doctor had been at the hospital all night doing deliveries). While in triage they get me hooked up to the monitors and asked me standard questions. I must say every staff member we encountered during our stay was absolutely fantastic. I was worried since we got there right at shift change we could be in triage for a while, but the nurse stayed around until we were actually admitted.
My goal was to labor at home as long as possible and not rush off to the hospital. I always heard that sometimes when you get to the hospital labor can slow down since you are no longer in your own comfort zone. I had a minimum goal of of being dilated to a 4 before getting to the hospital especially since I was only dilated to a 1 a few days prior. My dream goal was to be dilated to a 6 or better before getting to the hospital since I had heard that transition begins around a 7 centimeters and that's when things really start to get intense. When I was pregnant with Claire I wanted to go without pain meds. I was determined I would not get an epidural. Well, until one experiences labor it is difficult to actually say how painful it will be. I ended up getting an epidural with Claire when I stalled for a while at 6 centimeters. After the epidural my body relaxed enough and labor progressed quickly. This time I knew if I had to be induced again I would get the epidural. Pitocin is some mean stuff. However if I went into labor naturally I was really wanting to see if I could manage to go pain med free. Anyway the nurse did the exam and praise Jesus I was dilated to a 6! I actually said "praise Jesus" when she said that lol. She said "wow you already did a lot of work". That made me proud of myself for some reason. Needless to say we were on our way to admission and getting a room. Of course my dear husband tends to have to use the restroom when he gets nervous and of course nature called while I was in triage. He debated leaving me to go relieve himself since he felt bad leaving his laboring wife. I assured him he would be much more useful to me if he was "comfortable" and to go to the bathroom, lol. As I said before we got there at shift change and while we got to a room fairly quick it was almost an hour later before I even got an IV. In the meantime my doctor had called and offered to come up and break my water to speed things up if I wanted. I quickly agreed, anything to meet my little guy sooner. Around 7:45 she made her way up and examined me again. I was only a 6.5. Boo! My fear of labor slowing down around 6 like it did with Claire came to the surface. Since I had finally got the IV they had just drawn labs. The nurse told me as soon as labs came back (typically 40 min or so) I could request and epidural, but not to wait too long to tell her in case the doctor was on their way to a surgery then I would get bumped. I said we would play it by ear that right now I was managing the contractions fine. The doctor broke my water and quickly warned me that things would get much more intense now. Shockingly I had about a 5 minute break before my next contraction and it wasn't much if any worse than the one before. I fell back into an every 2 minutes or so pattern and while the contractions may have been a little more intense they were still manageable.
I had read several things that remaining as relaxed as possible through the contractions was key to progressing. So I used a lot of the typical deep breathing and visualization of my body opening up for the baby. Poor Eric really wanted to help me feel better and rubbed my back, neck, etc. I had to kindly tell him not to touch me lol. In labor I am one that just needs to be left alone to focus. Another thing that really helped me was staying distracted in between contractions. I distracted myself, by texting my mom, friends, etc. with updates and general chat. That really helped me kind of "forget" and not tense up knowing another contraction was coming.
Texting in labor
The contractions never lasted more than a minute. So different than my induction with Claire when they lasted about a 1.5 minutes each. I think that helped make them more manageable too. Knowing they would quickly pass. The doctor came back about 40 minutes later and I was 8.5-9 centimeters! At this point I decided to officially decline the epidural. I knew by the time the doctor made it and got it in it would be too late. Since my doctor had been up all night she went somewhere in the hospital to rest until it was time. I decided that I needed to pee and holy crap! Standing up intensified the contractions a million times. I couldn't lay flat in the bed it made the contractions unmanageable so I did sit up straight the entire time, but standing was a whole different ball game. 3 contractions later I peed and made it back to the bed. At this point I really started to think about saying yes to the epidural. Within minutes I felt such intense pressure and 2 contractions later I told Eric to page the nurse I felt like I had to push. The nurse came running in and checked me I had just a little rim left to be 10 centimeters. She told me not to push just yet that it would hurt worse until I reached 10. They paged the doctor and the room was suddenly very busy with people. Before I knew it I was pushing and couldn't stop myself. They paged the doctor again and she suddenly arrived getting dressed very quickly. I started saying 'I can't do it I can't do it". The pain was incredible. I had a phenomenal labor nurse. When I first met her I was a little bummed that she was very business like and not the more compassionate type like I had with Claire. I am a firm believer God puts the exact people you need in your path and he certainly paired me with the right labor nurse for a med free delivery. The wonderful doctor I had with Claire coached me and cheered me on pushing and the nurse was more of a support person. This time the roles were reversed. I absolutely love my doctor and she was fantastic in letting my body do it's own thing. She was also a calming voice. If the nurses pushed too hard for me to position myself a certain way she calmly told them it was ok and to basically back off lol. Anyway my labor nurse kept me focused. Apparently when your feet, hands, face go tingly and numb you are hyperventilating. So as I am starting to freak out that things feel weird she calmly told me I was hyperventilating and showed and breathed with me the correct way. If I started to get unfocused she quickly snapped me back to attention. Suddenly I was pushing with all my might and 3 pushes later my little guy arrive with a literal splash lol.( I won't go into any further detail about that). On his Daddy's birthday at 9:34 a.m. 6.5 hours after labor begin, Luke Thomas Westerman entered this world. The instant pain relief the second they are out is so true, however the pain left over in my crotch not so much. It was at that moment I really wished I had pain medication. That pain was so terrible I had a hard time focusing on my little man for a second. Long story short I had a 2nd degree tear and obviously had to have some repair work done.
Meeting my little guy for the first time.
I was so impressed with the hospital. While I was getting my IV I had asked the nurse their procedures after the baby was born. With Claire they laid her on my chest for a minute and wiped her down and she was then taken away to be weighed, examined etc. The nurse told me that hospital policy allowed me to have an hour of skin to skin time before he would be cleaned and any procedures or exams would be performed. We could snuggle and breastfeed and basically be left alone for an entire hour! I was estactic. If I could have a dream delivery that's exactly how it would go. Pain med free and plently of snuggles to enjoy my new little guy before he was whisked away. Having him on my chest was amazing and really helped distract me from the repair job going on down below. The first thing little guy did the second they laid him on my chest was pee all over me lol. Then I felt his little hiney start to squirm and I said "uh oh I think he is going to poop on me too"! They put a diaper on him at that moment, but other than that diaper I got to hold my little guy for nearly and a hour and a half before they took him to be weighed. He was covered in so much vernix when he was born he was a white little dude the nurses all kept commenting on what a "cheesy" guy he was. They also continued to comment on his size. Especially since they put a newborn diaper on him and it was quite snug. I knew he wasn't going to be a small baby so that didn't really surprise me. Claire was such a blondy when she was born I was anxious to see what color hair Luke would have. At first glance while it was still wet it looked jet black. Completely opposite of his sister. After he was bathed and dried it is really a very dark brown.
After our snuggle time was up they weighed him and measured him. 9lbs and 22 inches. I can't remember exactly how big his head was, but I do remember the nurse laughing about how big his head was. I could have cared less. He was here and perfect. Took him a few minutes to get the hang of latching and nursing, but he eats like a champ. We did find out he has a tongue tie and we have to decide before his 2 week appointment if we want to get it clipped or not. Since it isn't causing any feeding issues and he is already gaining back some of the weight he lost it isn't that big of a deal right now. The only thing we have to worry about is if it will cause any speech issues in the future.
Big sister Claire is absolutely in love with her brother. The moment she met him was magical. She instantly wanted to hold him and for about 30 minutes and no one else was allowed to come near him. When someone asked if they could hold him she quickly said "no". She patted him and kissed him and wrapped his blanket tighter. She was quite good at holding him even without my help. Since we have been home she has been wonderful with him. Wants to hold him and teaches him patty cake. Poor guy constantly has a paci shoved in his mouth whether he wants one or not, lol.
Meeting each other for the first time!
Adjusting to life with 2 kids is different. I know it will take some time to get in the swing of things, but we will get there. It is so weird for me to sit back and have someone else cook, clean, and even take care of Claire since I can't lift her until I heal. That is the hardest part for me. I like to be the caretaker and don't get me wrong a break from the housework is nice, it's still weird especially for at least the next 2 weeks. The doctor told me she didn't want me lifting, driving, cooking, cleaning, etc. for the full 6 weeks! I told her that I would try and limit activities, but couldn't promise anything. Not that I don't understand why she told me to take it easy, it just isn't feasible. Eric has to go back to work. Mom and Eric's Mom are more than willing to come stay and help, but I know they have lives at home too. Postpartum hormones suck too. If I get time soon I will sit down and write about those. While society has done a good job bringing light to the postpartum period I still think we need to be more open in discussing the time period that follows having a baby.
Eric thought it was funny to take a picture of me showing to "after" labor, lol
I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful little family. God gave me everything I asked for including laboring on my own, even going 4 days earlier than my due date and having a med free delivery. I still cannot believe I did it. I do think recovery physically has been a little easier this time. It was nice to be able to get up immediately following delivery and the physical pain has actually been a little less. I knew I was uncomfortable at 39 weeks pregnant as every pregnant person tends to be, but now not being pregnant I am amazed at how much better physically I feel even though my body is still healing. It is weird to not be pregnant though. You spend months preparing for this big event and suddenly it is here and over. Especially with Christmas being at about the same time. We prepare and prepare and suddenly it's over. It's weird not to have something "big" coming up. I am anxious to find our new routine and watch my family grow up (but not too quickly).
1 day old
Oh I forgot to add what I did differently to prepare for this delivery. I had heard red raspberry leaf tea was a good uterine toner. So at 32 weeks I started drinking 2-3 cups a day. I think it helped as I had shorter contractions that were effective. I also started taking evening primrose oil at 37 weeks to help soften my cervix. The week I started taking it I went from 0% effaced to 70%. I can't say for sure it helped, but it sure is a coincidence that I effaced after I started taking it. I also remained active walking almost daily and doing prenatal Pilates 3 days a week.