Thursday, August 16, 2018

Campbell's Birth Story

It has been so long since I've posted on this little space of mine--since 2016 actually.  Life has changed so much for us on the farm.  I've had health scares, a miscarriage, an extremely high risk pregnancy, and have given birth to the most beautiful baby girl.  Watching her grow so quickly has inspired me to start blogging again.  It is so hard to find a place to start when so much has happened, so I've decided to start with the biggest event of all--The Birth of Campbell Joy.

On April 29, 2018 Muffin and I had scheduled our maternity shoot with the AMAZING Tiffiney Photography.  I remember having to push out my belly to make it show a little bit better for the pictures.  I was one day shy of 36 weeks pregnant, but had only gained 5 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight (I said it was a difficult pregnancy!).  I remember how uncomfortable I was that entire day, floating in the tub before the shoot--thinking my body had no more room for my sweet girl to grow.

On top of having issues keeping down food and gaining weight in the pregnancy, I had found out two weeks before that Campbell's growth was a little behind.  Her abdomen was in the third percentile and we had to be monitored weekly to make sure that she was still safe to stay in utero.  That week before her birth, they told me the plan was to induce labor at 38 weeks, but that they didn't feel strongly that I would make it to that milestone before she was at risk and needed to come out.

I got out of the tub, got ready, and went to the shoot.  We had a great time documenting my bump, and it was so special to take pictures in the same locations we did for our wedding and engagement photos.

Throughout the shoot, I kept having some pain.  Looking back, I know it was signs of labor, but my pregnancy was incredibly painful, and I just kept telling myself it was normal and to suck it up.  The rest of the evening was spent dealing with the discomfort and trying to figure out if I was actually showing signs of labor or just being a paranoid first time mom.

I went to bed that night and tossed and turned for hours.  I never actually fell asleep and even resorted to trying to take a unisom (safe for pregnancy) to fall asleep.  Sleep never came.  The baby was on my bladder the ENTIRE pregnancy and I was up and down all night.  

On April 30, 2018 (almost a month before her May 24th due date), I got up around 5am  for my MILLIONTH trip to the bathroom and felt my water break.  I calmly told Daniel what I suspected had just happened and he jumped up from the bed, waking from a dead sleep, and went into action.  He was making sure bags were in the car, getting dressed, moving quickly and efficiently.  I told him to calm down, labor takes hours I insisted.  I wanted to take a shower, dry my hair, get ready.  Daniel was having no part of that--urging me to hurry up and shower and just throw on clothes.  Looking back, thank goodness he had that sense or urgency because she came so much faster than I realized she would.

We got into the car and set off for Greenville Hospital--an hour away.  There are closer hospitals, but with my health issues our sweet girl needed to have the NICU nearby.  Daniel is an extremely cautious driver.  In fact, it borders on grandpa driving.  To see him swerving in and out of traffic, driving much faster than he ever does, trying to get us to the hospital quickly is something I will never forget. The entire time in the car my contractions got more intense and closer together.  By the time we were at the hospital, the pain was a constant and it was hard to discern one contraction from the next.

During all of this, I had called my parents to let them know I was in labor.  I also told them to hold off on doing anything until the OB Triage unit confirmed that I was indeed in labor.  We got to the hospital during shift change, but they were very quick with determining that my water broke and I was in active labor and 2 centimeters dilated.  We were sent to a labor and delivery room where we would spend the majority of our day.

My parents started their journey from the farm and my sister started her trek from Columbia.  Daniels parents were called and were enroute to the hospital as well.  During this wait, we answered millions of questions with the doctors.  Filling them in on my complicated pregnancy and medical history.  This is also when I had the epidural.  I know this is controversial for some, but for me, after such a painful pregnancy and hard road to get my girl into this world...I just wanted to have her come in a peaceful, pain-free environment.  The beauty of having kids is that everyone gets to do it their own way :)

We waited a bit for the anesthesiologist and during that time, I couldn't stand to sit still during the contractions.  Daniel helped me walk to the bathroom and back, pacing out the discomfort.  The anesthesiologist finally arrived--there was an emergency c-section holding him up--and placed the epidural.  There was a resident anesthesiologist there learning how the procedure is done and was asking lots of questions--it was actually really comforting to hear so much about the procedure as it was done!

Our family arrived and we started the big wait for our miracle girl's arrival.  There was so much laughter, prayer, and italian ice during that time.  The biggest complaint I have is that my family was eating chick-fil-a while I was on an ice diet!

During this time, I was also given a medication to dissolve in my cheek to help thin the cervix so that the dilation process would be a little easier.  The doctor also wanted to wait and see how I progressed on my own before using any sort of medication (pitocin) to speed up dilation.  The other major issue they had was with Campbell's gestation age.  She was one week shy from being considered full term and there was issue not only with her size and growth (what was being monitored before) but also with the possible issue of underdeveloped lungs.  Our medical team asked if I was comfortable with having a steroid shot (especially with my history of diabetes) and I gave consent--letting them know anything should be done to help her transition and birth easier and safer.

Around 1pm the medical staff came back to check my progression.  They were completely shocked to see that I had dilated to 6 cm.  The conclusion was that things were moving along quickly and that pitocin would not be needed to assist the labor process and speed.  They also asked if I wanted to try something called "the peanut" to help things move even faster.  The so-called peanut is a giant bouncy ball, shaped like a peanut, that you rest your legs on to help labor progress.  I said sure...and that thing is one crazy contraption but it works!

my mom entertaining me by bouncing on the peanut earlier in the day!
Once I was settled with this giant bouncy ball peanut, the staff told me to call if I started to feel intense pressure.  I asked them what amount of pressure is intense--and they semi laughed and told me I'll know.  Maybe 30 minutes later I started feeling pressure, but my epidural seriously worked...and I couldn't imagine describing it as intense.  So we waited some more! Some of us even napped :)

During this time, my sister Anne (who is a travel nurse and a NICU nurse to boot) facetimed in from Boston where she was doing a 12 week stint at a Harvard affiliated hospital--yes I'm proud, yes I'm bragging.  I hate that she couldn't be there to experience the birth, but am so grateful for Steve Jobs and facetime!

I kept talking to everyone about how I was feeling pressure, but that I still wouldn't describe it as intense.  We called the nurses and asked if they would come check me to see if I had dilated even more.  They seemed a little annoyed and iffy about it, but agreed that they would call the doctor to come in.  The doctor arrived and checked my progress--I was 10cm dilated and it was time to push.  Everyone was shocked--including me.  How was it possible for a first time mom to have things move so quickly, but I guess that peanut did the trick! One of the nurses who had been delivering babies for 30 years told me that there was no way I would push for more than 10 minutes--what mama doesn't want to hear THAT amazing news.  She also said in all her time she hasn't seen something be invented that actually helps labor along like the peanut ball--so I'm glad I let them talk me into that!  The doctor told me they were calling in NICU and pediatrics just in case, but that it was time to push and meet my baby girl!

We had everyone leave the room but Daniel, my Mom, and my sister Georgia.  My Mom and Georgia facetimed in my sister Anne so she could be part of the experience.  To this day I try not to think about the fact that she was on her way to work and my labor was probably broadcast to a city bus haha.  There were maybe 20 doctors in the room, so I just tried to focus on my family and enjoy being with them during such a life changing experience.

It was so amazing to be surrounded by love.  Daniel, my mom, and sisters were full of jokes, encouragement, anticipation, and excitement.  I was laughing and smiling the entire time I was laboring Campbell Joy into this world.  That nurse was right, and I only pushed for maybe 20 minutes before she was here!

At 4:58 pm, less than 12 hours since labor started, Campbell Joy Smith entered this world with family crying, laughing, and smiling all around her.  She was 5lbs 4oz and 17.25 inches long.

One of the biggest things in our birth plan was to do delayed cord clamping.  We were able to wait until the heartbeat in the umbilical cord stopped for Daniel to take the scissors and do the honors of releasing our baby girl fully into the world.  

Daniel and I watched intently as our girl was checked over by the team of doctors.  They decided she needed some time in NICU to develop more strength in her lungs.  Daniel went with our miracle down to the NICU to get the TLC she needed.

After a week of fighting to grow, develop her lungs, and impressing us with her spirit and determination, Campbell Joy arrived home on the farm and has forever changed our hearts.

Thanks for reading along and sharing in our joy!