On Thursday, April 12th Kristen had an appointment with her midwife Lin where they discussed when the baby would arrive. Lin said that the only thing she knew is that most babies don't arrive on their due date.
On Friday the 13th Kristen had persistent back pain and general discomfort at the end of a long week at work. She eagerly awaited the weekend to relax and recover but work had other ideas. They had planned a big code release Saturday and would need her to log in from home to test it out.
Saturday morning, April 14th, Kristen woke up very early to work on the software release but as usual they were behind and didn't actually have anything ready to test. Kristen and Eric then spent the day at childcare and breastfeeding classes at the hospital. Kristen became more uncomfortable as the day went on but attributed it to general pregnancy discomforts. Neither of us considered that she might be going into labor since she still had another month of pregnancy to go. Between classes we had a nice hearty meal at In and Out Burger, which turned out to be a lucky choice since it would be our last meal for a very long time.
After class Kristen took a nap and woke up around dinner time. Since she still did not feel well and was not hungry we decided to watch some TV. It was around 7 PM, and just as Kristen sat down on the couch she suddenly felt a pop and a small gush as her water broke. Eric was in denial that Kristen was really in labor since she had not experienced any noticeable contractions. Instead of immediately going to the hospital, he frantically tried to get in touch with the midwife Lin but realized she hadn't given her phone number to us yet. Since he couldn't call her directly he tried paging her through her office with no luck. At this point he was getting desperate so he called Heather, the doula who taught the classes they had been in earlier that day, knowing she was a friend of Lin's. Heather urged us to go to the hospital and she would try to get through to the midwife.
We were taken by surprise but fortunately we had most of the necessary paraphernalia ready. A few weeks earlier Kristen had gotten together most of the recommended items for the hospital (Eric would have still been procrastinating, left to his own devices). So we grabbed our things and headed over to the hospital around 7:30. As we arrived at the hospital Kristen started to feel some contractions, although nothing too strong yet. Shortly after being ushered into a labor and delivery room Lin arrived, having gotten a call from Heather. She assured us that everything would be OK, that babies born 5 weeks early do just fine, and that we would have our baby by the end of the evening! Since she had yet to be tested for group B strep bacteria, Kristen was hooked up to an IV with antibiotics as a precaution. She was also hooked up to a fetal monitor to monitor the baby's heart rate and contractions, which really seemed unnecessary and was an irritation. When the nurse checked she was already dilated to 3 cm and the baby's head was very low. Lin had Kristen sit on a yoga ball and bounce to help the labor along. After bouncing a while the contractions got stronger but were still very inconsistent. Lin left to go put her kids to bed as Kristen continued to bounce. Eric started up some music on the computer to set a nice mood. After a half hour bouncing on the ball, the nurse came back to check Kristen's progress. She was dilated to 5 cm. The course of antibiotics was complete so the nurse put a heparin lock on the IV, leaving it in Kristen's arm in case they needed it later. Kristen got back on the Yoga ball to bounce some more, but shortly thereafter she began to feel nauseous and decided she couldn't handle bouncing anymore.
Kristen crawled into bed to ride out the much stronger contractions. Shortly thereafter Kristen started to feel a lot of pressure in addition to the painful contractions. Eric used a wet wash cloth to wet Kristen's face but during the worst contractions Kristen used it instead to bite on. Lin returned around 9:30, and checked Kristen's dilation. She was at 8 cm, and since the baby was small she didn't need to dilate any further before pushing. Meanwhile people began gathering in the room, first Dr. Sahi the on-call Obstetrician, followed by several Labor and Delivery nurses, then the Neonatolgist with his own team of nurses. With the next few contractions Kristen tried to push and let out a huge scream with each push. Lin reminded Kristen that the screaming was not helpful and that she needed to hold her breath in to help push out the baby. Lin also tried to convince Kristen to move off her back and onto her hands and knees to make it easier to push, but Kristen refused. She was ready to go and frozen in place. Kristen pushed a few more times and began to make some progress. After several more pushes the baby was close but the contractions were fading. Lin encouraged Kristen that the baby was very close she just needed to push a little harder. A few more pushes and a little more progress. Then Lin started threatening that Dr. Sahi was going to cut if Kristen didn't push harder. Kristen knew this was not true and ignored the threat. She focused on the Neonatiolgist standing across from her who was smiling as she pushed, it was very reassuring to see a smiling face. A few pushes later there was lots of excitement as the baby's head started to emerge. Once the head was delivered the rest of the body quickly followed.
Lin placed our beautiful little girl on Kristen's belly while Eric cut the chord. After a few minutes to bond, our baby was examined by the Neonatiolgist and taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with Eric tagging along. Meanwhile back in Labor and Delivery, Kristen relieved that the whole ordeal was over and that her little girl was healthy and beautiful, finally began to relax. Lin helped Kristen deliver the placenta, and Kristen assumed that she was finally done and looked forward to going to the NICU to see her little girl. However a few minutes after delivering the placenta, Kristen began to bleed heavily from the placenta site. Lin was concerned that the bleeding didn't appear to be stopping, so she called back Dr. Sahi and ordered the nurses to administer Pitocin via IV to start up contractions. The nurse tried to get the Pitocin going through the heparin locked IV but it had become clogged. The nurses then tried to get another IV started in the other arm but Kristen's veins were not cooperating. After several sticks with the needle, they couldn't find a good vein to place the IV into. Lin became more nervous about the bleeding and pushed the nurses aside to place the IV herself (she got it in on the first try). After the Pitocin was started Kristen started feeling strong cramps and the bleeding began to slow. Dr. Sahi worked to clear the clotted blood away, which was by far the most painful part of the evening. Lin gave Kristen a shot of Fentenyl to numb the pain. After the bleeding stopped, Kristen doped up on Fentenyl was finally able to relax.
A few minutes later Eric returned from the NICU with an update on the baby, just now learning about the drama Kristen had been through after he left. Despite her ordeal Kristen was determined to see her baby, so Eric wheeled her to the NICU where she could finally rock her little girl.
During our two days at the hospital, we finally figured out our baby's name, Lillian! Lillian, spent two weeks in the NICU where she was cared for by an army of wonderful nurses. Kristen and Eric returned to the hospital three times a day during this time to breast feed and visit with their little girl. We got a lot of really great advice from the nursing staff, on everything from nursing to bathing. Before we knew it she was eating well, had gained a pound and was all ready to come home!