PERRY LENORE’S BIRTH STORY >
After 40 weeks and 4 days of a textbook pregnancy, Perry Lenore Beacham joined us on Saturday, January 13, at 6:26 p.m. weighing 7 lbs 13 oz and measured 20.5 inches long.
Aside from chronic sciatica that began as soon as I started showing, a small sub-chronic hemorrhage we found at 29 weeks that healed by week 38, and subsequent pelvic rest which was a party and a half, I loved being pregnant. Feeling her kick was my favorite thing and sometimes I still feel ghost kicks–bizarre! But sure enough, by the time I’d been pregnant for 38 weeks, I was OVER IT. Everyone expected her to come early. So after 8 weeks of prodromal labor and two weeks of a light PUPPP rash, I had my membranes swept on Thursday the 11th (two days after her due date) to try to get labor going. We also scheduled an induction for the following Monday morning if labor hadn’t began on its own over the weekend.
My sister, Chelsea, had already been with us for a month in case the baby came early, and my mom flew down the same day I had my membrane sweep. The following day, Friday, Mom and Chels convinced me and Matt to dress up and go on a date since we didn’t know when we’d get a chance to do that again. I’ll be forever grateful for that last date night just the two of us! All through dinner I could tell something was different and the Braxton Hicks contractions started to get more intense.
We got home around 9 p.m. and I changed in to PJs. Matt took some photos of my stomach to document how huge I’d gotten—so glad we have them!—and 11 p.m. on Friday the 12th is when I can pinpoint the exact start of the actual discomfort of labor. However, I didn’t know it at the time because I’d already experienced all of the early labor symptoms for weeks and it had always ended up going away as soon as I laid down. So I didn’t say anything, expecting it to fizzle out again.
But fizzle out they did not! I hardly slept that night, timing contractions at 10-15 minutes apart. I did get a little sleep somewhere between 3 and 6 a.m. but was aware of the contractions even in my sleep as if I was dreaming them. When I woke up, I was so surprised to still be contracting. I started timing them again at around 7 minutes apart. By 8 a.m., I was having to breathe through the cramps and was gripping our headboard. I wish I had realized I was actually in labor sooner, but because I had experienced false labor so many times, I didn’t say anything to Matt or my mom until I got up to go to the bathroom around 8:30 a.m. If I’d let them know I was experiencing consistent contractions in the middle of the night, my Dad and Adriana might have been able to make it in time as they’d stopped at a hotel on their drive down from Kalispell. Thankfully, they were able to FaceTime in. Hindsight is 20/20.
When I went to the bathroom, I passed the mucous plug. As soon as I stood up, the pain went from a 3 to a 5, and by the time I made it to the living room to tell my mom, I was in tears. I think this was more from overwhelming hormones and the realization that I was in labor than from pain at that point. But it just got worse from there, and by the time I was dressed (which took forever), my contractions were 3 minutes apart and I was in the, “Don’t touch me, I’m in pain,” mode.
I’d had the hospital bag packed since week 30. But inevitably, I wasn’t as prepared as I’d envisioned I’d be. It was survival mode at that point. In the future, I’ll keep it simple and prioritize comfortable granny panties and a container for ice chips (what a LIFE SAVER) over a cute “Going Home” outfit, cause, let’s be real… I didn’t feel cute for weeks. Function ends up making you feel more comfortable than feeling fashionable. The essentials ended up being a hair tie, flip flops, socks, toothbrush, dry shampoo, and phone charger. Next time I’ll just be taking the essentials and adding a comfortable sweatshirt/sweatpants and my own pillow. The hospital had everything else I needed.
By the time we got to the hospital, I was crying and breathing through the contractions to cope with the pain. I was miserable. But I learned I have a higher pain tolerance than I thought. I know mom-gear also kicked in and helped me cope, because I am well known for my wuss-dom when it comes to pain and all things medical.
Without a doubt, the most pain I experienced the entire day—possibly in my entire life—was when the on-call OB first checked to see how much I was dilated. I went into a contraction just as he started to investigate and I kid you not, I experienced out of body pain and uttered sounds I’d only heard in movie representations of agony. I was only 3 centimeters dilated at that point, but they admitted me because my contractions were 3 minutes apart. I was SO thankful. By this time it was close to 10 a.m.
Around 11 a.m., they moved us into our private delivery room where we would stay until she was born. It was fantastic. Everyone was able to be in the room together, it had a beautiful view and was filled with natural sunlight, and I was so thankful to be able to be vocal through my contractions without disturbing other moms in labor. Matt’s parents had also scheduled to fly in that day because we figured by the 13th she’d either have arrived already, or would arriving soon. It was a God thing, because they landed at 11 and were able to come straight to the hospital from the airport.
As for an epidural, the anesthesiologist was in a C-section for the foreseeable future, and we were told I might not get an epidural if a more urgent case came up in the meantime. So I was incredibly thankful when she showed up to administer the epidural around 1 p.m. I’ve always been a worrier who over thinks the worst-case scenario and as much as I knew I wanted the drugs, I was terrified of the minuscule percentage chance that I’d be one of the women who ends up paralyzed or with permanent nerve damage. So midway through the procedure, my brain started to race like it always does when I’m scared, which then gets my heart rate up, which makes me feel like I’m going to pass out. So they had to stop and make sure I wasn’t going to faint on them. I was leaning on Matt, who was a ROCK the entire day. I also can’t believe he never passed out, because we’re two peas in a pod that way. He rose to the occasion above and beyond to be there for me. God was also seriously helping me out in that moment to help me reign in my thoughts, rally my gumption, and will myself to remain conscious and calm. I know without a shadow of a doubt that He also stopped my contractions, because I didn’t have one the entire time they were administering the epidural which took about 7 minutes, and they’d been consistently at 3-5 minutes since 9 a.m. The miracle wasn’t lost on me.
Once the epidural set in, I obviously felt SO much better. It set in good though, and I couldn’t move or feel my legs at all. They checked my cervix again around 2 p.m. and I had dilated to 6 cm. I’m so thankful they didn’t try to check me again before the epidural because it was the single worst pain I’ve ever been in in my life. The nurse eventually gave me a peanut ball and turned me on my left side to help the baby transition. Around 3 p.m., the on-call OB came in and broke my water. It was so strange to have absolutely no feeling or muscle strength and to still be able to feel all of the fluid rushing out. Still not sure how that worked. I felt the fluid for the next few hours, but no pain. No complaints here.
Everything was finally feeling fantastic and I was able to put some makeup on, which really only helped how I felt and not how I looked because you can’t tell the difference between before and after in any of the pictures. I was pale, fat, and getting puffier by the second with all of the IV fluids they were pumping into me. I also discovered the beauty of ice chips. I’d always thought it was a cliche of labor and delivery, but those things are for REAL. I LOVE ICE CHIPS.
At about 3:30 p.m., I started to have a non-stop and violent cramp in my left side that freaked me out because I knew I was partially numbed in that area from the epidural and knew that as much pain as I was feeling with the epidural, I was probably experiencing a scary amount of pain in “real life.” I think it was back labor, partially triggered by baby’s position and from being on my side with my right leg up over the peanut ball (also an awesome labor and delivery “accessory”). The flipped me over to my right side and put a heating pad on the cramping area, and it went away after a few minutes. I was so thankful… can’t image having had to cope with that any longer than I did.
By about 4 p.m., I had dilated to 9 and 3/4 centimeters. I’m not sure how the nurse was that precise. Either way, I was almost there and she started having me practice pushing. However, because the epidural was so strong, they were pretty ineffective at that point.
The kicker is that around 4:30 p.m., I felt the epidural start to wear off out of the blue. It was the weirdest thing. I think it must have slipped a bit in the moving around we did for the side cramp, because it was there one minute and significantly gone the next. So that was awesome, because it was time for me to start really pushing (sense my sarcasm). They had the anesthetist come back in to up the dosage, but at that point I was at constant a pain level of 7, even in between contractions. It did take the edge off enough for me to cope I think, but I was in pain for the rest of my labor experience. The blessing in disguise is that it made pushing more effective.
Here’s another kicker. My nurse had me start pushing at the same time the epidural wore off to help get her moving down the birth canal. HOWEVER, they apparently didn’t alert the on-call doctor from my doctor’s office in time for him to be there for much of the pushing process. Turns out, nurses aren’t allowed to deliver a baby without a doctor present unless it’s under extreme emergency circumstances. So for about 45 minutes, I had to STOP PUSHING while she was just chilling in my hooha. I was feeling EVERYTHING. It was such a bizarre and painful sensation. I was just trying to cope and remain calm, but my family was quite irate on my behalf. I did almost lose it a little bit when the nurse finally offered that the hospital’s on-call OB could come deliver the baby, but that my doctor’s office on-call OB was about 3 minutes away after rushing through traffic from the other side of town. I didn’t give a you-know-what as to who delivered the baby (oh, I forgot to mention the critical detail that MY OB WAS OUT OF TOWN, because they’re ALWAYS OUT OF TOWN!!!), but I swallowed the frustration because I knew at that point it was was it was and I needed to focus on remaining calm. It ended up being worth the wait because the OB that showed up (a partner of my regular doc) was INCREDIBLE and was exactly the personality we needed in the room at that point. He was seriously fantastic. He came with guns blazing, kindness, reassurance, and just the right dose of humor.
PUSHING. Good grief. I have never expended so much energy in my life. I don’t even have words for how hard it was. Draining and overwhelming doesn’t even begin to describe it. Not to mention that I was in so much pain. I had my Chels on one leg and Matt on the other, and my Mom there by my head. The beauty and relief of having the three of them there physically and emotionally supporting me through that was immeasurable. Wanda was in the room as well, and my dad and Adriana were FaceTiming in as they drove. We were able to get Taylor in on FaceTime just after she arrived. I was so thankful to be surrounded by my family. During the pregnancy I wasn’t sure how I’d feel when it came down to it, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
By the time she crowned and they were telling me she had a full head of black hair, it was just what I needed to give me the strength to keep pushing because I was reaching the end of my rope. I also remember being surprised I didn’t feel specific pain or tearing… it was a more general pain than I’d imagined I’d feel. I was able to lean forward just enough to see her head once it was out, too. UNREAL. I mean. How bizarre. Childbirth, people. It’s unreal. You grow a human in your stomach? And then push it out? What even?!
I can vividly remember what the final push felt like, and Perry being placed on my chest. There are no words, so I won’t even try to describe it. She recognized my voice and looked up into my eyes while they scrubbed her off. I’ve never felt love, awe and relief like that.
Also, that oxytocin rush is for real! I smiled the entire time I was being stitched up, which surprised me because somewhere buried deep inside the rush I was telling myself I should be freaking out. But all I could do was smile. At that point she was being cleaned/measured/weighed/etc. by the nurses but I could hear her beautiful newborn cry and my family was giving me updates from across the room.
The general beauty is all captured in photos, and I’ll do a separate post for them. They tell the story of those moments better than I can.
As for postpartum recovery, it definitely blindsided me. I felt like my entire body had been pulverized with a baseball bat. Everything hurt. My diaphragm felt like it couldn’t support my lungs when I stood up. Sitting hurt for weeks, going to the bathroom hurt for weeks, moving hurt for weeks. I had been so anxious to get her out that I failed to do my research on the fact that I would be even more miserable after she arrived. I’m more scared of experiencing the two weeks after delivery than going through actual labor again. But I’m over the hump and finally feeling back to normal. Albeit, a new normal where my belly button floofs out and I’m surviving on less sleep than I ever thought possible… and we don’t even need to talk about what breastfeeding has done to my already well endowed boobs.
Speaking of which. My milk didn’t come in till day 4, and that first week was agony. It hurt SO BAD. I mean, SO BAD. Thank you so much to all of the moms who gave advice and tips via my mom on Facebook! It was so, so helpful and encouraging. I’m incredibly thankful we made it through the rough patch, because I absolutely love breastfeeding now. It’s a mandatory break I get to take every few hours to cuddle and bond with my precious girl. It’s occurred to me that prayer should be the same thing. A quiet respite to take a deep breath, pour it out to God, and leave feeling refreshed.
Whew. There are SO many little details, facets and nuances to pregnancy, the beauty of the day she was born, and these first 4 and a half months of parenthood that I wish I could write about, but I’ll need to save it for another time. We’re already gearing up to start planning for baby number two… where can parents sign up for their superhero capes?