(*note*  this is the birth story being included in my journal and baby book, so you may find it sappy and emotional...go ahead and skip those parts!)

I entered the hospital on February 2, 2003, about 5 days after my due date.  Groundhogs Day. The day started off cloudy and cold, with a prediction of snow later in the day.  It was a very bittersweet day for me.  Knowing that I would begin the process of inducement to bring my baby into the world.  Knowing that soon I would be holding her, but soon I wouldn't feel her kick within me, or hear her heartbeat at another doctor's appointment.  I took all the “Good Luck!” at church with stride.  Am I the only one who feels sad when a pregnancy comes to an end?

My mother-in-law came to our house at about 3:00 PM.  The snow was starting to get bad, and she wanted to be there in case the prostaglandin gel worked.  We chatted with her for a while, and then I went upstairs to take a nap.  I woke up at 5:00 and hopped in the bath, doing all the last minute things I though were important.  Like shaving my legs, caressing my tummy, talking and singing to the baby.  Praying.

I arrived at the hospital at 6:00, right on schedule.  Glencoe is a small community, and I was the only pregnant one there.  No new babies, no laboring mothers.  It was nice to have the attention of the nurse full time.  I was registered and assigned to my room, #218, which was a small room used to assess how far along a laboring woman was.  I had to do a non-stress test before being given the gel.  I was attached to the fetal monitors, and was told to push a button every time I felt her move.  It took a while, as she was very active in my bath (she always started moving to the sound of water running!) and so I had to poke her a lot to wake her up.  Finally I was able to get her to move, and I pushed the button.  What the nurse was looking for was an accelerated heartbeat when she moved, which she did beautifully.  I was also showing a few contractions, nothing big, nothing painful.  At 6:45 PM I was given the prostaglandin gel, and had to wait in the bed for an hour before I could go home.  I had left all my hospital bags at home, thinking I would be back.  I also had skipped supper, and was getting hungry.  At the time I had been given the gel, I was still only a fingertip dilated, like I was at my 39 week appointment.  I was about 50% effaced, and the baby was at a  –1 station. 

By 7:00 PM, only 15 minutes after my gel had been applied, my contractions started with full force.  They were about every two minutes, last about 45 seconds.  And were they painful!  They felt like they did when I was at a 7 or 8 centimeters with my other labors. And my back was hurting so badly.  But I had to be monitored for an hour, to see what would happen.  After an hour, my contractions were still going strong, and the nurse asked me if I would like to walk around.  Usually false labor stops with movement, but I had never done the ‘walking’ thing during labor…looks too painful, so I was a little fearful of it.  I am glad that I decided to try it though.  My contractions didn't lessen up any, but the pain in my back went away immediately.  Mark and I walked the halls for about an hour.  He hadn't seen the actual rooms that a laboring woman is given, and so I asked to see one.  The nurse, Sharon, showed us the one I would likely be checked into, and I spotted a rocking chair, which I put to use in between my walking. The nurse had been trying to contact my Doctor to let her know what was happening, but so far had been unsuccessful.  The snowstorm was getting worse and time went on, and we wanted to makes sure she was available.  Her daughter said she was in Litchfield, and to keep trying.  This was about 9:00 PM, and I was in a fair amount of pain.  The on-call Dr. had said that all I could receive was a shot of Stadol, because I wasn't admitted.  So I got that, but didn't feel its affects.  It is supposed to make me sleepy and relaxed, but honestly I was having a hard time relaxing.  My biggest fear was that if it hurt this much at only 1 cm dilated, how much would it hurt at 7-8 cm’s?  I was given the shot at 9:15, but by 9:30 Dr. Olson had called and told them to admit me.  We were finally able to call Mark's Mom and say, “It looks like Jen will be admitted tonight, and I will come home for her bags after she gets some pain medication.  Apparently the kids went nuts when told Mom was going to have the baby before 8:00 the next morning, when I was supposed to be induced! 

Mark and I walked around for another 45 minutes. I had also told the nurse that I would like to try an epidural this time, never having experienced one, and so she got ‘Bob’ the anesthesiologist on the phone and warned him that he would be needed later. At 10:15 I was checked for progress and found to be at 2-3 cm’s.  WHAT?  That’s it?  I guess I couldn’t expect more..my body may have had quick labors before, but I had never been induced and couldn’t predict how I would react.  I asked the nurse when I could get an epidural, and she told me at 4 cm’s.  Well that isn’t so bad…just 1 more and I was there.  I spent the next 45 minutes either laying in bed, or walking in the halls, or sitting on the rocking chair in my room, which was HUGE, with wooden floors, beautiful cabinets, a whirlpool tub.  I also got to watch the nurse prepare the room for delivery, get the carts out, the sterile cloths, the stool for the doctor.  This made it even more real! Dr. Olson finally arrived at 11:00 and saw me breathing through my contractions.  She checked the monitors and said “Wow! This is really it! You have restored my faith in Prostaglandin Gel! But I don’t think you are going to have a Groundhog baby.” She said I could have an IV of Stadol if I wanted, and I said “Can I still have the epidural soon?” to which I was given an affirmative.  So at 11:30 I was given an IV (after 3 tries!), and then told to go ahead a walk the halls some more.  The nurse had checked me and found me at 4 cm’s, so I spent the entire time in the halls saying, “Where is Bob?” “Why isn’t Bob here yet?”  At 11:45 I was told Bob was in the building, and so I went to my room to prepare for the epidural.  Dr. Olson checked me and said “She is a 3”.  WHAT?  I asked the nurse how I went from a 4 to a 3 and she said, “I was trying to help you along” I got a chuckle out of that.  Dr. Olson also tried to break my water, but I was in too much pain, so she said she would wait until I had the epidural.  I asked the nurse to warn Bob not to use the term ‘You will feel a bee sting’ due to my bee phobia, and she said, “Ok!”  To my great relief, Bob walked in and I was given the epidural.  Of course, he wasn’t warned, and did give me the “feels like a bee sting” and the nurse looked upset, but it really wasn’t bad at all.  Inserting the catheter felt really funny.  He warned me that it might hit a nerve, and boy did it.  I felt like a nerve had been pinched very hard. That was not fun at all.  This was at midnight, and the effects of the epidural took place FAST! All of a sudden I could only feel the contraction as a tightening.  I remember the nurse saying “Do you feel that contraction?” and I said “What contraction?”  Having no pain, Mark was free to go home and gather the kids and Bonnie and my hospital bag.  While they were gone, Dr. Olson checked me, found me at 4 cm’s, and broke my water.  The head was so engaged that only the water in front of it came out, but it was nice and clear.  Dr. Olson then went to lie down.  After all, this was close to 12:30.  It had taken me 5 hours to progress to just 3 cm’s, everyone might as well get some sleep!

At 12:30 the kids arrived, and they were excited to see me.  More than that they were excited to use the family room, which we had been given a tour of earlier in the pregnancy.  It was stocked with juice and snacks, and had a TV and a VCR.  So they said "Hello" and went to check it out.  Being the only family there, they were also given free reign of the halls.  Dr. Olson came back one more time, at around 1:30.  My contractions had slowed down some, and she said she would have the nurse watch them for the next hour, and if they didn’t pick up, I would be given Pitocin.  It was at this point that she told the kids “Your mom has a long way to go!  She just measured 4 cm’s and I think everyone should go lay down and get some rest.  We will wake you up in a few hours when things get going again.”  They didn’t want to go, but it was late, and so they complied.  At 2:00 AM I started feeling my contractions a little.  I think at their peak I got a slight twinge, and I began to worry that the epidural was running out. How could it when it was a 9 hour dose?  The nurse must have been watching the monitor, because she came in and said the baby’s heartbeat had dipped, and I told her I felt contractions a little, and asked if she wanted to check my progress. She said she would check at 3:00 (It had only been 1 hour and 10 minutes since I was a 4) but had me lay on my side..couldn’t find the heartbeat…switched sides…couldn’t find the heartbeat.  Put me on oxygen…couldn’t find the heartbeat. Decided to page Dr. Olson. At that time Bonnie came in to see how I was doing, and Mark explained that I had an oxygen mask on, and that the Dr. was checking me.  When Dr. Olson reached down, she got a funny look on her face and said “You are ready! You are crowning! The baby's head is RIGHT THERE!” Mark walked in, and I signaled to him that I was a “10” holding up all my fingers.  The look on his face was precious, and I would hear him tell Bonnie.  She said “What?  Ethan just got to sleep!” And I said “Go wake up those kids, the baby is coming NOW!” So the kids came in and got into a corner.  The video camera was set up, everyone was given a camera (UGH! Zach’s was out of batteries, Gabby didn’t use hers, and Mark had to hold my legs! So much for capturing every moment on film!)  I started pushing at 2:35 AM.  I asked if this would be fast, and was told probably, and Mark was shown how close the head was. The Dr. said “She has a TON of hair!” Which made me smile.  The first pushes were just practice.  I couldn’t feel what I was doing, and had to be instructed.  The next pushes were real  My legs were held back, and I bore down hard. The Dr. said “Yes, that it’s it GREAT push! Here she comes” What with one push?  My contractions were far apart, so I had to wait a few minutes for the next push.  I was told I needed to give “One big push, and then tiny centimeter pushes”.  The one big push was for the head, the tiny centimeter pushes were for when she was being suctioned. And then I was told one more giant push…and she was out!  7 minutes, 2 contractions, no pain, no tearing, no episiotomy.  Alisabeth was placed on my stomach, full of hair, full or vernix and full of cries!  (I had been warned that all the hiccups would give her good lungs!)  Mark cut the cord, at which point we discovered Zach's camera was out of batteries.  That only sore point in my labor and delievery experience is that not enough pictures were taken so I could remember everything.  I looked at Mark right after the baby came out.  I was crying, he was crying.  Bonnie looked amazed that she was able to experience it.  The kids looked curious, especially Ethan who finally was fully awake with the baby's crying.  The kids told me they saw everything, and that it was "Great!"  Mark kissed me, and the baby was taken to an incubator to be warmed up and cleaned off a little.  We also noticed that she liked to  suck her finger.  She weighed in at 8 pounds, 11.2 ounces and 22 inches long, with a head measurement of 13 1/2 inches and a chest measurement of 14 inches.  My ''little girls" was HUGE.  I wonder how big she would have been if I had had her on time?  The kids were all able to be there for her to be measured, but she would be given her bath later in the morning when Mark and I had time to sleep and nurse her.  When she was brought back to me for nursing she did so great! Latched on with no problem and suckled right away.  A true pro!

The kids went home at about 4:30 for some rest, and I had the baby for the rest of the night.  Watching her, touching her, crying some tears, saying some prayers, thanking Mark for her and thanking God for such a wonderful experience.  My favorite labor of all! The hospital stay was wonderful.  Great nurses, great food, great whirlpool tub! Alisa's APGAR scores were 8 and 9.  She was wonderful! She doesn't really look like any of the kids, but a mixture of all of them.  My favorite things about her are the small dimple in her lower right cheek, and her eyelashes which Dr. Olson has give "an award for the longest lashes I have ever seen!"  They curl up and touch her eyebrows when she is awake.  Her eyes are a pretty blue, her hair is so long and dark and her skin is like satin.  I love when she holds my fingers when she is nursing.  I love her pouty lips when  they pucker up (she has beautiful lips!)  I love her tongue thrusting and the way she gets mad after a yawn or a sneeze.

And now I sit.  5 days later.  Already lamenting that almost 6 days have gone by.  Grateful for her being here, sad that the experience is now "done" but most of all joyful with life, and its blessings and learning experiences.  I love you Alisa.  I hope someday you read this and know how much joy I experienced in your birth.  The love I felt for you, and feel for you, as you entered this world.  The joy you gave so many people, especially your Dad and siblings as the watched you emerge.  You are special.  You are loved.  With all my heart,

Mommy

Born February 3, 2003 at 2:42 AM      Weight: 8 Pounds, 11.2 Ozs.      Length: 22 inches
         
    

    

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