Wednesday, January 16, 2013

{Birth Story} Baby New Year

*Now that Ivy is two weeks old, I figure I'd better get her birth story up and out before I forget everything!!

Ivy Isabelle was born on New Year's Day, at 12:17am. She was the first baby of 2013 in our hospital and the second born in all of L.A. County; edged out –we heard through the midwife grapevine–by a mom who strategically waited to push just after the clock struck midnight. 

At 9 pounds 8 ounces, Ivy weighed 1.25 pounds more than Alice and was an inch longer, at 22 inches. But I'm getting ahead of myself, here's how it all went down!

I was due on Christmas Day and had been confident throughout this pregnancy that this baby would debut in time to celebrate with us. She dropped around 8 months, which never happened with Alice. I understand it is much more common for second babies to drop and I thought for sure that would help encourage an earlier delivery this time. No such luck. Apparently, I have really stubborn babies. 

With Alice, I didn't have any lead-up to labor, until contractions hit hard at the hospital literally just before they could induce me (you can read all about Alice's birth here). This time was different.  After one full day of false labor (while holiday shopping!), I asked for a status update at our 38-week visit, so I'd know how quickly I'd need to finish holiday prep, and/or how easy I'd need to take it to make sure I got everything done in time. I was 1cm dilated and 50% effaced then, which was encouraging since I was only 1cm dilated when I got to the hospital to deliver Alice at 41+ weeks.

After our 39-week visit, we stopped for lunch at the Caioti Cafe so I could have "THE salad." I'd tried that with Alice the day before she was due, even buying a bottle of the dressing and eating it for lunch AND dinner for days afterward with no luck. Though I didn't expect it to work this time, we did it for old times' sake. Plus, THE salad and the pizza are delicious! Maybe THE salad did something this time, though, because I started having contractions on and off beginning December 19th. They weren't very strong or painful, but were regular at 4 minute intervals. They would happen about every other day, mostly in the evenings, so I was hopeful that I was slowly moving toward labor. 
THE Salad at Caioti Cafe
We were able to celebrate Christmas without any interruptions, so t got another update at 40 weeks (the day after Christmas) and was still only about 1cm dilated and 50% effaced. That was discouraging to hear since it meant that all that contracting wasn't really doing much for me. They sent me over for a Non-Stress Test (NST) immediately after my appointment, with instructions to come back twice a week or every three days. They also scheduled an induction appointment for 41 weeks on the dot, 8am on New Year's Day. The doctor and I had a friendly understanding that she had to make the appointment and that she couldn't force me to show up for it... 

After our appointment, Jon and I went for a lunch date and hit up the Indian buffet. After confirming that none of the buffet options were very spicy, I ordered the spiciest mirchi chicken tikka masala they could offer. Jon explained that we were hoping to kickstart labor and our very nice waiter basically said "duh." He gave Jon a wink and told him to bring me anything else I might need from the buffet. I have never eaten anything so spicy, and don't normally care to, but I sacrificed for the cause. My mouth was burning so bad, I made fog in my glass every time I took a drink to cool down. I ate the leftovers for a few days afterwards but I think I can safely say that spicy foods did not do the trick for me here.
I don't think you can see my eyes watering in this photo...
We had an NST that day, the day after Christmas, and again that Friday, with another appointment scheduled for New Year's Eve. On Friday, my cousin messaged me and asked if I'd be interested in the name of the accupuncturist her sister-in-law saw in L.A. to induce labor. I said, "Yes, please!" thinking anything was worth a try but that it would probably be somewhere inconvenient, like anywhere outside Burbank. She sent the name along and I got really excited when I saw that the office was less than a mile away. I called for more info and the office assistant said the accupuncturist would call me later in the day to answer all my questions. They actually called back at 5:30 that same day to say that they had an opening at 6pm, due to a cancellation, if I wanted to come in. I asked about pricing and was thrilled to learn that it was totally affordable. So affordable, it would be silly not to try it. 

My sister was putting Alice to bed, so we left them to it and Jon and I jumped in the car immediately. Having never had accupuncture, I was Googling it on the way over to try and learn about any possible dangers or side effects. It's apparently really safe, with few possible complications, though studies don't really indicate that it's at all successful in inducing labor. I was willing to try it out for myself, though! The acupuncturist was also a midwife, coincidentally at the Hollywood hospital I should have been delivering at. I chose to deliver at a different hospital that was closer and more convenient for us and our families (smaller building and campus, free parking, etc...). But her bedside manner and description of their practices at the other hospital had me reconsidering our decision for a little bit. The midwife was awesome, totally efficient and down-to-business but also so warm, nurturing, and reassuring. She poked me full of needles in a dark, quiet room and let me doze and rearrange my chi while listening to soothing new age music. She said she normally sees results within 12-72 hours and sometimes has to do 2-3 treatments within that time frame (so you know, it might be hard to accurately ascertain "success rates"). She said to call the next morning if I hadn't gone into labor and she'd squeeze me in for another appointment. I didn't go into labor that night, so I went back on Saturday afternoon for another treatment. She said if I still hadn't gone in to labor by Monday that she could squeeze me in right after my NST appointment in the afternoon, before she headed off on vacation. 

Throughout the week after Christmas, I felt incrementally different every day, in intangible ways I couldn't articulate. Unfortunately, my family couldn't wait around to see when these increments might total up to labor. My brother had to leave the day after Christmas, and my dad, sister and her boyfriend left the day before New Year's Eve - all disappointed they didn't get to meet Baby Sister.

On New Year's Eve, I woke up feeling different still (and super duper cranky). Jon and I went for a nice long walk on the path by our house, and I started having some contractions that felt ever so slightly more different from the others I'd had. They were a bit stronger and seemed more regular at about 8-11 minutes apart. But they still weren't painful and I didn't feel them in my back at all, like the contractions I remembered with Alice. We went home and had lunch and got ready for our NST appointment. Jon had made a big to-do list for the day, hoping to tempt fate, but only managed to cross one thing off by paying the bills while I ate. I tried to stay on my feet as much as possible and the contractions did not subside, so I started to allow myself a little hope that this might actually be the beginning of early labor. 

I gave Alice a big hug and cuddle before her nap, since we'd be leaving for our appointment while she was sleeping. We loaded our "go bag" and all of our hospital supplies into the car, which we'd been doing for every NST just in case they decided we shouldn't go home. It happens to some people!

As we drove to our appointment, I started calculating that the contractions were about every 6-8 minutes apart. Stronger than they'd ever been but still not all that strong, not painful, and not at all in my back. I was hopeful but not convinced. When we got to our appointment, I gave all that info to the nurse and said I thought I might be starting early labor. She asked a bunch of questions and seemed a bit skeptical, but said the monitoring would help determine what was going on. So she hooked me up and the machine started spitting out it's paper with some pretty strong seismic activity every 5 minutes, with a few peaks sneaking in between, right around the 3 minute mark. At some point, the monitors stopped registering contractions, despite the fact that I was still definitely having them. Jon was monitoring me AND the monitor, reporting the stats back to me and after a few strong contractions that didn't show up, Jon flagged the nurse. She'd thought the contractions had just stopped but I assured her they had not. She readjusted the monitors and after a bit of calculating, we agreed that contractions had been 5 minutes apart for about an hour. Which is when they tell you to go to the hospital. As they were finishing up the last part of the NST, I started to cry, wishing that I'd interrupted Alice's nap to give her a proper goodbye just in case I didn't get to go home again that day. 

The nurse consulted the OB in the office at the time who recommended I head to the Labor & Delivery unit at the hospital, just next door where we were. So we called our parents to give them the update. We agreed that Jon's parents should probably come up, just in case this was the real deal. My mom was home with Alice and would head to the hospital when Jon's parents got to our house. Our NST had started around 2pm and it was close to 4pm, at this point. 

While I was in the waiting room, waiting for the OB's opinion, the nurse who had done our previous NSTs walked past. Seong is so sweet and had been so nice during our appointments, and she stopped to say hello. I told her I thought I was in labor and she put her hand to my forehead and told me I looked like I was in labor. It was just a very sweet gesture. When the other nurse came back with the OB's advice, she gave me a big hug and told me she'd be watching to see if they admitted me. It was nice to have such nurturing care there.

So we slowly made our way back to our car and drove it across the little street to re-park in the hospital structure, and then slowly made our way up to the L&D unit. They did a few procedural things and then took me into room #9 (I was kind of hoping that Baby Sister could be born in the same room as Alice, but #2 was already occupied). The admitting nurse and the nurse who came in the room to set me up were basically acting like I was checking in for labor. I was surprised they didn't just give me a quick check in the triage room to see whether or not I should stay. After a bunch of admin stuff, they got me hooked up to the monitors and then the midwife came in to check me out around 4:30ish.
SO ready to get this show on the road!
I was THRILLED to learn that I was 4cm dilated, and the contractions were indeed regularly spaced at 4-5 minutes apart. I was definitely not going back home that day, I'd finally be having this baby!! Jon left to go get our things out of the car and I started to cry again. As excited as I was that it was finally happening, I was so sad that I hadn't given Alice a better goodbye. We called home once we were all situated in our room and talked to Alice and my mom. We'd been preparing Alice for this scenario for a long time so thankfully, she had a really good handle on what was happening and wasn't at all fazed. 
The seismic activity of labor.
We had brought our exercise ball and I quickly determined that I'd rather sit on that than in bed. I had used it during labor with Alice but my back pain had been so bad and the contractions so strong and close together that it hadn't been comfortable for very long. I was surprised at how much better it felt this time. After the crowd we'd had in the room when Alice was born, it was strange for Jon and I to be alone in the room this time. Everything was so quiet and relaxed! The contractions were totally manageable, in timing and intensity. After a while, we I actually got bored and I asked Jon to turn on Little Shop of Horrors. I've watched that on New Year's Eve for many years, since I was in elementary school (no one can remember how that tradition got started) and I saw no reason why I shouldn't watch it this year. We'd planned to watch it at home if we weren't already at the hospital and Jon had the foresight to load it on the iPad just in case we were! My mom arrived soon after we'd started watching and after Jon grabbed some nourishment from the cafeteria, we had a little old-fashioned sing-along. I only stopped to breathe through contractions.
Weirdest venue for weirdest New Year's Eve tradition?
We paused the movie for a FaceTime chat with my sister, who was pretty disappointed she couldn't be there with us. After we chatted with her, we were about to call my dad as well but I wanted to stand up and stretch a little bit first. Almost as soon as I stood up, my water broke. With Alice, the midwife broke my water after I'd already had the epidural, so I missed out on all those awesome sensations. It was pretty surprising this time. Most of all because it doesn't just happen once and then stop. It keeps happening. Over and over and over, with every contraction. At some point I told the nurse and midwife that surely all the water had broken by now and the nurse told me that the baby keeps making more, so it wasn't going to stop any time soon. Yuck. 

They wanted me in bed after that and once we'd gotten everything under control again, we called my dad for a quick FaceTime chat - because there are some things a dad just doesn't need to see happen to his daughter, you know?  And after he'd wished me good luck and we wished him Happy New Year, things started to get real. 

The midwife said that only one bag of waters had broken and that the fore bag was still in tact (there are two?? what the what? I had no idea that was even a thing). She offered to break it but I wanted to wait and see what happened naturally. Around 9:30, she strongly suggested that I let her do it, as it would help move things along. The contractions were getting more intense and would get even stronger and things would move more quickly once that bag was fully broken. I was trying to determine if and when I might want an epidural and didn't want things to move so quickly that I'd be unable to get one if I wanted. The midwife recommended that I make the choice right away and I asked to have one contraction after the water was broken to gauge the pain. One contraction was all I needed to know that the pain was about to skyrocket and I wasn't going to be able to handle it. I asked for the epidural right away and they got the ball rolling.

Unfortunately, I forgot that it takes a good long while before everything is said and done, even if the anesthesiologist comes right away. And even before he could get started, they had to give me a whole bag of IV fluids to make sure my blood pressure wouldn't drop dangerously once the epidural was in. The contractions got bad real fast and I was in agony, watching the IV bag slooooooowly drip away. My mom threatened to move it out of my eyesight because I would check it after every awful contraction. 

Finally, Kevin, the middle-school-aged anesthesiologist arrived, and took his sweet time going about his business. Jon and my mom had to leave, so I had to suffer on my own while he worked. First, he asked about one million questions (which, yes, Jon, I do appreciate), and then he answered a page and chatted on the phone for a while (in his defense, he was trying to get off but the other end wasn't getting the memo), and then he prepped all his stuff, while I was moaning various obscenities and pathetic things like "no, no, no, no, no" and "please, hurry!" Finally, he got the catheter in and administered 2 of the 3 doses of the medicine. Apparently, the last dose hadn't been ordered and it took another good long time to get the order in and verified by the pharmacy. Finally, that was all wrapped up and Kevin came back to hook up the continuous drip. I had a "window" of pain in my lower left pelvis area, similarly to the window I had with Alice's epidural. Kevin reminded me that the longer you wait to get the epidural, the less effective it can be. The flip side is that the longer you wait, I think you stand a better chance of not having the epidural slow your progress. But I'm not a doctor, I could be wrong about that... 

Anyway, the continuous drip was in effect sometime between 10:30-11pm. It REALLY helped and I was able to take a little nap. The next thing I knew, it was 11:45pm and the midwife and nurse came in to do a check. The midwife asked if I felt the continuous pressure that meant it was time to push. I didn't really think I did but I'd been asleep, so I told them to go ahead and check. The midwife told me to give one push and see what happened and she decided it was definitely time to push for real, at 11:53pm. We all counted down to midnight and wished each other Happy New Year, but I still had more pushing to do and we kissed the tax credit goodbye for 2012.
Happy New Year! Goodbye, 2012 tax credit!
And then, 17 minutes after the New Year, Ivy Isabelle was born; pink and perfect with a healthy heft and set of lungs. We were all a little surprised at the numbers on the scale, none of us had suspected that she was so big!
Welcome to the world, baby girl!
I have sturdy kids.
And the midwife was excited, she'd never delivered a baby so close to midnight on New Year's. The hospital even gave us a gift basket full of sweet baby things for the first baby of 2013!
Her first proper Baby New Year.
Finally resting in recovery, happy and delirious.
First bath in the hospital.
Much happier. She loves having her hair brushed.
All clean!
We got into the recovery room around 2am and tried to get settled into sleep. Jon and I were exhausted - as you can imagine - and Ivy was out of sorts - as you can also imagine. We had the nurses take Ivy to the nursery and grabbed a super quick nap before they brought her back to eat. We dozed and snoozed and turned on KTLA's pre-dawn Rose Parade pre-show. We've had some pretty weird experiences with the Rose Parade - the first year we attended in person, it rained for the first time in 40 years, we got an inside, behind-the-scenes look when Jon's uncle directed the opening number for Oklahoma's Centennial - but this was definitely the most exciting and memorable! Luckily, KTLA runs the parade all day, so we eventually managed to see the whole thing. 
Ivy's first Rose Parade. She didn't even watch!
Alice came to visit later that day. Jon told me that when they got off the elevator, she headed straight for Labor and Delivery instead of the Recovery wing and got agitated when he took her the other way, telling him she wanted to see the room where she was born again. We'd visited and shown her that room about a month before! I made sure that my mom was holding Ivy when Alice walked in, so that I could greet Alice and give her my full attention. When she walked in, Alice was saying "I want to see Mama," and gave me a big smile and hello until she saw my mom. Then I was old news. Grandma is way more exciting. Then she registered that Grandma was holding the baby. Before she could get too excited, Jon whisked her off to wash her hands. 
And then Alice met Ivy for the first time!

 She was very interested but got a little bit nervous and anxious so she came over to sit with me and open the present that Ivy had brought for her. I'd read a lot of advice to have the new baby give the new older sibling a gift, and read a lot of success stories. Couldn't hurt, so we made sure Ivy picked out something nice. Somehow, Ivy knew that Alice loves her stuffed "friends" and had recently become enamored with Disney's The Aristocats and picked out the perfect present. Alice loved it. 
Alice has been telling literally every single person in sight or earshot that she's "a little kitty-kitty." Her Halloween costume really made an impact on her. My sister's boyfriend thinks it's only natural, since she went door-to-door telling people she was a kitty and they gave her candy... Anyway, Alice prefers to be called a "big sister kitty" or even a "mama kitty," and has taken to referring to herself as "Duchess," who is the mama kitty to Marie in The Aristocats. I do not mind this play-acting, as it is helping Alice to mimic and understand the many aspects of caring for a baby. At the hospital, she swaddled up Marie in one of Ivy's hospital blankets and then, before she left, was laying in Jon's sleeper chair, pretending to nurse a swaddled Marie with a blanket pulled over her in a perfect imitation of me in my bed. Since we've come home, Marie has been her constant companion as Alice helps me take care of Ivy and acts out the same duties with her little kitty. Adorable.

That little mama kitty. 
We also helped Alice pick out a present to bring baby sister in the hospital. She picked out a tiny, rattly Rudolph stuffed animal, since she'd been on such a Christmas kick. I hope Ivy treasures it!
Alice gives Ivy her birthday present.
And then we just played pass the baby for a little while until everyone was tuckered!
The Senge grandparents meet Ivy for the first time.

Alice, eating lunch and wearing my hospital gown.
We spent the rest of the day recovering and snoozing, and watching the Rose Parade on TV. 
My mom came back later that night to squeeze in some extra baby holding and let us get a head start on our night's sleep. We slept as fast as we could until she had to leave herself, and then spent the rest of the night in that crazy, disorienting cycle of newborn sleep. 

With Alice, we left the hospital exactly 24 hours after she was born, we were just ready to get home. This time, we thought we'd might want to stay the usual two days, but we were ready to go the day after she was born. We tried to hustle through all the hoops for discharge, and were just counting down the final tasks and minutes around lunch time. Ivy had to retake her hearing exam because she'd fussed through the first one and they couldn't get a conclusive result. The nurse took her away but called me to come in because Ivy wouldn't stop crying enough for them to administer the test. We were finally able to successfully finish while she nursed. Then, we just waited for all the paperwork and admin stuff to be finished! I was especially impatient because my mom had a turkey sandwich waiting at home for me, which I'd been looking forward to for about nine months!

We dressed Ivy in her warm "going home" outfit, the first thing we'd bought for her, and when they gave us the go ahead, we hit the road!

 On her way home!

 And then we were a family of four!!

I was so happy and relieved that the delivery felt so much easier and more enjoyable than Alice's. With Alice, I felt like there wasn't any ramp up into labor, that it basically switched on nearly at full-strength and didn't stop for 18 hours. I was glad that everything happened on it's own this time, before I had to worry about the induction appointment. It would have been nice to know that I was actually in early labor that morning, but I'm glad I got to to spend the morning at home and that everything was so low-key, even at the hospital. I'm glad that I remember most of the labor, unlike Alice's where the pain blurred and blacked out most of my recollection (I think that's actually the reason we "forget" the pain of labor, because you're practically unconscious during painful contractions and the pain doesn't register in your memory - that's my theory, anyway!). 

I am so glad to be safely on the other side with a healthy baby and healthy body. Recovery has been way easier this time as well. I was hoping that though the pregnancy was more uncomfortable and less enjoyable, that at least labor, delivery, and recovery would be easier this time around. I am so relieved that was the case. With Alice, I felt like I gave birth to a semi truck and was then dragged behind it for a bunch of miles. I barely stood up for about two weeks afterwards. I'd never understood women who were up and out and about days after giving birth but I was already feeling great the day after Ivy was born. With a toddler at home as well, it's been wonderful to be able to function like a person instead of being stuck on the couch in pain. I'm trying to take it easy and give my body plenty of rest while I take time to nurture Ivy and myself, but I am so thankful to feel like myself again. 

Truly, I have never been happier. Alice has adjusted better than I could have even hoped and is a very sweet and very helpful big sister. I am loving having a newborn again, especially now that she's getting on a regular schedule and giving us an easier time through the night. I am so grateful for our little family, and for this time to spend relaxing together, getting to know our new addition, and getting used to our new dynamics. I am ridiculously grateful for little things like being able to sleep on my back, tie my shoes, and eat turkey sandwiches. Life is grand. 

It's amazing to us to think that we have a new little person and have no idea what she's going to be like. I can't wait to see what Ivy looks like as she grows, and find out who she is and watch she and Alice grow together as sisters. I hope to post here a little more regularly but it may take some time to get in the groove! 

I hope you've all had a wonderful start to the New Year! Did you do anything exciting over the holiday?? 


  1. Thank you for sharing, Erin! I loved reading every detail, there is just something about birth stories that stop me in my tracks. Going from pregnant to holding a baby is amazing! Congratulations again!

  2. So happy to read this wonderful story! She is so precious, and Alice is going to make an amazing older sister. Sisters are the best!

  3. This is a beautiful delivery story! Thanks for sharing! And I love the name Ivy. :-) Congrats!!

  4. I LOVED reading Ivy's birth story! Beautiful pics! Aside from the obvious favorite photos, I really love the one of Alice's little legs dangling as she washes her hands! I'm so glad she is enjoying big sisterhood and that you all are doing so great! Can't wait to visit in a couple of weeks!

  5. Congratulations! Thank you so much for sharing your story. Ivy is a lovely name! Love all of the photos chronicling the experience. Our best to you all!

    Here's one from our daughter's birth:

  6. I'm finally catching up on all my favorite blogs and i was so glad to see this in my reader! she's so lovely, and all that hair!!!

    one of these days i'll get my act together and pop over for a visit.

    i'm so glad to hear that you have recovered well and you guys are all adjusting to the newness/sweetness/wildness of being a family of four. :)

    1. We'd love to see you, let me know when you have your act together =) We're definitely still working on our act as a family of four, but there's no rush!


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