March 28, 2015

THE BIRTH STORY

Want to know something I think is super cute and awesome? Roxy was born the day we got engaged! Yes! So exactly four years ago on her birthday (March 12th), my sweetie asked me to marry him in front of the Bellagio dancing waters in Vegas. It's a day we've always celebrated and now it brings an even more special meaning. We joke that that's the reason why she waited so long to come! (Little overdue stinker!)
Oh look how young and cute we look.

But regardless of what day she decided to get here, Roxy's birth story is incredibly dear to my heart. It was such a powerful experience that I absolutely never want to forget, so just a warning on all the little details (that some of you may want to skip if you know what I mean). I've been working on this post since we came home from the hospital and it's amazing how much gets blurry over such a short amount of time. Especially in between feedings, diaper changes, and small increments of sleep. Oh there's already so much that I'm excited to write about my baby girl! But first, the birth.

When people learned that I had my baby unmedicated, they reacted with some amazement or shock. So just to preface, I know I would have really struggled without a technique. I had prepared for my birth using the hypnobirthing method and although I know I wasn't as well practiced as some hypno moms, it really did wonders for me. It allowed me to go in with the mindset that birth is natural--not scary--and that all I needed to do was work with my body and not against it. I'll be referencing a few of the techniques throughout the story.

It all began around 4:30 on Thursday morning, March 12th. I had been tossing and turning all that night with contractions, but it wasn't much different than the braxton hicks I had been experiencing. I went to the bathroom and felt some fluid run out. I could see that it was part of my mucus plug along with some pink, watery fluid. The plug was not alarming to me because I had already lost some of it previously, but maybe my water had broken as well? After some time, I felt the contractions get a little more intense, and they were about 7-10 mins apart. I woke Cam up to let him know what was happening and he helped me relax through them. He then gave me a beautiful blessing and immediately I felt calm and confident. I knew I could count on my Heavenly Father and Savior to guide me through whatever happened that day.

I wanted to wait until the contractions got closer together before going to the hospital, but after feeling them get stronger with more fluid trickling out, I felt like we needed to go.

Well, after breakfast that is. Hey, if I was gonna be in labor all day, I was going to make sure I had some fuel first! So Lisa (Cameron's mom) cooked us breakfast while I relaxed through the contractions on my exercise ball in the kitchen. I called my parents to let them know I was in labor and they started making their way here from New Mexico.

When we got to the hospital, Lisa showed us a labor position that was great while walking. Each time I'd go through a contraction, I could put my arms up around Cam's shoulders while he massaged my lower back. This was nice because he could easily whisper encouraging words and my positive affirmations to me while I breathed and relaxed through it.

After checking in at labor and delivery, we found out that my water had indeed ruptured and I was dilated to a 3. They then got us situated in the most beautiful delivery room! You could look out this very large window and see the Mount Timpanogos Temple and the mountains. Seriously, the perfect place to bring a baby into the world I thought!
Just before heading to the delivery room. One last shot of the baby bump!

The lady that checked us in told me that there was some dips in the baby's heart rate that they wanted to keep an eye on, so they had me on the monitors for a little while before taking them off so I could get up and move around.

We dimmed the lights and Cam turned on our sound machine that played a "summer nights" track with crickets chirping in the background. I just relaxed in the bed until everything looked good enough for the monitors to be taken off. They brought in a birthing ball and I was introduced to my nurse for the morning. She asked if I needed anything and let me know I could use the jetted tub whenever I was ready. They checked me again at that point and I was at a 4. Yay progress!

I got up and started moving around. Sitting on the birthing ball.Walking and putting my arms around Cam's neck through each contraction. Still allowing my body to relax and breathe up and deep. One relaxation technique that really helped me was one where you breathe in deep and as you exhale slowly, count down and allow each body part to relax starting from your head and ending with your toes. I used this one whenever I felt my body tensing up.

I went and got a popsicle from the nurse's station and did some more walking around the halls. We strolled to the waiting room and found my best friend Ciara there. She was so sweet and supportive. I believe she was in and out of the waiting room all day.

Sitting on the birthing ball and eating a Popsicle (:

I laid back down on the bed again and put my headphones in and listened to my visualization scripts. Out of all the visualizations I practiced during pregnancy, the one that kept me the most relaxed was the one that connected each body part to different colors of the rainbow--relaxing each section of the body while "breathing in" or picturing the colors. (I like to think it had something to do with Roxy being our rainbow baby.)

Whenever I felt a contraction coming, I reached for Cam's hand and he would stroke my arm and then press down on my shoulder with his hand. This was an "anchor" or trigger we rehearsed together that helped me go into an even deeper relaxed state and it reminded me that each contraction was bringing Roxy closer to me.

Because they put the monitors back on me while I was laying down, the nurse could finally see when I was going through the contractions. I could hear her whisper things like, "you can't even tell she's going through a contraction!" There was even a moment when she asked me, "Are you just trying to relax or are you sleeping?" I later learned that she also felt like she was out camping in the woods every time she entered our room, so I think we made it a pretty peaceful environment!

I really did feel so so zenned out during this time that I could not even feel Cameron's hand. My body felt completely numb and though I could still feel pressure from the contractions, I was almost all the way asleep in between them. I think I opened my eyes at one point and Cam looked at me and said, "You're so amazing! Do you know how long those were?" He was watching the monitors closely. I had no idea they were about a minute and a half long!

A couple hours had passed and they checked me again. I was at a 5. My doctor had actually come in at that point and he said that was kind of on the slower end, so he was guessing she'd come sometime in the middle of the night. I wasn't super discouraged yet until another couple hours had passed and I had only progressed to a 5 1/2! That was super hard on me. At that rate, I'd really be doing this all night!

That's when I wanted to get up and get walking again. We figured a change of scenery might help. There was one moment where we walked toward a window and looked outside. I told Cam, "I'm not sure I can do this." It really was disappointing to hear my slow progress after working so hard. Some medication was looking preeettty appealing at that point.

But I was determined. "Okay, I can do this." I thought. "I will keep working and if I haven't progressed much the next time they check me, I'll take something to help me through it." I had my nurse start filling up the tub to change things up. The water was not very warm, so Cam laid towels all across the top of me. We turned on the jets so that they were going right on my back. It felt so good! I laid down and began doing visualizations again, but this time I imagined my body responding like a rose bud. With each contraction, I took in deep breaths, picturing my cervix opening like rose petals with each exhale. I kept reminding myself that each contraction was helping me progress and to follow my body's lead. I must have been in there for a good half hour or so when I felt like getting back in the bed, so Cam helped me dry off and get me in the hospital gown again.

I got really warm and comfortable in the bed and just went to work. The lights were dimmed, my sound machine was going, and I used all my energy to focus on each contraction. Breathing deeply in and out through my nose, I continued to do the rose petal visualization--picturing my cervix gently opening wider and wider. Since my water had broken, I could literally feel more fluid run out every time I pictured my cervix opening. Now we were talking!

My doctor came in again and checked me and I was at a 7! My concentration had paid off and it was really what I needed to boost my confidence. Unfortunately, my doctor's shift was up for the day, so he was not going to be there for Roxy's birth. He said his goodbyes and told us he would come check on us in the morning. Normally, this would have really bothered me, but in the moment I felt completely fine without him. We had also met the on call doctor who would be delivering my baby and he was super nice.

We also switched nurses, and before the first nurse left, she told me how awesome she thought I was doing and said she'd come check on us again during her shift the next day. It was really great to have such sweet nurses who were on board with all my wishes. They hardly interrupted me, always whispered when they came in the room, never told me what to do, and always asked IF I wanted to be checked.

At some point in between here, my mom and dad arrived. My mom came in the room and thought I was asleep. Lisa explained to her that I was going through contractions and I guess she had to check the monitors for herself! We got a great snapshot of it:

(By the way, Lisa did so great at capturing all of the moments of our special day. I'm really grateful to have it all caught on camera. We made a little book of them as well, so that Roxy can also keep those memories preserved. Thanks, Lisa!!)

The contractions were getting even stronger and closer now and I started to feel my body pushing against me. I kept trying to force myself to lay back and relax, but I could feel myself leaning forward. It was quite uncomfortable. I remember really praying to Heavenly Father for help and laying it all at Christ's feet. I knew I could not do it alone--in fact, I remember thinking the exact words: "Jesus take the wheel!" No, seriously. I was like, take it please because I can't. Both Lisa and Cameron were on either side of me holding my hands at this point.

Cameron said this was the only time he heard me make a noise during the entire labor and it was like two small grunts. Looking back now, I realize that I was going through transition and my body was actually ready to push because the doctor came in soon after and was checking her position because I was fully dilated! Man, it felt amazing to hear I had made it to a 10! I felt an instant surge of relief and energy rush through me. I think I remember saying, "I did it!" and "My baby is coming!" She was almost in my arms!

The nurse wanted me to let her know whenever I was ready to push and we started looking at different positions for birth. I definitely wanted to be sitting up and asked if they had a birthing stool. They didn't but they said the bed could adjust to an upright sitting position with my legs lowered and I could use a birthing bar to hold on to. At first they had the bar in this odd position. Good thing Cam and his mom were very vocal for me and could see that I was uncomfortable. They took initiative and switched it around and lowered the bed some more so that I could sit on the edge of it while Roxy could be safely caught at the bottom.
The first position. So awkward!

This second position was so much better! Lisa later told me that it looked like I was riding my Harley ready for action!

Once all of that got situated, I was able to focus on pushing. I breathed in deep with each contraction picturing my breath going down behind the baby and out--in a "J" pattern. I could feel myself really working with my body and each push was really productive. The nurse wanted to make sure I was pushing in the right direction, so she asked if she could check with the next push. I let her check and while I was breathing down, she said it was perfect and that I was pushing exactly where I was supposed to.

After a couple more really productive breaths, the nurse said she could see the baby's head and I think I remember either Cam or Lisa saying that she was getting closer! The nurse asked me if I wanted a mirror to see her and I agreed.

With each push, I could see my baby's head, though it wasn't a very big opening. She wasn't crowning yet. So I figured I would probably be pushing a while. There was a really cool moment when Lisa motioned me to look out the window. I turned and I felt the spirit hit me. It was dark now, so all you could see out the window was a perfectly framed, lit up temple. Just glowing and magnificent. I really felt close to heaven and I could not contain my excitement. A million emotions were exploding inside me. The nurse told me later that it was amazing to see my face. She said you could just see the love in my eyes!

I had a lot of encouragement from everyone around me. From the nurse. My husband. Lisa. My mom (even though she was nervous to watch most of it). It was so awesome!

Everything else that was happening around me was such a blur. The doctor finally walked in and watched me push, stroking his chin thoughtfully with his hand--probably thinking I'd be there forever seeing as it was my first baby and all.

Then suddenly, her head popped out! I had only been pushing for about 30 minutes and apparently the doctor had none of his gear or gloves on and all the nurses were rushing to get him ready. I must have had my eyes closed because I could just hear a bunch of scrambling and madness happening around me. I heard the nurse say, "Okay, Keri, stop stop stop!" Then she told the other nurse to get the time because the next push she was out.

Finally, the doc got all of his gear on and I was ready to give one last final breath--down and out. Roxy girl came out screaming her little head off! They laid her on my chest wiggling and wet and I felt a rush of adrenaline. I started bawling as I grabbed her and I must have said "Oh my baby!" a million times. I looked up at Cam--who was also emotional--and everyone else was crying too! The nurses started suctioning out her little mouth and nose because they found she had a bowel movement in the womb. The doc said something about her cord and I told him to stop and wait until the cord had stopped pulsing before clamping it. He told me it was almost done and gave Cameron the scissors to cut it. She wasn't on me very long before they took her over to a side table to get the rest of it out of her mouth and nose.
I felt more love than I ever could have imagined for these two angels of mine.

There was a mad rush at that point where all the nurses were on cleanup duty and the doctor was sewing me up, None of that is clear though, because all I could focus on was my little baby on that side table. So close, yet so far! I told Cam to go over by her and as he spoke to her, she turned her head right toward his voice. She remembered her daddy! Lisa captured the sweetest picture of it! He also put his hand on her, hoping she would feel some comfort.

They cleaned her up, weighed her and measured her. 8 lbs 6 oz, 19 inches long! Big, healthy girl. Then finally, FINALLY they put her on me skin to skin. Her warm, squirming body just put me in a trance. I couldn't believe how perfect she was. I couldn't believe what just happened! As soon as she touched my neck, she tried sucking my skin. They immediately tried to help me nurse since she was already so eager to do it (whole other post right there). When things settled down in the room, I just stared at her in complete amazement. I remember studying her face and thinking she has my nose. And Cam's chin and hair. She's changed a lot since then, but those were my first impressions.

Everyone was also able to get a chance to hold her.
Kisses from Nana & Lola.

Loves from "Auntie Ciara".

They gave us a good amount of time with her before they took us all downstairs to the room we'd be staying in. Cam was able to go with her to do all the newborn procedures and her first bath (which she did not like--except for when they washed her hair).
Oh yeah, feels so good!

When he came back into the room, it was just me, him, and our little angel. I just remember how I could not take my eyes off of her--seriously just astounded at what we had created! All of the time waiting for her and the struggles we went through to have her were completely worth the little miracle that she is. My heart just burst with unconditional love.

We are just so grateful she made it safely and could not be more thankful for all the prayers and kind thoughts on our behalf. We have been learning and growing so much with our baby girl and are so excited for the adventures ahead of us.

More posts on Roxy to come!
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