Labor and Delivery

Contractions began: 2 am (June 13, 2013)
Baby delivered: 9:03 am (June 14, 2013)
In labor: 31 hours (total with pushing)
Pushing: 2 hours
Anesthesia: epidural

Well… I joked not for long… The night between Thursday and Friday (June 12-13) I work up at 2 am from a strong contraction. It subsided and didn’t come back until 3 am. Then 4 am. Then 5 am. At this point, I understood that this was it! I am in labor! I was still able to sleep in between, so I made sure I got as much rest as I possibly could. Since the contractions were still so spread out, I waited until 8 am to let Sergey know that he needs to jump on the plane and come over to hold my hand. :-) He was home by 11 am, or pretty much on the first plane to Phoenix. My wonderful husband, and a VERY soon to be father was not going to miss even a minute!

Contractions continued to be mild-strong, but with a long interval in between. So I logged in to work as normal. I did tell my boss that this was likely the last day as I have strong contractions. At lunch Sergey and I walked around our neighborhood, but it was ridiculously hot! So I swam and got back to work. I had one more task that I was working on, which I finished by 5 pm and then went to bed as contractions were now stronger and increasingly close to each other. By 6 pm contractions followed the 5-1-1 rule (contractions 5 minutes apart, 1 minute in duration for at least 1 hour) and Sergey started getting us ready to go to the hospital. Thankfully there is an app to monitor contractions, which I used ever since I had the strong ones during previous week. I resembled a shrimp (due to my crunching during contractions) as I was getting into the car.

The next 15 minutes were very uncomfortable as we drove to the hospital. All of my pain was in my lower back. I can’t even remember feeling contractions in my stomach anymore. Sergey was AMAZING! He quickly remembered all those “back-labor” relieving tactics he learned in birthing class earlier and was constantly massaging my lower back at home and as we got to the hospital. Without his help the pain would have been unbearable!

So… we got to the hospital! Sergey dropped me off and went looking for parking. With my mother’s help I slowly crawled to the registration desk. The girl behind the desk could immediately tell that I was in a lot of pain. Thankfully we were already pre-registered, so I went into triage (where nurses decide whether you get admitted to the hospital or not/not yet) almost right away. Of course, I had a birthing plan which insisted on natural birth without any drugs… well… as soon as the back pain started that plan went back in the bag, because I was begging for an epidural the minute I got into triage! Apparently, the admittance process takes a while, regardless in how much pain you are. Nurse checked the dilation of my cervix and said it was only 3 cm, and usually they don’t admit patients in labor unless they are at least 5 cm dilated. She wanted me to go walk around the hospital to help the cervix to open! I held my ground, and it was obvious that it was difficult for me to even lie on the bed, without even trying to walk. Nurses finally gave in, admitted me, and started my IV so I can get an epidural as soon as possible. And, boy, what a relief it was when I finally got it after 2 more hours!!! Unfortunately, my mom had to wait in the waiting room as only one family member is allowed in the triage with the patient. But she joined us shortly after we got into a room.

The wonderful thing about American hospitals is that you deliver in the same room in which you stay. The doctors and nurses have all the necessary equipment in that room and come to you when the time comes. (The only difference is if a cesarean surgery is needed, then they take the mother into a surgical room. Still one relative is allowed to come with the mother into surgery.) The room is also equipped with a semi-bed and a lazy-boy chair. So both my mom and Sergey had places to lie down. I can’t say how comfortable they were, but at least they could get a little bit of rest. So… I finally got an epidural, but only one side of the body got numb. The anesthesiologist removed everything and tried one more time. The second time he got it right and both sides of my lower body were getting numb and the pain slowly subsided. After going to the hospital at 6 pm, I finally got some relief from pain at 10 pm. Regardless of my plan for not doing an epidural, I am forever grateful for having it done! This way I could concentrate on the actual child birth, rather than pain.

Unfortunately, epidurals have a common side-effect of slowing down the contractions which open up the cervix… I must have experienced it, because there was no visible progress for a while after. The doctor suggested rupturing the water sack; in many cases it helps increase contractions. We (my mom, Sergey and I) decided that it was ok at this stage of labor. Well… in my case that did nothing. At 12:30 am the doctor suggested to insert a baby monitor inside me… That didn’t sound too cool… but they’ve explained that it simply lies close to baby’s head to monitor her heartbeat and the strength of contractions. We agreed to that. At 1 am there was still not much progress (cervix opened to 4 cm), so the doctor suggested giving me Pitocin (a strong induction drug)… I’ve read a lot about it and knew that this was not something I wanted in mine and my baby’s systems… Studies have shown that Pitocin has an adverse effect on newborns! We strongly refused! FYI – it is absolutely safe to wait up to 24 hours for baby to come out naturally after the water sack is broken. So we were not going to risk it with Pitocin.

We all tried to get some rest as we waited for the cervix to open. Our attempts to get some sleep were constantly interrupted by the nurse coming every hour to check my temperature, blood pressure, and cervix dilation… “Annoying” doesn’t even start to describe it! Oh well… At 5 am nurse continued to insist on giving me Pitocin as the cervix only opened to 5 cm. By this time we were all exhausted and almost gave in. The nurse had already brought Pitocin into the room as we once again decided to wait and give my body as much time as it needed to bring our darling baby into this world. The trump was in our hands as the baby monitor showed that baby was absolutely calm with a strong heartbeat. This time the nurse was annoyed but, fortunately, we got it our way!

And, boy, the nurse and actually all of us were very surprised to hear that at 7 am the cervix was dilated to 10 cm on its own!!! Good thing we trusted Mother Nature! It was time to start pushing! The nurse gave me clear instructions on when and how to push. She was very informative and straight to the point. I was to watch the monitor of my contractions (since I didn’t feel the pain accompanying them) and to push with my abdomen muscles (in such a way that my facial muscles were to remain relaxed). I’ve collected all the saved up strength in me and pushed! Sergey was holding my hand and then the nurse put him in charge of holding one of my legs too! He was brave and stood by my side! :-) Until one of the nurses almost fainted (low blood sugar) and Sergey also started to feel a bit light-headed, but that was closer to the end of pushing. :-) My mom was holding my other hand and leg. She was strong the whole time through! She was an amazing support and love all throughout this long process!

Nurse brought in a mirror for me to see the progress. Don’t know how I really felt about it but it did give me an idea of how I was doing with my pushing. And I could see that baby had a LOT of hair already. :-) As the head crowned the doctor finally came over! Until then the nurse was running the whole show! Not sure why the doctors really get paid the big bucks and not the labor nurses!?! Anyway, with a few more pushes the head was out! As I was trying to collect my thoughts and strength for more pushing, I was preparing myself for a lot more pushing than I really had to do! Apparently, I forgot that the head is the largest body part of a newborn baby, so the body was out with just one more push! Before I could even blink the doctor placed little Anna on my stomach at 9:03 am. She cried immediately and got an Apgar score 9/10 (in America they don’t give 10/10 scores, but Anna would get it if they did). Anna was so tiny, blue/pink as her cells were filling up with oxygen, and covered in vernix (whitish slime protecting baby’s skin inside the womb). Her big blue eyes met with mine and our hearts connected forever! :-)

Then, the nurses took Anna to clean her up and weigh. Happy daddy watched every step and then got to hold little Anna skin-to-skin on his chest. He was the proudest dad and husband on Earth at that very moment. Then grandma got to hold her granddaughter. :-) It’s an amazing feeling of holding a new person, a new life in your hands! :-) In the meantime, the doctor stitched up the episiotomy cut she made to allow baby’s head a wider passage. And with that, nurses cleaned me up and everyone was out of the room except the nurse caring for me and little Anna. As I was going to breastfeed Anna, it was important to establish a first feeding soon after birth. But it felt foreign to both of us… :-) The nurse explain to me how to hold Anna and give her the breast for a better latch. It seemed to work. Anna suckled a bit and then dozed off to sleep. She was finally here! Sleeping soundly in my arms! And there is was… I became a mother!

Shortly after, the doctor decided to still give me Pitocin, but now to continue uterus contractions to help it shrink after delivery. By this time, they’ve removed the epidural and I’ve regained the feeling of my lower body. Boy, did it hurt! Contractions with Pitocin felt a million times stronger than even the painful contractions I had before the epidural!!! I immediately got a fever and was crying for it to be over. Unfortunately, they made me go with it for almost an hour. Hopefully, it was worth it and uterus has shrunk! This is just another reason why I would not recommend Pitocin to anyone who can do without!

Over the next 2 days at the hospital, my mom and Sergey took turns of who went home to rest and who stayed with Anna and me at the hospital. We’ve learned to change diapers and practiced breastfeeding. Sergey was a SUPER-DAD, he changed 99% of all Anna’s diapers while we were in the hospital! Anna’s appetite grew faster than my milk was coming in. She cried and cried at night so we ended up giving her a little bit of formula to keep her stomach full a bit longer. Thankfully, this did not cause nipple confusion or her refusing from the breast. I’ve asked for a lactation consultant to visit and work with me on Anna’s latch, as well as talk me through on how to increase my milk supply. Lactation consultant told me to get a breast pump as soon as possible (according to a new law all health insurances must provide a pump for free) to help stimulate demand, so the breasts supply more milk.

Anna passed all of her tests with flying colors and we were released to go home. I felt bitter-sweet emotions going home: great to finally get out of a constricted space of the delivery room; and sad as I would not have the help of the nurses and lactation consultant anymore. However, having my wonderful husband and amazing mom at my side were all the help I will need in the days and months to come. Anna is here! We are healthy and happy! We are complete!

Pregnancy – Week 41

Visited Doc and he say that baby is still sitting tight even past the set due date. The doctor was NOT nice and I suggest everyone to be very alert during their visits! He mumbled that he’d like to speed up the process by stripping the membranes. Again, he mumbled it and rushed to do it! My mom was with me and she didn’t even pay attention to what he said. Luckily, my hearing is sharp and I caught it. I immediately screamed for him to STOP. I did not want for any kind of labor induction, especially because it is absolutely NORMAL for pregnancies to last 41 weeks, and rarely even a bit longer. He was not happy with me intervening with his ways, but gave me one more week and then said we will need to induce… Fingers crossed, baby was coming on its own during this week. :-)

At work people are checking in with me regularly. Not about work really, but asking about baby status. :-) I still walk late at night and swim every day. Baby is active. I feel only mild contractions now and then.

On Wednesday June 12 my friend Almagul texted me that she has gone in to labor. She sent me almost 50 texts throughout the day, which made it seem like giving birth was a piece of cake! Granted, it was her 2nd child, but still…! Later that evening, my mom and I went to visit her and the new baby at the hospital. Alma and baby Ilyas were healthy and resting. The nurses at the hospital looked at me and kept asking on when I’d be giving birth. :-) I joked back that I’m too scared of giving birth, so I’d rather digest it. :-)

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Pregnancy – Week 40

On June 4th I woke up with tightness in lower abdomen. I also wanted to go to the bathroom (both #1 and #2). I was alone at home since Sergey was already in Vegas, so I was a bit panicked. As I reached the toilet, I began to feel some contractions, much stronger than I’ve ever felt before. I’ve read that sitting on the toilet helped some women tolerate contractions better. I think it worked. As I began dialing my mom to come over to take me to the hospital, the contractions stopped and I was able to go back to my regular routines. However, this was a good sign that it was time to have someone stay with me. My mom moved in with me. :-)

Office didn’t bug me much with work. I helped here and there, but mostly let them handle all things. My boss’s birthday is on June 6th, so he really wished for Anna to be born on that day. :-) Well… on June 6th she was sitting tight. :-) She must have been waiting for her set due date – June 8th. Although, even on the 8th she didn’t show. :-)

I feel great. Sergey is sitting on a low start in Vegas, waiting for my call to fly to Phoenix for the baby.

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Pregnancy – Week 39

Over the weekend I had more Braxton-Hicks contractions than I did before. Sleeping is becoming more of a challenge as my stomach gets bigger and puts all the weight on the side. Propping pillows under it helps.

Had another doc apt. Now they happen weekly. This time I was open 1 cm and I have gained 2 pounds, so docs were happy. My total weight gain during pregnancy so far is 17 lbs. = 7.7 kg. (129 ->146 lbs). Docs estimate that baby will weight ~7.5 lbs (~3.5kg) at birth.

Cleaned the house and packed up some of baby items that we won’t need immediately. This way it’s all ready for the move after Anna is born.

Still trying to walk at least 3-4 times per week for at least an hour and do some stretching. It’s hot… So my feet and hands swell a bit. I cool them off in the pool after walks and drink more water. :-)

Sergey is working hard on getting Las Vegas house ready for us with the baby. He’s hired someone to clean it and to stretch and wash all carpets. Pest control is also on the schedule. With that he can already move in. :-) Anna and I will follow next. :-)

My coworkers threw me a surprise work baby shower party! :-) I was honestly not expecting anything! :-) It was very sweet of them. :-)

Feet and hands start to swell every night. Seems to be common for the last several months. I’m lucky I only have a few more weeks to go. Drinking water and swimming helps.

Thursday evening noticed some creamy white discharge… Is that the mucus plug? On Thursday and Friday started noticing some light cramping in lower abdomen. Research online says drink more water, get more rest, change positions. I think baby must be slowly moving down… We’ll see. Baby is still very active despite the fact that there is not a lot of space for her. :-)

Last day in the office. It was very sweet to see everyone at work wish me good luck and be sad as they will miss me. However, HR at work told me that I will have to work until the day I go into hospital! How crazy is that? Thank goodness I have an awesome boss who understands that it’s simply not safe for a pregnant woman on such late stages to drive 25 miles one way to work/from work. He allowed me to work from home, but really he said I could take it easy. :-)

06/01/13 – Sergey’s birthday pool party. I was one hot momma in a bikini. :-) It was nice to see all of our friends, especially before we move to Vegas.

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Pregnancy – Week 38

We’ve got the house! Same one we walked away from the first time. As we looked at other houses we realized that it would cost us the same or more to get them to a condition we’d like, and with this home, although seemingly overpriced, we can get all of it now. We’re homeowners in Las Vegas! Congratulations! We’re one step closer to being together as a family! :-)

2 more weeks left at work. My boss sounds open to giving me other work, which makes me hopeful that he’d be considerate of me working remotely after maternity leave. Fingers crossed.

No one at work knows that Sergey got a job in Las Vegas and that we will be moving there. I’ve battled this ethical question for a while in my head. Decision… well, businesses mind their own business when making a hire/fire decisions. So individuals must do the same. In my case it’s not beneficial to me to tell my employer about the move before the end of my maternity leave. Hence, that’s when they will find out.

Had our last ultrasound! Baby Anna is so beautiful! She has amazingly long eye-lashes and her hair was making waves in the amniotic fluid! So distinct that we were able to see it via ultrasound! :-) Total weight gain so far 15 lbs. = 6.8 kg. Baby is estimated at 7 lbs = 3.2 kg. Doctor said that I was 50% effaced, but no dilation.

Wrapped up all of the projects at work. Now I have 1 more week of just making sure everything is alright and just cleaning up my computer and office.

Spent a lovely long weekend with my amazing husband! We picked peaches and entertained Vika & 2 Dimas on Saturday. On Sunday, we went to the Farm on South Mountain for Kate Packer’s birthday brunch. The heat got the most of us, so we took a nap once we got home. Then we’ve done some house work – gave plants some food and washed the pool deck. On Monday we finished fixing all blinds and washed/fixed all the baby gear. We’re getting ready for our precious Anna Sky. :-)

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Pregnancy – Week 37

Sergey lined up a few houses for us to view. By the time we viewed them we realized that 3 of 5 were out of the picture. We’ve also learned that the market in Las Vegas is such that as a buyer we had no leverage and there were not a lot of homes of our caliber up for sale. Long story short, we came back to the original house and decided to purchase it again. We’ve managed to lower the price a bit more but still would be paying 15% over the appraisal, but this way we’re able to get a move in ready house in time for baby’s arrival. All other homes we were considering required remodeling and adding a pool to match our criteria. Fingers crossed all goes well and we’re home owners in Las Vegas soon. :-)

Sunday we spent sleeping in, and then had breakfast and ice cream in bed to celebrate Mother’s Day :) We then spent some time with Sergey’s coworker Rob’s family. We had a great lunch/dinner followed by ice cream outing. :-) Then we drove by the house we’re about to buy. We also showed them the park and peacocks near the new house. :-) Everyone liked them very much! And then I was Phoenix bound. It was a great and hopefully a successful weekend. It was amazing to spend some time with my husband! Love my man! :-)

It’s difficult to be apart with your loved one. Especially when you’re pregnant and your hormones fluctuate, while he is working hard and trying to find a new home for the family. So of course we start to fight over small things. We’re just both so tired and miss each other. Silly… But everything came back to its places once Sergey came back for the weekend and we were able to hold each other in our arms. :-)

I booked some spa treatments for Saturday and a haircut. Not too relaxing because all technicians wanted to talk. Oh well, at least my hair looks nice. :-)

On Sunday, Sergey, Dennis and I did a heroic thing: we planted 7 pigmy palms, 1 purple leaf plum tree, 7 lantanas and 3 natal plums in the front yard! All to please our HOA. Well, the house looks nice too. :-) But it was a long, hard and hot day. We worked so hard that I’ve lost 2 pounds! Doc thought I was on a diet, and told me to eat more! :-)

Noticing more and more Braxton Hicks contractions. They don’t hurt though.

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Pregnancy – Week 36

Starting regular weekly doc appointments now. My weight is still at 144.4 lbs. = 65 kg. Doc says I need to eat more. It’s not that I’m not eating… just Anna soaks it all up! :-) Trying to eat more smaller meals often.

HOA finally approved our new landscaping plan! With a little compromise we can close the violation, which will be helpful when we sell the AZ house. Now we need to implement it. :-)

On Wednesday Nina and I attended a breastfeeding class. She is 11 weeks pregnant! Yeah, great news! :-)

Busy week at work with lots of projects and early start/late nights. I slept for 11 hours each night but feel that I need more. Teaching Tiffany everything I do. :-) Let’s hope she can pull it off. :-)

Visiting Sergey in Las Vegas over the weekend. Last time as per doctors I should not be flying past week 32. Well, what can I say; I love and miss my lovely hubby. And we have a few more houses lined up for viewing. Need to figure out our living situation soon as Anna Sky is joining our family sooner than we can imagine. :-)

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