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Birth Story and First Weeks

posted Oct 15, 2013, 8:07 AM by Theresa S
Audrey Alexandra Haboubi Stephens was born on October 3, 2013 at 3:36pm, weighting 9 pounds 4 ounces and measuring 21 inches long. She is now 12 days old and thriving. She is a very easy baby so far. She eats well and has fed from both the breast and the bottle easily. She had already gained back her birth weight plus a few more ounces at one week old. She sleeps for 4-5 hour stretches at night, and actually slept through the night for the first time last night (which was a lovely surprise that I completely do not expect to continue). She likes to take walks in her carrier and wrap, and she has already gone on outings to the grocery store, Target, the mall, and out to eat. She also got to meet all of her cousins, including Baby Sam, who was born on October 12.
Audrey (in pink) and Sam (in blue):
Many people have asked about my birth story, so I am going to include it here. It's a good example of how, no matter how much planning and preparation is made for a natural birth, sometimes things happen that are beyond your control. Either way, the baby makes its way into the world.
I went to the midwife on Wednesday October 2, and they did a procedure on me where they pulled my cervix behind the baby's head. I always find that when they do the internal check that its very uncomfortable, but this was another level of discomfort. Gabe said it made me whimper. At least it didn't take very long, and it did get contractions started. I felt mildly crampy all day on Wednesday, sporadic but regularly. My mom decided to come down on Wednesday night because I was going to be induced on Friday, even if nothing came of the cramps/contractions I was having that day. When I went to bed that night I started having sharp back pains about every 10 minutes while lying on my side. I went downstairs around 1am and sat propped up with pillows on the couch with the heating pad on my back. I felt pretty good in that position, but I started timing the contractions and they were coming between 3-5 minutes apart and lasted a bit less than a minute. They felt like abdominal cramps and back pain at the same time, and I had to take the time to stop and breathe when I had one, but I could still talk through it. I woke Gabe up around 5am because they had been between 3-5 minutes apart for about 3 hours and I thought we might want to call and find out if we should go to the hospital. I called the midwife and she said I might want to labor at home until I couldn't talk through the contractions. So I had a shower and had a small breakfast and we were planning to go for a walk, but the contractions started feeling worse and I was worried about getting stuck in rush hour traffic, so we left the house at 7:30.
When we got to the hospital, we had to do an initial 20 minutes on the heart rate monitor. We talked to the midwife (it ended up that the one that we hadn't met was the one on call) and the nurses and the OB on call and everyone was respectful of our birth plan. They were dedicated to helping us have as few interventions as possible. Unfortunately, things weren't going our way from the beginning. Audrey's heart rate was not responsive to the contractions (it is supposed to spike up during a contraction) and I also hadn't dilated more since that morning at my office visit (3cm). They kept me on the monitor and had me lie on either side and eat ice chips to try and get the baby moving and responding to the contractions, but her heart rate stayed the same. So they said that they would let me keep laboring, but I had to be attached to a monitor and that meant I had to stay in bed. So I kept laboring on my back, which was super uncomfortable since I was feeling the contractions in my back, and it was also uncomfortable having the monitor strapped on to my stomach. Eventually they checked in again and the baby still wasn't responding and I wasn't dilating any more, even though I was having strong contractions 2 minutes apart, so they decided to do an internal fetal monitor to give a more accurate reading. Unfortunately that meant less movement for me, and nothing improved.
They decided to break my water to see if the amniotic fluid was preventing the baby from feeling the contractions, since I had a lot of it. This was also very uncomfortable, like the cervix procedure, plus they wanted to do it during a contraction for some reason, so it was double the pain. Breaking the water didn't improve things. They offered me an epidural, and at this point I was very overwhelmed and feeling hopeless and crying. Gabe was trying to be a good coach and knew that it wasn't what I wanted, so he talked me into laboring for a little while longer to see if more time would help, even though he felt like everyone thought he was a jerk. :-) I knew what he was doing and why and so we fought through another couple hours. Finally, we decided to do an epidural to see if relaxing and resting would help improve things. I was more than ready for it, and it was an amazing relief. I was able to nap for two hours, and they also gave me Pitocin to try and strengthen the contractions and see if the baby would react. So, around 3, after having been laboring on my back for 7 hours at the hospital and having all those medical interventions that weren't part of our plan, I wasn't any more dilated and the baby still wasn't responding. We didn't really have any other choice but to have a C-section, and I had made peace with it by then. Gabe was such a great coach, helping me through every contraction, and really doing his best to be an advocate for me and follow the plan, but basically everything went out the window and was out of our control.
The C-section was pretty surreal because I was on a lot of drugs to numb everything and I was very sleepy. Everything was happening behind a drape, so I couldn't see anything and could only feel some pressure. Gabe got to watch things, and when the baby was born, he got to go watch her get cleaned up and checked out. I could hear her cry, but couldn't see what they were doing. Finally, Gabe was able to bring her over to sit next to me for a few minutes. It was really strange because I was so excited to see her, but I was nodding off because of the drugs. Then, they went to the recovery room while I was stitched up, which took about half an hour. Afterwards I got to join them in the recovery room, but I couldn't hold her until I was less sleepy. Once I was alert I was able to hold her and nurse, and we were moved to our room where we stayed for the next three days. The grandparents came to see her (my mom was there for the labor until I went to surgery) and she was given her first bath. The next few days, we had friends and family come to visit. I had a fever and a high heart rate at first, so I was monitored for infection. Basically a doctor or nurse is always coming in to check temperature or blood pressure or how much I'm peeing or do blood work on me or the baby 24 hours a day, and of course we are still caring for the baby and ourselves, plus we had some classes to go to, so there is always a lot going on at the hospital. 
It's hard outside the womb
First family portrait
We got to go home on Sunday and my mom stayed with us until Friday night, when Baby Sam was approaching delivery, and she had to report to my sister's house. Gabe's mom joined us on Sunday, so we have been fortunate to have a lot of help.
I have had a reasonably easy recovery from the C-section. I was retaining a lot of fluid at first, but am now back to normal, and off all the heavy painkillers that made me nod off at first. I am gaining back my stamina and going a little further on my walks every day, and beginning to do chores and get errands done. Now it's time to enjoy the baby and figure out what the new normal looks like for us.