Sunday, July 24, 2016

Welcome Lincoln!

Welcome to our family new baby Lincoln Charles Wheat, 7 lbs 14 oz, 20 1/2 in!

On the morning of Friday, July 15th, 2016 I was exactly 39 weeks pregnant with Lincoln. I had been very busy that week trying to keep the other three kids entertained so they wouldn't mind as much just hanging around the house once the baby was born. That week we went to a friend's house and got wet, went to a splash pad, finished up a session of swimming lessons, went to an outdoor movie, Julia had a playdate with a friend, we went to the Draper Days bike parade, and had well-child check-ups for Micah and Julia.

I had been thinking of doing something else fun on Friday as well, but by that time the house was a mess because I hadn't had the time or energy to keep up with the cleaning with everything going on that week. So I decided we would just stay home and catch up on cleaning until that evening when we were going to go to my parent's home in Saratoga Springs to spend the night.

Robert was planning on going on an overnight hike that afternoon with his scouts to Desolation Lake up Big Cottonwood Canyon so he worked from home that morning. I had a chiropractor appointment that morning so I left Micah and Julia at home with Robert and took Camden with me so Robert could get some work done. After the appointment Camden and I went to the store and then came home to clean and get ready for the evening. While we were at the store I ran into one of my friends and she asked me if I was ready for the baby to come. I joked that I had never been so less prepared this late in pregnancy for any of my babies and that the baby needed to wait until next week. We had just ordered our car seat online the previous day and it wasn't even supposed to arrive until the next Tuesday, Robert had his hiking trip that night, and we had invited some of my family and cousins over for an ice cream party the next evening.

I had had very light Braxton Hicks contractions throughout the last part of my pregnancy, but a few weeks earlier they had really stopped almost entirely so I wasn't feeling like my body was gearing up for anything quite yet. That morning I had had some mucus in my urine which could have been my mucus plug coming out, but since your mucus plug can regenerate I still took it as not really meaning anything was going to happen. Later that afternoon I felt a little crampy which did get me thinking that things were starting to happen, but still not thinking things would happen anytime soon

Before Robert left for his hike I told him he needed let me know if he had cell phone service up there and to call me before he went to bed to check in, even if that meant hiking down the trail to where he did get service. We knew that anything could happen, so I wanted to be able to keep in touch with him. I really didn't want to have to send someone up there in the middle of the night to get him if I went into labor, but since nothing had been happening and I was still almost a week away from my due date (all our other kids had been born within two days of their due dates) he still went ahead with the hike.

Driving to my parents house I had a couple of Braxton Hicks contractions, but when I got out of the car and walked around they stopped. I got to my parents house just in time to eat some dinner and leave the kids there while I went to go to the last temple session of the day at the Mount Timpanogos Temple. One of the things on my list of what I wanted to get done before the baby came was go to one last temple session.

Robert had texted me at the trailhead and said he had service there, but I had not heard from him for quite a while. I texted him and asked him to let me know if he had service. I had decided if I was able to talk to him to tell him to come home to sleep that night and then go back up in the morning just in case since I had had a couple more contractions on the way over to the temple. (He had found another leader to be there in case he did have to leave so there would be enough leaders up there.) By the time it was time for me to go in for the 8:00 p.m. session he still had not responded. So I put my phone on silent and went into the temple session.

In hindsight here, I should have texted him the message before I went in. It turns out I just barely missed him. He had hiked up half a mile to the top of the mountain and got cell service out of Park City. He called at about 7:55 p.m. and left a message that he would call back in the morning.

I had a few more light contractions at the temple and then returned afterwards to my parents house where the kids were just falling asleep. I finally got to bed around midnight, but it was a restless sleep and when I was awake I could feel I was still getting the occasional contraction. I was pretty sure by now that I would be going into real labor that day, the question was how soon would it finally start up and how fast would it go.

The contractions finally did start getting more painful, but only just painful enough not to be able to ignore them. I started timing them around 4:30 a.m. and they were all over they place, anywhere from 6-10 minutes apart.

I finally got up around 5:30 a.m. and started getting ready for the day since there was no point in trying to sleep anymore. I had been thinking about what to do about Robert being up the mountain and was worried that if I waited for him to call he might not make it down the mountain in time. My big fear with this being my fourth birth was that when things got going they would go fast.

Just before 6:00 a.m. I called Robert's Dad, who had coincidentally ended up stuck in Salt Lake overnight due to a delayed flight and had gone to our house to sleep. Again, I really didn't want to ask anyone to hike up the mountain to find Robert if it wasn't really necessary, but at this point I thought it was. Poor guy had come in late and had only a couple hours of sleep when I woke him up and asked him to get up, drive up the canyon, and hike 3.5 miles to go find Robert and tell him to come home. I texted Robert that the contractions were not going away and I was sending his dad up to get him, but of course since he was out of cell range he wouldn't get the message until he hiked back up the hill, whenever that was going to be.

Around 6:00 a.m. my contractions started getting closer together, every 2 to 3 minutes, but they were only 30 seconds long and still not painful enough for me to have to stop what I was doing during them or stop talking, which was weird. Finally at 6:45 a.m. I got a text from Robert saying he was at the top of the mountain again. I called him and let him know what was going on and that his dad was coming. He told me to tell his dad to wait for him at the trailhead and he would be down in a couple hours. Robert still needed his dad to wait and give him a ride so Robert could leave his car at the trailhead for the rest of the scouts to get home later in the day. I called Robert's dad, who had luckily just made it to the trailhead and hadn't started hiking yet. I told him to take a nap there and Robert would find him when he got down.

At about 7:00 a.m. I woke up my mom and told her I needed a ride to the hospital, or at least to my house until it was time to go to the hospital because I didn't want to be 30 minutes away when I wanted to go into the hospital. Our house was only two minutes away from the hospital. I had not told anyone at my parent's house about being in labor yet because I didn't want to bother people in the middle of the night when they couldn't do anything, so that was the first anyone there had heard about having a baby that day.

My dad stayed to watch the kids and told the kids when they woke up that “I think someone is going to have a new brother today.” Julia said Micah didn't hear so she told him they might be getting a new brother that day. Julia also said Camden didn't even really hear or care, he was just running around being crazy.

The ride to the hospital was uncomfortable but not horrible. If I had been at home I probably would have waited longer to go to the hospital, but since we were already in the car and I felt like the contractions were getting stronger we ended up just going straight to the hospital. I was dilated to a 3.5 when I first got there at around 8:00 a.m. and 30 minutes later when they checked me again I was a 4, so I was progressing quickly and they checked me in. The contractions were now painful and it was annoying to have to lay down on the bed to be checked and monitored.

They asked me if I wanted an epidural and if I wanted one now. I said not yet at first, then immediately had a strong contraction and said “okay, now yes.”  All of a sudden the contractions were strong and painful instead of just annoying. By the time I went from the monitoring room to my own room they were strong enough that I had “found my voice” and was moaning pretty loudly during the contractions to focus through them.

At 8:45 a.m., while I was waiting to get taken over to my labor and delivery room Robert texted that he was in the car. He had hurried back to camp, packed up his stuff, and ran down the hill with his hiking backpack. After I got to my room I texted Robert that I wanted an epidural and was waiting for the anesthesiologist, just to give Robert an idea of how things were going.

At 9:14 a.m. Robert arrived at the hospital and my mom left. As soon as he got there he told me he was stinky (from running down the mountain) but I didn't care and wanted to lean against him through my next contraction. The anesthesiologist soon came and I held Robert's hand while they placed my epidural.

Now that I was able to relax a little Robert went back home to shower. He was only gone for about half an hour and while he was gone the nurse checked to see how far I was. I was at a 6 at 10:40 a.m. The baby had had a couple of low heart rates early on in the labor, but now he was doing fine and I was progressing fine but not super quickly.

When my epidural was placed I was able to get some relief from the contractions, but I could still feel them. As they got stronger I found myself pushing the button for more pain meds through almost every contraction and soon wondered how much the epidural was actually working.

The nurse came in and gave me a catheter, which is standard for someone who has an epidural because you are not able to feel when you need to pee, or even get up to use the restroom. With all my other kids I have not been able to feel the catheter at all, but with this it  was uncomfortable as the nurse put it in and it was uncomfortable when it was in. I had a constant feeling that I really, really needed to pee. I asked the nurse if it was working since I felt like I needed to pee and she said the pee was coming out, but the catheter had to push on my bladder to work and that is what I was feeling. It was so uncomfortable and not something I ever had with my other labors.

Being able to feel the catheter, complaining that my back hurt, and the fact that I was now moaning and doing breathing exercises through the contractions signaled to everyone that the epidural was no longer working. I hate sitting down while laboring, when I am at home I stand and lean against something or get on my hands and knees through strong contractions. Now I was stuck sitting in bed to labor through strong contractions because I had an epidural that was not working. The nurses would help by pushing my knees up during the contractions, which would provide some relief.

The anesthesiologist came back and said he could do a new epidural, so I said yes to that even though I wasn't looking forward to having to hold still through these strong contractions while he was placing it. Turns out by that time I had to be so focused through the contractions that I hardly even noticed the epidural being placed. And while I wasn't having a contraction I was so tired by then (from lack of sleep the night before and from labor) that I literally almost fell asleep between contractions. Robert told me afterwards he thought I had my eyes closed because I didn't want to look. I told him no, I can't see anything anyway while I'm getting the epidural, I had my eyes closed because I was falling asleep.

At this point I was dilated to an 8, and I was starting to feel some pressure, liked the pressure that you need push. My water had still not broken and the nurse said I had a “bulging bag,” meaning my water was ready to burst. She predicted that once my water broke it would be a quick birth after that because the baby was very low. Before I could feel any numbing from the epidural I started to REALLY feel like i needed to push. The nurse checked me again and I was a 9 ½.

The epidural still wasn't working at all. Eventually I felt numb on my right thigh, that was it, which needless to say doesn't help much with labor pains. It was a little disappointing, but I wasn't really able to process that because at that point my thoughts were more like “let's just get this delivery done and over with!” The nurses were all geared up for delivery, but we were still missing the doctor. My doctor happened to be out of town that day so I had the on call doctor from the hospital as my doctor, and he still had not arrived. The nurses said it was no problem though, it wouldn't be the first time they'd had to deliver a baby, but we should still try to wait for the doctor.

The doctor arrived, still dressed in his street clothes. He checked me and broke my water since it had still not broken, then left for a minute to change into his scrubs while the nurses instructed me to bear down a little through the next contraction to open up that last ½ cm. The doctor came back and I was so ready to push. It felt like I might not NOT be able to push through the next contraction, it was almost involuntary.

I was a little nervous about this part since I had never birthed before without an epidural and had not mentally prepared for it for this birth either. But there was no time to pause and think about it and really, what was I going to do? Say no thank you, let's not do it? No, it was time to push, ready or not.

It was painful in the moment, but looking back at it I would describe it more as intense. What it really felt like, to be blunt, was like having a giant poop that needed pushed out. As soon as I started pushing Lincoln was halfway out, or his head was out at least. The nurse actually coached me to slow down the pushing so I wouldn't tear.

Then, they made me stop pushing, when all I really wanted to do was push him all the way out! Lincoln's umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around his neck and the doctor wanted to clamp and cut the cord and get it off his neck before Lincoln descended any further. So for one whole contraction I fought the urge to push, not really knowing if I would be successful or not. The doctor was able to clamp and the cut the cord to loosen it from his neck and in the next contraction Lincoln was born.

It was 12:26 p.m. on July 16, 2016. Lincoln weighed 7 lbs 14 oz and was 20 ½ in long. I was able to briefly hold him right after birth before they took him aside to the warmer to be evaluated and measured, and then they brought him back to me for more snuggles and nursing. My sweet nurse congratulated me on my “natural” birth and told me next time to just skip the epidural because I had done a great job on pain management.

In the end, the birth of our fourth baby turned out to be nothing like we were expecting. But since he was our fourth baby none of it really fazed us. We went with the flow and what happened was what happened. We were just happy to have a new happy, healthy, baby.

Recovery this time around was really no big deal. I didn't tear at all and I just had a stinging feeling for a couple hours afterwards “down there,” then I felt fine besides the normal postpartum bleeding. The nurses would come in and ask me “on a scale of 1 to 10 what is your pain level”, and I would tell them, “0? Is that an option? I'm not in any pain.” I was worried about postpartum cramps during nursing because they were pretty painful with my third child and they are supposed to get worse with each child. I took some Tylenol in the first few days back home but it wasn't as bad as I was gearing up for it to be. The hardest part about all of this has actually been the past week of sleepless nights staying up with a newborn who has an unpredictable sleep pattern.

Some other notables from our hospital stay:

Grandpa and Grandma Wheat stopped by to visit a few hours after Lincoln was born. We had them go to Walmart afterwards to buy us a car seat so we would be able to go home the next day, Sunday, since our car seat wasn't going to arrive until Tuesday.

Robert's favorite part of the hospital stay was the free self-serve slushie machine across the hall from my room. My favorite part was the “room service” food and the giant birthing suites. Labor and delivery, and recovery were all in the same room, so I never had to leave the room the entire time I was there.

The other kids came by that evening with Grandpa and Grandma Sandberg to meet Lincoln. Camden fell asleep in the two-minute ride over from our house. He woke up as they were about to leave and I showed him the baby, and he didn't really process it. He just looked around like “let's get out of here.” He now calls the baby his “ little baby brother named Lincoln” and tells me all the time his baby brother is so cute.

As we were getting ready to go home the next day I realized I had not seen my shoes since I arrived at the hospital. My mom had put all my clothes, including my shoes, in a bag when we moved into my birthing room, giving it to Robert when he got to the hospital, who then took it home figuring it was just a bunch of dirty clothes. I thought it wasn't worth it to have Robert drive home just to get my shoes so I walked out of the hospital in just my socks, an unexpectedly fitting ending to the last two days of surprises.

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