I wish I had written my birth story with Drazen. As much as we will never forget the big moments of having our children, a lot of the little details get lost through time and it would be nice to reflect back through once in awhile 🙂
Lijana’s birth story starts with the decision to actually “try” for a second baby. Being pregnant with Drazen was a huge surprise for us, so after having him, I really needed to settle into motherhood. I wasn’t even thinking about a second child or “family planning” for quite awhile. Eventually, mother and father intuiton came naturally for us and we began talking about having another. Unlike DJ, we planned Lijana to the month. We quickly found out that our plans and her plans were different. We decided to try in August of 2013. August came and went. No baby. We thought it was going to be a piece of cake! September would surely be the month. September came and went. Not pregnant! I thought I had things figured out and knew when I was ovulating, but we must’ve been just missing the mark. October came and with much anticipation….we STILL were not pregnant! Growing frustrated, I elected the help of an ovulation predictor. I didn’t really know how something that looked just like a pregnancy test but with a flashing smiley face could help us make a baby, but I was willing to try it! Much to my surprise, if these smiley faces were correct, I was ovulating much faster than I thought I was. This would explain why we haven’t been successful. We followed these legendary smiley faces and hoped for the best. November was a busy month with Drazen’s birthday and Thanksgiving, so it was nice to be temporarily distracted by things for awhile. After the big events were over and the monthly “waiting game” was just up, I was eager to test again.
My friend Kristy was over and I told her that I just needed to test and end the guessing game! I went in the bathroom and used the stick. I then took it into the kitchen and placed it on the counter. I walked around a little and then looked down. Kristy walked into the kitchen to see the result. One line ( = Not pregnant). Humphhhh. I kept staring down at it in disappointment. Then my eyes widened. Was it? Could it be? Was I really seeing a second line coming through? Was it just my eyes? Kristy looked down and had the same perplexed look as me. We both weren’t sure if there was a second line. Then I started to really see the faint line. It WAS faint, but it was there! Kristy still wasn’t 100% convinced but I knew in my mind that it was the real thing. I tried to stay calm and agreed to re-test in the morning for a clearer outcome. Kristy left and Nick was still at work but was coming home soon. I wanted to share the news with him in a different way, so I took out some lipstick and wrote on our bathroom mirror, “WE’RE PREGNANT!”. To say the least, when he looked in the mirror, he was very surprised and very happy 😀
Fast forward 9+ months!
I had this feeling that the baby would come early the whole pregnancy, but that feeling was quickly diminishing after week 37, 38 and 39 were coming and going. I really didn’t want to be induced so I tried some things to speed things up. I tried bouncing and doing “Circle Eights” on an exercise ball, long walks, spicy food and all the other old wives tales you hear about. After doing most of them, I realized that they were quite pointless. I know some women have had success with them, but I feel like they are only successful if the baby is ready at that exact time! So it was August 16th, 3 days after my due date. I went to bed and got woken up by contractions. They started out like a few cramps that I was ignoring because I was half asleep and half awake. Then I realized what was going on and definitely could not get back to sleep! I downloaded a “Contraction timer” on my phone and got to timing! They were irregular but lasted all night. Nick’s alarm went off around 6am and I told him that he probably shouldn’t go to work because I was still having contractions. I texted my mother-in-law and told her not to rush over but that today could be the day. She came over a few hours later and I was still having contractions but they weren’t very painful. I knew they had to be stronger and longer or I was going to just sit around the hospital like I was sitting around my house. Nick and I went for a walk hoping to make them increase a little bit. It didn’t do much and I was getting frustrated. Was it false labor or was it the real deal? I was starting to doubt things. I was also very tired from not getting any sleep that morning, so I decided to take a nap. I got a few contractions during my nap but was able to sleep. When I woke up they were still happening but they seemed like they had gotten less strong and more spaced apart. This was driving me crazy! I kept checking in with my Doula to tell her how everything was going. She said to keep waiting to see if they would be 4 minutes apart. I kept waiting and they were ranging from 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes apart and then 10 minutes again. They were slowly getting stronger so I texted my Doula again around 7pm. She said to wait until hour and right when I got that text, I got a real doozie contraction. After that they started coming every 3 minutes and were very painful. I told my Doula that I didn’t think I could wait another hour and that I was heading over to the hospital. I called my doctor to let her know I was heading over and I got SUCH pleasant news. She wasn’t on call that weekend….meaning that this doctor that had checked in with me for 9+ months and delivered Drazen was simply unavailable….and there was nothing I could do about it. To say the least, I was really annoyed that she hadn’t let me know this beforehand, knowing I could go into labor any day.
I had some contractions on the ride which was reassuring. I got to the hospital, checked in and went into a triage room to be checked. My worst fear was not being dilated at all Then we did all this for nothing! The triage room was tiny, dark and dull. I started getting really uncomfortable. “Was this where I would deliver?”, I thought . It was the first time in St. Barnabas Hospital and we didn’t even want to deliver there in the first place, but my doctor had switched here. Some nurses came in and started asking me the barrage of the same questions over and over again. “Is this the delivery room?”. I ended up needing to know. They said no and I was very relieved. I was still feeling really anxious all the sudden and I didn’t like the atmosphere. Then my Doula arrived and lightened things up. She immediately noticed the worry on my face and was able to distract me and let me know things were going to be just fine.
Med students were commonplace at this hospital apparently, and they were already annoying the crap out of me from the “get go”. You could tell they were clueless and the one med student didn’t even know what a “Doula” was. She thought that was my Doula’s name and she kept insisting that she was my sister. Sorry kiddo, you’re going to get eaten alive in the medical world. Might as well quit while you’re ahead. She just had a really annoying, clueless personality that would annoy ANY woman in active labor….especially when she seemed to be like 16 years old and wouldn’t know what a contraction was if it hit her in the head. Anyway, my first impression of the hospital was sucking, but I was trying to block the negative things out of my head. Another “Resident” MD came in and checked my cervix for dilation. This girl was much more pleasant, but you could still tell she was very green. I believe she was a doctor, but just not enough practice yet to go on her own. I don’t know all the mumbo jumbo, but this girl had fingers of gold, because I was 5 cm dilated! I was halfway there already! This put a huge smile on my face and I really felt like I could do this labor without medication.
The second I was making my way into the delivery room my contractions must’ve gotten a green light, because they intensified by 100% and were really picking up speed. By the time I made it INSIDE the room, I was beside myself. My Doula and my husband did their best to work with me throughout each contraction, applying counter pressure on my back, massaging me and guiding me through each one. Nothing was helping. My mind was outside of my body. I had never endured such pain. My Doula asked if I wanted to take a shower and I immediately said yes. Apparently this was NOT commonplace in the hospital and they were trying to finagle a monitor that could go with me instead of being attached to the bed. They were fumbling for what seemed like an eternity. One monitor had no battery, then they couldn’t find a certain part…then they were tangled in all these wires. Maybe it was the contractions or maybe it was reality, but every staff member around me all the sudden turned into a COMPLETE IDIOT. I made a few nasty comments when one of the monitors didn’t work. The monitor in the triage room when I came in didn’t work correctly either, so I made a remark after they said another one wasn’t working and said ” Apparently broken monitors are the trend here!!!” I finally got into the shower and it was sweet relief. The contractions were manageable and things were looking up. I wondered if I could stay in that shower for eternity….but I knew it wasn’t going to be quite that way. After about 45 minutes, I figured it was time to get out. I was completely exhausted after the shower. The lovely monitors were showing some dips in baby girl’s heart rate so they really wanted me to stay put on the bed for awhile to make sure things were okay. Great. Another thing I had to worry about. Having to stay still was my downfall. The contractions were so long and strong that I was acting like I was possessed. I was singing the ABCS to get through them and other random songs, but it was doing absolutely nothing. I literally took clumps of my hair and was about to pull it out each time. I was beside myself in pain. I was saying things that made no sense. I was also saying things like, “WHY ME” and “THIS IS RIDICULOUS”. I then said, “THIS DOESNT MAKE ANY SENSE”. My Doula said, “What doesn’t make sense, babe?”. I then said, ” I don’t know…it does make sense.” I was losing it. I had read books, did research and mentally prepared as much as I could, but it all flew right out the window at the severity of the contractions.
Some women would ask why would I ever want to torture myself. Well, the main reason I wanted to go drug free was because I was convinced that the epidural with Drazen made his heart rate plummet quite a few times. This scared me a lot. I just wanted my second baby to be born exactly as intended by nature or a “higher power”…and that was without drugs. I did make a pact with myself though, that if I was being completely tortured, that I would consent to the drugs. My Doula tried to stop me multiple times from getting it, as she was trying to follow my wishes…but I knew this was what was best for me. Plus, my baby’s heart rate was acting up, and there was no epidural in me. I realized that this was just a normal progression as stress was placed on the baby, regardless of drugs. I labored until 8 cm and 8 hours before I caved in. I wanted to punch the anesthesiologist in the face. He was a short Asian man who had no regard for me being in immense pain. He wouldn’t wait until my contractions were over to push in the needle. He yelled at me multiple times saying I was moving. I’d like to see him not move during a contraction!!! Then he said I wasn’t relaxing my shoulders and he wasn’t able to get it in. Well buddy, I wasn’t exactly at a day spa!! Finally they laid me on my side and he was able to put it in after what seemed like 6 failed needles in my back. I couldn’t wait until he left.
I feel like I probably could’ve delivered the baby an hour later, but the doctor hadn’t arrived for 3 more hours, until about 2am. I kept asking for her but she wouldn’t come until a check was done and I was fully dilated. She came moseying in. I asked her how far she lived from the hospital. “7 minutes” she said. Wow…7 minutes away but it took her hours to get there to see us. I was glad I got the epidural and had time to recharge before pushing. I would’ve never had the energy if I had been contracting for 3 more hours.
Finally, they prepped the room for delivery and it was time to push. They turned my epidural down a little bit and I got nervous. I didn’t want to feel this, are they kidding me!? But they explained that I needed to feel the contractions to effectively push. I was nervous but feeling pretty good. I chose to get in a squatting position as much as I possibly could. They set up the bed so I could achieve that. There I was, spread eagle on the hospital bed with my knees up to my chin almost ready to push. The doctor waved in the med students. They all flocked in and circled around the big show (me). Good thing I had ZERO shame at that point. What a riot. Pushing was nothing like the first time and nothing like the movies. It was calm, controlled and actually…dare I say…semi enjoyable? It wasn’t constant pushing because my contractions were spread apart. This gave me ample time to recharge between pushes. One of the med students beepers went off and I said, “Time for dinner!”. Was I really cracking jokes right now? I really was! We were talking about random subjects while waiting for contractions. My nurse Lois was always readjusting something on me. She was a sweet older lady just trying to being thorough. She was kind of like my Grandma during it all. It felt nice.
Every time I did a set of three pushes, I was really encouraged. My Doula was saying how well I was pushing and I could see the “16 year old” med student look over in shock…so I knew that she could see the head and that I was getting close. After about 15-20 pushes, out came her little head! No, I didn’t feel the “ring of fire”, just a bit of pressure. I looked down and saw her hairy head. The cord was wrapped around her neck. I was surprisingly calm and the doctor wasn’t phased. She even let the med student cut it. I was thinking, “Really??? Come on now”. So, Nick wasn’t able to cut the cord unfortunately, and we were planning on delayed cord clamping…but the matter at hand was obviously more important. After the cord was cut, I pushed again and her body came out. They placed her immediately on my chest and I finally got that elated feeling of love I was looking for with Drazen. With Drazen, I was so out of it, so exhausted and in so much pain that I never got that feeling and I never even got to hold him. They took him right away and weighed him and gave him to Nick. They let Lijana rest on me for what seemed like an hour. She rooted out my breast and was breastfeeding perfectly right away with no help from Momma! I couldn’t believe how peaceful she was. She barely cried. I even asked if she was okay! Nick and I shared some moments and just stared at her with locked eyes forever. This…is what I had hoped for. I was so happy. I was happy with all of the choices I made throughout the process and I was really in a great state of mind. Now we had two little miracles in our lives and we couldn’t feel more blessed. <3 <3