Just a warning – this post may contain TMI at times, but I want to record Thomas' birth story and TMI comes with birth stories. If you don't want to read all the details, just scroll to the end for the new baby stats.
Rewind the calendar to Sunday, 18 September. Mom was here (she got here the Friday previous) and we all went to church. Of course, I got the comments "You're still here?" Uh, yes. It sure looks like it, doesn't it? During the afternoon I was really antsy and couldn't sit still. I finally decided to start working on my hospital bag and I made meatloaf for dinner. K was getting ready to move and I had asked her what her favorite meal I cooked was and she said meatloaf. While I was cooking, I started feeling really crampy and I knew I was having contractions, but they weren't super bad. I finished cooking dinner and the 5 of us sat down to eat. I didn't have much of an appetite, but I ate anyway. The contractions started coming more frequently and we made the decision to head to Tucson, so I finished throwing my hospital bag together and Ryan helped Robert get some stuff together and we headed to a pre-determined hotel that we had decided would be "home". I tried a bath when we got checked in, but the water wasn't very hot – barely warm – and wasn't really soothing, so I didn't stay in but maybe 5-10 minutes. I did manage to throw up what little dinner I had eaten and thankfully K was there by that time. Ryan doesn't do well with puke and Robert was a little scared because Mommy was sick. So Gramma was taking care of Robert and Ryan stepped outside leaving K to take care of me. She's a wonderful friend!
Around 11:30 or so Sunday night we decided to head to the hospital. My contractions were about 3 or 4 minutes apart and fairly intense. I was able to breathe through them still, and in hindsight I probably would have been better off hanging out at the hotel longer, but we can't go back and change things. We got the hospital and got parked and up to the 8th floor. I love that UMC doesn't make laboring women use a wheel chair – they are available if needed, but I was fine walking. Since it was after hours, we had to check in at the information desk right by the hospital entrance, but the guy working there took one look at us and asked "Labor & Delivery?" and we said yes and he just waved us by. When K and Mom and Robert came later, they had to get visitor stickers to be able to go up to the 8th floor. I got checked in which didn't take too long as I had called on our way to the hospital and they had my file ready. They got me in the little exam curtained cubicle and checked me – only 3 cm, but they decided to admit me due to me being from Sierra Vista (they didn't know we had a hotel room) and the fact that I was trying for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth after C-Section). Normally they won't admit until 4 cm, which is when they consider active labor starting. After being monitored for 20 minutes or so – contractions and baby's heartbeat – I was brought to my labor & delivery room. I ended up with one of the corner rooms and they are the large ones, so that was nice!! The floor was very quiet. Everyone loved our birth plan, and when they saw I was trying for a natural/med-free birth, they pretty much left us alone. I did have to get in the bed every couple of hours or so for about 20 minutes of monitoring, but that was ok. At least it wasn't continuous. I used my exercise ball to bounce on and lean over while on my knees, I walked around, I hung onto Ryan. I used a wide variety of positions and techniques to get through the contractions. And then morning shift change came, and L&D started filling up. I was in bed for monitoring and then shift change happened and I think I got forgotten about. I was laying in bed for close to 2 hours and my contractions almost stopped after that. Ryan and I started walking laps around the floor and that helped some, but when I finally let them check me again mid-afternoon, I was still only at 4 cm.
Around 4 Monday afternoon, we decided to have them break my water and that kind of got things going. My contractions were about a minute long and a minute or so apart, and after 2 hours of that, they checked me again and I was *maybe* 4 1/2. Two hours of exhausting contractions and a 1/2 cm of progress. I knew I had a long road ahead of me and I broke down and asked for an epidural. Not what I wanted, but I knew that I'd need to rest up for pushing and at the rate I was progressing, it was going to be a while before baby was born. At every step, I made sure that I'd still be able to have my VBAC, and my awesome doctors talked to me about everything and assured me that I would still have a VBAC. So epidural it was. The anesthesiologist was AWESOME and despite my contractions being about a minute apart, he as able to get the epi in with no problems. Ah, relief. I was finally able to get some rest, and Ryan and K who were both super awesome on helping me through my contractions, were able to get some as well. After several hours, they checked me again and I was at 5 cm and we decided to start pitocin to help things along. Again, that wasn't in my birth plan, but my ultimate goal was to have a successful VBAC. They started with the lowest dose and gradually turned it up. Of course, because of the epidural, I was stuck in bed and had to have continuous monitoring, but it was all good. The nurses were wonderful and helped me turn from right side to left side every hour and a half or so, and once night came, they did their best to not wake me when they came to check my vitals and what not. Of course, I woke up pretty much every time, but that's ok. We joked about me having a slumber party in my L&D room – Ryan was sleeping in one chair, Mom was in another, Robert was under a little "tent" Ryan had made for him with a couple of rolling stools and a sheet, and K was sleeping in the closet.
Sometime in the early hours of Tuesday morning they checked me again and I was at 9 cm!!!! We were going to have a baby soon! At that point, we woke Robert up and he got changed into his "I'm a Big Brother" t-shirt and everyone got ready. I requested that they turn my epidural off so that I could feel to push and about 5:15 or 5:20 I was given the ok to start pushing – and I really felt like I was ready to. On the contractions when they told me not to push (to either give baby a break or to wait for the doc, etc.), that was not fun at all. As much as it hurt to push, it hurt more not to. They even had a mirror set up so I could the baby's head. I had to do my pushing on my back, although I did get the bed sitting up as much as I could so I could use gravity – even though the epidural was off, I was still fairly numb. I had a nurse on one side helping hold my leg and K was on the other side. Ryan was with Robert standing by to help deliver the baby and cut the cord (although that ended up not happening because we started having a little bit of distress and some meconium). I pushed for about an hour and ten minutes which is a short amount of time for a first-time vaginal birth. On average, first time vaginals usually push for about 2 hours. But my docs attributed that to the fact that I'm in such good shape (I ran until 34 1/2 weeks and then walked after that – including 2 miles Saturday, the day before heading to the hospital). I may have pushed too hard, too fast as I tore both on my perineum and the left side of my vagina and required a total of 7 stitches, but I couldn't not push at that point. Right after he was born, the docs cut the cord (but left a good length so Robert could still "cut" it) and brought him to the warming table where a team from the NICU was standing by. Once they had cleared his lungs some, they let Robert (with Ryan's help) "cut" the cord. Robert thought that was really neat that he got to do that, and the doc let him keep the scissors! They were all set to take him to the NICU, but brought him to me to hold first. As soon as I got him in my arms, his color got a lot better and the NICU team left after deeming NICU not necessary!! I got him to my breast and he latched on almost right away – such an awesome feeling!!
On Tuesday, 20 September 2011, at 0630 Arizona Time, we welcomed Thomas Nikolai Yearicks into the world with Daddy Ryan, Big Brother Robert (and yes, he watched his baby brother be born!!), Gramma Sally, and "Auntie" K watching/helping. He was 7 pounds, 12 ounces and 21 inches long. I was surprised that he was so small, but I'm thankful as well. And I'm thankful for a successful VBAC!!! The doctors, nurses, and other care personnel at the University Medical Center in Tucson, AZ, were AWESOME!!