I wrote this two months ago. Never got around to posting!!
Hope Jennifer Coughlin was born on April 30, 2013 at 4:12 in the morning. Tomorrow she will be two months old. She is perfect. She is beautiful. She is another reminder that not for a moment did He forsake me.
In the days and weeks leading up to her birth, Shane and I were making huge decisions for our family…choosing a med school and deciding where our children would spend the first four years of their lives! We desperately wanted to be closer to family again, while at the same time, we had to consider where we could live INCOME-LESS for four years. Shane was offered a $100,000 scholarship to the University of Tennessee which made it possible for me to stay home with the babies while Shane went to school. Once we figured out which school, we had to decide what house. Would we continue renting at our current address or would we buy? For over a week, we scrambled around Memphis with a realtor looking at houses. If we were going to buy a house and be approved for a mortgage, we had to do it quick before Shane stopped working! Needless to say, I was feeling a tad overwhelmed at the end of the pregnancy. I was thankful that my mom was flying in a week before my due date to help get things ready for baby!
On Sunday, April 28, I picked my mom up from the airport around 1 pm. Shane left for work around 4 pm that afternoon and after putting Sammy to bed, my mom and I just hung out on the couch. Around 10 pm, we decided it was time for bed. Before heading upstairs to her “apartment” (as she so fondly refers to the guest bedroom), she said, “Come and wake me up if you go into labor.” To which I quickly responded, “Mom, my due date is still a week away and nothing is happening. I’m not going into labor tonight.” She’s a smart lady. She said, “Ok Min. Just come and get me if you do.” And I did.
I slept on the couch because that’s where I always sleep when Shane works night shifts. Around 12:30 I woke up with those cramps…and they were the serious kind. The contraction kind. I started timing them. From 1:00 am to 2:00 they were 8-10 minutes apart. From 2:00 am to 3:00 am they were closer to five minutes apart. I called Shane at work and told him to prepare to meet his daughter! When he got home from work, we headed to the hospital. It was around 4 am and we asked my mom to stay at home with Sammy until we had more info. The drive was relatively quick since we were the only car on the road. We got there in less than 20 minutes. Unfortunately, the nurses were not able to check dilation (it’s a real problem), so the only information they had to go by was the external contraction monitor. After monitoring contractions for an hour and with no successful cervix check, they sent me home.
We got home around 7:00 am and Shane crashed. I attempted to cope with the contractions by taking a hot shower and tylenol. They were getting increasingly painful and difficult to handle. I woke Shane up and called my OB. She told us to come to the office asap. So we got back in the car and made the same drive, only this time we parked at the doctors office instead of labor and delivery. The contractions were still 5-10 minutes apart so I sat awkwardly in the waiting room while the other currently-not-in-labor patients stared at me. After some more time of waiting in the exam room, Dr Chauhan came in. We told her about the onset of contractions and our recent trip to labor and delivery. She wrote me a special note on a prescription pad instructing the L&D nurses not to attempt cervix checks, but to wait and monitor the baby externally. It was like a hall pass. ha!
So we headed home with the hall pass. Now this was when things got rough. I busted out the big yoga ball and started bearing down on that thing. Meanwhile Shane was holding a bag of frozen veggies on my lower back. I’m breathing…too fast, slow it down…still too fast.I just kept trying to breathe at all. Sammy was crawling around the living room floor while I moaned and groaned like a crazy person. Then I started to get mad. I was mad that I was back at home and had to make that drive back to the hospital on Poplar Ave with this baby coming! At this point, it was closer to 3:00 pm. Over 14 hours of contractions. In that time, I had eaten a popsicle.
So Shane and I got back in the car to make the final drive to Methodist Hospital. It wasn’t pretty. I was gripping the door and center console like the car was about to blast off into space. I said the F word for the first time in my life. It was a sad moment. I really didn’t think we were going to make it (ha! little did I know). After being admitted and taken to our room, I begged the nurse for the epidural. (I had an epidural with the twins and was sure it was what I wanted with Hope. I knew what to expect from the medicine and how it would numb me up) But since they couldn’t check my cervix, they had to wait for Dr Chauhan to start her shift before ordering the epidural.
WHHHAAAATT? Dr Chauhan doesn’t start her shift until 5 pm…
So from about 3pm-5pm, I inflicted physical pain on Shane in an effort to cope with the contractions. It was a nightmare. By the time Dr. Chauhan got to the hospital, saw me, ordered the epidural, and the anesthesiologist came up to do the procedure, I was 8 cm dilated. Things got worse. Immediately after the first bit of medicine came through, my blood pressure crashed. I lost it. I was passing out and the anesthesiologist was doing everything he could to stabilize my blood pressure. Now, in an effort to prevent that from happening again, the anesthesiologist did not want to give me medicine through the epidural. But in addition to the catheter in my back, I had a catheter in my bladder, an IV in my arm, a contraction monitor in my uterus, and no pain relief.
The clock ticked on. At that point, I was attempting to cope with the contractions with little to no pain relief and was unable to get out of the bed. This was a miserable time. I felt so confused as to why my blood pressure dropped and why the epidural wasn’t taking the way it had in my previous delivery. I was so tired and so hungry. Around 9:00 pm, Dr. Chauhan ordered pitocin to get me to 10 cm. I pleaded with her. There was no way I could handle pitocin without adequate medicine through the epidural. She spoke with the anesthesiologist who came back in to administer the meds. Finally…two hours of relief. Shane laid on the chair and my mom sat next to me while I drifted in and out. Around 11:30, I was 10 cm dilated. The nurse put me in the “pretzel position” to help the baby descend. I laid like a pretzel for way too long.
At 1:30 am, it was finally time to start pushing. They stopped the pain meds (just to make me lose it I guess) and I pushed…and pushed…and pushed. And I popped blood vessels in my face. And for two hours I pushed so hard because I would have given anything to be done. For it to be over. The nurse tried all kinds of other stretching, soap-to-make-things-slippery, really bizarre techniques that have no place in a blog. And after two hours, I could tell by the look on the nurse’s face that Hope wasn’t coming out any time soon. I was crying. My mom was crying. Shane stood by very quiet. Around 3:00 am and after almost 27 hours of contractions, no food, and no sleep, Dr. Chauhan came in to check the baby. Hope’s head was not coming under the pelvic bone. It seemed to be turned sideways. She said that I could continue to push but she couldn’t say when or if Hope would come out. Physically unable to push for one more second, I cried because I couldn’t keep going. My mind, my body, my heart…everything was shutting down. I’ve never experienced that kind of exhaustion. I felt trapped. Trapped in all this pain with no way out. I wanted nothing more than to push the baby out, but my body was done.
Dr. Chauhan ordered the c-section. And I wasn’t afraid. I was actually feeling some scary resolve. I was pretty sure they could get Hope out this way. They asked me if I wanted to be asleep for the surgery. I said no because I was so afraid of the blood pressure thing happening again. They told me I would feel pulling and tugging and pressure. They were right. It was the weirdest, most unpleasant feeling. But at 4:12 am, I heard a baby cry.
I couldn’t see her when I heard the cry, but I knew she was there. For 21 months, since delivering the twins, I’d imagined what it would be like to give birth to a baby and hear those first sounds. My heart didn’t even know what to feel in that moment. I was also shaking uncontrollably and my teeth were chattering like nobody’s business. I was focusing so hard on trying to control the shivering, but the anesthesia made it impossible to stop. A few minutes later, Shane brought the baby over to me so I could see her. She was already wrapped in a blanket, perfectly content in daddy’s arms. She didn’t look the way I expected…her face all squished up and her head bruised from the pushing. I wanted to know all about her. I kept asking, “How much does she weigh?” And “How long is she?” After 30 miserable hours, she was finally here.
The c-section recovery was unpleasant. I never realized how much you use your abs to do all of the little things…like moving, walking, sitting, getting up. Sheesh! So after five days, we finally went home. At home with my newborn, 9 month old, and praise God, my mom. She became Sammy’s primary caretaker since Shane was back at work and the only thing I could do was breast feed.
Then, when Hope was only a few weeks old, we moved into the house next door. God provided exactly what we needed just in time. I’m trusting that he will give me grace as I attempt this motherhood thing, he will sustain Shane during the tough years of medical school, that he will work out his perfect will for our family as we lift our eyes to Him.