Theo's Birth Story

Here she goes again.

Throat clear.

So at 38 weeks + 2 days…

Let’s back up. Where to start?

Oh yes, false labor. Or prodromal labor to the medical folks. I call it you suck labor. For days, nay, weeks. It was like that for my first kids, so I don’t know what made me think that I could avoid it this time, but alas, a girl can only dream. For a good fortnight, I had regular contractions, especially during the day while I was working. I’ll tell you, prepping crowns and trying to do exams on squirmy two-year-olds is no fun when you’re contracting.

If I was more of a glass-half-full kind of gal, maybe I’d glean some life lesson from the waiting and wondering and patience and yada yada. Offer it up, Samantha. But nope. Impatience during the last month of pregnancy is sort of my deal.

But I was determined not to go to the hospital unless I was FOR. SURE. IN. ACTIVE. LABOR. Because being sent home with not-so-active labor but still contracting for baby number three would be #embarassing. I was also delaying packing my hospital bag because, although I am not superstitious, apparently 36+ week pregnant Samantha was convinced that packing the hospital bag would delay labor. I know, pregnancy brain is an interesting phenomenon.

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We were also trying to figure out our childcare situation for when baby was coming around the mountain. Who would watch the kids in the middle of the night??! What if they were already at school??! et cetera, et cetera

My mom had planned to drive up from Southern California as soon as I gave her the go-ahead BUT she would be on a trip to the east coast for a week to see her bestie for a week while I was 37-38 weeks. She jokingly said I was not allowed to go into labor while she was out of town. Jokingly. Hmm. But I was also nervous just in case she was out of town and we didn’t have an option for Emma and Henry. Our Alameda friends would have stepped in, but they all have kids of their own and mine can be a, ahem, handful.

My darling sister came up the weekend my mom was back east just in case so that was a big comfort. Whew. Thank God for family who would drop everything and drive 6 hours.

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The medical professional side of me knows that praying for a baby to come shy of full-term is not the best, but the weeks of contraction, going cray cray side of me was like, get this baby out of me. NOW.

Where was I? Oh yes.

So at 37 weeks, I was planning on having a staff meeting at work to nail down some last minute details for my maternity leave. I wanted to give my staff some info and instructions, BUT, those little sneaky sneakers surprised me with a baby shower! Seriously, I don’t know how they managed to hide it from me because I’m always walking around the clinic and talking to every body and sticking my nose in everything, so call it oblivious pregnancy brain. It was wonderful though and I needed that pick-me-up. We feasted and they bought me presents and there was a small fire alarm that required our evacuation from the building, but it’s okay, it added to the excitement.

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At that point, dentistry was getting more and more difficult so I decided that Friday would be my last day of patient care an then I would come in the following week for administrative stuff. But by Monday the next week, I was just so physically drained and miserable that I officially went on maternity leave that Wednesday at 38 weeks exactly.

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Although I am not the best at waiting (read: terrible at it), I spent all day Wednesday and Thursday trying to relax. I treated myself to a nice lunch and strolled (aka waddled) through Target and Michaels. By that Wednesday, mom was back at her house, so that was a huge comfort knowing she was only a drive away.

So that Thursday (38 weeks + 1 day), by around 1 PM, my contractions had really picked up. They were stronger and closer together, but not that whole 5, 1, 1, thing they always talk about (contractions every 5 minutes, for one minute, for at least an hour, seriously, who comes up with this stuff??). I sent my mom a quick text that I “felt” like I could be “almost close” and “ready-ish” (not vague and non-committal at all). She said she would be doing some laundry from her travels but would get ready if I needed her.

By about 5 PM, I knew I needed her to come. If not for actual labor, then for emotional support because I was a contracting mess and I had nearly no energy for poor Emma and Henry and grandmas are much more fun than contracting mothers. Who would have thought? She said she would leave at once and could be there around 11 PM.

At that point, some strange, other-worldly zen peace and calm washed over me. I was all, no-worries, this baby will come when he wants to come, he’ll let me know when he is ready, it’s all good. <— Who is this person?

I was still contracting as we put the older two in bed and then I spent about an hour bouncing on the exercise ball and praying a rosary. See, so zen. My mom arrived (YAYAYAY) around 10:30 PM and said she did not even speed at all, but I’m not sure I believed her but I was so grateful she was there. Around 11 I decided I would try to get some sleep and that if I was in labor then I’d know it.

WELP what do you know, at about 11:30 PM, just when I started to doze off listening to my audiobook, I felt a trickle then a tiny gush and whomp, my water broke. I briefly considered ignoring it because the contractions weren’t any worse, but then when I got out of bed, more fluid came. I called the advice nurse from the hospital and she was all, NAH you need to come in like right now. So in we went! Thank God my mom was there, like seriously.

On the 20 minute car ride to the hospital, all contractions stopped and I was not leaking any more fluid. OH COME ON. Did I imagine things? Is this the twilight zone? Are we in the upside-down?! I was convinced we should turn around but my level-headed husband consoled me and said we should just get checked out while we were there. When I stood up from the parked car, more fluid gushed so whew, I was not completely losing it.

He offered to hunt down a wheelchair for me, but stoic and proud Samantha wanted to walk to L&D. After all, it wasn’t THAT far away. But um, next time remind me to take up that wheelchair offer because it felt like a 10K while holding a watermelon. We finally made it to L&D and they took me to one of those triage rooms and hooked me up to the monitors. They verified that my water did really break (okay, definitely didn’t imagine that one) and told me to hold tight.

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A perky nurse (how are you perky in the middle of the night) let me know that I came on a busy night and that it would be some time before I could move to a delivery room. GRRREAT. I loved hearing that. Those triage rooms are so uncomfortable and Paul tried to prop himself up to rest between a chair, a swivel stool, and the foot of my bed. It was actually kind of comical.

Around 2 AM, the contractions really picked up and were staring to get painful and I was ready to tell them my birth plan.

Birth plan: Epidural.

FINALLY around 3 AM they moved me to my delivery room and the lovely anesthesiologist had me hooked up by 3:30 AM.

GOD BLESS MEDICATED BIRTHS.

After I was hooked up, I was able to rest and Paul fell asleep on those little pull out couch chair things. It was lovely to no longer be moaning in pain. Around 5 AM I was around 6-7 cm. They had me laying on my side to help labor keep progressing, so every hour or so, they’d come in and help me switch sides. Around 9 AM, I was fully dilated but the baby was still a little high up. I didn’t feel anything (like I did with Henry) so I was like, NO WORRIES YA’LL. The nurse had me do some practice pushes, but he didn’t move much so we made a plan to wait an hour for some passive movement and then try again.

At 10:20 am I did exactly three rounds of pushing and the nurse yells STOP. Apparently, he was crowning and right there and a swarm descended on me. The doctor got suited up and they put out all the stuff to get ready to go. One last push and there he was! They put him right on my chest and I cried and cried and he cried for a minute then settled in.

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Paul and I gazed so lovingly on his sweet squishy face and I was just so happy to have him in my arms. The doctor delivered my placenta and Paul cut the cord. I had a small tear so they stitched me up, but I didn’t care because 1) epidural and 2) baby in my arms. I held him for about an hour while they unhooked my meds (AWWW DARN) and then they weighed and measured him. My smallest baby yet, but not by much. 7 pounds, 10 ounces and 19 and 3/4 inches long and so cute, named Theophilus Sebastian Wetterholm, Theo for short.

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The big kids came and visited that early evening and they instantly fell in love and we were now a family of five! By Saturday morning, I was ready to go home and they got us out of there around 11 AM. I just wanted to be home with my family and start my newborn hermit life.

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Recovery has been okay, physically more difficult than H but emotionally less difficult than E. He’s a champ at nursing but loves to party all night. But it’s worth it.

It always is.