Marlowe’s Birth Story
Marlowe is a month and a half old now, and I wanted to make sure I got the story of her birth written, unlike I did with Jenson. It’s written in his baby book, but I never posted about it like I claimed I would. Things were so different with labor and birth for Marlowe…as a matter of fact, after several hours of labor, I told Lo we were having a girl for sure. I said that everything felt totally different than with Jenson, and she was already being difficult. I was completely convinced the baby was a girl at that point. We decided to keep the gender a surprise – neither of us had a strong preference on gender either. Having a boy would make some things easier – we already had the toys, clothes, and knew how to take care of a boy. Plus they would probably have more in common as they got older – but would also probably fight more. But having a girl would give us a completely different experience than with Jenson – and that’s pretty awesome too. Early in this pregnancy, a pregnant friend told me something an older lady told her…something along the lines of – “a son is a son until he takes a wife, a daughter’s a daughter for the rest of her life”. Though I’m still convinced Jenson will be my baby boy forever…
In my last month of pregnancy, my doctor kept saying I’d likely go early again and my water would break – history tends to repeat itself, blah, blah, blah. She also had said that I would have to be induced with Jenson and that he was going to be really big…so clearly she’s bad at predicting things. I’m okay with that, I guess – I wanted a good doctor, not a good fortune teller. For this pregnancy, she wanted to put me on the induction schedule just in case – but kept saying it would be unlikely I’d need induced. We finally settled on December 29 as the date – the only time available was 4:30 a.m. – yikes. Lo’s parents had been “on call” for caring for Jenson and Boof while we were in the hospital, so we made arrangements for them to take them on December 28 and decided to stay in a hotel near the hospital so we could get up at 4 a.m. and have a 5 minute drive, instead of 3 a.m. and have a hour drive. I wasn’t great about taking pregnancy pictures throughout, but I made sure to take one before we left. Jenson was napping when we took the picture, but Boof was happy to be in the picture, as usual.
Once we met Lo’s mom for the drop off, we grabbed dinner and went to see the third Hunger Games. During the movie I was having some contractions, but they weren’t strong and weren’t consistent with timing, so I didn’t even mention it to Lo – or he wouldn’t have been able to pay attention to the movie at all. I kind of just kept hold of my purse and coat in case my water broke and we needed to bust out of the theater. Towards the end of the movie, they weren’t very noticeable anymore, so I didn’t think anything of it. We got to the hotel around 10:30, showered, and went to bed. It was so weird to know that we were having a baby the next day – with Jenson it was such a surprise.
I was having slight contractions in the morning too, but I was hardly noticing them. We got to the hospital and they hooked me up to the monitors and my contractions were registering as 2-3 minutes apart. I wasn’t feeling all of them yet, but that’s mostly because I really only had back labor contractions with Jenson and I didn’t know how the regular contractions would feel early on. I was only 1 cm though, so no better than at my last appointment. By 5 a.m. , the doctor inserted a Cervidil pill to soften my cervix – hoping that with the contractions I was having, I wouldn’t need the pitocin. We slept/rested as much as we could for a few hours, and the contractions started getting stronger.
We got a new nurse around 7 a.m. and I realized pretty quickly that she was the one we had for most of the day when I delivered Jenson. Lo was out of the room when she first came in, but when she came back, I mentioned that I thought she was our nurse before. She said she thought she recognized me, and when she saw Lo, she was pretty sure she had us before. We really, really liked her before, so we were glad we had her again. She was the perfect combination of comforting and sassy.
They checked me again around 9 a.m. and I was only 2 cm, and the contractions were really regular at 2-3 minutes still. Because they were so regular and fairly strong, they couldn’t give me pitocin, or else they’d be too strong and frequent to be safe. I paced the room as far as my monitors would let me, I sat in the rocking chair, I bounced on an exercise ball…anything to help progression. Through the day we just played on our phones, dozed, and watched lots of tv. There’s not much on TV during the day on a Tuesday, so we pretty much watched HGTV, with a little SportsCenter thrown in. We watched a lot of House Hunters. We were pretty bored.
The nurse kept watching for a “window” where my contractions slowed, and finally around 4 p.m. when I was 3 cm, she was able to give it to me. She said I was going to probably want an epidural pretty quickly after that (if I was planning to get one) because the contractions were going to be at the upper end of frequency and strength since they were already so close naturally. My contractions got really strong and close after that – they were 1-2 minutes apart and pretty rough. After each one I would try to guess how strong it registered on the monitor. I got pretty good at guessing, and it kept us entertained for awhile. I was also jokingly in competition with the lady in the next room – since we had the same nurse, we were both on the monitor so the nurse could keep track when she was in the other room. Her contractions weren’t very strong at all, and she was there before me – so I felt pretty good about that.
By 5 p.m., I was ready for the epidural. I was hurting pretty bad (and wasn’t progressing still), and the nurse thought it may help my cervix relax enough to dilate The epidural was the second worst part of my labor/delivery (the worst part was not the delivery either). Two anesthesiologists came in to do it – one was supervising, so the other was probably a resident – and he struggled. In short, it took 4 separate attempts – so they dug around between 3-4 vertebrae – all while I was having contractions 1-2 minutes apart and having to try to stay perfectly still the whole time. Getting the epidural was rough with Jenson too, but it was fairly quick, so this was way worse. I could feel the needle grating against the bone as he was trying to get it in the right spot, and kept feeling burning on the right side, which apparently meant they weren’t in the right spot. So every time I felt that, they had to move it around more. There were tears and snot running down my face – my nurse was great and was wiping it away and trying to comfort me. Partway through I almost told them to just stop and I’d just deal without it, because I was sure it wasn’t going to work, or something was going to go wrong with it. The attending finally got it in correctly and I had some relief.
I was getting tired of chewing on ice chips (since I couldn’t eat or drink) and I asked the nurse if I was allowed to have anything with a flavor. She said I could have hard candy and she could get me a popsicle. Heck yes! Lo went to the gift shop and bought 2 bags of hard candy, and the nurse brought me a popsicle and it was the best thing ever. I wished I would have asked hours before!
At 6:45 p.m. the nurse checked me and I was 7-8 cm, and had a bulging bag of water, with means everything was right at my cervix and ready to go as soon as I dilated enough or my water broke. So it seems that the epidural did relax me/my cervix enough to speed things along. She said she’d talk to the Dr. and they’d probably break my water in a little bit and I would deliver right after. She was pretty disappointed because she was about to get off shift and she was hoping she’d be there for the delivery.
At 7:30 p.m. the nurse said we were just waiting for the Dr. to finish a C-section so she could break my water and do the delivery. I was pretty comfortable at that point without needing to hit the epidural button much anymore. I think I pressed it for the last time around 8:45 p.m. just to keep ahead of the pain like they suggested.
At 9 p.m. I was tired of laying in the position I was in, and when I shifted to my left side, my water broke. The nurse had said I’d deliver pretty quickly after my water broke, so I hit my call button and told the desk that my water broke. The Dr. walked in right after that by coincidence, to break my water. I told her that it just broke, so she got ready for the delivery as my nurse and another nurse came in to help. She had me do a practice push and determined that I was ready to push, so we waited until the next contraction. She told Lo that he could announce what the gender was once she was out. It took 4 pushes during 2 contractions, and as they pulled her out, Lo said “it’s a girl”! Marlowe Belle McCauley was born at 9:17 p.m. She was perfect.
They immediately put her on my stomach and started cleaning her off. The doctor and the nurses were exclaiming that she was full posterior and they couldn’t believe it happened so quickly and that she was so big. Apparently full posterior means that she was facing up, instead of down, which usually makes it a much harder, longer delivery. The nurse said that delivering full posterior make it feel like the baby is a pound bigger than she is. Only 4-10% of babies are delivered posterior, and it often results in assisted delivery (forceps or vaccum) or c-section. So I feel pretty lucky that the delivery itself was pretty easy. I tried to nurse Marlowe right away, and she latched almost immediately. She nursed for almost 45 minutes. They didn’t take her to weigh her for almost an hour to allow for skin to skin and bonding. When they picked her up to weigh her, we saw that she had pooped on my stomach – haha. They finally did the measurements and she was 8 lb, 6 oz and 20.5 inches. She was a pretty big baby!
They were weighing and measuring Marlowe at around 10 p.m. when I felt some gushing and told the nurse. She checked me and said I was hemorrhaging a little bit and called the doctor to check me. The doctor came in and said she was going to need to reach in to see what was going on and that it was going to hurt, and that hopefully my epidural still had some effect. It had already worn off. This was probably the worst part of my labor and delivery. I’m pretty sure it felt similar to if I would have had the baby without an epidural. She pulled out some clots and some tissue (I don’t remember if she said from the placenta or amniotic sac), and said that should take care of it. They got me cleaned up again and started the transfer to the maternity ward for the rest of the hospital stay.
By 11:30 p.m. we were in the maternity ward, in one of the tiny rooms this time. The nurses were going through shift change, and the one who was leaving shift went over some things with us and said the night nurse would be in to talk more. She also said she thought I looked familiar, so I asked if she plays volleyball in leagues and she said she did (she was 9 months pregnant, so hadn’t been playing recently). She didn’t look familiar to me, but people look so different on the court sometimes. We met the new shift nurse briefly, and she gave me meds and said she’d be back in a little bit. When the labor nurse was going over things with the nurses on that unit, we heard her say that Marlowe’s blood work came back and she was A- and coombs positive, but no one said anything to us about it, so we looked it up on our phones. We didn’t find out much about it, but that is either had something to do with jaundice (not a big deal), or that it was a big deal – there are various possible situations. Either way, we assumed the nurse would fill us in once she had a chance to go over our stuff and come back in. The PCA brought me fruit cups (the only available food at that time), and Lo went to get me a side salad and fries from Wendy’s downstairs since I hadn’t had food for 20 hours. Good thing I brought snacks too!
I’m pretty sure the night nurse didn’t come back until 3 a.m. when I called her to use the bathroom since I was supposed to have assistance the first time. The PCA had come in to do vitals, but no one was really checking me, which was kind of a surprise since I had some extra bleeding. They took Marlowe to the nursery around 3:30 a.m., and I told them to keep her there until she woke to eat. We woke around 7 a.m. and she still wasn’t back. No one had come in to tell us anything, so after a bit, I called the number for the nurse and asked where our baby was. I knew she would have needed to eat by now. The nurse said she was with the pediatricians now, and they’d bring her back soon. When they brought her back they said she’d spit up some bile, so they did an X-ray and were observing her to make sure she didn’t again. The X-ray came back okay, but her bilirubin levels were high, so she was going to have to be under the bili lights – basically, she had jaundice. The day nurse (who was great) set up her bassinet with the lights and told us to leave her in there in a diaper only as much as possible – basically except to feed her.
She was under the lights our entire hospital stay. It was really weird to only hold her for a little bit every couple of hours in the hospital – but at least she was in our room. We kind of didn’t know what to do with ourselves, so we rested and watched more HGTV. With Jenson, one of us was pretty much holding him at all times – he was pretty fussy in the hospital. Marlowe slept pretty much the whole time she was under the lights. Apparently the bilirubin makes them pretty tired. They suggested that we supplement 15-20 ml of formula after each feeding because she needed more fluid to flush out the bilirubin. I really hated to give formula, and I was worried that she’d struggle to latch and nurse after using a bottle too, but if that was going to make her better faster, I knew she needed it. I would nurse her for 20 minutes or so on each side, and then Lo would give her the formula. I had them bring me a pump so I could try to get more out for her, but I was really only getting 1 ml. or less each time I pumped, so I’d just give it to her with a syringe.
I was recovering well enough, but my uterine cramping was SO bad. It was way worse than it was with Jenson. When I would start cramping, I couldn’t even talk for a few minutes until it stopped. It was way worse than labor contractions – especially since those only last for 30 seconds or so. I took a shower on Wednesday, and I started cramping so bad that I almost threw up. I was leaning over the handrails in the shower and was so close to pressing the button to call for help. I couldn’t decide whether to throw up in the shower, or to try to get out to throw up in the toilet, and then I decided I should just not move. My mouth was watering horribly, like it does when you are about to throw up, and I had to turn off the water because the heat and steam was making it worse and I was afraid I’d pass out. Finally it passed and I was able to get out of the shower. The nurse gave me some extra pain medicine. I don’t really remember what she gave me, but she said it was safe enough for breastfeeding – meaning there would be very little transfer, and I asked for the smallest dose possible. It took the edge off enough. I don’t know if the pain was so much worse this time because of when the doctor had to go back in after the hemorrhaging, if it was because Marlowe was almost a pound bigger than Jenson, or if it’s just random. It continued to be really bad for several days, but not quite as bad as that time in the shower.
On Wednesday evening, Lo’s parents, Jenson, Misty, and Sadie came to meet Marlowe. She was under the lights when they arrived, and when Jenson looked at her, he said “Oh, it’s a turtle!”
Funniest thing ever. He wasn’t concerned that his sister was a turtle…it was just a fact. It must have been the mask on her eyes that made him think that. We took her out for the lights for a bit so everyone could hold her and Jenson could see that she was a baby. Lo’s mom had been showing him the Daniel Tiger “baby Margaret” episode and talking a lot about Marlowe, so he was telling us how Daniel has a sister named Margaret, and that his sister was Marlowe. Jenson seemed so big to us now, even though it had only been two days – someone had told me he’d seem all grown up once we had the baby – she was right. It was so good to see him, and to see that he was ok with the baby situation so far.
They were testing her levels about every 8 hours. I was expected to be discharged on Thursday, but if her levels were too high, she would have to stay. I was really concerned with having to leave her – I know parents have to do it all of the time when their babies are in the NICU, but we just live too far away for it to make sense to go home. The nurse said not to worry about it unless we came to that – and that there are some options that we could discuss at that point. The ob-gyn who checked me in the morning actually said I could stay another night if Marlowe had to, but she came back later after the nurse asked her about it, and said that she was wrong – that I could only stay 2 nights for insurance purposes since it was natural birth. Her levels were coming back better, and were on the downswing as expected, so we were hopeful that we could all leave together.
We couldn’t get her hospital pictures taken until the last day, because they didn’t want us to have her out from under the lights any more than possible. The pictures turned out so well! She’s a little yellow around the eyes, but it’s not that noticeable – and that’s okay…it’s part of her story.
She didn’t get her bath by the nurse until the last day too – they didn’t want to have her out from under the lights. Once her hair was finally clean, we could see how blond and fluffy it actually was!
After her last blood test, the pediatricians decided that she could be discharged, as long as we agreed to take her to an urgent care to get her blood drawn the next day. Her levels were still in the moderate/high risk range, but they were tracking down, so they expected them to be fine the next day. The nurse told us that we could stay as long as we wanted that day, and that the longer she stayed until the lights, the better. We decided that we’d aim to leave around 5 p.m., and let Lo’s mom know so she could meet us at our house with Jenson and Boof. We asked her to stay the first night or two with us (really as long as she wanted) because we wanted to make sure Jenson had a lot of extra attention and that we would be able to get some rest.
When we left the hospital, it wasn’t nearly as scary as when we left with Jenson, thankfully. We were anxious to get home to Jenson and get settled in. He was really happy to see us, and to hold Marlowe. We went to bed around 11:45 p.m with her, and she did pretty well sleeping – she woke about every 2-3 hours to eat, which is totally expected. It was much better than our first night home with Jenson – when he wouldn’t stop crying and we had no idea how warm to dress him, we didn’t know what we were doing, and none of us got hardly any sleep.
We took her to Children’s urgent care in Westerville the next day for a blood draw, and they called us later to let us know that everything was ok with her levels. We were relieved that we didn’t have to worry about it anymore and we could settle into life as a family of 4.