I’ve had this in my drafts now for well over a year and I wasn’t sure if I would ever hit publish on it because it’s a very personal story but also incredibly special and one I never want to forget. And as much as this blog is for you, it’s also for me, and serves as a written record of life’s ups and downs and everything in between. It just didn’t make sense to leave out something so monumental and pivotal in my life so here we are – Palmer Anne’s birth story.
I remember after Palmer was born, I wanted to tell anyone who would listen the story of Palmer’s birth – my self induction tactics, labor & delivery, hospital experience – everything! I also found a whole new appreciation for hearing the nitty gritty of other’s stories too. Child birth – however it happens – is such a miracle and surreal experience. Still to this day, I grapple with the fact that this tiny, beautiful human grew in and came out of my body – insane!
Anyways, to tell this story properly, I need to back up because it actually begins a few days before I went into labor…
Friday, June 14, 2019
My due date was June 20, 2019 and my last day of scheduled work was June, 14, 2019, approximately 39 weeks and one day pregnant. I was anxious and excited to meet our baby – and honestly, not be pregnant anymore – but our 39 week appointment yielded no signs that labor was imminent. Regardless, I was determined to have the baby on or before my due date so naturally, I set about preparing for the big event. I got a mani/pedi [OPI Funny Bunny], wax [potential way to induce labor], lash extensions and a blow out. By Friday evening, I was READY to have the baby, or attend a black tie event.
For dinner that night, we made Scalini’s Famous Eggplant Parmesan recipe. Supposedly, more than 300 pregnant women have gone into labor within 48 hours of eating this breaded, cheesy deliciousness so we decided to give it a shot. [Funny side note, the recipe is quite involved and does take a few hours to prepare which we did not realize when we started making it and we didn’t eat dinner that night until 10:30PM – LOL!]
We also tried pretty much every home remedy you can find on the internet to self induce labor like running, curb walking, spicy food, etc. over the course of the next two days.
Saturday, June 15, 2019
Saturday morning I woke up feeling perfectly normal so we grabbed brunch and walked around La Jolla Village. When we got home, I decided it was time to unleash my secret weapon – castor oil. The idea of drinking castor oil straight up did not appeal to me but I found a recipe online that seemed palatable. Recipe below for those interested. Note, I am not a doctor and not qualified to share any type of medical advice so please consult yours before trying this!
- Labor Inducing Castor Oil Drink Recipe
- 10oz Mango Nectar Juice [apricot or pineapple juice will also work]
- 8oz Brewed Lemon Verbena Tea [or any tea with lemongrass in it]
- 2 T Castor Oil
- 2 T Almond Butter
- Blend it all together and drink it all at once
Castor oil has been known to have some pretty bad side effects and can cause severe diarrhea so after I drank it I was fully expecting some type of reaction. I remember going outside to hang with Kevin while he washed the car, just waiting for something and NOTHING happened. The rest of the afternoon passed uneventfully – we went on another walk, ate leftover eggplant parmesan for dinner, watched Bohemian Rhapsody and turned in for bed around midnight.
Not even five minutes after going to bed, I sneezed 5x in a row – not sure why, I wasn’t sick – but that’s the EXACT moment my contractions started. I never had braxton hicks but there was definitely a shift in my body so I just lay there quietly trying to get a sense for what was happening. After about an hour, I started Googleing things like, “what do contractions feel like?” and “what is the difference between braxton hicks and real labor contractions?” – LOL. Meanwhile, Kevin’s been passed out since his head hit the pillow one hour earlier and literally knows nothing of this!
Sunday, June 16, 2019
Everything I read [thank you, Google] said to time the contractions so that’s what I did over the next hour. From what I could tell, with my very limited knowledge, my contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart and lasted between 45-85 seconds. That’s pretty close together and usually about the time you should head into the hospital. Instead, I decided to get up and call the doctor. I was transferred to the mid-wife and after sharing my last couple hours, she told me that I’m likely not in labor but that my body is preparing for labor and that I should try and get some rest and call back if anything changes.
After getting out of bed my contractions intensified to the point where I can’t ignore them so to take my mind off things, I set about making sure we have everything we need in our hospital bag and tidying up around the house. I finally get back in bed around 3:30AM and decide to wake Kevin up because at this point they are so painful that there’s no way I can go back to sleep. He immediately starts Googling and then timing them too.
The rest of the early morning passes in a painful blur and around 8AM we decide to take a walk. It seemed like a great idea until my first contraction hits right as we make it to the sidewalk and I can barely keep walking but we keep going, just very slowlyyy. It took us 2x as long to make our normal loop around the block with a quick stop for coffee/tea at our usual spot in Solana Beach.
When we get home, I call the hospital again because the contractions are strong, long and close together. After explaining my current situation, the midwife on call tells me that she thinks I’m experiencing back labor because the baby is likely posterior facing. The ideal birth position is head down, anterior facing. Before we hang up, she gives me some exercises to try that may help turn the baby over – down dog, cat/cows, crawling around, rocking back and forth on my hands and knees. She also suggested taking a bath which was the only thing I did that gave me any type of relief from my contractions.
After my bath, I dozed painfully through contractions until around 4PM, mostly out of sheer exhaustion. When I woke up, I decided I wanted to go to the hospital for a check up and peace of mind that everything was normal. On the way there, we discussed what food we would pick up for dinner and we even parked and walked from the parking garage.
When we arrived at the hospital, we were put in a triage room where they checked to see if I had dilated at all and what the frequency of my contractions were. Turns out I was 3 cm dilated, not technically enough to be admitted but also 3 more than I had been at my last appointment just two days earlier. They suggested I stay and walk around for an hour at which point they would check me again to see how fast I was progressing.
About 45 minutes later, and countless laps around the labor and delivery wing, my water broke…at the peak of a contraction…as I was bent over a table doing more stretches – LOL. It was exactly like what you see in the movies. There was a small pop and then it all just dumped out of me onto my shoes/feet and all over the floor. We were both a little shocked and then Kevin jumped to and paged the nurse who checked us in and settled us in a room.
Because we truly were not expecting to stay, Kevin had to run home and grab our hospital bags, close up the house and pass Gus off to a friend. He arrived back just before I received my epidural – thank goodness. After that things were pretty quiet as we waited for me to dilate 10 cm. Kevin took a nap but I was too excited to sleep so I just tried to relax as much as possible. Sometime around 2AM I received an epidural booster which I regret to this day. After the booster, I couldn’t feel anything in my lower body, including pressure from my contractions.
Monday, June 17, 2019
In the early hours of the morning, I got super uncomfortable. I didn’t like how numb my lower body felt, my back was cramping from not being able to move or adjust myself at all, I was nauseous and I started running a low grade fever. I also think it was around this time I reached 10cm but I couldn’t start pushing until my fever was gone so they administered me an antibiotic through the IV. The shift change also occurred around this time and the new nurse was much more helpful in positioning me comfortably and, thankfully, I soon started to feel better, even though I still couldn’t feel anything below the belt.
Around 9AM, they told me I was going to start pushing and I remember thinking how calm and anticlimactic it all felt. The only people in the room were the nurse and Kevin who, against our original “birth plan,” was playing quite an active role in the delivery by holding one of my legs while I pushed. Basically this went on for almost two hours but my contractions were still about 4-5 minutes apart and I couldn’t feel them making it difficult to catch the peak at the right moment. Plus, with them so far apart, we would lose any progress gained as the baby would go back up.
They decided to give me some Pitocin to bring my contractions closer together and the next hour was a little bit of trial and error trying to figure out the correct dosage. My epidural was also starting to wear off and I could feel my contractions more which really helped me catch the wave of the contractions and start to gain momentum. Finally, after four long hours of pushing, Palmer Anne Darling was born at12:58PM PST, weighing 6 lbs. 14 oz. and 21 in. long.
Sadly, we weren’t able to experience golden hour with her because she had passed her meconium stool while still in the uterus and then aspirated and was struggling to breath when she came out. Since we knew this prior to her delivery, the NICU team was already in the room and ready to take over, if necessary. As soon as she came out and wasn’t crying, she was immediately passed to the waiting NICU team.
From there, I believe she was intubated to help clear her lungs and then taken down to the NICU. Kevin went with Palmer while I delivered the placenta and got stitched up. It wasn’t for another hour or so that I actually got to see Palmer for the first time. It was a pretty emotional moment and very difficult to see her all hooked up to a bunch of monitors and not be able to hold her.
But, in true Palmer fashion, she rocked her recovery in record time and was able to come with us when I was released two days later. While in the hospital, we split our time between our room and Palmer’s room in the NICU, going down every 3 hours to change her and feed her and then going back up to pump, eat, nap and have my vitals taken. It was exhausting but we didn’t want to miss a second of her early days and honestly it forced us all to get on a schedule from day one which served us well when we got home and were on our own.
I can’t believe that was almost two years ago! It feels surreal and yet I remember every detail like it was yesterday. These past 20 months getting to know Palmer and watching her grow have been some of the best of our life and we can’t wait to see what the world has in store for our sweet, loving, happy, outgoing, curious baby girl!