Our first child, a girl, was born Thanksgiving day 2010. My little butterball! We had taken all of the classes, read all the books and learned all we could about what to expect so I was pretty confident when I had my first contraction at 11am on 11/24/2010. They repeated themselves about every half hour. I just happened to have an appointment that day and when I arrived, my doc assured me it would be in the next 2 days as I was already in labor. The excitement was tremendous! As the evening progressed, so did the contractions. With our bags packed and things ready to go we settled into bed around 9pm to get as much rest as we could before the big event. At 10:15pm I was awakened by a much more intense pain. I laid there for about a half an hour, but they were hitting every 10 minutes and it was very uncomfortable to lay down. I went into the living room and snuggled up with a warm blanket in front of the TV. Lovely fresh snow was beginning to fall outside so I opened the blinds and relaxed. I wrote the times of every contraction down on a small notepad in order to monitor how they progressed. (I still have the paper in her baby book). Around 5am and at 5 minutes apart, I decided to have our cousin/roommate wake the hubs who jokingly came running out towards the front door with one leg in his pants, sleepily shouting, "Alright! Let's go! I'm ready!" All the while trying to hop into his pants. He is always good for a laugh!
We began getting things set to head out. I was bent over breathing slowly every 3 minutes now. They were noticeably stronger and I was most comfortable bent over when they hit. With the car packed, we set out. A few stops at the gas station and McDonald's so hubs could get some food and we were in route to the hospital. Things were comfortable. There wasn't any real panic. We were excited, but calm knowing what we were going into. There was a nice bit of snow and ice from the night before and it was very cold. I love those snowy mornings with no cars on the road. It was perfect.
The hospital was the norm. Triage, some walking, then finally by about 10am a room. I was still at about 2-3 minutes apart and about 5 cm. Lots of walking and talking through the halls with the hubs. Around 12:30pm we returned to the room where I was encouraged to get in the tub. I could labor there, but not give birth. The nurse checked my cervix and said I was at a 6. After 24 hours I was only at a 6! I asked how much longer she thought I had. She believed 4-6 hours.
The water was wonderfully warm and I relaxed immediately. So did my previously painful contractions! I felt awesome! Until the nurse asked if I could get out and be checked. The first contraction out of the tub was 100 times more painful then just 30 minutes earlier! They were hitting back to back and as I laid in the bed unable to speak, I began to cry. I asked for an epidural feeling totally weak and defeated. I really hadn't wanted to get one, but I knew I could not endure 6 more hours of that insane pain. I was disappointed in myself. The hubs reassured me that I had nothing to be sad about. I had done great for over 24 hours.
The anesthesiologist was there right away with it. It went in smoothly and within seconds I felt a TON better.
I still felt my contractions, but the intensity was reduced dramatically! The nurse had neglected to check me after I got out of the tub. She decided to check my cervix about 5 minutes after the epi. Remember, I was about 6cm before the tub. She looked at me and said I was ready to go!! I could tell she was shocked. When I went in the tub she had guessed I had another 4-6 hours which was why I decided to get the epi in the first place. If only I had known the reason it hurt so bad after the tub was because I had relaxed my way to a 10. UGH! I could've done it. That was the peak! If only... eh well. Too late. The delivery was amazing! I felt everything! It was just slightly dulled. At least I had that. My beautiful girl had arrived! We got an hour of skin to skin before they took her to be weighed and measured ect.It was undoubtedly the best day of our lives!
Alright, so fast forward a year and a half. Baby #2 is expected any day. I'm 39 weeks and determined to have the birth I want. Non medicated, natural water birth at the new birthing center, delayed cord clamping and retaining my placenta for encapsulation! I'm stoked!
May 12. I had a strange tingling in the left side of my face. I assumed it was associated with the earache I'd been having the past few days. Tylenol was my good buddy those past days since nothing seemed to help my ear. The tingling though, that was new. It was like half my face was going kind of numb. Weird. I called the midwife and was asked to come in just in case. I was assured I'd be in and out. After 8 hours, an MRI, ultrasound of my carotid arteries and a few other tests, I was told I was fine and I could leave. Gee...thanks. The next day was Mother's day and I had a wonderful time with my family. Around 6pm at dinner the face thing happened again, but worse. The hubs could tell that something was wrong as the left side of my face was shutting down. Back to the doc we go, bag in tow just in case it's bad news. I was told I have Bell's Palsy and they wanted to induce in order to start a steroid treatment. Bell's whaty? It was something I had come across the day before when researching my symptoms online. It's one of those, "we don't know why it's happening or what it is so we'll call it this and guess how to treat you" illnesses. Awesome right? My hopes of a natural water birth were dashed. I was looking at pitocine. The dreaded drug I never EVER wanted to have pulsing through my veins. I cried a lot. Everything I had been planning on, all the research I had done, gone. I did want to start treatment though. The sooner the steroids started, the higher the chance of recovery. So we were taken to a room and I was hooked up. The nurse was a bit impatient I guess and kept coming in and doubling the dosage as it wasn't progressing to her satisfaction. I was hit with massive contractions!! They were so painful! There was no build up as with my first pregnancy. No time for my body to build up strength and adjust. It was just BOOM, pain!
I asked for an epi, feeling defeated again. It was painful this time as the anesthesiologist didn't use enough numbing medicine. (I'm still sore in that spot 5 weeks later). Eventually it set in. This time I had started coughing and itching. The coughing stopped after about 5 minutes, but the itching lasted about an hour. This is why I hate these drugs.
Around 5am on the 14th the hubs decided to walk across the street to the gas station for some energy drinks. A few minutes after he left I felt a gush below and knew my bag had ruptured. I called him and he ran back. When the nurse came to check, I explained my water broke. She glanced under my sheet,"no it didn't". "Uh, ya it did" I replied. She looked again and said,'oh, I guess it did. Yay." I wasn't a fan of her. Everything I said she contradicted. She left after a quick clean up and I continued to labor. I began feeling serious pressure right away after the water broke. An hour later the nurse returned. I told her about the pressure and she said that was good, but she'd wait to check me as the risk of infection was higher now that my water had broke. An hour after that my midwife came in. I asked to be checked since the pressure had been going strong for 2 hours now. She was surprised to feel zero cervix and my son's head ready to come out. Dumb nurse!! So in came the team and I started to push. Three pushes later, there he was!
I was able to have the delayed cord cutting and the placenta, but those were the only things that went as I had hoped. At that point however, I didn't really care. I had a beautiful little boy!
So there are my L&D experiences. Now onto the Bell's Palsy. What a trip this virus is! It really plays with your emotions! I wasn't sure if there was any postpartum depression or just depression about my face, but I was feeling pretty low most days for that first week. It's crazy how it effects so much. You wouldn't think having one side of your face paralyzed would be all that bad, but let me tell you!
Eating and drinking? Forget it! With half a mouth you can't bite into a sandwich or burger without biting your lips. You can't chew properly since your tongue is only half working so you can't move food around your mouth from side to side. I used a TON of napkins trying to learn to eat. It was impossible to drink without a straw as it all dribbled out the left side. I used a straw in the far right side of my mouth and tilted my head to swallow. I would forget the straw almost every morning when I sat down to my morning coffee.
Eyes? With only one blinking things can get blurry. My left eye had to be blinked manually using my fingers. I had to use drops, and tape to hold it closed at night while I slept.
Speech? I repeated things a LOT. S, F and B words gave me the most trouble. I sounded like that Droopy dog cartoon character. I also drooled occasionally when speaking.
Sound? The BP caused my left ear to be incredibly sensitive to sound. Dishes clanging, children screaming or the like caused me intense pain. I couldn't speak to my sister on the phone for weeks since she has 3 loud kiddos that turn up the volume every time she's on the phone. It was super frustrating. Especially since I had a loud 18 month old at home already.
The hardest part was not knowing how long it would last. For some, it's weeks, others never recover. After about a week I decided to get over it! I hadn't left the house for anything other than my son's checkups and people would stare like crazy. I am a very animated person and in those first couple weeks I tried very hard to avoid smiling and other expressions as they made it much more noticeable. I didn't feel like myself and I decided that just wasn't a way to live. It was very possible that I would have half a face for quite some time and I wasn't going to behave like a recluse. I did a lot of praying and realized how much I was blessed. I had two gorgeous, healthy kids, an amazing husband and wonderful family. What did I have to be sad about? So I went on with things like normal. Very slowly I began to see slight changes in my face. A tiny flare of my left nostril. A little movement in my left eyebrow. Within a months time I was about 70% recovered. It was as if accepting it had started the healing process. As I write this now, I am about 90-95% recovered. My eye still gives me trouble, but my smile is almost back entirely!
I can honestly say I am so very grateful to God for the experience! I am a very image conscious person. One who doesn't take compliments well because I never believe them. However, after realizing how blessed I was to have a fully functional, healthy body, I changed my perspective. I am almost 100% and even if I hadn't recovered at all, I would still be happy because this body is just a shell. It's my mind, heart and soul that people love and appreciate.
Normally I would be super embarrassed to show pictures of myself, but like I said, I just don't care anymore. Also, I think it helps others with BP to see what someone else has experienced. So here they are!
I love my life, family and God and am very, very happy! :)