Meredith’s Birth Story

Four weeks ago, the newest addition of our family rocked our world! I’ve put off blogging to sleep whenever I can get a minute in, even though I’ve been dying to post pictures and updates. In fact, I should probably be sleeping now, but with time flying by, it’s been my goal to get Meredith’s birth story on the blog for weeks now.

In addition to having our lovely newborn, we’ve had one thing after another coalesce to make the last four weeks very stressful and leaving no time for blogging. The full story will have to wait for another day, but when Meredith was two weeks old, we had a slab leak at our house and have been staying at a vacation rental ever since while demolition of our downstairs floor was completed and new flooring installed! It’s been chaotic to say the least and we are VERY ready to go home– packing up all our baby and toddler stuff was not ideal! We should be home within the next few days– hooray!

Our little angel bear has been the easiest part about the entire month! Here’s her birth story. TMI Warning: although this is a highly edited version of her birth story, it’s still not for the squeamish!

Backtracking to a few weeks before January 26… I had been going in for weekly OB appointments and had intermittent contractions, but it didn’t look like anything was going down imminently. I had been feeling great energy-wise and could tell Meredith was sitting pretty low as I felt a lot of pelvic pressure and had to go to the bathroom constantly. Wherever I went with the twins those last few weeks, I always made sure a bathroom was close by!

Having fun at home trying out the baby gear:

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Other than going about our day-to-day routine with the twins, I was in full-on nesting mode and had been working hard to put together some freezer meals for our family all month. My friend, Jodi, and I went to Dream Dinners to make a bunch of additional meals; it’s basically a commercial kitchen where they let you pick out what meals you’d like to prepare and have all the ingredients pre-measured and chopped for you. The best part is, you get to leave the mess in their kitchen! We made a bunch of freezer meals including chimichangas, sweet and sour shrimp and chicken marsala– all ready to pop in the oven and serve in a pinch. With all that food in the freezer, I felt so prepared for Meredith to make her debut!

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The week before Meredith’s birth, I started having more contractions, but nothing seemed imminent. When I went in for my OB appointment on Thursday the 21st, my doctor told me she didn’t think I’d make it to my due date (February 11), and I just laughed in her face. I really was feeling great!

My OB must have a sixth sense, because hours after my appointment, I started bleeding a tiny bit and losing the mucus plug (GROSS!) I was feeling tired, ill, had a ton of pressure and it was hard to stand up for long periods of time due to Meredith sitting so low. That night, I had consistent contractions eight to ten minutes apart and was up all night counting. Jake and I made arrangements for someone to watch the girls and I had my hospital bag packed, but by morning, the contractions had subsided. We took it as a warning sign to get all the baby clothes washed and everything organized!

On Friday, the 22nd, I took the girls to the park that morning and felt like Meredith had moved back up. No more pelvic pressure and I had tons of energy again. I kept having contractions throughout the day and into the weekend, but wasn’t concerned as nothing was consistent or painful.

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I seemed to get a second wind over the weekend and felt fantastic! I made some more freezer meals and prepared/froze enough waffles, oatmeal muffins, breakfast burritos, egg breakfast sandwiches and other breakfast staples to last us for a month at least. I was on a freezer cooking rampage!

Jake thought I was crazy as I was literally RUNNING around the house all weekend doing laundry, organizing the pantry, and making a trip to Hobby Lobby to search for some shelving and mirror for the nursery (all of this remains unfinished!) It was like Meredith was trying to tell me she was coming soon, so I better get my act together!

On Sunday the 24th, we took a walk around the lake and the girls and Jake went to church. 1 p.m. church is not our friend… the girls were in terrible moods due to not napping that day, although they did go to bed at 6:45 p.m. that night– bonus!

Driving the toy boat around the lake:

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On Monday, January 25, I noticed I was leaking a little bit of clear fluid here and there, particularly if I had been sitting or lying down and then got up. In the back of my mind, I wondered if it might be amniotic fluid, but figured I’d know for sure if it really was my water breaking (wrong!)

That morning, the girls and I had a playdate at the park with their friend, Grace, and I felt completely normal and full of energy that morning. Little did I know, this would be my last playdate as a mom of two.

My contractions began ramping up around 3 p.m. in the afternoon and continued all night– another night of no sleep! We rechecked my hospital bag, called the girls’ babysitter to be ready in case we needed to run to the hospital and waited it out. Last time around with the twins, I never had contractions (except for Braxton Hicks) and was monitored so often that we knew I wasn’t going into labor. Being the planner that I am, having the contractions on and off drove me crazy! I just wanted to know what was going on and we were so sick of the waiting game.

Unlike the other contractions I had been experiencing all week, these contractions were mildly painful and very consistent, although the closest they ever got together was six to seven minutes apart. They say that you know it’s the real deal when you can no longer walk or talk through contractions and I was definitely close to that point. By morning, they had again subsided, but I called my doctor anyway. She asked me to come to the hospital to get checked out.

The girls’ sitter arrived the morning of January 26, and we told her we’d probably be back in a few hours. Little did we know, I wouldn’t be leaving the hospital that day!

To my shock, my OB, Dr. Price, confirmed my water had broken. There was still plenty of amniotic fluid, as it was a small tear, but it looked like it had been leaking, probably over the past 24 hours or so. Since there’s an increased risk of infection once the water sac breaks, in addition to me being GBS positive, Dr. Price told me I would be having the baby that day, one way or another! As prepared as we thought we were, I still felt like I should have three weeks left and suddenly felt not ready at all!

Dr. Price went over the options with me. I was at 37 weeks (and had healthy twins at 36 weeks), so Dr. Price felt very confident that the baby would be fine coming out now. Jake had a trial and a lot going on in February and we wanted to make sure my mom was out here to help during the time he was super busy, so I had originally scheduled a C-section for February 9 (a few days before my original due date) in case the baby hadn’t come by then. If she decided to come on her own before that date, my original plan was to let it happen and not do the C-section. Now that I was faced with the decision of what to do in that moment, I couldn’t make up my mind!

On one hand, C-sections are nice because it’s done and over with relatively quickly in a very controlled environment, plus I had done one before and knew exactly what to expect. However, everything from climbing stairs, to getting into bed, to anything coming anywhere near the incision site was painful and took weeks for the pain to subside. With twins and a new baby to take care of, I wanted to go with the option that would afford me the quickest recovery time.

I had heard from friends who had done both the VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) recovery was a ton easier than a C-section recovery. However, since I had never given birth vaginally before, the fear of the unknown was a serious deterrent. My biggest worry was that I would go along with the VBAC, only to have that fail and have to do an emergency C-section– double whammy!

My OB told me she could do a C-section in a few hours at noon because they had an opening or she could start me on Pitocin and we could try the VBAC. Although my contractions had stopped and I was only 2 centimeters dilated that morning, the good news was that I was 100% effaced. She was optimistic that after being started on Pitocin, my labor would progress.

Dr. Price left Jake and I to discuss our options. I was not prepared to have the baby that day and had a few moments of freaking out, with Jake trying to calm me down. In my illogical/emotional state, I cried that all my cute bows and monogrammed items I had ordered from Etsy wouldn’t get there on time for the birth! I’m sure Jake thought I was crazy, but if he did, he did a great job of not showing it and just tried to reassure me it would all be okay!

We weighed the pros and cons, and while it was very tempting to be done and over with the whole thing in a few hours with the C-section, I decided to go for the VBAC in the hopes of having a quicker recovery. Dr. Price seemed happy with the decision and reiterated that I was a great candidate for a VBAC.

We called the sitter to let her know we would be staying at the hospital and called my parents so that my mom could book an emergency flight out. It was go time!

My nurse, Candace, set me up in my delivery room and I was started on Pitocin. Through the early stages of the contractions ramping up, I rocked in the rocking chair and pretty much read a book on my phone, chatted with the nurses, and chewed on ice chips while I waited to dilate more. The Pitocin really helped ramp things up and before I knew it, my contractions were coming regularly and more forcefully. In the afternoon, I sent Jake home to check on things with Ana and the twins and so that he could take the twins to their dance class. Auntie Lynn and Uncle Steve brought over dinner and some sticker activity books for the girls that night as well, so I was reassured that they were well taken care of.

While Jake was away, I dilated a few centimeters more. The contractions weren’t unbearable, but were very uncomfortable and I was at the point where it was getting difficult to walk or talk. Dr. Price came to check on me and cleared me to get an epidural when I reached 4 or 5 centimeters.  Pure bliss! The pain relief was immediate and I was even able to take a nap right after the epidural. So relaxing! I’m so happy I got that nap in, because it would be the last one I would have in a while! At some point while I was dozing, I felt a big POP and water gushed everywhere– the rest of my water had finally broken. I felt an irresistible urge to laugh– it really did feel like a big balloon and I immediately thought of the twins whose favorite pastime is popping anything from balloons to bubble wrap.

Around 5:30 p.m., Dr. Price came to check on me before she left for the day. Dr. Price is someone I would be friends with outside of the office– she has a toddler the same age as the twins and a new baby just a few months old, so we always have a lot to chat about. She’s hilarious and entertained me with stories of how she pumps milk in the car on the way home every day! I really love my doctor and was so disappointed she wouldn’t be the one delivering the baby, but she reassured me I was in good hands with Dr. Lam.

Before Dr. Price took off (to pump in her car on the drive home– ha!) she checked me out and gave us some good news– I was dilated to a nine and she thought I’d be able to push within the hour. That news gave me an added boost of energy now that I knew it was almost over!

After Dr. Price and the nurse, Candace left, the new nurse on the shift, Cheryl entertained me with stories from Ireland, where she’s originally from. Her accent was nice and distracting and we joked that I now had the luck of the Irish with me.

After the new shift of nurses came in, however, I became concerned because it seemed like my epidural was wearing off on one side. I was starting to feel pain on my right side, no matter what position I turned in. Cheryl called the anesthesiologist to give me another bolus of epidural, but I continued to feel the contractions on my right side and in my back.

By that time, Jake had arrived back from the girls’ dance class… just in time. As the pain spread from just being able to feel it on my right side to my entire back, I became panicky.  WHY ISN’T IT WORKING?!! I wanted to scream. At this point, I was not very nice to anyone– I’m sure Cheryl was regretting she had been placed in my room that night!

I was panicking in between contractions, which by then were really intense and coming two minutes apart. She called the anesthesiologist in again, who gave me another bolus, but to no avail. The anesthesiologist explained that in 95% of people, the placement of the epidural hits the right nerves, but for the unlucky few who have slightly different epidural spaces, the right nerves just weren’t getting numbed, especially as the baby moved downward. I guess it just wasn’t my night!

It was the weirdest feeling, not being able to feel anything on the my left side, but then my right back, side and abdomen hurting so badly I couldn’t even speak! I was crying uncontrollably and Cheryl felt so bad for me since there was nothing they could really do at that point except to give me a crash course on breathing techniques. I had been through a Lamaze class when pregnant with the twins, but was definitely not at all prepared for dealing with the monster contractions since I had been counting on the epidural! Props to all the ladies out there who do it naturally, but I would never want to go through that by choice!

Dr. Lam came in while I was panicking and checked me in between contractions– I was all the way dilated, but the baby wasn’t low enough to start pushing so she asked me to hang in there a while longer. Every minute was torture and after being informed after another thirty minutes, that it was still not time to push, I was begging for a C-section and telling the doctor over and over that there was no way I could do this! Dr. Lam, Cheryl and Jake talked some sense into me– I had come so far, I was so close to getting the baby out, a C-section at this point would have been a double whammy of a recovery. I knew they were right, but in those moments of extreme pain, it was hard to see reason!

The logical side of me won out and I resigned myself to staying the course. Dr. Lam and Cheryl tried to help me manage the pain by telling me just to wait ten more minutes and then it would be time. I knew they were just trying to encourage me by telling me I was close (LIES!), but it helped having little goals to reach.

Finally, at about 7:30 p.m., it was time to start pushing. Pushing through the contractions actually helped a bit with the pain, but it took every ounce of concentration and energy I had out of me.  Every one to two minutes, I would tell Jake it was time, he’d grab my hand and both he, the nurse and doc would yell at me to go, go, go! It was the craziest two hours ever. On one hand, I couldn’t feel anything in part of my pelvis, so it was hard to tell what was actually happening. Both my legs were completely numb, and had to be held up by the nurse or else they would fall to the sides. The pain in my back and abdomen was unreal– back labor is not something I would ever want to experience again.

By then, the epidural had worn off completely around my stomach and back, with the majority of the pain in my lower back. I vaguely remembered a friend telling me how with her labor, her epidural only worked on one side and then faded completely. I remember being horrified as she told me her story, but never did I think that would happen to me. I have a very low pain tolerance as it is, so I was not the best person to undergo labor with less than half an epidural working.

I didn’t talk at all during the pushing phase because I was trying to conserve all my energy, plus I was in so much pain, I really couldn’t speak. Meanwhile, Cheryl, Jake and the doc were chatting it up about everything from the weather to politics. I wanted to yell, “SHUT UP! CAN’T YOU SEE I’M TRYING TO GET THIS BABY OUT?!” but couldn’t muster the strength.

When it was time to push through a contraction, everyone dropped everything and got into position like it was time to snap the football on the line of scrimmage. Although it didn’t take the pain away, it helped that everyone was right there with me counting and breathing through it. I was obviously exhausted, but it must have been tiring for each of them as well. Jake later told me he felt really useless and stupid telling me to do things like, “Push! You are doing awesome! Go! Just a little longer! Again!” Despite him feeling useless, it actually did really help. Dr. Lam informed me that Dr. Price kept texting her asking for updates and encouraged me over the phone.

About every five minutes or so, I would reiterate that I couldn’t do it anymore. Right on cue, everyone encouraged me that I was “SOOOOOOOO CLOSE!” Every time I heard that, I mentally prepared to give it one more push. After an hour of pushing, I started feeling extremely weak and I was given oxygen intermittently. I was shaking badly and felt so out of it that I was completely silent except for breathing through the pushing. Jake thought I was going into shock, but I think I was just hyper focused as I blocked out everything except the physical task at hand. As the anesthesiologist told me, there was only one way out of this– getting that baby out.

Finally, around 9:30 p.m., after two hours of pushing, the doctor began prepping everything for the birth. They described seeing her head and had Jake feel it. Just like with the twins’ C-section, he was really fascinated with the whole process, and kept describing everything that was happening, even though I really didn’t want to know! Dr. Lam and Cheryl gave him an A+ for being super helpful and much more non-squeamish than most of the husbands they were used to!

At 9:40 p.m., after twelve hours of contractions, two hours of pushing and with Jake, Cheryl and Dr. Lam yelling at me to give it one more go, Meredith Kate made her grand debut. The relief and pressure on my back and pelvis was instantaneous! It was the craziest thing I have ever experienced to feel so much pressure and pain one second and have a screaming, bloody baby placed directly on my chest after all that hard work the next! It was so surreal that neither Jake or I cried or said anything– we were both completely awestruck.

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Jake cut the cord and I held Meredith while the nurse cleaned her up a bit. I was shaking pretty badly from the shock of it all and couldn’t really speak, but It was an amazing feeling being able to hold our baby right away. Last time with the twins, I was only able to hold them for a second before they were whisked away to get checked out since they were 36-weekers. Then, Jake held them skin-to-skin (or skin-to-chest-hair, as we called it!) for an hour while I was being stitched up. To this day, I believe that initial snuggling with Jake is why the girls are so attached to him!

This time around, I was the first one to hold Baby Meredith and it was worth all the hard work! She immediately started rooting around and breastfeeding like a champ. I had to wait a while to breastfeed the twins last time, so this was a new experience for me as well. Truly amazing that those little creatures know exactly what to do immediately!

After holding Meredith skin to skin for a while, the nurse cleaned her up and measured her.  Born at 37 weeks, she was 7 pounds, 13 ounces and 19 inches long. Samantha and Amelia were born at 36 weeks and were 6 pounds 9 ounces and 5 pounds, 8 ounces, respectively, so Meredith felt so much bigger in comparison.

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I will spare everyone all the gory details, but after going through an intense labor, being stitched up was an ordeal in its own right. Dr. Lam called in two other doctors to help out because the tearing was so bad. It took three doctors almost two hours just to stitch me back up!

Apparently, my pelvis is on the small side, and Meredith came out with her right elbow and right shoulder raised, tearing everything in its path along the way. Dr. Lam said it was the worst tearing she’s ever seen since working at that hospital— not something I wanted to hear! She even drew me a picture showing me all the places I was torn up. NOT pretty.

I had four 3rd degree tears (4th degree tears being the worst) deep in the perineum and Dr. Lam said I was extremely close to being torn all the way to the rectum– ouch! Even though Meredith wasn’t huge weight-wise,  Dr. Lam said that had she been a few ounces bigger, it would have been an emergency C-section for sure! Thanks for coming a few weeks early, Meredith! You still owe me forever!

It was an extremely busy night in labor and delivery, so while the doctors were stitching me back up, nurses kept darting in and out of my room updating Dr. Lam on their progress and asking when she’d be done with me. Dr. Lam kept her cool throughout the whole thing and I was impressed at her precision and care in the face of a very hectic night.

Dr. Lam warned me I would be extremely sore and in pain for a while due to the tearing. However, thanks to her very precise handiwork stitching me up, my recovery exceeded expectations and I felt relatively fine in the weeks following the birth.

After several hours of stitching, Dr. Lam and her team’s job was done. It seemed lame that all we had was chocolate as a thank you for all doctors and nurses’ work. I was so grateful to have delivered in the #1 hospital in Orange County/a top 50 hospital in America and for an awesome and very capable team helping me have a successful VBAC! Had the epidural worked, it would have been an easy labor, even with all the pushing, but I was grateful that at least I had a good support team with me.

Still running on pure adrenaline, neither Jake nor I got much sleep that night. All we wanted to do was cuddle with Meredith! It was like holding a little piece of heaven, made all the more sweet after such a difficult labor. It was all worth it.

Our first night with Meredith felt like a vacation compared to our hospital stay with the twins. We kept pinching ourselves… you mean there’s only ONE baby to feed and diaper change? It felt amazing to be able to focus all our attention on Meredith. Everything was so hectic when the twins were born that it was hard to really enjoy and bond with them at first, but it was the exact opposite with Meredith. Pure bliss!

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Besides taking in everything about our sweet new baby, our next task at hand was to make a final decision on her name as up until then, we had referred to her as Baby Girl. Last time with the twins, we both went in pretty sure of their names, and ended up feeling like Amelia’s original name just didn’t fit after seeing her. We did the same thing this time and decided to wait to make a final naming decision until we could meet our baby girl. We went into the hospital with two potential names, both starting with an ‘M’ (fortunately making it easier to order my monogrammed baby items that way!)

After holding her and discussing it a bit, we decided on Meredith Kate (the full name on her birth certificate is Meredith Katherine). Kate is a family name on Jake’s side and Meredith is a name we’ve always liked that was on our list from naming the twins last time around. We are both very picky when it comes to names– we wanted something with three syllables, not super popular so that she didn’t have to deal with a million other girls with the same name in her class, preferably vintage-y, easy to spell, no annoying nicknames, a name that would be cute for a child, yet professional enough when she’s an adult, no weird acronyms for initials, and with a strong meaning. Meredith means noble leader and, in French, guardian of the sea (Mer= sea). As a bonus, my grandmother’s name on my dad’s side was named Marilyn, and Meredith sounds a bit like it.  And so Meredith Kate’s name was texted out to all the world– let the personalized baby blankets start rolling in!

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While Meredith started off breastfeeding and eating just fine, after checking her blood sugar, the nurses had us supplement with a bottle because her blood sugar was low. Every few hours that night, her poor little feet had to be pricked– they looked so bruised! She didn’t need to go to the NICU, but stayed in the nursery for a few hours so that her levels could be monitored more closely. Although I would have preferred her to stay in our room, it was nice getting a little extra sleep with the nurses bringing her in when she needed to eat.

By morning, her levels still hadn’t stabilized.  If they got too low, she would have been admitted to the NICU, but fortunately, they never reached that point, and by noon, she didn’t need her poor tiny feet pricked anymore. So ended our little bit of post-birth drama; from then on out, everything went smoothly!

Day Two at the hospital to be continued!

Lots of love,

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  1. Shaina White says:

    What a story!! I just love reading and hearing about birth stories–maybe because it’s one of those things that all moms have in common, and it is a fascinating and exciting and emotional experience. Thanks for sharing! I had three babies without an epidural, but my labors were so fast (6, 4, and 2 hours) that it wasn’t anything like your long ordeal. You are a champion! Giving birth is a big hard ordeal! But so worth it, like you said. Good job! She’s adorable.

    • Rebecca Whitehead says:

      3 kids without an epidural?!! You are a rock star! I love reading people’s birth stories too. Amazing how everyone’s is so unique.