Stella Wren’s Birth Story

Stella Wren Flammia was born on June 22, 2015 at 2:37am.  I can’t believe she is finally here and we are now a family of three.  I think it was difficult for me to imagine what having a baby would be like on a day to day basis and it has certainly been a fun adventure so far trying to figure out a routine, all the baby cues she tries to give us and our strengths and weaknesses as a family.

When I started out this pregnancy journey, I wanted to document the “progress” of Stella’s growth.  I started with the first time I could visibly see a little bump (15 weeks) and continued until I gave birth, which happened at 38 weeks and 5 days.  WeeklyBoard_finished

Looking back, you can see some weeks where I seemed to “pop” out overnight and at week 33/34 where I started to really put on some baby (and lots of water) weight.

I was really lucky throughout my pregnancy because I didn’t have any health issues along the way – all of Stella’s tests came back normal and I didn’t experience the extreme fatigue often associated with pregnancy until at least week 34.  At week 36, however, I started gaining weight rapidly.  I noticed my feet, legs, hands and face were becoming rather (okay, a lot) “puffy”.  In three weeks, I had gained 15(!!) pounds and my blood pressure was slightly elevated, so my doctor wanted to monitor me a little closer.  Of course, I heard the dreaded word preeclampsia and I automatically thought of Stella’s well-being. Even the thought that I’d have to be put on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy really worried me.  I wondered if the doctors would choose to induce me early or if there would be any negative side effects.  Again, luckily, the urine and blood tests came back negative, so I was in the clear.  My doctor then changed his approach and wanted to test me for gestational hypertension (high blood pressure during pregnancy), so I was asked to manually take my BP at home for a week.  After doing so, I found my pressures were slightly elevated during the day when I was on my feet a lot, but were excellent at night when resting.  It seemed as though my blood pressure was elevated due to all of the extra water weight I was carrying around and to “fix” that, I just needed to rest and prop my feet up more.  *That* I could do!

Everything was progressing nicely (except for my continued swelling and weight gain), so I decided to go through with being the Matron of Honor in my friend Allie’s wedding.  She got married on the night of June 20th and surprisingly, I felt great.  I had a ton of energy the entire weekend and my mom joked that increased energy levels were often a sign of impending labor.  I laughed it off – after all, I was only in my 38th week – and while that is considered full-term, I was in my first pregnancy and I had always been told that women go past their due dates with their first. I made it through the wedding, but left a little early from the reception due to fatigue.  I went home and slept like a rock.

The day after Allie’s wedding was Father’s Day, so after going out to lunch for my dad’s big day, we stopped at the grocery store.  I got out of the car to go into the store, but felt a small gush between my legs (sorry, probably TMI, but you ARE reading a birth story!), so I sat back down and decided to wait in the car.  I didn’t think much of it, as this can be a common side effect of a baby constantly pushing on your bladder.  My parents came back out of the store about 15 minutes later, I got up again to let my mom in the car, and (*gulp*) there was a much larger gush. My clothes were now completely soaked.  I told my mom that I needed to go straight home and burst into tears.  I wasn’t worried about my water breaking, but Bobby was due to fly in on Tuesday and I knew that because it was only Sunday, there was no way he was going to make it to the hospital in time for Stella’s birth.  :(

When I arrived at my house, I called my doctor to ask his advice and like any sane person, he suggested I go to the hospital and get checked.  I asked if I had time to take a shower and feel a little more human, and because I was only 1 cm and 60% effaced at my OB appointment three days prior, he said I should have plenty of time (again, being a first time pregnant person, things generally don’t progress at lightning speed). About an hour and a half later, around 3pm, my mom, dad and I arrived at the hospital and it was confirmed that my water had indeed broken.  I tried to repeatedly call Bobby, but it was in the middle of the night in South Korea and he was sound asleep.  So, I waited.  What else can you do?

My OBGYN, Dr. Dotson, came in to see me about 4pm and suggested I start pitocin, the drug to induce labor.  After a pregnant person’s water breaks, there is no longer a sac of amniotic fluid protecting the baby from infection and thus, induction is generally suggested.  I weighed the options with Dr. Dotson, thinking that maybe we could stall a bit for Bobby, but then realized even *if* Bobby could get a flight, he still wouldn’t be there until Tuesday.  South Korea to Cincinnati, Ohio, with a layover in Detroit and then a 2.5 hr drive to Ashland makes for about a 22-26 hour day and we didn’t think Stella was going to hold out that long.  So, we induced.  I was still only at 1cm when we started the pitocin, so I figured I was there for the long haul.  Dr. Dotson predicted I would give birth around 6am or so, so he saw another patient and went back home to celebrate Father’s Day.

About 2 hours after my initial cervical check, Sasha, my nurse, came in and I requested to get an epidural because the pain was intensifying (due to the pitocin).  Dr. Shepherd put in my epidural and I felt relief within 15 min.  However, only about 45 min later, the epidural seemed to be “wearing off,” which was a little strange to me.  I called Sasha back into the room, who subsequently called Dr. Shepherd, and he came back to up my epidural medicine level.  At that time, Sasha checked my cervix and I had dilated to 3cm.  That wasn’t too bad in just 2 hours time!  She warned me that getting to 4-5cm was often the slowest part of the entire process, so I tried to rest and not get too hopeful.  About an hour and a half later, I felt the epidural “wearing off” again, so I called Dr. Shepherd and Sasha back in, who informed me that it seemed like I was progressing faster than most.  I was then at 5 cm.  Not an hour an a half later, I was at 8cm and within the next 45 min, I was completely dilated to 10cm.  Unfortunately, because I dilated so rapidly, Dr. Dotson couldn’t make it back in time to deliver Stella, so I had the on-call doctor, a woman named Dr. Pfleger.  She ended up being fantastic as well and I was just so happy at that point to meet Stella, I didn’t really care *who* was at the end of the bed!

Even though Bobby couldn’t make it for the birth, my mom, Sasha, Dr. Pflgler and the other nurses all agreed that he should still be there, albeit virtually.  We called him on FaceTime when I was at 10cm and and he got to stay on the line through the entire birth process, which lasted about an hour and a half (45 minutes of pushing and then about 45 min of recovery, stitching up, weighing the baby, etc).  It ended up being a a pretty magical experience and I am so glad I had a wonderful photographer, Meredith Dickens, there to capture the event, especially since Bobby couldn’t physically take part.

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Just a few minutes after birth

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Look at my eyes and all that hair!

Baby girl finally made it into the world!

Baby girl finally made it into the world!

Talking with dad .... it was pretty emotional. I'm not a "pretty" crier, but I love this photo nonetheless.  Photo by Meredith Dickens

Talking with dad …. it was pretty emotional. I’m not a “pretty” crier and I am really swollen and a sweaty mess, but I love this photo nonetheless. Photo by Meredith Dickens

Stella meeting her dad and her grandparents

Stella meeting her dad and her grandparents

Stella came into the world weighing a whopping (ha!) 6 lbs and 11 oz. and was 20 inches long.  She had an “average” size head (13.5 inches), which I was surprised about, considering Bobby and I both have huge noggins.  Her apgar score was 9, which is almost perfect.

Gettin' checked out

Gettin’ checked out …. and look at all my red hair!

Getting weighed and measured

Getting weighed and measured

After my first rinse

After my first rinse

Snuggling with mom

Snuggling with mom

Kangaroo care

Kangaroo care

:)

:)

Because it was rather late (or I guess I should say early) when I delivered our baby girl, our photographer Meredith offered to come back the next day to take photos of Stella getting her first bath.  My nurse on the postpartum unit, Bambi, was nice enough to allow Meredith to shoot her bathing and washing Stella’s hair.

Bath time

Bath time

Look mom, I have a mohawk!

Look mom, I have a mohawk!

I didn't love getting wet, but I did love baking under the warmer!

I didn’t love getting wet, but I did love baking under the warmer!

All clean!

All clean!

Mom and Stella time

Mom and Stella time

Kissing those tiny toes

Kissing those tiny toes

I love these baby toes

I love these baby toes

Already a day old

Already a day old

Thus chubbiness is deceiving.....she is really quite petite

Thus chubbiness is deceiving…..she is really quite petite

We are so happy to have Stella a part of our family and I hope you return here to our blog to watch Stella grow with us. :)

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