"Most of our life is a series of images. They pass us by like towns on the highway. But sometimes, a moment stuns us as it happens and we know that this instant is more than a fleeting image. We know that this moment, every part of it, will live on forever."
February 13, 2017 at 10:59am our lives changed forever. We became a family of three!! I love the idea of writing out her birth story to remember all of the details of the day. So here we go!
Two weeks before Payton was born on February 3rd, I started having Braxton Hicks contractions while I was at the movies seeing La La Land with my mom. They weren’t super painful, but they came and went consistently for about 5 hours. I wasn’t sure what labor was supposed to feel like, and I thought it could be early labor, so I called the doctor. They told me to wait until the contractions were very painful and I couldn’t walk or talk while I was having one. They needed to last 1 minute, every 4 minutes, for an hour. We got excited when we called the doctor thinking, this could be it! So we went to bed and they went away. The next two days I had a few more Braxton Hicks but they never got to the point the doctor said they needed to be at in order to call. I had a doctors appointment on Monday February 6th (at this point I was 38 weeks pregnant) and I was 2cm dilated and 80% effaced. It made sense why I was so uncomfortable, she was getting so low and I was dilated!!
Another week went by and then the next weekend I started having more Braxton Hicks but they were more painful than the week before. Still not at the point that I should call the doctor which was very frustrating! We kept getting our hopes up just to have it be a false alarm. I was incredibly ready to deliver (especially because they told me she would be a bigger baby) and was hoping the Braxton Hicks would lead to labor. That week we did EVERYTHING to try to start labor. Long walks, spicy food, sex, raspberry tea, bouncing on the birth ball, eating dates every day, the list goes on. So I was pretty sure at my 39 week doctors appointment on Monday morning the 13th I would be even more dilated than the week before. Little did I know, it was almost time!!
At 3am Monday morning the 13th, I was laying in bed having a constant cramping so I decided to take a shower to feel better. I took my time and shaved my legs and then had a feeling my water had broken. Since she was already so low, I knew it wouldn’t be a big gush but would be a trickle. After 30 minutes, I knew my water had broken so we called the doctor and he told us to go to the hospital! I was group strep B positive which meant we needed to get to the hospital sooner than later so they could hook me up to antibiotics. We gathered our things and got to University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center at 4am. It was weird driving to the hospital when I wasn’t having contractions! We live less than 5 minutes from the hospital but it felt like a long drive. We went to the main entrance and it was locked since it was the middle of the night, so we drove around and checked in at the Emergency entrance. There was a lot of construction going on at the hospital so they checked me in the ER recovery room. They didn’t have a lot of the things they needed so they were running around trying to find everything! After they hooked me up to the monitor to see baby’s heartbeat I started having contractions. At that point the contractions weren’t that much more painful then what I had already been experiencing for weeks. The doctor checked me and I was 4cm and 80% effaced. I knew all of the things I had been doing helped me go into labor!! Then they admitted me into the delivery room at 5:00am and the fun began.
I hate needles so I was nervous about getting both the IV and the epidural. When they put the IV in and started drawing my blood I had a contraction and that was pretty painful. Then the nurse asked me when I wanted to get the epidural. I had heard people liked waiting a little bit to get the epidural to be able to walk around and labor before the contractions were close together. I thought at that point the contractions were 10 minutes apart but she told me they were only 2-3 minutes apart! After she told me that I told her I was ready to get the epidural ASAP! The anesthesiologist came in and told me what to do and that he would try to do it in between contractions. He did the epidural and I was surprised it wasn’t that painful. It just felt like getting a shot! Getting the IV to me was worse than the epidural. But when he tried to inject the medicine it wouldn’t take. So he had to take it out and do it again. He started to do it and then I started having a contraction. It was horrible having to sit still during the contraction while he was giving me the epidural. Thankfully, the second time it worked and I started feeling drowsy. My mom said that she loved getting the epidural because when it takes affect it makes you feel like you just had a glass of wine. It was true! A few minutes later the doctor asked how that contraction felt and I said, “what contraction?” It was great! But then a little bit later I started feeling nauseous, my blood pressure went up, and Payton’s heart rate dropped. They gave me some medicine and an oxygen mask. My blood pressure and her heart rate leveled so we were good. It still made me nervous that her heart would have trouble getting through the delivery, but the nurse was wonderful and assured me it was in a stable place.
Dr. Buescher, came in and checked me again at 8:30am and I was 5cm dilated. She said I could expect to have the baby around dinner time because normally for a first baby the mom progresses 1 cm per hour on average. Luckily, an hour after the doctor checked me they said its was safe to take off the oxygen mask. We texted our family and told the what to expect and to be praying! I felt prepared to be in bed all day and Kevin thought he would be able to get some work done. Little did we know, that wasn’t going to happen!
I didn’t think I would be able to feel my legs with the epidural, but I was so thankful to be able to! It was also so nice to not have to get out of bed every 5 minutes to pee! Around 10am I started having some pain and pressure and could feel the contractions. I noticed on the monitor that Payton’s heart rate was dropping to the 80’s and then going back up above 100 each time I would have a contraction and it made me nervous. The nurse came in and I told her about the pain & pressure I was experiencing so she went to get the doctor. At 10:15am Dr. Buescher came in and checked me and told me I was fully dilated and it would be time to start pushing soon. I started crying because I wasn’t mentally prepared to go from 5-10cm in 1 hour!! Praise God for the epidural because without it that would be have been one painful hour. The nurse was great and talked me through what would be happening and how to push. The doctor came in and asked if I would be okay with a few nursing students watching the birth. I was so out of it I didn’t care! Kevin said there was a bunch of them in the back watching haha!! We turned on my worship birth playlist and I started pushing at 10:20am and 40 minutes later at 10:59am, Payton Ruth Paulovkin was born!
It was crazy how much the labor reminded me of a CrossFit workout. In CrossFit there are some workouts where you work really hard for a few minutes and then rest for a few minutes. During a contraction I would push for a few minutes and then get to rest for 2-3 minutes after the contraction was over. It was definitely a workout!! They said the cord was wrapped around her neck which could have been why her heart rate was dropping and then coming back up. The nurses said it is very normal and actually not that dangerous! I was just glad she was okay. Kevin was a champion at coaching and encouraging me and I couldn’t have done it without him. He cut the cord and was a proud dad! When they held her up I was SHOCKED to see so much dark hair! They handed her to me and I was bawling and Kevin was teary as well. It was a very emotional and beautiful moment we will never forget. There was a nursing student in the room that took a few pictures with my phone of the nurses handing her to me and I was so thankful! We were both overwhelmed at the gift God had given us. And one of the best parts about it was that I was so happy not to be pregnant anymore! I had been so uncomfortable that to have her out of me was the best feeling.
Kevin got to be with her when the nurses took her over to get measured and weighed. He said Payton was holding on to his finger while they were measuring her which is so cute! And they took her little footprints that were adorable. Then they brought her back to me and I got to hold her for a half hour. It was such a sweet time I couldn’t stop crying. Then they took her for a bath and we waited a little bit for my epidural to wear off before they wheeled me into the recovery room. My parents burst into the birthing room right before we were going to go to the recovery room and the nurses told them they needed to go wait for us outside. It was pretty funny, they were so excited! At 1:30pm I transitioned to the recovery room and was so hungry. I was thankful my labor was only 6 hours because you can’t eat until after birth. I sat there eating my lunch and couldn’t believe that less than 24 hours had gone by and I had given birth and was now in the recovery room. It was so much happening at once!
My brother and his wife came to visit along with Kevin’s family from Leesburg. Everyone loved meeting her, especially Kevin’s grandmother Nana. Kevin’s mom passed away 7 years ago from breast cancer and we have been thinking about her a lot lately. She would have loved meeting Pay Pay and watching her grow up. Nana is Suzy’s mom, so her holding Suzy’s sons baby was extra special. Especially because she is a girl! Suzy had 4 brothers so she was the only girl in the family and then Suzy had 4 sons herself! Nana was reminded of holding Suzy when she was holding Payton and it was so sweet. I also loved seeing Kevin’s brothers with Payton. They are uncles now and loved snuggling little P. We had a few friends visit the next day as well and it was so fun to see how excited everyone was to meet her. And thanks to Hannah for taking a few pictures of Kevin and I with her in the hospital that you will see below. I love the pictures so much!! It was a whirlwind 48 hours in the hospital, but I was so thankful to be there for two days. We let the nurses take her to the nursery at night in between feedings so we could get some sleep. It was much needed! Kevin and I celebrated Valentine’s Day in the hospital with cheesecake and wine. It was the best Valentine’s Day yet!!
Since being home I have experienced every emotion in the book. I feel like I have been living out of body the past week with my body healing, navigating breastfeeding, and having a new little person in our family. It really has been a roller coaster. Breastfeeding was easy the first few days in the hospital with the colostrum, but it got more challenging once my milk came in. The first night at home Payton was eating every hour and it was exhausting. Thursday night at 3am Payton was screaming and pulling away from me and we were so worried something was wrong because she wasn’t eating. She eventually ate but it was a struggle. The next day I talked to the lactation consultant and she told me I have overactive letdown. Overactive letdown is when the milk comes out really fast for the first minute or so and gets all over the baby and its hard to latch. We figured out that nursing leaning back is a good solution to this problem! I am still having some issues getting her to latch but it has gotten a lot better.
It is crazy how one little 8 pound person can turn your world upside down. It has been difficult for me to not workout since I am used to going to CrossFit 3 days a week, but I am letting my body recover until my 6 week doctors appointment. Working out helps me relieve stress and release endorphins so I am trying to be patient in this waiting time. We are going for short walks which helps, but my body is definitely not ready for anything more yet. I also thought I would be incredibly bonded with Pay in the beginning but that wasn’t the case. I am so thankful for her and love her but it is hard that she can’t react back with a smile or laugh. Nursing has helped me bond and each day I love her a little bit more. The rollercoaster of emotions has made it harder too. One minute I will be crying because I am overwhelmed with everything and the next I will be crying because I can’t believe God gave her to us. Kevin has been wonderful at helping out and he is already such a great Dad. I can’t wait to see him with her as she grows! We are soaking in each minute and learning how to navigate our new normal.
Enjoy these images from the first 48 hours of Payton’s life!! We already love her so much.