She’s here! Jake and I are so excited to introduce you to Scarlett Victoria Byers, born on Thursday, May 14th at 3:31 p.m. She weighed 6 pounds, 5 ounces and was 18.75 inches, and she promptly arrived just 2 days before her due date. When Scarlett came, she changed our hearts and lives for the better. I always heard that you’ll never feel a love like when you meet your child for the first time, and that’s completely true. I already truly don’t really remember what life felt like before becoming a mom.
Let’s rewind to the week leading up to her birth. Jake and I were anxiously awaiting her arrival and I kept myself extremely busy checking everything off of my to-do list (see this post for my pre-baby to-do list). The two weeks leading up to her delivery, Jake had six 24-hour call shifts at work in a 13 day period. He had to get all of his call shifts for the month done before my due date or else he would have to make them up after paternity leave. The last 2 weeks of pregnancy crawled by with Jake’s busy schedule and the anticipation of baby girl’s arrival.
On Monday, May 11th I went to my to my 39 week OB appointment and was dilated to 3 cm and 50% effaced. I had progressed 1 cm from my last visit a half week before. We knew my body was slowly getting ready for labor. At this point I was having a little bit of Braxton-Hicks contractions, but nothing too painful or consistent. The next day Jake was FINALLY not on call and we were so ready to meet Scarlett. Up until this point I took it easy and rested because I didn’t want Jake to have to make up a lot of call shifts and honestly I wasn’t quite ready yet. Jake had a backup person for each call shift, but my preference was to get through all of the call. We joked that I would go into real labor right after his last call shift. We decided to go on a long walk, since it can help put you into labor and we did some of the suggested old wives’ tales. The next morning (Wednesday), I was woken up early with some really bad back pain that would come and go. I felt differently than I had felt before and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was wondering if it was going to be the big day. Throughout the day the back pain got worse and I started timing it. The pain would come and go and I was wondering if it was real contractions. I called my OB office and the nurse said it did sound like it could be early labor contractions. She recommended I come into the MEU (Maternal Emergency Unit) if the back pain was 5 minutes apart for an hour or if the pain was unbearable. The whole day I timed the contractions and they were never consistent for an hour. They would get really close together, but then stop for a while. At around 6 p.m. I finally decided to go to the MEU to get checked out because, although they were not always 5 minutes or fewer apart, the pain was awful. The nurses hooked me up to monitors and the OB watched my contractions for 30 minutes, but it showed I was just irritable and not actually in true labor. The contractions were not consistent enough to be admitted and I was still 3 cm dilated, but had progressed to 75% effaced. The hospital usually won’t admit you into labor and delivery unless you’re dilated to 4 cm or are having very consistent contractions. The doctor said I was close enough to being in labor/my due date that they would be willing to induce me. I told them my situation with Jake being on call and drove myself home. They told me to take Tylenol, Benadryl and a bath, and if it didn’t get better to come back. Unfortunately I couldn’t take Benadryl since Jake wasn’t home to drive me to the hospital if needed. That whole night I progressively had worse pain. I took a bath and Tylenol but nothing helped. I was able to doze off for a few minutes at a time, but when a contraction came it was so bad I couldn’t sit still. I would have to get out of bed and pace around until the back pain was over.
I’m not sure at what point it turned into real labor, but the contractions would be close together yet were never consistent enough for me to go to the hospital. Finally at 3 a.m., I drove myself to the hospital but was scared to go in out of fear of being sent home again. Luckily it’s just a short 5 minute drive from our house. Once I got there, my contractions seemed to not be consistent anymore. I waited for about 30 minutes in the parking lot before deciding to go back home. In retrospect, I probably should’ve just got in, but I am glad now with how things turned out. When I got home I felt like the contractions had gotten worse and I was crazily pacing around the house again and crying. I felt like I couldn’t drive at that point. Right before Jake got off work at 6 a.m., I texted him and told him he needed to hurry home and take me to the hospital as soon as possible because I couldn’t drive and my pain was unbearable.
Once he got off call, he hurried home and quickly bathed and changed into clean clothing. The car was mostly already loaded (I definitely recommend having all your essentials packed up and either already in the car or in luggage by the door- I will be sharing what I actually used from my hospital bag soon) and we headed to the hospital, this time planning to leave with a baby in our arms. We decided at that point if it wasn’t real labor we would just have them induce me since I was so close and the pain was too much. We got to the hospital around 7 a.m. Once we got to the hospital we had to go through a COVID-19 screening to get our temperatures taken before we could go up to the MEU. I was in so much pain that I was pacing around the hospital lobby. The only way I could get through contractions was breathing and walking. The people at the hospital were all looking at me asking if I was okay. Once we got our temperatures checked we were sent upstairs to the MEU where they triaged me. After they watched my contractions on the monitor and the doctor came in to check me, she said I was dilated to 4 or 5 cm (Jake and I cannot remember exactly-it’s a blur). She said I was going to have a baby that day and admitted me because I was in active labor. Jake and I always joked that I would go into labor immediately after his last call shift, and it ended up being true. Never in a million years did I think I would be delivering during a pandemic and have to wear a mask during labor until my COVID-19 test came back negative and I was admitted into my own room.
After getting my IV, they wheeled me into my labor and delivery room. I had the BEST nurse (Tayler) who was literally an angel. She was by my side almost the whole time I was in labor and did a good job to keep me updated on my progression. I always knew I wanted an epidural, not only because Jake is a resident anesthesiologist, but also because I knew I couldn’t deliver with as much pain as I was in. Soon after getting settled in to my room, one of Jake’s coworkers came in and set up for my epidural. The OB anesthesiology fellow came in and did my epidural. He was amazing and knew the perfect way to make me 100% pain-free. Luckily Jake did a great job preparing me for the epidural. With as much pain as I was in, once my contraction was done I sucked it up and held still in the position needed for them to do the epidural and was able to get it done quickly. The epidural procedure was not bad at all and literally an hour later I was pain free for the whole rest of the labor and delivery process. Since Jake was on 24-hour call and literally didn’t sleep at all the night before and I didn’t either because my pain, he went to sleep and I was finally able to doze off too. Mamas-to-be, make sure to rest during labor when you feel comfortable, it was so worth it.
After my epidural, labor was a complete blur. The doctor came in several times to check me and I was progressing pretty fast, especially for a first time mom. At around noon they decided the epidural caused my contractions to slow down and not be as strong (editor’s note from Jake: that is not a thing at all, epidurals do not weaken your contractions or decrease their frequency). They administered Pitocin via my IV. After I had Pitocin and things started to pick up again, the doctor came in and broke my water. I was so numb that I literally didn’t feel a thing. Around 2:40 p.m. the doctor came in and said, “okay, you’re complete.” Jake jolted up from his sleep and my nurse started setting up the final things for me to start pushing.
I didn’t take any lamaze classes (because #COVID), but luckily my sweet nurse Tayler guided me the whole time on breathing. When I started pushing, things moved extremely fast which is also rare for first time moms. I couldn’t feel a thing and Tayler told me I could look up on the ceiling and see everything. That helped me a lot so I knew if my pushes were working. Jake was by her side the whole time watching everything and I will never forget when she told me she could see her head and that she had a lot of hair. As I started pushing, my room filled up with tons of nurses. About ten rounds of pushes later, Scarlett was about to come. The doctor was not in the room, since she was in another patient’s room and usually first time moms have to push for quite a while. They called on the intercom for an attending OB. Things happened so fast that they then quickly called again for any OB at all, even the residents. The chief OB resident was the first to arrive and she caught Scarlett just in time. Scarlett was born at 3:31 p.m. Jake cut the umbilical cord and they handed Scarlett to me. I’ll never forget the moment they handed her to me, Scarlett immediately reached for me and hugged me. It was the most special moment I’ve ever had in my life. Jake and I both cried. I get teary eyed thinking about it still.
Despite delivering during a pandemic my care team was AMAZING and helped me have such an
amazing birth and hospital stay experience. Unfortunately our parents were unable to visit in the hospital, but it was also nice to be able to bond just the 3 of us for a few days. I will share a life update all about our time with Scarlett soon. I also cannot say thank you enough to the amazing nurses, doctors and care team that took care of me in the hospital. The L&D and mother/baby nurses are literally angels.
I originally had every intention to not abandon my blog for the past 6 weeks and only take a week or two off. Wow have things changed, and I especially didn’t want to miss out when Jake was on paternity leave for 2 weeks. I have hardly gotten anything done with the frequent feedings and I’ve had to learn to give myself grace. It’s been a whirlwind of emotion, adrenaline, exhaustion and pure unconditional love the past 6 weeks. I truly cannot remember life before she came. Being a mom is the biggest blessing and has given me so much purpose. God knew exactly what we needed when he blessed us with Scarlett.