BUDDY CHARLES VIKLUND
DECEMBER 3RD, 2016
8 LBS 3 OZ, 21.5 INCHES
The weeks leading up to our due date were exciting, slow, & peaceful. We spent our time preparing our home for Christmas, going to movies, & soaking in our last few moments as a family of two. Starting at 36 weeks my doctor, Dr. Fong, began checking my cervix for any signs of labor… & week after week my body wasn’t showing any progress. I still had illustrations to complete & some nesting I wanted to finish so I was plenty okay with the extra time.
Then came our due date, November 29th. We had another appointment with Dr. Fong & yet again, my body wasn’t showing any indication that labor was in progress. It was then that we planned for an induction to take place a week later. We made an appointment to check into the hospital at 5pm on Monday December 5th & deliver our baby boy on Tuesday December 6th. We were told that my chances of going into labor naturally were pretty unlikely. I felt a little defeated by this, irrationally so because I know many deliveries happen by way of induction every day & are perfectly fine. I had had several friends who had babies around the same time, who I knew had gone into labor on their own, so comparison was rearing its ugly head. Yes, even something we have zero control over can fall victim to comparison.
The next morning I woke up with a cold. And if you haven’t experienced the combination of a cold & being 40+ weeks pregnant then I hope you never do- I felt absolutely miserable. I went to my weekly prenatal yoga class that night (side note: if you are pregnant get yourself into a prenatal yoga class- it was the best thing I did for my body & pregnancy) knowing it would be my last. I was so grumpy about my cold & the fact that I was going to have to be induced. Leading up to this point I had been one of those women who absolutely loved being pregnant, I truly did. So I remember being upset with myself for feeling so much angst when I was really so grateful for 40+ weeks of great health.
I shared my fears with my yoga teacher, who was my pregnancy Yoda. She offered some suggestions & encouraged me to remain hopeful that my body would go into labor naturally. I came home that night (after picking up some Pho take-out in hopes that some steamy Sriracha broth would clear out my cold) & told my husband, Pat, some of the strategies my yoga teacher shared. It turned out that while I was at yoga he had been doing research on natural induction as well. The fact that he was taking the initiative to figure out strategies helped me more than I think he could have known. It reminded me that I wasn’t alone in the process & how grateful I was to have him as my partner.
The next few days my cold dwindled & by Friday I was coming to terms with the reality that I would probably be induced & that would be okay. I was also rather excited that it was now December & my baby’s birthstone had changed from topaz to turquoise (no offense November friends, but when you’re raised in New Mexico turquoise is really important to you). That morning I wrapped up a few last illustration projects & organized my office space- knowing it would be a few weeks before I would return to it. I made a run to Target to pick up some goodies for Pat & the baby’s stockings as well as some thank you gifts for the staff at the hospital. I spent the afternoon wrapping things & feeling excited for the restful weekend ahead with Pat.
A few hours before Pat got home from work my mucus plug came out. Now, if you don’t know what a mucus plug is, it is kind of exactly what its terrible name says it is. The mucus plug blocks the opening of the cervix to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus during pregnancy. Losing the mucus plug can be associated with labor, however many women have lost their mucus plugs weeks before they actually went into labor. On one hand, this was exciting- my body finally showing a potential sign of labor! On the other hand, I wasn’t going to get my hopes up. I knew people who had lost their mucus plug & not had their baby for weeks. I sent Pat a text to let him know the exciting news - “I lost my mucus plug!”- how romantic! Neither of us really thought much else about it though.
We went on our evening walk with Daisy like normal. We were both feeling tired so we decided to save our energy & settled for a meal of leftover pizza on the couch (probably, definitely watching a Hallmark holiday movie haha). I felt what I thought might have been a contraction. “I think I just felt a contraction!” I told Pat. He responded with “How do you know?” I wasn’t sure to be honest, but I knew it felt different. Again, we didn’t pay much attention to it. A little while later I felt what I thought was another one. Yet again, we didn’t think much of it as they were so far apart & I wasn’t even sure if they really were contractions. Nonetheless I decided to throw in a load of laundry with my favorite leggings & comfy undies that I wanted for the hospital… just in case.
At this point I started to believe that my body was slowly preparing for labor but still resigned to the fact that I would not go into labor naturally. I did feel encouraged that my body was making some of its own progress, hopefully enabling the induction to be more successful. In addition to taking long walks, eating pineapple, bouncing on my yoga ball, & diffusing clary sage, we decided to head to bed & try another “labor inducing strategy”…the thing that got the baby in my body in the first place. And then to sleep we went.
The next thing I knew it was 2am & I woke up from what felt like a very strong contraction. I sat straight up in bed & Pat woke up too. I explained to him what I had felt & he suggested I lay down & try to get some sleep. As soon as I laid back down I felt another contraction, so I sat up again. Then I tried to lay down once more & felt yet another contraction. At this point I decided to get up. The contractions made me feel sick, like I was going to spew out of both ends (sorry for the TMI but this is a birth story after all…). I also felt like crying & laughing at the same time. It was all so strange. I tried to lay back down one last time & boom, another contraction. I woke up Pat & told him I couldn’t sleep so I was going to take a bath. Pat was staying up by this point too.
Through my entire pregnancy I was terrified that I was going to take too hot of a bath & harm the baby, so in typical fashion as I had done for too many months I sat in a lukewarm bathtub… it felt terrible. I was cold & having contractions & tired. At that point I realized that the contractions were coming pretty regularly, I called for Pat & suggested we start timing them & keeping track using the handy app called "Full Term".
The contractions were about 3 minutes apart but only lasting 30 seconds. Our hospital had told us that we should call/prepare to come in if contractions were 3-5 minutes apart & lasting 45 seconds. The frequency of my contractions was often but the duration was still too short. As we sat on the couch & attempted to watch more Hallmark holiday movies, I asked Pat to call the hospital anyway around 4am. Pat shared the details of what was happening & the nurse said I was definitely starting to labor but I wasn’t quite ready to come to the hospital. The nurse told Pat that I should keep walking around at home & laboring there & if my contractions felt stronger (like can’t walk or talk through them) or if I had any bleeding to call again.
We did what we were told & I got movin’. I prepared my hospital bag with the laundry I had done that night (thank goodness, I would have all of my most comfortable pairs of underwear!) & walked laps around our dining room table. Pat prepared everything our dog would need, filled up extra food & water bowls for the cats, & got the house in shape for our absence.
For every contraction I would yell to Pat that it was coming on so he could time it & then I would do the breathing routine that my yoga teacher had taught us to get through the pain. This isn’t new news, but dang! Contractions hurt! I could still walk & talk through them, but I couldn’t decide which part of the contraction I disliked the most- the beginning of the contraction (the part where the pain starts to increase slowly) which meant it was time to anticipate the worst part of it or the peak of of the contraction, the actual worse part. The lead up really was dreadful haha. The best part of course was the decline when the pain would slowly fade.
To help cope with the contractions I decided to take a shower. While standing in the shower (literally I just stood there letting the warm water run down my body as I breathed through each contraction, still 2-3 minutes apart) blood began to run down my legs. I informed Pat who swiftly called the hospital again. The nurse told us to come in. And my sweet Pat, unsure of what the bleeding meant (like I was!) asked the nurse “is it okay that she’s bleeding?!”. The nurse told him that everything was fine & the bleeding was just a sure sign that labor was underway (what!?).
It was about 6am & we had already loaded up the car by this point, so we bid farewell to our 3 cats, our pup & our home under the impression that the next time we would see all of them would be with a 3rd human member of the family.
The night had been wet & rainy, so the roads were shiny & slick, but calm & quiet. By this point it was early Saturday morning. Backing out of our bumpy driveway was brutal. With each bump came a contraction & I said to Pat “this is going to be a long ride!” But actually I don’t remember much else of the 20 minute drive to the hospital other than texting our family that we were on our way, but not to get too excited because it could still be a while before baby came.
We parked at the hospital, which is a small women’s hospital where I also had all of my prenatal appointments. The parking lot was as vacant as I had ever seen it. We left everything in the car but my purse & proceeded to the entrance, Pat with his arm around me for every step. As I got settled into the observation room the nurse checked my cervix for dilation & I was only at a 1. She informed me that they would monitor my contractions & baby’s heart rate for an hour to determine if my body was making progress. She said I would need to be dilated to a 5 to be admitted for delivery. I really didn’t want to be sent back home, so I sat there anxiously talking with Pat hoping my body would do what it needed to do to get me on a hospital bed & that epidural. (I was ready for it).
I guess this is where I can share that for myself, I personally was team epidural & always have been. It never once crossed my mind to try without it. Well I guess it did once, but that thought only lasted about 30 minutes one random night early on in my pregnancy. The thing I was most terrified about was the actual insertion of the epidural but after laboring through my contractions at home for hours that fear was a distant memory.
An hour later the nurse came in again to check on my progress. My cervix hadn’t dilated much more but my contractions were tracking strong & my effacement was now at 50%. The nurse told us that I wasn’t ready to be admitted (womp womp) but that I was making progress. She wanted me to walk the halls of the hospital for an hour & we would check again. I mean, nothing sounded worse to me at that moment than walking around a hospital for an hour…
Pat ran to the car & grabbed me one of the granola bars I had stashed in my hospital bag as our sweet nurse said to eat something now if I was hungry because it was my last chance. I munched it down & we got to walking. As miserable as it was to roam the halls of a hospital at 7am in labor on a dark & cold morning it was one of the sweetest memories I have of that day. Pat held my hand & we just walked laps talking, looking up famous people whose birthdays were December 3rd (I thought maybe Britney Spears was, but I was off by a day, hers is December 2nd), & breathing through each contraction. Pat was such a wonderful partner, encouraging me through every contraction, telling me I was beautiful & strong & incredible. It sounds cheesy, but when you don’t feel like you’re any of those things for a moment it’s nice to be told that you are.
After an hour we returned to the observation room where the day nurse, Jody, greeted us. My cervix was now dilated to a 3, maybe 4, but I was 99% effaced at which point Jody said “You’re having this kiddo today!” My eyes welled up with tears, mostly because I was having my baby, but also a teeny bit because that meant the epidural was within sight! Jody told us that our beloved Dr. Fong was not on call that day but that he had written a note on our paperwork saying to call him if I was admitted as he would like to try & deliver our baby. Again tears filled my eyes: I was so grateful for the love & care of the staff at the hospital & Dr. Fong. We don’t have any family members who live in or near Oklahoma so their extra care was very special to us.
The rest of the transition from the observation room to our delivery room was a bit of a blur. I was getting all set up & excited to be nestled into the cozy hospital bed. Jody brought me some crushed ice to suck on & Pat pulled up a chair beside me. Sometime around 10am the anesthesiologist came in to prepare me for my epidural. I didn’t even notice the insertion of the catheter into my back because I was too distracted by the pain of the contractions. After about 15 minutes he came back by to see if I could still feel my contractions…. & I could so he amped up the juice a bit for me. Fifteen minutes later I was feeling GREAT!
By 11:30am, the Bedlam (OU vs. OSU) football game was starting, which is basically a holiday in Oklahoma, so Pat turned on the game as I tried to get some sleep… drifting in & out. I felt so comfortable, so relaxed, so excited. The on-call doctor came in at some point & broke my water for me. The rest of the afternoon was relaxing & seemed to pass by pretty quickly. As I got closer to delivering our baby boy I began to get the “shakes”. I felt nervous, excited & maybe cold? Our nurse assured me that it was normal & an effect of the adrenaline, but I kept trying to regain control of my body & make it stop. It never stopped.
Around 2:30pm, nurse Jody came by & checked my dilation to find that it was at a 10, which meant it was BABY TIME! She began getting everything set up & at this point she informed me that Dr. Fong would be coming in to deliver our baby. I was over the moon! Of course we would have understood if he couldn’t have been there & we were prepared for that, but the fact that he would be present was such a gift to us.
At 3:00pm it was time to start pushing. I was feeling so numb that I actually had a really hard time with this. I couldn’t figure out how to isolate my “push” to “down there”… but with some encouragement & coaching from Pat & Jody we made it happen. By 3:15pm it was time for Dr. Fong & the rest of the staff to come in. I pushed & pushed through each contraction. Pat, Jody & Dr. Fong cheered me on. Dr. Fong asked us what we were naming our son, at which point we revealed he would be named Buddy Charles Viklund. Buddy after my great grandfather & Charles to match Pat’s father’s middle name. Buddy was coming quickly now. Apparently they could see his head & Dr. Fong informed us that he had hair!
Buddy was born at 3:38pm, a healthy kicking & screaming baby boy. Someone remarked, “He’s got good lungs!” He weighed in at 8lbs 3oz & was 21.5 inches long, with blue eyes & a full head of hair (which he later lost!). After making his way out he was immediately positioned on my chest to be cleaned & meet his parents. Pat & I were both in tears. As Dr. Fong & the nursing staff took care of all the other stuff (Pat & I literally paid no attention to them, feeling as though we were the only two people in the room with our new baby boy) we stared at our baby boy, both completely in love. We watched him open his eyes for the first time. His little slits enlarging as he looked up at me & then up at his father. It was the most incredible experience of my life. I knew it would be amazing, but I had no idea how amazing it would actually be until I was in that moment.
Eventually all the nurses & Dr. Fong left & told us to page them when he was hungry (we had no idea what that meant). As they left both Pat & I felt a huge wave of stress- what do we do now? After a bit Buddy started crying, & of course we didn’t know what to do. A member of the housekeeping team was in our room emptying the trash & suggested that we change his diaper. My legs were still numb so I couldn’t get up- so Pat had to be the one to do it. He had never changed a diaper before (well other than the one time on a doll in our newborn class). Sure enough that calmed him right down.
The next 3 days were heavenly (minus the whole sleep deprived situation). We ordered cheese pizza every night since the hospital meals weren’t necessarily vegetarian friendly (& yes if you’re keeping track, that means we ate pizza 4 nights in a row- including the leftover pizza the night my labor started). We FaceTimed with family. We sought advice on nursing & caring for our new tiny human from every staff member of the hospital, including going to the nursery & observing his first bath in the middle of the night. We watched the Thunder on TV & the Patriots on our iPad. We soaked up our time together; it was such a sweet way to start our lives as a family of 3.
Leading up to our due date my mantra was to trust my doctor & let things happen as they should. Yes I was frustrated with the concept of being induced but I trusted Dr. Fong. I knew that anything could happen, & I did not set my heart on a specific plan for our labor & delivery. Pat & I felt so grateful & blessed. We know not every birth story is the same & in its own simple way ours was exactly as it was supposed to be. We also know we were incredibly lucky. We didn’t take one second of that for granted & we couldn’t image this day unfolding any other way- it was truly perfect.