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Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Birth Story!

I decided that during the last weeks of my pregnancy, I really liked reading up on others' birth stories. So, I thought I would go ahead and write mine. Like I said earlier, I am being really picky about what I post about my son on the internet (I want him to make the final choices about his level of participation in the internet), but since this is really kind of about me and not him, I think it's ok.

Note for the squeamish: this post will be really TMI, so feel free to skip it, I will not be offended.
In Labor & Delivery. The oxygen is because the baby's heart rate kept dropping.
This was post-epidural.
Before Labor

Baby was due on Tuesday, May 28. The week before, I was starting to feel like I really wanted him to come before his due date, mostly because the 27th was Memorial Day and I wanted Todd to have an extra day off to be at home with us. I'd been having cramps and Braxton-Hicks contractions for a couple of weeks, but nothing was really telling me that things were moving along.

I had been to the doctor on May 16, and she had found that I was 2cm dilated and 50% effaced. Of course, like all of the other symptoms I'd been having, that either meant the baby was coming that night or 2-3 weeks from then. I went to the doctor again on Friday the 24th, and the doctor told me I was 3cm dilated and 50% effaced. So, things were progressing. Todd was with me at that appointment and both of us kind of decided that the doctor had swept my membranes without telling me. I would actually have consented to it, had he asked, but he did not. Of course, maybe he didn't, but it did seem like it took him a long time to figure out how dilated I was.

As soon as I left the doctor, I started having cramps and some mild contractions. Todd and I went to dinner, and I had contractions all through dinner. I finally decided I should time them. They were 6-8 minutes apart, but they were still kind of what I would consider Braxton Hicks. Later, I drank a bunch of water and rested and they went away. I was trying to finish up some stuff from work because I felt like things might be happening soon, but the fact that everything went away made me feel less confident.

Saturday morning, I had an appointment for a prenatal massage with the most awesome prenatal masseuse out there, Jessie. She was super gentle, but also did some accupressure to help induce labor. The biggest thing I'll miss about pregnancy? My prenatal massages with Jessie. She really does rock. After my massage, I went home and Todd and I just hung out at home for the rest of the day. We had pizza for dinner, and Todd hung up our new television in the basement. We were playing with the TV, and I kept saying "It's getting late, we need to get to bed, you never know what will happen and when it will happen!" but Todd was certain I would go at least a week late. We finally got to bed around 11pm.

The Night Things Started Happening

Around 1:15am, I got out of bed to go to the bathroom. I had been getting up 3 times a night for about a week (up from 1-2 times a night earlier in my pregnancy). I evaluated how I was feeling and I felt pretty normal, maybe a little crampy (which had become normal, quite honestly). I got back in bed, and thought about how I couldn't wait until I could sleep through the night again (yes, knowing that the baby would make that impossible for months).

I was still trying to get back to sleep just before 2am, when I heard a *POP*. In that split second, I thought, holy crap was that my...  and then GUSH! I was leaking everywhere. Out loud, I said "Oh, Sh*t!" Todd, half asleep kind of said "huh?" and I said "My water just broke!" At this point, Todd jumped up out of bed and ran out of the room. I've asked him since where in the world he was going and what he was doing, and he can't remember. I had to call him back and ask him to bring me a towel, because when your water breaks, it keeps breaking, like you're leaking a lot, all the time and it is uncontrollable and weird. Many thanks, by the way, to my friend Kristen, who supplied me with a waterproof pad for the bed, which I had been sleeping on for about 2 weeks.

Now, the doctor had informed me that if my water broke, I was to call right away, and they would want me to come into the hospital immediately. However, I had a doula and I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible. So, at 2am, I called Bobbie, my doula, instead of my doctor. Bobbie suggested that I try and get some sleep, since I wasn't having any contractions. I agreed and Todd and I got back into bed.

It only took about 20 minutes after my water broke for contractions to start. I was having difficulty sleeping through them, and so we started timing them. They were really close together - only about 4 minutes apart. But, they weren't that strong. Being in bed made them worse, so I got up and got into the shower. The shower was awesome. I knew from my birth classes that showering in labor would be great, and it really was!!! I stayed in there about a half hour. Todd was sleeping, and I wanted him to get his rest, so I tried to eat a little canned fruit, and I started packing my hospital bag (which I'd had half-packed for a week or two). I sat on my exercise ball and watched an Arrested Development marathon on IFC (since this was the weekend the new season was coming out).

I kept timing contractions and I was really surprised at how fast they were coming. They were 2-3 minutes apart, but still not super strong. They were getting stronger, but the pain was really coming in my back more than my front. Dreaded back labor. I called Bobbie again around 5am to ask her opinion about my contractions. She suggested that I get on my hands and knees for a while. I did that, and also continued using the exercise ball. I got in the shower again, but since the contractions were stronger it wasn't working as well. Around 5:45, Todd called Bobbie and asked her to come over, because my contractions were getting worse.

Bobbie arrived soon after (she lives nearby) and examined my belly. The baby was turned around causing my back labor, so she did some techniques to help turn the baby. I labored on the ball, and on my hands & knees and Bobbie encouraged me to eat. Todd made me some toast with strawberry jam (homemade). I did my best to eat it, but it was so difficult. I was really starting to feel bad. Bobbie asked if I wanted to get in the bathtub, and I did, so Todd went upstairs and filled up the tub for me. It took FOREVER. While we were waiting for the tub, I started throwing up. I didn't throw up at all during my pregnancy, this was the first time. So, that sucked.

Finally, the tub was ready. I tried to get comfortable, but the tub just wasn't the awesomeness that I expected it to be. I was starting to get upset and I was starting to really get worried about the car ride to the hospital. No matter how I positioned myself in the tub, I was still feeling terrible. Then, I started throwing up again. Bobbie held a bucket on the side of the tub for me. What was coming up smelled like strawberry jam and I couldn't help but think please don't let this ruin strawberries for me... (it didn't). Todd and Bobbie were trying to help me get more comfortable, but finally I just announced that I was ready to go to the hospital. There was an "are you sure" conversation, and yes, I was sure. I was ready to go to the hospital. So, I got out of the tub and we got everything together and headed out.

Hell

It was about 8:30am when we began our drive to the hospital. I had been in labor for 6 1/2 hours. The hospital was about 45 minutes away, and what followed was a horrible 45 minutes. I had discovered very early on that lying down or sitting (besides on the ball) made my contractions worse, so being confined to a car seat with a seatbelt on was misery. I called the doctors office and left a message, and the doctor called me back within a few minutes. My contractions were coming every 2 minutes or so, so I couldn't have a full conversation with the doctor and had to hand the phone to Todd to talk to her. After that, I had Todd call my mom and tell her we were on our way to the hospital.

When we got to the hospital and checked in, we found that they did not have our pre-registration paperwork. Now, I had been warned about this before hand (Jenny!), but I'd actually checked and been told it was fine. However, it wasn't. They still had my old insurance from Todd's previous employer, which wasn't right. So, we had to wait a ridiculous amount of time for them to get the insurance straight. Then, they sent me to triage.

Triage... was hell. I mean HELL. Forget waterboarding or other torture devices, simulate labor on people and then put them into triage in a hospital.

Basically, you get put on a stretcher in a room the size of a closet (oh, and I had to change into a gown and give a urine sample, thank goodness for Bobbie for helping me get out of my clothes - you have to do all of this while being slammed with contractions every couple of minutes). Then, they hook you up to all kinds of machines to check on the baby and check on you and see if you're really in labor (because some women show up at the hospital not in labor). The woman putting in my IV screwed it up the first time, and then a resident came in and knocked her stuff on to the floor, so that everything had to be set up again in order to get my IV in. The resident checked me and found that I was 4cm dilated, which was a disappointment to me.  However, Bobbie has since told me that she thinks I was 5 or 6cm dilated, and that the resident seemed weirdly uncertain about what I was. We really didn't like the resident. We saw her again before leaving the hospital and I was totally like "YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and all angry at her. It's a good thing that I was so focused on my contractions or else I might have killed her.

Apparently, they also did an ultrasound, but I was so out of it at that point that I didn't notice. I was keeping my eyes closed while trying to focus. I was confined to bed while I was being monitored, and I was hoping that things would be better once I was in L & D and could move around again. I wasn't talking to anyone, except one word here and there. Todd was answering my medical questions for me.

The monitoring revealed that the baby's heart rate was dropping with every contraction. That meant possibly that the cord was wrapped around the baby's neck. They needed to put me on oxygen in order to keep the baby from being in distress. So, from that point on, I had to wear an oxygen mask. At this point, I knew I was not going to be able to move around in L&D, and I knew for certain I was getting an epidural. My birth plan stated that I wanted to wait until I was at least 5-6 cm dilated to get an epidural, so I was within that. Part of me was disappointed to not be going natural, but honestly, I really just wanted someone to get themselves to anesthesiology and drag someone there to make me feel better. The back labor was unbearable.

Finally, I was taken to labor and delivery (after the triage person announced triumphantly "You are indeed in labor!". I wanted to respond "No sh*t, Sherlock," but I could only get one word out at a time and saying "No" would have sounded like I was protesting leaving triage, so I just said nothing). Can I say that my L&D nurse was totally awesome? Between her and Bobbie, I had the dream team helping me to deliver my baby.

Things were terrible in L&D though. I was in so much pain. I can't even think of another time in my life where I'd been in as much pain as I was then. I was not recovering in the 2 minutes between my contractions, and pretty much all of the pain was in my back. I was begging for the epidural, but they had to get a full bag of IV fluids into me first, and then they had to get the anesthesiologist to come. I really didn't think I was going to make it, and if someone had offered to shoot me in the head, I might have taken them up on it. When asked what my number was on the pain scale, my answer was 9. Back labor, people. Ow. Bobbie and Todd were taking turns pressing on my back during contractions, and it was helping, but it wasn't enough.

After what seemed like forever, the doctor finally came in to give me the epidural. I had always feared the possibility of becoming paralyzed from an epidural, and that was one of my big reasons to try to avoid one. However, when the time came, my biggest fear (and I mean, I was TERRIFIED of this) was that the epidural wouldn't work, or that it would only work on one side of my body. Thankfully, the anesthesiologist was as awesome as my L&D team, and once she finished, I only felt 2 or 3 more contractions and then my pain number went down to zero. You know who seemed even more relieved than me? Todd, who clearly was crazy-worried.

The doctor came in and checked me, and I was 6cm dilated. She told me she would come back to check me every hour, which my doula didn't like. I decided to cross that bridge when we got to it. My mom had arrived while I was getting my epidural, so she came in and we chatted for a while. Then, I decided to get some rest. I couldn't feel my contractions at all, and I wanted to save up my energy for what was to come. I did get a tiny bit of sleep, but not a lot.

After an hour, the doctor came back and I decided to go ahead and let her check me again because I was curious to see if I'd progressed. Indeed I had, the epidural had helped me relax, and by relaxing, my body had been able to go from 6cm to 10cm dilated in an hour. I was ready to push.

The doctor decided to let me rest for a little while, so I relaxed for another hour. So, at 2:00pm, she came back and we set up to start pushing. The problem? My epidural was so strong that I couldn't feel anything. I didn't know when I was having a contraction and I couldn't feel myself pushing. We tried pushing for about 20 minutes, but I wasn't making progress and the doctor had my epidural turned down so that I could feel something. We stopped and waited about an hour or so for it to wear off.

Pushing!

Then, the real fun began. Pushing for real! Bobbie held one leg, Todd held the other. The doctor and my awesome nurse were down at the end. The baby was turned so that he couldn't get himself under my pelvic bone, so I was having trouble progressing. Two hours of pushing went by, and the baby was still trying to get under my pelvic bone (see this picture if you want to see where he was stuck). Despite how long that sounds, I was fine. I had plenty of energy and I didn't feel like I was wearing myself out. Yet, I started hearing the doctor say something about the baby being too big. Bobbie leaned down and whispered to me that I needed to push harder or else they were going to start pushing me to get a c-section, which was something I completely didn't want..
The best Daddy out there... :)
Bobbie's pep talk helped. I was surprised because I was totally like I'm an ENDURANCE ATHLETE. I can push for SIX HOURS if I need to, I am NOT ready to give up pushing this baby out! I mean, they'd told me that I should push 3 times per contraction and I'd spent two hours pushing FOUR times per contraction! I was full of energy!! I was exceeding expectations, as far as I was concerned. With less epidural though, I was in a lot of pain and I could feel the baby coming out. The weird thing is - it hurt SO MUCH more between contractions than during them. Anyway, I started taking pushing to the next level. I pushed HARD, and the baby made progress (you can tell by the expressions on the faces of people in the room that things are progressing). Things went from "you're not progressing" to Todd telling me that the baby had blonde hair in what seemed like no time. In fact, once the baby turned himself, he was out in a single push. Stubborn little guy.

The umbilical cord was indeed around the baby's neck, so I had to stop pushing and then start again (I wasn't aware of why at the time, although maybe someone told me and I was just thinking "ouch" too much to hear them). Then, I saw a foot. And I was like "hey, was that a foot? Because that baby was head first, so that means he's out!" And oh, the relief....

In the lobby of the hospital as we were
leaving 2 days after the birth.
I had wanted the baby to be placed on my chest as soon as he was born, but there was meconium (baby poop) in my amniotic fluid, so he had to be taken over to the nursery (in the room) to be suctioned and examined by the pediatric team. It was something like 5 or 6 pediatricians, there were so many people in my room - you know you're close to having the baby when suddenly the room is really crowded. In the end, I was able to catch my breath and deal with the weirdness that comes after the baby is born while he was being examined. Todd went off with the baby and Bobbie stayed with me. I could hear the baby crying, and then I could see him looking around.

**TMI ALERT - skip this paragraph if you want** The umbilical cord had broken off, so the doctor had to reach her hand up into my uterus to get the placenta out. OMG. That was one of my fears, but they'd kicked the epidural back up right before the baby was born, so I didn't actually feel a thing.

Finally, they brought my little boy over and I was able to hold him and nurse him. His eyes are so blue and so clear - I hope they stay that way. One of my big wishes was always for him to have Todd's eyes. He's got Todd's hair at least, which is good.

Baby is perfect and wonderful, and we are so happy. :)

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