Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Birth Story! (This is a long one, folks...)

At the hospital, waiting for our girl!
   It seems so weird to have a birth story.  Honestly, it's a little like my wedding--I know it happened, but all of my memories are a little out-of-body feeling, like it was a dream.  I figure I should write out what I remember before it slips away!
   As I mentioned, having been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and needing medication to control it, I was encouraged to deliver by my due date because of the increased risk of stillbirth with going post dates.  As I also mentioned, this was NOT my plan.  I worried and prayed and worried and prayed, and on Sunday, July 8, I was very convicted while sitting in church. I had been asking God to do what only He could do--start my labor--but I hadn't done anything on my end to prepare for it.  As if I didn't expect Him to do it.  Some faith, huh?  So as soon as I got home from church, I went into "we're having a baby" mode. Cleaning, last minute projects, all those little things that I wanted to do before having a baby, but I hadn't done. If God decided not to answer my prayer the way I wanted to, it wasn't going to be due to lack of expectation on my part! 
   I was scheduled for an induction on the day after my due date.  I didn't really think much about it because my midwife and I were pretty certain I would be going into labor on my own any time. I had been dilated to 3 cm and 75% effaced for over a week.  My mom and sis arrived about a week before my due date, and we had big plans to walk all over creation until things got moving.  So we did.  I cannot tell you how many hours and miles we walked.  Outside in the heat, inside the mall, fast, slow, hills...you name it, we walked it. And waited.  My dad arrived that Sunday, the 15th. Everyone was certain it would happen any time.  So we waited. Nothing.  Not even a twitch.
   Chris and I dutifully went to the hospital on July 17 to start the induction process.  Since I was already so far dilated, we all expected things to move quickly with minimal pharmaceutical "encouragement". Pitocin was started at 7 am, and a few hours later our families began to arrive for the big event.  Since I was still feeling good, I told them they could hang out in the room to keep me company until things got more intense and I needed to focus.  I explained that we had taken Hypnobabies classes, and I would need to be able to concentrate in order to manage my contractions. We chit-chatted and killed time, waiting for the pitocin to do its thing. 
   Flash forward to 5 pm. The monitor was picking up contractions, but they weren't anything I even noticed all the time, much less needed to concentrate for. I had walked the halls, stood, swayed, squatted, anything I could think of. No more dilation than I came in with, no more contractions than the Braxton-Hicks I'd felt before.  I had maxed out the available dosage of pitocin.  The midwife on call came in, and we talked about our options. We all decided to try a Cook's catheter, which is a little balloon that manually dilates the cervix from the inside and the outside simultaneously.  This would be left overnight, and we'd start the process over again in the morning.  Around 7 pm. the midwife and a nurse arrived to place the catheter.  Holy cow.  I have now given birth, and I can honestly say that was so much worse than childbirth.  I have truly never felt pain like that in my life, and I hope I never do again.  The pain lasted for hours after it was placed. I couldn't sit, couldn't lie flat, couldn't stand or move without horrible pain. I managed to find a position lying on my side that wasn't awful, and finally dozed off for the first time since 4:30 that morning. I felt a little more in control after my nap, and the pain began to subside around 10:00.
   The next morning, I got up ridiculously early and took a shower. The catheter was removed around 6:00 am, and pitocin started again shortly after. This time things were more promising, as the catheter had gotten me to almost 7 cm.  Again, our families trickled in to resume their faithful waiting positions. Again, nothing.  A few little contractions, gradually I began to notice them, but I've had menstrual cramps that were worse.  Around 3:00, I was at only 7.5 cm.  The midwife came in again to discuss our options. We decided to break my water and see if that sped things up. Boy, did it!!!
   Almost immediately, my contractions were MUCH more intense.  Chris and I resumed walking the halls, and this time I had to stop and sway through the contractions.  Things continued to increase in intensity, frequency, and duration with the pitocin drip still being turned up as we went.  We came to the point where the only way I could handle the contractions was to stand and sway with my eyes closed. I kept relaxing best I could, breathing as I had been taught, but nothing had prepared me for the sudden onset of transition-type labor.  It felt like there was no break between the contractions, only changes in intensity. After nearly two days of labor, I was getting mentally and physically fatigued.
   After a quick check, I was told I was 9 cm. We decided to try getting in the tub to see if that would provide some relief.  I think it did for a few minutes, but I felt out of control. I couldn't stand or sway, the water made me overwhelmingly hot, the pressure of sitting was getting unbearable.  I felt myself slipping in and out of lucidity, and getting rapidly panicky.  I wasn't in control of my body or my mind, and I was feeling a little hysterical.  At that point I told Chris I wanted to get an epidural.  Just like we'd discussed, he suggested I change positions, wait through another contraction, was I sure?  As disappointed as I was, I was sure.  He let the nurse and the midwife know, and they called anesthesia.
   The next few hours are a but of a blur to me.  I recall being helped out of the tub, and I recall flashes of the team placing the epidural.  I remember that the most excruciating thing was being forced to sit still during the placement, and I truly think I was on the verge of losing consciousness.  It seemed like there were lots of people and bright lights and busyness in the room that was previously calm and peaceful.  I remember telling a nurse that I was going to be sick.  Thankfully, that passed and I didn't have to throw up.  Then all of a sudden, it stopped. 
   The medicine blessedly did its job swiftly and effectively.  I could open my eyes.  I could breathe.  I could rest.  I fell asleep almost immediately, and the staff was gracious enough to let me sleep.  After an hour or two, they checked me, and I was fully dilated!  We started the pushing process around 7:00 that evening.  I didn't push my button for any extra medication in my epidural because I didn't want it to interfere with my ability to push, and I'm fairly certain that it was wearing off because while I didn't have much pain in my abdomen, I believe I could feel every inch of my pelvic floor!
   I honestly thought that the pushing would be the easiest part of my delivery.  Not that it isn't hard work, but have you seen these hips?  This would not be a problem.  But like everything else thus far, that was not the case.  I pushed and pushed and pushed with minimal progress. The nurse asked at one point if I wanted to use the vacuum, and I said yes, if it will get her out!  Luckily, the midwife arrived about then and tactfully ignored my request, assuring me that we were getting close.  The fatigue was catching up with me again, and I was having trouble sustaining my pushes for the 10 counts that the nurse was shouting, having trouble keeping my legs in the right position, having trouble thinking!  Just. So. Tired.  They don't call it labor for nothing!
   At long last, I found some hidden store of energy or adrenaline or whatever, and our precious Abby was born at 10:01 pm!  The midwife exclaimed, "No wonder that was so hard!  She was face up and had her head tilted to the side!" Of course MY child would be stubborn.  They placed her on my chest, and she looked around with big round eyes, taking in the world she'd just entered.  We snuggled for a few minutes until her cord stopped pulsing, then it was clamped and cut. While I worked on delivering the placenta (that was an odd sensation), she was weighed and measured and tested.  Our big girl weighed 8 lbs 12 oz and was 21.5 inches long.  I finally heard a few cries from her after that, and before long Chris came back to my side with our daughter wrapped up in a blanket. The nurses and midwife slipped out, and we had a few minutes to marvel at this miracle that had just happened before our families joined us to celebrate.
Brand new miracle!
First nap together!
   I'm so thankful that Chris was there with me through it all.  I had no idea how emotionally taxing birth would be.  I think I experienced every emotion I can think of, and it seemed like I felt them all to the extreme.  He encouraged me, calmed me, thought clearly when I could not, asked questions I didn't know I had, protected the peace in our room, and physically supported me when I needed. I certainly could not have done it by myself.  I also wholeheartedly believe that things would not have gone as well as they did without the fervent prayers of many many people. If you were one of my prayer warriors over those two days, thank you!!!  Every last one of you!!!

My sweet Abby
      Life as a family of three has been an adventure. Not everything has gone according to plan, but that's another post for another day. I'm enjoying every day snuggling this precious little pink bundle, and it's amazing to see how much she changes every single day!

No comments:

Post a Comment