September 15, 2011

Birth Story

Our birth story begins on Tuesday July 12th…
As you might remember from some of my posts around that time, I really wasn’t showing much progress towards labor. In fact, I hadn’t had a single contraction yet and had set my sights on my 39 week appointment Thursday in which (I’d hoped) the doctor I’d be working with for the next two weeks while mine was on vacation would consider scheduling an induction. We were ready to meet our little guy… But, I wasn’t getting my hopes up!

Anyway, I felt particularly sluggish Tuesday morning; but, I chalked it up to the fact that I had had a productive Monday and crossed off most of the remaining items on my “Pre-Baby To Do List.” (Thanks God for showing this Type-A gal some grace with your timing!) I snoozed a little later than usual and read in bed for most of the morning. I was having some new back-pain, but it was nothing major.

At eleven, I left the house to run some errands and meet Jeff for lunch. Some time around there, the pain in my lower back started becoming a little stronger and I noticed that it was coming in short little intervals. Could this be labor? It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was different and could be timed. At Panera, over black bean soup (sorry nurses!) and turkey panini, I told Jeff – “I think I’m having contractions. I’d actually be a little surprised if this isn’t the start of something.”

I’d planned to go to the mall and walk around after lunch (you know, to bring on the labor I thought was still weeks away); but the back pain was increasing, and I felt super tired. So, I went home to nap instead. At about 3:15, I was woken up by the pain in my back. Aha! “Real contractions will not slow down when you lay down or walk around.” I decided to start timing these little spurts. At this point, they were between 15 and 20 minutes apart and lasting between 30 and 75 seconds. By now I was confident that Baby C was getting ready to come; but, I also was well aware that some women labor like this for DAYS.

By 5:30ish, my contractions (I now felt safe calling them that) were more like 10 minutes apart. So, when Jeff called to see how I was doing, I told him to come home. We needed to get some things done because I was pretty sure we’d be going to the hospital that night. (Always planning, I am.) Of course, he hurried home.

Things start to get a little blurry around this point… Contractions didn’t really feel the way I thought they would. In fact, the only reason I even knew they were contractions was because they were time-able and not just a basic ache. They hurt; but, they weren’t miserable. Even as they got stronger, I could still walk and talk through them. It wasn’t the “textbook” labor that I’d learned about in our birthing class; so, despite what my body was telling me, I was super nervous that I would get to the hospital and they’d send me home saying it was nothing.

To busy myself, I cleaned out my car instead. I’m talking Windex, Pledge, and the vacuum. This seemed perfectly legitimate at the time – I didn’t want the baby to come home in a dirty car. (Nevermind that it has been sitting pretty in my driveway ever since then.) Jeff ate the Chicken Enchiladas I’d made for dinner (I wasn’t hungry – another MAJOR sign that something was up) and mowed the lawn in the dark because I insisted. He is a really good man.

Finally, by about 9PM, my contractions were five minutes apart. Mom had brought over an exercise ball, and that seemed to be the most comfortable place to get through them. I could still handle them, but they were definitely getting more painful. BUT, they weren’t lasting a full minute and it hadn’t been an hour like this – I’m a rule follower, you know – so we waited. I took a shower, put on make-up, straightened my hair, and asked Jeff – “Do I look ready to meet our boy?”

At 10:30PM we walked up to the labor and delivery floor of the hospital. We only took in one bag because I thought we might curse it if we took everything in. I wanted to be sure we were staying first! It wasn’t like we had an appointment or anything, so we just showed up. TV makes you think that this stage will be very exciting and dramatic. In reality, I told a nurse I thought I was in labor, she took me into a room, wrote down my name and social security number on a paper towel (I’m not lying), and left us to wait.

Thirty minutes later, I was checked in and hooked up. My contractions were measuring every three minutes or so, and I was 3.5 centimeters dilated, and I had to use the bathroom REALLY bad. When I got out of bed, I didn’t even make it to the bathroom before my water broke everywhere. To my relief, the nurse finally said, “You better get settled in, you’re having a baby.” So… We called our families, Jeff went off to get the other 500 items from the car, and we checked the blog (on his phone) to see who had a chance at winning our birth-date pool. 🙂

…When we first got checked at the hospital, the nurse asked if I wanted to go ahead and get prepped for an epidural. I was NOT opposed to having drugs for the pain; but, I had read about how epidurals often slow labor down. Plus, I wasn’t in that much pain just yet, so I thought we should hold off… The nurse, however, strongly recommended that we get started because she said the process could take about an hour. (It was almost the middle of the night, so they would have to call the doctor on call to come in from home to check me, get a bag of fluid in my system, etc. all before the anesthesiologist came in.) I decided to go ahead with it then.

And… thank goodness I did. The process ended up taking two hours. After my water broke, labor progressed REALLY fast and got much more intense. By the time my doctor got there at about midnight, I was already dilated to a 6, and he commented on how strong my contractions were… You’re telling me buddy! By now, they were definitely hurting! (Looking back, I don’t really remember much of the pain, but I can tell by the way that Jeff describes it, that I was NOT a happy camper. I do remember that I cried and told the nurses that I didn’t expect to be so loud.)

The nurses also had some trouble getting the iv started in my hand (let’s just say, Jeff had a shirt ruined with my blood in the process), so it was 1AM before I finally got some relief from the epidural. (I had been so nervous about it; but, by that point it felt like a piece of cake.) Right afterward, the nurse checked my cervix again, and I was at 9! We would be having this baby even sooner than we thought!!

At that point, Jeff called our families and told them to come on to the hospital (his mom was already in the parking lot – Haha).

Once I was feeling like a human again, I remember thinking “I can’t believe how easy this has been!” (A terrible idea to get ahead of myself like that.) The thing was, I’d been fully prepared to have a c-section, or – at the very least – a very long and difficult labor. The idea that I would go into labor at home, check in to the hospital, and have a baby a few hours later had NEVER crossed my mind… I don’t really know why exactly; except that easy had never really been an adjective used to describe this pregnancy. (I may or may not have also thought to myself: “This is going to be a boring birth story on my blog.” Little did I know…)

At 1:40AM, after about 30 minutes of “laboring down,” the nurse declared that it was time to start pushing. Again, my expectations were totally blown out of the water. I’d imagined Jeff standing “above the sheet” coaching me; but instead, there was no sheet, and he was (literally) given a leg. The doctor, I learned, wouldn’t even be called in until the baby started to crown… Crazy!

Approximately one hour later, my doctor came to check on me even though there was still no head in sight. I felt like I’d been working SO hard, but we weren’t really seeing any progress. Although the nurses were encouraging; I’d later learn that they had been sneaking outside to call my OB all along… Something wasn’t quite right.

When he “investigated the situation” (you like that polite terminology?), he found that not only was our little one’s head apparently stuck on my pelvis; but, his heart rate was elevated and his body felt warm – not good signs. In the doctor’s words, “[I] could push for another two hours and it might be possible to have this baby; but, I could also be in the same situation I’m in now but a lot more exhausted.” His recommendation of a c-section did not surprise me one bit.

Looking back, I sincerely believe that God had been preparing me for that moment. I am so grateful for the peace that I had about getting the c-section. It was like I was already ready for it. Jeff and I didn’t doubt the decision for one minute; we just went with it. We just wanted a healthy baby. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t even scared. I just was ready to meet Sam.

… According to my dad (the numbers guy) I was rolled by the waiting room at 4:22AM for surgery. (Poor family, they thought the baby was coming back at 1:30!) Jeff was given a hott haz-mat suit to wear and asked to wait in the hall while I was prepped. The anesthesiologist stood “up top” with me, and talked me through the whole process. At one point, he even asked me what kind-of music I liked and I thought “don’t be ridiculous, I’m not in the mood to talk about music.” Right before the surgery started, the doctor called out “husband” and someone left to get Jeff. I was SO glad when he came in to be with me. He prayed for us, and for Sam; and, again, I felt totally at peace. Finally, we were about to meet our boy.

Sam was born at 4:45AM. He wasn’t crying. I kept asking why and people kept telling me ridiculous things like “it’s totally normal” and “he’s still connected to you” and I just accepted it. I was not afraid. It might have been the drugs; but, I truly think I was just covered in prayer. It is NOT in my nature to not freak out when things don’t go exactly according to plan. In reality, probably about 40 seconds passed before we finally heard his sweet little voice. It felt like forever… It was the best.sound.ever. A nurse brought my boy to us, and Jeff got to hold him so I could see him. He had hair – which shocked me. Then, he was off to the nursery. Jeff went with him and got to introduce our little guy to his adoring fans. I had a good bit of recovery ahead of me; but, I was on cloud nine. I was happy and chatty with the doctors. Our Sam was here.

I found out MUCH later, that Sam was born completely blue and not breathing. Not only was his head definitely stuck (and almost definitely would NOT have come out had I continued to push); but, he also had his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck FOUR times. This is called a quadruple nuchal (Google it), and the doctor had only seen this one other time. As soon as he entered the world, he had to have these cords ripped off of his neck (no cord cutting for Daddy) and was rushed to nurses to get oxygen.

Poor Jeff had peeked over the curtain right before they pulled him out and seen the reality of those first seconds. I love him even more today because; somehow, in that moment, he knew that he had to lie to me and tell me everything was fine -even though he was scared to death. I hate that he experienced that feeling alone; but I am thankful. I, honestly, think childbirth might be more traumatic for the dad than it is the mom. I’m sure many disagree; but, I wouldn’t want to switch places.

I know that God prepared me for a c-section; and, I know that he protected me from fear and anxiety in the OR. Having a baby born blue is every mother’s worst nightmare… Yet, I never really experienced those bone-chilling feelings. I don’t know what it was, but I felt an incredible peace over me the entire time Sam was being delivered. I am SO thankful for that. I am thankful for my awesome doctor who knew to make the c-section call; I am thankful for modern medicine; I am thankful for my brave husband; and, I am thankful for my healthy baby boy.

After the umbilical cord saga, Sam was a bit of a legend around the nursery. Nurses etc. kept stopping in to see “the baby that had his cord wrapped four times!” Jeff and I were so proud of our little acrobat. Of course, we’re biased… But, we happen to think he’s quite a champion.

So… there you have it. It is our story. It is not perfect. It is not how I imagined it. But, it is ours. And, more importantly, Sam is ours. He is here. God is good.


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