First of all, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your love and support. This is such an emotional time where sometimes I’ve doubted myself or wondered if I was going to be able to handle it. The encouragement and my faith have kept my spirits up. Life has been one handed lately-one holding the baby and the other cooking or web surfing on my phone while he sleeps. I just love holding him! I type this mostly one-handed as well.
A Birth Story
My sister had told me about a new highly addictive, free, online game called Hearthstone and I insisted that Chris try it out that night after Jen’s birthday picnic. He was instantly hooked and unbeknownst to me he played in the dark as I drifted off to sleep at midnight. When I woke at 2:00 am with my water breaking, he had only just fallen asleep!
I woke in a sort of panic. I hand’t felt a contraction so I was really confused. My doctor, knowing that I wanted a drug-free experience if possible had told me to stay at home as long as I could before coming UNLESS MY WATER BREAKS. In that case she said to come in very soon.
So, I took a shower to clean up and calm down as Chris packed up the car. I was feeling disappointed and little concerned. So of course, I gave myself a quick manicure and put on some makeup. Better.
Two hours later we checked into Labor and Delivery. The room was SO big and so nice. I think we went to sleep. Chris had a comfortable pull-out bed near me.
Hours later, the on call doctor (not my regular OB) checked in and said that if my labor did not start on it’s own by 2 pm, I’d have to get induced because they fear infection for a baby with a broken water bag and would like the baby out within 24 hours. I think midwives will give you longer but traditional western medicine says to get that baby OUT!
I was disappointed but I got up and did all the labor induction things I could think of. Truly though in the hospital, with a “deadline” I was probably way too stressed out to “perform.” The natural contractions started but they were so mild and far apart. The team pushed the time to about 5:00 p.m. and then started the Pitocin (the artificial version of oxytocin which causes the uterus to contract thus opening the cervix so the baby can drop down and come out).
At first, it was not so bad and then 9 hours of pain and contractions later with only a centimeter of dialiaton I was wondering if this was ever going to happen. Then there was an earthquake.
Kind of strange side note, but a few months ago when there were some earthquakes here in LA, I thought to myself, “There’s going to be an earthquake on the day the baby is born.”
When Pitocin is being administered, you are tethered to the hospital bed. There are two monitors on me-one for the contractions and the other for the baby’s heartbeat. I felt like a passive observer of my labor. That is so out of character for me but I kept focusing on the outcome.
Well, when I’d lie in certain positions, the baby’s heart rate would drop and the staff would get very nervous. What they didn’t tell me was that this most likely meant the cord was wrapped around his neck and that coupled with less cushioning fluid from my water breaking, he was getting less oxygen. In hindsight, I’m really happy that they didn’t tell me that at the time.
The on-call doctor suggested that they put a monitor inside with the baby and a tube inside to add more fluid for the baby. OK, this was my epidural point. 9 hours of artificial labor (there were a few hours where they stopped the Pitocin and I was in labor on my own as well but it was “too slow”) and the thought of “adding” things to me had me signing the waiver. I kept visualizing a “natural” birth and avoided the C section fear thoughts.
I reached 9 centimeters eventually and that’s when the epidural drug bag ran out (this labor was very long). The anesthesiologist was called but he was in surgery and it was 45 minutes of Pitocin contractions at 9 centimeters that came on FAST and HARD. He finally arrived and it took a while to get the medicine to kick in again. I was falling asleep for 3 minutes between each contraction from the pain. Chris said it was the craziest thing he’d seen: asleep, awake, breath through contraction, asleep…repeat.
It was time to push and then 15 people were in the room. The NICU team, my doctor (regular OB at this point is on call) and a team to take me to surgery if need be. There were probably some students as well. I heard the word OR and I asked Chris if they were talking about me. He told me that everything would be ok.
“Don’t let her push for 15 minutes,” I heard someone say far off. “The OR (operating room) won’t be ready for 15 minutes.”
I made a decision there that I had to be brave and trust God and my body. Then they told me to start pushing. My doctor said that she was going to perform a vacuum assisted delivery to get the baby out as quickly as possible so that they could check him out and treat him if necessary. Again, I was disappointed with another intervention but focused on avoiding a C-section.
It was a point of no return feeling. The top of the roller coaster where there’s no way you can change your mind. It was like sucking in a bunch of air and then going under water, looking forward to surfacing.
“I can’t get it to suction. This isn’t working,” I heard the doctor say as my eyes were closed and I gripped Chris’ arm. I kept praying for her to stay calm and focused, letting her know that I trusted her to make it happen.
Then he was born on Saturday evening. “Look at your baby!” “Look at your tummy!” I thought the second statement was interesting and wondered if it was some kind of psychological shock thing that you’re supposed to say to a woman who’s just given birth. Maybe it’s an LA superficial body thing. HA!
Yes, I had an epidural but as for the “birth” part, I surely felt a LOT. I heard myself make a sort of scream/yell at the last two pushes. They were like lower yells that I let out in a sort of “I have the right to make these sounds and they are actually pushing the baby out” kind of way.
Chris later told me that the arm I was gripping was not his but a nurse’s! There were SO many people by my bedside and I grabbed the harry one! HA! I was so focused only on what the team was telling me to do.
After a few little exams from the NICU team, the room cleared out and we were left alone to have skin to skin time. I was finally given a big thermos of juice with a straw. The only thing I’d eaten/drank in about 2 days or so was ice chips.
A little while later we were taken to a postpartum room that was much smaller and cozy. Grant was wheeled over in his clear little crib. We were both so tired we didn’t even know what to think.
A nurse offered to take him to the nursery for 3 hours so we could sleep. This was not at ALL what I thought I would want but at that moment, 3 hours of sleep was the best way I could care for the baby.
The next couple of days in the hospital included a few lactation consults, little exams for the baby and family visits.
My milk was VERY slow to come in. This is “normal” for women who have been getting an IV and/or drugs for a long time before delivering. My feet and legs were so swollen on top of the pregnancy swelling I had. I kept calling them clubs. HA!
The baby wasn’t urinating much any more and I was terrified. They suggested giving him some formula and I was heartbroken but I had no choice. I felt like a failure and I was so scared. He had to get hydrated. Everything is going well with breastfeeding now and he doesn’t need any supplementation. His weight is going up and he’s happy!
When they wheeled me to the car, it felt so good to feel the fresh air and I wondered how I was going to tackle the first night at home. Now, two weeks later, I’m not even sure I remember anything!
In the end, I’m SO grateful for a healthy baby and healthy body. I knew that no matter how he came into the world, he was coming and that was the focus.
P.S. Yes, here are my extra swollen Cabbage Patch knees on the blog. Do you see how exhausted I look? I fell asleep holding the baby more than a couple of times!
I’ll see you in a week!