Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dear Little One-- A Labor of Love (Your Birth Story Part 1)

On Wednesday November 9th, the night before you were born, your daddy and I crawled into bed and spent some time discussing how lovely it would be to have you outside of my womb, as the discomforts of pregnancy had taken quite the toll on me--and therefore, everyone else as well. 

Little did I know that would be the last conversation we would have until our lives would forever be changed by your impending grand entry into this world.

If you're not a fan of reading about birth stories or bodily fluids, feel free to wait for future updates, as the rest of this post will contain the story of the day you were born, and well, that's hard to do without including at least a few of the messy details. 

Your Birth Story

I bolted out of bed at 5 am feeling like something was off. As soon as I stood up I found myself stepping in a puddle of liquid so I waddled to the bathroom. "Oh great, let's add complete loss of all bladder control to our list of lovely pregnancy symptoms," I thought to myself. After about 15 minutes of trying to clean myself up to no avail I realized that there was a good chance that I didn't actually lose control of my bladder. So I made my way back into the bedroom and turned the light on and told your daddy, "I think my water just broke." To which he replied, "That means hospital, right?" "Yes, not only does that mean hospital, but that means baby. Wake the kids up and have them help pack."

You see, I had made packing lists for everyone (the day before), but I hadn't yet actually packed our hospital bags because we still had 3 weeks and 2 days until your due date. So we all scurried around while I showered and tried in vain to control the copious amount of liquid that kept making its way to the ground. Let me tell you, it's not a one time event like what you see in the movies!

A friend of ours came over to watch the big kids (she, as a well seasoned mother of 7 already had her bag packed) and Daddy and I eventually made it out the door and somewhat leisurely made our way toward the hospital which is about an hour away. It was nothing like I'd pictured that moment to be like. 

I was convinced that you were going to be born on the side of the road in the middle of a snow storm, Or, I would have fretted all night about whether or not it was "time to go". I had pictured a miserable drive as I was attempting to breathe through contractions while daddy would be speeding along praying he wouldn't have to deliver you in the car. 

Instead, we left our house about 6:30 am after a full night's sleep and leisurely made our way toward the hospital. The skies were blue and the sun shined brightly in the sky. I think it was an unheard of November high of 64 degrees. It was a beautiful day! I made a few phone calls on the way up, including one to the hospital. I let them know that my water broke and that you were still breech, as that combination would mean that you would be born via c-section. As much as I'd hoped for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) I marvelled at the thought of meeting you in just a few short hours!

We settled into a beautiful birthing suite and the doctor on call came in to confirm your position via ultrasound. With one swipe of the wand she looked up at me and said, "He's head down, fully engaged, right where he should be. Would you like a VBAC?"

I excitedly told her I would love a VBAC and she and I discussed how this day might unfold. Daddy and I settled in for the long haul, clueless as to what we needed to do next, except to sit and wait.

So we did. We made some more phone calls, watched t.v., walked the halls, and waited impatiently for the contractions to come. They were slow and irregular, which was a problem because I was put on an "invisible time clock" the moment my water broke. They don't like you to go more than 24 hours after your water breaks before giving birth to reduce the chance of infection.

I watched the clock tick on without my contractions picking up. My cervix wasn't dilated and it didn't appear that labor was going to start on its own, so the doctor tried a minimally invasive technique (Foley bulb) to help me along. Then we waited some more. Early evening my contractions started to become more intense and slightly more regular, but not regular enough to be considered "active labor". This really threw me off because it was so painful. If this wasn't active labor, I couldn't imagine what "real labor" would be like!

Finally, around 10:00 pm, nearly 18 hours after my water broke, the nurse was trying to hook me back up to the monitor after I had gone to the bathroom. She was having trouble getting your heartbeat to stay on the monitor (as had been the case all day), but then she suddenly got a little more forceful with her words telling me that I needed to turn to the other side "for the baby". She was asking me to do this during a painful contraction which I thought was odd, as the nurses had all previously just let me be while contracting. This happened a couple of times in a row but it was a new-to-me nurse, so I thought maybe she just had a different style than my previous nurse. The doctor came in and during the next contraction she was also telling me to position myself differently "for the baby". I was confused, but did my best to comply, as clearly they were seeing something I wasn't.

Soon the doctor was checking my cervix so we could make a plan for how to proceed for the remainder of the evening. Suddenly she and the nurse started to exchange words in hushed tones. Next thing I knew the nurse was putting an oxygen mask on my face. The moments that followed were all a bit of a blur, but I recall the doctor looking at my husband and telling him that we had an emergency situation on our hands and that she suspected that you and I would both be okay, but we needed to get you out. Now.

She looked at me and told me that your cord had slipped out of my cervix, so as your head was bearing down you were cutting off your oxygen supply with every contraction. She hopped up onto my bed and explained that she was going to continue to hold your head up off of the cord and they were going to have to put me under general anesthesia, but that everything should be fine. Next thing I knew there was a flurry of nurses in my room, unhooking cords, hooking up monitors and moving my bed toward the surgical suite.

At that point I realized all I could do was breathe. I closed my eyes and focused on one breath in, one breath out, wondering what would be the last thing I would remember. I asked the doctor how long it would be before I would wake up so I could see you, but she didn't answer. I was trying desperately not to panic because I knew that wouldn't help you and it wouldn't change anything. All of my visions of minimal interventions, of holding you as soon as you were born and nursing you right away flew out the window. I just wanted you to be here. Safe and healthy.

In mere moments, I heard a code come over the loud speaker, I felt bright lights on me, and I heard equipment beeping. People were scurrying all about the operating room, each doing their job as if they were seasoned actors in a well choreographed parade.

The anesthesiologist was on my left hand side, talking to me each step of the way about what was going on. I don't remember a thing he said, but I remember his presence being a calming one. I grabbed onto his hairy arm and held on for dear life as I was being told to scoot from my bed to the gurney, all while people were poking and prodding and prepping me in a hasty fashion. It was overwhelming.

At one point they were trying to do some very uncomfortable things to me that I was instinctively fighting against and I finally heard the scary blissful exchange of words between the doctor and the anesthesiologist that indicated it was time for me go under general anesthesia.

I prayed that my next memory would be that of you, safe and healthy in my arms.

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