Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Birth Story

There's a chile cheese dog from our favorite place nestled neatly into it's styrofoam take-out container in the back of my fridge. Never mind the fact that it's been sitting there for over two weeks now, I just don't have the heart to throw it out! Because I'm weird like that, you see. It's become, to me, "the hot dog from that fateful Friday". The Friday that started out as normal as any other, with a routine check-up with my midwife that morning, at which we both rejoiced that, as of that very day, I'd made it to 33 weeks. It was farther than I'd gone with Kristen, and we were happy! We joked that perhaps it wasn't the 17P injections that were keeping him put, but the fact that he was a boy! My girls had come sequentially earlier and earlier, and we were really hoping to keep this little bun in the oven for a while longer than his sisters. ;)

It was around noon when I finally left the office, and I called my friend to let her know I was headed to the hospital. We had planned to meet there to work on our annual education modules, but wanted to stop first in the cafeteria because it was enchilada day and we both LOVE the enchiladas from the hospital cafeteria! Seriously! I had two each of red and green, plus beans and rice, and a Choco-Taco. :) I was so full by the time we headed over to the computer lab, and after three hours of tests, I was more than ready to head home! I wasn't really feeling well by the time I got home, but thought for sure it was the huge (and hot!) lunch I'd consumed followed by three hours of inactivity. For days--weeks, actually--I'd been bothered by the discomforts of late pregnancy, anyway, and thought that at least some of the pain was simply more of the same. I rested on the living room couch while Darren made a quick run just up the street for those infamous hot dogs, but by the time he got home, I just really didn't feel like eating. I was worried I'd hurt his feelings, but he assured me that he didn't mind me skipping dinner. I never do that, though! I should have known something was wrong.

I rested for the remainder of that evening, watching movies with my little family, trying with little success to find a comfortable position in which to lay. My lower back and abdomen just hurt, and while I wasn't entirely convinced it was contractions (this was more of a constant, burning pain), I thought I'd try a warm bath to see if that might bring relief. Oh, my goodness, it felt like I'd died and gone to heaven as I eased my heavy body into that warm water. I never wanted to get out! Darren came in and kept me company at the side of the tub as I poured pitcher after pitcher of cascading water over the island that was my belly. Finally he helped me out because I'd used up all the hot water, and I was surprised to find that, once out of the tub, I still felt bad. Thankfully, I'd had the good sense to throw a few things into an overnight bag just in case, because when I went to the bathroom a while later there was bright red blood. That's the point at which I always freak out; it happened with both Meghan and Kristen, too, when I wasn't expecting labor. Bleeding gets me out the door and to the hospital, quickly! We started making some calls, but on a Friday night, it was frustratingly difficult to get in touch with anybody to come watch the kids. My brother called right after we'd left a voice mail, though, and was able to come right over. (He and my dad, who are both teachers, had just begun their winter break and were able to take turns watching the kids over the rest of the weekend. Thank God!)

I was actually joking with my friends at work when I got up to the floor, and, had it not been for the bleeding, would have felt a little silly being there. Sure enough, though, as soon as they got me hooked up to the monitors, it was clear to see these were definitely contractions! And they were starting to actually feel like contractions, too. By the time my nurse finished my admission assessment, I could tell when one was coming and when it was fading, very different from the constant pain I'd been feeling at home. I received two doses of terbutaline to try and stop the contractions, but they didn't really do anything. Next came an IV drip of magnesium sulfate, which made me feel awful! But I loved that so many of my co-workers came in to visit and wish me well. One sweet nurse even brought in her own laptop and a DVD for us to watch..."The Proposal", the appropriateness of which just made me and Darren laugh, because after midnight it was technically our anniversary! And the movie was really funny, a nice distraction from all that was going on.

I think I slept from about three to four o'clock in the morning, but dozed only intermittently after that. Darren left around six so he could be home when the kids woke up, since we were sure Kristen would freak out if one of us wasn't there; his plan was to get the kids dressed, fed, and settled before heading back up to the hospital, a process which was greatly expedited when it was determined, meanwhile, that since my labor never really stopped, I would be transferred to a hospital an hour away! I was a wreck while I waited for him to come back. All I could think about were my kids, and how desperately I didn't want to be away from them! Nor did I want to leave the familiar comforts of my hospital and friends! I didn't want to be cared for by anyone other than the nurses and midwives who are like family! I was so glad to see him come through that door. Of course, then I just wanted to cry. His strength does that to me.

It was a hot and bumpy hour to the hospital in the back of an ambulance. I was strangely calm, though, and remember thinking, "Won't the kids think it's so cool that their mom got to ride in an ambulance!" Darren arrived there shortly after we did, and I was soon surrounded by a number of impersonal personnel. I missed my friends. I missed my home. Thank God I had my Darren.

We settled in for the duration, not really knowing how long it would be or even, really, what to expect. Thus far, nothing had progressed like my previous labors and I was tired, frustrated, and more than a little emotional. I was still feeling horrible from the magnesium sulfate, with chest pain and a monster headache. The doctor to whom my care had been transferred came in shortly and decided that since I had already progressed to 5cm, there really wasn't much point of continuing to attempt to stop labor; it was better now to go ahead and deliver baby before the opportunity for infection became a greater risk. So, the magnesium sulfate was discontinued, Tylenol was dispensed for my headache, and while I did, in that regard, begin to feel somewhat better, my contractions never did come closer than about five to nine minutes apart. For that reason, it was decided to begin a different IV drip--pitocin, which, instead of stopping my contractions as we had previously been trying, would actually bring them stronger and closer together! This I endured for much of the day, laboring in bed with Darren at my side, never even considering the possibility of mobility or other pain relief measures. It was awful, so much different from "my" hospital, where walking, showers, tubs, birthing balls, and other natural means are encouraged for comfort and progress. Here, I rarely saw a nurse unless I called for one, and her usual response as she was walking out the door was, "Well, if you decide you want an epidural, just let me know." Argh! (I had very plainly stated upon admission that I would likely not want an epidural. Darren and I were under the very distinct impression, however, that this is how laboring patients are "managed" at this particular hospital. Very frustrating!)

As the day wore on, I never really progressed past six centimeters. Eventually, it all became just too much for me to bear. I had been laboring with little rest for nearly twenty four hours by that point. I was exhausted and in so much pain. Emotionally, given the circumstances, I was a wreck. And so, although it pained me greatly to surrender, I did ultimately decide to go ahead with the epidural. My hope was that it would relax my body enough to go those last few centimeters, and that's exactly what happened. About a half hour or so after the epidural, I felt an incredible amount of pressure and asked Darren to please find my nurse. I was complete when she checked me, and the room was quickly set up for delivery, but the doctor was not there! I have no idea how far away he was when they called him, but it seemed like an eternity waiting for him to arrive while trying not to push. Finally, he was there. I had never been so happy to see anybody in my life! And after a couple of strong pushes, Austin was born! He was perfect! He was born "in the caul", or with the water bag still intact, which we thought was pretty amazing! (And with a little research, I've just learned that this is supposed to be sign of good luck for baby! Interesting!) We also discovered that I'd had a 10-15% placental abruption, which explained all the bleeding I'd experienced throughout labor, and made us all the more glad that Austin had been safely delivered. I hate to even think what the outcome might have been had my pregnancy been successfully prolonged!

Darren remained with Austin, who was quickly whisked away to the NICU, and we were so happy with how well our baby boy adapted to life outside the womb! We were especially impressed that, despite having been born seven weeks early, he weighed a whopping five pounds, eight ounces! (Kristen was born eight weeks early, and weighed only four pounds, one ounce.)

I was discharged the next morning, beginning a painful long separation from my precious boy, and I've been traveling back and forth nearly every day since. (There have been a couple of times when Darren has traveled alone.) And I've just got to say that, for a girl who has never been particularly fond of highway driving, night driving, or big city driving, I've become quite adept at all three! I'll be SO happy, though, to finally have him home! He's really doing very well, and the only factor prolonging his discharge at this point is how well he tolerates his feedings. He's been a little slow and sloppy with the bottle, but is improving greatly, and is a little champ at the breast! So hopefully, it won't be much longer until we are able to bring him home. His brother and sisters are so eager to meet him!


Jill said...

Thank you for sharing this amazing birth story! I love birth stories! He is such a cute little guy.
I, too, had epidurals for the same reason and I don't feel 'guilt' about it as some people might suggest an epidural should bring. With Aslynn, for example, I was stuck at 9cm forever and my constant thrashing in pain and screaming that I was going to die was doing nothing to get her out. :) At that point Paul suggested kindly that perhaps it would be better for me and the baby to calm me down and let her come out. I immediately fully dilated and she was reading to get out. (Well, after three hours of pushing!)

Anyway, this is just so amazing. I can't wait to see a photo of the whole family together!

And, yes, his weight is impressive!

Big hugs to all!

Michelle said...

What a cutie! Your Austin was born the day after my husband came home. I'm trying to catch up on blogs now. Congratulations on your new baby!

~ Judy ~ said...

The good thing about crying your eyes out while you read a blog is that no one can see you blubbering and sniveling!!!!
What a TOUCHING story!
You guys are AWESOME!
I was astounded by the statement "HIS STRENGTH DOES THAT TO ME"...for you just put in to words a feeling I have never quite been able to adequately articulate...THAT'S IT!!!