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Baby Brez's Birth: Part II

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Baby Brez's Birth: Part II

Click here for Part I (the backstory and our harrowing drive to the hospital). 

WARNING! I'm your run-of-the-mill Catholic NFP lover and I am thus super comfortable discussing terms like cervical mucus, amniotic fluid, menses, cervix checks, and all things ladyparts/childbirth related. I look back on my childbirth experience and think it was beautiful, funny, weird, and crazy all at the same time. Even having spent an inordinate amount of time researching childbirth and reading what seems like every birth story available on the Internet, there were still parts of it that surprised me, which is part of the reason why I want to share all the details. Reader discretion is therefore highly advised!


After our little snafu with the check-in man, we took the elevator up to the labor and delivery floor. It seemed pretty quiet; I only saw two women being monitored on the screens at the back of the L&D desk. We gave the nurses my information, and told them the scoop: high blood pressure, normal labs, maybe some decreased fetal movement. Let's get monitored. The kind nurse, Melissa, walked us back to a room and had me change into a hospital gown (that, unbeknownst to me at the time, I would be in for the next two days - eww) and give her a urine sample. When I got back to the hospital bed, she complimented my blinding hot pink sports bra (stating "we only really notice bras and socks here!") and strapped me to the monitors: one to monitor the baby's heart rate and the other to monitor any contractions. She also checks my blood pressure. My first two blood pressures are again very high, diastolic in the 100s. Our nurse is intrigued ("not that I didn't believe you before!" she says) and tells us that we'll wait for the on-call OB (the one other doctor in our OB's practice) whom we'd never met before.

The on-call OB comes in and we discuss the high blood pressure readings. He basically has the same reaction as our normal OB; it may just be better to induce now to avoid further complications. He checks me and his eyebrows raise when he declares that I am 3cm dilated, 90% effaced, at +1 station. (For the remainder of our stay, all the nurses are super impressed that I'm 38 weeks as a first-time mom and already 3cm/90%. I feel pretty cool about it, I won't lie. NB, this was progress from my 37 week checkup just days before when I was 2-3cm dilated and 60% effaced.) The doctor does an ultrasound to check my fluid levels and they are all normal. The baby looks healthy and is head down.

After mulling it over and lots of conversation, leaving the room, more questions, finally the doctor finds those words we'd been waiting for: "What do you think about having a baby tomorrow?" Will and I take one quick look at each other, and shout "YES! UH HUH, WE'D LIKE THAT." We maybe suggest that the doctor not send us home in a blizzard. The on-call OB says he's going to call our normal OB to get his approval, but we feel strongly that he'll be on board. In fact, when the doctor walks out of the room, Will and I straight up high-five because we are mature like that. Melissa's shift ends at 7PM and she tells us there's no way we'll be sent home that night based on my blood pressure readings and offers us a confidence-building congratulations. She was sure we'd be induced. 

Enter our new nurse, Cara (the name we had picked if we had a girl - whose children are named William and Mollie!), takes my blood pressure again to begin her shift. Now of course it is curiously low! (And stays low the rest of my hospital stay - proof that God answered our fervent fervent prayers? We'll never know!) We were already staying the night for monitoring at this point, but Cara is much more skeptical as to whether we'll really be induced. She notes that my blood pressure is so low, that, had it been this low when I came in, I would have been sent right home. But, the doctor comes back in, tells us he spoke to our doctor, and we will begin our induction at 4AM the next morning. BOOYA! Will and I share another high-five and begin sharing the news with family. 

Because we would start the induction in the morning in order to get a "good night's sleep" (HA!), I got to eat some gourmet cafeteria food and watch HGTV. I even got an ice cream cone. My husband snapped a glamour shot for our adoring group-text fans requesting details where no new details were to be had . . . yet.

I guess I have no shame.

I was monitored all through the night because of the high blood pressure. This meant that each time I needed to use the bathroom, I had to unplug the two monitors, wrap them around my shoulders with my right hand, tightly secure the back of my gown with my left hand, and slowly shuffle to the restroom. It was quite the hassle as I was shuffling back and forth often thanks to my pea-sized bladder (pun intended). On the return of one such trip, I thought my water broke (for the zillionth time) when I had just peed and there was a stream of unidentified fluid down to my left ankle. The nurse checked me with a pH strip and it was ambiguous, so she called the doctor in to check me (intrusively). And, yes, I was wrong about my water breaking for the zillionth time. Pregnancy cervical fluid is no joke (and yeah, you know I warned you about my cavalier use of terms like cervical fluid). 

This is my "sorry for makin' a fuss" face.

Around 10PM, we moved rooms to a larger, more favorable, birthin' space, preferred by all the nurses, with the "nice cot" for Will. We would start the pitocin at 4AM. I was given half an Ambien at about 10:30PM to try and sleep, promised a second half in an hour or two if I needed it. Will had taken like three naps by this point, not that he was offered Ambien, but he sure didn't need it. I was jealous of his ability to fall asleep so easily. A sentiment shared by all the greatly pregnant, I'm sure. 

Nap break to check the Twitter.

It wasn't long before I requested the rest of the Ambien. I guess I eventually fell asleep, but I was woken up by Cara at 1AM. She told me that our doctor changed his mind and wanted to start me on pitocin now instead of at 4AM. This got me excited, and I was in and out of light sleep for the next few hours. As a result, I was very sleep deprived and was up for the day at about 5:30AM. 

That morning, we took one last belly pic in front of the bed where our son would be born. Here I was hooked up to the monitors and the pitocin drip, all of which I had to conveniently drag to the bathroom approximately 50 million times.

With a face that says, "Thanks for nothing, Ambien."

The rest is probably best told in timeline fashion, reconstructed through text updates from Will (or myself, actually, post-epidural) to family/friends, because - coherence and open eyes - me not have that. (I think it goes without saying that these times are approximate!)

7AM: I finally started feeling contractions. I started on the pitocin drip at 1AM and it was increased every thirty minutes, if I remember correctly. I sat on the birthing ball and breathed through them, but they really weren't bad at all. I was so excited to actually be feeling something (which honestly felt just like the false labor I'd been complaining about beforehand!). If I hadn't been strapped to all the lines of monitors and IVs I probably would have preferred to walk around, but birthing ball it was.

9AM: My doctor came and broke my water. I'd expected the huge warm gush and the overall disgusting feeling of fluid all over the bed. I wasn't expecting how painful it would be! (It was like a pap smear from hell. I never really had pain during checks before that, except for the night before when the other doctor was realllyyy feeling around. Even still, this was way worse.)

I was at 4cm when he broke my water. I was pretty surprised I was only a 4 because I'd been on pitocin for 7 or 8 hours at that point and had only progressed a centimeter. Not that my contractions were really even painful, but they were there. I knew that inductions could take a very long time, so at this point I thought we'd meet our baby in the next twelve hours or so.

Wrong. Very wrong.

Here is where the contractions got REAL. I resumed my position on the birthing ball leaning against the bed. Will was putting pressure on my back and rubbing my shoulders through each contraction. Seriously, before they broke my water, the contractions were what I would describe as uncomfortable pressure. Now they were downright painful, but I was handling them. I'll also note that with each contraction amniotic fluid gushed out of me. I was so surprised at how much fluid there really was. Basically, I was really dumb for thinking my water had broken so many times before. Oh and it was just not a nice feeling having my lower half completely soaked.

The nurses had asked me a couple of times whether I'd be having an epidural, and I told them I had a wait-and-see approach. (I did, in fact, sign all the epidural paperwork and waivers the night before just in case.) I handled the pre-water-breakage contractions just fine. No problem, really. I thought maybe, just maybe I could get through labor without the epidural.

Even though things quickly turned from uncomfortable pressure to pretty painful,  I remember turning to Will and saying, "I'm glad I didn't get the epidural and am able to experience these REAL contractions!"

Famous last words, you guys.

9:30AM: Things were really picking up in intensity a bit more quickly than I expected. I don't know how I had the wherewithal to check things out on the monitor's little strip of ziggly lines next to me, but I see the lines monitoring contractions go from upside down Vs (with short peaks of the contractions), to upside down Us (longggg peaks of the contractions), with little break in between. Ouch.

I think about how my water was broken not long ago (I thought it had been an hour, but really it was more like thirty minutes), surely I had hours of this to go. I turn to Will and say, yup, I'll be needing that epidural. Without missing a beat, Will is off advocating for me. (He was really the best - THE BEST!) I overhear him talking with the nurses about how the anesthesiologist was in a C-section and couldn't be in for another fifteen minutes. I think they thought I might die because he couldn't be in for fifteen minutes. They were all very apologetic for having to wait a measly fifteen minutes. I thought, that's fine, I can definitely make it fifteen minutes. Having a concrete timeline of when relief would absolutely come was enough for me. The nurse decided to turn down the pitocin a little bit (it had been at full steam for a couple of hours).

At this point I was sitting on the right edge of the bed squeezing Will's hand in my left hand and the poor nurse's hand in my right. (I sadly don't even remember her name because I was so out of it.) I was moaning through each contraction, through the entire contraction. Basically, you see, I was moaning for fifteen minutes straight, as there was very little break in between contractions. I remember I could seriously feel the baby moving down inside of me. I visualized his little body making his way down my birth canal through each contraction. Not that it helped with the pain in any way, but it's what I did.

Now, I thought I had a pretty high threshold for pain. I've handled a lot of bumps, bruises, and broken bones in my tomboy/athletic career. But here I was just thinking DO NOT CRY DO NOT CRY DON'T BE THAT GIRL THAT BURSTS INTO TEARS AT A 4. I thought I felt my body start to push, but I was thinking I had to still be a 4, or a 5 max. I mean they just checked me when they broke my water. I really thought there was no way I could be ready to push, so I kept it to myself.

Here, the nurse noticed some decelerations in the baby's heart rate and tried to have me lie on my side through the contractions. I wasn't all that surprised based on the intensity of my contractions, but I was thinking, ARE YOU CRAZY? I CANNOT MOVE. I kind of made it through one contraction lying on my right side, as instructed, but basically I was like, This lying down thing is not happening. Let me get up or I will FIGHT YOU.

I tried all the relaxation techniques I read about, rasberry lips, low moaning, and attempted to relax my whole body. It all went right out the window! And I was definitely not in a place of prayer or offering up my suffering in union with the passion of Jesus or any of those lovely holy things. I was very much focused on physically enduring the contractions in the very moment, knowing it would all be over very soon when the nice man with the needles arrived.

The nurse gave me some sort of narcotic to take the edge off while we waited for the anesthesiologist. I never thought I would agree to this beforehand, but I was pretty desperate, so I said fire away. It took the edge off for approximately one and a half contractions. BUT, I will say, for that one contraction when I was all loopy and hopped up on straight street opiates, I was turned to Will and professed, "Ooohhh, this stuff is the sh*tttttt" (excuse my French, but it's a 100% accurate quote) and then it faded as fast as it came.

The anesthesiologist walked in, honestly, sooner than I thought he would. I was thankful. However, he then did a couple of things that made me angry. First, he said something to the effect of, Oh, I thought she didn't want an epidural. My interpretation: Boo you for giving up! (False: I'd said I'd "see how things go" but I knew full well that pitocin contractions are crazy and I didn't have my hopes up for going pain med free.) Next, he notices Will's Seminoles National Champion t-shirt and starts bantering with him about college football. Alas, he's an SEC man! Those ACC Seminoles stink (despite being national champions, I suppose)! If I hadn't had my eyes shut in pain the whole time I would have been shooting daggers. Don't mind me laboring here struggling to keep my back arched as you instructed me to do as you entered the room before you started carrying on small talk. (When I brought this up to Will, he told me he was definitely uncomfortable with this conversation going on in front of me and really tried to avoid the chitchat.) Despite my rage, I still managed a "hail to the Redskins" in the five free seconds I had between contractions. 

10AM: RELIEF! Finally. I'd just gotten the epidural, at which point the anesthesiologist I formerly despised had just became one of my A+ favorite persons ever.

Strangely, the epidural line sounds like little birds chirping. I thought I'd finally become aware of some birds chirping outside like I was some princess in the wooded fairytale land. Was the epidural that magical? No, the nurse informed me that the epidural tube was just squeaking away by my left ear.

10:10AM: Now I can definitely feel my body pushing because I'm otherwise able to relax through the contractions. When I state such, the nurse thinks to check me. Lo' and behold, I am fully dilated! (Essentially the labor I just experienced was pitocin-induced transition. Oh goody.) While she is checking me she asks for a couple "practice pushes" and tells me to stop after my first try. Yep, I have the pushing thing down. We await the doctor and give time to allow the baby to come down the birth canal. My body is definitely still pushing on its own.

At this point I can still move my legs through the epidural, but I feel lots of burning (not just pressure - there is a difference) on the right side of my ladyparts. I ask for them to turn that epidural juice up. After upping the dosage I have total paralysis from my lower back down, with still a little pain/burning, but much more tolerable. I continue to feel my body pushing the baby down, but I close my eyes and try to rest up for what would surely be a long bout of pushing.

11:45AM: We get my legs into the good old birthing stirrups and the nurse checks me again. The head is right there, she can see it, and he has hair! I start to get lightheaded so they take my legs down (I had no control whatsoever) and we waited for the doctor to arrive before putting me back in the stirrups. I ask for a mirror because everyone is talking about the baby's hair and I want to see! Someone is sent to fetch the mirror. Meanwhile, while we wait for the doctor, I am texting friends and family about the wonders of the epidural and voicing my excitement that we would be meeting our baby any time now!

12PM: The doctor arrives, right on schedule. I believe there is more cheering, probably more high-fiving, when he walks in. We are about to start pushing for real. The mirror is wheeled in and I can see the baby's head begin to crown and yep, there's that hair!

I push through two contractions (three pushes per contraction) and the baby's head has crowned. The doctor has me stop pushing to help me stretch slowly in the hopes it would minimize tearing. I did not want to stop pushing. I just remember yelling, It burns! It burns! I just wanted to push through the pain so it would be over. I remember the nurses coaching me through the pushes and everyone, especially Will, cheering me on. The excitement was palpable!

I remember being a little annoyed that the doctor and nurse were blocking the mirror! I couldn't see, but no one seemed to care! In hindsight, this was because they were getting ready to catch the baby. But I didn't really realize at the time that he was that close to being born! As is the theme of this birth story, I'd always thought (erroneously) that I still had a long way to go.

I pushed through just one more contraction. I really put my all into those last couple pushes, screeching sounds, labored breathing, and all. And just like that I feel the baby's bony little body slide out and he's handed to me!

12:10 PM: As our doctor would jokingly say at every ultrasound, "IT'S STILL A BOY!" And just like that, we met our firstborn.

There was really a baby in there!!!!???!!!

One of the nurses announces the time and my little purple naked boy, all covered in vernix, is handed over to me. Will (super aware and awesomely) told the OB to allow the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it. (Will did later cut it.) Then, not even joking, all the medical professionals in the room marveled over the baby's perfect umbilical cord. It was super long and thick and basically looked like something out of an anatomy textbook.

After admiring the baby for a moment (he did not look anything like I expected - though I had no idea what to expect I guess), I brought him up to my face and Will and I kissed him at the same time. (I saw this on A Baby Story on TLC and told Will that I wanted to do the same thing. Totally nerdy, but it's pretty beautiful that the baby's first kisses are from both parents at the same exact time!)

I immediately ripped my sports bra off (I was asking the nurse to just cut it off, but they helped me get it over my head - they really seemed to like that hot pink sports bra), so that the baby and I could have some skin to skin time. The nurses cleaned him off and did his Apgar tests (8 and 8) from my chest and he remained there with me the next hour or so.

When the placenta all but plopped out a couple minutes later (I really don't think I even pushed, though maybe my body did on its own) I proclaimed, "That was easy! I heard the placenta can be the toughest part of pushing. That was sooo easy. I'd totalllyyyy do it again! I can't wait!" to which the doctor responded, "Well, just wait at least 6 weeks!" and began talking about his eight children. HA! Catholic pro-life OB for the win.

The doctor told me I had a small internal tear, which he began stitching up. I asked him how many stitches and he told me, "Oh, it's just one long one." (Upon - ahem - further inspection I'd say the tear was about an inch long. It hasn't bothered me at all though since I was about two weeks postpartum.)

The lactation consultant, Nancy, arrived and began helping me nurse the baby for the first time. I'd read up on breastfeeding and watched some YouTube videos, but Nancy's methods were very new and different to me. Basically, she put the baby's head to my breast a tad more violently than I would have attempted. I had carpal tunnel and sore arms and hands just from how firm she had me hold him to my body that first nursing session! (She was a great help, though, and really helped me through those first couple  horrendous days of nursing before my milk came in.)

2PM: Baby Will was weighed, measured, and all that. 7 pounds, 11.3 ounces, and 20 inches of perfection!

The weigh-in shot, done tastefully.

Then Will got to spend some time holding the baby while I snapped the photos, despite my hands being pretty shaky from the epidural. (My hands shook and my teeth were chattering for the next thirty minutes or so while the epidural wore off. I was wayyy too excited to care. And I still managed to snap some decently non-blurry photos!)

What a gift! We are still astounded and humbled that God chose us to become co-creators of this bouncing baby boy. As for my birth experience, I'd prepared myself for the worst, hoped for the best, and experienced something even better than I'd hoped for! I was ecstatic and still am. Despite being so close to the end, I'm still very happy I went ahead and got the epidural. I was in such pain I was totally unable to open my eyes and definitely wouldn't have been able to see my baby being born or even aware of my husband standing next to me. I was glad to have that awareness come pushing time, so that I could really experience what was happening with my husband, rather than just within myself. I still hope to tackle a birth pain med free, but as far as birth stories go, I wouldn't have asked to have experienced anything better.

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At February 28, 2014 at 6:47 PM , Blogger Erika said...

I loved reading this :) A million congrats! So happy for you two.

At February 28, 2014 at 6:47 PM , Blogger Erika said...

You *three :)

At February 28, 2014 at 8:00 PM , Blogger Marisa said...

Beautiful birth story-thank you for sharing!!! (P.S I was induced with my firstborn as well, and even though I tried to go all natural, I gave in after 19 hours and got the epi. With my second baby, though, she came so quickly that even if I had wanted the epidural I wouldn't have had time for it!). :) Way to go mama!

At March 1, 2014 at 12:32 PM , Blogger Theresa said...

So funny, I was scrolling down the CP birth story linkup to add this post and saw Tony's birth story and read it (before you made this comment)! So I wasn't crazy in thinking that it would be a long labor!

At May 22, 2014 at 11:21 PM , Blogger Amy Salisbury said...

Love this!! Thanks for sharing! Babies entrances to the world are the most amazing things! And I love your writing!! Hilarious and so real


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