Tuesday, December 2, 2014

warning, this is a birth story

So. I realize it's been a while since I last posted. I've been meaning to post something for weeks... but having a baby can make things kind of crazy for a little while...

Anyway, I've had a lot of questions about my delivery, so I thought I'd do a sort of recap on everything that happened. Warning--this is long. I won't blame you if you don't make it through the whole thing.

My due date was October 29th, so since I found out I was pregnant in February, I'd been counting on October to be the month my baby was born. I knew that since the due date was so late in October, I'd have a chance at having a November baby, but I really hoped he wouldn't go too late. We wanted our little Halloween baby. Little baby boy, however, had different plans.

October 29th came and went without so much as a contraction. Oh well. Lots of first time moms go past their due dates, right? I tried not to get too discouraged.

But then Halloween came and went. Nothing. It was November, and I was still hugely pregnant. I spent my days at work and my evenings doing all of those labor-inducing things people talk about (i.e. walking, squats, bouncing on a birthing ball, eating pineapple... everything short of castor oil). But nothing was happening, and I felt like I was going to be pregnant forever.

I'd picked a group of midwives who delivered in hospitals for my prenatal care because I really liked the idea of natural labor. I spent a lot of time during my pregnancy preparing myself to go without an epidural (crazy, I know, but I did a lot of research and really liked the idea of letting my body do what it knew how to do on its own). But as my due date came and went and there didn't seem to be any progress, people started asking me when I was going to be induced. I really didn't want to be induced because it is a well-known fact that induced labors are harder than regular labors. The contractions are more intense on Pitocin, and they start out close together instead of building up to it. Additionally, I knew that inductions increase the chance for c-sections, and I really really didn't want one of those.

One of the reasons I picked the group of midwives I chose was because they allow their patients to go to 42 weeks before they induce (whereas most doctors only let you go one week past your due date). The vast majority of women will go into labor naturally before they hit 42 weeks, so I was confident that with that extra week buffer I'd be able to have my labor start on its own.

But baby boy wasn't making any signs of coming out. No progress happened between my due date and my appointment at 41 and a half weeks. So it was time to schedule induction. We scheduled it for Monday, November 10th. I really hoped I'd go into labor that weekend, but I didn't have high hopes. My husband kept encouraging me saying, "He could come any time!" But I didn't share his enthusiasm for the possibilities. "No he won't. He doesn't come. My body doesn't go into labor." (Yeah, Debbie Downer, huh? I got pretty discouraged there at the end. My desire to go unmedicated was looking less and less likely with every day that passed and baby boy didn't engage in my pelvis).

So November 10th rolled around. Our alarms went off and we were at the hospital by 6:15am. They checked me before they started my labor. I almost rolled my eyes because of course my body hadn't progressed any in the last few days since my appointment. Ha. I was right.

The lady stuck in my IV (which actually hurt a lot! I was surprised!) and started the Pitocin at 7:30. Contractions started within five minutes and were already about 2.5 minutes apart. Luckily, they weren't crazy painful in the beginning. That didn't last long, though.

The next nine hours were slow and hard. My husband was wonderful about helping me work through each contraction as they got harder and harder, but labor is seriously exhausting. :) I had to initially be in bed for the first 2 hours because they had to monitor how the baby was handling the contractions. After that, they changed the monitors to portable ones so I could move around. We spent some time walking up and down the halls, bouncing on the birth ball, and sitting on the toilet (which I'd heard worked for some women, but didn't really do anything for me). I listened to my hypnobabies relaxation tracks a lot, but couldn't seem to get into them or relax enough for them to help much. For a while, I stood on my feet and then when a contraction hit, I put my arms around my husband's shoulders and leaned into him and he coached me through them. We tried counterpressure on my hips, on my backs, and in my legs. Those seemed to help a bit, but I was getting tired.

Finally, we filled the tub and I got in. I'd been saving the tub as my last pain-beater because I'd heard that "water is nature's epidural." However, it was when I got into the tub that I hit transition. The contractions got so strong, and even though they weren't closer together (still a steady 2.5 min apart), I was losing my willpower. The water didn't help at all, and even though it was warm, my whole body was convulsing and shaking (which is normal in transition, but the fact that it's normal doesn't change the fact that it's freaky in the moment!)

I was so weak by this point. Instead of working through contractions anymore, I kind of just slumped against the side of the tub and let them take me. I felt so weak and defeated. It was then that I finally said weakly through my tears, "I want the epidural."

It wasn't like the movies, where the woman is screaming and slapping her husband and saying, "You did this to me!" For me, it was kind of more of an acceptance that I'd tried my best and at this point going without the epidural no longer seemed worth it anymore.

So I got out of the tub and onto the bed where I had to spend the next half hour or so taking them lying down (which is the WORST, let me tell you). Finally, the anesthesiologist came in and administered the epidural. And finally, the contractions started to hurt less and less until they just felt like a tightening pressure.

The next time they checked me (which was like an hour later), I was a complete 10 cm, but they said that the baby was still not engaging. So they had me wait for an hour to see if my body's contractions would push him down. I was fine with that. Thanks to the epidural, I slept for that hour. My body was so exhausted from the nine hours of contractions I'd pushed through that it was easy to let myself just fall asleep.

When that hour was up, they checked me again. Baby hadn't moved an inch. So they said that we would wait one more hour to see if he'd move before we'd try pushing.

Before the anesthesiologist left earlier, he had given me a little button that I could push if my epidural seemed to be wearing off. I could push this twice. If it wore off after the second dose, I'd have to call the anesthesiologist to come back down. Well, during those two hours of waiting for baby to descend, I pushed that button both of my allotted times.

At around 7pm, after the second hour of waiting, they checked me. Baby still hadn't moved, so it was decided that I should start pushing to see if I could push him into my pelvis.

I then pushed for four hours.

Those four hours were, without a doubt, the hardest hours of my life. As I started to push, I regained the feeling in my legs and upper abdomen and I started to feel the pain of those contractions again. The epidural was wearing off at the worst possible time, and I'd already used up my two re-doses. They called in the anesthesiologist. Throughout my pushing phase, they had to call the anesthesiologist back to put in more epidural three times. And it never really helped much (I joke now that I could have kicked my midwife in the face. I really could have though. I had total use of my legs during my pushing phase. Which is not what I wanted. I had wanted to go natural, and since I decided to get the epidural, it had better work properly!) Apparently my body metabolizes that stuff like crazy.

After about two hours of pushing, baby was finally in the birth canal. But I was exhausted beyond anything I'd ever felt in my life. My body was convulsing and shaking again. I was bleeding everywhere. I started to lose it. I was no longer rational. The pain and the exhaustion were too much for me.

I won't go into more details here because, quite frankly, a lot of it is a blur now. I just remember hurting and hurting and hurting and pushing and pushing and pushing and bawling in completely hysterics. It probably looked pretty pathetic to everyone there. And I remember the insane burning of the feeling when the baby's head was pushing against my perineum (not crowning, but almost. Everyone could see his head. And he stayed right in that spot for an hour or so, which was just mean).

Finally, the midwife said she was going to call the OB on call to see if he could come try vacuum or forceps to get this baby out.

The OB came and tried for a while using his hands to turn the baby (apparently, little boy was sideways, which was causing him to get stuck in my pelvis). But baby boy wouldn't turn. I was shivering uncontrollably and had spiked a fever at this point. And the baby's heart rate started to drop with every contraction.

Finally, at about 11pm, the OB stood up and said, "This baby isn't coming out this way. I think it's time to just have a birthday. You need a c-section."

And, strangely, after an entire pregnancy of doing everything I could to avoid c-section, relief flooded through me. I could be done. And most of all, they would numb my stupid, epidural-resistant body and I wouldn't have to feel anything anymore.

I was terrified. But so relieved. I was going to get to be done. No more pushing. No more of this pain. My baby would finally be born. I could be done with this labor.

I spent the next little bit praying and trying not to freak out as they prepped me for surgery.

I don't really have much to say about the c-section except that it was a lot quicker than I thought it would be. Within about five minutes, I heard that first cry from my little baby. They spent a lot longer stitching me back up than they did getting him out.

The moment I first saw my baby made all of the things that I'd gone through that day so worth it. He was beautiful. They brought him over all bundled up and put him next to my face so I could see him while the doctors finished my surgery. He was so beautiful. I talked to him. Told him how much I loved him and how happy I was to finally meet him. He seemed to recognize my voice instantly. I kissed his sweet cheeks and stroked his soft skin and marveled at how precious he was. Remembering that moment nearly brings me to happy tears every time.

The rest of that night was a huge fog. I was on so much medication that I really don't remember hardly anything. I vaguely remember nursing my baby boy for the first time, but even that isn't very clear and I've gleaned most of what I know about that experience from my husband because I really just don't remember it.

But my baby boy was born, and he is beautiful and I can't imagine my life without him. He was a whopping 8 lbs 15 oz and 22 inches long. He had a full head of beautiful brown hair and the biggest, most innocent eyes I've ever seen.

So, as I look back at my whole labor experience, a few things stand out in my mind.
1: They aren't kidding when they say that childbirth hurts. Oh my word. It's a kind of pain that I couldn't even comprehend until I was experiencing it. I appreciate all of the mothers in this world so much more. Especially those who choose to have more babies. :)
2: Natural childbirth is freaking intense. I am seriously in awe of any woman who is able to do it. I seriously wanted to do it, and I'm dang proud of myself for going as long as I did. I don't regret my decision to get the epidural at all, but man. You women who go unmedicated are seriously my heroes.
3: C-section is hard! I never really thought about the fact that it is major abdominal surgery! You hear about it all the time, and it just kind of becomes commonplace. I never realized how painful it could be to recover from. Not fun at all.
4: Newborn babies are miracles. I'm telling you, I have no idea why on earth God would trust me with this precious little one, but He has and I am so intensely grateful. I love this baby in a way I've never loved anything in my life.
5: My husband is my hero. Having him and his strength in the delivery room was an unbelievable blessing. I made the right choice when I married him. Also, he's a fantastic daddy. :)

And that's my story. I think it'll be a little while before I have another baby, and during the whole process I would have told you that I'd never do it again. But once I met my little one, I realized how worth it those babies are. So yes, I hope for future kids... I just hope they aren't quite as stubborn about being born as this one. :)

And now... pictures! (Because what kind of proud mama would I be if I didn't show of pictures of my adorable little baby?!)

 This was the last pic of me pregnant. I was still about a week away from giving birth, but you get the idea. Big belly. :)

First picture of my little baby! He looks just like his daddy in this one. And you can see all of that hair!

Sorry for the blurriness. He is a little wiggler!

Going home from the hospital. He was four days old here, and down to 8 lbs 2 oz.

This is a photo from the other day when he was letting me snuggle him. He's a little chunker now at three weeks old and 10 and a half pounds! Love my little man!