Jmlushbough: Jack's Unexpected Birth
Friday, June 04, 2010 5:36 PM
"We made a plan to dilate to 5 to 6 cm by 6 p.m. It sounds funny now, but I really feel like the baby needed to have these little deadlines or goals to reach..."
After an amazing pregnancy, John and I were more than ready to meet our little one. He, however, had made himself comfortable and wasn't very interested in coming out to meet us. Here's the story of our journey to meet our baby...
March 13th, our estimated due date, came and went, and still the baby showed no signs of coming out. Even though I knew that the baby wouldn't come on his “due date,” I was emotional that day because I felt a little disappointed that the baby wasn't here yet. We remained patient -- going in for weekly ultrasounds and biophysical profiles to make sure that everything was still going well. We talked with the doctor about the “what ifs” -- how long would we be able to wait before we had to evict him? What would that mean? What were the options? We all agreed that we would give the baby as much time as possible to come out on his own; but if he wasn't out at 42 weeks, we would have to help him along. After preparing for a natural, normal birth, I was very apprehensive about being induced. I tried to remain positive and prayed every day for the baby to come out on his own.
On March 22, at 41 weeks, our doctor stripped my membranes. I was dilated to 3 cm and about 60 percent effaced. By the time we got home I felt crampy and started having a few irregular contractions. John and I went for a long walk that night to try to get things to progress. The contractions were coming every 8 to 9 minutes and seemed to be getting more intense. We called our doula, Sara, at about 10:30, and she told me to take a shower and try to get some sleep. The contractions stopped a few hours later.
Anything to get labor started!
John and I walked every day that week, trying to get things moving. I drank raspberry leaf tea, took evening primrose oil, ate spicy foods, and did jumping jacks. I also had acupuncture and massage -- all to no avail (although it did feel marvelous!). On March 25, we were back to the doctor for another check-up. The baby still looked good, but my amniotic fluid was getting low. The doctor stripped my membranes again, and we (tearfully) made a plan to check in at the hospital the next morning at 8:00 a.m. At this point, I felt like I had failed. I was scared of being induced because I was so sure that it was an automatic route to a c-section. So I cried for a few minutes and let those feelings out, and then focused on the positive: we would soon have our baby in our arms!
That night felt like the night before Christmas. It was so hard to fall asleep. I had so many emotions swirling around inside. I turned on our music from yoga class and did some guided relaxation. Finally, I fell asleep. At about 1:00 a.m., I woke up to a pretty intense contraction. My heart just about leaped out of my chest when I felt another one come less than 15 minutes later. This had happened a few times before, but somehow this felt different. And the contractions kept coming and getting more regular. I tried to go back to sleep, and I think I got a few more hours in before the contractions wouldn't let me sleep any more. I called the hospital at 7 am to see if they still wanted us to check in for induction at 8, or if we could labor at home. Of course they told us to come in -- but at that point, I was fine with it. I knew I was in labor and I felt encouraged that the baby was trying to come on his own. We called Sara and asked her to meet us at the hospital.
Working through contractions
We got checked in at the hospital, and quickly learned that Labor & Delivery was busy that day! We didn't see our doctor until 11:00, and at that point we all agreed to let labor progress on its own for the next few hours. Dr. Carr told us she'd be back in 2 to 3 hours to check my cervix. My contractions were still very manageable, and I was excited and optimistic. John, Sara and I were having fun -- walking the hallways and hanging out in the room, working through contractions as they came. By 1:30, things were getting more intense -- I was starting to have trouble talking through contractions, and I had to stop if we were walking to do hula hips. I found that leaning up against someone (think slow dancing in middle school) or against the wall and sticking my butt out felt really good. I also started doing some birth singing -- low “oh's” and moans -- and picturing my cervix opening. It was incredible to me how well the things I'd learned in yoga were working to help keep things manageable. I guess maybe I had hoped they would work, and it was awesome to see that they actually did!
Our nurses were amazing throughout the whole process. They were so receptive and accommodating to our wishes. We talked about our plans to have a “normal” birth, and all of our nurses were completely supportive of it. Instead of being continually monitored, the nurses would let me sit on the birthing ball and hold the monitor on my belly for 15 minutes. They would just sit with me and help me work through contractions. It was awesome and so encouraging.
At 1:30, Dr. Carr came to check our progress. I was only dilated to 4 cm, but the baby was moving down and the cervix was thinning out. We made a plan to dilate to 5 to 6 cm by 6 p.m. It sounds funny now, but I really feel like the baby needed to have these little deadlines or goals to reach. For the next four hours, we continued to walk, do hula hips, and sit on the birthing ball as the contractions became longer and closer together. I focused on each one as it came. John held my hand and rubbed my back. We listened to the yoga music. Things were still relatively manageable.
Dr. Carr came back at 5 pm and checked -- I was at 5 cm! We'd reached our goal, so we decided to strip the membranes again, and then to continue to labor without intervention. By now, the contractions were becoming very intense. At some point, I got into the tub and thought I had gone to heaven. The warm water felt so good, and it really helped ease the pain of the contractions. I was in the tub three times during labor, and each time felt better than the time before!
Trying to rest
By 9 p.m., I was dilated to 6 cm and feeling very tired and nauseous. I was beginning to have trouble staying in the moment. By that I mean that I was anticipating each upcoming contraction before it even started. I would be at the start of one contraction and be worried about how much the next one was going to hurt. John and Sara did a great job of helping me stay focused on each one as it came. After each contraction I would think to myself, “I never have to do that one again!” But about this time, I really started to feel physically exhausted. I hadn't eaten much, and I hadn't really slept much in the last few days. My body was drained. I felt nervous that if I didn't get some sleep that I would be too exhausted to push the baby out, and it seemed like there was still a lot of work to do. I asked what the options were for sleep, and decided to try a half dose of Dilaudid. Twenty minutes later I asked for the second half, and was finally able to get some sleep. (Sara wrote in her notes: “sleeping at 9:30 – snoring, so resting well.”)
I think I slept for about 30 minutes before Dr. Carr came back in to check on us. The Dilaudid wasn't doing anything for the pain -- it just made me feel disconnected and loopy -- and I asked about an epidural. Prior to labor, I was planning on giving it my best effort to get through without one. But I also knew that it would be okay if I changed my mind. At this point in the labor, I really felt like I needed some sleep so that I could be alert and ready to push when the time came. John and I agreed that it was a good option, so the nurses began the process of pumping me up with fluids.
My water broke on its own at 10:30, and the contractions intensified greatly. I received an epidural at 11:30. The anesthesiologist was so good – I didn't even feel the Lidocaine going in. The dreaded Pitocin was also started at this point at a low dose to ensure that I would continue to progress even with the epidural.
Remembering to breathe
The rest of the night is a bit of a blur to me. I was able to sleep a little bit between contractions, but the baby's heart rate took a few dips and I had to change positions to get it back up. A catheter was inserted to measure my contractions because the external monitor hadn't picked up a single one since we'd been there. Also, every time I fell asleep, I would forget to breathe. Then my oxygen levels would dive and the alarm would sound. Whoever was in the room with me (mom, John, Sara) would remind me to breathe and the alarm would turn off. It was quite the cycle. The epidural made me really itchy and nauseous so I also got Benedryl and Zofran. I guess I was way past the “natural” childbirth I had pictured for the last nine months. But the baby was doing well, and I was doing well, and that's where my focus was. I managed to get a little sleep, and soon enough it was time to push!
At about 8:00 a.m. it was time. Even with the epidural, I could feel every contraction. It wasn't really painful -- more of just a feeling of pressure. John held my left leg and I think Sara was holding my right leg. The nurse explained how to push with the epidural, and we tried a couple of practice pushes. I put all my strength and energy into each push, thinking that each push would be “the one” that would bring our baby to us. Well, not so much. Three hours later and the baby still was not out, despite my awesome pushing skills.
Exploring the options
Dr. Carr went off duty at 8:00, and so Dr. Widstrom came in to talk to us about our options. The baby was still doing really well, but I was getting pretty exhausted and the baby didn't seem to be coming out on his own. He told us about vacuum assisted delivery -- the suction cup. We decided that this would be our best bet. The baby was so close -- maybe he just needed a little coaxing. Dr. Widstrom explained that sometimes the vacuum could pop off of the baby's head. They would only give it three “pops,” and that's it. After that, we were looking at a c-section. At the mention of the C word, I was even more determined to get this baby out.
Once we decided to try the vacuum, the room filled with people -- residents, a med student, nurses, etc. I remember Sara saying that when the room filled up, that meant the baby was close; neither John nor I made that connection at the time. I think we both thought it would be another three hours.
Dr. Widstrom hooked up the suction cup, and instructed me to push. I pushed with all my might and then some. The next contraction came and I pushed even harder. Then I heard a loud “pop” and everyone in the room gasped. The vacuum had popped off. Dr. Widstrom quickly said, “That one doesn't count! My hand accidentally hit the release... Doesn't count!” Everyone exhaled. On the second attempt with the vacuum, the baby's head came out. Another push, and the rest of him slid out. The nurse wiped him up a bit and then put him on my chest. Baby Jack was finally here!
I can't describe the feelings that came next. I had never experienced a high like this! I'm sure I cried, but mostly I remember laughing and smiling. It was pure joy. I felt so excited to be meeting this little person who had lived inside me for so long. And I felt like I had known him all my life. He looked into my eyes and I melted. John fell in love instantly, too. He was so overcome with emotion that he couldn't talk – he just cried – for about half an hour. He rushed out to the waiting room and invited everyone in to meet Jack.
Jack weighed 9 pounds, 8 ounces and had a 15 inch head at birth. No wonder he wouldn't come out! I vaguely remember making a comment about having the world's largest vagina, and immediately wondering, “Did I say that out loud?!?” I did have a second degree tear, shaped like a capital L. It took them forever to stitch me up – they didn't keep track of the stitches, but I estimate about a million or so! Luckily, the epidural was still working so the stitching was no problem.
The worst part of the whole ordeal came after Jack's birth. He was born at 11:45. By about 4:30, I was in so much pain I could barely talk. The afternoon nurse had never come to get me up to use the bathroom, and by that time I was so swollen downstairs that I couldn't pee. After another shot of Dilaudid, I was catheterized and immediately filled up a 2 liter bag with urine. Sweet relief!
After that, everything else was a breeze. Jack immediately took to breast feeding like a champ. Daddy took to poopy diaper changing like a champ! And even though our labor and delivery story ended up being drastically different from the birth plan in my mind, I would not have changed a thing. I know that we did what we needed to do to get Jack safely into our arms. I don't have any regrets. In fact, I'm amazed at how perfectly the whole thing went. We are very lucky. And we have this amazing little family to prove it!
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