Monday, June 16, 2008

Oh the irony of it (birth story)

So as soon as I made that "motivation" post I looked at my previous post. I happened to be on 4/12 at around 10 in the morning. I hadn't gotten very many "cramps" yet by that point, just a few overnight that were so mild I ignored them. That post went on about our last weekend as a couple and stuff. Funny thing is that I started getting mild contractions that very day!!

Well, I don't know when/where you draw the line between cramps and contractions. I guess they were technically contractions since in the end their purpose was to get me ready and dilated. Anyway, that Saturday I started feeling what felt like period cramps sporadically. They were very mild and irregular. I recall that we went to the Indian restaurant we like for their lunch buffet. We got there maybe at around 2PM. By then the cramps were definitely happening. I was in denial at first hahaha. I had read in some books that you can get mild cramps for days or even weeks before labor so I didn't think too much of them at first, especially since I was scheduled to be induced on Wednesday anyway. But I do remember that in the restaurant I got a few of the cramps and they getting stronger because I remember wanting to make sure I didn't get one as I stood up to get food because I was afraid I'd wince and drop the plate. We made it through lunch fine and were going to go to the park for a walk but I asked JC to take us home to play video games instead.

The cramps continued throughout the day but I was having too much fun playing my game. Come evening JC asked if I was hungry but I had had so much food at the buffet that I didn't really feel like eating at that point. At about 9 or 10PM he got hungry and I grilled him some hot dogs but didn't eat anything myself. Normally, I would have been hungry again by that time, but the cramps were really becoming uncomfortable and were wearing me out a bit. I didn't want to alarm him since I figured they were just a false alarm. That was the same reason I didn't call my Mom either. Though I was having fun with the game at 11PM I was uncomfortable enough to not want to be sitting in that position and went to bed. At this point I am still thinking they're just cramps, though they had progressed to at least as painful as menstrual cramps by that point.

At exactly 2AM I woke up with a start. OUCH!! My cramps were now painful enough to wake me up and definitely MORE painful than any menstrual cramp I had ever had. I still could not imagine that I was going into labor and tried to go back asleep. The pain woke me again at 2:12 and again I went back to sleep. 2:24, 2:30 something . . . I soon realized they were coming regularly at about 10-12 minute intervals and that's when I started to panic just a little bit. I also decided to take some Tylenol at this time to try to get some sleep. I had that appointment with my doctor at 9AM anyway so I figured I'd know soon enough what was going on. I took a couple of Tylenol and slept about 2 hours but then woke up 4ish and was too uncomfortable to go back asleep. I figured I'd stay in bed until it was time to get ready for the appointment but by 6AM I couldn't stand it anymore and decided to get up and shower. OUCH!!! Somehow the water made things feel worse and though I originally intended on staying home until 8 I woke my husband up and told him to take me to the hospital now. We got there shortly before 7 while the nurses were changing shifts. The night nurse was mad that we didn't call the doctor first. I told her that I knew he was on his way eventually since I had a 9AM appt with him and I figured I could just wait for him since I was too uncomfortable at home. Thankfully, the new nurse who came in with the new shift was a Godsend. She was super sweet and hooked me up to the monitor while we waited for the doctor who had gotten paged by then. My pressure was reading somewhere near 150/95, but thankfully my pulse was not racing and the baby seemed ok. They kept drawing blood to make sure that my liver and kidney functions were ok, which they were. When the doctor finally came in at 9 and checked me he confirmed that I had indeed gone into labor on my own and was now about 1cm dilated. "Looks like we're going to have a baby today" he said and JC and I just looked at each other wide-eyed. The staff started the process of admitting me and that’s when it finally hit us!! That's also when I realized that I knew NOTHING about what I was about to go through and how to best deal with things. I had not had ANY training in terms of preparing for labor as I had spent my entire pregnancy assuming I’d be c-sectioned due to my heart condition. Thankfully the nice nurse calmly explained what to expect and helped me with breathing throughout. I have to admit that I seriously had a deathly fear of labor. For years I couldn’t imagine myself going through it and I think this was part of why I waited so long to have a baby in the first place.

We were moved to the L&D suite and I was started on a Pitocin drip at 9:30AM. As the contractions got worse and worse, I started panicking somewhat. I found it increasingly more difficult to cope with each contraction. They were suddenly coming every two minutes and I just felt like I had no time to recover from each one. JC and DL (the nice nurse) kept helping me breathe and were talking me through it.

At 11AM the doctor came in to check me and I was about 2cm dilated. At that point he decided to break my water to help the labor progress. The nurse explained to me to get ready for the intensity of the cramps to rise as now I wouldn’t have a cushion in between my baby’s head and the cervix. Boy oh boy am I glad for that warning because otherwise my first contraction after the bag breakage may have sent me off the deep end! The pain increased by several orders of magnitude. If I was having trouble coping before I couldn’t imagine how I was going to handle it now. Things went from being hammered from the inside out to having an entire demolition crew in there working with high powered explosives. I started to hyperventilate and ended up getting oxygen. The other thing that happened was that there was some meconium in the water too. Not a lot, but some. So my baby was definitely stressing out. I told the doctor that I wanted the epidural ASAP because I was afraid I’d get tachycardic. The anesthesiologist was supposed to arrive in about 30 minutes they said. My husband was a wonderful coach and kept supporting me and telling me it wouldn’t be much longer now. I couldn't imagine how I'd live another 30 minutes with that pain and started calling out to God. I think this frighteneed my husband but he tried not to show it and just kept talking to try to keep me distracted. He tried to hold my hand and massage me but when the pain came I didn't want to be touched. I closed my eyes to avoid looking at the clock or the monitor. My contractions were coming up but not as strongly as I expected and that was dismaying because I couldn't imagine them getting worse. In the end I ended up waiting an hour for the anesthesiologist and honestly I don’t know how I made it through. By the time she got there my whole body was shaking. It must have been because I was pleading to God to help me and give me strength. They had me get into the epi position and I remembered all the things I had heard about epi’s gone wrong. But at that point I remember thinking that I didn’t care if I was maimed for life as long as they could make that pain go away. Amazingly, as soon as she injected me, it was over. I didn’t feel a single ounce of pain again, only dull pressure. For me, the epidural is the best invention EVER!!

Once it was in the doctor came back in to see where I was at. “This is interesting” he says, which made me worry. Well, it turned out I was at 5cm. We were all surprised that I had gone that far in such a quick amount of time. They raised my pitocin level and he said he’d come back in two hours to check on me. By then I was feeling like I was in Club Med from the epidural so I started texting my friends. My family had been contacted back when I was 2cm and they were slowly getting ready to come up on the train. We figured she wouldn’t be born until the evening at the earliest.

Shortly before 2PM I told my husband that I felt “roundness” and wasn’t sure what it was. So it wasn’t entirely shocking when the doctor came in a few minutes later and said “You’re fully dilated. Time to push this baby out.”

I was told that each round of pushing would include 3 big 10 second pushes. I went through two rounds but then the baby’s heart rate dropped dangerously low so I was given a 15 minute break until she restabilized. The doctor then told me I’d get one more round of pushing to try before he’d break out the vacuum. I knew I didn’t want any more interventions, especially a vacuum extraction, so I prayed again and gave it my absolute all. On the third push I heard someone say “the head is out” and then I looked down and saw my little girl’s little bottom. She was born at 2:40 PM.

She weighed 5lbs 14 ounces, which was her estimated weight 2.5 weeks earlier. It seems that she hadn’t been thriving those last 2 weeks between my high blood pressure, the low amniotic fluid, and the chest cold that almost turned into pneumonia. That was probably why she decided she wanted to get out of there!

She is absolutely perfect and beautiful and we couldn’t stop staring at her. We are absolutely in love and so thankful that she is well and in our lives. Here is our blessed Alanis Soleil:

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