Monday, September 24, 2012
Sorry it has taken me forever to update! Here is the long version of Sam's birth story...it is quite lengthy, so grab a snickers and maybe a cup of tea or coffee! Enjoy! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Some things in life are impossible to fully plan, or prepare for no matter how hard you try. Birth is one of those things. Our induction had been scheduled for weeks and yet, looking back, despite all my preparations and planning, the birth was nothing like I expected. Because this is our last baby, savoring each and every moment of the end of pregnancy was very important to me. Friday, August 31st was the day before our induction. We planned to check into the hospital at midnight that night and so we had a special day planned. Our amazing friends Anna and Lisa had arrived the night before and my mom was arriving that evening. Also, our son Emanuel was starting varsity in the home opener that night at the high school. It was surreal to think that we would attend the game, come home, put the kids to bed and head out to the hospital. We did our best to make the day as special as possible. Lisa, Anna and I went out to lunch and then ran some errands, picking up last minute things that I’d need for the hospital and after the birth. I paid some bills so we wouldn’t have to worry about them later. Yet, even as awesome as the day was, crazy things kept happening, almost like little signs from God that our household was insane and was probably about to get even more outrageous. Our washer broke down and Albert had to spend most of the morning repairing it, then later in the day our kids broke out into a pebble fight INSIDE the van and Jackson busted out the back windshield. Fun times. A big storm started that evening and the football game was delayed by 45 minutes. We stood in the rain, soaking wet, waiting for it to begin, and then sat in the bleachers getting wetter and wetter as it continued to rain on and off once the game finally was underway. As soon as the game was over, we headed back to the house and that was the point that I began to get really excited. I took a shower, then grabbed the bags that I’d spent weeks carefully packing. I threw some things together for Albert (who, by contrast, had packed nothing) and brought them all out to the kitchen so our teenagers could load them in our mini-van (not the same van with the now busted out windshield). I sat downstairs with my mom and Anna and Lisa and our friend Jeni (who had graciously stayed with our smaller children so they wouldn’t have to be in the football rain!) We chatted for a while as Albert ran to the gas station and did a couple last minute things, and then it was suddenly time to go. The ride to the hospital was one of the most special moments of our relationship. It’s a 40 minute drive to the hospital and we spent the time talking about how our family began, how it’s grown and how bittersweet it was that we were completing it with this birth. We talked about how amazing our family is and how precious each of our children is to us. We each expressed some sadness that this was end of building our family and that it was our last birth, but we were both sure that being done was the right decision. When we arrived at the hospital, the staff were expecting us and we got settled in a room very quickly. Albert made a run to Jack-in the-Box, which is funny because I was supposed to be on the gestational diabetes diet. The nurse came in to place my IV and I requested that it not be in my hand because I didn’t want it to impair my movement or ability to change positions and cope with contractions. The nurse attempted to place the IV in my arm and quickly commented “Oops, that one blew. You’ll have a bruise.” On to the next attempt. Same thing. She then stated that the IV would have to go in my hand, or she’d have to get someone else to attempt the next try. I requested someone else. The next nurse came in and attempted IV number three. No luck. That vein blew as well. Finally the fourth time was a charm and I started my antibiotic (Group B +). The nurses left us to finish our Jack-In-The-Box and get some sleep. After we ate, Albert attempted to sleep on the pull out couch, but it was so uncomfortable, I’m not sure how well he actually slept. As for me, I could barely sleep at all. The bed wasn’t the most comfortable, plus I had so much excitement and adrenaline that sleep was difficult to come by. I finally drifted off at 3:00 or so, and at 5:30 I woke up again. My antibiotics were finished running and I only had a hep lock, so I got up to take a shower, get dressed in my labor attire (a tank top and some PJ pants that could be removed easily) and put on some makeup. It is a crazy feeling to be getting dressed and doing your hair and make up in preparation to have labor started! After that I updated Face book briefly and then laid back down to sleep a while longer. For some reason, I felt better knowing I’d showered and put on some makeup. I could sleep a bit longer now. Around 8:00 or so the pitocin was started and shortly after that, Anna and Lisa arrived. We talked and hung out for a while and then Tammy, our midwife arrived and broke my water. Tammy hung out with us for a while and we all chatted and talked together. I called my house to check on my mom and our kids and see what they were doing and if the morning was going well for them too. Mom had made pancakes per Isaiah’s request, so the kids were thrilled. Tammy was in and out for most of the morning. She had originally been scheduled to be on call that weekend when we planned our induction but later the schedule had been changed. Since we are friends, she came in anyways for me (giving up a free Saturday to deliver our baby) and we had her all to ourselves. So we had lots of time to visit and chat. At some point, Anna and Lisa left to go pick up my mother and the three of them returned together. The hospital’s policy is that only three visitors at a time can be in the labor and delivery room and that includes husbands. Since we had four (Albert, my mom, Anna and Lisa) they had to keep rotating in and out, as one person had to be in the waiting room. That part really sucked but Tammy didn’t have the authority to bend the rule and the nurses and security people refused. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we’d had several people in the waiting room together or even two or three…but leaving one person out there on their own was no fun and was very stressful for me. At least at that point. Because I was a VBAC, baby had to be on the monitor continuously and as he had always been at my NST’s, he was on the move and they had difficulty keeping him on the strip. The nurse, Chris, asked what I thought about an fetal scalp electrode and I replied that I was not going to allow anything to be screwed into my baby’s head. She wasn’t too happy with that answer and responded that we could continue to try to chase him with the external monitor but that if it didn’t work “we’d have to use the internal monitor.” I told her that I’d be willing to hold the external monitor in place but that I would not allow the FSE. I then spent the next few hours holding the external monitor in place and moving it as necessary to find the baby when he ducked away and was on the move. Contractions picked up and continued to get stronger, though they weren’t showing up on the external monitor. This was a problem because the nurse was unwilling to go up on the pitocin any further without being able to see how strong the contractions were. On this one point, I agreed with her completely. Even though I could feel that the contractions were not overly strong, I understood that she needed to see some evidence of this before increasing a drug like pitocin. So Tammy inserted a IUPC to measure the strength of the contractions. It wasn’t much fun going in, but not horrible. While that was being done, my mom and Anna and Lisa went to lunch. While they were gone, Albert and I played UNO, which is our tradition during early labor. I bounced on the birth ball (the nurse was also unhappy with this because she feared the baby couldn’t be monitored adequately. He actually cooperated better on the ball than in bed). After UNO, we discussed baby names because we still had not agreed. The contractions were coming stronger and were hurting, but they were not unmanageable and breathing through them worked. By the time my family returned from lunch, they were starting to require lots of my concentration and external conversations and other people talking was beginning to get on my nerves. The nurse came back into the room to complain that I would eventually have to remove my pants (I’d put them on while bouncing on the birth ball). I assured her I knew I couldn’t give birth while wearing them and that I understood that in the event of an emergency they’d have to be cut off. She still wanted them removed…apparently right then and there in front of everyone while I was sitting on the ball. I don’t think she had much respect for patient privacy. I get that birth is not a time to be prudish but privacy and dignity can still be respected whenever possible. I think I went to the bathroom to remove the pants and donned a fresh sheet in their place. Also, during this point, I lost track of who was in the waiting room and who was in the L/D room with me, or at least I stopped caring at that point. Contractions were taking all my effort to breath through and concentrate through. I kept imagining that I was swimming in a really peaceful ocean and at each contraction, I would slip underwater and let the contraction, like a wave, roll over me. Then I would come back up to the surface. Super silly, I know, but it worked. Laughter also worked. Every now and then, someone would say something funny and even though I was trying to tune them out, I would start laughing and laughter did have the effect of ending the contraction early. Weird. Albert’s touch also worked magic. Having him near me and in particular, having him put his face against my face was like magic for the contractions. It brought the pain level down noticeably. Standing up and walking also helped reduce the pain but this too, was a problem for the nurse who insisted that I stay in bed. I had never before had a labor in which I noticed a big difference in my ability to cope with contractions standing or walking versus lying in bed, but with this one the difference was night and day. Since I could only get out of bed to walk to the bathroom, I tried to drag out my bathroom trips to give myself a few minutes to labor in there. Sitting on the toilet actually felt better but again, the nurse wasn’t too pleased since the baby couldn’t be monitored from the toilet. At one point I commented “Just get a damn Doppler” which probably wasn’t well appreciated. Since my laboring options were the bed or the bed, I finally asked for an epidural because the contractions were just getting to be too much for me if I couldn’t move around like I needed to. I felt we’d all be happier if I had an epi and was comfortable. But as soon as I asked for it, my contractions spaced out. Not only did they space, the ones I had became significantly less painful and weaker until finally even on the monitoring strip, you could see the drop off. So I told the nurse to hold off on the epidural. My thought process was that if labor were stalling out, I didn’t want to get an epi and have it stall further. Plus the random contractions I was having now were quite tolerable anyways. Uncomfortable but tolerable. I found myself rejoining conversations and going back to chitty-chatting again. Tammy checked and I was five centimeters. I felt like I needed to use the bathroom so I disconnected my monitors and got up to go. As soon as I stood up, I got slammed with a major contraction. It was one the likes of which I had never felt before- not with ten other children. It had a weird twist to the peak that didn’t seem normal. As soon as it ended I walked to the bathroom and shut the door and boom, there was another one. And then another before I left the bathroom. I gripped onto Albert and tried to keep breathing and keep going underwater. Albert putting his face against mine was about the only thing that helped even a little. I got back in bed and there was another one…all with these strange peaks that I’d never experienced before. I have always heard people say that pitocin increases pain and strength of contractions, but I’d never found that to be true for me…until now. So, this must be what people talk about when they say pitocin is hell. At this point, new contractions were starting before the one before had finished. I could barely breath and it occurred to me that this could be one of the dreaded but well documented side effects of pitocin- contractions that are too strong and too close together that don’t give baby enough rest time in between resulting in fetal distress. I yelled for Tammy to turn it off, that something wasn’t right and these contractions weren’t normal. She asked if I wanted it turned down or off, and I said “OFF! If these are too strong for me, they are too strong for baby.” She shut it off and then I yelled for an epidural again. All this had occurred in less than ten minutes. Maybe less than five. The baby was moving around and was off the monitor again. The nurse again insisted on an FSE and this time Tammy agreed with her. I was no longer able to hold the external monitor in place and Tammy really wanted a good read on the baby’s heart rate which in retrospect makes sense especially since I was already concerned with the effect of the pit contractions on the baby. She told me bluntly that I couldn’t get an epidural unless we could have a more reliable indication of how baby was doing in there. “We have to make sure baby is okay,” she kept saying. …as she was already opening the package for the FSE. I agreed and the nurse pushed the button to lay my bed back. That set off another contraction. Tammy touched my leg which set off a brand new contraction. When Tammy tried to place the FSE, another contraction started until it was one endless contraction as long as someone was touching me. Unfortunately, Tammy couldn’t get the FSE placed and it took about three tries. During this time, Tammy informed the that I was now 8 centimeters. I really thought I was going to die at that point. Contractions with exactly zero seconds in between while something is being shoved through your cervix is less than pleasant to say the least. In fact, I think I yelled out those exact words, “I‘m going to die.” I was begging for an epidural at that point, and the nurse snapped at me rather rudely, that “Well, I called them the first time you asked and then you changed your mind so I told them never mind. Now I cant just make them show up instantly.” “Really?” I answered…”You can’t click you heels together three times and have them magically appear?” Albert meanwhile, was trying to remind me that I’d just gone from a 5 to an 8 in a matter of moments and that I probably really didn’t need that epidural. The heck I didn’t. I had two major fears at that point. One- that we’d finally run out of luck with using pitocin and our baby was going to be harmed because of it and it’s ridiculous contractions and two- that anesthesia wasn’t going to make it in time for my epi. I was literally out of my mind at that point and my language wasn‘t so nice. I remember Ashley saying “Angela, if your career in criminal justice doesn’t work out, you can always have an illustrious second career…as a sailor.” I remember my mom standing beside my bed and I was glad she was there, but I didn’t want anyone to touch me except for Albert. His touch calmed contractions. Everyone else’s touch, even our midwife’s, set them off. Crazy, the connection between the mind and body. Anesthesia made it in just as I felt the urge to push. It wasn’t overwhelming and I could get by without giving into it, so I figured I still had some time, but knew that time was fleeting and that this epi had better hurry. It was insanely hard to calm down and sit still for it with those contractions continuously booming but I did because I knew if I couldn’t then I couldn’t get the epi. The anesthesiologist informed me that I was so far progressed that the epidural would probably not provide the type of relief I was hoping for but that she’d do her best to get me whatever relief we could get at this point. All the while the urge to push was building up and I knew we were in a race against time to get that thing placed. Finally it was in and she gave me a test dose. Then she gave me the full dose and laid me back down in my bed and told me it would be at least twenty minutes before I could expect relief. It was the strangest experience then. The contractions would alternate between “hmmm that one was a little better, a little less painful,” and “Oh heck no, it isn’t working, this hurts!” but it did calm me down enough to not scream and holler. My family had been asked to wait outside during the epidural and I remember worrying that I’d need to push the baby out before t hey got back and that they’d miss it, but then just as quickly, I let go of that thought because focusing on laboring needed all of my attention. I heard the nurses talk about calling security and realized they were calling security on my family. Lisa had found our room from the outside and was able to be at the window which would have been way better than the waiting room. The nurses called security though and someone told her that we’d requested her not to stand in the window. I am still furious that someone lied to her and upset her. She was most welcome to stand wherever she pleased as far as I was concerned. I really wished she could have been in the room with us. I do remember saying out loud “I am seriously pissed that someone called security on my family.” As soon as the epi was in, Tammy checked me again and I just had a slight rim and was almost complete. I asked NOT to push (the epi did seem to help with that urge) and to let the baby labor down on his own before we pushed (my hope was that I could stall and buy time to let the epidural take maximum effect before pushing). So for about thirty more minutes I laid there hoping for the epi to take better effect. It did help calm me down so for that I was grateful but it soon became apparent that it wasn’t going to remove the pain of the contractions. It did space them out some though (or perhaps having the pit turned off spaced them out, which is probably more likely) so I was much calmer. Finally I agreed to push and I have to admit, I didn’t push very hard at first. I was totally afraid. I remember what that felt like from Kambree’s birth and I wasn’t eager to do it again. Eventually though, I gathered up my courage and realized that if I didn’t push hard, I’ve just have that many more contractions to get through. It wasn’t like there was any other way out of this other than to push the baby out. So I started to really push. And it hurt really, really bad. The anesthiologist came back in to ask if I wanted a bolus dose of meds for delivery. I yelled out that yes, yes, I wanted that dose very much. But, Tammy….my midwife said “She doesn’t need it. She’s gonna push the baby out in two pushes anyways.” At the time I was only vaguely aware of that. With the next push, the baby started to crown and I got his head about halfway out and then Tammy said to stop and wait for the next contraction. That seemed like cruel and unusual punishment to stop with his head half out….burning, burning, burning. But Tammy told me that he needed the rest, it wasn’t for me. I was very panic stricken at the thought of having to feel that burning pain until the next contraction and stopping at this point seemed not a feasible option. I remember further losing control and screaming and then Tammy yelling “Angela, get a hold of yourself.” And instantly I did. I whispered “yes mam” a few times and calmed down immediately. I think I was caught off guard by her forceful tone and was afraid it meant the baby wasn’t doing well. So I waited. Then, on the next contraction I pushed again, and felt his head deliver. It was so painful and hurt so much and yet at the same time, I knew I was going to have him on my chest in just a moment. With fear and lots of burning and excitement and a lot of yelling, I pushed the rest of his body out and felt him slip free of my body and in an instant, Tammy had him up on my chest, and suddenly I was staring at this little guy that I’d known for nine months. He was dark with lots of hair and beautiful. I felt instant relief and instant love and my hands were all over him, drying him off and touching him. Albert was right beside me taking pictures and I could hear the nurses telling him he wasn’t allowed to do that yet. Seriously. The moments after that are blurry now…I just remember looking at my baby and my husband but at some point my mom and Anna were beside us. At some point, I pushed out the placenta which was more painful than I’d thought but only hurt for a second…I remember Tammy apologizing for needing to massage my uterus to get it to clamp down, which it did just as it should have. Later, looking back at photos and video, I can see that my mom and Anna were quite emotional and had tears, but I don’t remember it at the time. I just remember the baby. I also remember asking if anyone had found Lisa and told her the baby was here because she was still in the waiting room which made me really sad. We didn’t pick out a name for him until the next day when we finally decided on Samuel Carter. We call him Sam. He is perfect and beautiful and we are so in love with him. Looking back, it’s so crazy to me how connected I was to my husband. I wonder if I should have listened to him and skipped the epidural altogether since I was so close to the end but I think that given it to do over, I’d make the same choice. Albert and I working together as a team was so insanely bonding and romantic (yes, even with that level of pain) and such a special experience that it almost made both of us want to do this again in a few years, but we know we can’t. Sam is it for us. He’s perfect and amazing. And our family feels so full and complete.