Thursday, April 12, 2007

K's Birth Story

I woke up with my usual insomnia the morning of the 3rd at 1 am. After playing on the computer for a couple of hours I went back to bed. At this point some contractions started. They were mild enough that I could just breathe through them, but strong enough to wake me up each time I drifted off to sleep.

When morning came, Ed decided to work from home, in case the contractions got stronger and more regular. They pretty much stopped at this point, and I was able to do laundry and some cleaning. After lunch I lay down for a nap, but the contractions started up again and were about 15 minutes apart. When I got up, they stopped being so regular, so I decided to make an apple pie that I had been meaning to make all week. After I got it in the oven, the contractions started up again, and I decided to go for a walk with the kids (around 4:00). We got as far as my friend Anna's house where I dropped off E and N and kept on walking around the block. As each contraction came, I was able to walk out the pain and breathe. After 2 laps I picked up Ed and he walked the last lap with me. It was 5:00 by this time, and we stopped to pick up the kids and then called Jim and asked if we could bring E and N over for the night, as it was pretty clear labor had started, and the baby was coming!!

When we got home, I made the kids a quick dinner of macaroni and cheese, and as they ate, the contractions were becoming more intense and close together, about 10-15 minutes apart. Ed had found my yoga ball, and I would bounce on it through the contractions, but I couldn't hide the pain and discomfort from the children. E understood that it was a "good" pain, and was excited that her baby sister was coming. N was very concerned and asked, "Mommy, need a tissue?" and brought me one. Ed then took them to Jim and Steph's, and I settled down on my ball in front of the computer, to work through the contractions and distract myself from the pain with Solitaire.

My mom arrived around 7:00, and Ed came back shortly after with my requested dinner- a cheesesteak and milkshake. We sat around the kitchen for a couple of hours, and my contractions were 5-10 minutes apart, and increasing in pain. We decided at this point that we would all try to get some rest, and we would call my mom when we went to the hospital.
Ed and I went up to bed, but I didn't do much sleeping. The contractions slowed down, but each time they came I would need Ed to rub my back, or I would jump out of bed and try to walk through the pain. He did fall asleep, and I tried to work through the contractions by myself. Finally at 1:30a.m. the pain was too intense to be lying down, and I wasn't getting any sleep anyway, so I thought I would take Jeni's advice and get into the bathtub. Ed offered to come down to the bathroom with me, but I told him to get his rest, as he would need it later. I stayed in the bathtub for an hour and a half, and it really did help. I was able to bear the pain on my own as the contractions increased to a consistent 5 minutes apart. As the contraction started, I would start pouring water over my belly and say the alphabet, seeing how far I would get before the contraction ended. By 3:00 I was ready to call the doctor, so I got out, and made the call. They told me to come in, so Ed and I got ready and headed out. The streets were dark and empty, which was a blessing since we got to the hospital in less than 15 minutes. During rush hour it would have taken half an hour.

We checked into triage at 4 a.m. and I was 5 cm dilated, which was a pleasant surprise. I had expected 2-3. My contractions had slowed down again, but I was ready for an epidural. We got into the labor and delivery room around 5, and I got my epidural around 6. After that, things reallly slowed down. Ed's mom and my mom arrived around 7, and there was a lot of sitting around. I didn't feel the contractions at this point, and they weren't as regular. After the doctor examined me around 7:30 he ordered pitocin, since I was still at 5cm. The problem was, with each contraction I had the baby's heart rate dropped from 140 to 60. The nurse had me switching sides with each contraction, and finally put me on oxygen as well. When we asked what could be causing the heart rate drop, she said that the cord was probably being compressed. I asked if that meant it was around the neck, and she said it was possible. I knew in my heart that was the problem. Ever since my first pregnancy that has been my biggest fear for delivery. That the cord would be around the baby's neck, and she wouldn't make it. This fear was made even more real, as friends from high school just had a baby a few weeks ago that had the cord wrapped twice, and had to be revived and could suffer brain damage as a result. The nurse then put a scalp monitor on the baby, and felt that it would be ok to start the pitocin. Once I was on that, things really sped up, and contractions came every 3-5 minutes. But then the nurse would keep lowering the pitocin, or turn it off because the heart rate kept dropping. So the labor really stretched out. I believe if there hadn't been the heart rate issue, and I could have gone on the pitocin right away, K would have been born much earlier, maybe by 9:30.

Finally around 11, I was still only at 6 cm, and so the doctor ordered the pitocin to be increased so that labor would progress. The moms left to get lunch at this point, and Ed helped me through each contraction, as I was feeling pain and pressure with each one. At 11:30 I was examined, and was at 8 cm. The moms had returned at this point and were amazed at the progress that had occurred while they were gone. At 11:45 I was climbing the sides of my bed with pain, and begging to push. The doctor came in and said that although I was fully dilated, there was something strange on the side of the cervix, and it was probably a lip that hadn't completely thinned. His actual words were, "That's weird, I've never seen that before!" I responded, "Great. Just what I wanted to hear." 15 minutes later, at noon, it was clear that this "thing" wasn't going anywhere, and I needed to push (it ended up being scar tissue from a previous birth, or that is the OB's best guess). So the room quickly filled with people, the light dropped down, and the end of the bed taken away. I pushed, and after the head came out, Ed said that he was scared that the baby was gone. The cord was wrapped around her neck and she was blue and not crying. Thankfully, I didn't know this at the time. All I remember is the drill sargeant nurse ordering me to hold my legs and push as hard as I could. At this point the shoulders got stuck and there was some manipulation to get them out. After what seemed like an eternity, but was only 8 minutes, K was born. There was still no cry, and I could tell by Ed's face that something was wrong, but when I asked him, he said it was fine. As they got her over to the warmer, they got her breathing and we heard her first cries. I heard the nurses say that she was getting pink, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Her APGAR score went from a 5 to a 9. After they got her cleaned up a little, they brought her over to me, and we had the naming. We handed my mother in law the envelope, and she read K's name. At 1:30 we were taken to the hospital room, and the process of recovery began.

In some ways I can't believe it is only a week later. I feel really good physically, and it seems unbelievable that K wasn't here a couple of weeks ago. On the other hand, the labor is still very fresh in my mind, and it seems like only a couple of days ago. In any case, I look at our one week old baby and I am so thankful that everything worked out ok. There was a chance of a c-section, as well as that scary moment for Ed when he thought it was all over. K is doing well, and we are working on getting her in a more regular schedule. E and N are great with her. They love holding her, and N says several times a day, "She is so cute!" He has actually adjusted far better than I expected, and seems to understand when I need to hold her I can't hold him. E has struggled more than I expected, as she is processing things like not being the little girl anymore, but the big girl. She has had tearful moments that seem unrelated to the baby, but probably are a reaction nonetheless. Ed went back to work today, so I am on my own. Right now E is at school, N and Erika are watching tv, K is napping, and I just got a chance to write out this long entry.

Even though I know the next couple of months are going to be hard at times, I am so thankful to be on the other side of pregnancy. We are truly blessed, God has been so gracious to us.

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