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Bruiser’s Birth Story

April 22, 2010

*WARNING! This post is going to be a long one. I’ve been meaning to write this down in Bruiser’s baby book for about two years now. Unless you are a mom or about to become a mom there is probably very little here that will interest you…run away now!

On September 14, 2007 I went to the Dollar Store and bought a pregnancy test. I don’t  remember what the signs were that made me think I might be pregnant. We weren’t trying. After all, we just had our first child only eight months ago!

Thirteen days later, I saw my obstetrician and she had me get a sonogram done to determine the due date. There was no way we could calculate it from the date of my last menstrual cycle since I hadn’t had one since before Monkey was conceived!

I was already 10 weeks along! (For those of you who are not familiar with how OB’s calculate a due date, that means that I was actually 8 weeks pregnant).

The next doctor visit we discussed my intentions for delivery. Monkey was a frank breech baby and was delivered by cesarean section. I did not want to have a repeat cesarean. I was relieved to hear that my doctors (and the hospital) did perform VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean). She said that I was a good candidate for it, because the c-section happened because of Monkey’s position and not because of anything to do with my body. As long as this baby was in the right position we were good to go.

November 20, 2007 was my second ultrasound. I was pleased to find out that they had gotten the new technology to take a picture of your baby in 3D. After the technician did all her measuring  and told us the baby was a boy (much to the Chief’s delight) she let us see our new guy in 3D. It was very cool to watching him moving around in my womb in all his three dimensional glory, but I tell ya, he sure was creepy looking! I admit, the 2-D black & white images of the babies look much cuter than the false-skin color 3D ones.

Now that we knew the gender of this baby, he immediately got a new name: New Guy. He would keep that name for longer than we anticipated.

Fast forward to about a month before my due date of April 25, 2008. At the doctor’s office they told me that everything was looking good for a VBAC. New Guy was in position and already quite low. She did tell me that they would not allow me to go past my due date and they would not induce. Even the doctors recognize that Pitocin is a potent drug that creates stronger than normal contractions. The risk to a scarred uterus is too great. That was fine with me, but I was concerned about being required to have my baby before or on my due date. “So what, if God doesn’t have plans for my child to come before the man-made date you’ve set you’re going to cut me open to take the baby out?” Is what I was thinking. Talk about putting pressure on someone for something they don’t even have control over! Really, the only thing I could do was pray. And I did. The Lord made woman’s body to be able to carry, nurture, and deliver a new life all in His timing. Surgery is for emergencies…when something goes wrong. I told the Lord how much I wanted to have this baby His way and would He please allow me to do so?

April 8, 2008: I lost my mucus plug. New Guy was sitting quite low. The entire last month of pregnancy, I found it difficult to walk without a great waddle.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 1:30 pm: The last appointment before my due date. When I was checked I was 2 cm dialated, 90% effaced, and at 0 station. My OB told me about the practice of stripping my membranes. Since they would not induce labor with pitocin (which I wouldn’t have wanted anyhow) and would not allow me to go past my due date, I decided to let her strip my membranes. If that didn’t get labor started, I was planning on skipping my appointment for the 25th. What could they do anyhow? Send the OB police to my door? The biggest thing then that I would have had to deal with would be a concerned Chief.

After the appointment, I went to pick up Monkey from the babysitter. I was feeling a bit crampy. The OB warned me that I might have some aching and spotting from the stripped membranes so I just ignored it. We all ate dinner and afterwards I told the Chief that I was going to go mow the lawn.

“No, hunny. You’re nine months pregnant. I don’t want the neighbors seeing you out there mowing the lawn!” he responded.

“I really want this baby to come! Walking is good for that and besides I’m still achy. Doing something other than walking around the block will be good for me.”

He consented. He is a wise man that knows better than to argue with a very pregnant lady.

The mowing helped. It let me get my mind off the cramps and I’m sure the the bobbing from my gait helped New Guy inch his way down a little farther. It wasn’t until part way through mowing the lawn that I thought to myself “I wonder if I’m starting to be in labor now?” After all, I had never experienced labor pains with my first. “It’s not really so bad,” I thought. “I can handle pain like this no problem.” Of course, my delirious self wasn’t thinking that it was going to get worse.

Around 10:00 pm we headed to bed. I told the Chief that I might be in labor, but wasn’t sure. The pains were definitely getting worse. An hour later, neither of us had fallen asleep. I started re-reading a book to see what I should look for with regard to timing of contractions and the Chief had his stopwatch going. After about 15 minutes more, we both decided it was probably time to go to the hospital. I wasn’t going to be getting any sleep here at home anyhow.

The trip there is a bit of a blur, but I believe it included calling the family that was going to take care of Monkey for us and going into Noonah’s room to tell her we were going to the hospital. As a Senior in high school she was plenty capable of getting herself to school the next day. Whether she would be able to concentrate or not was a different story. Then I think we dropped Monkey off and headed on to the hospital. I do remember how uncomfortable it was to sit in the car and drive over every bump in the road.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 1:19 am: I was admitted to the hospital and sent to a triage room on the labor and delivery floor.

2:00 am: I was given a gown to put on and hooked up to the electronic fetal monitor (EFM).

2:15 am: A resident came in to check me. I was 3 cm, 90% and -1 station. After being checked, I was asked to sit in a wheelchair and was rolled off to my private birthing room.

It was there in that delivery room that I met my nurse and was given the “welcome speech.” We talked about what I wanted my birth to be like and I handed them a copy of my birth plan. She told me she was there to help me out as much as possible and that she was the “go-between” between my doctors and I. To my dismay, I found out that the doctor currently on call from my practice (there were 4 OBs) was my least favorite.

My general plan was to have a drug-free birth with as few interventions as possible. I wanted to be able to move around and get into different positions to manage the pain of labor. I asked specifically if one of the rooms with a tub was available (5 of the 15 delivery rooms had them at my hospital) back when I was in the triage room. Thankfully, I was able to get one of those rooms. I told my nurse in our first conversation that I wanted to use the tub as soon as possible.

3:30 am: After being on the EFM and lounging (don’t mistake lounging for laying comfortably…I mean I was neither sitting nor laying, somewhere in between) in bed for about an hour I was allowed to get in the tub as long as the water wasn’t over a certain temperature (there was a thermometer) and someone was always in the room with me. Chief grabbed his book and sat on the only seat in the bathroom while I tried to get comfortable in the tub. Being in the water did seem to help a bit. I only wish that the tub was bigger for me to actually fit into.

4:45 am: I start to feel nauseous in the tub and the Chief calls a nurse in. She helps me out and explains that staying in the warm water too long can have that effect. (That and many women get nauseous during labor anyhow). After vomiting in the little plastic bucket, I get my gown back on and they strap me back up to the EFM.

5:15 am: I get checked again. 4 cm, 100% effaced, 0 station. I am rather discouraged that I had only progressed one centimeter in three hours. I was very uncomfortable in the bed. When I took a tour of the hospital they showed me the labor & delivery bed. They moved in any position you could imagine. The tour guide even showed us ways to sit/kneel that many women found helpful for easing the pain. What they didn’t tell you on the tour is that you wouldn’t be able to do any of that because you were to be constantly hooked up to the EFM.

5:35 am: I take a trip to the bathroom. Wahoo! I’m free from the EFM! Oh how I hated being strapped down! Not only did it make it difficult for me to move, it kept falling off and itching me.

5:50 am: I’m going stir crazy here in this room. I tell the Chief I’d like to go and walk the halls. We make it about two laps around the L&D floor before being yelled at. Their big concern is me being off the EFM. The nurse goes to talk to the doctor to express my desire to get out and walk. Doc says ok if I do 20 minutes of EFM every hour. I agree to the compromise.

6:00 am: I go back in bed and on the EFM for the agreed 20 minutes. A resident comes in and wants to break my water and place an internal fetal montior (IFM). I refuse. She informs me that it is a routine procedure with VBAC and goes to consult with her attending.

I am feeling really tired. The excitement of labor is wearing off as I approach 24 hours without sleep. My contractions seem to be farther apart.

6:20 am: Off the EFM and my IV is undone! I’m free to walk again! So happy…my spirit is renewed. Thank you, Lord.

The Chief and I spent the next half hour walking laps. I got intense pain in my lower back with each contraction. It took a while to figure out the best relief. I would lean over him in a hug while he applied pressure to my lower back and rubbed in a circle. It was almost like he was pushing against the pain for me.

7:20 am: I get back on the EFM and am thankful for the extra 20 minutes of freedom that I had. I meet my new nurse, Sandy. She is super nice and I’m glad she will be with me for the day.

8:05 am: I see my actual OB for the first time. She jokes with me about the stripped membranes working from yesterday. (She was the one who did it). She checks me. 6 cm dialated, 100% effaced, 0 station. That means I’ve “progressed” 2 cm in 3 hours. The OBs like to see 1 cm per hour. OB asks if she can break my water. I decline. She tells me she wants me on the EFM all the time because of the “dangers of VBAC.” After stating that rather matter-of-factly she just leaves the room. I’m left feeling disheartened and tears come.

8:15 am: Sandy comes back in the room to chat after OB leaves. After talking with her she goes to plead my case about being bed-ridden.

8:30 am: Sandy returns with a large exercise ball. She demonstrates ways to labor on the ball while still hooked up to the EFM. Apparently this is my new compromise. I sit on the ball for the next 45 minutes.

9:30 am: My lack of sleep is really starting to catch up with me. I get back into bed and listen to the ipod for a while. I doze off for a few minutes before being awoken.

10:00 am: Physician’s assistant comes in to check me. Really? You couldn’t have just let me sleep for a bit? I just dozed off and was actually sleeping in between contractions. She measures me to be 6-7 cm. Little to no progress in the last two hours. My interpretation for lack of progress is this: My body has been awake for about 26 hours. It is tired. It will not work without rest. So it rests. The doctors view it as a stalled labor because I’ve only dilated 2 cm in the last 5 hours.

My biggest fear is that they say I have a stalled labor and give me a c-section. I remember that my end goal is to have a healthy baby through a vaginal delivery. So when she asks about breaking my water again to “keep things moving along,” I consent.

Breaking my water didn’t hurt at all. It felt all warm and gushy; no intense pressure like I was expecting. Right away I felt the need to pee. I learned that since my water was broken I would continue to leak amniotic fluid until the baby’s head blocked the exit. Since I was still hooked up to the EFM, I got the joy of using a bedpan for the first time in my life. That was an adventure! After emptying my bladder, I experienced some BIG contractions. Like none I had ever felt before.

11:10 am: I start to have these wonderful things called “coupling contractions.” It’s when you have two contractions nearly on top of one another, then a short break before you get slammed with two more. It’s awful. Just when you think you’ve made it through a bad contraction you only get a half a breath before being attacked again.

12:00 noon: The first entry of my notes that I don’t have the focus to even write. The Chief takes over my writing. I am checked again and discovered to still be at 7 cm. I don’t know how I can continue on at this rate. The contractions are worse, the progression is slower, and my strength is gone. My brain overrides my heart and with tears in my eyes, I consent to an epidural. It is not at all what I wanted, but I can’t see how I can continue on otherwise.

1:10 pm: I get the epidural. (Which includes a urine catheter, if you didn’t know. I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t even be able to lift my own legs.) After the epidural I immediately felt weak and like I was about to pass out. They quickly lowered the bed for me. My pulse dropped into the 40’s. My blood pressure was 70/30. It was a little scary. Even for me-the one who thrives on adventure and is not shaken that easily. Although he showed a brave face, I could tell it terrified the Chief. The anesthesiologist gave me a shot of something to remedy the problem. It didn’t help too much. Another shot of something was added to my IV. Eventually my numbers climbed back up, but not before I was wiped out.

1:30 pm: Nap! I get solid sleep for about a half hour. I had been awake for the last 30 hours (save that one cat nap). The Chief is also grateful for this time of rest.

2:00 pm: I awake to a contraction and feeling like the epidural had worn off a bit. Started to feel lots of rectal pressure.

2:30 pm: Physician’s assistant checks me. Ten centimeters! Hooray! The epidural did the trick and let my body rest to make the contractions profitable.

3:40 pm: Nurse Sandy comes in to show me how to push. We do several practice pushes. This was a total waste of my energy. What is the point of a practice push? I can’t feel anything thanks to the epidural.

4:15 pm: Some other nurses come into my room and it transforms into more of an operating-looking room than a labor room as a giant light is lowered from the ceiling and sterile blue bags of instruments are wheeled in.

I begin pushing with nurse Sandy and the Chief at each side of me. Each one is holding a leg and I lay at a 45 degree angle. My contractions are about 5 minutes apart and the pushing seems pretty easy since I can’t feel much. I don’t know when to push unless Sandy tells me when by reading the EFM. I push for about an hour and a half just to mold New Guy’s head. Not much downward progress has been made.

My OB comes in. It is the second time I’ve seen him. I am thankful that the other OB’s shift has ended. I like this doctor so much better. He did a perineal massage for a LONG time while I pushed. I was surprised how long he stayed with me. I’ve heard of many OB’s who just come in the room for the last few minutes of pushing. My OB stayed with me for hours. I was given a small dose of Pitocin to increase the frequency of the contractions. Pushing was going so slowly because my contractions had spread out to 5 minutes apart. The Pit worked. The next hour of pushing was getting really intense.

I will stop here for a moment to tell you what I kept envisioning in my mind as I pushed my baby. We had not yet decided on a name for our New Guy. We had two names we both agreed on, but nothing was really making us say “that’s the name!” With each push I pictured New Guy running the bases in his little league game as I cheered him on from the sidelines. “Go, Buddy, Go! Run fast! You can do it! He’s safe!” I just kept picturing him running as fast as he could. I cheered him on in my womb as we both tried to help him into the world.

When I opened my eyes in between pushes I could see his incubator over in the corner waiting for him. I was so ready by now to be holding New Guy in my arms.

It would take something else other than just a few more pushes before we would meet.

You can read Part 2 here.

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