Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The labor of a lifetime :)

Our sweet little Micah James is here! Born 8/16 7:43 am 7lbs 6oz 20.5 inches, and so far he is doing great!

Though this labor was shorter than Miya's (36 hours vs 48 hours) it was different is SO many ways and so much more intense. I can't even describe how I saw God's hand at work through this labor and delivery and so here I am about 12 hours after delivery documenting my "story" because I don't want to forget all the fun details :)

So buckle your seat belt and prepare for a LONG story (more like a book):

Things really started last Tuesday the 11th, I had been having regular strong contractions on and off for days but they finally picked up this day so I was told to head into L&D. Because of my history of a c-section and my desire for a VBAC they pretty much wanted me to come in if I had regular contractions lasting more than a couple hours. After 8 hours in triage being monitored and making no progress we had to choose whether we would stay and be admitted most likely needing to use pitocin to pick things up, or to go home and just wait things out. Since we were hoping for a natural birth I really wanted to avoid pitocin if possible so we decided to go home, slightly disappointed, but really at peace with the decision. Pretty much off and on the entire week I had strong regular contractions that would pick up and slow down. The midwives kept saying "this is just prodromal labor...and unfortunately some women have this for weeks before they deliver" yikes not what I wanted to hear! So we just kept waiting for things to pick up and were told to call when things contractions were stronger, longer, and closer together.

So we waited and waited, it was truly agonizing. I wasn't in a rush to get him out, but I was having such a hard time discerning when I was really in labor with all the contractions I was having! So night after night I would be awakened by strong painful contractions that would go on for a few hours then like switch would just turn off. By my due date (8/14) I felt weary and exhausted. I shed a few tears and I think I had started to convince myself that he was never going to come! In the meantime we are at church that day and I notice I am having contractions throughout the day that are definitely painful and at times regular, but with my track record I just disregarded them and tried to get on with the day. By about 5 pm they were coming 3 minutes apart consistently. Now I know you are thinking: "wow 3 minutes apart you better get to the hospital!" but apparently this is just what my body does, at some points I could have them 2-3 minutes apart yet they wouldn't really pick up in intensity and eventually would taper off. So, with that in mind I just decided to wait it out. We decided to drop Miya off at my parents so that we could at least have the freedom to walk etc.. to see if things picked up. A dear friend Ana who had been a doula for many woman came to stay with me so Lew could rest. Having her there was priceless. We spent the night walking, bouncing on the ball, and trying to relax. My biggest enemy seemed to be my nerves, things would pick up I would get frantic and that anxiety would slow things down. By 2am that is just what happened. I was exhausted, my contractions were spacing out and I just started to panic. I couldn't see things just tapering off again, I was tired and just wanted to have this baby! I was knew I needed sleep but I was so afraid if I tried to sleep that things would stop progressing and it would be just like starting over again. But thanks to the persistence of Lew and Ana I decided to go to sleep and try to rest for a few hours. I even decided to sleep sitting up so at least it would make it easier for things to progress if they were going to. At 530 am I woke up to a really strong contraction, and from that point on they kept coming 3-4 minutes apart (and even closer when I was walking) and more intense than they had been. By 9 I had talked to my midwife and we were on our way in to the hospital.

When we get there we get into triage. I was hopeful that with all these contractions I had been having that maybe I would see some progress past the 2cm I had been the past week. Well much to my surprise I was still the same old 2cm I had been, the midwife tried to be encouraging by saying "it's a good 2 cm", but to me it was still no progress. I was once again given the choice of staying and possibly having to help my contractions out with pitocin, or going home. Lew and I both felt like the best decision was to stay since it really seemed like my body was ready. I laughed and looked at the midwife and said "We aren't leaving without a baby" :). So, we were admitted and amazingly the "no turning back" feeling was SO calming to me and I was finally able to relax and just let labor pick up. But much to my dismay after about 6 hours of regular contractions I still was stuck at a 2cm. The midwives were about to switch over at 7pm and they basically presented the option of doing a small dose of pitocin to help my contractions to get stronger and closer together. At this point I was already having to be monitored the entire time, so without being able to walk etc... they didn't think things would pick up. Not only that but the OB who was back up on call for the midwives that night was one of the only ones who would approve pitocin for a VBAC so this was really my only chance. So, we went for it. I was kind of hesitant because I had really wanted to go natural (no pain meds). Why? Because I'm crazy :) But I knew we had tried everything to get things to pick up and if getting pitocin meant needing an epidural that still was much better than having to get another c-section in my opinion. So we started pitocin at 6:30pm.

At first it really freaked me out because the pitocin had started and I just completely stopped having contractions for about a 1/2 hour. I called the midwife Dusty in and she explained that pitocin works on a negative feedback loop so it takes a while for it to get into a good rhythm with your body's natural oxytocin. Thankful within the hour they were coming on at about 4 minutes apart and picking up in intensity. By about 11 if I remember correctly I was having to breath through them and really feeling a lot more pain by this point, but I remember still being really happy and talkative between contractions (Ana and Lew will have to verify that for me :)) Dusty came in to check for progress, and I knew from previous experience to set my expectations low. Thankful that I did because I was only 3cm and while I was 100% effaced baby boy still hadn't dropped very far. Dusty wasn't comfortable breaking my water because He wasn't low enough and I hadn't progressed enough. So we just kept going up on the pitocin and trying to encourage things along. At this point the "bomb" was dropped that the back up OB coming on in the morning at 7am was not supportive of pitocin in VBAC's so I was down to about 9 hours of having the pitocin and hopefully making progress. We all chuckled and looked at each other like "no way I'll still be in labor at that point". If only I knew :)

This is where I lose track of time some. I think by about 3am the pitocin was really in full swing contractions were coming about 2 minutes apart and all the sudden out of the blue I started to have the most wicked back pain I had ever felt in my entire life...actually I would say worst pain in general that I have ever felt. When the contractions would come on it would feel like my back was just going to break under the pressure. The weirdest thing was the pain was right under my rib cage, it made no sense and no one had ever seen that kind of pain in labor. They were thinking it was just referred pain. The only way I could survive a contraction was to have Ana or Lew put a lot of pressure right over the spot where it was hurting. Even still with that I was barely coping with contractions. And by 4am I was shaking, crying, and probably doing a lot of yelling/groaning. Amazing how quickly I lost my composure :) The nurse came in and saw me and said "uh-oh, let me get the midwife to check your progress" I thought for sure this intense pain would mean I was making some descent progress, at least I hoped!

Dusty came in and checked me...and boy was I shocked to hear I was only 4cm. At this point Dusty said "I think you are fighting against yourself at this point, I really think some pain control would help you relax enough to progress" That's all I needed to hear. Through tears I shouted "get me that epidural" :) The anesthesiologist came in and I have to say this was one of the hardest parts for me. I have a terrible fear of needles, and trying to stay still through not only the fear but the terrible contractions was very hard. Poor Lew had his hands squeezed to death, I am so glad I didn't break any of his fingers. Once it was in I only felt really numb on one side. But for the most part the back pain was gone and I was finally relaxed. Dusty broke my water at this point and said she would come back to check me again within the hour. The only bad part at was another nurse had temporarily taken over for my nurse and she didn't seem totally competent, or very nice at that. She wouldn't explain anything she was doing and just mumbled everything under breath. At this point I was so tired so I almost didn't care. I had sent Lew and Ana to sleep for a little bit, and had planned to try to rest myself. But at 430ish that same fill in nurse came in and just started flipping me around in the bed and I saw her turn off the pitocin and at this point she is still mumbling under her breath. I guess my feisty side came out as I asked her what on earth she was doing and she said "oh the baby". I'm like "the baby what!?" To which she said "baby's not liking this, we need to turn you." And at this point I say "Ummm, shouldn't you turn me on my left side and put some oxygen on me?" Never good when you are having to tell a nurse what to do, and I always try not to do that, but really? Anyways she turned me over and I just laid there crying. With my labor with Miya she had started to not tolerate the pitocin at the end and soon after I was getting a c-section. I was so afraid that we were heading in that direction after all this hard work. Plus we were losing precious time on the pitocin as I had only 2 hours left to be on it.

By 5am Dusty came in and checked me, I was only a 5. She started the pitocin again at a really low dose since Micah's heart rate had been stable again. While she was still hopeful she had to drop the bomb again...but only this time she had to mention the possibility of another c-section. She said I know you don't want to hear this, and I don't want to say it, but really by 7am we will need to keep the pitocin off. And if there is little to no progress by that point the on call OB will probably start to push towards a c-section. At this point I became totally determined and focused. I knew it seemed impossible that I would show enough progress in 2 hours especially since it had taken me almost 34 hours to get 2 cm. But I knew God was bigger and so Lew and I started calling/emailing people to pray.

By 530 am I was feeling some crazy intense pain and pressure despite the epidural. Contractions were no longer spaced out at all but coming right on top of each other. I started to feel really out of it and was shaking uncontrollably and gripping as tightly to the side rail as I could. They called the anesthesiologist in to give me a re-dose of the epidural. He came in and saw me and said "how far along did they say you had progressed at the last check?" I said "5cm" he said "I think you are further than that now!" Music to my ears. But I was too much "in the zone" to process anything. The epidural was working again but the shaking and pressure I was feeling was so intense. The nurse just looked at me and said "I think you are in transition, and I think you are in the home stretch." I was too afraid to admit that was true, because of the little progress over the past 34 hours, but I also knew I had never felt this way before. Plus from what I had read on transition this pretty much looked just as it was described. I started to tell Lew and Ana "I feel something, I think it's his head, but I don't know." I think they thought I was crazy at that point, I don't think any of us could believe I had progressed that far in less than an hour.

Dusty came in at 6am and looked at me and said "oh boy let's check you". She didn't have to do much checking because she immediately said "ummm yup you're feeling all this because his head is right here." We all just laughed and celebrated. I had just progressed 5-10cm in less than an hour and was ready to push. I don't think any of us had expected to actually make the 7am deadline, but we did, and I was practically giddy at this point. Dusty laughed and said "I did what always works to get a woman to progress: mention a c-section, and go take a nap!" They got the room geared up and it was time to push.

Amazingly this was the the part I feared the most, yet it ended up being by far the easiest part. Poor Lew had the job of holding my leg which was pretty much dead weight at this point. I think the funniest part of the labor was when he accidentally let go to get a drink of water and my leg fell on the midwife, thankfully she was paying attention and caught it, I think otherwise it would have knocked it out. Another funny part was just how giddy and happy I was while pushing. I think I was just so relieved to be almost done, and so thankful for my epidural :) A half hour through the pushing I was almost there and was even offering Lew sips of water between contractions. It was pretty funny. Almost an hour in I just knew this was going to be my last push, and it was, our little guy was born at 7:43am and it was seriously one of the most amazing joy filled moment of my life. To actually be an active part of the birth was so much different than my c-section with Miya, I was just so thankful to be able to see him and hold him right away. Not to have blue curtains separating me from him, and to have no one snatching him out of my arms after only 5 minutes. I got to hold him for a good 45 minutes after the birth and the room just was full of happiness. The nurses were great, the midwives were great, Ana and Lew were the best supports I could have asked for. It truly was one of the hardest and most amazing experiences of my entire life. And yet even in that moment I'm pretty sure I looked at Lew and said "I could do this 10 more times" and Lew got a nervous look on his face and said "umm maybe" The amnesia that follows birth is probably one of the most miraculous parts of it all.

After the deliver was just so peaceful. I felt like I was surrounded by friends and it was really just a great experience. I was full of energy which was incredible because I had only slept 3 hours in 48 hours. But I felt so good, and so proud :)

That's the story! So far the recovery has been great. I feel good, and have to keep being reminded to rest because I feel so "normal" it's almost hard to remember it's just been over a week. I am so thankful for the gift these 2 kiddos are. I know big adjustments are ahead, especially for Miya. But all in all I couldn't be more thankful.

Blogger isn't letting me post pictures, so you can check out the facebook album here.