Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Maren's Birth Story

I finally finished it! It only took me about 6 weeks but it is done. Just a disclaimer, I do include details (it isn't that bad) but if any sort of details turn you off, just don't read it. It is also super long. I thought about editing a short version but I'm just glad I finished the long version and I'm too lazy to shorten it. So there you have it!

On Thursday, March 10th, I had an appointment with my OB (Dr. Kevin Lythgoe) for my 39 week progress. I had absolutely nothing going on. In our visit prior to checking me, he had mentioned about stripping my membranes. After my cervix check he mentioned how closed I was still. I was a little disappointed. I had really thought I would have made some progress as it seemed like the week before I had felt more movement in that area. Weeks previously I was having constant Braxton hicks and was even experiencing some random painful cramping but nothing too exciting.
On Sunday afternoon, March 13th, about 3:30pm I started to have a few painful cramps. We were headed out to Gilbert for dinner with family so I ran to the bathroom and lost my mucous plug. Even though that may not mean a whole lot, it meant that my cervix had to be softening up a bit or possibly even dilating so it got me a little excited. The rest of the evening I continued to have quite regular contractions but nothing too painful. By the time we got home around 8pm, they had picked up a little bit in intensity and were pretty regular, on average 8-10 minutes apart. I had the thought that something was going to happen that night. We made calls to family so they were prepared just in case we needed to call them in the middle of the night. Well, the night came and went. I had consistent contractions throughout the night but they weren’t necessarily regular. I would have some that were about 12 minutes apart and then right after some that were 3 minutes apart. I tried to sleep the best I could but they were strong enough that they’d wake me up if I did doze off. I did different things to try to endure them. I laid in the bathtub for about an hour hoping that would help relieve some of the pressure but that didn’t help much (why are standard size bathtubs not big enough to fit an adult lying down?...let alone a pregnant woman). Phil slept during the night which I’m glad he did. When he would wake up during the night, he’d ask how I was doing and then roll back over and go back to sleep. He needed the rest! In the morning when he woke up, it was a lot easier for me to bear the pains. I’m not sure why that is. Just having him there aware of what was going on and what I was feeling helped me out.
I tried to convince Phil that he should go to school and that I’d just let him know when I was ready to go to the hospital. He refused and it all worked out as I started to have contractions less than 5 minutes apart by about 7am on the 14th. We decided it would be best to go to the hospital. We called Sarah, my sister’s roommate to come watch James and my mom to meet us at the house so we could travel to the hospital together (she was coming to the delivery as well). After we checked in, I was taken back into OB triage and put on the fetal monitoring. My nurse then checked me. This was the moment that I was so nervous for! Would I be dilated? You’d think that someone who had been laboring all night would be disappointed being told that they were only dilated to a 2 ½ and about 40% effaced, but I was ecstatic! Both Phil and I even got a little emotional…I know, it may seem a little silly but we were on our way to having a vaginal delivery. The nurse even said when she checked me, “Oh, there is plenty of room in there for a head to fit through!” So that was encouraging as well. As excited as we were, a 2 ½ wasn’t good enough to buy us a ticket of admission so my nurse had me walk around the floor halls for an hour to which I progressed to about a 3 and was admitted by 11am. In my room I mainly used a rocking chair at first and enjoyed visiting with Phil and my mom. I started using some breathing techniques by this point to deal with the pain…mainly slow breathing in and out (which seemed to be my most used strategy during the majority of labor) which really helped. They placed an IV and took my blood to check my platelet count which I believe came back as 95 (which really surprised me since it was much higher than normal for me). It would totally depend upon the anesthesiologist’s comfort level of whether I’d be able to get an epidural though. They were able to hep-lock me so I wasn’t attached to an IV pole which was super nice.
My doctor came in around noonish and mentioned breaking my water to move things along. I wasn’t absolutely thrilled about the idea. However, I was really exhausted and the thoughts of being done sooner were very appealing to me. He said he would come back later and we’d discuss it then. Somewhere between 2-3pm, a resident came in and asked again about breaking my water. We decided to go ahead with it. Before she broke it, I had progressed to a 4, about 60% effaced, and baby was stationed at 0. It wasn’t overly encouraging but at least I had made progress and baby was doing wonderfully.
I didn’t notice an immediate change in my contractions. They were just about as painful as they were before. In fact, I’m not really even sure when they got to the “really painful” stage. They just did. After my water was broken, my nurse brought in a birthing ball for me to use and roll around on to encourage my pelvis to open a little more and for the baby to drop. She also mentioned that I could get in the shower to deal with the contractions if I so desired. I decided to start with the birthing ball and then later move on to the shower. While on the birthing ball, Phil helped me as much as he could. He would massage my back and hands/arms with lotion. There were times he would start to massage and for some reason, it didn’t feel good anymore so I’d gently pull his hand away. He tried getting me music to listen to which lasted only so long. By that point I was pretty wasted and the contractions were really getting to me. I had been quite positive throughout labor but as they started to get more intense and be intense for the whole contraction, I really got discouraged. I would tell myself, “I can’t do this. Yes, I can. No I can’t, but I can’t tell Phil because he’ll just tell me I can” etc. etc. My biggest problem was I was SO TIRED. I just wanted to sleep. In fact towards the end as I sat on the birthing ball and had my arms and head on my raised bed, I think I dozed off a little until the next nasty contraction hit. A little before 5pm (I think, as time just blurred together), I finally told Phil that I was really struggling and wasn’t sure if I could do it any longer. He gently asked me if I wanted to get an epidural (assuming I could depending upon my platelet count and the anesthesiologist) and I said yes. He then left the room to consult my nurse. When he returned, he said that my nurse would call the anesthesiologist to just come and talk with me. At this point, I was so tired I just wanted to lie down for a little bit to “rest”. I had been on the birthing ball for several hours and needed a break. I was lying on the bed for a few minutes or so when I had the urge to push. I didn’t want to say anything because I was afraid it was a false alarm and that I was getting my hopes up. I just tried to resist pushing (which is so stinkin’ hard to do…I finally understand). When I got the same urge the next contraction I told Phil and my mom who immediately went to tell the nurse (I don’t remember which one. I do remember seeing a look of surprise and a little concern when I told them though). The nurse came and checked me and I was almost a 9. She called the doctor and he said he’d be there in 10 minutes. Phil later told me he was nervous that if I wasn’t dilated very far, I would be super discouraged. He got emotional again at this point.
I had wanted to squat during delivery so my nurse set up the squat bar for me and I sat up in bed holding on to the bar. I said to my nurse, “I’m guessing you don’t want me to push?” at which she said yes. I then began to use some major breathing to stop from pushing. My doctor arrived, had me lie back so he could check me and moved the last little lip of my cervix from off the baby’s head. Since I was already in that position, I just decided to finish delivery that way instead of squatting up (something I slightly regret). They set up a mirror for me so I could see as baby emerged and within 4-5 contractions, baby’s head came out. When the rest of her was delivered, they immediately placed her on my tummy (one of my wishes) and began the delivery of the placenta (at which I still don’t remember when that happened). I loved that I got to hold her as long as I wanted. I had asked the nurse after I had her for awhile if they needed to take her. She told me only when I was ready which I greatly appreciated. Maren’s apgars were 8/9 and she looked great overall. She immediately defecated several times on me as well as urinated (what a welcome present!).
At this point, I thought I would be overcome with joy and emotion (aka: crying) but I wasn’t at all (my mom and phil took care of that detail for me!). In fact, I’m a little embarrassed to say that I was mostly relieved that it was “over” and surprised at how much pain I was still experiencing due to after pains (they had pitocin running as soon as she was delivered) and having to be sewn up. I had an interesting tear. My doctor said it was about a second degree laceration but instead of being a nice clean tear in one direction, it “exploded” (and yes, that was my doctor’s exact word). It took them a long time to get it all sewn and I was experiencing the shakes rather badly. There were a few times where I would feel them put in the stitch where the local anesthetic hadn’t reached which was rather unpleasant.
After the doctor finished, I tried to breastfeed Maren on one side and she did great. I didn’t do the other because she defecated again on me and we decided a shower would just be easier to get cleaned up (don’t you love that as soon as you “clean up” you are just as bloody as before?) Before moving to the postpartum floor, we got some good bonding time and I was able to eat some food (which was glorious…and not clear liquids might I add…real delicious fruit and yogurt).
Overall, it was a great experience. It was really hard. I think I’m safe to say that it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. A few people have asked, since I have experienced both a cesarean section and vaginal birth, which was better? A c-section was easier (I didn’t progress that far and thus didn’t experience much really hard labor, transition, or pushing). Recovery is a different story to be saved for another day. But there is something empowering in doing something you really want to do that is really hard. Right after delivery, I thought I was crazy for wanting to do a natural birth and swore I’d never do it again if I could help it but time has passed, my memory is fading, and it doesn’t seem so bad now. I’m so grateful I was able to accomplish a VBAC and so grateful for a patient doctor who allowed me to try and succeed. I’m especially grateful Maren did so beautifully during delivery. She had absolutely no problems during labor and delivery. We love our baby girl!

One last belly picture the night before Maren was born

Our awesome medical team

Sweet McRae loving his new cousin

Little brother loving his sister