Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Our Birth Story

I wanted to write this down before I forgot too much. Wednesday evening, all of a sudden, my nose got incredibly runny. Far runnier than it had ever been the whole pregnancy. I jokingly said to Hubby that maybe my body was getting extra relaxed and ready for birth, since my nose was so ridiculous. I slept terribly (like 3 hours total in naps) Wednesday night and woke up even stuffier and very cranky Thursday morning.

I headed off to my weekly appointment feeling very tired, cranky, stuffy, and as though I'd be pregnant forever. The news at the appointment wasn't too encouraging either - I was still 1 cm, 50% effaced. No progress whatsoever, and the doctor brought up the dreaded "I" word - induction. I didn't cry on the way home, but was quietly resigned.
Thursday night, Hubby and I went to bed around 11:00. I couldn't sleep at all - the nose again. Around midnight, I felt a little leaky. I went to the bathroom, but it was nothing. On the other hand, it put me on guard. I did not really fall asleep again. At 2:04 (Hubby checked the clock when I started yelling!), my water broke. And oh did it break! I had several huge gushes before we could make it to the car. A few more in the car, one at the feet of the ER check-in, and it just continued. I was never so happy to put on a hospital gown in my life - it meant I could take off my sopping wet pants, socks, sneakers...

I started to notice contractions when we got to the hospital. In hindsight, I had been having little teensy ones all day Thursday (which I just thought were me just feeling crappy from the nose). Sadly, at my first check, I was STILL 1cm, 50% effaced - and -4 station. At some point, I asked for Stadol to help me get a little sleep, since I hadn't slept since Tuesday.  The stadol really helped - I was totally out of it!  Apparently I had some conversation with Hubby about Tony the Tiger (who I thought would be a GRRR-eat! Labor coach). I have no sense of time throughout this process, but at the next check, my contractions (though 2-4 minutes apart from the start) just weren't strong enough to move the baby down AT. ALL. They asked if I would accept some pitocin. I hedged a bit, but eventually we compromised with a much smaller dose than they would usually give. And I upheld my decision to go without the epidural. They thought I was nuts, but were VERY supportive of my decision.
The pitocin immediately made the contractions REALLY strong. I was shocked by the difference between those and my little wimpy ones before. Wow. I made it twelve hours from my water breaking without drugs. When they came in at that point and it had taken me 3 hours to go from 4 to 5 cm (still only 90% effaced, and still at -4 station), I completely lost it. I was sobbing and begged for an epidural, and still feel confident that I made the right decision.

This whole time, Hubby was the absolute BEST coach and husband I could ever have asked for. He was physically and emotionally supportive the entire time. When I finally asked for the epidural, he asked about 10 times "are you sure this is what you want? I want you to have the experience you hoped for." Even the nurses were commednable in this respect. They asked me once early on if I would want one, and never again. They did wince in sympathy through every contraction - and I can't imagine what the other women on the hall thought of my screaming. Even with all the movement and breathing techniques I had practiced, I just couldn't work through the contractions. The epidural was a welcome relief.
I had a fantastic anesthesiologist. He was there within 5 minutes of my request. He worked between contractions, was calm and supportive - and I had the perfect balance between numbness and feeling pressure. I knew when I was having a contraction - and whether it was a big one or not - but was comfortable and joking again.

My mom arrived from the Northeast just as they were finishing up the epidural.  She arrived in time to see the last of my contraction tears, which were more tears of relief and thanks for the epidural at that point (although I did have three more before the drugs fully kicked in.  Yowch!)
It still took a long time before I was ready to push. I pushed for 1 hour 20 minutes, and out popped Lulu (the best feeling in the whole world). I actually said as she flew out, "Oh my god, that feels great!" But my happiness at having her out was quickly brought to an end. She was completely blue and silent. NICU came flying in with a crash cart, and I was sobbing. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Apparently, Lulu had fluid in her lungs, since my labor took so long. Her heart was really strong, but she couldn't breath. What a relief when I finally heard her tiny little wail. It was a pretty weak cry at first, but quickly got loud and strong. I was sobbing with relief, happiness, terror - every single emotion just running through me. They finally let me hold her after what felt like hours. It was probably 15 to 30 minutes or so.

Hubby was, again, wonderful through all of it. He stayed with the baby, but kept telling me what was going on. He asked constantly (once she was breathing) when she could be brought to me. He was definitely my advocate. Finally holding my precious little girl was an even better feeling than when she popped out.

Lulu is a big girl, at 7 pounds 12 ounces and 20 1/4 inches long. She has a TON of hair, and a dimple on each cheek. I might be biased, but I think she's the most beautiful girl on the world.

I know I'm missing things that I wanted to mention. The big things though, I feel that I did have a positive birth experience, even with the drama at the end. I was able to make decisions that were supported by the nurses and doctors. The only time I felt powerless was when NICU was hovering over my baby and I couldn't hold her. But it's not like I had a choice there! And really, a crying baby is a much better thing to hold than a blue one. So all in all, I was very happy with the care I received. And even though I didn't achieve an entirely "natural" childbirth, I was really proud of the 12 hours I did labor. I was proud of my pushing. I was proud of my ability to make the decision to get the epidural, even if it wasn't in my original "plan." Most of all, I am just overwhelmingly proud of my little girl.