Wednesday, August 6, 2008

39 Weeks, 5 & 6 Days - A Peanut is Born

I last updated at 10:30 PM to announce that Al and I were headed to the hospital. I'd called Dr. Howey's service around 10:15 PM, and she called back, her voice groggy with sleep (she'd delivered several babies in the wee hours of the morning prior to my appointment and looked pretty beat earlier in the day. I felt sortof guilty calling her when I did but I figured best to call at 10:15 PM rather than 3:15 AM, right?) She asked me about my contractions, which were, at the time between 3 and 4 minutes apart but only lasting 20 to 30 seconds, and they weren't horribly painful but they were getting stronger and I was feeling them more as the time wore on.

But prior to calling Dr. Howey, Al and I had put Bean to bed together and said goodnight to Nana, then I'd taken a nice hot bath with Al sitting on the floor beside me checking out college football standings online and telling me how our favorite teams ranked. I couldn't have cared less at the moment, but I listened and commented as he read. Before getting into the tub I went to the bathroom and discovered a lot of bloody show. This was a lot more blood than what I'd seen all throughout the day since Dr. Howey had stripped my membranes - that had a lot of mucus with it. This was mostly blood.

Dr. Howey asked about bloody show and I told her I'd had a significant amount of bleeding within the past hour. That seemed to sell her on sending me to the hospital. I was still not fully convinced at the time that this was real labor, as the contractions were short and not overly painful, so I took my time doing some last minute packing and we were out the door by 11:00 or so. On the drive, the contractions did feel more painful than they had at home, probably because I'd been standing up and walking around and busy while at home and now was sitting still and didn't have much to focus on besides the pain. I couldn't find anything particularly relaxing to listen to on the car stereo, so Al gave me his iPod to fiddle with as we drove, and I think I finally found some Indigo Girls tunes to listen to, but not until I'd occupied my hands and mind for most of the trip trying to figure out how to work the iPod.

We arrived at the hospital at around 11:30 or so and the regular entry was closed, so we had to drive around and find the Emergency Room entrance, which took some time. As we found a parking space, I started a contraction and Al had to stand outside the door and wait for it to end before I could get out. We decided not to take anything with us except my purse and the cameras, so convinced was I that we wouldn't be staying. We walked together into the Emergency entrance and up to a counter where a young woman started with, "How may I...?" and finished her own question by saying, "OH! (smile) Giving BIRTH!"

She directed us to a little booth across a hallway from her, where a very nice older woman stood and smiled and greeted us. Within seconds the first young woman arrived behind me with a wheelchair and helped me into it. The second lady, who was apparently in charge of admitting, very kindly and cheerily collected my information and sent up for a nurse from OB to come down and collect us.

Angie arrived moments later and pushed my chair to the elevator and up to the maternity ward, chatting the whole time. She would not be my nurse that evening, but she'd been free when the call came from admitting so she came on down to get us. I liked Angie immediately for her smile and cheerful nature and felt sad she wouldn't be my nurse, but then again I didn't think I'd be staying anyway, so it really didn't make a big difference.

On the 8th floor, we got off the elevator and met Kate, who would be my nurse. Kate was older than Angie - maybe in her 50s? She and Angie showed us to our room and as I got out of my wheelchair to take my gown into the bathroom to change, they remarked on how little and cute my belly was and laughed that I had on heeled, strappy sandals to come to the hospital to give birth.

I changed into my gown and gave a urine specimen per Kate's instructions and was then shown to my bed where I was placed squarely on my back and strapped to fetal and maternal monitors. The room was ICE cold, which Kate acknowledged, and she brought us both a couple of warm blankets which we immediately wrapped tightly around ourselves.

The monitors showed decent but short contractions, just as I thought. Shortly after we got settled, Kate came in to check my cervix and found it at about a 1. Since I'd been at a 1 at Dr. Howey's office, this wasn't great news in terms of progress. After a little while Kate reappeared to report that we didn't need to stay at the hospital since my cervix hadn't changed and my contractions didn't seem very organized. But that we could SLEEP there overnight if we wished. She seemed to feel we should go home, although she didn't state it outright. There was just something in how she presented the facts at that moment and on other occasions throughout the night that made me think she felt we should leave.

The thing is, at about the time we were trying to make the decision to stay or go, my contractions began to feel VERY strong and were getting increasingly painful, to the point that I was having a difficult time relaxing at all through them. The offer to "sleep" at the hospital became moot, as I knew I wouldn't be doing any sleeping with this kind of contraction coming still 3 minutes apart. Al wanted to stay, as he felt if we left we'd likely have to turn around and come right back. I didn't want to be a nuisance to the staff and so was thinking we should leave, but then I knew I WAS in labor by this time and didn't want to face a 30 minute car ride as the contractions continued to get more and more painful.

I asked to be unhooked from all my monitors and wires so that I could get up and walk for awhile, to see if changing my position would make the contractions die down. Al and I slowly wandered down the hallway together, wrapped in our blankets, stopping every three minutes for me to try to breathe through a contraction. We returned to the room after one trip down and back because it was too awkward just stopping in the middle of a hallway for a contraction - I felt exposed and strange and wanted to be sitting. In the room I found a stool I could sit on. I'd remembered a few weeks prior we'd taken a trip to Babies R Us and I'd gotten tired of walking and found a similar stool to sit on that felt wonderful on my lower back and hips. I wanted to feel that same relief (on a grander scale!) - it was sortof automatic, this pull to sit on that stool.

So sit I did. Al sat in a chair and watched as I eased my way down onto that stool with my legs wide apart, closed my eyes, rocked my hips and rolled my neck. I didn't say anything to anyone, I just decided that since it was on ME to prove I was in labor and on ME to prove I was progressing before I could have any pain meds, then I would do something to show them progress. I concentrated on my pelvis, imagining the birth canal opening and the baby moving slowly and easily into it. I hummed quietly and during contractions I breathed in and then chanted out quietly, "Down down down ... Down down down."

I know Al thought I was crazy. He seemed confused and at a loss, to me, as to what I was doing, and asked then demanded several times that we go home, or I get back into bed and put the monitors back on. But I knew I neither could nor should do either. I continued doing what I was doing - rocking, invisioning, breathing, humming and chanting quietly, for about an hour and a half. At some point, Kate came in with a birth ball and I attempted to use it briefly but my body just wanted to be on that stool. So back to the stool I went.

Al finally demanded that I get back in the bed and let them look at the contractions on the monitor. I didn't want to - I wanted to keep doing what I was doing and I wanted my cervix checked again for I KNEW it was progressing now. I submitted to Al's wishes and the next time Kate reappeared I moved back to the bed and she hooked the monitors up. The contractions were more steady and stronger but Kate still seemed unimpressed. Then she volunteered to recheck my cervix and sure enough, I'd moved on to nearly a 3. I'd guesstimate it was about 1:30 AM by then, maybe 1:45 AM.

At some point before this second check of my cervix, Kate had suggested per Dr. Howey's request that I go ahead and let them start Pitocin to speed things up. If I allowed them to start Pitocin, I could also have my epidural. I really thought that the Pitocin was unnecessary at that point and said No thanks. Somewhere in that discussion, I think, Kate got the impression that I didn't want any kindof medical intervention. All I meant was that I didn't want Pitocin. I DID want pain meds, but all they kept offering me until the second check of my cervix was "something to help you sleep." Again, I knew I wasn't going to be sleeping anytime soon, so I refused those drugs, for I didn't want my head to go all groggy.

Once the second check revealed progress, I stated clearly, "I am not sure where you got the impression I don't want pain meds. I DO want pain meds. I really, really do." And Kate, bless her heart, said, "Okay! We can do that."

However, apparently we had to do it very slowly. I lived through another nearly two more hours of contractions as I signed consent forms and waited, had an IV started with multiple attempts at finding a vein (typical for me), and waited some more. I finally asked Al, "Will you please write down somewhere that my first pain meds were administered at 3:10 AM?" He didn't write it down, but I definitely remember that I got IV pain meds at 3:10 AM on August 7, 2008, because it was one of the happiest moments of my life. No kidding.

But a lot more happened in between there. I mentioned once I got back into the bed earlier and had proven I was progressing that I felt feverish. Kate took my temp shortly thereafter and it was nearly 103. I'd been feeling nauseous for awhile and sometime before the first pain meds were administered I vomited several times. Also during this time, Matthew's heart rate began to excelerate with contractions and Angie appeared with Kate to take a look. They were really displeased about the fever and Matthew's heartrate and stayed in our room almost constantly from that point. Eventually Angie gave me a Tylenol suppository, with lots of apologies, which I told her were completely unnecessary because when you come to the hospital to have a baby, you know to check your dignity at the door anyway, and with a fever of 103 and vomiting, I could very easily see that a Tylenol suppository was indicated for me, and STAT.

The Tylenol worked quickly and I felt better for awhile, fever down and pain meds dripping away. I was still queasy, though. Angie checked my cervix and this time I was nearly a 5 AND I was leaking amniotic fluid. I immediately said I was ready for my epidural.

After another half hour of consent-signing and drumming up the anestheseologist, he appeared. The IV pain meds had worn off by then so I was back to having to breathe and chant and sway through contractions, sitting up hunched over on the bed as the epidural was inserted. At 5:10, it was done and I lay back and waiting for sweet relief. My cervix was checked again - and I was at an 8. I got a lot of praise from Angie and Kate for making it this far. Angie, I believe, declared me her hero and said, "You, my dear, are a TROOPER."

Sadly, the expected relief from that epidural never came. An hour and about a million painful contractions later, we repeated the process and I finally stopped feeling contractions by about 6:45 AM.

We should be ready to push in an hour or less. Dr. Howey had come in around 4:45 AM and showed up in my room shortly after the second epidural was in.

And then the real fun started.

Starting between the two epidurals, Matthew's heartrate dipped with each contraction, enough to cause the nurses and ultimately Dr. Howey concern. We changed my position from side to side, and nothing happened. I stopped dilating at 8 cm. Dr. Howey checked my cervix and asked me to push several times, saying that Matthew felt like he was in the right position to descend, and if he did I'd dilate the rest of the way immediately, but the pushes I tried did nothing to budge him. We waited another hour plus, with constant monitoring and periodic checks of his position, but he just stopped moving down. Dr. Howey prepared us for the possibility of a C-section. She wasn't comfortable trying Pitocin to move Matthew down because of the decels in his heartrate with contractions. If my "normal" contractions were distressing him, we couldn't make them stronger without putting him at risk.

Angie and Kate were to have left at 7 AM - the end of their shift. I met my new nurse, Gretchen, shortly after 7.

At around 8 AM, I suppose, Dr. Howey came and sat on my bed and said it was time to do the C-section. She was very kind and visibly disappointed herself, although she maintained a smile and her usual straightforward, non-dramatic, calm attitude. I think she said something to the effect that she was bummed we'd gotten through the whole pregnancy and everything had gone so well and now she was having to do a C-section.

I was bummed, too. And scared. And numb, physically and mentally. As soon as Dr. Howey left the room, the hustle-bustle of preparations began. Gretchen came in an very apologetically shaved my "belly." (Ahem.) I met the surgeon who would be assisting Dr. Howey with the section and the anestheseologist, Dr. Ippolito. Al was issued his scrubs and put them on, and then Gretchen wheeled me to the "Special Procedures" room. On the way down the hall, I began to cry quietly. I really am not sure, even now, exactly what I was feeling. I suppose it was a mix of fear and disappointment and just ... finality? Also, I was very, VERY tired, and still so nauseous and gross-feeling. I didn't want to vomit again and I knew the possibility of doing so was very very strong. I knew that I'd be able to feel some of what happened during the surgery and that made me feel even more nauseous. I also knew my arms would be strapped down, and that made me feel panicky inside. (I never knew I had that fear, but apparently I do!)

Gretchen asked me, "Megan, are you crying because you're disappointed or scared?" "Both," I whimpered.

Al followed us down the hall and gave me a kiss before I went through the doors of the OR alone. I met more nurses, a pediatrician, and was reintroduced to the surgeon and anesthesiologist, but I don't think I said anything to them. I was crying and felt so awkward and alone. Dr. Howey came in and I don't remember what she said or did, but I do remember feeling a small bit better for having her in the room - someone I knew - a voice of familiarity among all of the new, strange voices and faces and surroundings.

I watched and listened to the final preparations as much as I could. My arms were in fact strapped down. Al came in and sat down beside my head, the drape was put up between my head and my abdomen. I could hear everything, hear Dr. Howey asking for suction, talking about the incision, hear the nurses responding to her. I felt a lot of pressure and movement in and around my abdomen but no pain. I tried hard to focus on what was being said, but much of it is lost now in the haze of drugs and sleep-deprivation.

I do remember that when the surgeon pulled Matthew's head out, Dr. Howey said, "Megan the cord was around his neck not once but twice!" and that someone called for Al to take a picture, and then called again louder because Al didn't get up. He finally did get up and take a quick shot and then sat down immediately. Oh, how I wish he'd taken more pictures and perhaps some video, too, because I feel I missed so much, but he says he was afraid he'd disturb the doctors with the flash.

"It WAS major surgery, Megan."

Yes. I suppose it was.

The actual c-section. That's me! And Peanut!

Soon after Al took that picture, I heard everyone exclaim, "Here he is, Megan! He's so BIG!" Dr. Howey said, "I told you he was a big baby!" and then everyone said, "Oh, look how cute he is!" and Dr. Howey said, "I knew he would be. You should see his sister." And then he was out and lifted around the side of the drape for Al and me to see. He was purple from head to toe but he was, indeed, very BIG, to me.

Peanut gets weighed. The nurse said if we'd weighed him prior to the large poop he expelled on his way out of Mama, he'd have been over 8 lbs. Al is mighty proud of his son's large post-birth poop.

Matthew Daniel's time of birth was 8:57 AM.



Immediately after I saw Matthew the first time and he and Al were whisked away to the nursery so Matthew could be checked out, I vomited again and blacked out briefly. At some point though, I remember hearing all of the nurses and Dr. Howey and Dr. Ippolito talking about my belly and how the minute Matthew was out, it went right back to being normal and flat again.

(I'm only documenting this because it's a GOOD thing that happened at a time when a lot of BAD things were happening. Well, scary, anyway.)

Dr. Ippolito, who had been standing by my head, who had caught and cleaned up the vomit, and who was peering over the drape at the time, said, "Did you say she's 40? She looks like she's about 20!"

I felt a darn sight better after that.

I'm just sayin'.

They asked him if I'd heard what he said and he brought his face back over the drape to look at me and said, "Nah, she's out."

But I was on my way back in.

Aaaaaaaand back out again.

I remember being wheeled back to my room again and watching through a haze as Gretchen and Al and Matthew and a host of other people filed in together.

Angie had stayed on, past the shift change.

"What are you still doin' here?" I asked her. "I couldn't leave. I wanted to see him and make sure you were okay."


Al called Nana to tell her Matthew had arrived and we were both fine. Everyone was smiling and happy. I was happy too, if exhausted and out of it.

I held my boy for the first time, although I don't remember it nearly as vividly as I wish I could. I'd heard everyone exclaiming at his birth how long his fingers and toes were, and they really WERE long! I noticed immediately that he looks exactly like Bean did as a newborn, only slightly more masculine. He didn't seem so huge to me all swaddled and wrapped and folded up in my arms.


We moved quickly from Labor and Delivery out to a corner room in the Mother/Baby care area, where we met Anne, our nurse for that day. Matthew and I snuggled together in bed together and he nursed off and on for hours. I'm sad I don't fully remember a lot of details of the afternoon, but thankful that when Nana and Bean finally arrived at the hospital around 1:30 or so, (Al left and went to pick them up), Al took some video of Peanut in my arms, Bean seeing him, Nana holding him, and Bean giving him his first bath, with Anne.

Bean thought Mafew was SO ADORABLE. She helped bathe him the first time with Nurse Anne.

I honestly have no regrets that I had a C-section, and here's why.

I know me.

I know what happened after Bean was born. I didn't give myself a single day to just rest and hold that baby and let someone else take care of me for awhile. Looking back I've always regretted that, but I doubt I'd have been able to do it any differently this time, had I had a vaginal birth with no complications. It's just not my nature.

Peanut with Dr. Howey.

So I feel like God found the way to make me do what I needed to do after Matthew was born. And despite the longer recovery and the extra discomfort, I feel it was totally worth all of that to have no other choice than to stay in my bed, with my precious son in my arms, for three full days. I cherish those days with him, in the quiet stillness of a hospital room, with Al and a team of helpful, willing, supportive nurses and a pretty darn awesome doctor to take care of all three of us. I got my quiet time, my rest time, my time for reflection, and my tiny new boy got a slow and sweet transition from life inside his Mama to life at home with a bustling family.

And I am so very thankful for that.

And I'm happy to have a tiny scar, for life, to remind me of Matthew's scary but ultimately perfect arrival, and the blessing it turned out to be for both of us.

A miracle, really.


elaine@bloginmyeye said...

Exhaaaaale...perfectly said. I still want to come smell him though. ;) Can't wait to get my hands on him.

The Fritz Facts said...

Wow. I am so glad that you and Peanut came through like the troopers you are. He is just perfect.

That is one wonderful birth story.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

That's just beautiful, Megan. I'm so glad you weren't disappointed, in the end, by the emergency c-section. As you said, it was just perfect for that time, that baby and that mama.

I hope you continue to soak him up like a sponge. There is nothing we write that equals the novel of our children's hearts.

Jenn said...

Oh sniffle. What an amazing birth story. I love all the photos, he is just perfect!

Melissa said...

Thank you for writing that. It's so good to know that you have put the C-section into its place in your life, if that makes sense. You know, so very many moms let it take an unhealthy place.
And the best part of the whole story is that you got a beautiful, healthy, loving baby boy to snuggle and cuddle and nurse and love.
It's also good to know that you are doing so well after it all. :o)

Tequilamonky said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with us.

I'm so happy it all worked out like it did (cord round the neck twice could have been bad!) and that you have found peace with what happened.

Similarly I think the Universe stepped in with Jove's birth and made sure I had him in hospital (I was planning a homebirth) so that I had that focused time to establish breastfeeding.

Well done you for doing so well and wow at you managing to look 20 years younger even after just throwing up! You areclearly just as beautiful and glowing in real life as you look in the photos :D

Sara Joy said...

Well done Miss Megan. Your story is well told, but the sentiment and perseverence behind the story are even more impactful.
So proud of you! And Peanut really is so perfect!
Yay's all around! =)

Mari said...

What a story. What a blessing that you and Peanut are both okay after that scary time. The story is beautiful - as is your whole family!

Nili said...

Wonderful birth story..God knows just what we need....I've been sneakin around both your sites for a short time now and love your writing...thanks for sharing about Peanut's beautiful birth!

Rambling On said...

Megan, I am glad that you can look back at your C-section with such a good attitude. I think that you sound like you made peace with the interventions that you had and the outcome of Peanuts delivery. I am happy to share the C-section scar with you. It is a battle wound. The first fight and life changing event that you have had to endure for you new baby. You did a great job and I am thankful that it all turned out okay in the end.

Pam said...

Yeah, finally! I've been waiting to "read all about it!" I am a birth story junky, and yours was beautifully told.

Congratulations, again.

Leah said...

I'm sitting here in tears. Your story was so beautifully told and the photos are just too perfect. Congratulations again!

Not Lucy said...

A beautiful story, a beautiful baby, and a beautiful new mommy!

My daughter really wanted to go natural with both of her children's births but it wasn't meant to be but she remembered my advice that it isn't how the baby is born that is important - it is the baby itself and if you are blessed with a healthy little bundle that so much the better!

Leigh said...

That was such a wonderful birth story! And I love the photos. What a beautiful family you have!!!

Anonymous said...

i dont have a blog and i dont know you personally but i read your blog almost daily. You have moved me to tears several times. thank you for sharing what you do.

Alice said...

Oh Megan! My heart was in my mouth the WHOLE time I was reading - I had to remember to breathe normally again once the story was finished! You write so well. And you did soooooo great. Even knowing the outcome, I was scared for you whilst reading the story (esp. about the vomiting, but that could just be me?!).

Your attitude at the end is amazing! Also, beautiful photos, and HEAVENS girl! - You really DO look 20 instead of 40!! How do you do that?! You look beautiful, even after what you had just been through.

And in closing: Well done you!! :)

Jenna said...

I was doing so well reading your story until I came to the end... you certainly brought tears to my eyes! I'm so glad you got those days to just cuddle and hold him and love on him... and that you have many more years to look forward to doing so.

My Lil Family