Sunday, November 13, 2011

Elsa's Birth Story

It only took me four weeks to write it up! It's the longest story ever, lol. I know I haven't been blogging much, but we're all doing really great! Elsa is the sweetest and most wonderful little girl everJ

Warning: this post contains words like cervix and talks about bodily fluids and labor and delivery. If you are offended by such words or if you are a family member who doesn't wish to imagine my cervix opening, feel free to close this post and wait for another one with cute baby pictures.

The day before Elsa's due date was Monday, October 17th. I had an appointment with my OB that day in which an internal was performed to check my progress. Just like my last few internals indicated, no progress had been made-zero dilation and zero effacement. I was prepared to keep cooking this baby until at least 41 weeks, so I wasn't too disappointed. Nonetheless, we discussed our plan of action for the next week: schedule an ultrasound for Friday and another appointment for the following Monday to check for progress. If I was dilated, we would induce that day, but if I still wasn't dilated, we would try to wait a few more days in order to attempt induction when my cervix would be more favorable.

I felt pretty crummy that whole Monday. Jason had been sick with a cold the previous week and it was clear that I was now coming down with it. I spent most of the day resting and in bed and noticed that Levi was absolutely on top of me all day. In fact, here is proof. This picture was taken just hours before my water broke. Here we are, hanging out on the couch with my giant belly! At this point, I thought this baby was days, if not at least a week away. It's impossible to say for sure whether he sensed some sort of hormonal change in me, but all I can say is that I do believe dogs can have a sixth sense about such things.


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I went to bed at the usual time, between 10-11 and did my usual pee shortly thereafter routine. I woke up really sweaty. At 1:30, I woke up again to pee and noticed that the thin pad I was wearing was soaked. Not wanting to get my hopes up, I thought it could just be from being so sweaty all night. So, I just kind of hung out in the bathroom to see what would happen next. I kept having little episodes of wetness and eventually couldn't deny the fact that my water was leaking, though not exactly gushing.

I woke Jason up and told him it was time! Since I was positive for Group B Strep, I had been instructed to go to the hospital immediately if my water breaks so that I can start the first course of antibiotics. While it would have been nice to labor at home, it wasn't possible in this case. So, I took a quick shower and packed my hospital bag. Jason was very business-like about everything. Neither of us was jumping for joy, just sort of going through the motions, likely in disbelief that we would soon be meeting our baby. I couldn't be 100% sure that my water had broken since it wasn't gushing and I was nervous that we would get there and they would tell us to go back home.

Our plan was that if I went into labor in the middle of the night, we would just put the dogs in their room and call my mom first thing in the morning to go over and feed them/let them out. They were really confused why we were getting them up in the middle of the night. I kissed and loved on them one last time before we were off to the hospital.

When we arrived at L&D around 2:30am, we checked in before being taken to an intake room. I was instructed to get naked from the waist down and I waited in bed...where my water REALLY broke. It gushed and it felt really weird and kind of gross. The nurse came in and confirmed that yes, my water had broken and I would not be leaving the hospital without a baby. Okay, this was the real deal. She also observed that there was meconium in my water, another strike against me in the labor process. My IV was put into place and pitocin and the antibiotics to treat the GBS were started at 3:00. At this point, we went to the room I would labor in and Jason and I tried to process that this was really happening!

I was hooked up to two monitors that essentially went around my belly: an external monitor that measured the baby's heart rate and another monitor that indicated when a contraction was occurring, but not the strength. The fetal HR monitor was so annoying because it would not stay in the same place and we constantly had to readjust it to ensure it was doing its job.

My OB was actually at the hospital delivering a baby when we checked in. She came by to see me and I was disappointed that Tuesday was her off day and that neither she nor the other doctors in the practice would be on-call that day. Instead, their associate whom I had never met would be delivering the baby. She assured me that the doctor is very nice and I was good hands. Little did I know I would STILL be pregnant in that room over 30 hours later and my OB would deliver my baby after all! She ordered few internals due to be GBS+ and indeed I did not have one when I checked in.

The night was rather uneventful. We tried to sleep, but how do you go to sleep in that situation? As soon as it was acceptable, I made phone calls and texts to a few friends to let everyone know that our baby was on its way. Then I finally had my first internal at 11:30 am, 10 hours after my water broke. Guess what? No progress! At all. Great. Not to mention the fact that the internal was incredibly painful. The ones I had at the doctor's office weren't bad at all, but it felt like the nurse had two fists up my vadge and was rummaging around in there searching for my apparently shy and posterior cervix.

I braced myself for another equally painful internal at 3:00pm. Still no progress, but the baby had at least dropped. I was really frustrated. I had been working through all my contractions with Jason's help. I sat on the ball, got on all fours, walked around my room, etc. I was so proud of myself for dealing so well with the "pain," but considering I hadn't dilated at all, there was really no reason for bragging. After the 3:00 internal, my OB's partner came in to discuss options. I stressed my desire for a vaginal delivery, but I knew that we were on a schedule of sorts because my water had broken. Often times, doctors will only give you 24 hours to deliver after your water breaks because of the risk of infection. At this point, I was doing great and so was the baby, as measured by its heartbeat.

The doctor suggested I get an epidural, but I was hesitant because I know they can slow down labor. When I expressed this fear, she told me that I wasn't in labor (womp womp) because I wasn't dilated and that we had to try something different because all of this pitocin wasn't working. She said that getting the epidural might allow my cervix to relax and also allow me to rest and help move things along. Well, I would try anything at this point, so we called for the epidural at 4:00.

I was extremely nervous about getting the epidural. I wasn't in that much pain, so it's not like I welcomed the relief it would give me. The anesthesiologist came in at 5:00 to set it up. I was very scared, but my nurse was very reassuring and held my hands and talked me through everything. First they give you a shot to numb the area and then they thread the epidural in. You can feel everything sort of tingling as it goes in. I was very happy when she finished, but wasn't thrilled about being confined to the bed so early and not being able to get into different positions.

After the epidural, I was able to sleep a little bit. I would watch the monitor to see when I had a contraction. And lo and behold, at 6:30 I had another internal that showed I was dilated to 1cm! Three hours later, at 9:30pm, I was finally at 3-4 cm! I was hopeful at this point that I would be able to achieve the vaginal delivery I wanted. They put an internal monitor in as well so that they could measure the strength of my contractions.

At 11:00 pm, I had yet another internal. Progress again! They estimated me to be 5-6cm dilated. However, the baby's heart rate was a little erratic with contractions, so they turned down the pitocin and gave me oxygen. Here I am nearly 24 hours after my water broke.

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I went back to sleep for a bit and woke up to suddenly being in excruciating pain. I mean, the worst pain I've ever had. Since I have never been in labor and had nothing to compare my experience to, I didn't know if it was normal to experience this kind of pain even with an epidural. I called my nurse and told her about the pain and how I was really able to feel the right side of my body. The way the epidural works is it runs through your body with gravity, so if you feel pain on the right, you roll onto your right side to get the pain meds over to that side. But nothing was working. Not only was I have horrible pain with the contractions that were practically on top of each other, but I was having pain in one spot in between contractions, therefore getting no relief. I dreaded the start of each new contraction, knowing the agony it would bring. I was crying now from the pain and clutching the hand rails of the hospital bed. Pitocin makes your contractions stronger than ones you would have with natural labor. I admire the women that make it through labor without drugs because there is no way I could have managed the pain I was feeling.

The nurse called for the anesthesiologist to come and I think about an hour passed where I was feeling every awful contraction. She came at 2:05 and found that my epidural had come out. So, I got to have an epidural placed all over again in a different spot. Lucky me! She said that since I don't have a ton of fat around my spine, there just wasn't as much padding to hold the epidural in place. I was definitely not as nervous to get the epi this time around because my pain was so intense. I felt incredibly relieved as the tingling and numbness began running down my legs.

Jason was taking all these detailed so that I could write up my birth story, but they become a little less detailed at this point. Sometime between 2:30 and 7:00, I started feeling the same intense pain again, but only on my right side. I just couldn't believe the epidural was failing me again. I was so exhausted and in so much pain. The anesthesiologist came back again and found that the second epidural had made a turn in my spine, so it was only hitting one side of my body (the left). She thinks the second anesthesiologist pushed the catheter in farther in order to prevent it from coming out, but the catheter then went sideways. I didn't have to have it completely redone, but she pulled it partially out and then reinserted it. Relief again came.

At some point in the night, another internal showed I was 7cm. I knew my doctor was coming back on-call within a few hours. I was hitting the shit out of the button in order to manage my pain. When another internal showed I was at 9cm, I was so excited! I would be ready to push soon and put this very long ordeal behind me. The nurses told me to let them know when I felt pressure during contractions. Eventually I did and then they told me to let them know when I felt pressure in between contractions. Well, that never happened.

My doctor came to see me at 9:00 and checked me again: I had been at 9cm for four hours, and my contractions weren't getting stronger or closer together. Although I was doing well in terms of my HR and not running a fever and the baby's HR was good, she recommended a C-section. It just wasn't worth it to keep going and risk distress to the baby or myself and end up in an emergency C-section situation in which I'm knocked out completely. I cried. A lot. I had really wanted a vaginal birth and I had worked so hard and been through so much since my water broke 32 hours before. I didn't want to have a C-section and deal with the recovery. My doctor listened to all of my concerns and she was incredibly empathetic and in this moment, I was so happy that she was my OB and that she was there to do the surgery. She rules. I agreed it was the right thing to do.

I think Jason was relieved that I finally "gave in" to the C-section. He had been really supportive, but I think he just couldn't stand to see me go through this anymore. I could not have asked for more in a partner or labor coach. He said all the right things at all the right times and I could not have gotten through all those hours without him. Once we decided to go with the C-section, he suited up for the operating room.

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To say I was terrified of having the C-section is an understatement. Since they push the pain meds through your epidural and I had so many issues with the epidural throughout the night, I was not confident that the epidural wouldn't come out again. My worst fear was that the epidural would stop working and I would feel the surgery. The anesthesiologist that came on that morning was fantastic. He assured me everything would be okay and he stayed by my head the entire time during surgery and reassured me. They wheeled me into the very bright OR to do the surgery. He gave me the medicine and my OB kept checking with me to see what I could feel. It's so weird-since the drugs block your pain receptors only, you can feel your skin being touched, but you feel no pain.

I was basically catatonic the entire surgery-I just wanted it to be over. It was hard to get excited because I was so fearful of the epidural not working. I could feel them tugging the baby out and then finally, my baby that I was so convinced would be a boy, was born a girl. They exclaimed that she was big and that she was really cute and had gigantic eyes. It was FINALLY over and I had a beautiful daughter. She was 8lb, 21 inches, and perfect.

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After she was cleaned up, I got to hold my girl for the first time. Well, I didn't get to hold her so much as have her placed on me because I had horrible shakes from all the drugs. She was so beautiful, though. Amazing. Miracle. I am so grateful to have a healthy baby.

On her birth day:

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Nine days later at her newborn shoot, courtesy of Lynsey Tedesco Photography (see more pictures here).

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I hope to cover my time in the hospital, how we named her, and more in my next post!






8 comments:

A&A Friese said...

I know I haven't posted in awhile, but I have definately kept up with your blog. Your girl is gorgeous and your birth story is incredible. Great work, you have such a lovely family, congratulations! Your pro picture are stunning!

Paige said...

The pictures from the photoshoot are so great! Congratulations on making it through that labor/delivery...you're tough!

Amy said...

She's just so sweet and adorable! That was a loooong labor :) Man, I know how that is but now she is here, it's all worth it :)

Sarah said...

wowsa, what an ordeal, lady. so glad all turned out well and my oh my you have one beautiful little lady - congrats :)

Jen said...

Beautiful baby and beautiful family. Love the one with Levi and Neptune in the foreground, but also the one with Jason holding Elsa and you looking into his eyes. That one really speaks to me. Sounds like you went through a really difficult labor and birth, but by the looks of things, 100% worth it :)

Two Pitties in the City said...

I knew labor was difficult, but I never knew any of the details, or how absolutely taxing it could be. Your photos are fantastic! My favorite part is how you are incorporating your entire family and remaining a pooch-friendly house. We were just having a conversation with some friends about how so many people banish the dogs to the basement once the baby is born. Beautiful family!

Melaina25 said...

She's lovely! Exact same measurements as Blondie Boy when he was born :)

Julia said...

beautiful story, mary---and love the pictures. you are a champion mommy for enduring your labor and delivery!!