Thursday, December 16, 2010

Birth Story

I guess I should write about this birth before the details begin to slip my mind!

As the due date approached I attempted to remain patient but it's hard... when you're just waiting for immanent life change that you can't predict! My little brother kept telling all of us that of course Judah wasn't coming yet, it wasn't his due date. His was the last remaining predicted date... and as it turns out, my punctual little son started his way into the world just after midnight on his due date.

The day before we did a little Christmas shopping and then went up to Plano to a little shopping center that was having a Christmas tree lighting celebration, all free. Petting zoo, carriage rides, Santa, etc. We were enjoying it until we froze, at which point we ran to grab dinner and got back after the Christmas tree lighting but in time to get the last cookies and hot chocolate from the now-abandoned treat station. Then we ran, shivering, through the cold and back to the car. Could it be that my uncontrollable shivering is what moved me into labor?

In any case, I went to bed that night very uncomfortable, as I had  been for the last few nights... or weeks. I actually think I probably had been experiencing contractions but I didn't know what they felt like and so would discount them. I'd heard you could feel the tightening on the outside of the belly by just putting your hands there, so when I couldn't feel that I decided they weren't contractions.

However, as usual I fell asleep early while Isaac stayed up watching his shows on Hulu next to me. I woke up at midnight as he was putting the computer away, and as I lay there in the dark trying to get back to sleep I started to feel the same discomfort and pain that I had been feeling, except more clear and intense and in waves. I was pretty quickly wide awake, still not sure I was actually having contractions but also aware that I wouldn't be able to sleep now that I thought they could be! So I got up, took a shower, blow-dried my hair, and prepped for either an impending birth or church in the morning. By the end of that I was pretty sure they were contractions, and was surprised to find that while they were intense, they were pretty much the same as the four or five episodes of intense cramps I had when I was a teenager. Not fun, but something I could fight through.

I woke Isaac up and told him I thought was having contractions, and initially he was so groggy that he just nodded and said that was good and looked completely phased out. As I continued to describe them to him and then when I had him time them for me and they were 7 minutes apart, suddenly he was wide awake and revved up. We called the doctor on call, who told us to go ahead and come to the hospital, and then we called my mom and told her we were going to head that way. It was a strange thing to feel one moment like I was breathing and concentrating my way through intense pain, and then the next five minutes feel completely fine and excited.
We left the apartment at around 3am and Isaac prayed as we drove away, and it was just... so crazy... knowing we were going to have a baby. In the car we timed another set of contractions and now they were just three and a half minutes apart. From that point it was a surreal whirlwind of everything we'd been told about in the childbirth class we took. Checking into the hospital, being led to a room, changing into the sexy hospital gown, being strapped to a heart monitor and contraction monitor, getting hooked up to an IV, having blood drawn (the bruise from that is taking as long to go away as my stitches are!).

The nurse checked me and said I was fully effaced and three centimeters dilated. She asked me if I wanted an epidural and I said yes, but not yet, though the contractions were certainly getting intense and I was having to really work to focus and breath through them. She came back a little later and sat down and seemed very concerned as she asked me if I really wanted an epidural, because some girls come in and don't want one but are afraid to say so (really?). I reassured her that I did but that I didn't want it to slow down labor so I thought I might wait until I was further along. She then reassured me that I must have amazing genes because while an epidural might slow down some women's labor that is already taking awhile, or labor that is dilating but not at all effaced, I was progressing at a very fast pace and nothing was going to stop me. I told her that would be thanks to my mom, who had me (her first) two and half hours after going into labor.

So I agreed to go ahead with an epidural. I've dreaded the process of getting it, since it's injected into your back and you have to lean over into a funny position to get it. It was, indeed, unpleasant, just like the contractions and having my blood drawn, but while all of them were unpleasant, as long as I know it's all for a purpose and it'll end and I can hold Isaac's hand, I was okay. The epidural took effect quickly, and when I let them know I could still mildly feel contractions on my right side, I was turned a little to my right to let the meds drain over there. Soon I was numb all over, couldn't feel the contractions at all, even when they checked me again and I was seven cm dilated. When my mom arrived we were calmly watching tv and she (6 natural deliveries) couldn't believe how different it all was with an epidural!

Isaac and I both briefly napped and my mom watched the contraction monitor with an eagle eye, and eventually it got so that I could feel when I was having a contraction, not because of the pain but because I could feel definite pressure down below. I thought that the baby's head must be really low, and when the doctor arrived and checked me out he confirmed that and said, "It's time to push!" (at which point Isaac teared up, but he doesn't remember this. :)

Pushing was intense. I know some people still feel pain while pushing, even with an epidural, but I didn't. Just major pressure, and major effort and strain from me. I think that the one down side of the epidural from my perspective in this delivery is that it made it difficult to know exactly how/where to bear down. I had a nurse on one side and Isaac on the other and was holding my breath and straining with all my might when they told me to, but it wasn't until the doc inserted something down there and I could actually feel where he was doing that that I knew a little better how to focus my pushing. So - pushing was exhausting but not painful. Isaac says I pushed for 30 minutes.

The doctor started to get concerned because each time I would push the baby's heart rate would drop dramatically, and they'd have to give me some space after each intense push to get the heart rate back up. They put me on oxygen for his sake, and started to just get a little more tense about making this go fast. The doctor was not my doctor, just the doctor on call, and he was hilarious and ADD and sometimes almost inappropriate! It was sort of perfect for a birth situation though - his jokes and intensity were motivating. One weird thing is that all leading up to the pushing they kept checking to see if my water had broken and they were never sure. I'd never noticed it breaking and they said that it could still be intact, but if so it was stretched so tight that they could barely feel it.  No one ever commented on it, and when little Judah did slip out he came with very dry hands and feet and cheeks, so it does seem like pretty much all the amniotic fluid was reabsorbed into the body and there was almost no water to break.
In any case, as the doctor's concern about the baby's heart rate grew, he began using a little suction and then finally gave me an episiotomy (of which I was totally unaware, but Isaac watched.. ahhh... for some reason the idea of being cut open down there is the weirdest part of it all for me. I still shudder when I think about it), and Judah slipped right out after the doctor reached in and pulled the cord out from around his neck, and my mom cut the cord. That moment when this wailing baby was lifted up after 30 minutes of intense pushing.... realizing that little baby that I can now SEE was mine, my child... I burst into tears there and was unaware of the rest of the labor and messiness as they cleaned me up - I just cried as I watched across the room while they cleaned him up, and as they handed him to Isaac, who brought him to me, and I took him and wondered at his swollen little eyes and squishy little face (which swells during labor). Those moments, caught on camera by my mom, were amazing. Amazing to share with Isaac, to experience... it was really indescribable.

Whew.... all in all, I'd labored about 9 hours from beginning to end, and it seemed fast and relatively easy. The nurses let me have Judah for an hour, and Isaac and I and Mom and Matt all got to hold him, and I got some skin to skin contact and experimented to see if he'd latch on and try eating... and he did! He's been a great eater the whole time, with minimal soreness or complications on my part.

After an hour they took him to do all the tests, etc. that they do, and they wheeled me to recovery, which is really what I suppose I was semi-unprepared for. I knew labor was intense, but the first I really understood about recovery was in the childbirth class we took. It's crazy how much bleeding there is, and I can't imagine what it's like for women who give birth at a birthing center and go home four hours later. I so appreciated those nurses helping me with trips to the bathroom, which were terrifying at first. I blacked out on the first trip, and I carried a fever for 12 hours until they put me on antibiotics. And it turns out you treat stitches and your healing body for several weeks...

Regardless, despite the fact that my midsection felt like dead weight for two days, I felt great otherwise and just eagerly awaited Judah's arrival in my room. The next two days were a whirlwind of doctors, nurses, tests and exams, visits, and paperwork. There was such wonder in each time Isaac and I sat there and looked at the face of our son and attempted to memorize the little features and expressions.



Jaimie said...

That's beautiful. Kacie, that makes me tear up!

CM said...

Thanks for sharing, and those last two pictures are SO sweet! :)

junglewife said...

Thanks for sharing! It is always amazing to hear the story of a baby coming into the world!

The episiotomy was the part that freaked me out the most, too. I think that is the thing that worries me the most about having babies here in Indonesia - I just wonder if they would get me stitched back up properly! I know ladies who have had to go and get reconstructive surgery years later after having multiple babies here in Indonesia. Yikes!

cclarebear said...

crazy. that's intense. i'm a bit... googly-eyed right now thinking about you having a baby.

The Bald Guy said...

Good luck! Congratulations! Bless you all loads!