Monday, July 16, 2012

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men - Birth Story

Warning: This post is long contains information about labor.  If that freaks you out, stop reading now :)

When Jason and I wrote our birth plan, I knew that I had to keep an open mind.  But I never imagined just how flexible I would need to be.  I truly believed that we would have the opportunity to have a natural unmedicated childbirth experience.  That couldn't have been further from reality.

Friday, July 6th, I went to see Magic Mike with a couple of friends.  I blame that movie for my birth story!  I started feeling pretty yucky during the movie, but was better by the time I got home, so I didn't think much of it.  I woke up Saturday morning with a feeling similar to food poisoning.  Again, I wasn't too worried, but I did want to check my blood pressure since Dr. Collins wanted to keep an eye on it.  Jason and I went to Wal-Mart, and sure enough, it was pretty high.  I called the on call physician at Washington Regional Labor and Delivery and was advised to go ahead and come in to be monitored.

When I arrived, my blood pressure was taken again and it was still high.  They decided to take some blood to rule out pre-eclampsia.  The next time the blood pressure cuff went off was right in the middle of the blood draw, so of course it came back high as well.  The on call doctor came in and let me know that the blood work came back fine, but she was still concerned about my blood pressure.  She felt that since I was already 39 weeks along, it would be best to go ahead and induce my labor.  She did a cervical check and I was not dilated at all.  I knew that I really wanted to avoid an induction, but she let me know that she couldn't release me unless I left against medical advice.  She told me that they would give me a pill to help dilate my cervix and let that work overnight (It was probably about 3 pm when all of this occurred).  The next morning, they would start Pitocin to get contractions going.  I had heard some horror stories about the drug she wanted to use to dilate my cervix and let her know that I really did not want to take it.  She agreed to see if I could progress a little on my own before giving me the Cytotec.

I was admitted around 5 pm, and was hooked up to the monitors and allowed to hang out to basically see what happens.  I was able to progress to 3 cm overnight, so we went straight to Pitocin starting at about 5 am on Sunday morning.  The contractions were bearable and Jason and I were working through it quite well.  The doctors have a shift change, and Dr. Hardman came in around 9:30 to check me again.  I was still just a 3, so she recommended that she break my waters to see if that would speed things along.  I agreed since it did not look like I was progressing.

By 4 pm, my contractions were only about a minute apart and were starting to be pretty excruciating.  I had been rotating between standing, sitting on a birthing ball, and laying in bed on my side for several hours.  Dr. Hardman checked me again, and I was still a 3!  I thought for sure those killer contractions would be doing something, but no!  At this point I was so exhausted and tense. I couldn't relax between contractions because they were so close together.  I knew that it would be difficult for me to progress as long as I was that stressed.  If the pain would have been helping me move along, I think I would have wanted to continue, but I realized that it wasn't looking likely that anything was going to happen.  About the time I told Jason that I wanted an epidural, the doctor made the same recommendation thinking that I may be able to progress if I could only relax.  Jason tried to talk me out of it (I had ordered him to not let me get the epi!). He did a great job, and I know he felt terrible and was afraid I'd be mad at him if he let me give in.

The anesthesiologist came in and explained everything about how the epidural works.  He was amazing and helped me to relax.  Those big needles are scary! It went so smoothly that I almost fell asleep while he was putting it in my back.  Soon after, my legs felt like the were no longer attached to my body.  It was the strangest feeling to touch them - they felt like rubber.  And magically, the pain was gone!  Those epidurals aren't so bad after all!  I fell asleep almost instantly and was finally able to get some rest.  In the next two hours, I moved from a 3 to a 5!  Finally starting to get something done.  Or so I thought.  

At some point in the evening, I started getting a low grade fever.  My awesome nurse Joy let me know that Dr. Hardman wanted to see if I would continue to progress, but if I did not and the fever didn't go down, we may have to start considering a C-section.  This was my biggest fear.  They gave me some antibiotics and left me to see if I could get any closer.  Around 12, I was still a 5, and my fever wasn't letting up.  Dr. Hardman came in and prepped me as to what all was involved with the C-Section.  They had to call in the sugary team because they had all gone home already.  

Shortly after, I was wheeled into the OR.  It was a very odd feeling to be awake knowing that I was being cut open, and the whole thing felt very bizarre.  In the middle of the operation, Dr. Hardman yelled out, "Holy cow, this baby is huge!"  Before I knew it, she was out and crying.  All of the doctors and nurses were chatting about how they couldn't wait to find out what she weighed.  

Jason went with her to the nursery while I was closed up and then wheeled to the recovery room.  They let me know that she was 10 lbs 3 oz!!! No wonder my labor was so difficult!  An hour or so later, I was taken to my room and Jason and Etta Mae met us there.  She was so cute!  I thought when I saw her that she looked just like my brother.

After some nice bonding time, the grandmas came in to meet her.  The next few days were a whirlwind.  Etta Mae is perfect and healthy and I've been recovering better than I expected.  We couldn't be happier.  Our sweet girl is a week old today, and I have no idea where the time went.  We couldn't imagine life without her.

I was so afraid that I would be incredibly disappointed if things didn't go according to the plan.  I just knew I would forever beat myself up about it.  I'm happy to report that I still feel like we had an amazing birth experience.  There wasn't a step along the way that made me disappointed.  I'm just so thrilled that Etta Mae is healthy and happy (especially now that she has worked out her nights and days a little better!).  Our lives are more complete than ever and I wouldn't change a thing!

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