Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Special Delivery

Ah yes... didn't I claim that I would post all about labor and delivery a number of days ago? Apparently I was still delusional about how much time I would spend taking care of my newborn baby boy. But alas- he is sleeping (for now) and I am somehow awake (for now) so I've run to my trusty old laptop and am hoping to get this post knocked out before he wakes up. Thank goodness I'm a fast typer.

Before I get into all of the fun details, I should start by saying that at the beginning of this process I had very specific plans for the way this baby would come into this world. After meetings with a midwife, I wanted a totally natural birth... no drugs, no epidural, and I would labor at home as long as I possibly could or possibly even have a home birth. Then came the blood clot and boy did things change! I remember being in the hospital back in January and looking at Josh and saying, "Honey, my birth plan is out the window. I'll do whatever it takes to get this baby safely into the world." In so many ways, that clot was the best thing that ever happened to me. I decided from that point on to have an open mind and to be flexible and at the end of this process I am not at all disappointed with the way things went. To me, Jacob's birth was perfect and went exactly as it was supposed to go. And nine days later it already seems like a faraway dream that happened ages ago. I already know that I will do it again someday.

But anyway, at 5:45 pm on Sunday, March 14th Josh and I checked in to the hospital. Being a weekend, we had to check in at the Emergency Room and as they wheeled me out, everyone in the waiting room gave us a round of applause. It was oddly exciting to know that we would go up that elevator as two and come back down as three. When we got to the maternity floor, we learned that we were the only ones there. All was quiet and so we were assigned the biggest room on the floor. Nice! Promptly at 6 pm I began my first dose of Cytotek. For those of you who have ever Googled Cytotek, there is some scary stuff on the Internet about it, but we were assured that it was safe. As I have said in previous posts, we have the utmost trust in our baby doctor and he went about my induction that way because it's the closest to natural labor that you can get when being induced. It's a small tablet that is placed next to the cervix and works to dilate the cervix and stimulate the uterus. It does not require an IV, so I was free to roam around as I pleased for the most part. In total, a person can get 8 doses of Cytotek and they are administered every four hours. After getting a dose, I had to lay down for 2 hours for monitoring and then I could get up for 2 hours and walk around, sit, etc. Because of this (and the fact that I was not dilated at all when we checked in), we knew we were in for a long night full of interuptions, but we were in good spirits. The two of us stayed up until about midnight, walking the halls and playing cards when I wasn't in bed. We were both so excited that we could hardly sleep.

Josh practicing his "excited face" for when the baby gets here.

The next morning, the doctor came in and I was dilated to half a centimeter. Let's just say that I was a wee bit disappointed that after twelve hours and three doses we had gone nowhere. At this time, the doc stripped my membranes, which is basically performing a rough exam to manually dilate the cervix and release the hormones and chemicals that get labor going. For those of you who have had this done, I don't have to tell you how much that hurt! Ouch! But my body was not doing it on its own so I happily obliged. Four hours and another dose later, I was only at a two. It was nearing lunch time and my patience was starting to wear a little bit. I had been having minor contractions, but I was not even at the point where we would have left for the hospital had this been a normal labor that started on its own. Instead of feeling them start and stop, I just felt crampy and there was really no pattern to them. So when the doctor came back in right around lunch time, he stripped my membranes again. Fun times. And this time, my water broke. Most of my readers have already had children, so they can attest to the fact that having your water break is one of the weirdest feelings in the world. I had no clue what had happened! They delivered my lunch right after that happened, but needless to say, I had lost my appetite.

After that, I actually started feeling my contractions. Oh what a difference that bag of water makes! Josh was wonderful through it all and put up with my demands of bringing the fan closer to me and then taking it away when I got the chills. After an hour or so of this, I started getting nauseous and threw up. Lovely. The nurse came to check me before my seventh dose of Cytotek (eight is the max) and I had made it to a whopping four centimeters. At this point, I threw my request of natural all the way out the window and said bring on the petocin! It had been sixteen hours and I wasn't even halfway there. I figured since we were hooking up an IV anyway, I might as well get an epidural since I had heard from friends (and many of you) that it allowed you to take a nap. And since I had been up for most of those sixteen hours and knew that I had to push eventually, I needed that potential nap!
It was not long before the anesthesiologist came into the room and began to get me all set up. One of the nurses sat with me and we breathed through the contractions as he explained to Josh everything he was doing as he put it into my back. Once he was done, the nurse pointed to the monitor and said, "Just think, this is the last one you will feel!" We breathed through that next one and I waited for relief. Then the next one came across the monitor and, well, I felt it, too! So okay, maybe that was the last one. But when I felt the next one, we knew that something wasn't right. The anesthesiologist had gone next door to adminster an epidural for another woman in labor (who arrived after me and delivered before me... not cool!) so we had to wait on him. At this point, the petocin had kicked in full force and the contractions were coming on strong. I was doing okay and getting through them until I started throwing up again. Apparently I'm a puker during labor... who knew! He finally came back, readjusted the epidural and the numbness began to set in. I laid down, relaxed, and waited for the nap that I had been hoping for.

I'm not sure what "booster" he put in my drip, but I did not like it! Every time I started to fall asleep I would jerk myself awake because I felt as if I had stopped breathing. I'm not sure if I actually had stopped breathing (I doubt it), but I called the nurse and told her what was going on. Not only that, but my right side was so incredibly numb that I physically had to pick up my leg to move it and my left leg felt like I thought it should as I could still wiggle my toes and move a bit. The nurses checked my vitals and everything seemed normal, but due to the high risk nature of my pregnancy, the doctor had the nurses turn down my dosage until he could get there to see me. About 20 minutes later, he came in to see me and I was doing a bit better. I still hadn't slept, but my breathing did not feel as labored anymore. I was beginning to feel the contractions on my left side, however, so I asked if I could turn the drip back up or if that would make my right side too numb to push. Since I was at a seven (finally I was getting somewhere), he told me that it was up to us since I had some time before I needed to push.

One of my many failed attempts to nap

It was about 9 pm and he guessed that I would be at 10 centimeters around midnight. If I were to opt to turn up the epidural at this point, it might end up being longer. It looked as if little Jacob would not make his way into this world until March 16th. The doc left to go home again, letting us know that he would be back around twelve, and Josh said that the epidural decision was up to me. Feeling like I still needed that nap, I told him that I would hate to prolong this process any longer (it had already been 27 hours since we started this adventure), but I wanted it turned up. We called the nurse and she came in to give me some sweet relief. I'm not sure what prompted her to look, but before she turned it up she took a look at my back. She said, "I'm not sure how to tell you this, but the epidural is no longer in you." Say what?? I tried to stay calm (well, Josh tried to keep me calm as I had a minor panic attack for a moment) and she went to call the anesthesiologist again. Apparently when he had adjusted it, he forgot to tape it up my back again and somewhere along the line it had fallen out. Because my right side had been so overly numb to start with, I was still feeling the effects of it in that side only, but my left side had already started to wear off completely. Josh helped me relax through the contractions while we waited for him to return. When he finally made an appearance again, the nurses checked me to make sure I was still within that magical epidural window and... I was at a 10! Hallelujah! The good news was that it was time to push, the bad news was that it was too late to readminister my epidural, but I did not care. I had gone from 7 to 10 centimeters in 25 minutes and it was music to my ears! They called the doctor to come back (he had just made it home... again!) and we started to push without him.

I remember looking at the clock when I started pushing and it was 10:05 pm. When the doctor came in I told him that I was not going to push for more than an hour. He told me that it could take much longer than that since this was my first baby, but I was bound and determined to get him out of me within that hour window... the process had been long enough as it was! In my opinion, I would choose pushing over contractions any day! Having a "job" to do kept my mind focused on something other than the pain. I did ask at one point why in the world my left side ached so badly and the doctor told me that at this point I was feeling natural labor on the left side of my body and labor with the aid of an epidural on the right side. Most women have to go through labor twice to know the difference (having one baby with and one without an epidural), but I had a perfect comparison right there in my own body! So maybe I did not have the natural labor I had planned on originally, but half natural isn't half bad if you ask me! At some point during the pushing stage I threw up yet again, but the doctor assured me that this was a good thing and actually aided the process. I looked at the clock and it was 10:03 pm... my hopes of being done in an hour were about to be dashed, but that just refueled me and made me work harder. I told myself I had about three more sets of pushes to go.

When the baby started crowning, Josh suited up and prepared to be the catcher. Since our doctor is so awesome (and since we have a friendship with him that goes beyond just being our doctor), he walked Josh through everything from that point on and let Josh do everything to actually deliver our son. Unfortunately for me, I was in my own little world at this point so I kind of missed seeing Josh's reaction to it all. He caught our little one and cleaned him off a bit, which allowed me to snap back into reality again. As soon as he handed that sweet boy to me, I started bawling and could not believe the overwhelming joy and love that swelled up inside of me. I just kept saying, "Hi baby" and "Hello, little one" over and over again... it was certainly one of the greatest moments of my life and one that I will always cherish and remember. I'm not sure how long he laid on me, but after a little while I reluctantly gave him back to Josh so that he could go with the nurses to get him all cleaned up. Since my epidural was completely gone by this point, I was able to get right up and clean myself up before they came back and before visitors came in to see us.

First family moments... it doesn't get any better than this

We spent that night (obviously since I delivered at 11:20 pm) and the next one in the hospital and just soaked it all in. It was such a sweet time that I would not trade for the world as we spent time with our new family, welcoming visitors when they stopped by. There is no greater feeling in the world than holding your baby for the first time.

On St. Patty's Day we packed up our things and headed home. Part of me was sad to leave the hospital as those two days had been so quiet and peaceful, but we also looked forward to taking our son home. I rode in the back seat (as most new moms do I'm sure) and Josh drove the speed limit as we now had precious cargo in the vehicle. It was the perfect spring day, made even better by our new sweet little one.

I can't say that I'm ready to go through it all again any time soon, especially since we are having way too much fun getting to know this little guy, but I do know that it's an experience that I will look forward to in the future. Josh was wonderfully supportive and I have never experienced anything like it in my life. I have heard that loving your child can be a form of worship and after this first week home, I finally understand what that means. The entire labor and delivery process and every day after it has made me understand God's love for us. And that love is one that gets bigger everyday. I am so in love that I can hardly stand it.


  1. KIM! That is so beautiful!!!! I'm in tears! I'm so excited for you guys! I think your story is so wonderful, and such a testament to your strength! And I totally think you had a natural birth - feeling it on one side of your body is still feeling it the whole time!

    Ahhh what a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. So sweet. Congratulations! I look back on the days in the hospital fondly too--I won't be so eager to leave next time!!