Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My birth story

My due date was October 24th, and my doctor not wanting me to go past 41 weeks had me choose a day between week 40 and 41 that if I didn't go into labor naturally by then, that she would induce me.  So Jeremy and I chose Wednesday October 27.  My whole pregnancy Jeremy and I were sure that Noah would arrive early and that I'd never make it to my due date, so needless to say we were surprised when my due date came and went, without any indication that labor was coming.

Therefore we went ahead with the planned induction.  We arrived at the hospital at 12:01 am the morning of Wednesday October 27.  This was such a strange experience... I've always had images of car rides in pain, rushing to the hospital in the heat of labor, hoping that we make it in time... those pictures are quite different from having a calm dinner and watching some TV before making our way to the hospital to "check in".  We arrived at the Labor and Delivery department and were shown to my room.  I promptly changed into a hospital gown while Jeremy took up his post on the sofa bed.  We enjoyed some Bravo TV (a real treat since we don't have cable at home) while my nurse got me hooked up to an IV of fluid, a fetal monitor, and a contraction monitor.  Upon hooking me up to the contraction monitor we found out that I was already having contractions on my own, just not feeling them.  They gave me a pill (that I can't remember the name of) to get my labor started.    Four hours later my contractions were starting to get more intense, and they came back to check on me.  At this point I still hadn't slept at all (probably from the excitement of it all... plus the fact that I was stuck in certain uncomfortable positions due to the monitors).  I was mortified at how much of a production it was just for me to use the restroom... I had to have someone help me un-hook my monitors and IV and role all of the cords with me to the restroom (parading my open hospital gown there), only to have to re-hook-up it all again upon my return.  Normally patients will have up to 3 doses of this pill prior to starting Pitocin, until they've started to dilate well.  There were some problems with how Noah reacted to the pill (his heart rate was dropping), so they were unable to give me another dose to kick start labor, and at this time I was only dilated to 1 cm. 

Next they decided to start me on Pitocin, hoping to get things moving along.  They hooked up Pitocin through my IV.  My contractions continued to get more intense, and closer together, and by this point I was feeling pretty nauseous also.  I think I managed to get 1-2 hours of sleep (in between prodings from nurses) until my doctor came to check on me (around 9 am) and broke my water (which was highly uncomfortable).  Over the next hour my labor continued to get more and more intense and I requested an epidural.  The actual process of getting the epidural wasn't nearly as bad as I expected... probably mainly because I kept my eyes closed in order to avoid seeing the needle.  The worst part of that whole thing was that yet another nurse, and an anesthieologist had to see me baring my body through my hospital gown.

Over the course of the next hour the epidural started kicking in and my legs became numb and tingly, and the pain of my contractions faded.  I was having cold shakes, but was also extremely hot and sweating.  All the while they were continuing to have concerns about Noah's heart rate.  When I either sat up, or laid on either side his heart rate dropped, so I was basically stuck lying flat on my back.  His heart rate dropped frequently after my contractions, which if it had been with the contractions wouldn't have been a concern, but the fact that it was dropping after the contractions led them to believe that there was a problem... possibly the cord was wrapped around him causing the delayed heart rate drop as it constricted him with each contraction.  They continued to monitor me closely, and talk of a possible c-section began.  A little after twelve my doctor returned to announce that the dropping heart rate was too much of a concern to allow it to go on long term.  At this point I was only up to a level of 4 on my Pitocin (most people make it up to 20), and they couldn't increase the Pitocin due to the problems with the way Noah's heart rate was reacting.  I was dilated to 3 cm... basically no where near having this baby, and unable to have any additional medicine to help things along... and unable to be allowed to continue to labor for a long period of time as things progressed (due to the heart rate concern).  So it was decided that I would have to have a c-section.  Everything was such a blur, and happened so quickly.  I was wheeled into an operating room and prepped for surgery (all the while slighly freaking out inside because this is not how I had wanted things to happen, and it was all happening so quickly, and kind of overwhelmingly).  Jeremy was escorted to the operating room, decked in scrubs.

The c-section itself was quite uncomfortable... the feeling of them cutting, pulling and stretching my inner parts was just not great, even with an epidural.. however I'm sure the process of having a baby in any manner is bound to be an uncomfortable process, so in the scheme of things it was fine, and fortunately over in about 20 minutes.  Jeremy was awesome, and continually tried to take my mind off of what was going on and encourage me.  Once Noah was out I was overwhelmed with emotion and tears, someone showed him to me before hauling him off to be cleaned up and monitored (he was in distress in the nursery for a couple of hours due to some fluid in his lungs, but everything turned out well).  Jeremy and Noah went to the nursery while the doctors got to work on stitching me back up.  Jeremy and I met back up in my hospital room so that he could fill me in on everything, and I could emotionally begin to grasp everything that just happened.

Eventually they brought Noah in to us, and I got to hold him.  I found a whole new level of love in that moment... amazing!!!!  A lactation consultant came in to help me with my first nursing, and I was blown away by how God programs us to function, how it is knit into us from within.  This little child just knew how to nurse, no one could have taught him, it was just programmed in him... amazing.  Eventually we were all moved into another room where we would spend the next two and a half days getting to know each other before we were released to go home.

This is definitely not how I pictured Noah's birth going, and definitely not how I would have chosen it.  But everything worked out well, both him and I are healthy, everything went smoothly, and  I'm healing up well.  I figure any birth is going to have some recovery time, it just depends on how you give birth on what body parts and processes are effected.  It's a little discouraging to know that every other baby I have will probably have to be via c-section now, but it could also be comforting to know exactly how my labor is going to go, and what to expect for next time.  In hindsight, there are a lot of things that I probably would have done differently... I probably would have gone to a midwife and birthing center rather than a hospital (not that I didn't like my doctor and hospital, but I think I'm just more of an alternative medicine person).  I would have enjoyed the benefits of a birthing center approach (opposed to the hospital approach) particularly in not having to constantly be hooked up to monitors, and being able to move around freely at my own will... I believe that this would have made my little bit of labor MUCH more comfortable.  I probably would have pushed a lot harder not to be induced, now thinking of all of the people that I know who were induced, and knowing that the majority of them resulted in c-sections also... I think there's something to be said for letting the body progress naturally, in it's timing, and that medical intervention to speed things up tends to lead to more complications.  All of that said, there's no use crying over spilt milk, and I'll do my best going forward to try to achieve the birth experience that I want (while remaining flexible, and knowing that nothing is ever going to go according to my perfect plan).  And to seize hold of the lovely and praiseworthy from this experience, I have a beautiful son, who is perfect in every way, and really what else could I ask for?

A few of my random reflections on our hospital stay...
  • why does a place that is designed for sick and recovering people serve food lacking any real nutrition to its patients?  only once in my three and a half day stay was I actually served a fresh fruit or vegetable with my meal, but they made sure to have a dessert with each lunch and dinner.
  • after more nurses/ doctors then I can count got to see my whole lower body in the buff I found myself not caring at all if I was topless and nursing when anyone walked into my hospital room... I figured they weren't seeing anything worse than anything that EVERYONE had already seen.
  • I was shocked to find that the hardest/ most frustrating part of this whole process for me was recovering... it was the day after the birth, when I was first allowed to get out of bed/ use the restroom/ walk/ shower... I was shocked at how hard it was to do these things, and that I needed so much help to do them.  I was frustrated to the point of tears that I was so dependent on others... I guess I'm a lot more independent then I would have known (or at least I apparently like to think I'm independent).


esther elmer said...

Shannon! First of all, congrats on NOAH! I'm so happy for you guys! When is a good time to call? I remember talking to you shortly after having Isaac! God knew all along you'd have a c-section. It's hard for us to imagine that though! I felt like the second one was easier if that makes you feel any better! Praying for you guys. I'd LOVE to catch up this week!!

Mary said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story. I'm sorry things didn't go exactly as planned/hoped for, but I'm so happy for you guys that everything else has been going so well!

Enjoy cuddling with your sweet little one, and I hope you enjoy your visit with your mom! I'm praying for you guys!

jasjawillis said...

congratulations on your sweet baby boy! There is some grieving over not getting a vaginal birth and I understand that. I definitely felt the same way when I had to have an emergency c-section with my first. I am glad that all is well and that you are home and in love with your baby! Enjoy this period - it was one of the highlights of my life!

Paige said...

Congratulations! As an expectant mother, I loved reading your story and seeing your progression to motherhood. I hope you are enjoying every moment of it!

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

Congratulations Shannon! What a blessing to have a new little one to share your life. There are so many things we learn through these experiences. By the time we were expecting our third baby, there were things that I did NOT want them (the hospital) to do. The biggest question we always asked our doctor was WHY?? Why do you have to do a sonogram?? Why do you have to do vaginal exams in the last four weeks. He could not give us a medical reason, so unless it was medically necessary, we would forgo those procedures. It helps to have a Doctor and/or midwife that is willing to go along with your wishes. We certainly did not want to jeopardize the health and welfare of our baby, but we also knew what you said, that too much intervention sometimes leads down a medical road. Having a baby is supposed to be one of the most natural things for a woman to do. But the best thing is that you are enjoying little Noah. Blessings to all of you, and have a wonderful Christmas!