Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Birth Story - Part Two

Read Part 1 of this birth story here.

I downloaded a PDF of the hospital map, then added color-coded and numbered arrows with corresponding directions for myself and Tanner and for my family – with multiple options depending on which freeway traveled and whether parking in the visitors garage or use valet.

And we still ended up in the wrong place.

We got to hospital feeling excited and weird. I felt special and important and ... weird ... walking into the hospital with my big ol' belly and a veeery slooowly mounting, surreal realization that this was really happening. We went to Labor and Delivery, which was apparently wrong. We got led to some kind of "staging" area. I don't remember what it's really called, but I think it's basically the place where they decide if you're far along enough to get a labor room or if you're just a worrisome, over eager first-time mom who gets booted out to labor some more at your house, or Starbucks or wherever.

I was placed in a room to wait for my midwife. I changed into a gown and sat on the exam table where I leaked about a gallon of green fluid. They brought me some towels because that flimsy little tissue paper stuff wasn't gonna cut it and I didn't want to slip 'n' slide off the exam table. Tanner wandered around the halls and found me a "cup" (some kind of measuring container) and some water, which I chugged to keep Ailee floating and the water works flowing.
Shortly after arriving at the hospital
A nurse took some vitals and then Candyce, the midwife on call, came to examine me. I was a little anxious because Candyce was the one midwife I didn't know very well. I'd only had one brief check-up with her. If I had been given a choice, I would not have picked her to be my midwife, simply because I didn't have much of a relationship with her, but thankfully God was in control because she ended up being such a source of strength, calmness and encouragement.

My examination proved I was at 2 cm, not effaced and a whole bunch of other mumbo jumbo I don't remember that basically meant that 12 hours after my membranes ruptured, I was still no where near ready to have the baby. Candyce knew how much I wanted a natural birth, but she had two concerns:

(1) Infection because my membranes were ruptured. Every time they "checked" me (stuck their hands up there and poked around – PAINFUL) the risk increased, so the goal was not to check me unless absolutely necessary.
(2) Meconium aspiration, where the baby breathes the meconium (feces, the green stuff that was in the fluid) into the lungs at the time of birth

Candyce knew how much I wanted a natural birth, but because of those two concerns she told me she would let me labor for 18 hours and if I didn't show signs of progress, she would induce me. That gave me about 6 more hours to try and get my body moving.

We checked into my labor room, which was very nice. I started having some regular contractions. They hurt but nothing too wild. When I wasn't having contractions or peeing green stuff, I was constantly moving to try and stimulate labor. I looked like a serious mall walker making laps around that hospital wing. After about three hours,  I started to get anxious. While my contractions were uncomfortable, I could tell they were not strong enough to make real progress. I knew my body was still in the early stages of labor. I called my friends, Summer Anderson and Summer Petty, who prayed with me over the phone that if it was God's will, my labor would progress so that I could proceed without intervention.

About three hours later, around 7 pm, Candyce came in and checked me again. I can still remember crying because it hurt so bad. I can't remember if I was still a 2 or had moved to a 3 or 4, but regardless, all signs showed not much had changed. Candyce told me she wanted to induce me. I was really heartbroken, but I agreed. In retrospect, I wish I had asked more questions. Our labor class  provided us with great conversation guides for how to make sure you understand all your options, but I didn't even think of all that stuff. I think the risk of infection because my membranes had been ruptured so long was not actually the main concern. I wish I'd asked what was the main concern. I think it was the meconium that concerned them the most, and that was why they wanted to induce after those 18 hrs. I did not research meconium aspiration beforehand and had no idea how serious it could be. I also didn't ask. If there were no meconium involved, I don't see why I couldn't have labored at home longer, not coming in until things had progressed further, even if it was 24 hours or longer after my water broke. The risk of infection would have been basically nil at home. But either way, I was there at the hospital and I just took my midwife's word for it. I trusted that she had my best interest at heart and just went with it. Next time, even though the outcome might have been the same, I will ask more questions and understand better my options.

SO, blah blah blah. I didn't get pitocin right off the bat. Instead I got this pill that is supposed to jump start things, then wear off in about 4 hours. We were hoping my body would kick in and pick up from there. At this time, my labor got stronger and more painful. I had to get strapped to some super annoying belt monitor thing. This bulky, heavy plastic box  attached to a stretchy belt and kept track of the baby's heart beat. It was uncomfortable the way it dug into my skin and since my belly was so big it kept sliding around and had to be repositioned all the time. It also meant I had to stay tethered to the monitor and had to stay in one corner of the room by my bed. (I could take it on and off to go to the bathroom.) So I walked little circles in my room and bounced around in between contractions, which were stronger now.

Prepared in my hospital bag I had: essential oils of lavender (for pain) and peppermint (for nausea). I also brought a wipes warmer and washcloths so I could soak the cloths in water and oil and use them as warm compresses. I mostly ended up sniffing the oils. I also had my iPod with a labor playlist of inspiring Christian songs, a long list of Bible verses, some art I had drawn to encourage me through labor, and some sheets with pictures of different labor positions. I also had a birth ball Candyce brought me. Standing and bending forward over the edge of the bed while while reading verses and squatting down while leaning my back against the ball, which was against the wall, while sniffing my oils helped the most.

I guess it was around midnight that they checked me again and I was only at a 4. Candyce said this wasn’t enough, and I had to get on a pitocin drip. I didn’t ask questions. I had been awake for about 24 hours at this point and I was tired. I was still having meconium fluid and it was getting darker, which I think meant the baby was continuing to have more bowel movements. Pitocin meant I was on an IV drip on a little cart. I was couldn’t walk the halls so I walked the little square in my room. I was still trying to help labor along! Most of what I had read prior to childbirth indicated that most women who get induced with pitocin end up getting an epidural, which I really didn't want. I told both Tanner and Candyce that I wanted to labor without medication after receiving the pitocin.

Long hours with little progress make husband very sleepy.
I did labor for a  while with the pitocin drip for a short while, but labor started to pick up almost immediately and move more quickly. My body didn’t have much time to adjust to the pain, so it was very intense for me. I also was very, very tired. I was doing pretty good with my pain coping, though, as long as I could get into certain positions. The only position that helped ease the pain were to stand and lean over the side of the bed or get up on the bed, get on my knees, and lean over the top of the bed, which was folded up into a sitting position. But, the baby’s heart rate dropped too low several times during contractions while I was in those positions. They told me I had on my side to stabilize the baby, and if its heart rate picked back up after a half an hour or something, I could start moving around again. Being forced to lay motionless on my side during the contractions was excruciatingly painful and because I wasn't able to move around to ease the pain, I felt very helpless and afraid. I began panicking and screaming and crying during each contraction. All the mental pain-coping methods I had learned went out the window, and I was extremely frantic. I had no idea how I could tolerate this pain – which had skyrocketed from a moderate to extreme level in a matter of a half an hour – any longer while lying still in the fetal position, and I started to feel even more afraid, especially knowing my body had a long way to go.

 I was freakin' out, y'all.

Tanner was with me this whole time, supporting me every step of the way. I think he left once to get something to eat from a vending machine. I began considering an epidural and told Tanner and Candyce. Candyce said it might not be a bad idea. She thought I had been awake for a loooong time and my body needed a chance to rest before it would progress. Tanner was so good and tried to talk me out of it. Which I love him for. All during my pregnancy, I had preached to him how I believed an epidural was not best for mommy and baby and that I really didn’t want one. I said he should try to encourage me not to get one if I say I want one. But my pain was so intense, I was so tired, and honestly, I was so confused and a little disillusioned with the turn all these events had taken. In that space and time, I truly wanted an epidural FOR REAL. When he kept asking me, “Are you sure? I’m worried you’re going to regret it. You don’t want one,” I got worried that HE was going to be disappointed in me if I did get one! I was emotional and crying. Finally I convinced him it was what I really wanted. He still seemed unsure, and I was afraid he didn’t support me. Really, he was just doing what I had asked him to do all along. It was a big emotional mess and finally we all agreed I would get an epidural.

Ugh. This is making me tired just typing it all. So I'll wrap up the rest of the story and my reflections on the whole experience next time. 


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