Monday, January 16, 2012

Birth Story

I failed to mention one little detail in my last post.  Financially, it also occurred to me that we wouldn't have to pay the anesthesiologist if I didn't have to see him for an epidural.  We figured that meant we'd save around $1,000.  To bad I didn't know I would end up seeing him after all, just not for the epidural...

For three weeks prior to my daughter's birth, I was 1 cm dilated.  My due date was June 27th.  At what I expected to be my last visit with my OB, he said I was effaced, and he didn't expect to see me the next week at his office, that he'd be highly surprised if I didn't go into labor that weekend.  My husband was church planting at the time, and he had to travel every weekend to the other side of the state.  As naive first-timers, he called the leadership of the new church to let them know he wouldn't be coming because I would surely be in the hospital. 

No baby by Friday.  So we walked...and walked...and walked.  I was certain my feet couldn't handle any more by Sunday evening.  No baby Monday morning.  On Tuesday, June 27, to the OB I went.  He was surprised, and began talking induction possibilities. 

Now "going naturally" to the vast majority of the "natural" community means completely allowing your body to do its own thing.  I think that's wonderful.  Maybe one day I'll be able to do it, but there was there are two factors that have led us to induce every time my body hasn't done its own thing the way we expect.  First, we don't live near family.  In order to have the help a new mom needs, we really kind of have to plan when family needs to come, and none of the grandparents are retired yet, so work schedules also have to be considered.  My parents really needed to go ahead and come if they were coming.  Second, my husband's in ministry.  At that time, he'd already taken one weekend off.  He could take off the coming weekend, and we could for sure have a baby, allowing him to go back the next week without missing a thing. 

Many doctors will tell you pitocin makes labor harder, and many moms that plan to go without pain medication give in because of it.  For my fourth child, I was only the second woman my doctor had ever seen go without meds with the use of pitocin.  This is not me bragging, but it's part of the story.  I felt I could still go ahead and try not to use meds because I'd never had a child anyway.  What difference did I know?  Also, with induction, the baby's heart rate has to constantly be monitored, so there's no getting out of bed, so traditional methods of pain relief, like walking, or changing positions isn't allowed in most hospitals.

June 30, my dad's birthday, my parents arrive in town.  I fix him zucchini bread, place a few candles on it, and we celebrate hoping the baby will come before the induction scheduled the next day.

July 1, we wake up bright and early.  Surprise, surprise, still no baby.  Pitocin, here we come.  The IV was in and running by 8:00 am.  Those first several hours were easy.  I visited on the phone with my in-laws as they traveled to Kentucky to see us.  I visited with my parents in the delivery room while my husband went to get his lunch, thankfully not eating it in front of me.  By noon, I needed to begin to use my Lamaze breathing.  I think I was at 4 cm.  By 12:30, it was time to send my parents out to the waiting room.

It's totally a personal choice, but for me, I just wanted my husband, my doctor, and the nurses in the room with me.  Some people have a whole party, but for us, this was the start of our family, deeply intimate.

My husband was a great coach, even though this was our first go round.  Coach and laborer communication improves with each child.  Still, with #1, he massaged my back and was a constant encouragement.  He helped me count my breaths.  He was going to help me with my focal point, but I ended up closing my eyes with each contraction.

I moved too much.  Never able to get comfortable, the monitor on my tummy kept losing Princess M's heart beat.  The nurse had to insert a monitor into the top of her little head.

Around 4:00 pm, I'd figure, I was at 5 or 6, and I was beginning to question if I could actually do this without pain meds after all.  My husband gently reminded me of my goal without forcing me at all.

A couple of hours later, I was moving into transition labor (7-8 cm), and I was now praying constantly, but especially during now very strong contractions.  This was the time that was so good for me spiritually.  Without pain meds, I was totally feeling my need for dependence on God to bring me through labor.  Knowing that pain in childbearing is a result of the fall, because of sin, I knew I deserved this pain, but praised God for His goodness through all things.  I can't adequately express how special it was to experience this. 

When I was checked and found to be at 9 cm, I actually began to feel the need to push, so my doctor let me.  Five minutes later, at 8:03 pm, Princess M had arrived!  She didn't cry, just looked around.  My first words after she was laid on my stomach, "You're so big!" to which my doctor replied, "Really?" - later to find out she was 7#5oz.  I had only been 5#6oz, so she was big to me.  My husband and I cried.  After I was able to hold her for a few minutes, we watched as they took her across the room for her measurements and to clean her a little.  We were so tickled to see her still not crying, just looking with these huge eyes at us as she took in her new surroundings.   

I was able to nurse her for the first time very quickly after.  Of course, everything went so well because for the time being, she was very alert. 

I still hurt very badly at 9:30 or so when they took me to my room.  I called my friend I talked about Saturday.  Was I supposed to still be hurting?  She told me it'd pass once I got some rest.

By 10:00 my husband and I were doing our best to settled down and sleep.  By 10:30, I was having contractions again and needing to do my Lamaze breathing.  That couldn't possibly be right, and it concerned my husband enough not to bother with using the call button, but for him to go get a nurse himself. 

My nurse thought I must need to empty my bladder, but when she tried to get me out of bed, I just couldn't bear the pain.  She laid me back down and massaged my tummy.  I passed a blood clot the size of the placenta.  I immediately felt much better and thanked her profusely.  But the moment of relief I felt was a moment of major concern for the nurse because she pressed the call button and yelled that she needed help fast. 

By the time her help arrived, I was in pain again.  The two ladies determined I was bleeding internally, but they couldn't see where it was coming from.  The doctor on call was on his way.  I wasn't conscious for all that came next.  I'd waken for a moment, have a wave of pain, and pass out again.  Sometimes, I'd hear my husband saying, "Lauren, stay with me."  The doctor actually liked me sleeping though, because when I'd have those waves of pain, I moved my legs too much for him to work on me. 

As it turned out, as my daughter made her exit, she torn an artery on my vaginal wall.  I bled internally back into my womb, so there was no way for my doctor to see that anything had gone wrong until I began to have contractions from the blood filling my uterus.

I remember thinking, Man, by the time this is taken care of, it'll be time to feed the baby again.  Eventually, they brought papers for my husband to sign to allow me to be given donor blood.  Once that was done, I was taken to surgery.

Here's where it got very serious for my husband, but funny for me.  The loss of blood was keeping me from understanding how serious a situation was going on.  He, meanwhile, was hitting his knees outside the elevator doors praying for God to keep me alive, then calling our parents to let them know they needed to come back to the hospital immediately.

So the funny side: When the anesthesiologist arrived outside the surgical room, he explained that he would need to give me a spinal block so I wouldn't feel the pain while they did surgery to correct the tear.  I had lost too much blood for them to put me to sleep.  He told me he'd be with me throughout the procedure, and for me not to worry because I wouldn't be able to move.  I laughed, and told me him a few hours ago I had thought I was too good for him.  He laughed out loud too!

I also flipped out because I didn't want them to cut my wedding band and engagement ring off.  They calmly put tape on them and reassured me they'd do no such thing.

I passed out, but I awoke in surgery, tilted nearly on my head.  I tried to move my feet but to no avail.  I looked around at all the people in surgical masks.  I found the anesthesiologist, and told him about not being able to move my feet.  He replied, "Remember, I explained that to you a few minutes ago."  Nope, I didn't remember, but went back to sleep. 

When all was said and done, I received three units of blood.  I was taken back to my room to find all my loved ones waiting, including baby girl, who was being given (gasp!) a bottle by her dad.  She was having to wait too long on me to feed her. 

All was well.  God delivered me.  And we took Princess M home on Independence Day, with my hemoglobin at seven.  My doctor assured me that it was a rare thing what I went through, and that I could have all the babies I wanted.  Praise God!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Let's Start at the Very Beginning...

...a very good place to start, right?

Initially, I thought I'd write about breastfeeding first with my return to blogging, but we need a baby to begin.  Before I share my oldest's birth story, it might be helpful to know why I wanted to attempt natural childbirth. 

Even before the baby, there were ideas I had swimming around in my brain about how parenting should be done correctly.  Ha!  Reality begins as soon as you see that bundle of joy.  Some of those ideas stick and others don't go over so well when you're dealing with a real life human being with his or her own ideas.

Throughout my childhood, I had the idea that I would be a working mom until I had all the children I wanted.  Only then would I stay home with them.  My mom had worked until my brother (five years younger than myself) was about six months old.  She then stayed home eleven years.  I also had the idea that I would have plenty of experience in whatever career path I had chosen so that once all of my children were in public school, I could return to the workforce outside the home.  Other than wanting a bigger family, that's really the only "solid" ideas I had before going to college.

I was required to take a childhood development class for my major, elementary education.  Dr. Bob Gaddis was my professor, such a godly man.  In the textbook we used for the class, there were reports of the findings from studies on early childhood (duh!), some of which were about the first year of life and the importance of the early attachment process for children with their moms.  Ironically, while preparing for a career, God convicted me that I needed to be home with my children during their most formative years of life (preschool age) and possibly even longer.  My mind was firmly set.  This wasn't even taking into account how I need to be my husband's helper, and I was completely oblivious to how much work is required to be a pastor's helper.

Now, this class was also a summer course.  I really enjoyed my summer classes, with even smaller groups than normal and more time for discussion.  At some point, Dr. Gaddis talked about being in the room when his wife gave birth to their two daughters.  He spoke with great pride how his wife had given birth both times completely naturally (no paid medication) and one of their daughters had been breech!  He wasn't trying to influence the girls in my class to do the same, but I so loved to see this man so proud of his wife.  I just couldn't help thinking my future husband (then boyfriend - we weren't even engaged) would be so proud of me if I went without medication.  Again, my heels were firmly set.

The next summer, I was married to my husband, and almost three years after that, we had our first child.  In the months leading up to her birth, I became further convinced I could give birth the old fashioned way without pain relievers of any type because of all the other new moms surrounding me.  There were many couples in the same stage of life we were in, with most of the same convictions because my husband was in seminary.  I listened to others' birth stories, heard the joy they felt, both medicated and not.  My best friend from that stage of life had her first child three months before me.  It was fun to be pregnant at the same time, and we were two of four teachers at our school expecting babies one right after the other.  Another very close friend had her first child four months after me.  Again, what fun days those were! 

Anyway, the first friend I mentioned was medically required to deliver her son without the aid of an epidural.  She had time to prepare herself that it just wouldn't be an option no matter what.  After she came through her son's delivery without medication, she encouraged me that I could do it.  I took a Lamaze class with my husband to prepare for the big day.

Birth story to come Monday!  Was that abrupt? I feel as if I'm saying, "Tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel"....

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's Nice to be Missed!

Hey, y'all!  It's been a long time, five or six weeks at least. 

Where have I been?  Through the month of December, everyone had Christmas events and special family time.  I also had a new little job to adjust to and be trained in, and more than anything, I do most of that work during my children's naptime, so my regular blogging time has been filled with other activities.  I have missed writing, and I have missed sharing with my regular readers the things God has laid on my heart to share with younger women and newer believers in particular.  It feels good to have these few minutes now to have a little "visit".

My husband is going to be gone this evening, and I'll be turning in my timesheet for work this afternoon, so I believe I'll be free to write this evening.  I want to give you a heads up on the topics in case you want to make sure to read my new posts or if you want to avoid them altogether.  They can be sensitive subjects, and I don't want to offend anyone.  I do believe, however, that they only way women can be encouraged in these areas is to bring them up.  If you think it may hurt our fellowship, skip over the next few posts. 

Because I'm now a breastfeeding peer counselor, breastfeeding is obviously on my mind a lot.  I'd like to share my experiences with my four children (not a piece of cake, but a joy).  That'll be at least one post.

I'd also like to share my oldest daughter's birth story.  Really, I'd like to share each of my children's stories, but probably not over the course of this weekend.  Some people really get into that sort of thing because life coming into the world is nothing short of a miracle, and each story is unique, but for others, it's just too much information.

I'll say now, and someone may not remember, but I don't think breastfeeding and natural childbirth are what makes good mothers.  A mother's heart for her child to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is what makes a good mother.  Still, if you're curious about breastfeeding and natural childbirth from a real, regular mother's perspective, you should find some of that here in the next few days.