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!

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