Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cal's Birth Story

Almost eight weeks later, after a day of no napping, six loads of laundry, and Scott finally taking over and getting the kiddo in bed, I am going to attempt to blog about Cal's birth.

I had spent my pregnancy assuming I would go into labor early. My mom never made it to her due date, and my baby was so big that I thought maybe the due date was slightly off. My friend Mykel called me on November 16 and distracted me with a trip to Ikea, which is just as well, because I was beginning to get decidedly whiny about the prospect of a few more days pregnant. Fortunately, I had an induction scheduled for Monday, November 19th, and my mom was flying in on Sunday night.

Monday morning came with no contractions, so I called the hospital and they let me come in right on time, at 10:30 am. The morning was spent with being checked in and a resident trying to get an accurate ultrasound estimate of Cal's size. He was so active that it was very difficult to get a good reading and they spent over an hour trying to figure it out. The hospital's reading was slightly lower than my OB-GYN's reading of 9-10 lbs, so I was hopeful that maybe he wouldn't be quite as big, although it also made me doubt my decision to have an induction. I also had my first IV inserted. No one had been able to get one in my veins in nursing school, and it proved to be pretty difficult for this nurse, too. (It hurt the whole time and eventually infiltrated). Oh well.

At 3 pm I had my first dose of misoprostol, and I was excited when a few hours later I began having contractions about 15 minutes apart. Scott and my mom were hanging out with me in the tiny room and we ate a bunch of Diddy Riese cookies and tried to stay entertained. I had brought a bunch of books, and my mom had as well, but I couldn't focus on reading. All I could think about was the fact that my baby was coming, although it seemed surreal -- part of my mind felt like it would never really happen.

At 7 pm, I received a second dose of misoprostol. We had dinner, and then Scott decided to go home, because it was looking like I was going to take quite a while before I went into active labor. After Scott left, my mom and I took a walk around the floor. I think we walked around it about 10 times, and I was feeling very disappointed because in the course of that 30 minute walk I had only had one contraction. I wondered if things would ever really get started or if I would get sent home, like one of my friends had earlier that week when she had been induced. However, once I got back in bed, about half an hour before I was due for another dose of misoprostol, I started having contractions hard and fast -- every 3 minutes. They were getting painful very quickly. At this point it was about midnight, and the nurses told me they were getting a labor room ready. I felt guilty for waking Scott up when he had only just left, but my contractions were getting painful and I wanted to wait until I was dilated to a 4 or 5 before I had an epidural and I really wanted him there. He was a good sport and got right out of bed and came.

For the next few hours I waited out the contractions. At first the doctors told me I was going to have pitocin, and I asked if it could wait -- I was in active labor, after all, and didn't see the point of making it harder. Scott helped me through contractions and I spent some time in the shower, which was also nice. After I got out of the shower, I decided I was ready for the epidural. They came in and I was worried that I had waited too long because my contractions were becoming very painful and I didn't know if I could hold still for the needle. Scott held my hands and I tried to take deep breaths as they inserted it. I felt relief a few minutes later, and it was amazing. The doctors came in and checked my cervix, and I was at a 5 -- I had reached my goal! I then fell asleep for several hours (the last sleep I would get for a couple of days).

As the next morning, Tuesday, November 20th, progressed, I began to feel my contractions again. I had a button on the epidural that I could push for more medication, but I wanted to be able to feel the urge to push, so I didn't press the button. My doctor, Dr. Jensen, was in the hospital that day, and it felt much more comfortable having her be the one to check on me and talk with me. At 2:15, they told me I could start pushing. Suddenly I was very, very afraid -- labor had seemed to go on forever, and suddenly it was happening. I was possibly going to have this baby very soon, and it was possibly going to really hurt. Scott gave me a blessing before they came in to have me push, which helped me feel a little less afraid.

I started pushing with the nurse. I could definitely feel the contractions at this point and was pushing as hard as I could. My mom was holding my head, Scott was holding one of my legs, and a medical student who had also been with me the day before was holding the other leg (she was a lifesaver that day. Later I found out she was a doula). After a few minutes of pushing, a swarm of people rushed into the room and epinephrine was pushed into my IV. I had no idea what was going on and started to panic. It turned out that Cal's heart rate had dipped very, very low when I started pushing. Fortunately, the epinephrine had brought it back to a normal rate, but I was starting to feel panicked. The fact that so many people had rushed into the room showed me that it was a serious situation. Dr. Jensen came in and told me they were going to have me rest for an hour and then try pushing again. If Cal's heart rate dropped again, I would need to have a C-section. I became very emotional at this point because I was terrified that something was going to happen to the baby. I didn't want to push again because I was afraid it was something I was doing wrong that had caused Cal's heart rate to drop.

Fortunately, when I started pushing again about an hour and a half later, Cal's heart rate stayed pretty stable, although I had to wear an oxygen mask. For the first hour, my mom and Scott were telling me that Cal was progressing down. They could see Cal's head and his hair. However, as I continued pushing as hard as I could, I could tell that I wasn't making any headway by the expression on Scott's face. I was trying as hard as I could and could feel quite a bit of pain with my contractions, because I still hadn't pushed the button and they had turned down the medication, but I wasn't making any progress. This went on for about two and a half more hours. Dr. Jensen came in and told me that she was off and being relieved by another doctor in the practice. She told me that usually after this length of time I would have to have a C-section, but that I was so close I could probably push for another half hour. At this point I was exhausted and not sure what to do. I didn't want to push anymore OR have a C-section. However, everyone kept telling me I was almost there, so I decided I would keep pushing.

A few minutes later, the doctor came in and told me I needed to have a C-section, that I was not going to be able to deliver Cal vaginally. I was so overwrought I burst into tears. They told me they were going to perform another C-section and that I would be next. They turned up my epidural and told me to rest. A few minutes later, another doctor came in and told me that she would coach me through pushing if I wanted. A few minutes previously, I would have probably been overjoyed, but I had just resigned myself to the C-section, and now the thought of pushing seemed impossible. I thought about it for a few minutes and decided that the C-section was the right thing to do, although I was a little conflicted still.

A few minutes later, an anesthesiologist came in and told me something about needing to turn down the epidural because they would be using a different medication for the surgery. I was pretty muddled and tired and honestly have no idea what the rationale was. I was pretty comfortable for about an hour because they gave me a bolus of medication before turning it down, but then I began feeling my contractions very intensely. At this point they were one on top of the other and they were excruciating. Scott called the front to see how long it would be, and they said about 20 minutes. It was a very long 20 minutes, and I was a little embarrassed because towards the end I was screaming because I was in so much pain. I could have kissed the anesthesiologist when she came in. They had Scott suit up in scrubs and then I was wheeled to the OR. 

The first thing I did upon reaching the OR was throw up all the potassium citrate the nurse had had me swallow. Not a pleasant experience when you are strapped to the table. The doctors began the surgery. I remember Scott trying to look over the drape and the nurses stopping him, even though he promised he wouldn't faint. I felt quite a bit of tugging, and at one point the a doctor said, "Look, he's trying to crawl out!" I would have loved to see a picture of that! I kept straining my ears to hear Cal cry for the first time. When he finally did, I remember thinking that he had the cutest baby cry. I still think he is pretty cute when he cries, although I don't ever want to prolong the experience. Scott jumped up and ran over to the warmer. Cal passed meconium all over me as they pulled him out and then peed on the pediatricians at the warmer. He had quite a bit of gunk in his lungs, and the pediatricians were pounding on his back and suctioning him. I felt left out and wished that I could see him. Scott ran back to me with a picture he had taken with his iPhone. When I saw him I couldn't believe that he was my baby and that he was here. I kept asking how much he weighed, because he was allegedly so huge, but the pediatricians were still working on clearing his lungs. A few minutes later they shouted it out -- 9 lbs. 9 oz and 22 inches long -- in the 95th percentile for weight and the 97th for height. I heard the doctors saying, "He was never going to come out vaginally." It made me feel a little better for deciding to have a C-section.

A few minutes later I started having quite a bit of pain and started to panic, so the doctors had me sedated for about 20 minutes. I woke up and they began wheeling me to the recovery room. Then, finally, I had the chance to see Cal and hold him. I remember feeling so antsy for him to be with me. Even though he was a really big baby, he seemed so tiny to me. He was so cute and I thought that he didn't look like a wrinkly newborn at all. I sang to him when he started to cry a little bit and he calmed right down. While my labor and C-section had been kind of traumatic, that moment meeting my baby made it all worth it. I can't believe he is 2 months old already. 

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