Saturday, March 19, 2016

My Birth Journey (Part Three)

This is Part Three of my series. You can read Part One here and Part Two here.

I was in active labor for six hours. I could feel G's head descending, but since I wasn't allowed to move, there wasn't much I could do to help the process. The pitocin caused my blood pressure to increase, so they began giving me doses of labetelol trying to bring it back down quickly. It worked just a little too well, because when my blood pressure dropped, the baby's did too, which was unsafe for him.

I am not sure how high or low my blood pressure actually was at this point... they had permanently turned the screen away from me, and they seemed to just be going from turning on the bp cuff to giving shots into my IV. Eventually the doctor and hospital CMP came in and told us that we needed to prepare for an emergency C-section. I asked for a moment with Stuart, then the anesthesiologist came in to place the epidural.

My contractions were so close together that the tech couldn't wait for a break to place it, so I gripped onto Stuart's arms for dear life and tried to hold still. It's funny what fear can do, because I had been shaking uncontrollably, but my terror of having it put in wrong superceded the pain. Even still, they misplaced it the first time & had to do it again (my heart sank when he said the word "again" after he got it in).

After not sleeping, or not sleeping well for almost two days, I was exhausted & the only thing keeping me awake was the pain. Once that wave of anesthetic hit, I couldn't feel anything from my diaphragm down, and my whole body & brain just closed down. Which scared Stuart, who thought something had gone wrong - I was able to mumble, "I'm ok" before they put me onto a gurney & wheeled me to the OR.

One of the most vivid things I remember from the C-section is that the warm blanket they had put across my arms fell off, and my arm was cold. When I tried to take off my oxygen mask, they wouldn't pay attention to what I was saying & just held it back to my mouth. I didn't feel any part of the surgery, except for an odd sensation like when your foot is so numb that you poke it & don't feel the outside sensation, but you can still feel the muscle move.

Stuart & Mom barely had time to get back there before Grant was delivered. I actually didn't know Stuart was there until afterward when I asked the anesthesiologist where my husband was & he pointed to my right hand. My brain was so focused on just waiting to hear the baby's first cry - and it never came. There was this odd grunting sound, and then they announced his delivery, but he didn't cry because there was too much fluid in his lungs & he was in distress. I would later learn that he scored a 3 out of 10 on his APGAR test, and that they had to do a lot of work on him to get the color into his skin. Mom took a picture of Stuart standing over the warming bed, and you can still see the finger marks where they were massaging him.

Meanwhile, they stitched me up, which I could only describe the feeling as "like a bunch of people were trying to catch fish with their bare hands in my stomach". Not quite sure what was actually going on, but that's what it was like. They took me back to my room via the NICU, pushing my bed next to Grant's for a few minutes. I didn't have my glasses on, so I couldn't see him, and he was in a warming bed, so I couldn't touch him either.

They brought me back to L&D, where I got to see all of the family and they went home to sleep. For the next 12 hours, I was under observation to make sure there were no complications from the preeclampsia, like hemorrhaging or seizures. I was moved back to the antepartum ward, and finally made my first attempt to get up on Sunday. It was so strange to feel so weak - this was the first surgery I'd ever had, and between the pain & the meds, I felt like my legs were just sewn on to my body by the cesarean scar.

Finally, on Sunday, over 24 hours after the delivery, I got to visit NICU in a wheel chair. It felt so unreal. I'd had friends whose babies had been in the NICU, but I never thought I would become one of them. There I was, staring through the little plastic door of the warming bed at my baby, wondering if it was ok to touch him. Since I wasn't able to stand, they let Stuart change his diaper, then they lifted the cover off the bed and maneuvered all of G's cords around so I could hold him for the very first time.


We celebrated G's 1st birthday yesterday. He is a hysterical, smart, full of life little boy. I call him my "handful & heart full". My relationship with him has been a journey of it's own, and I'm so glad that S has been right there with us. We love him like crazy, and his laugh can light up even our worst days.

This post is dedicated to two of my many wonderful nurse technicians, a group of amazing women with lots of patience & dedication. To Zdenka, who claimed, "She's mine" when I got back to antepartum - it made me feel pretty good that I was a patient worth fighting over! And to Lauren, who came down to NICU for my blood pressure check & brought my pain meds because you knew I was sitting with G. Your compassion is what makes you a true nurse!

Friday, March 18, 2016

My Birth Journey (Part Two)

This is the second post of a series - you can read Part One here.

I made it to labor & delivery around eleven on Thursday night, and spent twelve hours on the Cervadil. I was dilated 4cm, but not having many contractions, so they gave me the option of Pitocin, or a balloon induction. Since the balloon was more natural I chose it, but I wish I hadn't. Basically, they put a balloon in your cervix, pump it with water, and there are three small tubes taped to your leg. It is painful, and so uncomfortable that you can't sit up or lay on your side really. 

I was able to get about an hour nap leaning over on Stuart on the pull out couch before the contractions started coming harder. I moved back to the bed hoping that Stuart could get some sleep, and I tried to rest between the contractions. I was connected to the fetal monitors, an IV, and a blood pressure cuff that went off every half hour. It was nearly impossible to roll over without messing something up, and I counted time by when the cuff would go off. The nurse had turned the computer screen away from me so the light wouldn't bother me, but there was some comfort in watching my contractions on the screen, knowing that the computer was picking up on my pain. I also tried to will my blood pressure down before the machine took it. If it was over 180 on top, the machine would beep until the nurse came in to turn it off. 

My mom was sitting in a chair next to me dozing when my water broke. I had wondered what it would be like, if I would know when it happened... I'm pretty sure that G head-butted it, because I woke to a huge POW that came over the fetal monitor (like someone thumped a microphone) and a rush of fluid soaking into the sheets around me. It made me yell out & woke Mom and Stuart. We called the nurse who seemed skeptical if it actually was my water, until she had to change the sheets. 

This is where my memory gets a little hazy. They started me on Pitocin & they were giving me magnesium for the preeclampsia. I wasn't allowed to stand up, and they eventually told me I could only lay on my left side because it made my blood pressure too high when I moved. The contractions were hard and very close together - my mom wanted me to count between one ending and another beginning, and all I could ever get out was "one" before I began groaning. She & my student midwife J took turns rubbing my back & bringing warm rice bags to put around me. They had told me the magnesium would make me feel hot & nauseous, but I was shaking so much that my brain told me I was cold. 

The next six hours are a blur - I just remember that someone was always holding my hand, Stuart mainly, but occasionally J or Mom. My husband's family was in the waiting room, and I think they came back once or twice, but I really don't remember. I knew that Stuart was exhausted & didn't feel well, but I couldn't think of anything but that I needed him there to keep me from going crazy. In an effort to ignore the pain, my brain obssesed over the little annoying things - my gown and sheets were wet and irritating, my feet were cold, and all the tubes hanging off my arms & belly made me feel trapped. As long as I could focus on the feel of his thumb rubbing my hand, I could block out the other things. 

Usually in life, we are able to avoid unpleasant situations. I have done my best to steer clear of conflict, and to only take on challenges I knew I could handle. There is nothing that could have prepared me for this challenge, and I certainly would not have thought myself capable of handling this. Today's post is dedicated to my birth "team": Stuart, my moral support, to Mom, my emotional support, and to Jeanne, who did her very best to make me comfortable & reminded me to breathe. 

The picture below is of me right before they took me to labor & delivery.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

My Birth Journey (Part One)

This is my birth story in all it's imperfection... I've been wanting to write it out, and I hope it might either be an encouragement to those who have been there, or to help those who haven't to understand what some mamas are going/have gone through. 

This time a year ago, I was being prepped for an induction after a long journey with pre-eclampsia. I had spent four weeks in the hospital on bed rest. Some days I felt really good, and it seemed useless to be there. Other days my legs/feet were so swollen & my vision was so blurred from the high blood pressure that getting out of bed to go to the bathroom was a struggle.

Almost everyone who came to see me told me how they would have gone crazy. "I don't know how you do it", "I could never do this" etc. In some ways being an introvert was a benefit, because I actually don't mind being alone, and I am pretty comfortable with the same routines every day. But, as an introvert, there was nothing I wanted more than to be *home*. I got tired of having people come in and out, doctors asking questions, everyone asking if I was doing ok. There was nothing that could be done until the baby came, so it was draining to come up with a smile and an "I'm fine".

I would spend half an hour in the shower, enjoying the fact that nobody would bother me in there. It was where I could go to cry and not have to be strong. For a few minutes, I could wash off the nasty hospital feeling & get myself from patient to human again. I probably cried in there every day the last week of my pregnancy - I wanted my bed, I wanted to sleep, and I wanted desperately for this baby to be out of my body so that I could feel better again. And then I would cry some more, because I felt so guilty. Guilty for knowing that the longer he stayed inside, the healthier he would be, and I felt selfish for not caring. Guilty because I knew my husband & family were so completely stressed about me, yet there was nothing I could do to make it better.

When Dr. Boone told us that it was finally time to start inducing because my body couldn't handle the HBP much longer, I was relieved. And then scared. I am the person who wants to be prepared, and nobody had prepared me for this. I hadn't gotten to take my birth classes, I wasn't getting the home birth & midwife I had planned, and I was scared to death of having a C-section. They told me they would let me labor naturally as long as possible, but if anything happened, a C-section was going to be necessary. I tried to push it in the back of my mind, but I read the cesarean chapter of my birth book just in case.

After they started the Cervadil Thursday night, we got ready to move our stuff from antepartum to labor & delivery. You can gather a lot of things in one room over a month! The dietician, Carol, who had been delivering my meals every day teared up when she brought my dinner & found out I was leaving. I had always tried to be pleasant when she brought my breakfast at 6:15am and I was still half asleep, even though eating was the last thing on my list right then. I imagine she didn't receive a pleasant welcome from everyone. When she came over to give me a hug, my mom took a picture of us - I wish that I'd had a picture with so many of the amazing nurses who cared for me.

I'm going to dedicate each post, and today, this is dedicated to Carol, for always having a smile on her face & being a little ray of sunshine in my day.

Part Two coming tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Realty Reality

"Your dog's poop on my front porch makes him so endearing!" said no neighbor ever. We are really ready to move out of our apartment! It's been a good place overall, and the management is great, but we got new neighbors a few weeks ago & they've only solidified the choice we made to find a new place to live at the end of the month.

We looked at two places today - we've looked at a LOT of houses the last month. They are each unique, some more than others. Like the walk in closet with three rows of clothes rods & hooks for jewelry. Or the one where you had to go through the kitchen to get from the living room to the dining room. Today's had a hole poked in the drywall of the closet, which upon further inspection revealed a 2x3' empty space - like a secret closet with no access?

In other news, G. loves to dance to Pandora, which is adorable. It's funny how kids add stress, but they take it away, too.

Monday, March 7, 2016

New Face, New Place

I know it's been about a million years since I've posted. I gave the blog a makeover, and now I'm starting over fresh! The new blog is going to focus on things going on in my life now - being a wife, being a mom, and being in a totally different place in life.

To bring y'all up to speed, here's a brief update:
I got married! I met S. about three years ago & we've been married almost two years. We have adorable baby G. who will be a year old in two weeks! Time really has been flying. Currently we are looking for a new place to live & I'm trying to pack while keeping an eye on G., who is in the process of learning how to walk. He also likes to *unpack*, so we play a two-steps-forward-one-step-back game. :)

That's what's been happening in my world! Keep an eye out for more posts in the future - it's good to be back!