Monday, September 14, 2015

Birth Story of Micheal Sean

Before I begin, I just wanted to add a bit of a disclaimer -- if you know me personally and don't want to picture me along with the "miracle of birth" I am going to suggest that you skip this blog post and stick to the adorable baby photos to come.  When I was pregnant I read through sooooo many birth stories.  Reading what other women went through really helped to prepare me for what was to come.  I hope that perhaps I can do the same for another new mom-to-be out there!
Around 5:45 am on August 5th it all started with the cats.  I feed them around 6:00 am every morning, but they usually start bothering me for food a bit early.
Okay, wait, sorry...I guess I should actually start with the day before  -  August 4th.  I woke up quite early on August 4th feeling very under the weather.  It felt like I had the flu along with the worst period I had ever experienced.  I also had a terrible headache that I just couldn't shake.  My contractions were still irregular,  so I didn't quite think that I was in labour.  I was having a ton of really dull back pain though, so I thought maybe it could be labour and I just didn't know it.  I decided to take the day off of work and I called my doctor.  My doctor wasn't too concerned with the pain and discomfort, but did seem very concerned about the headache.  She told me to wait an hour and if my head still hurt then I was to go straight to the hospital.  Near the end of my pregnancy I was becoming very high risk of developing pre-eclampsia.  So my doctor was worried that I had developed high blood pressure.  I was somehow able to fall asleep for an hour and when I woke up, the headache was gone, so I ended up not rushing to the hospital after all.  Instead I spent most of my day miserable and counting contractions that never got anywhere near regular. By early evening I was feeling better and suggested to Roibeard that we go see a film.  By the end of the night I was feeling really good and even felt that I was up for working my shift the next day.

Okay, so back to August 5th and the cats...the little ones woke me up around 5:45 begging for their breakfast.  As I sat up in bed I felt a trickle...down there.  At first I didn't think too much of it as the same thing happened about a week earlier and it turned out to be nothing more than a dream.  Still, I went to the toilet to check things out and all of the sudden I have a huge, massive, gargantuan gush of liquid pouring out of me (my birth classes claimed this sort of thing only happens in the movies...they lied).  I tried to remain calm as Roibeard was still sleeping.  I came up with a plan - feed the cats, get washed up, and climb back into bed to wake Roibeard up.  As I was getting ready my plan failed as I dropped my deodorant on the floor and it broke and I couldn't find the top half.  Of course this woke Roibeard up and he was asking what was going on.  I wanted to get find the top as I didn't want it to be left on the floor for the cats to lick if we were heading to the hospital.  Then it happened...another huge, massive, gargantuan gush of liquid...this time all over the floor of our spare room.  Roibeard was getting really angry that I wasn't telling him what was going on.  But I couldn't!  This was supposed to be a wonderful exciting thing and instead I was looking for a deodorant top and gushing fluid everywhere.  Finally the gushing stopped and I fast forwarded my plan a bit to tell Roibeard.  I gently nudged him and reassured him that everything was okay...but that he did need to wake up and get dressed because we needed to head to the hospital.  I explained that my water had broken and that I was going to take a quick bath while he got things ready.  I let him know that I wasn't in much pain and didn't have any contractions.  I am so grateful that he just got up and was calm and completely understanding.  I soaked in the tub for a bit while he got ready himself and set out extra cat food dishes and water for the wee ones. We said goodbye to the kitties and headed off on our journey.  Since I wasn't in much pain we actually just took the bus to the hospital.  It was a peaceful early morning trip. 

We made it to the hospital just before 7am and I was immediately taken to triage where they began their assessment.  They had to double check to make sure my water had actually broken and I wasn't just making it up.  Of course, as they checked...whoosh...another gush of fluid came pouring out.  And so I was admitted to the hospital around 7:30am.  I was still only 2cm dilated, so I had a ways to go before anything was going to happen.  Because I was losing so much amniotic fluid so quickly they wanted to start me on Pitocin right away to induce labour. 

And so began all of the ways that my birth plan failed.  I really would have liked to have had either an all natural home water birth or an all natural birth center birth with a certified midwife.  However, those options aren't covered under my insurance.  Also, since I have a previous history of back problems Roibeard and I agreed that it would be best for me to deliver in a hospital in case anything went wrong.  I still had a clear vision of how I wanted my birth to proceed and shared this plan with my doctors and the hospital.  I wanted everything to be all natural without any medication to speed up labour or manage the pain.  I wanted to be able to walk around as much as possible.  I wanted to be able to change positions to help manage the pain.  I also wanted to breastfeed right after birth.  I did try to keep an open mind and understood that a few of these things I may have to compromise on...however, I wasn't planning on all of them changing and so fast.

I refused to let them give me Pitocin to induce labour.  I told them to at least give me awhile to see how things progressed on their own.  I was still only 2cm and my contractions were very irregular.  They agreed to give me a little time.  Roibeard and I got some light rest.  We had the "zen radio station" playing in the background on Pandora to keep the room a calm environment.  I did my best to keep in touch with my family periodically during this time.  (They are all in Michigan, so I didn't have any one there in the hospital).  I tried to change positions a few times so that gravity would help drop the baby down.  This ended up being a huge no no as anytime I moved around the fetal heart rate monitor would slide down and I'd have 10 nurses running to my room to see what was wrong.  So...being able to change positions...out the window.

Once afternoon hit the doctor and nurses came back in and told me they needed to start the Pitocin as I had only progressed to 4cm.  They explained that it was dangerous to keep losing fluid because the baby needed it for when the big moment came. Also, because my blood pressure had been really high all day they had no choice but to treat the situation as if I had developed pre-eclampsia.  They also forbid me from walking and tried to get me to go both number 1 and number 2 in a bed pan.  I had a toilet right there in my room and reminded them that being able to walk around was in my birth plan. Ever since being admitted in the morning I had the feeling of having to poop with no progress.  I didn't want that feeling in the bed.  Also, just sitting on the toilet, even if nothing was happening was really helpful with any feelings of discomfort.  The nurses had to consult with a higher up, but I ended up being cleared to use the toilet on my own.  I had to promise them I wouldn't walk anywhere other than to the bathroom and back though.  Soooo....being able to walk around...that part of my birth plan was gone.  As far as the Pitocin went, I held my own on that.  I had to agree to get Pitocin right after delivery though due to a risk of bleeding out.  Also, as far as inducing labour -- doing nothing was no longer an option at this point.  One of the nurses said that she knew of a midwife who would sometimes use a breast pump to get contractions started.  The doctor made it clear he really didn't approve of this method.  Once the contractions started there was no way to control their intensity.  Whereas with Pitocin they can give me more or less and control them at an artificially perfect level.  I went with the breast pump.

This was the point of no return.  They brought me the breast pump and I was instructed to pump for 15 minutes then take a 30 minute break and repeat.  And it worked.  I was feeling really strong contractions at this point and the feeling like I had to poop was worse than ever and no matter what I did, I couldn't go!!  Roibeard was helping me get through the contractions by massaging and applying pressure to my back.  Most of the pain was felt in my back and it really was quite awful. 

By the time we hit 6pm (12 hours of labour) I was so miserable but kept hoping it would be over soon and I'd be holding the little one in my arms.  At 8pm I was a mess.  The pain had become too intense and when I found out I still wasn't dilating fast enough I gave in and asked them to give me the IV meds.  I felt crushed.  This birth wasn't going as planned at all.  I figured the meds would be enough to get me through until it was time to push.  Wrong.  They did completely take the edge off the pain but also made me incredibly tired.  I managed to sneak in a nap, but woke up as the meds were wearing off...around 10PM.  I agreed to one more dose, which lasted until midnight.  At this point the pain was so bad that I was swearing like a sailor and really upset.  I didn't want another dose of IV meds because I didn't want to be so sleepy when it came time to push.  Things were still progressing very slowly at this point and I knew it was still going to be hours until we had a baby.  I gave in and asked for the epidural...pretty much throwing my whole birth plan out the window.  I feel like if I had been able to walk around and change positions I would have been able to manage the pain.  However, because I was stuck on my back unable to move without 10 nurses running into the room I just couldn't handle the pain.  It was so awful and with no idea of how much longer it would be it was just too much.  I was completely beyond crushed at this point.  I was so worried that the medication would effect the breastfeeding and the bonding. 

I ended up having to get through an entire bag of IV fluids before they could give me the epidural.  The nurse told me it should only take 10-15 min...I knew she was full of it. It took an hour to get through that bag.  That hour between midnight and 1AM seemed to last a lifetime.  I was trying so hard to keep it together, but I was just miserable.  The contractions were coming so fast and were so intense at this point that I didn't have much of a break in between.  I was swearing and shouting and straight up out of my mind.  I felt so bad for Roibeard who wanted nothing more than to help comfort me.

Finally around 1AM the anaesthesiologist came in to start my epidural.  I had never been more excited about being poked with a needle in my entire life.  At the same time though I was still feeling like a complete failure for giving in and going through with it.  I was one huge mixed bag of emotions.  Luckily my epidural was done really well.  I could still feel everything but the pain was really taken down quite a bit.

By this point I was around 6cm dilated.  Not baby time yet.  So once my pain was at a manageable level Roibeard and I both tried to get a little bit of rest. 

At 4am the nurse came in to check me again....BABY TIME!  I was finally, finally, finally fully dilated.  This baby was coming!  Only...nothing happened.  I was told that I was ready but then everyone left the room. Back to nap time it was.  They came in again at 5 to check on me and told me it was almost time. Almost time?  I was ready!  Dilated!  What is with this almost time nonsense? 

Around 6am it was finally time for some practice pushes.  I wasn't expecting so many people in the room...a doctor, a few nurses, and a medical student.  They taught me how to hold my legs and gave me instructions on how and when to push. I wasn't expecting it to feel like a had to take a massive poop.  I guess that's normal. I mean...everyone told me that I probably was going to poop.  But no one told me the pushing would feel like the worst case of constipation ever. The practice pushes weren't too bad, but the discomfort was quite unpleasant.  Roibeard did well to encourage me and keep me in good spirits the best he could.  Around 7am the staff did a shift change, so we stopped and I was instructed to use the pump again to keep the contractions coming.
Once 7:45 hit I had a new staff and we started pushing again.  I did pretty well.  The staff weren't entirely use to having someone push who wasn't on Pitocin.  They had to explain to the medical students that my contractions were the real thing and since they were being regulated by my body and not by medication it was taking a lot longer.  My body was built that way to give me a rest between them. After about 2 hrs of pushing my doctor came in to see how well I was progressing. She noticed that the baby's head was not in the right position.  He was facing sideways.  She told us that she would give us an hour to get the baby's head to turn.  If it was still stuck when she came back then I needed to understand that they were going to take me in for an emergency C-section.  I couldn't believe it.  After being in the hospital for over 24 hrs by this point and spending all of this time pushing and all of the pain I went through before the was all going to come down to a C-section. I felt awful.  Nothing about the birth had gone as planned.  I always knew some things would probably change, but I didn't expect for everything to go wrong!

Luckily the doctor was able to reach up and manually move the head into the correct position.  Phew.  I kept pushing and pushing and pushing...until...finally they could see a head!  I had such a rush of adrenaline knowing that he was right there.  I asked to touch him and they guided my hand...and it was soooooooo goopy....and gross...but oh my gosh it didn't matter because he was RIGHT THERE. The discomfort at this point was indescribable. Still, knowing he was close gave me the strength to go on. 

Then the birth happened.  Around noon I did my second to last push...and then everything went to hell. You have to push on a contraction, right? Well, my second to last contraction wasn't quite enough to get him all of the way out...but it was enough to get his head halfway out....oh my gosh.  Never have I experienced anything more unpleasant or painful in my life.  My contractions were still unpredictable and I had half a head sticking out of my who-ha.  That is when I just lost my mind. I am so embarrassed, but I just panicked.  I started screaming and screaming as loud as I could.  I wasn't controlling my breathing.  I wasn't listening to anyone.  I was shouting.  And I'm pretty certain that I kicked either a nurse or a medical student.  My doctor finally was able to talk some sense into me.  It was tough love, but it worked.  She told me that the reality of the situation was that I had half of baby's head delivered.  This was not good.  The birth was no longer about me.  It was all about him now and I needed to concentrate, be strong, and push.  As out of my mind as I was at that point, what she said got through to me.  I took a deep breath and finally started to feel that contraction coming.  I knew that this was going to be it. One more push then sweet relief.  I let the staff know that I was ready and I gave it everything I had and it worked!  Micheal Sean was born at 12:06 pm on August 6th, 2015. I was expecting a feeling of relief like all of my books had said, but what it really felt like was being gutted alive.  I mean everything just came pouring out.  Baby and fluid and gross stuff.

BUT...once that moment ended I was just so thrilled that Micheal was finally here.  I was smiling and mumbling about how wonderful it was, but I couldn't really see him because Roibeard and all of the medical staff were blocking my view.  I was looking around and I was so confused as to why no one else was smiling.  I had just given birth!  We had a baby boy!  How come no one thought this was amazing?!  Then all of the sudden without any warning the doctor and nurses started pressing as hard as they could on my abdomen.  There was much blood.  Too much blood.  It was awful.  I was screaming.  Finally they told me that the placenta didn't come out so they had to deliver it for me.  Ugh. It was awful.  Remember how just 2 seconds ago I mentioned that there was blood?  Well once they got the placenta out it wouldn't stop.  The nurses were rushing the baby to the NICU and Roibeard went with them.  He later told me that when he left that room he really thought that I was going to die in there and that he would never see me again.

It was a really frightening experience, but I made it through and so did the baby.  It turned out that he wasn't breathing right away when he was born.  He also had a fever, so that's why they took him away. 

Micheal stayed in the NICU the first night and then on and off for the next two days.  I was kept in the hospital for three days as well because I also had a fever when he was born, so they were also monitoring me.

We went home on Saturday, August 8th and were greeted by three wonderful kitties.

And that's our story.  As crazy and awful as it was....(30 hrs of labor with 4 hrs of pushing) I wouldn't change it for the world.  I love the little guy too much.  And what they say is true -- you do forget the pain.  I know it happened.  I can visualize myself in that hospital bed screaming like a banshee, but I really can't remember the pain -- cheese ball alert -- maybe because there's just too much joy now. <3