Friday, July 31, 2015

Alice's Birth Story

I am so excited to share Alice's birth story. Be forewarned that this post may contain lots of medical terminology, nothing too graphic. Also, there are pictures. If you are offended by images of babies being born, you may not want to read. You have been warned. :)

When I woke up on Thursday, July 23, I was still very pregnant...

 {Last bump photo, taken Wednesday, July 22}

I had my 38 Week doctor's appointment scheduled for that morning at 11 a.m. I woke up and ate a leisurely breakfast with M and my mom. We spent some time praying together, which is so amazing to remember when I think back to that day. Just as we were finishing breakfast and coffee, Lucy wandered out of her room with sweet, morning bedhead. We got Lucy breakfast, dressed her, let her go potty, brushed teeth. Around 10:30, we got in the car to head to the hospital OB clinic where I have my doctor's appointments. My mom decided to let the three of us go ahead to my appointment while she made a trip to the grocery store. 

We made it to my appointment on time, which does not happen often. The nurse took my weight and blood pressure and urine sample, as usual. We made small talk with my doctor when she arrived, listened to Alice's heartbeat. Everything looked and sounded great. Then, my doctor measured me.

"That's strange," she said, frowning. "You're measuring 4 weeks behind." 

She checked my measurements from my last appointment. They were normal. She measured me again just to be sure. Same results.

"Let's do a quick ultrasound, just to be safe," she said. 

At this point, I was starting to feel a little concerned. But Alice's heartbeat sounded great, and I had been feeling her move around all morning, so I assured myself that everything would be fine. We got into the ultrasound room, and my doctor squirted cold goo onto my belly. We saw Baby Alice up on the monitor, wiggling around inside of me. My doctor was very quiet as she took some measurements, and I began to grow a little more uneasy. Thankfully, Lucy provided some distraction as she kept pointing to the screen with a long cotton swab (magic wand) the nurse had given her, remarking, "Baby Alice is SOOOO cute!" over and over again.

At last, my doctor explained what was going on. My amniotic fluid was very low. Baby's abdomen was measuring small. It was starting to look like Baby wasn't getting enough nourishment, and maybe there was a problem with my placenta. 

"I know how you feel about induction," she said. "I am so sorry to do this to you, but I really feel like you need to have this baby soon."

I began to feel panicked. Induction was the opposite of what I wanted, and at this point - especially after testing negative for Group B Strep - I thought I was in the clear. I had also convinced myself that we had at least another two weeks to go before meeting Alice. I was not mentally or emotionally prepared. M squeezed my hand. He looked worried, too, but his eyes told me that everything would be fine.

My doctor measured Baby's abdomen again. She checked and double-checked, just to make sure. Originally, she had told us that she would give us the day, that we could come back tomorrow and she would measure me again, just to make 100% sure induction was really necessary. But each time she measured Baby Alice's abdomen, the numbers kept showing up smaller.

"I really don't think I can let you go home," she said. "The good news is, Baby is six pounds. I have every reason to believe that she will thrive outside the womb. She just needs to come out."

My doctor and the nurse left the room to give us a moment to process. I could scarcely form a complete thought, let alone process all of this new information. I felt scared, conflicted, frustrated. Thankfully, M was very calm. He told me I needed to call my mom and ask her to bring my hospital bag. My poor mom was at the grocery store when I told her what was going on. I'm sure she was shocked and concerned, but she just said, "OK! Be there soon."

We tried to be calm as we explained to Lucy what was going on. She was clearly very excited to meet her sister soon, but also concerned that she would not get her usual doctor's visit lollipop. We assured her that she would.

My doctor had already called over to Labor and Delivery to let them know we would be coming. It was 12:30 in the afternoon when we arrived. This might sound silly under the circumstances, but I was starving. I had not had anything to eat since breakfast that morning, and a pregnant lady does not forget when it is time to eat. They immediately brought us back to our birthing room. I donned a hospital gown and provided yet another urine sample. Our sweet nurse explained that we would need to do a Pitocin test to see how the baby would respond.

While we were waiting to get started, my mom showed up with my hospital bag. We laughed about how she had rushed home from the grocery store to put away the ice cream before heading over to the hospital. At this point, Lucy was starting to get a little tired and grumpy, so my mom decided to take her home and let her nap. It was so, so hard to watch Lucy go. For some reason, I was really struggling with the fact that I would not be there to tuck her in and kiss her goodnight. It broke my heart.

I was also mega-hungry by this time. I was crushed when the nurse told me I was not allowed to eat. I convinced her to let me have some bland oatmeal, but what I really wanted was a burrito. Or a cheeseburger.

We did the Pitocin test at 1:30 p.m. Alice tolerated it very well, and I was starting to have some mild contractions. Nothing painful, they just felt like Braxton-Hicks. Around 3:30 p.m., I was given a cervical ripener. I was only dilated to 1.5 cm when I was admitted to Labor and Delivery, so I had a long way to go before I was ready to have a baby. The cervical ripener made me feel really crampy, but I didn't experience any contractions. The plan was to wait four hours and then check me again to see if I would need another dose of the cervical ripener.

Time was passing VERY slowly. I know some women have labors that last for days and days, and I don't know how they do it. I wasn't even in labor, and those hours felt like an eternity. It was a lot of sitting around, feeling very hungry, watching TV. My labor with Lucy was so quick and chaotic and crazy, that there was never any downtime at all. On the bright side, this time was incredibly quiet and peaceful. From our hospital room, we had a beautiful view of the sun setting over the mountains. I finally came to terms with the fact that my labor experience would be radically different this time. I made peace with the fact that I would be getting an induction. I tried not to glare at M while he ate a Chick-fil-A sandwich in front of me.

Finally, at 7:30 p.m., they started me on Pitocin. I was dilated to about 3 cm. By 8:30 p.m., I was having regular contractions, about 1.5 minutes apart. I could still breathe through them silently. Since I had to remain hooked up to monitors the entire time, I wasn't allowed to get into the tub or shower, which was a major bummer at first. But our sweet nurse found me a birthing ball, and I sat on it. M played with my hair and fed me ice chips. Are male doulas a thing? Because he would be great at it.

Around 9 p.m., my nurse told me my doctor suggested we break my water. Things were already progressing pretty quickly, but she thought breaking my water might help Baby move further down and put a little more pressure on my cervix. I was hesitant since I didn't have my water broken with Lucy, but I was also ready for things to move along.

It took the nurses a while to break my water. Apparently, I was indeed running very low on fluid because when they finally were able to break my water, barely anything came out. While the nurses were breaking my water, they checked to see how much I was dilated. I was at 4 cm.

After my water broke, my contractions quickly grew more intense and more painful. With each one, I could actually feel Alice moving further and further down. Also, the monitors that were strapped to my stomach would not stay on. With each contraction, they kept slipping off, so the nurse had me move from the birthing ball back into bed. At this point, I was freezing cold. My whole body was trembling, and I was shivering uncontrollable. The nurse told me that this was a good thing, that this was a common sign of labor progressing into later stages, and she covered me with warm blankets.

Around 11 p.m., I was positive that I was in transition (the most painful part of labor, between 8-10 cm). The nurse checked me.

"You're 7 cm!" she said, sounding enthusiastic. "You're so close!"

I was devastated to hear that I was only 7 cm. With the amount of pain I was experiencing, I could have sworn that I was in transition. Now, it looked like I still had hours left to go. I began to question myself. Could I really handle this? Should I face my fear of needles and ask for an epidural? If the pain was already this bad at 7 cm, how much worse would it be when I was transitioning?

Minutes later, I had an extremely strong, painful contraction. I felt the strongest pressure down below, like I needed to push. Impossible, I told myself. The nurse had just checked me, and I still had a ways to go before I would be ready to push.

I told M about the pressure I was feeling. He looked doubtful too. "Do you want me to go get the nurse?" he asked.

"I don't want you to leave," I told him. I had a feeling things were about to get real.

The next contraction hit, and my body just started pushing. I had absolutely no control over what was happening. At the exact same moment, the nurse happened to pop back into the room for something. (This poor nurse. She was brand new; it was only her second week of work!)

I heard M say, "Hey, she feels like she needs to push."

The nurse came over and checked me, mid-contraction and mid-push, which was pure torture. She barely glanced at me, grabbed the phone, and I heard her say in a panicked voice, "She just went from 7 to complete in ten minutes! This baby is coming NOW!" Then, she immediately hurried from the room to call a doctor (my doctor was still 15 minutes away). M just looked down at me, and I could see it in his face. He was thinking, "I'm going to have to deliver this baby." It felt like a scene from a movie.

We were only alone in the room for probably 30 seconds, but those 30 seconds felt like an eternity. My body was pushing a baby out, and I couldn't stop or even slow down to wait for my doctor, or any doctor, to arrive. Thankfully, our nurse returned with a more seasoned nurse, a sweet, little, old woman who calmly sat right down and took charge.

Since there wasn't even time to put the stirrups up, she had me scoot down to the edge of the bed. With the next contraction, my body gave a hard push, and I felt Baby Alice's head and shoulders slip out. One more push, and her whole body was out. They immediately placed her right on my chest, where she gave her first little whimpering cries. It was 11:19 p.m. (Remember: At 11 p.m. I was only at 7 c.m.!)

I was so shocked, I could not believe it! I looked up at the faces of everyone in the room (including the random doctor who had sauntered in right as Alice was born). They were all just staring on in sheer disbelief. Did that just happen?

Meeting for the first time...

Alice looked so perfect and healthy! Even though she was only six pounds, she received an Apgar score of 8. M cut the umbilical chord, and the nurses suggested I try some skin-to-skin time. Alice opened her big, bright eyes and peered up at me, as if she was thinking, "Oh, it's you."

My doctor arrived for the after-party. We laughed about what had just happened, and she had the fun pleasure of stitching me up (only the smallest of tears this time... hooray!) and pushing down on my abdomen, which made me howl with pain. M told me I didn't make a single sound the entire time I was in labor (and pushing), but I moaned and groaned during the whole afterbirth production. 

The recovery floor was apparently very crowded that night, so we remained in our birthing suite for a long time. I nursed Alice some more, and M went out to find me something to eat. To my utter disappointment, the hospital kitchen was already closed, and there were no restaurants open, as it was after midnight by this time. M had to walk around the block to a Seven-Eleven to find me something to eat. 

So tiny!

Learning to nurse...

Around 3 in the morning, we were finally moved up to recovery. Even though I was pretty tired, I could not sleep a wink. I just wanted to hold Alice and stare at her. In the wee hours of the morning, they took her back to the nursery so she could spend some time under the heating lamp, and only then did my body surrender to sleep. 

Later that morning, my mom brought Lucy to the hospital to meet Baby Alice for the first time...

I thought my heart was going to burst when I saw the two of them together. Lucy looked so big to me all of the sudden, while Alice looked tinier than ever. Lucy looked at Baby Alice and oohed and ahhed over her. I can tell they are going to have such a sweet, precious friendship.

We had to stay in the hospital another night, since technically my first night (when I was in labor) did not count. It was so hard being away from Lucy. M and I both just wanted to go home and let things get back to normal, or the new version of normal. We were finally - FINALLY! - released on Saturday morning.

On the way home...

Home at last!

Even though it was not necessarily the experience I would have chosen, I am so unbelievably thankful that Alice came into the world the way she did. She is healthy, which is all that matters, and she seems to be adjusting pretty well to life outside the womb. My heart overflows with love for this child, and even though it has only been a week, I cannot imagine life without her. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

I will try to post another update soon (with more pictures)!

1 comment:

  1. Such a sweet account of Alice's birth....thanks for sharing!! And CONGRATULATIONS!!!!