Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Our birth story:

We've been MIA lately. But we have a good reason: baby M is here! Born May 29th at 2:55am, 8 lb. 1 oz., 21 inches long. He's perfect. And we've been spending all our time snuggling him, catching up on sleep, and figuring this whole parenting thing out. Taking care of a newborn is no joke, you guys.

Andrew and I both had very different experiences of baby M's birth. So we will be telling it from both our perspectives. Here's mine:

On Tuesday, May 27th, at around 9:30 in the evening, I started feeling kind of funny. I had cramps and a backache but didn't think anything of it because I had been experiencing these off and on for weeks. Nothing timeable, just sort of a constant ache -- just enough to be annoying. So I did what I always do: relaxed on the couch, drank some water, and went to bed. Usually when I felt like this, if I went to sleep, it'd be gone when I woke up in the morning. But this time I had a hard time falling asleep and when I woke up around 4:00 in the morning, it was still there. Not really any stronger and still nothing that I could time. But it concerned me that it was still there, over 4 hours later. So I called the Labor & Delivery unit at the hospital and spoke to a nurse about what I was experiencing. She told me I was probably in the early stages of labor and to take some Tylenol, drink more water, and wait it out at home. So that's what I did.

I was able to get back to sleep and finally woke up around 9:00 later that morning. I moved back to the couch and tried to make myself as comfortable as possible. Andrew stayed home from work to be ready in case anything happened. We just laid low the entire morning. I watched some TV and had a sandwich. Andrew worked on some things from home.

Around 11:00, I felt like things were starting to change. The uncomfortable feeling I had been dealing with since the night before was starting to feel different -- more like waves of cramps. I could definitely time these and they were coming between 6 to 9 minutes apart. It wasn't consistent though and not unbearable so we decided to wait and see if it changed at all.

By around 1:00, the contractions were more consistent and coming about every 4 to 6 minutes. So I called the hospital again and they said to wait it out if I could. I was afraid of going in to get checked out and then being sent home. So we waited until around 2:30 when things were starting to feel pretty uncomfortable and then we decided to go in. So we grabbed our hospital bag, called my mom to come get Tillie, and off we went.

We got to the hospital at around 3:00 and checked in. While we were in the car, my contractions were coming less than 4 minutes apart and I felt every single bump in the road. I remember the long walk to Labor & Delivery and thinking that this could be the last time we did anything just the two of us; that the next time we walked down that skybridge again, we would be three instead of two. It all felt very surreal.

When we checked in, they sent us to triage where they got me hooked up to a fetal monitor and told me to just wait and see what happened. So we watched a little TV and talked about anything and everything. I was only a 3 when we got there so the nurse suggested we walk around the unit a little to help jump start things. So we did. For 1.5 hours. 1.5 hours is a long time to walk period but try doing it while the size of a whale and contracting every 3 to 4 minutes. Needless to say, it wasn't fun. Things went okay at first. I was able to move pretty well and we were keeping a decent pace but by the end, I could barely walk. My contractions hurt so badly; each one left me feeling light headed and seeing spots. So we finally made our way back to triage and when the nurse checked me again, I was almost a 5 so they decided to go ahead and admit me. We were so excited. We started texting friends and family. This was it. No going back now. Show time.

We got settled in our room and they took my blood, hooked me up to an IV, and gave me a little something to take the edge off the pain until I got my epidural. It was amazing. Seriously, it felt like being drunk. I felt slightly groggy and silly. Shortly after, the anesthesiologist arrived to give me my epidural. It didn't hurt nearly as bad as I had anticipated and gave me instant relief. Whoever invented the epidural should have some kind of statue erected in their honor.

We spent the next few hours just hanging out. Time passed so quickly. I remember looking at the clock and feeling like the hands were just spinning around. Hours felt like minutes. And every time the nurse came in to check on me, I had made progress. Everything was going perfectly. I think she even used the term "textbook". We were on our way! Our son would be arriving soon!

Then I remember starting to feel really nauseated. I was shaking uncontrollably and I didn't know why because I wasn't cold. And I started to get really tired and kept going in and out of consciousness. It was hard to keep my eyes open and focus on anything. People kept talking to me and I had a hard time concentrating on what they were saying.

Sometime after midnight, the nurse came in again and said that she had been watching the baby's heart rate on the monitor and while it was normal for it to drop during each contraction, it was taking a long time for it to come back up. So they gave me oxygen and kept an eye on it. I was dilated to 9 cm at that point. She came back again and I was still at a 9 and still experiencing problems with the baby's heart rate. She started throwing around the word c-section.

Finally, the doctor came in (not my doctor, who was out of town at the time) and looked things over and finally told me that she thought the baby was in distress and that the best course of action would be a c-section. I remember being so tired and having a hard time processing what she was saying. I heard c-section and knew what that meant but was so out of it I didn't really have any other thoughts or reaction. I just said "okay".

So they started prepping me for surgery. I remember drinking some really gross stuff and putting on a hair net. I remember them wheeling me out of the room and down the hall. I remember Andrew's mask and gown. I remember the operating room and the bright lights. I remember telling myself that I absolutely had to wake up and pay attention because this was the birth of my son and I didn't want to miss it. 

They made Andrew wait out in the hall while they got everything set up. They put up a curtain and placed warm towels on my arms. They kept pressing something cold on me and asking if I could feel it. The anesthesiologist kept giving me a play-by-play of what the doctor was doing and what I could expect to feel. Then they brought Andrew in and he sat right by my side. His face looked so nervous and unsure. I don't really remember what we talked about but we talked the entire time. I just kept my eyes on his face. And that's what we were doing when we heard our son. He coughed a little and then started crying. It was such a tiny little voice. I smiled at Andrew because it was all I could do. 

They cleaned him up and brought him over to Andrew to hold while they stitched me up. I remember looking at his tiny little face but I was so out of it I don't remember what I said or what I thought. It was just like "there he is". Once everything was done, the doctor leaned over, told me he was beautiful, and congratulations, and then they moved me to a bed and I got to hold him on our way back to the room. 

Once we were back in our room, I finally got to eat. I chose Cheerios. I watched them give him a bath, do his footprints, and do other tests. I didn't get to hold him for a long time. Then they put him in his little bed and we tried to get an hour or so of sleep. I was completely exhausted. I don't think I've ever been more tired in my life. 

Looking back on the whole experience now, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I'm glad things happened like they did. Obviously something was wrong and I feel that a c-section was absolutely the best decision at the time. He's here and we're both healthy and that's really all that matters. I am grateful that everything went smoothly. I realized things could have been much worse. But on the other hand, I feel a little cheated. I didn't realize how much it mattered to me until afterward. I didn't get to see my son be born. I didn't get to see him take his first breath. I didn't get to hold him right away. Andrew didn't get to cut his cord. I feel like I missed out somehow. It's something that I'm trying to come to terms with but it's almost like I have PTSD or something. When I look at my incision, I feel like it's a battle scar that I earned or something but also, it scares the mess out of me. I'm almost glad I was so out of it when they broke the news of a c-section to me because I didn't really understand what was happening enough to be scared. If I had, I'm sure I would have cried like a baby the entire time.

For Andrew's take on the whole experience (and get ready because it's very sweet), click here

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