Dec 22, 2010

I had Grace on August 13th but wanted to repost this on OH for all my OH friends :)

DISCLAIMER: This is a long story and may contain information considered to be "TMI" (too much information) for some because it IS a birth story. Proceed with caution!

 It all began on Thursday August 12th. I had taken the day off from work because I was experiencing some heavy swelling of my face, hands, calves and feet and in general, just feeling kind of fatigued. Kevin took me to my doctor's appointment and we learned that I was dilated 1 cm! This was exciting news, but also nerve racking as I knew I was going to have to do the awful commute to and from work the next day and had no way of knowing whether or not the baby would come while I sat in traffic! Dr. Boenau reassured me that I had at least a week still that I could work so I planned on going to the office the next day.

Once we got home, Kevin and I did our usual routine of dinner and then practicing the Lamaze breathing and pushing exercises. I was having what I NOW know were contractions. They didn't hurt...just my belly tightening now and then. We brushed them off as Braxton Hicks and went to bed by 830 as we were exhausted.

At around 130 am, I kept coming out of deep sleep because I was having back pain. It felt like it was coming in waves, but I chalked it up to the backache I had been having for awhile from being pregnant. Then all of the sudden I was awaken by a gush of fluid and thought to myself " I've peed my pants too!".  I figured I better get up and go to the bathroom to finish before I soaked the bed. So grudgingly I headed to the bathroom (I knew I would have to change the sheets while half asleep LOL) and once there I saw the blood and called for Kevin. Poor thing! He was up and out of bed and by my side in a split second, you would have thought I had screamed bloody murder! He ran to get the cell phone so I could call the doctor. When the on-call returned my message, I told her what I was seeing and she explained that was fine and not to worry. Just for us to head to the hospital. She said I definitely was having a bloody show and may or may not have broken water.  So I then called my mom who headed to my house to ride with us to the hospital.

Now I am 4 weeks early so while I had a hospital bag packed, there were still things that needed to go in there and Kevin raced around the house trying to remember items while I stood in the kitchen breathing through what were now obviously contractions. My mom arrived and was also a bit freaked about the blood (there was ALOT of blood in the toilet). I was the only calm one in the house! LOL  We piled into the car to head to the hospital. We got almost out of the development when I realized I had forgotten my ID and my health insurance card so we headed back to retrieve. My contractions were about 5-7 minutes apart at that point and I was easily breathing through them. Kevin ran into the house to get my stuff and then finally we were off!

Fifteen minutes later we were at Mary Immaculate hospital (a beautiful Catholic hospital in Newport News). Kevin parked outside Emergency since we couldn't remember whether we could go straight to Labor and Delivery after hours. Turns out we could've went right there, so my mom grabbed a wheelchair and pushed me through the hospital and up to L&D. I checked in at the desk at exactly 2:15 am.

The nurse, Donna, took me to a room and had me change into a gown. We all joked the baby would be born on Friday the 13th but Kevin said it was ok because we were in room #7 LOL Then they put me on the fetal monitor to check Grace's heart and also on a pressure sensor so they could monitor my contractions. Donna then proceeded to check me and determined I was about 2-3 cm. She tested the fluid to see if my water had broken and it hadn't. Donna told us we would fill out the admission paperwork since I would most likely be having Grace SOMETIME in the next day. Without my water breaking, there was the potential I could be sent home but she highly doubted that because of the blood I was continuing to leak and my dilation.

After I was checked and all was determined to be ok, I took my IV for a walk throughout L&D, trying to coax my labor along. I had several pretty strong contractions while walking around, snacking on banana popsicles.  Kevin stayed with me and we breathed through them easily! I couldn't believe how well the breathing helped and honestly I still didn't hurt too bad.  After walking around, the nurse brought me a birthing ball (a big exercise ball) and I sat on that, rocking a little to help my hips open. I kept breathing through contractions that my mom and Kevin would see coming on the monitor. They would tell me when I reached the peak which really helped me focus my breathing. This all went on until about 6 or 7 am when Donna came in with the nurse for the next shift (Jill) to check my progress. Jill determined I was 4 cm, 80 percent effaced and Grace was at a station of -1. Great progress!! I would definitely be admitted and Jill encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing so my mom and I took another walk and actually stopped into a room 2 doors down from me where a woman from my Lamaze class was being induced that morning. We talked to her for about a 1/2 hour, pausing to breathe through contractions  LOL So funny. Mom and I then walked back to my room, pausing to pray the Our Father with the hospital chaplain over the intercom and listen to today's Bible reading. I was still feeling pretty good and resumed sitting on the birthing ball and pacing in my room, breathing through contractions with Kevin and my mom.

By about 11 am I was starting to get a little antsy since I hadn't been checked in awhile. The contractions were really getting strong and I was afraid I would miss my window of opportunity for medication if I wanted it because I had no idea how far I had progressed. Kevin got Jill who checked and told me I was 6 cm, 100 percent effaced and Grace was still at -1. Jill told me now would be a great time for either Stadol or an epidural if the contractions were too rough. I had forgotten my birth plan at home which really didn't matter because I was open to anything. Jill laughed and said every time someone HAD a birth plan usually they ended up with a C-section so for me to be happy that I forgot it!

Medication was a tough decision because I was still breathing through the contractions but had no idea how I would handle the last 4 cm I needed to progress, also known as the dreaded "Transition" stage of labor. I was afraid of the Stadol making me loopy and scared of the epidural because my severe scoliosis and I didn't want it to slow my labor down. We talked with Jill and while she thought the epidural would be best, I decided to get the Stadol just so I could take the edge off a bit, knowing I could still get the epidural if I wanted to.

Dr. Boenau then arrived and checked me out and saw my water still hadn't broken! She then proceeded to break my water and said I had a bit of time to go before the baby would arrive. 

Jill brought the Stadol and put it in my IV and boy did the world turn upside down! I was so stoned it was unreal!! I couldn't focus my eyes and felt like I couldn't breathe. It was scarier than going through labor and to top it off, I swore my contractions were getting worse because I could still feel every one of them and boy were they coming hard! It sucked and I would have been better off not taking the Stadol at all! To top it off, the Young and the Restless was on the TV and one of the characters was having a flashback to when their baby was born. Weird watching that while in labor and tripped out! My nurse was awesome though, holding my hand while my mom and Kevin held my other hand, reassuring me that I could in fact breathe and that I was actually breathing more deeply and relaxed than I had all morning which would help things along.

With the labor pain centered mostly in my back, I finally took my arm and wrenched it behind me so I could put my fist in my lower back. Kevin just couldn't put enough pressure there!! My mom freaked a bit because after holding my arm back like that for some time and laying on it, the blood flow in my arm was all jacked up and my arm had turned a purplish red.  My mom thougt it was a bad reaction to the Stadol but the nurse saw it was just from me blocking the circulation! 

Then things start to get a bit hazy because the Stadol wore off and I was in full fledged Transition stage of labor. My teeth were chattering like crazy and my legs were shaking. It was like I was cold but I wasn't. It was so weird. They brought a few blankets to put over me, even though I insisted I wasn't cold. It is amazing what your body does to handle pain. My memories are moments stitched together that don't make much sense but Kevin and my mom have helped me fill in the gaps. I finally had enough with the pain and wanted to see about getting the epidural but had to wait as the anesthesiologist was with someone else. The pain was INTENSE and I wasn't sure I was going to make it. I felt like I was squirming all over the bed but my mom and Kevin tell me I just laid there and groaned in pain. I was still trying to do the breathing but at this point, SLOW breathing and just basically grunting was working best, not the fast patterned breathing I had learned for transition.  

Finally the anesthesiologist came in and told me I would have to sit still and upright for 5-10 minutes so he could administer the epidural. I knew there was NO WAY I would be able to do that because when I sat up the pressure was unreal (it seemed like I had no end to my contractions!). I begged Jill to check me because I swore it felt like I needed to push. She thought there was no way I could be ready to do that but obliged. Turns out I was 10 cm! I had made it to the end without an epidural and basically had gone from 6 cm to 10 cm in a little over an hour! The combination of the Stadol relaxing my body and my water being broke rushed things along faster than anyone thought would happen! The best thing is by the time I reached the point where I couldn't take the pain anymore, I had already made it to 10 cm!

There was a flurry of activity then as nurses came in to break down my bed for me to get into pushing position and scrambled to get my doctor to return to the hospital. Jill told me I needed to blow away the urge to push and it was then that my strength was really tested. I am proud to say I blew away the urge to push for about 20 minutes! Finally Dr. Boenau arrived and got all gowned up. My sister Kelly also arrived just in time to grab one of my legs and help us out! Kevin grabbed my other leg and my mom helped raise my head off the bed as I proceeded to push on my contractions. Pushing relieved the pressure so much that when I had to rest between contractions, I was REALLY able to rest. I did slow breathing and basicaly relaxed my whole body. I was getting in 5 pushes per contraction and progressing fine so my doctor left to check on her other patients who were also in L&D. Turns out my relaxing worked REALLY well in helping Grace move down because I was starting to crown and my doctor was not in the room! Jill yelled for a nurse to go get her and then yelled for another nurse to help her in case I popped her out. Jill looked pretty pissed LOL My mom said she actually put her hand over me to keep Grace inside! To distract me, she told me to reach down because I would be able to feel Grace's head and sure enough I could. It was gross though because it was all slimy and everyone laughed because I said "Ewww!" and pulled my hand away. Grace actually has a mark on her head and I think that is from where my finger poked her head! Once again I had to blow away the urge to push, which I did. My doctor ran in the room, quickly gowned up again. Kevin got in my face and said for me to take all my anxiety, frustration, fears and pain and PUSH HER OUT. So I did! I pushed so hard, Grace pretty much flew out! My eyes were closed but when her head came out the pain was so intense I saw bright white in front of my eyes!! My doctor joked later that she caught her! They tossed her up on my belly and then whisked her away as she didn't cry. They worked on her, suctioning her as my hard push had also forced out a large amount of fluid which Grace swallowed. Finally she started to cry and all was well! Kevin went over to watch them take care of her while my mom and sister stayed with me as they fixed me up. I had a 2nd degree tear so I needed stitches. I was in somewhat of a state of shock and they covered me in warmed blankets and brought me lots to drink since I was so thirsty. I couldn't believe I had done it without an epidural. I had felt the whole thing. I never thought I would be able to do that. 13 hours of labor...unreal. I had no idea the strength I had inside me! It hurt and one of my first thoughts was next time I will get an epidural but honestly by the next day, I couldn't remember what the pain felt like! So weird!!

After all this, Kevin and I were given about 45 minutes of alone time with Grace and it was the most emotionally intense 45 minutes of my life. There was our baby girl, healthy despite her low weight. No respiratory problems or any other premie problems. Just a tiny little thing. What a wonderful moment. I would do it again in a heartbeat.