Sunday, 1 June 2014

A healing birth, despite it all.

Anyone interested in a birth story?

Saturday 5/24
The kids went over to my parents house for a little while so Jonathan and I could have a date.  We went to Flying Saucer and had a nice, relaxing, HUGE supper.  (This will be relevant later)  Ana wanted to spend the weekend with Nana and Papa, so after dinner and wandering around at Barnes and Noble for a bit, we picked up Celestia and Zachariah, and went home.  I really enjoyed having henna put on my belly during my blessingway, and had been wanting Jonathan to pamper me a bit, so...
I promise I have shorts on here.  They're just hidden under a baby.  ;)
Belly button sun, heart, and triforce are courtesy of Celestia!  :)
We lounged on the sofa, waiting for the henna to dry, so I could flake it off and go to bed.  All in all, a very relaxing evening, and apparently just what I needed to nudge me into labor.

Sunday morning, 5/25
1:45 AM.  I had not been laying down in bed for very long when I felt a small pop.  I got up, and sure enough, my water had broken.  I called my midwife Kristine, texted the birth photographer Shannon, and woke up Jonathan.  Contractions were beginning at this point, but I had been experiencing weeks of prodromal labor, and they weren't much stronger than those had been.  Kristine advised me to get some rest, and let her know when things really started to pick up.  I went to the restroom in preparation to lay back down and suddenly the contractions were bearing down on me like a freight train.  No build up whatsoever.  I called Kristine back and let her know that there would be no resting tonight.  Jonathan began clearing the living room to set up the birth pool, and I brought in my birth ball to labor on.  I think I tried to help setting up the pool, but honestly did more directing between contractions while rocking on the ball, which I had settled on in the worst possible spot - right between our sofa, and the bookcase, blocking the only walkway into the kitchen.  Lots of climbing over the sofa happened that morning.  Contractions brought on a lot of pressure in my lower back and bottom, making it painful to actually sit on the ball, so I used the arm of the sofa, and one of the shelves on the bookshelf to hold myself up in a squat over the ball until I could settle back down and rock some more.  Shannon arrived first, and began setting up her camera, while also helping Jonathan to fill the pool.  Once that was set up and filling, Jonathan got me some ginger ale with labor aide ice cubes in it.  Later in the day, I would be given juice and a protein bar.  I tried to drink and eat.  Really, I did.  The only thing that sounded remotely nice was ice cold water, which I was apparently only drinking every third contraction or so.  Once the birth pool was filled, I got in, and it felt oh so good.  I was easily able to turn, spin, and rock however I felt I needed to.  Kristine arrived shortly after I got into the water, and Shannon and Jonathan gave her a quick rundown of what was going on.  Shortly after Kristine's arrival, her assistant Margie got there.  Things from this point on are largely a blur for me.  I got out of the water some to go to the bathroom and was instructed to have three good contractions while on the toilet, and also to try sitting backwards.  Those were not fun.  On the way back out to the living room, I stopped and labored for a few minutes on my knees and elbows on the bed, while Jonathan put some counter pressure on my lower back - about the only time I wanted to be touched at all.  I do not like to talk, be talked to, or be touched when in labor at all.  Jonathan was really wonderful the whole time, seemingly knowing what I wanted before I wanted it.  When I opened my eyes to look for a drink, it was already right there.  At one point, my birth team complimented him on how in tune he was with me.  He thought I was sleeping through that conversation, but I heard every word, and was just too involved with laboring to agree with them.  Some time during the morning, I got out of the pool (after a bit of goading by my midwife ;) ) and went for a walk outside.  I walked verrrrry slowly down to my mailbox and leaned over it, rocking my hips with a contraction, stood back up, shuffled to the next mailbox, did the same thing.  Continued to the lamp post on the corner, and discovered that it didn't feel very stable for holding me up.  O.o  We made it a few more houses, and I had to lean over a neighbor's car (thank goodness we know that family and they're friendly), and hold on to Jonathan for a contraction or two, because I was no longer making it to the next mailbox.  I really have no idea what time it was, or even how things unfolded after that.  Apparently there was a water main break, and my neighbor Bethany came with a ton of bottled water, having seen the midwife's car out front.  Super sweet.  :)  Eventually, I began feeling pushy, and pushed in the water, and on the sofa for maybe an hour without much progress, although for several of these, I really felt like baby was moving down.  I also began experiencing pain in my right groin that radiated down my leg.  By this point, I was so worn out.  It was early afternoon, I had been awake since Saturday morning, and the last meal I had eaten was Saturday evening.  My midwife checked my dilation, and my cervix had started to swell.  I got in the pool to try and get some rest, and my contractions spaced out quite a lot.  Finally, we decided that I needed some true rest, and our best option was to transfer to the hospital and get an epidural.  Kristine called a few to see what OBs were on call, to give me a fighting chance at my VBAC, and we decided that Baylor downtown would be the best shot.  The pool was drained, and I went back to laboring on my birth ball while everyone packed around me.  I really should have had some things ready to go, but I didn't want to think about transferring too hard.  Kristine gave me some skullcap tincture to ease my contractions for the rather long car ride ahead.  Shannon went home to get some rest, since the plan was for me to sleep, and that wouldn't make particularly exciting pictures.  When I stood up to leave, there was meconium in my water.  We made our way out of the house around 3:00 in the afternoon.

Sunday early evening, 5/25
4:00 PM ish.  We arrive at the hospital, and I walk into L&D under my own steam.  We check in while Kristine gives them a quick rundown of what's been going on.  I have another contraction or two at the desk and vocalize through it as I'm leaning over and rocking my hips.  They look at Jonathan and Kristine and say "She's dilated to an 8?"  Apparently, I was not nearly as loud as I had thought.  I walked into the room all by myself.  I just want to reiterate this, because I had totally expected to be slapped in a wheelchair, and this was my first indication that I was about to have a completely different hospital experience than I ever had before.  I got into my room, and they asked me if I wanted a hospital gown, or if I wanted to keep the dress that I had on.  I'll keep my own clothes, thanks!  :)  Kristine came over to my bed with a look in her eyes that I knew meant she was going to have to leave.  She had another client who had been laboring all day, and she had to go to that birth.  Honestly, she had done absolutely everything she could at that point, and while I would have liked the extra support, another mama needed her more.  <3  Urine sample was taken, monitors were hooked up, blood was drawn, questions were asked.  All the nurses got a kick out of my henna, and they used it like a map to find Corwin's heartbeat when I shifted and he slipped off the monitor.  When we originally came in, Kristine told them that she'd been finding it around the butterfly.  :)  In all this, it was discovered that my blood pressure was VERY high.  Odd, since I hadn't had any problems throughout my pregnancy, or the 14+ hours I had been in labor thus far.  I also had protein in my urine.  It was decided that I possibly had preeclampsia.  I was advised that this could put me at a higher risk for postpartum seizures (which I knew :( ), and the doctor recommended that I be put on magnesium.  Although, I'm not entirely convinced of this diagnosis, as I had very very minimal swelling, no headaches, and no other indicators until I arrived at the hospital, the numbers off that blood pressure cuff were ALARMING, as was the whispered word across the room "tachycardia".  (Damn me for even knowing those terms.)  We decided it was better to be safe than sorry.  When my blood was drawn (after the nurse had to call in a tech to find a vein) it was discovered that I was seriously dehydrated.  "Your blood is black."  Looking back, that's not particularly shocking as it had been almost 24 hours since I'd had a meal, and around 15 that I had been in labor and not drinking as much as I should have.  Oops.  Really, everyone was trying.  I just couldn't.  In order for me to get an epidural, they had to run a platelet count, so we had to wait a little longer.

I just want to pause here to say that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE we had interacted with thus far had treated me with understanding and compassion.  I'm pretty sure I cried to every nurse and thanked them for being so wonderful.  Not one person gave me snark about being a homebirth transfer, or forced me into any decisions I didn't want to make.  With each and every intervention they recommended, I was given the pros and cons and then asked whether or not it was something I wanted to do.  I could have refused any of the recommendations they had made.  Technically, that is the case anywhere, but that's definitely never how I had felt in the past.  Kate, the nurse who was with me for most of the night was absolutely wonderful, and at one point we had a discussion lamenting the fact that Baylor doesn't allow moms to have their placenta.  She said that's something she's trying very hard to lobby for.  Many of the nurses I talked to throughout my stay there had sought out BUMC because of the work environment and how patients were cared for there.

Time loses meaning in a hospital room.  Once the epidural was placed, I slept, largely unaware of what was going on around me.  My contractions had spaced out quite a lot, and when Dr. Payne, who was to be my OB for the evening came to introduce himself, he recommended Pitocin to pick things back up.  I'm pretty sure I reminded everyone about fifteen times that I was a VBAC mom and wanted a very low dose.  Labor progressed, very slowly.  Corwin's head was at a -2 station, then a -1, then a 0, but my cervix was becoming more and more aggravated.  I was still so tired, the epidural was beginning to lose effect, and I had crossed the 24 hour mark.  One of the times the nurse came in to check on me I threw up, twice.  Finally, I broke down and cried.  I told Jonathan I just couldn't do this anymore.  Even if I had dilated fully, I just had nothing left to actually push a baby out.  I asked him to tell Shannon it was time to come to the hospital.  It wasn't very long after that that the doctor came in to check me and told me that I might eventually dilate fully because I was making progress, but that my cervix was so swollen, there was a high risk of severe damage that would be difficult to repair.  They recommended a cesarean, but even that was not absolutely forced on me.  If I had said no, I fully feel like I would have continued to labor and could have tried to push a baby out.  Knowing how I felt, however, I decided that a cesarean was our best option.  I'd done all I physically and emotionally could.

Monday early morning, 5/26
4:37 AM
After almost 27 hours of labor, Corwin Douglas Martin was born, weighing 9 pounds even and measuring 20 1/4 inches long.  He was immediately taken by the NICU team to have the meconium cleaned off of him, and pooped several more times before they were able to weigh him!  The doctor came over and let me know that I had had some abdominal muscle separation that he repaired for me while he was in my abdomen.  :)  As soon as he was all wiped off, he was brought to lay on my chest and didn't leave again for quite some time.  I was able to hold him as they wheeled me into recovery, and once in recovery, they didn't disturb him at all.  When they needed to take my blood on the arm that he was laying on to nurse, rather than ask me to move him, they drew from my foot.  (Weird feeling, by the way.)

Overall, what I'm sorry I missed:
It would have been absolutely lovely to be able to birth my baby in my home.  To be able to pull him to my chest and say "We did it!"
I'm bummed that my son was several minutes old before I was able to see or hold him.  Shannon was super awesome and took pictures, and brought her camera over to show me.  The first glimpse I got of my son ("Oh!  He looks like Zachariah!") was on a little camera screen, though.
I didn't get my VBAC.


I am so proud of myself because:
I progressed farther in labor than I ever had before.  Always, I had gotten dilated to 4 and stalled.  My water had never ruptured on its own.  I'd always had an amniotomy.
Labor was intense, but the only actual pain I remember is the groin/leg pain I started experiencing right before we left for the hospital.
I know that we did absolutely everything we possibly could to set me up for a successful VBAC.  Why that didn't happen, I don't know, but we absolutely tried our hardest.  We had an amazing birth team, and I worked hard, and that's all I can ask for.


Hip Green Mama said...

So beautiful! Love you, sweet friend.

Mary Bradshaw said...

Love you so much! We are so proud of you! We thank God for your 4 beautiful children! Thanks for sharing your birth story.

mobile said...

I enjoyed reading it! Are you sharing any other pictures, e.g. First pictures or home labor? There is only one picture of me in labor in existence, as my husband took it but was my labor coach the rest of the time.