Sunday, May 12, 2013

Owen's Birthday

It's only fitting that I'd find the time and emotional space to finish this on my first Mother's Day.  I wanted to write this as detailed as possible so that I will always be able to look back and remember this time.  April 30, 2013 was the date of my greatest accomplishment in life so far, the end of nine long months of pregnancy and even longer than that the months of waiting for our precious son to be in our arms.  I'm thankful to Owen Thomas Michael for making me a mother and giving me entrance into the club of women that celebrate this holiday.

We went to our doctor's appointments on Friday, April 26th to have our last ultrasound with the high risk people.  As previously stated, I was diagnosed with fetal macrosomia, which is a medical reason for being induced after 39 weeks.  We met with the scheduler at our doctor's office who called downstairs to Labor and Delivery and set my appointment for 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, 4/28.

I woke up on Sunday morning so ready to rock and roll!  I got really sick on Saturday night after dinner so we had been awake later than planned but I was able to get a solid 6.5 hours of sleep, which was a rarity toward the end of pregnancy.  I even took another 1 hour mini nap before getting up to shower for church.  I felt like drying and straightening my hair since I had no idea when I'd be able to do so again after baby.   We went to church and lunch and did a big lap around the mall window shopping and visiting my old co-workers.  Went home and cleaned up some more around the house and did all of our last minute stuff before picking Adam's mom up at the airport.  My mom came over, we left the doggies with their grandmas and then went to dinner at Cheesecake Factory before heading to the hospital.  We sat at the bar because I was nervous about being late to the hospital and split a Crispy Chicken Costelleta and Oreo Cheesecake.  We had friendly banter with the bartender about being on our way to have our baby!  It was a great meal but in retrospect, I wish we had taken the cheesecake to go to the hospital and ate it a little later.  I ended up with a little heartburn and upset stomach after checking in but managed to keep that last meal down (knowing what I know now, this was crucial).  We checked in, got an awesome room and the first of many amazing nurses to start my induction.  I was given Cervadil, which is a medicine to help ripen the cervix.  Luckily, I was starting early labor and beginning to make a little more progress, which was hopeful after our exam on Friday.  I worked darn hard over the weekend to make those little changes happen!  They also gave me low dose Ambien to help me sleep, which was awesome.  I fought through my last night of terrible pregnancy reflux and slept pretty well before they took us downstairs to Labor and Delivery at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning.  I met my nurse, Cathy, who was this blonde adorable lady.  She struck me as someone who might have been a cheerleader in high school and we set our goal for a healthy vaginal delivery for her shift (that ended at 7:00 p.m.).

When we got there, I was checked and found out that I hadn't progressed much over night, which was super discouraging for me.  I was hooked up to an IV drip of Pitocin and contractions started becoming more regular, frequent and progressively more intense.  Baby was tolerating everything well and they kept upping my doses and my doctor came in and broke my water around 10:15 a.m.  That was an entirely odd experience, to say the least!  Throughout the morning, lunchtime and early afternoon I was making slow progress and as they kept increasing my dosage of Pitocin, I kept feeling more and more pain and intensity with contractions.  I did the first of about 10 billion things that I said I'd never do and had my dad, mom and mother-in-law in the room with us when I could tolerate it.  At some point after 2:00, we had them leave as I was starting to labor harder.

By 4:30, my doctor came to see me for the last time that day and I was still in pretty early labor in the grand scheme of things.  However, my contractions were coming one on top of the other with very short breaks (where I was still feeling a lot of pain) in between.  I knew the on call from my doctor's practice would come in to check me at 6:30 and my next goal was to make it until then before deciding on getting an epidural.  I made it until right before 6:00 before I realized that goal sucked and I really needed to re-evaluate.  Adam and I tried almost every position we'd learned in yoga and birthing class to labor in and nothing was working.  One of my biggest fears with getting the epi was that it would chain me to the bed and I wouldn't be able to move around like I wanted to and a big part of making the decision to get one was that sitting up on the edge the bed and laboring was actually the only position I could tolerate.  After I got sick for the first time, I was starving (shhh, don't tell, I snuck a couple of handfuls of snacks that we'd brought) and really struggling mentally with my slow progress.  One of the only pieces to our birth plan was for me to be in between contractions (and hopefully more in my right mind) when I asked for the epidural because I knew that in the heat of the moment I might ask for one.  I just wanted to make sure I was truly ready.  At right around 6:00, Cathy came in and we labored together through a contraction and when it was over, I just said, "I'm done".  I faced my other big fear with the epi, that it wouldn't allow my body to progress, and despite my initial disappointment I knew I had to do it.  It was just before my 6:30 check with the on call doctor that I got the epi put in and it completely changed the course of my labor.  I was happy that I put in 10 hours of Pitocin and med-free labor but I was still not even to 4 cm, which is where most people start the active labor portion and check in to L&D when they go into labor on their own.  Thinking about it that way is so crazy in retrospect because I'd already felt I'd been put through the ringer and things were still moving so slowly.

Looking back, I definitely had two distinctly different experiences:  the med-free portion and post-epidural portion.  Because I got the epi around 6:00 p.m., it was just before the nursing shift change and right around the time that we started working with the on-call doctor.  It was surreal having Dr. Angel come into the room and talk to us the first time because all signs were pointing to her being the doctor that would be delivering our Owen, whether it was in that L&D suite or in an operating room.

My fears about the epidural were that it would slow down the progression of labor or stall it out, thus guaranteeing me a c-section that night since my water was broken.  When Dr. Angel came in just after 6:30 and I was finally relaxing and getting some rest.  Both she and Cathy agreed that I'd done the right thing and that having the epi would help my body to relax and move forward with labor.  They set my goal for first getting to 4 cm and then progressing one centimeter per hour after that.  Around that time, Cathy left and my new nurse, Laurie came in.  Luckily Dr. Angel was very positive but also realistic in her talks with us.  We knew that c-section was on the table if my body couldn't progress 1 cm per hour.  She did give Laurie to ok to jack the Pitocin level up to really jump start things.  She also agreed that she'd be by every two hours to check on me and we'd continue to move forward from there.  It took FOREVER for my body to get to 4 centimeters!  I think it was at her 8:30 check when we finally hit that milestone.  When she left, we knew we had until 10:30 for my body to get to 6 cm or it was to the operating room with us.  That was scary, knowing that I'd been laboring for 12 and a half hours to move only 3 centimeters and that now my body was really going to have to get moving.  I also realized that Owen was not going to have an April 29th birthday, most likely.  My mom, dad and Adam's mom had gone to dinner and come back.  They hung out with us in our room until just before our 10:30 check.  My body was doing it's part and was at a 6, saving me from a c-section for now.  I was relieved but still frustrated.  We were heading for a long night.  Dr. Angel recommended that we try to get some rest.

I had made a Spotify playlist that we'd been listening to for most of the day.  At one point, I think we had HGTV on in the background but I think that was during the epi-free portion of the day and I was in no shape to pay any attention to Property Brothers and HouseHunters.  As we laid down to rest, I had Adam put a song that I had basically joined Spotify to get, a mantra by Dharma Mittra called Hum Sa.  Hum Sa is one of my favorite mantras (also said as So Hum) and it simply means "I am" or "I am That".  In my weird blend of yoga spirituality and Christian faith, I just love it because it's simple and makes me feel a little closer to God.  I also tend to hum to release energy when I'm really sick, which is why it came to my mind when I was talking to Cheryl, the doula that taught my prenatal yoga classes about my potential labor playlist.  I joined Spotify because I knew that one of my favorite yoga teachers, Carter, would have it in his account and sure enough I was right.  Dharma Mittra is his guru and his version of Hum Sa is a 45 minute track and I've heard it countless times in Carter's classes, most recently when I spent every Monday afternoon from basically 20 weeks pregnant until 34 weeks in class.

When Hum Sa started, Adam laid down on his couch and me in the bed and I fell in and out of a sleeping state that I can really only describe as an extended savasana (for non-yogis, this is the few minutes at the end of your yoga practice where you lay down and quietly meditate).  It's also known as the final relaxation at the end of practice.  I was acutely aware of my surroundings and of the music but I was also not fully awake.  I think Hum Sa was on repeat because I feel like it was still on when I woke up a little more than an hour later with a start.  I yelled for Adam to bring me a barf bag (#2 of the day if you're counting) and to call the nurse.  I don't know why I wanted him to call for Laurie, as I'd already been sick once that day and this was probably barf #1,385 of pregnancy but she came running in because I'm pretty sure they could hear me hurling over the intercom.  Maybe I thought they'd give me another hit of Zofran like they had before?  Who knows now.

Either way, Laurie had this almost excitement about her when she came into the room, which kind of irritated me at the time because I felt like a hot pile of garbage.  As I said before, my labor was almost two different experiences and the change over from Cathy to Laurie was a huge part of that.  Where as Cathy was perfect for my non-medicated portion where I needed someone to be my cheerleader, Laurie was way more mellow and perfect for the time in my labor where I needed to simply relax and allow things to happen.  Laurie explained that being sick was a really good thing and that most people get sick just when they have fully dilated and are getting ready to push.  She said that even though it was more than 30 minutes before Dr. Angel was supposed to come, she was going to check me then anyway.  She checked and looked at Adam and I with a smile and said that I was complete.  For those keeping track, that was my body dilating 4 centimeters in barely over an hour and that also meant that I'd slept/meditated my way through transition, which is considered to be the worst part of labor.  My mind was blown.  It was almost midnight and the reality that we were about to do this thing was really setting in for Adam.

Laurie said that his head was not in the best spot yet and that she wanted me to "labor down" for another hour to see if we could get him to move and to conserve my energy for pushing.  HUGE BUMMER at the time but in retrospect, I appreciate that she had the foresight to slow me down.  That hour went by both slowly and quickly.  At about 1:00 a.m., Laurie started setting up the warmer that was in our room with baby things!  Another nurse came in and set up the "sterile table" and good grief was that ever sobering.  There were a lot of tools on that table that I was hoping we wouldn't have to use.  At 1:00, Laurie thought I still needed to keep laboring in the hopes that the contractions would bring him to an even better spot.  I asked her if I could be in a better position to help further that along.  She and the other nurse moved some stuff around on my Transformer L&D bed and they laid me on my right side with my legs basically in a squat position with one leg being held up by a stirrup.  I'm so thankful that i continued to work out and practice yoga throughout my pregnancy because almost as soon as I moved positions I started feeling those sensations that I'd need to be pushing soon that Laurie wanted me to feel.

We got the all clear to start pushing at a little before 2:00 a.m.  Pushing was an entirely different ballgame of crazy.  As we got started, Laurie said that she'd describe for me how she wanted me to push.  Then it occurred to me that in all the classes we'd taken, no one had ever really talked about that!  Scary.  I pushed holding the backs of my legs for a little while but Laurie installed these little handlebars next to me that I could use to really get my body into it and it made a huge difference and I felt like I was stronger and better able to push.  It hurt so bad to push!  It was definitely like mile 21-26 of the marathon where I had Adam with me and all I wanted to do was walk but he kept pushing me to run or jog.  At one point, I said I couldn't do it and Laurie told me there was no other way and that I had to keep going!  I got sick several times, which really sucked and set us back because I'd have to sit out the next contraction to rest.  Adam also had an oxygen mask for me that I could use to help me breathe between contractions and pushing sets.  When we started, I was pushing in sets of three but at the end, Laurie had me do a fourth push on each contraction to really move Owen out.  A few minutes before 3:00, she called for Dr. Angel.  I remember the doctor coming in and starting to get ready and I told Laurie that I couldn't not push that I had to keep going.

I think Dr. Angel was only there for one set of pushes and I felt Owen's head and then shoulders come out.  The shoulders were what really hurt!  It was just seconds until we heard him take his first breath and cry and then all of a sudden this huge, messy baby was placed on my chest.  I couldn't believe first how big he was and secondly how much of a conehead the poor baby had!  (I didn't realize that the conehead would start going away within a few minutes.)  Adam was crying, I can't remember if I was or not but I was so overwhelmed and freaked out that this perfect little being was what had been inside my body all that time!  A few minutes later, they took him over to get cleaned up.  They weighed him and he ended up being 8 lbs, 8 oz which was almost what the ultrasound from Friday had predicted.  After they cleaned him up, they brought him back over to me.  I think at some point in there, I got cleaned up myself, although I'd rather forget those parts!  We had about an hour after he was born with just the three of us before I sent Adam to the waiting room for the grandparents who had been waiting all day for him to be born.

Looking back, we're not entirely sure how well the epidural worked for me!  It helped me to not feel the strength of the contractions but I definitely felt a ton of sensation that I'd venture to call pain during pushing.  Most of the evening, I could feel one side or the other and we spent time rotating from side to side to help with that.  At one point, we'd even called the anesthesiologist back in but by the time he came, I was feeling ok and didn't really want him to mess with me.  Most people I know didn't feel pain during pushing so I'm not sure what happened there.

We went up to our room around 6:00 or 7:00 a.m.  By the time we left the basement of L&D, the sun was coming up.  The bright side about Owen being born at 3:06 a.m. was that we still had the entire day to celebrate his birthday!

Emotionally, it's Owen's 12th day of life and I am just now able to finish this without completely breaking down into sobs.  I'm just starting to break through the hormonal haze and feeling a little more like myself.  Most of my pregnancy symptoms are long gone and I'm feeling human again.  The places where Owen lived in my ribs and was kicking my ribcage and back are finally healing and feeling less sore.  My upper body hurt for days after delivery because I was using so many muscles to lift my body up to push.  I'm still feeling a little pudgy but I'm enjoying that my belly is soft instead of this protruding  rock-solid structure that got in the way of everything.  Time is definitely healing my wounds and each day that goes on makes me feel a little more "normal" in our new normal.  If you made it this far, you deserve many congratulations!

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