Saturday, March 28, 2015

how it all went down

I woke up early Monday morning with strong cramping. I had been having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions, especially at night, but they never amounted to anything. These felt different and were not subsiding. I prayed that this was the real thing. I was 4 days "overdue" at this point and really couldn't wait to get this child out of me. He was taking up all the room I had and spilling over into my ribcage, bladder, pelvic area. I was ready for it to end. 

The cramping got worse and worse all morning. I tried to just stay in bed with a heating pad as long as possible or in the bath relaxing. At 1:40 I had a doctors appointment (I would deliver the next day at 1:52). During the appointment I was checked for dilation and was found to be a little bit effaced but not dilated at all. I don't know if my doctor did anything else while she was down there but the cramping and contractions immediately picked up after the appointment. I was really surprised at how quickly things got very painful. I guess I had expected things to progress a lot more slowly and that I would be able to ease into the contractions more. I tried listening to some of my Hypnobabies tracks but I was really not able to focus and put into practice what I'd been working on for months. The back labor was very painful. I would lay over my exercise ball and press as hard as I could with my hands on my hips when each contraction came. I was overwhelmed. For about 30 minutes I just sobbed. I don't know exactly what I was thinking or feeling at the time other than that I felt scared and doubtful of my ability to handle what was about to come. 

I labored at home alone until 7:30 when John got home from work. I had contacted my doula and she suggested I try to keep doing things as normal as possible. She thought I was in early labor and suggested I have some dinner and a bath and try to sleep through the night. John and I ate leftover carne asada tacos and he took over as the one to press hard on my hips with each contraction. It was getting harder and harder to cope. John and my doula felt that I was doing great and was still really handling things well. I tried to convey the strength they were seeing in me but on the inside I thought I was gonna lose it. At 11 Rachel, our doula, came over. She was able to take over with helping me through each contraction so that John could get some sleep. She was wonderful. I do not think I'd have had nearly as good of an experience without Rachel's emotional support, physical help, and knowledge of all the procedures and hospital routine. 

At about 1 AM I was starting to feel like I wanted to go to the hospital. I couldn't imagine making the drive later in any more pain than I was in at that time with each contraction coming about 3 minutes apart. We got our things ready and John packed up the car. While I was using the bathroom for the last time before leaving I felt a couple gushes. My water had broken. It wasn't one big splash, but little gushes when I moved. I put on a pair of depends and we headed for the hospital. Of course the ramp to the freeway we wanted to take was closed but we still got there in good time, about 15 minutes or so. 

Because my water had broken I was immediately admitted to labor and delivery without being checked. I first had to lay on the bed for about 40 minutes of fetal monitoring. It was incredibly difficult. This whole time I had really favored a standing position during contractions, leaning over the back of a chair or something. To lay in bed was brutal. I was starting to feel like a failure at my whole natural childbirth plan. I was eventually able to get up again and move about the room doing whatever felt good to manage the pain. At about 4 AM I started to want to push. It felt really good, giving the nicest temporary relief from the contractions that were coming every minute now. We asked if they would check me, something that hadn't been done yet because of the risk of introducing bacteria and causing infection. They checked me and I was dilated to a 3. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I had really wanted to experience natural childbirth. I had practiced the Hypnobabies method for easier natural childbirth for months. I genuinely loved the program and found it to be such an incredible stress reliever and tool for me during pregnancy. But it was just not working for me during labor. More than wanting a natural childbirth though, I wanted to have a good experience and I didn't feel it was shaping up to be one. I was exhausted. We had been up all night. I was feeling like my mind over matter techniques were not working. I was feeling defeated. I didn't want to carry on that way. So at 4:30 AM I asked to get an epidural. By 5 I was drifting off to sleep comfortably in bed. 

Getting the epidural was the best decision I could have made at this point in my labor. I was so grateful to have felt all the things I felt up until that point but I was so so glad it was over. We all slept for a few hours, getting some much needed rest. I was able to Face Time with my parents in Zambia and let them in on everything that was happening. That was an incredible blessing. I felt so close and connected to them even though we are so far apart. It had been really hard not having them close during my pregnancy and knowing they wouldn't be here to meet their first grandson was hard. So to be able to take that time that would have been impossible without the epidural was a huge blessing. 

At 10 AM I was dilated to a 9 and fully effaced. I wasn't on any pitocin or oxytocin so this was really great natural progress. We waited another 2 hours until I was fully dilated and Gordon was plus 2 station - right ready to push. I pushed for just over an hour - the hardest thing I've ever done in my entire life! And Gordon was born at 1:52 PM on Tuesday, March 24th 2015. He was 9 pounds 1.5 ounces and 22 inches long. There was meconium in the amniotic fluid that I was leaking so as a precaution the entire NICU pediatric team was ready in the back of the room to check him out incase he wasn't crying hard at birth. Gordon came out and was gone to the NICU within a minute. John went with him and was able to go in and see him within about half an hour. Meanwhile I was birthing the 3 pound placenta and hemorrhaging. The bleeding was very intense for several hours. I had expected to be in my postpartum/recovery room within a couple hours of the birth but it ended up being about 6. John and his parents had visited Gordon in the NICU before I was moved to a recovery room and able to go see him. 

It has been 4 days in the NICU for our sweet baby Gordon. Meconium aspiration was not actually the problem after all, but he had extra fluid in his lungs that he was having a hard time clearing. His lungs weren't expanding as they should and his body wasn't getting the oxygen it needed. For a while they talked about intubating him and transferring him to another hospital to be on a ventilator but gratefully he responded to some less invasive treatments and has been progressing slowly but surely. He will likely be coming home with us Sunday or Monday. He lost some weight initially but has already regained it and is eating voraciously. We are just waiting to get the all clear and for him to be circumcised. We're spending a lot of time in the NICU holding him and trying to get in some breast feeding experience before we're on our own. 

Gordon is the sweetest. So far he seems to be a very calm baby. He loves to eat and does not like having his diaper changed. He is content with everything else. He seems to be very easy going and we can't wait to have him home and really get to know him better. This has been a whirlwind and I'm sure things are just going to get crazier, but it's been an incredible experience thus far. We are making the most of having him in the NICU, trying to get as much rest at home as possible. But really, we are just looking forward to starting the real adventure together as a new family. I can't wait! 


Martha said...

Lindsay I love reading your blog, you are such an amazing writer and express your thoughts so clearly. Congratulations to you and your little family for the amazing addition of Gordon. He sounds like a champ already and you are a super hero. Way to go!! Pregnancy and child birth scare me but you made it through and like you said you do it for the love of your little boy. You and John will be amazing parents and I am so happy for you. I hope to meet him soon.

Angela Stevenson said...

Ahhhhh this is awesome! What a great birth story. Props to you for writing it down, I audio recorded mine but never wrote it all down- just bits and pieces. Pushing was hard for me too! And I didn't do epidural but needed pitocin- that back labor is something else I heard. You are an amazing mother and no doubt john is doing his part too! So excited for you all!!!