Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Calla's Birth Story

After three rounds of pre-term labor at 32, 34, and 36 weeks I was already dilated to 4.5/5 cm and 90% effaced.  On Sunday March 1st I was sitting at home celebrating the fact that I had been able to make it to March, my latest pregnancy goal after the third round of PTL.

I also got bit by the nesting bug and managed to shovel our walk way so I could take out our garbage that had been building up.  I installed the car seat in the car, cleaned the kitchen, cleaned the bathroom, and sorted the recycling.  Then at about 9:30 PM I was finishing up some work in preparation for going on an early maternity leave mid-week.  I finished the last of my employee’s time cards and turned to my husband and said that I had finished all of my work so if anything happened, we’d be good to go.  Literally seconds later I felt a small gush of fluid.  

I jumped up off the computer chair and ran into the bathroom. It was such a small amount that I really couldn't tell if it was my water or if I really had just peed a little. I was waiting for more to come and it really didn't.  I started Googling what a slow leak was like and while I debated if that’s what I was experiencing more and more started coming out.  Clearly, it was my water.  

Since I was GBS+ and we’d been anticipating a pretty fast delivery once labor started due to how progressed I already was I decided to just go in right away.  I called my parents to come up and watch Barrett (19 months old at this point) and decided to just drive myself to the hospital since I hadn’t really had many contractions, leaving my husband behind to watch our son until they arrived. 

I rocked out to "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" during the five block drive to the hospital.  I arrived at the hospital by 10PM.

They got my hooked up to an IV and the monitors, and started the antibiotics around 10:30.   While on the monitor we saw that I was having little short contractions every few minutes, but I wasn’t really feeling them and they weren’t lasting long enough to be causing much cervical change.  My doctor came in and checked me and I was exactly where I’d been when I got checked after my 36 week PTL episode.  The only change was that my membranes had indeed ruptured and I was now fully effaced.  

Eventually my parents got to town and my dad took over watching B so the hubby and my mom could come to the hospital.  MH was very tired so I sent him off into another room to get some sleep.  Mom and I hung out in the room, waiting for contractions to start.  We decided at one point to just start walking and the nurse showed us a loop we could take.  13 rounds on this loop equaled a mile, so Mom and I walked a mile.  I had two strong contractions where I had to stop walking and breath, but they were far apart.  At this point it was almost 2AM so I decided to stop walking and try to get some sleep, hoping I’d be woken up with contractions and by ready to go.

At about 4AM I woke up, on my own, no contractions.  We started walking again, but at this point I was getting frustrated.  After 5 weeks of contractions to not be having any after my water broke was extremely frustrating and concerning.  At 5 AM my doctor came back into the room and gave me the news I knew was coming: I hadn’t progressed and I wasn’t having contractions and we were on the clock.  I needed Pitocin to get labor started and that wasn’t something that could be done at my small rural hospital.  I needed to be transferred 2+ hours away to a hospital that had a full service L&D.  

I went and woke up MH, then sat down in a chair and just cried.  Everything I’d been planning was completely out the window.  I wanted to deliver at at my hometown, I wanted to deliver with my doctor, I wanted my son to be nearby, and now everything was changing.  And for the third time in two months I was being strapped to a gurney and put into the back of an ambulance.  After my good cry I decided to make the best of it and put on my happy face and just go with it.  At this point I didn’t have a choice.

By 5:30 AM we were driving down the road.  About 10 miles outside of town I FINALLY had a contraction.  The EMT riding with us told me her labor kick started in the ambulance due to all of the bumps and shaking, so maybe mine would, too.  I was actually kind of looking forward to one ambulance ride where I WASN’T having contractions, but I also knew that having them now meant things would go better when we arrived at the hospital.  I did jokingly ask if we could just drive up and down the shore a bit and then go back and see if the ride worked... but that wasn’t an option.

We hit the city by about 7:30AM and contractions were getting longer and much stronger.  I noticed I was having a bit of back labor, which I wasn’t too happy about, but again was happy that something was finally happening and was relieved we had finally made it... contractions had shortened to about 5-7 minute apart and I did not want to have any more in the ambulance!

So, shocker... Pitocin was, in fact, not going to be needed to kick start labor.  I do wonder if I would have eventually gone into labor on my own or if the ambulance ride was actually needed to get things going.  Either way, we were ready to get things started for real once I arrived.

Once in L&D things started going pretty fast.  Contractions were getting more and more intense and uncomfortable.  I was off the gurney but hooked up to another round of antibiotics and the monitors and I couldn’t handle either of them.  So many people were coming in and out of the room and I was meeting a bunch of strangers.  Luckily two of my nurses I’d had during previous visits to the hospital, but the doctors and midwife were new.  I was feeling very claustrophobic and panicking.  My mom and husband finally arrived, but since my dad had to go to work MH had to bring B with him.  So he left to go chase him around the halls and watch TV in the family room.  Mom tried her best to keep up with my demands (I HAD to be on the ball, then I HAD to be on the toilet, then I HAD to have my hips squeezed...).  They changed every minute it seemed, and I was still attached to so many things that I could move how I wanted and I was having issues focusing through contractions and putting myself into hypnosis.  The few times I could it was fabulous, but the others times I was very aware I was having back labor.

Finally at 10AM I asked to be checked, hoping beyond hope that I’d be near the end.  I wasn’t.  I was only 5.5 cm.  At most I’d dilated 1 cm though all of this.  I told them I was done.  I’d lost my focus and I was in a place where I didn’t feel 100% comfortable.  I was almost going on over 24 hours with very little sleep and was exhausted.  I asked for the epidural.  Luckily I’d already had a ton of fluids so they were able to call the anesthesiologist right away.  There was no one ahead of me to get one, so I was able to get him up there within about 15 minutes.

By 10:30AM the epidural was placed.  They put a bit in before even hooking me up to the machine saying it would take the edge off.   I still had about three really uncomfortable contractions after getting it placed and was worried it wasn’t going to work right, but they eased my fears and said it would kick in soon.  They were right!  Within 10 minutes I was feeling the contractions a little bit on the right side and was completely numb on the left.  It was wonderful.  I felt euphoric, almost like I was drunk!  I found out later that the epidural wasn’t even turned on yet, and they decided not to until I asked for it.  That little bit they’d given me when they inserted it was enough to help me relax and calm down.  

I was checked again and still only 5.5 cm so they had me go a bit on my right side to get that to move down and then put on leg up on the peanut ball hoping that would help things move along.   I could still feel the contractions, but the discomfort and feeling of panic was gone and I was able to doze off.  

At some point during all of this my awesome friend Bridgette was able to come and pick up B, so DH was able to rejoin us for the rest of my labor.  Which I was hoping would just involve a couple hours of me sleeping.

However, I quickly realized the contractions were coming fast.  Within two minutes of each other.  I also noticed that feeling like I had to push was growing stronger and stronger.  I ignored it at first because I thought there was no way I was really feeling what I thought I was feeling, but finally decided to page the nurse in at about 11:00 AM.  

She came in and checked me... I was 9 cm!!!  I had gone from 5.5 cm to 9 cm in half an hour!  The nurse started taking guesses on weight (I guessed 6 lbs, 11 oz) and wrote all of our guesses on the board as we waited for the doctor to arrive.

From there everything started going really fast again.  The main doctor, who I hadn’t even met yet, came in and introduced herself.  I looked around and the nurses were already suited up in their blue covering and the tray was being pulled over.    It didn’t occur to me that 9 cm really meant “go time” until that very moment.  

I had full control over my right leg, but my left leg was completely gone.  The nurse told me she was in charge of it, and I watched in amusement as she juggled my wonky left leg and doing other things at the same time.  At one point she had it tucked into her hip while she was adjusting my IV or something.  I thought having numb legs would drive me crazy, but it ended up being a fun source of amusement that I was grateful to have after what had happened already.

Everyone was in place by 11:30AM  and I was checked one last time to make sure I’d reached 10 cm.  I had and it was time to start pushing.  What was odd was that I knew my body was already doing it, I felt enough that I knew I wasn’t in control of what was happening.  So when contractions hit I would push a little, but decided I’d just pace myself a bit because I didn’t want to tear.  I was so relaxed and calm that pushing for a while didn’t really phase me.

Turns out, I was able to push at my own pace and be mostly relaxed during it AND I didn’t have to push long.  It only took 3 pushes and her head was out!  One more and the body followed.

Calla Joanne was born at 11:50 AM.  

She had the cord wrapped around her neck, which may explain the delay in contractions after my water broke.  However she was just fine!  They placed her on my chest and she expressed to the world how upset she was to no longer be inside.  We did skin to skin while waiting for the cord to stop pulsing.  After a few minutes it stopped and I was given the scissors to cut the cord.  This was the one thing that I had requested.  It was kind of weird but I’m happy I got to experience it once.  

I’m sure a bunch of other stuff happened after that, but it was all a blur while I just focused in on her.  She was HUGE!  Way bigger than I thought she was going to be.  She even felt a little larger than my son, who had been born at 38.5 weeks.  Her finger and toes were also super long, clearly from my husband’s side and not my tiny little hands and feet that B had gotten.  I was just in awe of her and everything about her, down to her black curly hair (no clue where that came from!).

Eventually I delivered the placenta and was checked and found that I had not torn at all!  Yay!!!  At some point bedding was changed, tools were packed up, and people started leaving.  We were given an hour to bond and do skin to skin.  She breastfed a bit but mostly just seemed more interested in looking around at everything.  

When she finally got weighed Calla came in at 7 lbs, 11 oz (3 oz lighter than B) and 21.5” long (2” longer).  For a 37 weeker that seemed pretty good to me!  She was perfectly healthy.

Overall I felt I had a pretty good labor and delivery.  Obviously nothing went as planned and I am still very sad my doctor wasn’t able to deliver her after everything we’d been through together.  I knew it was very hard for her to give me the news that I was going back down to the city again.  She called the next day to get the update and couldn’t believe I hadn’t needed anything to get labor started and had actually delivered her just a little over 4 hours after arriving.  We decided that my daughter just felt she need to be a little difficult just one last time and this was the only way she could think to do it.  

I am also happy I had the epidural.  I know I could have gotten the natural birth I’d been planning on if I’d stayed home, but at the hospital I just wasn’t able to calm down and focus and get past that trapped feeling.  Once I had the epidural I felt fantastic, not just because the contractions were milder, but because I was able to relax and calm down a bit.  I knew I was on the verge of an anxiety attack which would have made the situation much worse for everyone.

In the end the best part was a healthy, term baby girl!  Who’s probably going to be super tall if her birth height and super long fingers and toes are any indication!

Total labor from the time my water broke was a little over 14 hours, but really only 5-6 hours of active labor.  So very similar to my son’s delivery, minus the gap between my water breaking and contractions starting... and the fact that I started out at close to 5 cm due to PTL.

And thus ends the drama that was my second pregnancy. My daughter made it to term and was born perfectly healthy, which I am beyond grateful for. And even with all of the drama I don't think I had that bad of a pregnancy. Definitely not bad enough that I wouldn't want to do it again. Just, you know, NOT ANY TIME SOON!!!

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