Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Welcome Baby: A Birth Story

I know this is a bit belated, but I wanted to finally share my first baby's birth story:

My duedate came and went, and that baby was still cozy and riding high. I should have known that 11/12/13 was too good of a birthday to hope for.

I had no major contractions, even after having my membranes stripped, but I'd been trying to stay as active as possible. Derek and I took long lumbering walks to pick up paint chips and buy groceries. We ate spicy Thai food that made my nose run. We walked around feeling like something major could happen at any minute, but the unknowingness of it made it feel a little like we had all the time in the world.

Two days later, on Thursday night/Friday morning, I rolled over in bed and felt a warm gush of liquid. In the haze of just waking up I thought that I had accidentally peed the bed. I groggily stood up, only to find that the liquid just kept gushing - there was no mistaking this as a bout of incontinence. My water had definitely broken. 

Despite all the movies I had seen to indicate otherwise, I did not feel the immediate need to get in cab, shrieking all the way to the hospital. In fact, had my doctors not told me to call them in this situation, the whole thing felt so uneventful that I probably would have just headed back to bed for a few more hours of sleep. Instead I woke Derek up and dutifully called the hospital to let them know that my water had broken, and they asked me to come in. 

I was suddenly glad that Derek had convinced me to pack a hospital bag, although it felt almost too easy. I picked the bag up and was ready to go, just like that? Baby time? It felt very strange, and I kept walking around the bedroom trying to figure out if I was forgetting anything. We tossed the carseat into the car and headed to the hospital, walking the quiet halls we'd toured just a few weeks earlier and giggling nervously. 

Once the nurses determined that my water had, indeed, broken, they sent me off to my delivery room to get an IV put in and rest for a few more hours. I woke up Friday morning refreshed and feeling good (which obviously meant my contractions hadn't really started yet; a fact that became increasingly obvious on the nurses and doctor's faces as they monitored my progress throughout the morning). 

Finally, since the risk of infection increases the longer one's water has broken without delivering, the doctors got quite insistent about doing something to get this baby-having-party started. Frustrated that we were being encouraged to induce labor, which I was hoping to avoid, I tried a few last times to kickstart my contractions. Balls were bounced on. Halls were walked. Stepping stools were used for mini stair climbing exercises. Nothing helped. 

We decided to start with some Misoprostol, which did start some contractions, but not effectively enough for my doctor's liking. Late in the afternoon on Friday I finally consented to start on Pitocin. 

THEN I started to feel those contractions. Still, I managed to eat a pleasant dinner with Derek and chat with the nurses. We played quiet music, which I didn't think I was going to want but ended up grateful for (I think I made Derek subscribe to some sort of Enya/yoga music channel) and it provided a calming distraction.

By 3am on Saturday morning, I wasn't smiling quite as much. I was sitting on my big blue bouncy ball, propped with my head against the bed trying to work my way through the contractions, but my body was having a hard time relaxing. I'd anticipate the pain of the contraction, and my entire body would tense up and seemed to hold onto the pain. No thoughts of relaxation or deep breathing seemed to help me let go of it, and the cycle seemed endless. First I received a shot of morphine, and though that did help, I eventually found myself calling for an epidural. THAT was a blessed relief, and I immediately went to sleep and was able to rest for a few hours. 

Saturday morning I woke up refreshed, albeit with legs that were mostly numb. I sipped my broth and nibbled my jello, and watched the doctors keep cranking up my levels of Pitocin until around noon, when the doctors watching the beeping monitors told me it was time to start pushing. 

There was quite the fanfare. I pushed. And pushed. The doctors cheered me on. Derek helped hold my legs. We made progress.

After several hours of pushing, however, the enthusiasm of the crowd was waning and I was getting pretty tired. There was also worry about potential for preeclampsia and the baby's blood pressure. Finally the doctors told me that this baby wasn't budging, and that they recommended a vacuum-assisted birth in which I would have three tries to get that baby out before needing an immediate c-section. I automatically balked at this proposal. I really, really wanted to avoid the dreaded c-section, especially since I felt so close to being able to do it on my own...but finally decided that if that baby didn't come out with a vacuum assist, then he probably wasn't going to be coming out on his own any time soon anyway.

Everyone immediately suited up and wheeled me into the OR. There was a different energy in there. Things felt more dire. I already was so tired, but felt the mounting pressure of knowing that this was when it all really counted. I knew that this was my last shot, and that it wasn't guaranteed...especially after we got started and the vacuum popped off the baby's head after the first attempt. The doctor fell backwards almost comically while still holding the little plunger, spraying everyone around her with drops of blood in the process. I was surprised at how hard they were pulling on their end, and that the baby was still refusing to budge. We made it through the second round of pushing, but still no baby. I was trying hard not to give up already, but the situation was feeling hopeless.

I am glad I didn't feel the part where they gave me an episiotomy during the last push. All I know is that I felt the most amazing sensation as that little baby finally made his way out of my stomach and into the world. They let Derek cut the cord, and got the baby to give a good cry before bringing him over and placing him on my chest. I remember: Tears. Smiles. Relief. And a weird sensation of having finally experienced this thing and meeting this tiny being that I'd been anticipating for so long.

So, here he is, world:

Emerson Bixby Wright.
Weighing in at 9lbs 4oz, with a surprisingly well-shaped head, given the circumstances.

I love him more than anything.


I am forever grateful for both Aubrey Trinnaman and Robyn Kessler for being there with their cameras to share this experience with us. Aubrey brought a sleeping bag and flowers and speakers and rallied for an entire day while we waited on this baby to come. Robyn, 8 months pregnant herself, showed up with an hour's notice after Aubrey got called away for a prior commitment, and was the one that ended up being there for the actual birth. Not only was she a supportive and encouraging friend during the delivery, she captured so much of the experience that I didn't fully remember and from an angle I could never have seen. I will love her forever for being able to remind me what a squish face that baby of mine had upon entering this world. The photos in this blog post are all hers, and you can see her own beautiful post about the experience here


robin marie said...

Oh man so much of this brings back memories! Isn't it funny how movies depict water breaking? I felt the same as you - I almost went back to sleep! Love your little guy and glad he made his way here safely (and with a nicely shaped head!)

Mindy said...

Again, great job Beautiful!

Alice said...

exhausting...sorry about the snip. he's such a cutie!

jocie said...

You're a rockstar. Well done.

Senja said...

I totally love the photos, they capture giving birth so well - the strength of it and beauty. What a tough and magical moment together :)

Thank you for sharing. Your baby boy is beautiful.