Friday, November 27, 2009

The Birth Story

40 week belly picture

On Thursday the 19th ( 1 day past my due date) I'd been having pretty decent contractions about 10 to 30 minutes apart, for the last two days solid. The baby was posterior, so I was having terrible back labor. At about 7 PM that evening the contractions began getting closer, and when they were between 4 and 6 minutes apart, we went to the hospital.

The nurses got a kick out of my twilight t-shirt. They kept asking me if I was going to the movie that night. I told them I had a movie ticket, but I would rather be having a baby that night.

After monitoring us for an hour, I was only 1.5 cm dilated and not progressing, so they gave me a shot of morphine to help me sleep and sent us home, with the instruction to come back when my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. Needless to say, I did not see New Moon that night. :(

The next day Chris stayed home from work with me. We tried to relax and watch TV, but all I could do was wander around the house, swaying and holding onto the wall during each contraction. It hurt so bad to sit or lay during the contractions that by four o'clock in the afternoon I literally thought I was dying. We decided to bite the bullet and get checked again.

When we were admitted, they checked me and I was at 3 cm. They sent us walking and said they would check back in an hour to see if they would keep us or send us home. So Chris and I walked the halls of labor & delivery for an hour, trying to get the contractions to speed up and progress me a little. I just kept praying that they wouldn't send us home again.

When they checked us in an hour, I was still at 3 cm. I started feeling not-so-hot, so I asked the nurse to check my temperature. It was a little bit high, so they decided to give me some tylenol and watch me for 20 minutes before they sent us packing. The doctor was due to come check me one more time before they sent us home, but there were 2 emergency deliveries right at that time (we kept hearing "It's breach! It's breach!"), so she was delayed another 20 minutes. I was in agony laying on the bed with my back labor! I wasn't allowed to stand up because of all the monitors they had on me. When the doctor finally made it in to check me, to our surprise and hers, I had miraculously progressed from 3 cm to 5 in about 40 minutes.

She looked at us an said "it looks like you're going to have a baby tonight!" I immediately broke down in tears of relief, and when the doctor left the room Chris started to cry and gave me a big hug. I think it was hard for him to see me in so much pain and feel so helpless.

They got me an epidural (saints be praised!) and they let me progress during the night. At about 6 cm the doctor broke my water, and could feel that the baby was posterior so she reached up and turned the baby's head to get her straightened the right way. My contractions NEVER got closer than 5 or 6 minutes apart. They even put me on a little bit of pitocin to try to speed them up, but that didn't help either. If I'd been sent home with the directive to come back when they were 3 minutes apart, I would have had our baby at home.

About 4 am I was at 10 cm finally, and they had me start pushing. I ended up pushing for about 4 hours all total, and it was exhausting! I had uncontrollable shakes, more fever, and I threw up at least 4 or 5 times in between contractions. It was a really long battle for us.

At 7am we had another shift change and a new doctor came on call. He came to check me and decided that due to the shape of my pelvis, they weren't sure if the baby's big head would make it through, which is why I had been pushing for so long. He calmly laid out our options. He said we could try pushing with forceps, but that it may or may not work, and explained all of the side effects of that option. Or he said we could opt to go straight to a c-section.

I felt exhausted and anxious to meet this baby, but I also felt a lot of confidence in this doctor I had just met. I felt that if we didn't at least try with the forceps, all of this labor and pushing would have been for nothing. So we opted to try with the forceps.

The room was prepped and covered with blue cloths and scary-looking tools, and two NICU nurses were called down to be in the room during the attempted delivery. When everything was ready, the doctor got the forceps in place and when a contraction came, he had me push while he pulled. During the very first contraction as I was pushing, I could feel bone on bone down there. I was certain her head would never fit through. But we kept trying. Another contraction came and I pushed as hard as my exhausted body could, while the doctor literally yanked on the forceps with all his might. (Ask Chris to give you a demonstration of how the doctor kicked his stool away and stood up and yanked. It was that hard.)

At some point during one of the contractions, I could all of a sudden feel some tension and urgency in the doctor and nurse's voices. They started yelling for me to push, push harder! I pushed as hard as I ever had. I didn't know it at the time, but the baby's heart rate had "tanked" as the doctor put it. And she was wedged good and tight in the birth canal, so the only option was out -- there wouldn't have been time for a c-section. (We also found out later that both operating rooms were in use at that time.) Somehow, the baby's head miraculously fit through and as it came out, the doctor could see why her heart rate had dropped. She had the cord wrapped around her neck twice and around her neck and hand once. (That darn little rogue hand that kept us from getting good ultrasound pictures!) They snip, snip, snipped and unwrapped the cord without waiting for Chris, and handed her off to the NICU nurses immediately. She was blue and not breathing.

I remember laying there on the bed, still flat on my back, watching three nurses hovered around the warmer, with my mom and Chris nervously trying to catch a glimpse of what was happening. For a long time I heard nothing and I kept asking "Is she okay? Is she okay?" Finally I heard some raspy yells, and then some real live cries from the baby. Her first APGAR score was a 2, but her second was a 9. After they'd fully checked her out and wrapped her up, they handed her off to Chris. I kept hearing him say, "She's so beautiful, she's so beautiful." I was still getting stitched up (I had an extreme third-degree episiotomy, so almost a fourth degree) and had to be flat on my back for about 40 minutes while the doctor worked. So Chris pulled up a chair and sat down by me low enough that I could see the baby's face and touch her hands. And he was right, she was the most beautiful thing in the whole wide world.

The next morning during rounds, the doctor stopped by to check up on me. He told me that the good Lord had been watching out for us yesterday. And we know He was. We thank Heavenly Father for Emme's safe arrival every day in our prayers.


Nurse Heidi said...

Oh my word!! It's miraculous that things turned out as well as they did! I seriously got all choked up and teary by the time I got to the end of your story.

I had a difficult labor and delivery with Ethan too, with bad tearing and lots of bleeding. The good news is that the subsequent babies came out WAAAAAY easier, and that's the case with the vast majority of my friends. Take care of yourself and take all the help that is offered - I really didn't realize how beat up I was after my first delivery until I had Rachel and felt so much better, so I was feeling all down on myself for being tired and sore.

I love the picture of Chris all snuggled up in bed with Emme. I have an almost identical one of him with Ethan. New babies are hard work. But worth it :).

The Martin Family said...

Ok, so I am a little teary too! What an amazing story! You and Chris are darling. The fun is JUST beginning. Parenthood is the BEST! I am so excited to see you all tomorrow!

Devrie Pettit said...

I read that whole thing. I am sobbing. Congrats, I am so happy everything turned out good. Rest up and get healing. She is precious.

Melissa Henning said...

wow what a beautiful story! I'm totally teary eyed after reading that. Thanks for sharing!

Val said...

that story was sooo scary.
You know the phrase "well it can't get any worse than this" then something worse happens? That's how I felt reading the birth story. Just the terrible physical pain of being in back pain (!) labor for so long and being sent home and vomiting and being feverish, then you go on to tell how it gets even scarier...with the cord wrapped around her.

I don't know if that made sense. But just reading this story was very intense....I can't even imagine living it. We are SO GLAD you are all healthy and well. What a happy ending to the birth story and beginning to a wonderful life. We love you guys!

Jennifer said...

Wow! I am so glad everything came out okay. I got teary eyed reading it-what a little miracle! I hope you guys are doing okay and getting the hang of the parenting thing. It looks like you are. Oh, and Jackson was the same way when he was little-he'd sleep much better when he was cuddling us in bed than in his own for the first three weeks or so. I had to bite the bullet and put him down in his crib and he started getting used to it. It was hard though because I loved cuddling him so much! Plus, it was easier to nurse him when he was so close!

Christi said...

I'm an emotional, pregnant mess, and your story made me bawl. I'm glad you and your baby are okay! What a scary experience!

Nikki said...

Your story had me crying, too. What a terrifying experience!

Marshall's labor was similar, he was posterior so they turned then delivered him with forceps (after I politely declined the c-section) and I had a third degree tear too. Not fun! Rest up and allow yourself time to heal.

Congratulations, she is beautiful! Doesn't it make all the pain worth it?

The Whitney's said...

All I can say is WOW!!

The Jackson Family said...

Wow, what a miracle! I'm sorry, but your labor sounds absolutely awful, I hope you're recovering alright. With my first the doctor had to use forceps as well, and the next week or two was miserable. I couldn't sit down without a lot of pain. But I'm so glad Emme is here safe! In the end that's all that matters.