Monday, February 28, 2011

Birth Stories Series: Katy's Story of Aidan's Birth

Birth Stories Series Guest Post

Aidan Daniel
born Tuesday, August 31, 2010
3:11 AM
5 pounds 10 ounces
18 inches long

My name is Katy and I am a first-time mom. Dan is my hero, and Aidan is my little man. Things don’t usually happen as you plan them to, and I guess that is what my birth story is about.

First of all, I have to say that I really loved being pregnant. Morning sickness, which really should have been called “evening sickness” for me, back pain, swollen feet, and the occasional loss of bladder control really was nothing when thinking of the adorable baby boy growing in my belly! I loved my growing tummy, the kicks, the rolls, and even his cute little hiccups in the middle of the night. Dan and I attended all of the essential baby classes vigilantly. The breastfeeding classes, CPR & pediatric care classes, the baby care classes, and last but not least the breathe-while-you-push-out-a-watermelon classes.

My fearless husband was a great support during our nine months of baby growing. He indulged my food cravings, rubbed my feet, took me to the hospital when we thought my water broke at 28 weeks, put together the baby’s nursery furniture, and listened to me talk about my cervix and uterus for weeks on end. He really was great, especially when we got to the birthing class, you know, the class where you think you know what to expect and then your mind gets blown by videos and pictures of women in extreme pain during the transition part of labor. And yes, the stereotypical response of “you did this to me” from a woman in labor towards her husband is apparently real, as we witnessed it in one of the many videos our instructor chose to show us. Now I know that the very nature of labor clearly includes pain. I have been told by doctors and my husband that I have a pretty high pain tolerance. But I will be honest to say that I was even more nervous about labor after the birthing class. Dan, however, was very comforting and told me to just breathe. He really liked the breathing exercises we did and thought I’d feel better if I just did those each day. Uh, yeah right; a watermelon honey, a watermelon! His advice was excellent though – after putting things into perspective again after our quite graphic classes, I did feel better and felt like I could really do the whole labor and pushing thing. I mean, how scary can it be if the end result is a beautiful tiny little baby?

I was resolved then to be flexible, go with the flow, and to do my best when the time came for our baby boy to come. I told all of my friends and family that I didn’t have a birth plan like so many of the books tell you to have. I didn’t have a plan, as long as I didn’t have to be induced or have a c-section, and with more than 2 months until my due date, I figured that plan was a good “non-plan.” But isn’t there a quote that says, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans?” I learned quickly that when it comes to babies and birthing, there is no plan.

The last Friday in August was my 35-week appointment at my OB/GYN. I had been feeling okay that week. I knew I was very swollen all over a few weeks ago when I had to get my wedding rings cut off and the nurse at my doctors office just shook her head and said “poor thing.” But my 33-week appointment was fine so I was in high, although tired, spirits that Friday morning when I went to my appointment. Headaches, heartburn, and swollen ankles were my new best friends that week. They were such best friends in fact that they seemed to hang around constantly. I went through the routine things that you always do at your OB appointments: peeing in a cup, weight check, blood pressure, etc. Previously these routine checks were fine, but not the greatest news this week. Protein was found in my urine, my weight seriously skyrocketed by fifteen pounds in two weeks, and my blood pressure was, well, a bit higher than they would have liked it to be. The doctor I was seeing that say was brand new to the practice, so I had never met her before. I schedule this appointment thinking it’d be a good idea to see her in case she ended up delivering my baby. She double checked my BP, consulted with another doctor, and told me to go to the hospital to get preeclamptic blood work and monitoring done.

I was pretty nervous about going to the hospital alone so I called my faithful man, stopped at his office, and we went to the hospital together. We were taken back to the overflow space, and, since they were slammed with patients, we heard other women in the tough parts of labor screaming just a few curtains over. We stayed there for about 4-5 hours. After the doctor spoke with us about my blood work, BP, and protein levels, we were told to go home. I was to be on bed rest until further notice. Sweet! No laundry! No cleaning bathrooms! Yeah, bed rest is definitely not all it’s cracked up to be. After a few hours of it I was ready to get back to “normal” life. Little did I know, in a few days, life would never be the same again.

That Friday night was rough. I had a headache that Tylenol wouldn’t touch and just didn’t feel right. Saturday morning wasn’t much better, so I called my doctor again and was told to return to the hospital. I had a feeling that there was a good chance that when we came back home we’d have a little baby with us, so we brought the car seat, diaper bag, clothes, music, books, and snacks for Daddy. The next 24 hours were spent monitoring blood pressures, which were up to 190/88, and getting blood work and urine checked. I was also put on magnesium. Have you ever felt like an exhausted, limp, wet dishrag? Then you know what it’s like being on mag.

Sunday afternoon my midwife came in a gave us the news that since I was not improving that we were going to have a baby, while he was still looking strong and healthy on the monitor, hopefully by the next day. I was so tired after nearly 2 nights of barely sleeping, but a burst of adrenaline seemed to pump through me. I couldn’t believe it – this was it! All of the breastfeeding classes and scary birthing videos were going to pay off! We could finally hold and kiss our little one! I was so ready and so excited, and at the same time felt like it was all too surreal. It was August 29th and our sweet little boy was not due until September 27th. I asked about the steroid shot that helps lung development in preemie babies but was told that it would not help our baby’s development at that time. I just prayed and prayed that our baby would be healthy and ready to enter the world. Oh, how I prayed that.

Dan and I had decided months before that we wanted my mom with us during labor. She is a labor and delivery nurse and the best mom I could have ever asked for. She came later that evening, bearing delicious gifts for Dan from Chik Fil A, and stayed for a few hours. We knew this was going to be a long labor process so she went home to sleep while Dan and I stayed in our L&D room. My in-laws also brought us some other items from home that we felt we needed now that we knew we were definitely not going home until this baby came!

My midwife had started the induction with gels that afternoon, and then started pitocin. I contracted through the night – nothing too unbearable, but it was difficult to get any good sleep and rest. Poor Dan, all 6’8’’ of him, tried to sleep on a chaise lounge that was in the room. But with nurses coming in frequently and me needing help to the bathroom because of the magnesium, he did not get much sleep. I was awoken to a lovely pelvic exam first thing Monday morning. Surely with all of the contracting that was done the past 12 hours I progressed. I was up to 3 cm, and 80% effaced. I have to say that I was crushed. I really thought I had progressed more than that. My BP was still bad and my blood work results were slowly getting worse. The doctors decided to increase my dosage of pitocin to the maximum level that the hospital will give. At that point we called my mom again and asked her if she could come. This time, she brought coffee! Oh to have been able to have a delicious cup of Starbuck’s coffee! I stuck with popsicles and ice chips.

Around 3 PM that afternoon another doctor from a different practice came in to check on me. At this point I was definitely feeling contractions and was beginning to get uncomfortable with them. He checked me again – 3 cm. The baby still had not really dropped and I was not 100% effaced yet. I was definitely not thrilled by this news, but especially not thrilled with what his plan was for the next 24 hours. He decided he thought it would be best to stop the pitocin for another 24 hours, and then try it again. He also shared that I wasn’t really in labor since I hadn’t asked for any strong medication to ease the pain. Now, I know as labor progresses, pain progressively gets worse, and I knew I wasn’t at the I-want-to-die-give-me-drugs-now stage. But to tell a woman she isn’t labor because she hasn’t asked for an epidural, really? That’s like telling a runner in the middle of a marathon they must not really be running since they haven’t stopped for a break!

When he left the room, needless to say, I completely lost it and had a melt down. I think I was just already exhausted from the 3 previous days, frustrated that I wasn’t progressing as quickly as I thought I should be, and then really upset with Dr. Good Bedside Manners that it all culminated into a cry fest for me. Dan and my mom consoled me and calmed me down, and even requested a better room (mine didn’t have a window…and being in a windowless room for the 3rd day in a row was somewhat depressing) with a window for me.

After moving to a new room and putting on some NCIS (everyone needs a little Gibbs in their life, and at that moment I wished Gibbs would hunt down Dr. Sensitive and call him a dirt bag), the doctor I had seen on Friday in the OB/GYN office came in to talk about our options. The baby was looking great but I was becoming more and more preeclamptic. She decided that the best step right now was to try and break my water to move things along. For me, this was quite painful, and frankly just uncomfortable. It felt like her entire arm was up near my lungs as she was trying to break my water. She tried for a few minutes with several attempts, but she wasn’t able to get it. So back to pitocin it was. She decided to come back in a few hours to try it again and to check me.

When you’re in labor, especially a slow, prolonged labor, you have to try and catch your sleep while you can. I don’t remember much of the 3 hours that transpired until my doctor would come back to try and part the waters again. And there was much rejoicing when around 8:00 that night it finally worked. Again, one of the weirdest feelings in the world! I didn’t realize that much water could be in a person! Dan just said “Whoa! Cool!” when the doctor broke it. Those were not the words I was thinking of, but everyone’s different, right?

Contractions definitely increased in number, intensity, and frequency over the next few hours. I asked for some meds to take the edge off of the pain and as long as no one talked to me and I didn’t have to talk during a contraction, I was able to handle it. We played a lot of instrumental music at this point – it was just so calming and soothing, and it helped all of us try to get some rest.

Midnight rolled around and my doctor came in to check me again. Nothing. I was still at 3 cm and my sweet baby boy just did not want to come out. He was still moving all around and healthy as ever on the monitor, but this tired mama was just not able to move along through labor. I was on the maximum amount of pitocin, but between the magnesium, which is also used to stop labor and being 4 weeks early, my body was just not responding to the induction. The doctor told us that we could do one of two things. We could stop the induction and try again tomorrow, but with how things were going and my preeclampsia getting worse we would probably end up with a c-section. The other choice we could do would be to go ahead with a c-section that night. I was so tired and after being in labor for 2 days, I was ready for this baby to come. That surreal feeling and adrenaline started up again – now this was it – this was really it!

I had to get more blood work done to see if my platelets were high enough for an epidural. I guess when you have preeclampsia your platelets drastically drop and if they are low enough and you have to get a c-section, you have to be put to sleep. Thank the Lord they came back high enough and the anesthesiologist said that I could have an epidural. We were going to meet our little man!

As the nurse took me to get prepped for the surgery, another nurse took Dan to get him scrubs so that he could be in with me. If I learned anything so far being in labor it was that modesty is the last thing to worry about, especially getting an epidural. You just have to let it “all hang out” as the doctor said. I was pretty tired and out of it, but I do remember thinking that this epidural doctor was quite funny. It took him a long time and much poking to try and get it in because even my back was so swollen from the preeclampsia. The rest of the hour seemed like a whirlwind. Dan came in and within 10 minutes we heard the first cries of our little Aidan. I had been so worried that his lungs would not be fully developed or that he would have jaundice or some other problem because he was a month early, but he was absolutely perfect. Dan snapped a ton of pictures (this is the man who does not do well with needles and shots…and he watched my entire surgery – now that’s love!) and I remember him bringing Aidan to me as the doctors were stitching me up. Aidan was such a sweet little peanut at 5 pounds 10 ounces and 18 inches long, and healthy as ever.

Dan, Aidan, and a nurse went to a recovery room while I stay and got stitched up. After about 20-30 minutes I was able to be with my new family. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that time with just the three of us. The nurse did have to take Aidan to the nursery to warm him up under the lights, but after a few hours, and once we are back in our room, he was able to be with us. The next 4 days were filled with getting to know our little one, nursing, diapers, circumcision, visitors, recovering from surgery, the start of mommy-hood, and the beginning of sleepless nights, but that’s another story.

So, the things I did not want to happen, the induction and c-section, all happened. But in the end, we had a beautiful, healthy baby boy, and I know that God knew everything, each step of the way. Aidan is our little miracle, and we are so thankful to God for him. I could go on and on, as I guess I already have. There’s so much to talk about with post partum recovery, what worked, what didn’t work etc…But if I could give any advice to expecting moms or even new moms it would be: 1 – be flexible, 2 – a baby is not a book, and 3 – don’t be afraid to ask for help. I love being a mom. It has been one of the most wonderful, exhausting, beautiful parts of my life thus far, and I’m thankful it has only just begun. So my plans didn’t exactly pan out, but if they had, they probably would not be the best plans. God’s are always greater, stronger, and better. Aidan is my little reminder of that promise.