Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Birth Stories Series: Kristen's Story of Elliana's Birth

Guest Writer, Kristen Slabaugh

It’s a GIRL!

Elliana Riain

Born Friday Jan 28, 2011


6lb 13.6oz

19 ¼ in long

Due date: Jan 23, 2011 (40+5 weeks)

My name is Kristen and I am a first-time mom…and a labor and delivery nurse whose goal was to work as long as possible. Mission accomplished.

Pregnancy didn’t come easy for us. First of all, it took me 5 years of begging and pleading to convince my husband that a baby needed to be in our future. Not that he never wanted children, just the thought of having one “right now” didn’t sit right. Eventually I realized that he was right (as was God) and decided that if I was ever going to go to grad school, it needed to be before this baby thing happened. So, after 3 years of full-time school and work (read: 7 days a week, 8-12 hrs a day), I felt I earned my reward! At the beginning of my final year of grad school we began trying, hoping to be due at the end of the school year and have a baby in between jobs. God had other plans…but I didn’t ;) I was determined to be waddling across the graduation stage. In fact, that was my motivation to keep going and make it to graduation. After 11 months of trying, graduation was quickly approaching…but a baby wasn’t. I couldn’t bear the thought of being at graduation without a growing little peanut in my belly so we decided to save our money and go on vacation with my 10 days off instead. Hawaii, here we come! Much to my surprise, and to prove God’s incredible sense of humor, it was the very day of graduation that we finally saw the long awaited 2 pink lines!

40 weeks later, my little peanut wasn’t so little anymore and I was ready to meet him or her. We decided to keep the gender a surprise figuring that you don’t really get that many good surprises in life anymore. I continued to work and can recall quite clearly several days where I was more pregnant than every laboring patient on our unit. Talk about depressing. I had an induction scheduled for 41 weeks but was determined to do anything I could to get that baby out before that….not that I had any control over it. I’d been telling my husband for over a month that 40 weeks and 4 days was going to be when I went into labor. I was so sure of it that we put it on the calendar. Don’t ask me how I knew. It came to me in the shower and my sister said all good things come to you in the shower. So it was. On my third 12-hr shift of the week, Thurs Jan 27th, 40.4 weeks pregnant, I was totally exhausted but making it through my very last day of work, regardless of when labor would finally happen. Induction was scheduled for the next day, Friday evening. I had my cervix checked at the doctor’s office the day before and she stripped my membranes. 3cm. At least I had a decent start point, I told myself. I was sort of uncomfortable all day on Thursday and was very ready to be done and meet my sweet little child. I was crampy all morning. My husband called me at work that day around noon to see if I would need him in the next 5 hours. My immediate response was to ask if it had anything to do with a 4hr ski pass. Of course it did. I felt no labor coming at that point and even if I did, my coworkers would take good care of me. Around 4pm I started contracting, my usual afternoon routine. This time was a little different though and by the end of my shift at 7pm I was having difficulty talking through them. I had one of the doctors check me before I left, 4cm. Good, I’m going home to rest a little and do this work at home. A 30 minute commute was never longer. By the time I got home, I think I was doing 80mph as I could not bear to have another contraction in the car without wrecking. I was excited to walk in the door and tell Ben that I thought this was really happening…on the day I predicted! By 9pm I could do nothing but be on my hands and knees with every contraction and decided to try to take a bath to relax, quickly realizing that I was not about to get any rest. Ben, who complained about being exhausted from skiing, went to lay down. I told him if he was going to do it, now was his chance. After about 30 minutes in the tub I just couldn’t sit any longer and stood up to fluid running down my leg. Yep…my water broke, just a slight trickle. I decided one hour wouldn’t make a difference, plus I knew there were no rooms at the inn (of L&D) when I left. I let Ben sleep till 10:30 and woke him up to tell him it was time to go to the hospital. He asked if my contractions were any stronger. “Not really, I wish we didn’t have to go in yet.” His response: well then let’s just he rolled back over to snooze. I think he realized I was serious when I quickly snapped back “should I just call you when the baby is out?”

A quick shower and stop at the gas station later, we arrived at the hospital…to find that they had no rooms. We were placed in an exam room across the hall from L&D on an exam table similar to a doctors office. Verdict? Yes water was leaking, but still 4cm. Ugh! I was certainly hoping for 5-6cm after all that contracting. I could not sit on the table so we began walking the halls. And walking, and walking. Around 12:30am I had a mega contraction, felt a pop, and a HUGE gush of fluid. Yep, the rest of my water broke. More like exploded. And from there on out, we were in a different ballpark. I could do nothing but rock on my hands and knees or stand up, bent over during a contraction to control a horrible pain just above my right hip. Vomiting, shaking, and moaning were now uncontrollable. Ben called for the nurse to give me something for nausea and pain and she sent me to a “real” room that was in the process of being mopped. That poor housekeeper was trying to finish so fast. I asked them to check me again before we did anything and was TOTALLY disappointed to hear “4cm” again. SERIOUSLY!? This has now been going for 10 hours with NO CHANGE!?! I decided to take a dose of stadol. Good idea.

2 hours later when that wore off around 2:30am, I decided that I HAD to be dilating and asked them to check me. You guessed it…4cm. I sprang forward and yelled “what is wrong with me!?!” I was SURE I was in transitional labor. And the poor doctor at the foot of my bed? Yep, one of my good friends and coworkers. I decided that if I was going to be 4cm forever that I needed an epidural. I have now been contracting for 12 hours and awake for almost 24 since this started in the middle of my 12hr shift. I thought maybe if I could get my body to relax the baby would drop and then I would start dilating. The epidural certainly helped but that right-sided hip pain never went away. 2 hours later…4cm. Seriously. I requested pitocin. Only an L&D nurse would do that. This couldn’t go on forever. About 20 minutes later I can hear the baby’s heart rate at about 70 (normal for a fetus is 120-160) and the team rushed in to turn me, put oxygen on, give IV fluids, and check my cervix. FINALLY 5cm. Geez. By this rate I’ll be delivered by April. After the heart rate returned to normal I realized that finally the pain on my right side was gone! Hallelujah, hopefully the baby has turned and rolled into position! 45 minutes later, another drop in the heart rate which triggered a cervical exam. I started bawling when I heard my nurse say, “Oh that’s why!! You’re complete!!!” Thank you, Jesus! “Get it together, Kristen, you still have to push this baby out” is what I told myself. Who does that!?

Pushing was tiring but thankfully only lasted for about 50 minutes. It was the most amazing thing ever when some of my favorite doctor and nurse coworkers were cheering with us as our little one finally arrived. Of course as soon as it was out, I sprang forward to see between the legs..and everyone started screaming and clapping. Nobody actually ever yelled out the gender and my poor husband, not knowing how these events go, had no clue what it was. She was quickly placed on my belly, me sobbing, room full of tears and clapping, someone shouted “what’s her name!!??” Finally poor Ben knew, it’s a girl!

Unfortunately, miss Elli decided to come out with her arm across her chest and hand beside her face, doing a number for my bottom. Fortunately, I couldn’t have cared less at that moment, I was finally holding my angel! Thankfully, Elli was tired too, and that afternoon we were able to get about 2 hours of sleep which felt like an eternity and entertained visitors for the weekend before heading home on Sunday. It’s absolutely unbelievable how much you can love someone you’ve only known for minutes..and that you love them more each day. Who knew!?

Of course, as always, God knew best. His timing was perfect. The job situation is still up in the air but I’m confident that it’ll all come together in perfect timing. Guess I learned how to trust ! And boy (or girl!) was it worth it!

Note: Photos are property of Benjamin Slabaugh, photographer