16 August 2011

From 2 to 3

In previous posts, I described our first pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and our second pregnancy. To continue...

The morning or January 3, 2010, came early and with no sleep! I was lying in the delivery room, 33 weeks and 5 days pregnant with my blood pressure elevated. The doctor put me on Magnesium to reduce the possibility of me having a seizure, so I was very warm and a little loopy. The Magnesium made me feel like I had been drinking all night.

According to the nurse, I was having contractions all night, but I never felt them at all. I was just awake, wondering what delivery would be like and how beautiful and wonderful our tiny baby would be. I had spent the past 33 weeks trying to keep our baby inside my womb, and now we were trying to get her out. My womb had become an unsafe place for our baby, and the situation had become pretty dangerous for me as well.

At a little after 6AM, the nurse started a pitocin drip in my IV. I started to feel the contractions just a slight bit, but still not strong, and not very painful at all. This was not the horrible pain of labor that had been described to me so many times. If this was it, I was going to be fine.
Amniohooks AKA giant crochet chopsticks

Then around 8AM, my doctor checked me, and since I was only 4 cm dilated, she increased the pitocin and said she needed to break my water. She then proceeded to pull out an alarmingly long plastic thing that looked like an oversized chop stick with a crochet hook at the end. I began to panic for my child! "Isn't her head right against my cervix? Are you going to poke her in the head with that thing? Is this safe for her?" were the questions that I asked my doctor as she prepared to stick the giant crochet chop stick into me! But fortunately, my doctor knew what she was doing, and moments later I felt like I had just peed all over the place...

Then I felt my first REAL contraction. It was a little more painful than before, but still very tolerable. My plan from the start was to do the whole thing as naturally as possible without any pain management. That was my plan. But it was also my plan to have a full-term pregnancy and to attend classes on natural birth during my late second trimester. MY PLAN was NOT working out the way I had planned it. So, high on Magnesium, and against my husband's better judgement, I decided to rethink my pain management decision. To be fair, I recall my thought process through that decision, and it was very logical:
  1. The pain was not that bad, but it was causing me to fight each contraction. An epidural might help me relax a little more and let the contractions actually do what they were supposed to do.
  2. An epidural would not get into the baby's system at all.
  3. They had been threatening a C-Section because of my blood pressure and the concern that I could have a seizure. If I got rushed into an emergency C-section without an epidural in place, they would have put me completely out.
  4. I didn't need to prove anything to anyone.
  5. The medical benefits of natural birth would be almost completely overridden by delivering as early as I was delivering. And we had already gone completely off plan by letting them induce.
  6. I was already high as a kite on Magnesium, and so the very slim risk of paralysis didn't sound so terrible at the moment.
  7. I was already high as a kite on Magnesium ....
I got the epidural at around 10AM, and I do not regret that decision for this delivery. I think it helped move things along much faster since I didn't have the opportunity to learn how to manage pain through delivery while on bed rest. Before and after the epidural was in place, I played card games with my husband and mom. Again, this was not the nightmarish labor I was anticipating.

Then suddenly, I began to panic. I started crying. I was so afraid that I was not going to be a good mother. What if after all of this, I was just simply a bad mom? What if I didn't love my baby enough? My sweet nurse assured me that the women who worry about being a bad mom are the ones who turn out to be the best moms.

At around 2:30PM, my doctor came in and checked me, and I was only 8 cm. She told me to lay on my right side to help my cervix dilate more evenly. Unfortunately, they couldn't get a good reading on the baby's heart rate when I lay on my right because she was stuck in the right side of my funky uterus. So with the nurse's help I rolled in the bed for about 30 minutes trying to get on my right side with the monitor still on the baby. Toward the end of that failed attempt, my pain changed. It was not that dull pressure of a contraction as felt through an epidural. It was a sharper, harsher pain. So the nurse abandoned attempts to keep me on my right side and checked me again.

TA DA! 10 cm and ready for the doctor. Except, the doctor had just left to go home until I was ready. The nurse said, "Whatever you do, don't push!"

Oh my goodness! That was an incredibly scary 30 minute wait for the doctor and the room to be set up for delivery. The room had a button to press to call up the NICU docs before the baby was delivered. And I must have asked the nurse about 10 times during that wait to press the button. After several hours of trying to get the baby to come out, I was terrified that she would just fall out before her docs were there. I even asked my husband to go press the button while I lay there, legs crossed, clinching like I was trying not to soil the bed with a really bad stomach flu.

I was SO relieved when my doctor came in. They pressed the button and told me it was time to push. That was right after 3:30PM. After about 3 rounds of pushing, the doctor told me to put my hand down and feel the baby's head. It was SO squishy! It felt like a fuzzy water balloon sticking out of me. That put some more urgency into my pushing because I was afraid she couldn't breath in that position. (And yes, I am aware of how irrational that fear was.) With the next push, she was out.... 3:53PM

The next few minutes were a blur. The OB cut the cord before my husband even had a chance and passed the baby to the neonatologist. I was holding my breath and staring at her waiting for her to cry. She opened her mouth and out came a tiny little wail. And I exhaled.

My heart exploded with love. They rushed her into a little side room where all of the baby equipment was, and my husband followed them with a video camera. Click to view short video of her getting her hat put on her by the NICU docs.

1st family photo of the 3 of us
My doctor told me to keep pushing, but I was barely paying attention to her. All I could do is listen to that tiny little cry. I watched my husband's face to see his reaction to what they were doing to our baby.

A short time after, it could have been 1 minute or 10, one of the doctors brought my precious little baby girl to me to look at, kiss and hold for a minute.

When they wheeled her away in an incubator to the NICU, my husband went with her as far as he was allowed. She was doing well enough that they wheeled her through the lobby so my parents and friends in the waiting room could meet her. My dad, who had arrived just a few minutes before we started pushing, took some pictures.

She was tiny. Less than 4 pounds, but she was HERE and breathing on her own. Her skin was very thin, and her body lacked the fat that develops in the last few weeks of gestation. But I didn't see any of that. I just saw my daughter. My own child. Finally, after 4+ years of praying for her, she was here. My Abigail Nola, named after one of my favorite women in the Bible and my mamaw.

I was told I would never have children, and here was my miracle. Here was proof that God is faithful.

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