Monday, June 29, 2009

Alex's Birth Story

Jokingly, in this post, I had semi-wished for a 5 hour labor. That didn't exactly come to fruition....

On Monday, June 15, Rich and I went to bed around 9 p.m. I had been feeling some contractions throughout the evening, but they were irregular and not painful, so I thought they were the usual Braxton Hicks ones. I couldn't sleep, so I stayed awake in bed watching television while Rich slept. At 11, I noticed some pain coming with the contractions, and I decided to start timing things. Sure enough, they were coming five minutes apart and getting more intense and painful each time. I jumped out of bed, started the shower and told Rich to wake up because I thought this was the real thing. I wanted to get cleaned up before we went to the hospital, knowing that it might be awhile before I got to shower again. Good thinking on my part.

By the time we got to the hospital, 20 minutes later, my contractions were 3 minutes apart. They hooked me up to monitors and saw that I was indeed in labor, but only dilated 2 cm. The nurse said gravity might help, and had us walk around the floor of the hospital for an hour to see if we made any progress. The pain was really intense by this point, and I had to stop walking every few minutes to try and breathe my way through it. But we were laughing in between contractions, getting excited at the idea of our baby coming that night. When we got back to the room, the nurse examined me and found me still at 2 cm. No progress. So she said we needed to go home and continue laboring until I felt an increase in intensity. I remember almost crying at that point, because I was thinking there was no way I could make it if there was supposed to be an increase in the pain coming soon! But we got our stuff together, and left the hospital at 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning to go home. We tried to sleep (I was given a sleeping pill) but it was difficult. We already had a regular doctor's appointment that day at noon, and because I was afraid of being sent back home from the hospital, we decided to stay home until the appointment. It is a fog to me already, but I remember laying on the couch while Rich timed my contractions and he watched t.v.

When we got to my doctor's office, she asked me the usual questions..."Any pain lately? Any contractions?" I responded with a resounding YES and Rich filled her in on the story while I lay on her exam bed. She checked me, and I was 5 centimeters! She said, "You guys should go to the hospital!!!" (Like we hadn't thought of that!) So we made our way to the hospital, and things moved much quicker this time. Throughout the pregnancy, I had been hoping to have the baby naturally (without pain medication). I wasn't stubborn about the idea, and I had said that I would decide more on it once I actually knew what we were dealing with. Once we were in the hospital, it had already been 14 hours since contractions had started, and even though I was in a lot of pain, I had started telling myself I could do it. The nurse asked me if I wanted an epidural, and I said I'd like to wait. I thought if the level of pain continued as it was, then I could make it. The nurse said she thought the pain wouldn't get worse, and she thought if I had made it this far, I could make it all the way. She checked my progress after a couple hours, and I was 7 cm. We were so excited to be progressing, and the nurse and doctor were really surprised that I was still talking to people and dealing with the pain without medications. I asked her if I could walk around the hospital to keep things moving, and she was surprised, but said yes. As I stood up, my water broke. So she had me lay back in bed. Then things started slowing down. A few hours passed, and my pain started increasing. She examined me, and I was still at 7 cm. She said the doctor wanted to give me pitocin to keep me progressing, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to handle the pain of pitocin contractions. So I asked for an epidural, and 18 hours into labor, I was pain-free. I didn't like the feeling of numbness from the epidural, and I wish that I could have persevered without it, but it was definitely a relief to be out of pain!

After the epidural, I stayed at 7 cm for hours. They started increasing the pitocin doses, (luckily I couldn't feel a thing) but I was still 7 cm. Sometime after midnight, the nurse came to prepare me that if I didn't progress anymore in the next hour, they would need to do a C-Section. I was really bummed about this, knowing the pain and increase in recovery-time involved with major surgery. But I wanted the best outcome for our baby, so I started mentally preparing for it. But the scare of surgery apparently worked, because when she checked me again, I was 9 cm! Finally it was time to push sometime after 2 a.m. on Wednesday, June 17. After each round of pushing, my oxygen levels were low, so they put an oxygen mask on me. And then I got really nauseous, so it went something like this:

Push to the count of 10.... Three times....
Rip off my oxygen mask....
Lean over the side of the bed to throw up...
and Repeat...

The baby's heartbeat started dropping with each push. I could tell that they were getting concerned because the doctor's tone became much more serious. I heard my doctor say to the nurse, "Prep the room." They could see that the baby was in distress, and she had passed meconium in my waters, so the doctor said she needed to use the vacuum to get her out past my pelvic bone. With the last push, I heard my mom and Rich cry out, "She's right there!!!" And within seconds, she was laying on my stomach, and I was overwhelmed with joy, tears, and shock! What an amazing feeling. I can't describe how it felt to look into the eyes of our beautiful baby girl, knowing we created a miracle.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Alexandra Jane

I'm typing with one hand as I hold my baby with the other. So I still won't be able to type out the birth details, but here are a few pics for now...

 There are more photos here
Gotta go feed this hungry munchkin! She is a good eater, that's for sure!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

She's here!!

All I can say is that our baby girl has finally arrived! I'm too tired to write much now and too busy staring into her beautiful eyes, but I will write out the whole story soon.  She came on her due date, June 17, at 3:53 am after 30 hours of labor.  She weighed 6 lbs, 8 oz and is 20 inches long.  Every minute was worth it, and we are so in love with her! More to come soon...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hospital Visit #2

Rich and I went back to the hospital for repeat tests today.   It mostly went well.  The baby is doing great, and both of us love getting to hear her heart beating on the speakers.  My blood pressure is fine now, but my blood work came back with slightly lower platelet counts than my Thursday levels.  This can be associated with pre-eclampsia in some instances, and could lead to clotting problems during labor, so my doctor decided to administer prostaglandin gel to soften up my cervix and get the process started somewhat naturally in case we do need to induce.  And 5 hours later, we were sent home.  Five seems to be the magic number of hours that we stay in the hospital.  Can I hope for a miracle and ask for a five hour labor, perhaps?  Right.  No responses necessary on that one. 

I find it funny that my mind keeps going back to the medical ethics courses I took in college, when I was an idealistic pre-med student.  We had an entire lecture about the topic of Informed Consent, which should be obtained before all medical procedures.  It's a pretty basic concept, with both words being equally important: informed (meaning the patient is educated about all risks, benefits, and alternatives to the procedure) and consent (meaning the patient willingly and without coercion elects to undergo the procedure).  I haven't really been informed or given my consent during any of the medical procedures that I have undergone during this pregnancy.  I don't want to be that annoying patient who asks too many questions or acts like they know better than the doctor, but it is frustrating to be given partial pieces of information and to be 'told' what will be done instead of being asked.  And so I try to hold my tongue most of the time, unless I really feel the need to pipe in with a question or concern.  But when it comes to quality medical care, I feel like this is an important component.  Am I crazy?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Un Delivered

Yesterday was a fun-filled day for our family, as I went to my usual weekly doctor's appointment and then got to spend the rest of the day in the hospital.  My discharge paperwork has instructions for the "Undelivered Patient."  That's me.  Undelivered.  As in, still pregnant.  So we took our baby home from the hospital, but she is still sequestered in my tummy.

I apparently have a case of "Doctor's Office Hypertension."  At least that is what I'm calling it.  My blood pressure was high in the office, but then as soon as the doctor sent me to the hospital and I got hooked up to monitors and such, it was normal again.  Maybe hospitals calm me.  Most people feel stressed after being hooked up to beeping machines or getting blood drawn.  But I think my lowest blood pressure reading actually happened when the phleblotomist was drawing blood on my left arm and the blood pressure cuff was being administered to my right arm.  115/65.  Too funny.  So after 5 hours in the hospital, which included 2 ultrasounds, 1 blood test, 1 urine test, 10 blood pressure readings, and hours of baby heartbeat-monitoring, I was free to go.  The great news is that I don't have pre-eclampsia.

The not-so-great news is that I am now on bedrest and get to go back to the hospital on Monday for a repeat of yesterday's excitement.  And part of me thinks that my doctor is punishing me for not just getting induced on her convenient time schedule.  Two weeks ago, she offered to induce me when I got to the 39 week mark, but I said I would prefer to wait unless it was medically necessary.  She has suggested it 3 more times since then, in an off-handed, doing-me-a-favor way, kind of saying, "If you're tired of being pregnant, I can induce you anytime now."  And since I keep declining her, I think she is smiling to herself now, thinking, "well then, you can lay in bed all weekend and spend a few hours in the hospital and we'll see how you feel about inducing on Monday, won't we??" 

Oh well, I have plenty of recorded crime dramas to watch and internet websites to read.  I'm fine being undelivered for now.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The waiting game...

I'm not even 40 weeks yet.  Still 2 weeks to go.  But I'm ready now! 

So at night, as I lay in bed, which happens to be when the baby is most active, I analyze every little muscle twinge and movement.  Here is how it goes:

(baby moves or tiny contraction happens)

Me: Rich! I felt something.  

Rich: (half asleep) Yeah? 

Me: yeah! Oh, this one's really weird.  I think this one is different. 

Rich: Uh huh.

Me: What if this is it?  

Rich: yeah, maybe. (eyes still closed)

Me: You don't believe me, do you?

Rich: Huh? what? 

Me: What if we need to go to the hospital? 

Rich: zzzzzzzzz (snores)

And it goes like this over and over and over.  Ah...The waiting game.