02 November 2011

London's Birth Story

 After 41 weeks of pregnancy, a couple of months of preparing for a natural VBAC labor and birth, and a week of inconsistent contractions, London finally began showing real signs of wanting to make her way into the world.  On Sunday morning, August 28, Noah's 3rd birthday, I lost my "plug." And then, Monday evening, my water started to break. I slowly leaked, and Tuesday morning, after packing and preparing to be in the hospital, I made a trip into my doctor's office to find out if indeed my water was broken. And it was.

Because my body was showing signs of progression, Dr. Mimlitz let me try Pitossin, rather than just taking me in for surgery. I was thankful for this allowance, because I honestly hadn't expected it. He had been so adamant about not inducing me as a VBAC. So Matt, Mom and I made our way to labor and delivery. Around noon, I was hooked up to the IV, the Strep B antibiotic and Pitossin, and the baby heart monitor was put in place. This was the beginning of being hooked to an IV for the next three days. Being "hooked up" was certainly not in my plans, but neither was my water breaking without natural labor happening on it's own. Again, I was thankful for being able to still attempt a vaginal birth.

Contractions started shortly after the Pit was started, and I very much experienced the "stages of labor" I had read so much about. They gained strength over the hours. By around 5pm I was ready to call Hollie, my doula, to help with working through the tough contractions. Matt and I had been walking the halls, I had spent lots of time on the ball, and we had tried several positions. When Hollie arrived, we tried more positioning, and eventually, I began to get tired and wanted to lie down. After lying down, I realized that the contractions hurt worse in that position, but I was feeling exhausted. The contractions continued to strengthen and the pain escalated. They began to get so strong that I told Matt I wasn't sure I could make it to the end without some pain meds. They created this radiant pain I had never experienced the likes of before. It was incredibly un-enjoyable! He, being well versed in what to do, encouraged me by saying that I could do it, and asking me to just "make it through one more contraction." I agreed and pushed through a few more. Then the nurse came in, and I couldn't let her leave without asking about pain med options. A part of me was disappointed in opting for the meds, but at the same time, contracting via Pitossin was not in my plans and the contractions it was giving me were simply unbearable. I was starting to get a little panicy...it was really really painful. While pain options were being discussed over my head, the contractions became torturous. I was shaking, moaning and crying through each one, and I felt like I couldn't recoop well between them. I began to get scared of the next one coming. Matt would hold me tightly through each one, as I breathed hard and tried to just get through it. I've never felt anything so intense. The on call doctor, along with my nurse, a resident doctor, my mom, Debbie, Hollie and Matt stood around me as more pain med conversation was had. I recall having so many people around, but not caring because I honestly couldn't concentrate on anything other than the pain. During this conversation where Statol vs. Epidural vs. lowering the Pitossin, vs. seeing how far dilated I was was discussed, I experienced several more contractions, and I remember finally saying, can I just get the epidural? I need it! Everyone started to move into gear at that point. My amazing nurse, Valerie, checked me, and I was only dilated 1cm! My doula said she expected me to be dilated to a 6, 7 or 8 due to the intensity of my contractions, and she said she was shocked that I was only a 1. That sealed the deal for me. The anesthesiologist wasn't long and by 11:30ish I was resting much more easily. I could still feel the intensity of the contractions but without the pain. It was a really interesting sensation. I was on an Epidural drip, so I could control the amount, and I was able to still move my legs and body pretty easily.  My nurse thought that my body would continue to strongly contract and hopefully push the baby down now that I was more relaxed.

Unfortunately, after 5 more hours of labor, I was still only dilated to a little over 1cm, even after consistent strong contractions, and the baby started to show signs of slight distress. Matt began to feel very uncomfortable with continuing when the chances of my cervix opening were getting less and less. During these 5 hours, my doula did some research on the cervix not opening and found that they are cases of "iron cervixes" where the body is ready and the cervix is effaced, but it will not dilate. My nurse and the resident doctor began saying the same things Dr. Mimlitz had been worried about throughout my pregnancy, and it was decided that the best move was to have a Cesarean. Matt felt like we were just waiting for the baby to become distressed, and he felt that was purposeless and irresponsible, as the consensus was that my cervix was not going to open if it had not made any progress by this point. And I agreed.

I knew in my heart that this was the answer, although the extreme disappointment brought tears. I tried; it just wasn't what God had in store. After a few moments of sadness, I resolved myself to what was ahead. I threw up a couple of times while waiting for the surgery prep to begin, and just felt exhausted after such a long day and night of labor.  I could barely keep my eyes open (and didn't even try honestly) while they were prepping me. I didn't need to hear anything more from my loved ones. I didn't need to see the movement all around me. I was rolled to the operating room. I wanted to block out the upbeat music that was playing and the random conversations taking place between the nurses and doctors.  I wanted to block out everything. I just wanted to be on the other side of things. I wanted the surgery to be over, and I wanted to sleep. This is one of the things I hated about the Cesarean with Noah too. Just this feeling of wanting to close my eyes and have it be over. My vision of birth was to reach for my baby and hold her close right away, while being fully aware; not practically knocked out from exhaustion and drugs, unable to even touch her.

 (This is an awful picture of me, but it perfectly shows the combination of desperation and helplessness I was feeling.)

After the odd sensations of numbed pushing and pulling, I finally heard her cry! I opened my eyes as I muffled a sob and looked at this brunette beauty being lifted over the curtain. She was immediately taken to the warmer and (just like with Noah) I watched her first moments from a distance. This is the part that hurt the most; this is the part I most wanted to avoid. I longed for the ability to hold her skin to skin, but instead I felt weak and distant because of the exhaustion and all the drugs running through me. I was wheeled into recovery where Matt held the baby for at least the first ten minutes. I kept saying to him that I was afraid of dropping her because I felt so weak. This made me so sad at the time and still breaks my heart when I think back on it. But London was healthy and beautiful and here! Matt wanted to find our moms and give them the good report, but I told him I needed a few minutes to just be.  I did start to feel better, and was able to hold my sweetie just a little while later. We requested a bed side admit, so London was cleaned and examined right next to us. It was nice not to be separated from her like we were from Noah. After the bedside admit, I was able to nurse her before getting moved up to our recovery room.

 Praise God, our long awaited and anticipated little girl was here!
London Adele Stark, 8lbs, 8oz., 21.75'' 
The drugs slowly made their way out of my body, London began nursing really well immediately, and despite the disappointment of another Cesarean, we were so happy to be on the other side of 'pregnant' and ready to begin life as a family of four. Daddy, Mommy, little boy and little girl.