Friday, May 10, 2013

Nugget: A Birth Story

Six weeks later and I'm still amazed that this beautiful little girl is ours.

Six weeks old

It feels like she just got here and yet has been in our lives for much, much longer than six weeks.

You all have been so patient for Willa's birth story, and I am so grateful. I needed time to process what happened and mourn my lost, for lack of a better term, "birth plan" as Willa taught us our first parenthood lesson that just because we want things to go one way doesn't mean it will happen that way.

(I really didn't want to use the term birth plan because I didn't really have one. Knowing myself like I do - and I should hope that I know myself pretty well by now - I knew that if I actually had a written plan and things didn't work out according to said plan, I would be incredibly upset. Instead, I had many conversations with my doctor over those months of pregnancy about what I wanted: vaginal birth, no episiotomy, an epidural at some point. I wanted to avoid a cesarean section unless medically necessary.)

The story begins on Tuesday, March 26. I was 39 weeks pregnant. When I left work that afternoon for my prenatal appointment, a coworker asked if it was time. I replied that it wasn't and that I was just headed to my doctor's office for the weekly checkup on baby. Oh how little did I know.

At the doctor's office, the nurses and I joked about the misery of the last weeks of pregnancy when you're just so damn uncomfortable as we went through the routine: weigh in (and pretend to not care about the number on the scale while telling yourself it's okay and you'll lose the baby weight), pee in a cup, chat about how I've been feeling over the past week (any contractions, bleeding, etc.), and take my blood pressure. The nurse mentioned that my blood pressure was high and took it again. It was still high.

I didn't think much of it as a couple weeks before my blood pressure was borderline high. So I waited patiently for my doctor. She had another patient who was in labor and pushing. Luckily, I didn't have many questions left so we moved straight to the checking of my cervix (1.5 cm dilated and very soft) and listening of Nugget's heartbeat (it was good). After chatting for a couple minutes, she checked the nurse's notes and noticed the high blood pressure, which did not please her. So she checked it again. Still high.

The doctor gave me a look that clearly said it was time. I had a hard time believing that this was it. While she checked reflexes and other potential signs of pre-eclampsia, she explained to me that if this had happened a few weeks ago, she would have ordered bed rest, but because I was 39 weeks, and Nugget was well developed, the risks of waiting a week outweighed the risks of inducing now. Even as she gave me directions to go directly to the labor and delivery floor next door and check in, I kept thinking this couldn't be it.

The plan was to use a cervical ripening agent overnight and induce in the morning. I walked out to my car in a daze to grab my hospital bag that I had packed and kept in my car over the last few weeks just in case and immediately made three phone calls. First to John to tell him to leave work and take Cooper to the boarding place before coming to the hospital. Next my mom, who I had to get out of a client meeting to tell her Nugget would be here within a day, and finally my sister.

Out of all the scenarios I imagined how I would arrive at the hospital to deliver Nugget, walking in by myself was not one of them. I was incredibly nervous, and it was obvious as I chattered with the nurse who was checking me in while changing into the hospital gown and climbing into bed. The nurse did a great job keeping my mind occupied as we talked about what would happen and other unrelated topics.

After the check in process was complete and the cervical ripening agent inserted, I settled in for the evening. John showed up shortly thereafter, followed by my family who brought us dinner as I was too distracted to order anything from the hospital's cafeteria before they closed for the night. Having a few hours to accept the news that I was going to be induced and having my family around me, I was feeling less nervous and more ready for what was to come.

Around 10 p.m. I got a sleeping pill from the nurse to help me sleep. Only I was so wired as I could not stop thinking about what was happening and was starting to feel small contractions thanks to the cervical ripening agent that I had to take another sleeping pill an hour or so later. Finally, I was able to get to sleep.

Since the plan was to start pitocin at 6 a.m., I took a shower at 5:30 so I could start the long day fresh. Afterwards, the nurse inserted the IV, and the pitocin fun began. Every half hour the dosage of pitocin was increased. At 9 a.m., my doctor came in to check on me before starting her appointments for the day. While there she checked my cervix (2 cm dilated) and broke my water.

After 45 minutes, the contractions were coming faster and stronger so that I was having to stop talking with my family who were in the room and breathe through each one. The next time I saw the nurse I requested the epidural. When it had been administered and sufficiently numbed the lower half of my body, the nurse checked my cervix again. The good news was that I was 4 cm dilated so labor was progressing. The bad news... Willa was butt down.

The nurse was fairly certain that what she felt was the baby's rear end and not her head. The doctor was called so she could check, and she too felt the soft tushy. The doctor did a sonogram just to be extra sure. When it was confirmed that Willa had flipped to breech position after spending several weeks head down, the doctor gave me that look again. The one that said you know what we have to do. And then she booked the operating room for 11:15 to perform the cesarean section that would bring Willa into this world.

I can't remember exactly what I said, but I know I was in disbelief again. When my mom and sister came back into the room, they already knew and that's when I started to cry. It was the delivery I didn't want, but it was the one I was going to have.

The next half hour passed in a blur as they prepped me. John put on the scrubs they gave him so he could be in the operating room with me. And then it was time.

I started to tremble uncontrollably. Luckily there was a fan in the operating room that blew warm air on me and after a few minutes while the prep was being finished, I stopped trembling. Once the doctor got started, it didn't take long before I felt the pushing on my stomach that meant Willa was about to be born. With the sheet draped in front of my face, I couldn't see her when it was announced she was here. She was brought to a table just over my left shoulder. John stood up to watch as she was checked by the nurses and cleaned up. All I could see of her while this was going on was the top of her head and the bottom of one of her feet (her legs were flipped up so that her feet were by her head as if she were doing the world's most flexible toe touch). I remember being frustrated that after all this time all I got to see of her was her head and foot. 

After what seemed like days, the nurse brought her over and laid her on my chest so I could look at her while the doctor finished. I drank her in and could not stop myself from crying. After all that we had been through trying to get pregnant, she was finally here. It felt surreal. I could not stop staring at her even though I was exhausted, and it was taking tremendous effort just to keep my eyes open.

So when a nurse said John and Willa could go back to my labor and delivery room while the doctor closed me up, I didn't want them to go. At the same time, I was glad they went because it meant I could shut my eyes and rest for a bit.

It was not the delivery I wanted and hoped for. But the result is. And she's beautiful.

Not even an hour old


Michele said...

LOVE (and totally in tears now.) So happy for you and John for your family! :)

Jenn said...

I saw you posted this earlier this week, but bookmarked to reach when I had time to fully ingest - and I'm so glad I did. I'm totally in tears too and I'm just so happy for you guys that she is healthy and here with you - finally! :)