I have not been missing in action for the last two weeks. I have been very much in action. I have been spending the last ten days basking in the complete delight of this...
My little "Duck," was born on Thanksgiving Day, at 2:40 pm, after a nearly 24 hour long induction of labor. This precious little boy is my smallest baby, weighing 6 pounds 14 ounces and measuring 20 inches long.
I am blissfully happy. Happy to have the opportunity to be a new mommy again. Happy to have the chance to experience another newborn. Happy to have him here safely. Happy to no longer be pregnant.
I would like to warn you in advance that, for a little while at least, there will be a flood of baby posts. It would be impossible for that not to occur.
I should also warn you that the rest of this post is my birth story and may be overly long and may contain too much personal information. Reading this is optional. Writing this is not optional. I must write to remember and to cherish.
When I went to my last regularly scheduled OB appointment on Wednesday, November 21, I took my time walking over there. I didn't want my blood pressure to be high from a power walk from the OR to the clinic. My blood pressure had been elevated on my last two appointments. However, rechecks had been normal. I strolled over and arrived with plenty of time to sit, relax, and rest my massively swollen feet and legs. Despite this, my blood pressure was still elevated when I was checked in, so my urine was checked for protein. This had been done two week earlier, and the result was normal. This time was different: my urine came back positive for protein. With high blood pressure and proteinuria, the concern for preeclampsia, the diagnosis that had just been a whisper of a concern, suddenly became a real possibility.
My OB came in to discuss the results. She gave me two options: head over to Labor and Delivery now for an induction, or undergo a 24 hour urine collection to arrive at a definite diagnosis and then have an induction. The only reason she was really giving me an option was because the next day was Thanksgiving. She said that if I were her sister, she would take me to L&D now, and bring me turkey later. I looked at Hubster, almost feeling numb.
"Let's just be done," he said. I nodded and mumbled my assent. The OB left the room to arrange for my admission and induction.
I wasn't quite sure what to think. I wasn't ready. Yes, I wanted to not be pregnant anymore, almost more than anything. The swelling that had been a mild nuisance was now significant, going up to my mid thighs; it had been a while since I could fit into normal shoes and my face and hands were now swollen. My heartburn was still raging, despite twice daily medication. My mild hip and back pain had turned into distracting sciatica. So yes, I wanted to be done. But I still had pictured going into labor on my own. I had undergone an induction with Monkey and had been hoping to avoid it this time around. That was not going to be the case.
As Hubster and I walked over to Labor and Delivery, I called my mom, who had arrived in town on Sunday and was currently watching Bug and Monkey. I then called my friend who had offered to watch the boys so my mom could be present at the birth. I felt guilty with every phone call, feeling that I was ruining Thanksgiving for so many people. But not a single person complained.
I checked into L&D, changed, had an IV placed. I then received a medication to help "ripen" my cervix, since I was only dilated to 2 cm. Now, there was nothing left to do except wait. Hubster returned home to get my carefully packed hospital bag. He brought my mom and the boys to the hospital to visit. The boys then went to my friends' house for what we sold to them as a sleepover.
Playing on iPhones is apparently much better than actually visiting.
The rest of the night was spent waiting, having the external monitors constantly adjusted. Around 2:30 am, the irritating Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been having started becoming more uncomfortable, waking me out of my already poor quality sleep. At 5 am, when they rechecked me, I hadn't made an cervical change, and a different cervical ripening medication was placed. At this time, they also took the monitors off so that I could shower. That may have been the longest shower I have ever taken, since it felt wonderful to be out of bed, off monitors. At 8 am, the monitors went back on.
I became increasingly uncomfortable with my contractions. Also, the baby's heart rate, which had looked perfect most of the night, started showing some dips, or decelerations. These were mild enough and short lived enough that no one was really concerned.
At 11 am, I was no longer able to talk through (or really breathe through) my contractions, and I had an epidural placed (ah, the glorious epidural!) Finally having my contractions stop hurting, along with my back and hips, I was finally able to get some real sleep.
This lasted only an hour, because the decreases in the baby's heart rate, which had been mild, had become more pronounced. I was placed on oxygen. The nursing staff moved me into a different position every 15 minutes. I was given more IV fluid. All was in an attempt to make the fetal heart rate tracing look better.
This is the problem with being a patient and being medically educated. I kept looking at the red tracing of the baby's heart rate, and I knew the zig-zagging line was showing variable decelerations. Every time the entire team of doctors came into my room, I knew how worried they were, despite their calm voices. After so long, we have all learned to keep our voices calm despite our concerns.
I was still making very little cervical change. The OB team was worried that anything to speed up my labor might make the baby do worse. He already wasn't dealing well with my own contractions, so adding Pitocin to make them stronger might hake things worse. The decreases in his heart rate could also be from compression of the umbilical cord, and breaking my water could make that worse. Finally, the team decided that we were at a stand-still and something had to be done and decided to break my water. When they did, the amniotic fluid contained meconium and blood. At this time, the concern became that I had a placental abruption, or bleeding behind the placenta, making it less effective at providing good blood flow to the baby. And then the talk of a Cesarean section began. Fetal scalp monitors and intrauterine pressure devices were placed. The OB decided to try an infusion of fluid into my uterus to see if it would help alleviate the stress on the baby before taking me for a C-section.
Around this time, I started crying. I help Hubster's hand tightly and quietly cried among all the activity around me.
This was not how this was supposed to go. This was my third baby. This was supposed to be easy. Everyone kept telling me how easy the third labor would be ("Oh, that baby will probably just fall right out." "So-and-so only had 5 contractions and pushed once with her third baby.") I wanted this to be the perfect labor, where I got to really be aware of everything, to be in control. This, what was happening, this was not my perfect labor. This was anything but perfect.
When they broke my water, I had been measuring 4 cm. 10 minutes later, when they came to start the amnio-infusion, the last intervention before taking me for a C-section, I was at 10 cm. The baby's heart rate tracing was still not looking better, but since I was complete, the OB decided to have me push.
"You are going to get a lot of aggressive coaching," she told me. "You have to push hard. You have to have this baby right now."
It felt that there were 20 people in the room yelling at me to push (Hubster says it was closer to 10). Around that time, my clear picture of what was happening became less clear. Everything felt more intense, more fuzzy. Each memory became a mere snap shot.
Pushing, and feeling the pain of each contraction through the epidural.
The OB's expression changing and the vacuum delivery unit being rapidly assembled.
The vacuum popping off twice.
Someone shouting that they needed the pediatric team in the room now.
Hubster voice in my ear, telling me his head was out and to keep pushing.
The physical relief of the baby being delivered.
The backs of the peds team facing me.
The cry of my baby.
My own sobbing, both of relief and pure joy.
Hubster, snapping pictures and become tearful himself.
The OB attempting to explain to me what had happened: a profound decrease in the baby's heart rate, necessitating rapid delivery with the vacuum.
My whole body shaking.
Everything was blur, up to the moment until they placed my new baby boy on my chest, all pink and perfect.
There is this moment, when your child is born, that the universe tilts, shatters, and realigns around this new person. All the concerns and preoccupations that I previously had, those no longer mattered. Missing Thanksgiving, inconveniencing people, having the "perfect" labor: none of that mattered. The only thing that matters is the tiny, fragile, damp haired baby in my arms.
Eventually, after everything settled down, Hubster left to get Bug and Monkey to meet their new brother. Looking at them holding him, commenting on how small and cute he is, made me feel so complete. This is my family.
He is here, my little Duck is finally here.
Ready to head home
And he is perfect.