Sunday, March 27, 2016

Gracie's Birth Story

My sweet Grace,

You are now one month old and your little life has already blessed me so much.  Having the opportunity to hold, cuddle, and love another precious baby has brought me so much joy.  God certainly knew what He was doing when he gave you to me.  Before my memory of your birth completely fades, I thought I'd write it all down - just as I have with all your brothers and sisters.

Leading up to Your Birth

After passing your due date of February 14th, my anxiety surrounding your arrival continued to grow.  I already had a midwife appointment scheduled for Wednesday the 17th, but I ended up calling into the office on Tuesday the 16th.  I was tearful and worried about all the little things that I now know can go wrong.  What if something happens with her cord?  What if it's wrapped around her neck?  What if the placenta starts to detach?  What if she's too big?  What if she passes meconium while inside? The nurse wrote down my concerns, but was unable to tell me if a stress test would be done the next day, or what the rest of the pregnancy would look like.  She was not understanding why I was feeling concerned, even after I explained my loss.  I was left feeling emotional, hormonal, and crazy. 

One of my most beloved midwives saw the note and decided to give me a call.  I'm not even sure she was the one on-call to deal with patients like me who just left a message.  She heard my weary voice and my quiet sobs over the phone.  She was so gracious and loving and assured me that all was fine, reminded me that I was feeling my baby move, and that she would be here so soon.  She also explained that if I decided I couldn't wait any longer, she was on-call at the hospital that Friday.  She knew I wanted another completely natural birth, so she explained how pitocin could be avoided (more on that later), and I could still labor in the tub to deal with the pain.  Exactly what I needed to hear!

At my appointment the next day, I made it clear I was ready and willing to be induced that Friday.  They called over to the hospital and it was set - We'd arrive to be induced at 8am.

On the way to the hospital that morning, I realized how much easier the drive was in comparison to my others, not having to travel through contractions.  I actually started making a list of all the benefits of being induced.  Because, of course I did.  

Other pros to an induction: 
-You're able to get ready that morning with plenty of time.  No rushing around wondering how much time you really have before you wish you were already at the hospital.
-You know that you're shaving your legs, packing your bag, and deep cleaning the house - for the last time.  For real this time.
-You're able to pick the day you have your baby, based on which midwife is on call.
-The drive to the hospital is very calm, instead of being in agonizing pain, feeling every bump.
-You're able to go through Registration and all the nurse's questions totally calm and not in pain.

And more specifically for us:
-My sweet hubby, a 5th grade teacher (who had already written and then used two weeks of substitute plans) was able to get a substitute in place and write plans for the exact days he'd be gone.
-It just so happened that two out of our three cars were not working, and I'd been very stressed out thinking about if hubby would make it to hospital, or what I'd do if I was at home without a vehicle.
-Our childcare was now schedule and arranged.  No one was getting a call in the middle of the night.

Day of Induction

By 8:30 that morning, I was checked and found to be 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced.  I distinctly remember sitting in that hospital bed, looking up to see two of my favorite people - my dear husband and my wonderful sister.  Suddenly my reality seemed so surreal.  I thought I'd never be back here.  Back in Labor & Delivery.  Preparing to have another baby!  After paperwork and labs, a cervical gel was inserted at 9:40 and I had to lay down for an hour and a half to allow it to do its job.  By 11:20, I was up and moving.  I was starting to feel crampy, but I was still able to laugh and talk.  The three of us (four, including our amazing nurse) had a great day - catching up on life, searching houses online for my sister, taking turns for lunch breaks, and finding funny shows on the television.

It was mentioned more than a few times that the best way to get things really going would be to do nipple stimulation.  This meant I certainly wasn't going to be walking the halls (can you imagine that sight), and would just have to stay in my room.  I got in the shower for a half an hour, and by 1:45pm the contractions were getting stronger and much more regular.  At 2:30 I was pacing my room and the contractions really increased in their intensity.  Suddenly I wasn't just breathing through them, but forcing my hubby to stand in front of me as I swayed and violently rubbed his forearms.  (As soon as I gave birth, I mentioned that my hands hurt so badly, although I couldn't figure out why.  "Because you were massaging everyone!"  Oh yeah.)  At 2:55 my contractions were coming every two minutes.

At 3:20 my midwife came in and was happily surprised at how much more uncomfortable I seemed.  She decided it was time to break my waters.  She was hoping I was at least 4 or 5cm, but my sister later told me I was only a 3.  But it was enough for her to do this final induction procedure.  I realized pretty quickly, although everyone was trying to keep me calm and therefore in the dark, that you had a bowel movement inside - there was meconium in my water.  This complicated matters.

From 3:45 until 5:15 I tried to relax as much as possible and enjoyed the jacuzzi tub, only getting out at 4:30pm to be put on the monitor for a short time.  This was really hard emotionally, because I kept thinking about my previous labor with Ruby where I had arrived at the hospital at 9am, got in the tub, and then delivered by 10:15.  It was discouraging that I wasn't going from 3 to 10 in a matter of moments - which I now realize was a completely ridiculous expectation.  This was an induction.  This was completely different.

I was checked by my midwife at 5:20pm after feeling you moving down, and was told I was 6cm.  I thought I was fully dilated, so at this point I felt emotionally done.  I had been in pain for hours and the entire process had been taking all day.  I was telling everyone I just couldn't do it.  That I just didn't want to do it anymore.  I just couldn't stand the thought that this pain would last even one more hour.  Luckily my midwife knew it wasn't much longer.  She knew we were VERY close.

What happened next was the most precious part of the entire experience.  As I sat on the birthing ball, leaning against the bed, I found myself completely surrounded by this amazing team of supporters.  Kyle and Ashleigh were laying on the bed, their faces close to mine.  To my left, my nurse was literally on the ground next to me.  And on my right, my midwife.  Every contraction I would rub Kyle's arms, trying desperately to get through each contraction.  At one point Ashleigh took a turn to be massaged; I remember commenting about how much smaller her hands were.  My midwife rubbed my lower back with her fist to give me counter-pressure, as I was having horrible back labor.  A first for me.  At one point I asked her if she needed a break, because I honestly couldn't believe how helpful and involved she was being.  (Another reason I love my midwives.  So many people describe never even seeing their doctor until the very end of their labors, when they come in just in time to catch the baby.  So crazy thankful for her.)  As soon as I would yell out in pain, everyone was there to remind me to breathe.  

This was definitely the hardest 30 minutes of the day.  I just felt so done.  At one point I said I felt like I could throw up and my midwife announced I was in transition.  I remember specifically getting through one difficult, long contraction and my midwife saying, "You're one contraction closer to meeting your baby!" but all I could say was "How many MORE do I have to go through?"  And maybe some other not so nice phrases.  Pretty sure at some point I just yelled out her name, like this whole thing was her fault.  Several times I heard her giggle quietly and politely, as she reminded me that inductions take time, and that I was thinking about this the wrong way.  Her sweet spirit definitely helped me stay calm.

Your Arrival

I started feeling much more pressure, so my midwife had me get on the bed.  I was checked at 5:55 and she said I could start pushing even though I was not quite fully dilated, but was 9.5 cm with a small lip left.  I knew it would be easier to get through each contraction if I started bearing down instead of desperately trying to breathe through it.  I thought I wanted to push on my side, as that had been successful to me in the past, but this time it just wasn't working.  Although I knew I needed to lay on one bent leg and only worry about holding the other - I was keeping both legs straight.  My midwife, along with Kyle and my nurse, kept telling me to grab my legs, and I knew it would help, but I can only describe it as an out of body experience.  I just kept saying, "I can't," feeling like I was hearing them as I was hovering over the whole scene instead of physically able to do anything.  Finally my midwife got Kyle to hold my leg for me and my pushes become very effective.  My sister's face was right next to mine and she was whispering in my ear, "You can do this!  You ARE doing this!" and "I can see her head, Meghan!  She has lots of hair!"  Everything she was saying was exactly what I needed to hear.  Just moments later, you were born at 6:03pm!  Because I was sitting up and curled in a ball to get you out, I actually opened my eyes and looked down to see you being born!  It was absolutely the biggest feeling of relief I've ever felt.

Because of the meconium, they weren't able to put you immediately on my chest.  You were quickly taken so they could clear your mouth and nose before you took your first deep breath.  After being checked out by a Neonatolgist, you were cleaned up.  Your daddy was still standing by me making sure I was okay and I instructed him to walk over and check you out!  He brought back his cell phone so I could see your precious face and I exclaimed, "She doesn't look like anyone!"  We all thought you looked like your very own person.  Moments later I started seeing your big brother Gabriel in you.  The same profile.  The same eyes.  This was tremendously bittersweet.

Was it crazy hard?  Oh, yeah.  I immediately told Ashleigh (mom of one) that she didn't need to have anymore children.  And when a young nursing assistant gave me props for having you (and all 9 pounds 3 ounces of you) naturally, I said, "I wouldn't recommend it."  Ha.

Was it all worth it?  Oh, yeah.  Now that it's all said and done, I wouldn't have changed a thing.  I'm so grateful you are here, healthy, and part of my amazing family!

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