Thursday, July 20, 2006

My birth story

It was far from the birth we had planned. I think the only way it could have been further from what we wanted was if we'd needed a c-section, and I really think we were moments away from that happening.

I entered Scripps Encinitas Sat night with cramping. They admitted me and informed me that I was leaking amnio fluid, which I'd not even realized. They tested the fluid to see if Owen's lungs were mature. They were not. I was given steroids to mature his lungs and antibiotics to fend off any infection that might be causing my premature labor symptoms. Also, I was put on indefinite bed rest there in the hospital, the goal being that maybe my amnio sac would reseal, or we could put off full blown labor until 36weeks gestation.

Five days latter I went into labor. I was feeling stronger contractions for a hour when they check me and said I was 6cm dilated. About an hour later I was 9cm. All week I'd heard that if I did deliver prematurely, it would be a fast and easier labor than a full term birth. By the way things were going, I was guessing that would be true for me. That last cm was a bit stubborn so the doctor decided to help it along a little because Owen was starting to show some decelerations. Both my midwife (who was able to be there in the hospital for information and support - thank God!! -) and the Dr. asked me to push when I felt the urge... but I never did. Eventually they had me push without the urge. I pushed for about 2 hours, knowing after about 30mins that it didn't feel like I was really doing much to move the baby. Turns out my contractions were never very strong or organized, since my uterus just wasn't ready for labor. I figured this was the case because I never really felt that I was getting help with the pushing... I never felt my contractions where helping me push. I was pushing as though I wasn't even in labor.

Eventually pitocin was suggested, and I really had hoped it wouldn't come to that, but Owen's heart rate was really starting to concern the Dr. and forceps were being discussed. So, I said okay to pitocin. In the meantime, I was having this horrible pain after each pushing session that felt nothing like the contractions and that no one could really explain to me. My contractions never being very strong I was dealing with pain pretty well, until this after pushing pain came... I still don't understand what that was, but it got so bad that I was starting to loose control, and I was getting scared. That on top of the prospect of forceps induced me to ask for an epidural. I felt that this was the final complication that took me miles from the birth that I wanted. Part of me was terribly disappointed in myself, but most of me knew that a forceps delivery without pain medication of some type is insane. I had no choice really, and that made it easier, and harder.

The epidural took effect immediately, which was very fortunate because Owen's heart rate was dropping more and more. Forceps were in, I was pushing (thought I couldn't feel the contractions anymore) and then I felt a new pain. It was the pain of my body being torn. I honestly expected that to happen, considering everything that was going on, but what I didn't expect was that the tearing was not in my perineum, but above my vagina running on either side of my urethra. That was not something I ever imagined could happen and it scared the hell out of me. I panicked. I decided I couldn't do this anymore. I gave up. And then I herd Catharine (my midwife) say "You've got to push your baby out." I knew then that I had to decide not to care what happened to me... I had to help my baby.. So, I just pushed as hard and I could and the Dr. pulled, and cajoled as much as she could, and Owen was born.

He was very floppy when he emerged, and not a good color. The umbilical cord was wrapped so tightly around his ankle that the Dr could not get it loose and had to enlist the help of the nurse to free Owen. Immediately after that, Owen was handed over to a whole team of medical personale who got him breathing and moved him out of the room, to the NICU. Kevin was able to go with them and stay in the NICU for a few minutes. Owen never had to be intibated, which was something I was relieved to hear.

Meanwhile, I was being stitched up, and it was soon discovered that my cervix had clamped down on the umbilical cord with my placenta still inside my uterus. I couldn't tell, but was told later, that my Dr. was up to her forearm inside of me trying to pull the placenta out. She worked hard for a while (maybe 30mins or so) and then it was decided I needed to go into surgery. They explained they might have to do a D&C (or scrape the placenta of my uterine wall, which can cause bad hemorrhaging). As it turned out they were able to use a sonogram to locate and manually detach the placenta, and I was out of the operating room much sooner than anyone thought.

I was returned to my room and Owen was brought to me in an isolate. He was with me for about ten minutes before he was taken by ambulance to Scripps La Jolla, where they have a NICU that can help sicker babies than Scripps Encinitas. (We found out days later, from the head of neonatal medicine that if they had observed Owen for an hour longer, they never would have moved him. He was doing that well.) I was released two days later, 7 days after entering the hospital, and went straight to La Jolla to hold my baby for the first time.

Owen was released from the NICU and went home with us 6 days after his birth. He was 35 weeks gestation and doing so well that an exception was made in the customary requirement that babies be at least 36weeks before being released.

We are all doing really well now. We have our baby home now, and he is getting stronger and fatter everyday. After bottling feeding in the NICU, we have finally made the transition this week to full time breast feeding. YAY!!!! While everything was happening at the hospital, I was just trying to roll with the punches and stay clear about everything that we were being told. Since then I've had time to reflect and mourn the birth that I'd wanted, as well as mourning not getting to complete my pregnancy. I'm just about over all that though, and am just really glad to have my family all together and safe.
So, that is our story..

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