Saturday, June 15, 2013

J's Birth Story

Around 23 weeks pregnant, Lake Tahoe, CA 8/2012
Everyone knows my pregnancy wasn't the most delightful experience. From about 2 weeks on, I felt this....anxiety and fear that something was, or would go, wrong. I can't explain how it came to be, just that it was there and I couldn't shake it. My mom said that being so far from family probably contributed to it. I think that's probably true. But I maintain, and always will, that I had "mother's intuition" that this wasn't a normal pregnancy. I also call it a God thing. I believe everything happens for a reason....His reason. For wordiness' sake, here's how it came to be that I delivered J at the same hospital and with the same midwife/doctor practice as I did G...even though we started out half way across the country.

My seemingly irrational fear that I would die in child birth, or the baby would be lost ---> I nagged my husband every week, if not several times a week, that we needed to get back to the Midwest before November ---> my husband said he would try ---> our 20 week ultrasound showed "abnormal" nasal structure, or lack there of ---> my fears were validated ---> we thought maybe our son had Down's Syndrome ---> my husband requested a transfer back to the home office, though he never said anything indicitive of trouble, simply that we wanted to be closer to family for our son's birth, since he would have been moved soon after anyways ---> we house hunted over Labor Day ---> Moved just before what was considered "un safe" for me to be traveling (32 weeks)

Sometime in there, you might recall, I had blood drawn for a Harmony Blood Test that is fairly new, but also pretty reliable at telling if the baby has trisomies on the 13, 18, or 21 chromosome.  It came back very low risk (1/10,000).... so we were left wondering just what was going on with our son.

My old midwife was happy to have me back, and I was thrilled to be back. I told her all about my fears, and pretty much requested an ultrasound to check on the baby. I convienently measured a tad big, plus they hadn't seen the baby on ultrasound for themselves, so she had me schedule an ultrasound for the following week. Turns out....my amniotic fluid levels were higher than 'normal.' You might recall, I slightly got freaked out because nothing seemed to be normal with this pregnancy. I had so many ultrasounds through the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I forget how many. I think like 5 or 6?

We planned a natural birth and I truly believed it wouldn't happen. Yeah, I wanted it, and I hoped for it, but again with the mother's/woman's intuition. Thus, I questioned my doula/doula's back up a bit harder about their preperation for births that go wrong, I played the what if game a lot more with my midwife, I came up with plans A-D on what to do with G should I go in to labor or have an emergency situation, and I prayed. I talked to my husband and mom about how I was feeling, a lot. I'm thankful to have had the both of them, so that neither of them took 100% of my emotions.

I tried to focus on the positive things. We were back close{r} to family. We had a home. We had all necessary supplies. Our baby was big, growing wasn't an issue. I was uncomfortable beyond all get out, but I could still move and take care of G. I wasn't on bed rest. Alleluia to that. My BFF threw my an awesome baby shower. My birthday was pretty fantastic. Baby boy was free to come any time after that.

I had practice contractions for what seemed like a month, but they didn't do anything. Once I thought things were serious, and even had plans A and C activated (my husband's cousin came over in the middle of the night until my mother-in-law could get here), but it was a true false alarm.

12/15/12 - all the excitement provoked baby boy out :-)

On December 15, we had a full day of Christmas-themed fun with my sister in town. Then my in-laws called (or texted, I don't remember) my husband to say that they were no longer going to come over on Christmas, as had been the plan, but instead were coming TOMORROW. Yeah, I about freaked out. I mean, I am super pregnant, and had plans for Christmas. I did not have supplies or plans for an early Christmas feast on less than 24 hour notice. (I know you guys read this, so don't be offended, but I really was pretty thrown off! Everything worked out, though, obviously) I called my mom to complain about how unprepared I was, and she told me that it'd likely spur the baby to be born, and I agreed that would be nice so that my father-in-law could be here (since he works a retail schedule, it's hard to pin him down). I politely-ish told my husband to inform his parents that we could go out to eat, or order in, but I was not cooking a Christmas feast. We went to bed with plans to go to church, eat out, and exchange gifts with the in-laws.

I slept horribly during both of my pregnancies. It's just how my body operates. But usually my best sleep was around 5-8 in the morning. I woke up at 6 am with this ridiculous urge to go finish the ironing, which was the only thing left on my to-do-list. As I stood in our basement, ironing my husband's work clothes, I prayed a whole lot and talked to the baby. I asked God, St. Gerard, and St. Gianna to let us both live. I prayed that if someone had to die, please let it be me, not the baby, and I told the baby how much I loved him already. I know all of this sounds melodramatic, but you guys, you really have no idea how much anxiety I was trying to suppress the whole pregnancy. Also while downstairs, I messaged my mother-in-law and told her that I felt like today was really the day, and that if she could bring some extra clothes to maybe stay the night with G, if needed...

After I finished up the ironing, I carried it upstairs and crawled back into bed. A bit later, we got up for the day and I told my husband about my feelings. Contractions picked up past the practice-feelings I had been experiencing. These started being painful enough I gritted my teeth and focused on breathing. We all got ready for church, and I had a few more contractions. They weren't stopping with relaxing or moving, so I assumed it was real. My mood around the house was kind of tense, because I didn't want my water to break. Part of having too much fluid is the concern that the baby's cord could come out first, which would basically cut off blood to the baby. It's a pretty risky business.

I am clearly an advocate for natural birth, and don't think people who have home births are crazy, but mothers with extreme polyhdraminos (what I had) are usually turned away by home birth midwives, or atleast they are by the ones who know what's best. Things can go bad really fast....but everyone kept telling me how rare that is, and how I shouldn't be worried, and blah blah blah.

The truth is, with G, I wanted to avoid the hospital for as long as possible, but with J, I needed to be there when my water broke, for safety's sake. My worst fear was that the baby would die waiting for an ambulance to get to my house if my water broke and his cord prolapsed. My midwife, at one point, told me that babies can "survive" like 8 minutes or something before things go "drastically" wrong.... so an ambulance would be almost a gamble too. Knowing all these things, you probably think I should have had a scheduled C-Section to pull J out before I even went into labor...but even now, looking back, I would NOT have chosen that method. I'll tell you why in a minute.
12/16/12 before church. I forgot just how huge I was

Alright back to the story. We all got ready for church. During driving the short, 9 minute drive to church, I had a painful contraction. While in the parking lot, I had another pretty painful contraction, that I'm still able to kind of talk through. My sister or husband, I forget which one, said maybe we shouldn't go into church. I said that we were there anyways, and I didn't want to miss Mass. Plus, it's nice to distract yourself from labor by staying busy or focusing on other things.

Although I had crazy visions of my water breaking during Mass, and screaming "is there a doctor in the house!?" I felt called to make it through mass. The contractions definitely picked up during Mass, and I was kind of patting myself on the back for making it through, without too much distraction to other people. After church, in the car, I informed everyone that this baby was in fact, coming today. There was no going back. My in-laws showed up at our house not long after we got home. I think they were pretty excited, but also unsure of what to do, or so it seemed to me. I requested Panera for lunch, it was the only thing that sounded good. Half a Turkey Bravo and a cup of Sonoma Chicken Stew, with whole grain bagette for a side. {Panera, if you are out there, feel free to send me free stuff as a token of your appreciation!!} A few times during lunch I shot up out of my chair and hurried to our powder room, that's just around the corner from the kitchen / dining room. I didn't want everyone, primarily G and my father-in-law, to watch me deal with increasingly painful contractions. After lunch, we told our doula to head to our house. In between lunch and her arrival, we did the gift thing :-) Then she went down for her nap.

I was super grateful when our doula arrived. She came up to my room with me. I told my husband to stay and chat with his parents, since he hadn't seen them in a while, and our doula was getting paid to help me ;-)
Looking back, I feel like I pretty much rocked labor. I mean, I was breathing through contractions. I was avoiding focusing on the negative. I was "hunkered" down in my birthing mindset. I think there were a few times I questioned whether it was time to go or not...and our doula told me that I would know when it was time. I was also worried that if G woke up from her nap, and I was in contraction pain, she'd freak out, so I kind of wanted to leave before she woke up....but I also didn't want to get there too early (like with G, I got there and I was at two cm dilated, even though my water had broken and I was seriously sure I was dying of pain).

I forgot to say that I started loosing a whole bunch of mucous earlier in the morning. Like a lot. I thought I had lost it earlier in the week. Well, there was a ridiculous amount more. And it kept coming throughout the day, but never amniotic fluid.

So, contractions were pretty regular, but never "by the book." I know they are supposed to get longer, closer together, etc etc... But mine kind of just did their own thing...just like with G. I knew it was real labor, though, because they hurt like a motherbear, and they weren't stopping. They were achy, stabbing, and crampy all at the same time. Some were longer than others, some came closer together, almost on top of each other, some took a 10 minute break. Whatev.

I talked with our doula between them, and tried to bounce/roll on the birth ball as often as possible, but I kept feeling SO much pressure. I was dreadfully uncomfortable, but managing. I had thoughts of, "this isn't THAT bad" and "I can do this" but also thoughts of "ouch, ok, this sucks" and "let's just get this over with." I made myself sit on the ball more often than I wanted to, because I knew it would move things along. I also finished packing. (Things were mostly packed, I just had toiletries/camera/last minute things to add) When the contractions were really bad, leaning over the bed was the most comfortable I could get.

I was much more aware during this labor. During G's I was in HELL from 11 pm until she was born a bit before 9 AM. It was just a full-steam-ahead-train of pain. I think it's became my water had broken. With J, it was a bit easier. It was more mellow, and I was more mellow. My body knew what to do, and I had a large cushion of fluid. That's not to say it didn't hurt. It did. But it wasn't hell.

Around 4ish, we moved from the bedroom to the basement, so that G could get up from her nap, without seeing or hearing us. I remember I had tried to turn on Whitney (always made me laugh), but couldn't focus since the contractions had ramped up, so it wasn't worth it. I think the move down two flights of stairs kicked things up a notch, because we weren't downstairs very long before I officially decided it was time to go.

Here's the most asinine part of the whole story. I had my husband called the midwife office, and God love him, but he got something all screwy, or the call service did, or they both did. I don't know. It took forever to figure out who was on call, that I was in fact in labor, and that I requested a midwife. I think part of the problem was that the doctor on call had the same last name as my midwife, who was not on call (a different midwife was), and my poor husband was probably frantic because we were having a baby. I definitely was at that moment, anyways.

Things got straightened out. The car got loaded. I choked back tears as I tried to tell G good-bye, because in my heart-of-hearts, I feared it could be the last time she saw her mother. She was fairly preoccupied with her new Christmas toys, though, so I was a little bummed about the lack of attention she gave me, but it was for the best.

I felt a lot of relief the second we got to the hospital, because I knew that if my water broke, we were in the right place to handle it if things went wrong. I just felt a lot better.

My husband dropped me off at the front door, which was a nice change from with G...when it was the middle of the night, and we had to go in the ER doors. My husband and our doula got inside, and we took the elevator up to the third floor. I was actually pretty excited at that point. Things were going so well, I allowed myself to feel good.
Triage was a whole different experience this time. First of all, I could talk. I moved without dying, and I actually made light of the whole situation. With G...I swore I was about to have a baby and I was only 2 centimeters dialated. So with J, I about fell out of the bed when the triage nurse told me I was a 6. a SIX. Holy cow. My life was instantly better. I got admited automatically-sweet! We mosied down to the same room where G was born, and I was pretty thrilled that J and G would be born in the exact same place. How fun. Oh, best part, the triage nurse had a Mary necklace on. I asked if she was Catholic, and she was. Another plus for my night.

It was like 6 pm at this point.

The midwife on call was the only one out of the four that I hadn't got around to seeing--she was new from the last time I had been there. Turns out, she is absolutely amazing. They got baby boy on the monitor for a 20 minute strip and then I was free to move around. So different from G. It was soon time for a shift change, and things were slow--although after we came in, tons more moms did and they actually ended up filling up!

My husband, doula, and I went for a lap around the LDR area. We handled a few contractions on our route. Then we got back into the room...things were ramping up. My midwife was actually in the room as much, if not more than our nurse. She helped me through contractions, and was really like the leader of our team. She was all about making my labor easier, and wanted us to achieve the birth we wanted. She was really sweet and compassionate. It was exactly what I needed this time around. My original midwife, who delivered G, is less sweet, and more direct. She was exactly what I need for that birth. Things work out.

At some point, I'm 9 cm dilated, my midwife is rubbing my ankles, and we are pretty much ready to have a baby. But my water hadn't broken at this point. My midwife (And I) didn't think it was possible for baby boy to be born in his amniotic sac...there was 33 cubic centimeters of fluid in there. The most likely outcome would be that it would burst during a push, and a scary situation could happen at that point. So she suggested putting a small hole in the sac to let some of the fluid trickle out, as she guided baby boy's head down...because he was still really "floaty," as she called it.

This midwife is probably the best I'll ever encounter, and if you live in the metro area, I highly recommend her. She did everything right.

She proposed the above plan, but also called the doctor on call from the practice. She wanted to have him on stand by, because it was, at this point, kind of a crap shoot. She was confident we could still have our natural birth, but she said that she is the kind of person that likes to have "her ducks in a row, but not need them, rather than the other way around."

The doctor came in to size up the situation. I have never had a male OB/GYN, and I was bummed the doctor on call was a guy...but oh well.

He was pretty worried about how "floaty" baby boy was. By floaty, they meant that I was basically ready to have a baby, but that baby was bouncing around in his fluid too much for it to be a truly safe delivery. Sometimes he'd be "engaged" and ready to come out, but then a little bit later, he'd be back up high. The midwife and doctor both thought that the water really needed to break. Controlling the breaking of the water was the safest way to ensure J survived. It was a concession I was willing to make at this point (my birth plan had asked to avoid artificial breaking of water).

The small hole that the doctor put into the amniotic sac, allowed some water out, but then basically plugged itself back up. They ended up breaking the water completely, while one of them pushed at the top of my uterus, attempting to keep baby boy down, and the other "guided" his head down. I was fairly out of it at this point, because the pain was excruciating. I think I was crying, and I was definitely yelping in pain. There aren't the appropriate words in the English language to describe just how freaking painful this all was. I don't know how long this went on, but it couldn't have been that long...

The next thing I knew, I heard "emergency" and "now" and "section" and beeping from the machine. I asked what was wrong...and they said that baby boy's heart rate was dropping and his shoulder was now into the birth canal. My midwife looked at my sternly and said the words I had been waiting to hear for months. "Kaylene. We have to get your baby out. now." I was crying, but bit my lip and nodded. I said. Ok. Ok.

Through sobs, I told my husband how much I loved him. I told him he was a great dad, and he could raise the kids by himself. I told my doula that her job was to make sure G knew how much I loved her. I was scared to death. It was the most surreal feeling. I know people have c-sections all the time, and don't die. But the way this went down was so, so fast, scary, and unplanned.

I was wheeled out the door and into the operating room, which was right next to my room anyways. I will never forget the next few minutes, and I don't feel it's necessary to share. But I was subjected to even more excrutiating pain, while I begged them to keep me and the baby alive. The anestiologist assured me they do this all the time, I'm in good hands, blah blah blah. I was alone and I was scared, so thanks but no thanks. I made my peace with God. It consisted of me saying, Lord forgive me for my sins, I tried my best, please let me go to Heaven, bless my kids and husband and family. Then I was out.

It took them 8 minutes to get J out from the time I was wheeled out of my room, my husband wasn't even scrubbed in by the time J was 'born.' He got into the room just as they were getting J under the warmer. There had been a NICU team in the room, but J's apgar's were 8-9-9, so they dismissed him as perfectly fine and went on their merry way.
fairly new
I wish I had a picture of the first thing I saw when I woke up. I know first I moaned in agony, and then caught a blurry/groggy glimpse of my husband who{seemingly} had teary eyes, half under a blanket. I asked how the baby was, they said he was fine, and that his dad was holding him....relief. A few weeks prior I had confirmed with my husband that if we had to have an emergency c-section, that he would hold the baby skin-to-skin as soon as possible. I was so relieved he remembered. That image will forever be etched in my memory. But I was also in horrible pain that no medicine would ever fully take away.
Very shortly after waking up, they brought J over to me to nurse. My husband had been letting him suck on his pinkie until I was awake....I remember the look on my husband's face when he came over to me...it was one of relief and love. He said, "he's hungry!" I did my best to nurse J, but it was not the start I had hoped for. But it was certainly better than the negative outlook my anxiety had prepared me for.
breastfeeding is really important to me, and to J. I'm sure it helped him in those early minutes. I'm extremely proud of this precious photo. Sure, what's implied is personal, but honestly, you see more in certain advertisements these days.

late night snuggles on me 12/16 - 12/17/12

J was with us for a day and a half before being taken to the NICU
We got into our Mother/Baby room and the rest is history.... My road to recovery was quite long, complex, and painful. J was sent to the NICU for monitoring since he breathing was labored at times. He nursed great, though, it was just exhausting for him to eat and breathe....but he has made it great thus far. He was diagnosed with Chondradysplasia punctata based on clinical and radiology findings while in the NICU.

We were all home in time for Christmas.

Headed home 12/22/12
---So even now, I wouldn't go back and do a pre-scheduled C-Section. It is my belief that J benefited greatly from the stimulation that labor and nearly being birthed naturally gives to a baby's lungs. J's breathing situation is already a bit challenged thanks to his small nose and nasal passages, so going through labor is definetly helpful for encouraging his system to mature up to life-sustaining-levels. Things happened just as they were supposed to. Sure, sometimes I get bummed that it didn't go naturally as planned...but my labor was natural and great. J's birth was completely reliant on modern medicine, and without it he'd be dead and I might have been too. God wanted him here, and gave him quite the dramatic entrance.


  1. I'm glad you took the time to write it all down! What a scary situation but love that you were able to see the benefit of him going through labor instead of just a scheduled c-section. That's absolutely what c-sections are for - emergencies and special situations and I'm so, so glad you two are both ok!

  2. Beautiful story, despite all the trials. Thanks for sharing. I had an unplanned c-section with Alethea, but I went through over 24hrs of labor prior and wouldn't trade a moment of it. God has a plan through it all!


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