Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The day he was born-ed...

To pay tribute to little r's second birthday, I thought it would be fun to share his birth story - well, the cliff notes version at least.  Figured it would be a good way for me to reminisce and to memorialize the story so that little r can maybe read it when he's older - much older... Considering the day I was born gets much colder each time my dad tells the story, it's probably not a bad idea to get it written down while it's relatively fresh in my mind.

I want to start by saying that life always keeps you guessing.  Nothing went anywhere near as planned, or so it seemed.  I was one of those ridiculous women that wanted the perfect pregnancy.  I was physically fit, independent, strong-willed, and thought I could handle pain relatively well.  Seriously thought I'd work hard not to gain an exorbitant amount of weight, do yoga until the week the baby was born, and keep running.  Eh, scratch that idea.  Instead, I had a high risk pregnancy, high being a relative term here, because I had experienced a few prior miscarriages and I had an early onset of pregnancy hypertension.  Translation - no strenuous exercise and stay away from ab work.  At one point my sister had to smack sense into me to relax into my newly inactive state by reminding me that I was having a baby and it was all temporary.

Needless to say, I turned into a hippo.  Not that I was eating for two, but I forgot that you should keep your life low stress during pregnancy, and opted to work 12+ hours a day including the commute to and from DC and Richmond every week until the last two months.  That, and I retained water like nobody's business. It was fun, and not a part of the experience I enjoy remembering, yet just can't seem to forget. Here is a picture taken of me around week 34.  Four weeks later, little r was here, and yes, I got even bigger (if that is remotely believable).

Ok, all that aside, it was babytime.  This little guy enjoyed keeping me guessing.  I had braxton hicks contractions starting pretty early in my pregnancy, and around week 34 I got put on bed rest for blood pressure and early contraction issues.  It was good for me though. Forced me to stay still...kind of...

After a few practice rounds of being admitted and then sent home over the course of a week, I again had several hours of consistent contractions close together, so the doctor told me to head in.  I was still only 1 cm dilated, so they were apt to let me go home with one tiny complication.  My blood pressure was setting off all the alarms, and the good 'ole doc was not a fan of sending me away.  Instead, we decided we'd break my water and help this baby come along. Our families were given the word - it was time to have a baby!  My dad, stepmom, and my stepsister in Med School made the drive to Richmond.  Even Big R's mom was able to hop on a plane to be there by mid-afternoon.  Of course, my sister was right by my side through the whole thing.  Because other really important people were too far away to be there, my phone never left my side.

This is me before things got too crazy.  Somehow throughout the entire process, I managed to have my phone close by for those essential calls and text messages.  I think at one point I even took a call from a judge at the office because that's the kind of demented state I was in at the time.

Before I get too far into the next details, I have to mention that I forced Big R to attend a childbirth class with me.  I had no clue whatsoever how to have a baby, and I figured he was most likely less informed.  He might actually admit that parts of it were helpful,.. nah, doubt that... Again, I was interested in being that strong independent woman.  It was going to be au naturale for this child birth.  I was too nervous to try things at home or use a douala, but I really wanted to let nature takes its course and have this little man enter the world as naturally as possible.  Hmmm... That's what I wanted, now for the rest of the story.

So, breaking my water was a choice, but all things considered, it seemed at the time like the best option.  I had been having strong contractions throughout the past few days and my body was tired.  I was ready for the baby to be here, and figured it was time.  Water broke, contractions more severe, and Big R had a blast taking pictures of me in interesting positions.  Since my contractions refused to regulate, the doc hooked me up to pitocin to help things along.  I was still able to move around, I just had to stick close to the bed.  That meant when it was time to pee, the toilet came to me - haha.  Big R REALLY enjoyed that one.

After what seemed like an eternity, I just knew we had to be progressing.  (That's what we all think, right?) Contractions were strong and frequent, and I was hanging on.  I lost all the air in my lungs when the doc checked my dilation and said I hadn't moved.  Not only that, but little r was struggling... his heart beat stressed every time I contracted and the monitor couldn't decipher the difference between my heartbeat and his.  This is not good.  Being that my health is hardly jeopardized at this point, the most important thing was monitoring the baby.  Before I knew it, my legs were up and I had more wires coming out of inside me - they had to attach the baby monitor to little r's head.  I had to work hard not to cry.  It's an emotional state anyhow, but this was the last thing I had wanted.  In our birthing class, all the women gasped when the instructor passed around the monitoring device.  It worked though, and we could now monitor little r's heartbeat.  Turned out this was crucial, and before I knew it, not only was I required to lie down, but I was now also required to lay on my side to help little r.

Contractions are not fun, and they are especially exciting when you are required to stay on your side.  All the tips in childbirth class are about breathing and walking and showering and using a ball and getting a massage... these things are NOT happening when you are on your side. The labor had left the most logical place I should feel it - my stomach! - and had decided to take over the entire backside of my body.  During this time, Big R and my sister were at my side and each contraction simultaneously drained the blood out of their hands.  I was also screaming expletives that we laughed later were completely inappropriate in a Catholic hospital.  That was when I started giving into the idea of having an epidural.  The nurses were well-trained at our hospital not to push you.  They wanted to be certain you knew what you were asking for.  I started asking questions, and they were slowly trying to encourage me to go with the drugs.  My decision was made when the doc returned again and I still hadn't budged.  I was still 4 cm. Ugh.

This is when you have the "holy" moment with yourself.  I REALLY wanted to make it without the epidural.  This was so important to me.  Yet, I had no way of preparing myself for the situation I was in, and I was exhausted.  Every contraction not only provided me the luxury of shooting pains down my backside that I could feel at the end of my toes and the top of my head, but I was also emotionally exhausted because little r was struggling to stay strong with me.  I was done.  Go ahead and put a fork in me and GET ME SOME DRUGS!

All better... It takes awhile to get the epidural.  Not sure that's something people anticipate.  Another hour had passed before the anesthesiologist arrived.  Then I was riding the gravy train and was a happy girl. (Man, this picture is evidence of how huge I was - who is this girl?!  I don't even recognize myself. Awesome.)

The whole mood changed in the room.  It was peaceful and jovial.  Funny how that works.  At this point I was now attached to oxygen, again to assist little r, and the nurse kept giving me looks when I wouldn't stop talking.  Big R started doing work, and my sis laid next to me and we took a nap.

Contractions were good, we'd been there for about 12 hours, and it was the doc's final check of the day.  Things had to be heading in the right direction. WRONG. Had moved only to 5 cm, but I was almost fully effaced (the things they teach you to understand in birthing class are brilliant - haha), and with as strong as my contractions had been, the doc figured the birth would be right around the corner.

I had my new doc from the same OB practice and she was awesome.  We were a big fan and relieved that we didn't get stuck with some schmuck who didn't care.  She was anxious to get me progressing and had me on my side and upside down... apparently hanging upside down is a trick of the trade (but at the time it felt somewhat like an old wives' tale!).  I was still fully effaced, and little r was progressing down my cervix, but my body refused to dilate.  Frustrating hardly describes it.  We had heard the first baby can take awhile, so we figured it was all par for the course...

A couple hours later, the doc came back in to check on how we were doing.  Things were not improving. I hadn't budged, still barely at 6 cm, but now my effacement was swelling and I started getting a fever, which could indicate an infection.  The dreaded words came out of the doctor's mouth:  "We might need to consider a C-section."  She explained that at this point it was up to me and we could wait awhile to see if there was any improvement, but it could be risky and the longer we waited the more chance there could be of complications.

I thought this decision would be more difficult.  A C-section was the last thing that I wanted. At this point, though, all I could think about was little r. The way my body was reacting to the labor made me worry that something wasn't right.  I kept getting flashes of me pushing and being told that he is stuck and an emergency C-section would be needed.  All the stress he'd been under already, I couldn't bear the thought of more risk and with the possible infection, we were now also risking sepsis.  So, I told the doctor, let's do it - he needs to come out.  The look on the doctor's face was pure relief, and I'm sure to some degree it was on mine as well.  As soon as I had accepted that natural childbirth was not going to happen, I became excited that it was finally time.  Later the doc told me that little r was too large for my pelvis, which can often cause a lack of dilation and the swollen effacement, so the decision ended up being a good one.

Surgery prep takes awhile when it's not a dire emergency, so Big R got in his scrubs and entertained me with his undying sense of humor. It was awesome.  A moment I'll always remember, and I hope he will as well.

They wheeled me into the operating room, and I leaned over and told the nurse that my husband has a serious fear of the sight of blood.  This is true, by the way. I wasn't being sarcastic. The warning ended up being for not.  Big R did great, and seemed to really enjoy the entire thing.  As soon as little r was pulled from the womb, he looked around the room with this expression on his face like, "WHOA." Big R said he didn't even cry - just took in the new world. The screaming started when they cleaned him up and put that crap in his eyes.  Not a big fan of that apparently.

All bundled up, he laid in Big R's arms. He was so beautiful. It was so hard not to be able to hold him.

All in all, everything went well.  I had a perfectly healthy, 7 lb. 6 oz. little boy that was absolutely beautiful.
We still joke about how we had created this birth plan just like they recommend doing in our childbirth class.  Every item we had decided we didn't want to do ended up happening... Things definitely hadn't gone to plan, but then life would be no fun if it were predictable. At the end of the day, it didn't matter. I realized that birth is birth whether it's natural or not.

And that's my birth story, with many of the gory details intentionally left out.  Here's to you, my sweet little r, for coming into my life and changing it in ways I didn't know were possible.  I know how to love more than I knew was possible. Happy 2nd birthday, little man :)

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