Monday, May 28, 2012

The Long (and long awaited) Ordeal

Here comes the birth story.  Some of you may want to skip reading this post, thinking it long and boring.  Long it will be.  Boring... well, having lived this story, I don't find it boring at all.  Others of you may want to skip this post because I will use words like "cervix."  After having four children, I am quite over any shame at the sound of such words.  In case you are among those who blush at the thought of anatomy, I will not blame you for waiting for my next post and skipping this entirely.

Throughout my pregnancy, I had been told that my due date was May 8th.  About a month before that, I noticed on a paper at my midwife's office that she had changed it to the 12th.  Either way, I was overdue when I had an appointment on May 16th.  Much too overdue.  I had walked miles everyday for the previous two weeks trying to get this baby out.  Nick came with me to my appointment because we needed to be induced and we were not going to take "no" for an answer.  Nick had an important business trip to go on in just five days.  Neither of us wanted him to miss the birth.

It took some convincing and finagling (wow, that's a word?), but we talked my midwife into scheduling me at the hospital for induction the next day.

That night I got a good four or five hours of sleep.  It was dumb, I know, but I won't get into all that here.  I checked into the hospital at 7am on Thursday, May 17th.  In the course of the day, I took three doses of cytotec, a pill that softens the cervix and brings on contractions.  I had to make a certain amount of progress in order to be moved to a delivery room.  Otherwise, I would be sent back home.  Pregnant.

My progress was not looking very good.  I could tell that my doctor was trying to stall things at the hospital in order to give me as much time as possible to progress.  At the last moment, she declared I had just made the cut and could be moved.  We were going to have a baby!

As it turned out, we had just enough time to watch American Idol before real labor kicked in. Next came my IV, then the epidural. The epi turned out a bit disappointing. It probably covered much of the pain, but was not as thorough as I have previously experienced. My water broke at midnight. Between the remaining pain and the nurses who came in all night to move me onto one side or the other in response to a dipping fetal heart rate, I got very little sleep. At least Nick got a few hours. I woke him up pretty early on Friday to help me deal with the pain, which only increased.

At this point, I wanted to push, but the baby had not descended into position yet, so my midwife wanted me to let him "labor down" through the contractions without pushing to save my strength for when it would be more useful. These contractions were the worst yet. I didn't know they could hurt so much with an epidural. I am not interested in trying delivery without one. To make matters worse, the baby's heart rate was dipping again, but did much better when the bed was angled with my head low and feet elevated. This caused the epi meds to run to my chest and away from their intended location. I stayed like this for hours, but was finally laid flat again when the baby seemed to handle it better. This brought some relief of pain again.

At eight o'clock, I was given the OK to begin pushing. What a relief! This had been what my body wanted all along. Pushing was tiring, but eased my contraction pain considerably. I made some progress at getting him down, but it was soon determined that he was facing the wrong direction, that his head was tipped at an angle creating a larger area to push through, and that he was caught on my pelvis.

After two and a half hours of this, my midwife began talking of using a vacuum to get him out, but said that we could keep trying if I had the strength. The funny thing was that at about this same time, I felt that the epidural had finally kicked in full-force and my energy level received a second wind. I really do attribute these to Nick's constant praying for me. That was about all he could do, but it was just what I needed.

So I pushed. And pushed. At about the 3 hour mark, my midwife brought in an OB to discuss the vacuum. The problem with that procedure is that if it failed, I would go straight to c-section. No thank you. Fortunately, this OB wanted to try his luck at delivering me himself. With one contraction, he turned my baby facing the correct direction and got him off my pelvis. The man was a real talent.  For the next hour, I made slow but consistent progress.

Just as the head was becoming easily visible, the fetal heart rate plummeted. The OB told me that I had one more contraction to get him out and then he would vacuum. As he got out the equipment, I gave one last push, and Pierce was born. Phew! I cannot describe my elation at ending my endless pregnancy, averting the vacuum and c-section, and at having my big baby laid on my newly flattened belly, healthy and beautiful.

The next 45 minutes went according to schedule.  He was weighed, measured, and tested.  Nick took pictures.  Nurses took care of me and I was then given little Pierce for his first feeding.  As he nursed, he fell asleep.  The poor guy was probably as tired as I was.  As it turns out, he was more tired than I was.  After a bit, I decided, based on past experience, that I should wake him up to keep eating.  As I began to tickle his ear and neck, I noticed that he seemed to have grayish skin, not like my other babies.  A nurse, Heidi, walked by and I asked her if she liked his color.  She did not.  She grabbed him and ran to the baby station where he had been cleaned and measured, yelling out the door for help.  Pierce was limp in her arms, with his blue arms flopping back on his sides.  Nick and I just sat where we were, helpless, watching our baby die.

In just moments that seemed like forever, help came.  Heidi had a baby CPR bottle over his face and was pumping.  Another nurse worked his arms and legs, saying, "Come on, baby.  Come on, baby."  Another attached a heart rate monitor.  The lowest number I saw from my bed was 20 beats per minute.  It should have been 140.  Nick and I sat, staring, with our tears flowing.  He had been so perfect for 45 minutes and now we didn't know if he would come home with us.  In my brief glimpses of him between nurses as they moved, I finally saw his hand, being held by his own strength, an inch or so off of the table.  His fingers were curled in and his arm seemed white, though not quite pink.  The heart rate numbers increased and a nurse called them out as they did, "40... 60... 80... "  Heidi said, "He's pink, Mama!"  Gratitude swept over us.  The ordeal had only lasted for a minute or two, but I cannot express the pain and relief of it all.

The picture below is of our huge, healthy baby in the NICU.  He seemed not to belong there.  All the other babies were so tiny and struggling.  Pierce never had any more problems, but he stayed there for several hours to be monitored and to give doctors time to review all my lab results and medical history for clues to his apneic episode.  No reason could be found.  Our conclusion is that, after four hours of pushing, and being born during the final contraction that the wise doctor would allow him, he was completely beat and worn out.  When he nursed, he may have choked a bit, but not reacted to it and coughed it out.  It was the straw that broke the camel's back.  Instead of gagging, he just gave up.  In my internet research since, this never seems to happen to large, full-term babies.  I guess Pierce is special.

After an hour or two of sleep for all of us, we got to have Pierce back in our room and out of the NICU.  Family came to see him.  Our kids were so excited.
Rigby, with his tender heart, had trouble containing himself.  He loves his brother so much, and he loves me for bringing that little best friend into the world for him.  After spending time together, he was the last to leave the room.  His tears were flowing, and I could tell he was trying to be tough.  I called him over to climb up on the bed with me and just held him.  He just loved me and didn't want to leave me.  It was such a sweet moment.  I know very well that Nick is his idol and hero and that Rigby wants nothing more than to be just like his father, but in that moment I knew that he has a deep, sweet love for me.  I think that moment alone was worth the pregnancy.

Here we are, dressed up and ready to leave the hospital.  Having your food delivered to you all day is a serious perk, but I am driven to leave as soon as possible because the nurses and others bug you constantly!  I end up feeling like I need to scream and run.
Instead of running, they pushed me in a wheelchair, but that works too.
Buckled and tucked, ready to go home.
They played with him for hours while he slept.  He was such a good sport.
Phew.  That's it.  Did you make it though?  Congratulations.

8 comments:

christina said...

Congrats guys!! So happy everyone is healthy. Hope to see you this summer!

-c

Brooke said...

Holy smokes! That is an incredible birth story (I LOVE birth stories, so I'm happy that you shared yours). I am so glad that it has such a happy ending. Congrats to you and your sweet family!

Rita said...

We are all so blessed by everyone of you six! What more can be said? Love, Grandma and Grandpa J.

H+B Jackson said...

What an experience! Loved reading it! I am going to share with the mom and sis :) I will ask them if they have every had that happen to a full term healthy baby. He is so handsome and healthy!

Ashley C said...

Wow, that's quite a story. What a relief that it all turned out OK. How scary!

Meagan Kemp said...

Oh my goodness! What a birth story. Could you please lead next time with, "get the tissues, Meagan, your heart is going to break for a whole paragraph". I am so happy everyone is here, healthy, and happy. Loves to you. And congratulations to your family! Sweet Rigs. I can see him being your tender little man.

Shannon Miller said...

Wow!! I can't imagine going through that! I had an emergency c-section with Cooper, who also had a dipping heart rate, too low for comfort! I hadn't gotten to the point of pushing yet. But Cooper was almost 10 pounds, so I'm thankful for the C-section. I almost cried reading your story! Had to fight back tears! I can't imagine seeing my baby limp and his heart slowing way down, to need CPR. Oh my! I wasn't expecting that in your post! I'm so happy he made it through, and that you continued to stay strong! You give labor and delivery a new meaning for me! Your kids are precious and sweet!! I hope Cooper is that way when I give him a brother or sister! How sweet!!!!

Our Ohana said...

Wow, Elke, what a story! I can't even imagine what a terrible feeling that must have been to see little Pierce struggle like that after his birth. I cried just reading it. I wish I could give you a huge hug right now! I'm so glad he's the happy, beautiful and healthy boy he is! Congratulations!!!