Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Herein lies the story of how our precious Olive Jolie entered the world just shy of 3 weeks ago. Although the birth was not the story we planned, it is still an amazing story of God's goodness and mercy! And to process it here, bare before you friends and family, brings healing to the disappointments in my heart and focuses my mind on thanksgiving and gratitude to my King. I know I didn't get to blog throughout this pregnancy, but as many of you heard through my facebook posts or in my voice, I was filled with awe and wonder most every day I carried this miracle of a baby and felt her grow within me. Her grand entrance was no different, you just can't describe in words the awesomeness of your child coming forth from your womb into the world! I'm going to go into lots of detail so I can remember all this, but feel free to skip over the ins and outs I share here and read what interests you!
It was the night/early morning of August 10. Exactly one week before my "date". I really wasn't expecting to go early with my first baby and tried not to get my hopes up (I even avoided packing my bags, which was dumb by the way). But upon waking to pee for the up-teenth time, my waters broke all over the bed and down the stairs to the bathroom. And it was pretty undeniable that this was "it" since I gushed (although I still asked "Could I have lost control and peed myself?") and then leaked and leaked more fluid so that each time I tried to lay back down to get rest, I would soak the bed!
No, no more sleep. From 3:30 a.m. on I was up, trying to stay cool and calm and focus on my affirmations. I wasn't having consistent contractions yet so it was more of that period crampy feeling, same that I had the couple weeks prior. I tried to give Sam some peace to sleep since his alarm was set for 5:15 to see patients at 7:00. Well, that never happened! Within a couple hours of the waters breaking, I was timing pressure waves at 4 mins apart and talking with our doula about when it was right for us to go in to St. Elizabeths, since we live 45 mins away. Our doula encouraged us to cancel morning patients and get our stuff together to leave soon thereafter. At around 9:00, I slowed to 5-6 minutes apart (prob cause I was focusing on packing instead of resting!), so I laid and listened to my hypnobabies tracks on the ipod, and within 30 minutes we were back to 3-4 minutes apart. We hopped in the van and headed out to St. E's around 10:00.
From 11:00 to 5:00 we labored in our room freely, getting in many positions and yoga-breathing through pressure waves. I was checked immediately by the midwife (one of my midwives partners) who said I was only at 1 cm. I remember being a little disappointed...Evidently she hadn't read our birth preferences yet which said we didn't want to be checked and told how dilated I was over and over (unless I asked) because I didn't want to get anxious/hyper-focused on the number:) From there we were consistently having intense waves, 2 mins apart, and things seemed to be progressing well. My doula and Sam took turns helping me with the back labor I was having due to the baby being posterior. I remember sitting upright in the rocker and laying on the birthing ball while she pushed on my back. We went for a brisk walk where she guided me (must have looked hilarious walking that fast with my eyes closed holding on to someone else!) We didn't rush to call in the midwife because we seemed to be getting along well and she would be heading our way at 5:00 anyway. And we weren't wanting to check me too often because of the risk of infection with the waters broken.
I remember being surprised at how often I had to pee and how often I would leak more fluid. I don't know why it bothered me, maybe because it was so difficult to change positions (it would bring on a pressure wave) and especially to get on the toilet and have a contraction come on. I remember toward the end of the afternoon I had been up since 3:30 and felt a bit tired and concerned knowing I couldn't stay in this phase forever and keep up my endurance. Sam, by the way, was an awesome advocate and encourager through it all. Poor guy, I shushed him when he tried to talk to me during a wave ("shhhh! not now!") I had to use all my concentration to breathe and make low noises like "oommmm" or "aaahh". But he was so sweet to comfort and put a wet washcloth on my head at the right times, touching me gently and speaking about how well I was doing.
So, the midwife on call comes in at 5:00 (not my planned midwife but one I had seen for appts. several times) She checked me for the first time since Carol had checked at 11:00. And sat down to talk to us gently. This was where things started to get hard... She expressed that she knew I didn't want to know numbers, but that she had checked me and I had not progressed (what?) ...and she didn't know why considering that my contractions were very strong and real and close together. She knew we wanted to consider all natural options first so she suggested doing some nipple stimulation and left and came back and had us try a couple times over the course of an hour or so. Then she walked me briskly around the unit again as my doula had earlier. And checked again. No progress. My heart was fragile at this point. She said we needed to start talking other options, not that she was quick to jump to anything but that we did need to consider why I wasn't progressing and what to do about it. That news mixed with the exhaustion from a day of laboring was enough to make me shed some tears. When the waters break first (only 10% of women) it makes for a harder labor as there is no cushion left. Not to mention baby was posterior (and big, come to find out) The next step was to put a monitor in so the midwife could watch the peaks and measure the strength of the contractions. What she found was that the contractions that I felt as hard were for some reason not enough to dilate my cervix. I just remember being shocked and sad. Still a 1? So much for not hyperfocusing on the number. We had to think about numbers. And the 9 more we had to go after a whole day of laboring.
So the options were now, straight to a c-section or trying pitocin to dilate me. They did have to consider how long it had been since the waters broke. But we still had time. We were so torn. Neither? Wait, that wasn't one of the options. Everyone left the room to let us talk privately. And I remember crying to Sam and just telling him that I was so sorry and felt so bad, but that I really didn't think I could go into another night of contractions on pitocin which would make them harder and stronger. It was now 9:00 at night and I had been up since my water broke at 3:00 a.m. And the contractions had been hard to work through for how many hours now? And to be honest, knowing that I was still starting from the beginning was not motivating. I promised not to focus on numbers, but that went out the window by now...a 1? and I'm still starting from the beginning without sleep and it will get harder through the night? I was so sad to say it, but I just had to be real.
If we went straight to c-section, I knew I'd have regrets. And for surgery, they would have to give an epidural or spinal tap anyway, so we opted to try the pitocin with the epidural so I could rest and hopefully push when it came time. Everything was done by 11:00 pm. But now I had to be monitored every half hour. Rest from contractions? Yes. Amazing. But still no sleep. Check blood pressure and flip me from side to side every half hour. And now I couldn't eats or drinks except some ice chips.
But good news came through the night. She tried to check me only every 2 hours. And each time, I was dilated a couple more cm. And I remember having the sweetest nurse, she was so encouraging. It was about a cm an hour and that continued till I was nearing 10 cm at probably 10 a.m. Shift change. My original midwife, Joanne, came in for a couple hours to help the other midwife on call. Things looked at this point like we'll get to the pushing stage soon. She put me in a couple positions to get the last little piece of cervix out of the way. One of them helped, but one made me go backwards a little. So we waited to push, and she put me back in a good position. Then it was time to try to push. Right before, Joanne warned me she still had concerns about baby's position, etc and needed me to prepare myself for the possibilities of the cesearean. I felt peace. I remember praying right then with my ipod playing softly and saying, "God, we're going to do this last bit that we can, but ultimately I surrender to you. Either it will happen or it won't and either way you're good."
We had come this far and it was worth seeing it through. She told me how to push, as gently as possible and she knew we had to avoid raising my blood pressure or pushing with my head since I was at risk for a brain hemorrhage. That became pretty difficult but sensation was starting to come back so I tried to focus my attention and lowest of low groans on where her fingers were. She could only stay for the first hour, no! We were moving the baby but just millimeters. Sam saw lots of hair. That made us think we could do this!!! The second hour it was the doula, nurse and Sam helping. And another midwife at the very end. And then the final pushing. Everyone in the room, a gentle vacuum (our final intervention and shot at a vaginal birth) and all my might and effort. ANnnnnnnd....still visible hair, but no baby. We later found out she was not only posterior but military posed (head wouldn't tuck) And that was that. It was time to take her. 33 hours after the waters had broken. I knew it. Everyone knew it. And we just wanted our baby here safe. I had done everything I could and I remember thinking and saying that several times, and truly believing it in my heart. It was okay.
I couldn't open my eyes, all sensation was back and I was working through a headache from pushing and not eating/drinking for so long. And I remember being SO HOT! I just craved cold water. But I couldn't have it quite yet!
They prepped me and at 2:14 p.m. August 11, 2011 Olive came out 8 lbs, 7 oz, 21 inches long, screaming. Sam and I quick looked at each other with tears in our eyes and then he was gone....daddy was right there to hold her and put her on the table and rub in her vernix. And the nurses said, "Daddy, do you wanna announce the gender?" And he said was surprise in his voice the sweet words. "It's a...Guuurrl!" And I could look over and see mostly adults but a little bit of the baby. Nurses were saying things like "She's a big girl!" and "Wow, look at all that hair!" I just cried and cried. and tried to sneak peaks of her now that I could open my eyes again. Then Sam brought her over and we nuzzled skin on skin and out to recovery. Then more skin on skin, her on my chest and straight to the breast! She kept licking her lips and looking for it (not surprising now that we know how big of an eater she is!) She latched perfectly. And we were heads over heals in love from that point on.
We are so thankful to have our healthy baby girl here! God knows we wanted a natural birth and I believe He'll give us that as we learn more and seek some alternatives for next time. But this is the time we can be thankful for modern medicine. Daddy has been working on her spine, especially the cervicals that were jammed again and again for many hours. We made lots of efforts to be healthy while she was in utero and the nurses even commented on how well I must have eaten (and supplemented) while pregnant. She is a strong strong girl who likes to box with her little arms and kick her little legs. It makes sense since she was so active in the belly from 16 weeks on!
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
We love you and welcome you into our family, Olive Jolie!