Monday, May 21, 2012

Clark's Birth Story

My mom has been right about a lot in my life, and I always hoped that she'd be right about women forgetting the pain of childbirth once they held their child. Fortunately, I was able put another tally mark in her accuracy column. 

This is the story of my son, Clark's birth. (Warning: If you're not a fan of obnoxious pregnancy details, this post is NOT for you. There will be several TMI moments.)

I was blessed to have an amazingly healthy pregnancy. From the very beginning everything was "perfect". My weight was good, my labs were good, the baby couldn't have been more perfect, my blood pressure was occasionally high, but being that I have "white coat syndrome" it was usually good at the end of my midwife's appointment. Because everything looked good and since both Mike's and my mom were two weeks late when they carried us, I was convinced that our son would be late.

Things were shook up a little on Monday, April 30. (Thank goodness I listened to the advice of my friends and mother to go on maternity leave a week earlier than planned!) My blood pressure was high (140/90) both times they took it. In addition, I had seen "stars" several times in the past week. My midwife ordered additional labs and put me on a mild blood pressure medication. I was ordered to do a 24 hour urine screen. While not a painful test, it was definitely a hassle to collect and refrigerate all of my pee for a full day. 

I alerted my doula, Louise, to the situation via email. She called me almost the instant I hit SEND. She talked me through the possibilities and mentioned that we should prepare ourselves for the possibility of induction. So I did-kind of. I thought maybe Tuesday, if things look a little sketchy. At that point I'd be 40 weeks-on my due date. We kept news of the high blood pressure quiet not telling friends and family for fear that we'd cause unnecessary worry.

I dutifully took in my jugs of sample urine on Wednesday morning and found out that somehow I was NOT pre-registered at the hospital, so I took care of that too. I spent the rest of Wednesday running last minute baby-prep errands. On Thursday morning, nesting grabbed a hold of me and I cleaned (most of) our house before going into my blood pressure check at my midwife's. Michael was at work so I went solo to the bp check. My blood pressure was better, good even. My midwife explained that all of my labs looked good, EXCEPT for the protein in my urine from the 24 hour screen. It was 3 times the allowed limit. At that point, she told me she wanted us to meet her at the hospital that evening to begin induction. The concern was as much for Clark as it was for me. If my condition turned into true preeclampsia, I could become toxic. In the worst case scenario my kidneys could shut down and they would have to take Clark via emergency C-section.  Despite Louise's advice to be prepared for an induction, I was still shocked that we would induce so soon. I thought maybe we'd wait the extra 4 days until my due date, but no, we would be meeting our son in the next day or so.

The plan was simple (as simple as child birth can be). Cheri, my midwife, would perform a procedure called an EZ. The procedure entails inserting a catheter into the cervix and inflating a ping pong size balloon. This balloon agitates the cervix so it dilates. Michael and I arrived at the hospital right at 6 pm and within a half hour Cheri was there to insert the EZ. Due to a variety of factors (one being my labial varicosity--I warned you about TMI), I passed out during the procedure. I remember waking to approximately eight nurses surrounding me. One was inserting an IV, another was putting an oxygen mask on me, still another was wiping my head with a cold cloth. However the voice of the one who called for an emergency C- section will probably forever remain in my memory. At that point, I sat up enough to tell Michael, who looked terrified standing behind all the nurses, to call Louise. Soon, Clark's heart rate, which had dropped to 60 when I passed out, was up and in the healthy 130s again. The C-section would not be necessary. Cheri let me rest for about an hour before talking to us about our next course of action.

Once everyone was confident that Clark and I were both stable, Cheri told us that she was not going to attempt the EZ again for fear of the same result. Instead, she wanted to use a drug called cytotec to induce labor. Ironically, I knew about cytotec because my dear friend Sarah (who gave birth just two weeks before me) was supposed to induced using the same drug. She ended up going into labor naturally, but we had talked at length about the drug. There were a number of reasons I was wary about using it to induce. Other than the fact that it is not approved for induction (it's actually an ulcer medication), I was concerned that it could not be regulated after it was administered (they put a 1/4 of a tablet directly on your cervix and allow it to be absorbed). Additionally, as a drug that is routinely used for abortions, there was a possibility of hemorrhaging and death to mother and child. I asked about our other options. The other option--and the one we went with--was a drug called cervidil. It too is manually inserted, but it is approved for induction, has few if any side effects, and is on a string so it could be removed if there were a problem. Cheri inserted the cervidil at 8 pm and said a nurse would pull it at 8 am. That night Michael and I watched the Sox game and some other random shows. We talked to our parents to update them about the induction and we both tried to get some rest.

The next day started easily enough. The nurse pulled the cervidil at 8 am. At 9 am she started the pitocin. Louise joined us around 10 am. I remember the nurse telling me that I was having contractions, but I truly didn't feel them. Michael's parents came up to see us since I really wasn't feeling contractions, I was able to entertain a bit. My mom and sister also came out. Mom had put together a basket of goodies for the nurses (not that they needed to be bribed to give me outstanding care, but as teachers, my mom and I know how much it means to feel appreciated). They also brought Michael and me Panera for lunch. Cheri came to check on me a bit before 3 pm and decided to break my water to get labor going.

Here's what I remember from that point on. The contractions I couldn't initially feel turned into uncomfortable contractions that I had to breathe through. I felt better on the birthing ball, but after a half hour or so, Louise had me up and moving. We walked the halls for about a half hour. Every ten feet or so I would have to stop, lean against Michael and breathe through a contraction. When we got back to the room, my nurse checked me. I was 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. Around 4 pm I got into the tub. It was glorious! My contractions were so much more bearable in the water. After about a half hour, Louise said I needed to switch positions in the tub. I went to a position on my knees and I hated it. She told me I needed to do six contractions in that position. (I feel like this is a perfect example of what a doula is--she's essentially a personal trainer for childbirth.) Michael counted me through the six contractions. At the end of them, I threw up. From all of my research and our birthing classes I knew this was a good sign--I was in transition. 

The next two hours are pretty fuzzy. I remember getting out of the tub and into the bed. I remember my contractions being incredibly intense. For the first time all day, I had trouble breathing through them. When Cheri arrived, she checked my progress. My time in the tub was definitely productive; I was 9 cm dilated 100% effaced.  I labored for another hour or so. There were multiple times that I asked for drugs. Michael's way of handling my pleas for relief was to stare at me blankly. Louise simply said it was too late for drugs--I'd have to do this just as I had planned--on my own, without drugs.

I had been told that by the time I got through active labor and transition pushing would feel like a relief. While that was partly true, it was still painful. The biggest relief was that I was in control of the pain. I pushed instinctively. No one was coaching me on when to push. Instead, Louise and Cheri coached me on how to push. In retrospect, it's amazing that I remembered so much from birthing class. I would stop when I felt burning, gear up and push again. My midwife and doula redirected my energy from screams to pushing. When I was certain I couldn't continue, Cheri had me reach down and touch my baby's head--he was almost here--I could finish, I would finish.

Finally, at 7:18 pm on Friday, May 4, 2012, our son, Clark Wiley Samples entered the world. He came out screaming. Michael told me later that he must have heard me during labor and assumed that's how we communicated out here. :) He also promptly peed all over me and the bed. I didn't even care. I was immediately in love with his pink screaming face. Because there were no complications, we were able to let the cord pulse before Michael cut it, just as our birth plan outlined. I delivered the placenta without any problems and even watched as my midwife took time to explain to me all the parts of the amazing life-giving sack. 

Clark stopped screaming as soon as they put him on my chest and covered us with warm blankets. His dark eyes darted between Michael and me as he saw the faces that went with the voices he'd heard for so many months. Because I had not torn, I was quickly cleaned up. Louise suggested we quickly allow our parents and my sister back to see Clark. I held him so that people would be less likely to try to take him away from us. The five members of our family came back to see our newest addition. After brief congratulations, they left us to be a family of three. I was able to nurse Clark in the delivery room before he and Michael went to the nursery for his assessment. 

I was taken over to our postpartum room shortly after Michael and Clark left me. After I got settled in, I joined Michael in the nursery as they checked out our little guy. He was perfect. The next morning, I awoke early and showered while both boys were sleeping. I knew that I needed to be ready for visitors. Cheri came to see us not long after I made it back to bed. She gave us the option to leave that night or wait until the next morning. Michael had had enough of sleeping on the uncomfortable pull-out, and I was more than tired of nurses in and out of our room at night, so we decided that two nights in the hospital were enough and told Cheri we'd go home that evening. The next several hours were filled with visits from many of our closest friends and family. By 7:50 pm we were on our way home with our one day old son. 

It's taken me over two weeks to finish this post that I started the morning after he was born. I guess that's an indication of how our lives have changed in just a couple of short weeks. I don't think I've ever been this tired, but I can't recall being this happy either. 

1 comment:

  1. So happy this little guy is here--he is so loved! And so happy that everyone had a good birth experience :) Love you guys.