I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.
Be with me now.
Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Have you ever been given such a miracle that there can be no denying it is such?
Enoch Nehemiah is just one such miracle. By all accounts he should never have stuck and in the end was hiding a secret that could have taken him at any time.
It is hard to write this out as the emotion of it all keeps crashing down on me. On us. To be holding this healthy, happy boy now after so much trial, pain and sorrow--it is hard to believe I'm awake and this is real.
Sabbath morning, May 24, started like any other in recent months. Very tired, very sick feeling, just wishing it was bedtime again but knowing I had to get enough to eat and drink should labor come today. I was feeling discouraged at the delay labor was taking in returning. Discouraged that others now due were having their babies. Overall just longing for it to all be done. James was, as usual, being my knight in shining armor. We were just about ready to try a nap (to remedy the tiredness at least) and he suggested sitting behind me as he'd seen in a flash 2 weeks before (vision, premonition? whatever you want to call it). I'd been having some little contractions that morning as I had for 2 weeks since labor last started and then stalled. Why not?
Just as I sat down and leaned back I felt a gush of liquid. I got up to check it out and it was clear--and continuing. I put a chux or two down and a white towel and sat back down. It kept gushing, but was still clear. So we waited. It was 10:45am.
Around noon contractions started up. For then it was easy enough to handle by relaxing intentionally, focusing on my music, having James rub my shoulders and just breathing instead of fighting them. They progressed in intensity pretty quickly however. By 1-something James was asking if I wanted the pool set up after all. I couldn't decide, was in too much pain, so he quickly set it up. I got in when there was just a few inches of water.
Before long, even the water wasn't enough, though. The last time I recall seeing was close to 2pm. By then nothing was helping me stay on top of the contractions and they were very close together. Just about the time the water was high enough to do any good, I was getting no relief at all. There were peaks and valleys but no breaks between contractions. I was now dealing with them by crying out to God (literally) to help me and stop the pain. After a couple hours like that James called our former midwife to ask advice. I was begging him to get me a c-section and saying I couldn't do it, but got mad when the midwife said that after 2 hours like that and no pushing it was time to transport. I insisted we wait longer--this was just transition. Surely pushing wasn't far away.
Of course then I slipped back under the pain and was screaming for help and sure this would still be several hours yet. I had started off labor drinking well, but by now I was sweating profusely and unable to drink much as the peaks were so close together. I'd been pushy at the top of them for over an hour. But unlike my last labor, that did NOT feel good. It was worse pain than the contractions if anything. After another bit the pain got unimagineably worse yet and this time it was all so very clear. I needed something to stop the pain NOW. An epidural, a c-section, I didn't care. It had to stop. Something was not right. It shouldn't hurt this bad! I was becoming too weak to even hold to the side of the pool. I begged James to take me in. He asked me if I was sure? I was. He asked if I wanted him to drive me or call 911. I couldn't see him driving safely with me screaming at the top of my lungs and that was even if I could get out to the car! So he called 911. We'd just recieved our new scanner the day before, now we heard ourselves on it.
In just a few minutes the house was crawling with firefighters (who also man the ambulance in town). There must have been at least 8 inside if not more. I didn't care. I was in agony and nothing was helping. One took my vitals, another tried to find baby's heartbeat, yet another timed my contractions, another asked James questions (how far along? had water broken? etc). As soon as they could, they helped me stand up (I had NO stregnth left) and throw a nightgown on. They helped me down the stairs (stopping twice in just 13 stairs for contractions) and onto a stretcher and even put a folded blanket between my knees to help reduce the pain of lying down. They took me out as gently as humanly possible (I barely felt a bump when being walked out) and away sped the ambulance.
At the hospital I was in even worse pain (from road bumps and corners) and couldn't stop screaming. They took me in through the ER and back to the operating area. It was then I heard a nurse tell the firefighters the other 2 OB rooms were full and at pushing stage too. I noticed one of the nurses that we go to church with there--that was relieving--just seeing a friendly face. Apparently they had to call her in (she's the hospital nursing director) as the hospital was beyond maxxed out due to the 2 other OB patients and a full Memorial Day ER. It's a 14 bed hospital. The ER doctor was paged to come help me and a student doctor was called to come in and cover the ER and rest of hospital. The nurse friend of ours told someone to call her mother-in-law to find someone from church to watch our boys. They were with the laboratory staff in the meantime--except Noah who was too afraid of all the strange faces. He sat in the hall outside the operating room with a CNA. He got his wish to see the birth, though he couldn't see much from there. He did hear it all and see some.
Meanwhile, I was still in extreme pain with unrelenting contractions. The nurse checked me and said I was 9 with just a little lip left. I pleaded with the to hurry! to get something to stop the pain fast! They told me it would take 20 minutes to get the blood results. They were kind enough not to tell me the truth right then--that I probably didn't have 20 minutes left and no chance of pain relief. one of the firefighters stayed behind to draw my blood and put the IV in.
A few minutes later the doctor came in and checked. I was fully dilated. I pleaded with him to please just cut the baby out. Just knock me out and cut him out. I tried to reason that he was just too big for me. The doctor very kindly took a firm grip on my shoulders and said "you have done this before, you can do it again. Just stop screaming and put that energy into pushing him out. There isn't time for a section. YOU need to push him out." I had been vaguely aware that they were having difficulty getting his heartbeat on monitor. I assumed it was, as usual, his placenta in the way. I could still feel him wiggling so wasn't worried personally. They did want to put an internal monitor on him, though, and had no luck with the first, despite it being in place properly. They only had marginal luck with the second (with all new wires even). I thought they were just not picking it up regularly, but James told me later there wasn't one. I'm grateful they didn't tell ME that, as panic would have set in and I probably would NOT have been able to do it. Apparently at that point James left the room briefly to cry out of fear for both of us. They just insisted that I get in a reasonable position for pushing (I was content to lay on my side and scream) and push--not scream--with all my might.
The next few minutes felt like hours to me, but were apparently very brief. It felt like hours to me because I was so exhausted that half of the peaks I could do nothing more than gasp for breath, despite having oxygen going. I managed to push him down to crowning in just 2 pushes, but from there it was much harder. It took 4-5 more pushing sets to get his head out and once they cleared his mouth and he started crying they wanted me to gently push the rest out. But it wasn't that easy. I had a very hard time getting his shoulders out and they were apparently ready to do the gaskin maneuver on me just when I finally got the shoulders out. By all those around account, it was only 15 minutes worth of pushing. He arrived just 30 minutes after I arrived. I could hear him crying and it was so sweet to hear! However he was apparently blue and floppy as well as gurgling and retracting. His apgars were 7 and 8. They worked with him for about 10 minutes to help him clear his lungs (rubbing with towel, tapping his back, etc) and him breathing well. They had let me hold him for a brief moment when he came out, but I was beyond out of it.
Worse yet, I could feel as soon as he was out that I started bleeding heavily. They grabbed more and more towels and kept putting more and more chux down on the floor. After a minute or two I could feel my feet--at the end of the bed--were swimming in blood (and indeed the cracks in my skin are still stained). Sadly maybe? That is all Noah remembers. All the blood going everywhere. The doctor tried to do some traction on the cord and at that point realized something was very wrong. He mentioned then that it could be a poor insertion, but at any rate couldn't use that to help the placenta come out. A nurse worked on the fundus from the outside and the doctor worked to help the placenta detach from the inside (that was every bit as painful as labor had been). I was finally able to muster a little more strength to push, as they'd been begging me to, and after several tries was able to get the placenta out. They had already given me a push of pitocin in my IV and gave more again since my uterus was still refusing to clamp down. The nurse continued to massage the fundus until it finally started to react as it should. By then I'd been nursing Noah for several minutes even, still without any sign of firmness.
Looking at the placenta the doctor confirmed it was indeed a velamentous insertion and not far from the rip in the bag of waters at that. He simply said "this could have turned out very badly." but he didn't need to tell me. One of my twins had a similar insertion and my perinatologist had told me all about how it could turn out--namely in stillbirth.
With that last crisis out of the way the doctor was able to go back to the ER patients, the nurses back to their respective posts and only our friend who was called in remained. She stayed with me until late in the evening, making sure I was doing ok and baby was well. Once they moved me to a regular room (though still not OB) and were helping me to the bed they realized my gown had been left on me. The back is soaked in blood.
Due to how much blood I'd lost (no definite amount, but they all guessed at least 1 liter, probably more) they opted to keep me a second night. I was feeling fabulous, now free from hyperemesis, but wasn't in any shape to argue since I was still very easily fatigued.
No meal has tasted so good in my life as the one I ate a couple hours after having Enoch. It was just some cut fruit, milk, yogurt and cookie, but it was heavenly and I was SO hungry for it! And thirsty!!
Enoch managed to nurse 22 of his first 24 hours and kept pace until my milk started coming in even more fully. Now he is pretty much on a every-2-hours routine all on his own and actually SLEEPS. He's my first sleeper (and for me, even 1 hour of baby sleeping straight is a nice break).
We are both still in a bit of shock that he's HERE, much less how big he is and that it came in such a different way than we'd expected. We have no regrets about any of it, though. God's hand was clearly at work in ordering events.
We are very grateful to the firefighters who were so compassionate and gave such dignity in a very undignified moment. Also to the doctor and nurses who saved me from myself in my desires to wait for an epidural, have a c-section, etc. They had faith in me that I no longer had in myself. We are also grateful for the respectful treatment that we recieved as a homebirth/UC (unassisted childbirth) transfer. I'd read many horror stories about those, but absolutely none of it was accurate for us. We weren't hassled about anything and they respected our wishes in every way that was safe (I didn't want pitocin, but even I could see help was needed fast). I was able to cosleep with Enoch from the start and even now he still has his wonderful birth smells. I had to sign a few refusal forms upon discharge, but that was the most of it.
A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. John 16:21
Here are some pictures. Sadly we don't have many, but the memories are burned in our minds. (some nursing pictures, graphic placenta shot)
Early on in labor.
Nursing on the delivery table.
Getting settled in to our room.
Welcome home Enoch!!
Nursing with big brother to help relieve engorgement: (this was 4am, pardon how we all look)
One possible reason for the painful labor: His head came out facing sideways and tilted to the side. My fingers are around the area that first presented.
DS1: 10/89 - DD1: 06/94 - DD2: 02/97 - DS2: 12/05 - DS3: 12/08 - DC6: ETA 04/26/12
I'll be 42 when the newest little one is born! Yowza!
Sara , Keith , Toby 6/08, Nomi 4/10, Mona 1/12
Mama of three, lover, student rabbi, spoonie, friend, musician, narcoleptic, space muffin, pretty much a dragon. Crunchy like matzoh.
Congratulations, and enjoy that baby!
Reneé, 34 year old mom to Antonin 8/04 and Arianna 9/06 . (6 weeks) 5/08. Married to Matt since 6/03 . Expecting another sweet little baby April 2015.
And you did it!!!
Happy to be a mommy and teacher to D , born 1-17-06 via and A , born 10-6-08 with a