We went to the hospital at 7:30am on Monday, April 5, 2010 for my induction. I was already 4 1/2 cm dilated so I was thrilled. Pitocin was started at 9am and I chose to try for a natural birth as long as I could handle the contractions. Shortly after, Dr. Elfstrand came in to break my water. As she was reaching in to do it, she mentioned using "Stan". I quickly jumped in asking who Stan was as I knew no doctor by that name. She reassured me that S.T.A.N. was the internal EKG monitor we had chosen to use on Jeremiah. Phew-We then went on to find out that STAN was created in Sweden so the rest of the labor included jokes about Swedish Stan. This technology may very well have saved Jeremiah as I'll share later. Stan was nice as it allowed me complete mobility while still monitoring baby the entire time. And, as it acts as a full EKG, it would alert the doctor/nurses if anything serious was happening. This gave me great peace.
Things were going steady but too slow in my mind for the first 2 1/2 hours. My contractions were about 4 minutes apart and didn't feel strong enough. Shortly after I commented about that, the contractions came on harder. The rocking chair seemed to do something as long as I sat in a specific position. Within an hour, so by 12:30, I asked for an epidural. The contractions I had started having were worse than any I had experienced before. It felt like they were in my pelvic and hip bones, not in my uterus and birth canal. It was so painful. I told Kinely, Kristi & Traci that I felt like I waited 10 minutes too long to ask for the epidural. I remember chanting "Help me Jesus" over and over as they finished putting it in but before it took effect because I was so scared of having another one of those contractions. (side humor-I guess my chant sounded very southern gospel and at least one of my birthing coaches wanted to answer "Hallelujah" or "Amen Sister"...) The epidural took effect quickly-this epidural seemed to be put in much faster and take effect much quicker than the one I got with Abbi. By this point I was 6cm dialated and 70% effaced. I had reached my goal to make it to at least 6cm natural without any medication so I felt pleased with my hard work. I did have some blood pressure drops associated with the epidural but those were corrected with IV meds.
I was able to get some good rest now that the epidural had taken effect. I was also thrilled to have a boost button so any time I started feeling more pain I could hit the button and it would send more drugs into the epidural. Kristi and Traci quickly found this exciting as well and I let them take turns pushing the boost button for me!
Jeremiah's heartrate had started showing dips before the epidural and as I continued to progress, his heartrate began to show some issues. We found that the best position for me was rolled onto my left side. Any other position would drop Jeremiah's heartrate. They started me on oxygen to make sure he was getting the full amount possible. By 3:30 I had only a lip of a cervix left. As it was on the left side, we tried a couple of times to roll me onto my right side. However, each time Jeremiah's heartrate would struggle and would take a full 15 minutes to regulate after rolling me back onto my left side. The doctor stopped the pitocin for a while to give him a break and allow his heartrate to regulate. She eventually had it turned back on but slowly.
Around 6pm my doctor put the c-section team on stand-by. You can imagine my frustration as I was stalled at just a lip of a cervix. I also was so connected to tubes and wires that it became a joke. At that point I was SO glad I had the epidural so I didn't have to go through this stall without meds. That would have been rough.
At 7pm my doctor tried pushing the cervix around Jeremiah's head while I did some light pushing. The pushing felt great but she could not get that cervix to go away and his heartrate continued to struggle. His head has also never found a good position and was consistently rotating every time she felt it. We decided on a 1/2 hr rest for Jeremiah and at 7:30 we tried again to move the cervix out of the way. As I was on my left side most of the time and the Stan monitor was behind me, I was unable to see the heartrate numbers. However, I remember seeing 60 on occassion and knew that that was Way too low for Jeremiah. The second attempt to move my cervix failed and his heartrate continued to struggle. My doctor said she felt that there was something wrong and I agreed. We then proceeded to the c-section.
In the weeks leading up to Jeremiah's birth, I felt like something was wrong. Maybe I was actually feeling the physical problem inside my body, maybe it was God's way of preparing me, or some of both. But, when we made the decision for the c-section, I was at complete peace with it. This was major for me. I had always feared a c-section because, while I have a pretty high pain tolerance, my body typically takes twice as long to recover from surgery. This was a big concern for me but I knew that at that moment, a c-section was our best option.
Our doctor wasn't only concerned with Jeremiah, but with me as well. I guess my hemoglobin (iron) level had dropped to 9.3 and she was concerned about the amount of bleeding I might entail during a vaginal delivery. As we progressed to the operating room, she ordered extra blood on hand. Praise God I didn't need ANY of it!!!
I was amazed at how fast things began happening when she made the call for the c-section. Nurses started swarming and the next thing I knew I was on the operating table. I had been prepped some and knew that my arms would be strapped down straight out beside me. I don't remember them being strapped down but it was an odd feeling to have them straight out the entire time. They put the drape up and an oxygen mask on. This became one of my pet-peeves throughout the surgery. I wonder now if it was some oddly humorous way for God to keep me distracted. The anesthesiologist assistant was the one to initially put the mask on me. The nose was pinched so tight I couldn't breathe. So, I asked the head guy to fix it. He pushed the metal piece so flat that it smooshed my nose and I still couldn't breathe. This began an hour-long fight with the oxygen mask. I finally worked it off my nose so I could just breathe through my mouth without my nose being smashed, only for one of them to come move it half-hazardly back onto my nose! It did give me something to do while being strapped down and cut open!
The biggest issue I had was feeling like my chest was being crushed and I couldn't breathe. I have to say my anethesiologist was excellent here. He explained what I was feeling and why and helped me visualize floating on a cloud in order to relax. I also asked for a cold washcloth on my head which made a tremedous difference! It was a lot of mental work to stay calm and relaxed through this surgery process.
Kinely was finally allowed in and started video-taping again. I have to admit, the first 10 minutes are pretty boring as we waited for them to cut. As they got ready to finish the uterine incision, the anesthesiologist got in my face and began explaining the pressure I would feel as they would push baby up into my ribs in order to get out his head. He stayed inches from my face through the entire process of getting Jeremiah out in order to keep me informed and calm. What a difference that coaching made! I had never understood why someone would want or need a birth coach for a c-section but I SO get it now. It takes so much mental work.
As the doctor got out Jeremiah's head she announced that indeed he did have the cord wrapped around his neck. He was also a large baby but my guess is that the cord was the main issue in keeping him from progressing fully into the birth canal. That lip of a cervix may very well have been God's way of protecting him. Had I progressed and started pushing it's very possible (likely) that his cord would have been compressed and an emergency c-section needed. I'm glad this wasn't an emergency situation.
My doctor immediately gave Jeremiah to the nurses to work on him. They cleaned him up and gave him some oxygen. He didn't want to cry so they had to keep rubbing at him and giving him oxygen but his apgar score were 8 & 9 so he did really well. Two humorous notes: one of the nurses by me, as they pulled him out of my tummy, said "You gave birth to a 3 year old!" and one of the nurses at the bassinet picked up his hand as they were cleaning him up and said "Look at these hands!". He does indeed have large hands!!
Kinely stayed with Jeremiah while they got him cleaned up, breathing well and swaddled then they brought him over for me to see him. The first time I got to see him was after they had him all cared for. That was hard-just waiting. So unlike my others where they immediately placed them on my chest. And, when they brought him over, he was upside-down to me so I could see his face which was a little weird! But, my first words were "he looks like Abbi!". He was SO adorable and he started leaning towards me as I talked to him. It was hard to let him go. Kinely went with him to the newborn nursery so they could check his blood sugars.
This was the loneliest time for me. Kinely was off with Jeremiah, the anesthesiologists were about 10 feet from my head, the doctor was chatting with the person helping her close me up (I'm guessing an intern as Abbott is a teaching hospital) and the nurses were by my feet. I kept just focusing on my breathing, the stupid oxygen mask and what the doctor was talking about. It felt like it was never going to end and I felt so alone. When the head anesthesiologist came by me I asked about how much longer it would probably be. My doctor immediately chimed in and reassured me they were almost done. I hadn't realized she was that in-tune to me or what was happening in the room. But, looking at the video, she jumped in any time I asked anyone for anything to make sure it got done. I realized later that not once was I concerned with the job she was doing. I had complete trust in her and never felt fear or anxiety with her skill. That says a lot.
It took, I think, about 30 minutes to close me up. Then they had to move me to a different bed which was disconcerting but they had me on this thing that inflated so they could move me easier then deflated once I was on the other bed. Then we had the trip to recovery.
The recovery nurse was very polite but there was a big curtain up between me and her which was annoying. Again, I felt very alone but not for long. My doctor came in soon to check on me and asked if I wanted my friends. I very quickly said yes and shortly Traci and Kristi came in. It was then that I cried for the first time. I had also gotten the shakes and felt like I was convulsing uncontrollably. I guess the doctor told Traci & Kristi not to stay long and they quickly left, against Traci's wishes! Thankfully the nurse offered me some hot tea and I was so thankful. My mouth was so dry and the shakes were driving me nuts. I still couldn't feel anything below my ribcage which was probably good. The tea tasted so divine. Then in came Kinely with Jeremiah and I was thrilled. I was able to hold my baby for the first time and he immediately began rooting to nurse. He latched on right away and properly to our amazement. He was by far my best nurser as a newborn. I nursed for about 20 minutes (I think) when she needed to check his blood sugar again. It had dropped to 22-Low! Kinely immediately took him to the nursery where they bottled him. His blood sugars stayed low for 3 draws then finally climbed. We bottled him about twice per day, as much as he would take, every day in the hospital. Thankfully they never had to IV him despite his refusal of the bottle nipple. They would just use a syringe to get the formula in or he'd take a small amount then refuse any more but it was enough to sustain him. However, he loved nursing so we nursed any time he seemed interested.
I was in recovery about an hour before they took me to my room. I'd love to keep writing but that's the birth part of my story so I should close. The incision ended up healing nicely and despite the pain, thrush, damage to my stomach from ibuprofen, I recovered better and quicker than I anticipated. I do not, however, want to go through a c-section again. It was difficult, painful and scary. But, I am so thankful to God that it was available to keep both Jeremiah and me safe, healthy and alive.
Sara: Separated Mom to , DD (9), , DS (5), DD (3), , & 4/5/10 + 2 & 1