Monday, September 30, 2013

A Birth Story

This birth story started weeks ago- for me, anyhow.  Having had a surprise/emergency C-Section with one of the twins last delivery, I knew going into this pregnancy that there would be choices to be made on the method of delivery.  My doctor has told me for years that I would be a good candidate for a VBAC.  I was glad to hear that, as that was my preferred option.  I knew there were risks involved in having a VBAC, but wasn't fully aware of all of the requirements in order to have one.  I went into this pregnancy, and about 5 months or so into it, thinking that a VBAC was going to be totally possible and quite simple for me.  I've had 3 babies the "normal" way- my body knows how to do it.  So when I found out late in my pregnancy just how many things had to happen in order for a VBAC to even be a possibility, I started to worry.  

I learned that I cannot be induced- no methods that had worked in my past deliveries would be allowed: no pitocin, no medicine to help dilate/thin my cervix, nothing.  I had to go into active labor on my own, which has never really happened for me.  I don't dilate early, EVER (even with twins) and the only "help" my doctor could give me (stripping my membranes) would require me to dilate on my own before delivery.  I knew my chances were not likely, but it could happen, right??  I was discouraged and extremely hopeful, all at the same time.

C-sections are not bad.  I am a firm believer in getting a baby into this world in the safest possible way, and if the best way to accomplish healthy baby/healthy mama is by C-Section, great.  But my last (and only) experience with a C-section was, to be honest, awful.  I hated everything about it.  I couldn't see my baby be born, I was strapped to a table, unable to move and couldn't even feel my arms.  I didn't feel safe to hold the twins for hours after they were born because my arms and hands were so numb (and later itchy).  I couldn't sit upright in bed for at least 12 hours after delivery because doing so made me extremely nauseous.  I wasn't allowed to eat for almost 24 hours afterwards.  I was in an incredible amount of pain- more so than anything I've ever experienced, and I couldn't stay on top of it at the hospital.  I went home in lots of pain and experienced horrible side effects from the pain killers I was on.  I was on pain killers much, much longer than any of my other deliveries.  I hate being dependent on anything, especially pain killers.  Taking any of the narcotics was brutal- I needed them to even function, but they made me so dizzy and loopy and tired that I wasn't of much use anyway.  There are more restrictions on C-sections- no lifting of anything besides baby for 6 weeks (including lifting or really even holding kids, which is hard with young children) and no driving.  I really just hated it and never wanted to do it again.  I was Team VBAC for sure.

Up until the last 2 months or so, I was pretty gung-ho about the VBAC happening.  It works well for woman all the time.  Being a "great candidate", it could easily work well for me too!  But as the end got closer and closer, I started thinking (and by thinking, I mean worrying) about the two methods I had to choose from and the pros and cons of each.  A VBAC has some very scary risks- a small chance (about 1%) of the uterus rupturing.  The chance of it happening is so low, but as my doctor told me, it's like a car accident.  It happens so fast- everything is going along great, and then in a split second it all changes.  The uterus starts to erupt and the baby goes into distress extremely quickly, and there is no way to prevent it.  Baby and mom's health and lives are in jeopardy.  The thought that there was no way to prevent that was not a good feeling.

But on the other hand, the thought of another C-section was not a pleasing thought either.  I know how I recover from both types of deliveries and I much prefer the recovery of a "normal" delivery- I do those quite well.  I feel pretty well and recover quite quickly.  C-sections?  Not so much.

What I was really hoping was that as it got closer, I would just know what to do.  Was I really wishing that the heavens would just open and a voice would tell me exactly what to do?  Absolutely.  As the last month came upon us, I started praying very fervently that I would know what to do.  I expressed my feelings on wanting a VBAC as my preferred delivery option, and then waited for weeks to feel that it was the right option.  I never felt one way or the other.  I was getting very discouraged and didn't know what to do.  I really didn't want to do a VBAC and have something go horribly wrong.  Even if baby made it through ok, but I ended up with a hysterectomy at 29, that wasn't good either.  And I definitely didn't want to have my doctor let me be overdue by a week or two, waiting to see if my body would go into labor on its own, only to find out that it wasn't going to happen and have to get a C-section one or two weeks after my due date (misery!) But I just really, really didn't want a c-section.

The last 2 weeks of my pregnancy, I was having at least one doctor appointment a week, if not two.  My doctor was constantly checking me for any progression and I never had any.  I really wasn't surprised, at all, but I have to admit I was praying for a miracle- the miracle of my body going into labor on its own, for the first time.  A few weeks before my due date, and after discussing all of the options with my doctor, we decided to set a c-section date, just in case.  My doctor said it would be wise to get it on the calendar because it would be near impossible to schedule one on short notice later in the game.  He assured me that I could cancel it at any time.  I was glad to have that date on the calendar- I was hoping before it came around to know for sure what I (we) wanted to do.

Just 2 nights before my scheduled C-section, I was completely distraught.  I had spent weeks worrying, wondering, praying and pretty much going crazy about what to do.  I really just wanted to do what I was supposed to do and I wanted to know for sure which way was the "right" way for us.  As Ben and I climbed into bed that night, I spilled all my worries to him.  I was desperately wanting an answer and was not getting one.  Lucky for me, I have an extremely wise and in-tune husband.  We spent well over an hour talking everything through.  Ben helped me realize that my lack of an answer was probably an answer in itself.  I had been praying to know if I should do a VBAC and never felt great about it.  But I was conflicted, as I didn't feel great about the C-section.  Ben helped me realize, again, that perhaps I didn't feel good about it because it was for reasons that weren't the most important.  He understood that I hated my last C-section, which is the reason I didn't want one, but that perhaps a C-section was still the answer because it was the safest way for me to deliver our sweet baby, and not just because of the things I'd have to go through.  After a physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting conversation, we ended our night on the decision of proceeding forward with a C-section and surprisingly, I felt very calm and ok with that.  I woke up the next morning still feeling ok about it.  A C-section was not what I had wanted, but I knew it was going to be ok and that was the best option for us.   I had a doctor's appointment that morning and when I found out that I hadn't progressed at all, I had our answer confirmed again.  The C-section scheduled for the next morning was a go.  And to be honest, it was so nice knowing that I had less than 24 hours left of being pregnant!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Delivery Day! (D-Day)

We had to check in at the hospital (Valley Medical Center- same hospital Chloe was born at!) bright and early at 6:00 a.m.

Last shots of my LARGE pregnant belly- 39.5 weeks

Donning the ever flattering hospital gown.  One size fits all, for sure!

And then we... waited.  And waited.  And waited.  No one even came into our room until at least 7:30 a.m.  Ben and I both said that we could have spent this extra time at home in bed!

The TV monitor welcomed us warmly, though!  We spent our down time watching a movie on Netflix.

Finally someone came back and got an IV going in me (first try, as usual, was unsuccessful.  I have a nice bruise to remember that by).  I had to have a whole bag of fluid pumped into me prior to surgery.  With my bladder already being the size of a pea, that was not pleasant.  I was using the bathroom every 5 minutes for the last hour.

Finally, around 9:00, it was go time.  Ben got dressed in his Operating Room gear- as someone described it, it looked like he was ready for blast off!

We headed down to the OR after that.  Ben had to wait outside while I got my spinal block.  He has always been there with me when I've received my epidurals, so I was really bummed he couldn't be in there with me.  Instead, a very sweet nurse came and stood in front of me and let me rest my head on her shoulder while she massaged my shoulders and talked me through it.  She was really great.  The spinal block took effect within seconds- it was crazy.  They warned me it would.  As soon as the anesthesiologist was done putting it in, they immediately laid me down on the table before I got too numb that I couldn't even lay down.  The surgical nurses did some more prepping on me as I got more and more numb.  Soon, I was completely numb from my chest down.  The nice part was that I could feel my hands and arms this time and didn't have to be strapped down on the table.  The bad part was that I was extremely uncomfortable.  With most of my body numb, it felt like I was laying sideways and my body's natural inclination was to shift to a more comfortable position.  I couldn't move my body at all and instead was just left to think about how uncomfortable I was.  Ben still wasn't in the room yet to distract me from all of the discomfort.

The doctor came in and got busy doing something- I couldn't only feel pressure, but wondered what he was doing with Ben not even in the room yet.  Soon I heard him say "Hey, somebody get Dad in here!"  Ben walked in a minute later and later told me that I was already cut open when he got there.  With him in the room, and knowing we were getting close to baby time, my mind was more easily distracted from my discomfort.  Almost an hour and a half past our scheduled delivery time and lots of tugging and lots of pressure later, I heard the most beautiful cry in the world.  It took my breath away and tears came to my eyes.  Our baby was here!

Olivia Morgan Andros
Born at 9:54 a.m.
Delivered by Dr. Bigler

Getting weighed and measured

9 lbs, 1 oz and 20.5 in long

She was not a happy camper for awhile.  I still hadn't seen her at this point, but could hear her sweet (albeit loud) little cry as I lay waiting on the table.

After getting her cleaned up a bit and diapered, they did her foot prints.

I finally got to see my sweet girl and the nurse took this picture of the 3 of us.  And she was still crying!  I tried to calm her as best I could with just the use of my hands, in an awkward position.
The doctor took quite awhile to sew me back up.  The weird thing this time was that there was some reflective material on the ceiling that when I looked up, I could see what was going on on the other side of my blue protective sheet.  It was grainy and far away and was very clear, but I could definitely tell that I was cut open and that everything was red and bloody.  It actually didn't bother me too much.  And I heard and could see the doctor using a suction to get rid of access blood.  Weird, weird.

I was anxious to be done- my neck and shoulders were in lots of pain.  I don't know if this is normal but it was one of the few parts of my body that I could feel and it seemed that since everything was numb, all of the pressure and weight of my body fell to my neck and shoulders.  I awkwardly tried to massage my own neck with one of my hands while I waited.

Our sweet girl!  She calmed down for a bit when she was all wrapped up and warm again.

When I first got to see her, the first thing I noticed about her were her full cheeks.  They were very soft and very kissable.  While she is a big girl, these pictures make her look much bigger than she is/was in real life.  She looked TINY in real life.

After the doctor was finished putting me back together, he came over and shook my hand and congratulated us.  Then he told me, "It's a good thing we went ahead with the C-section.  When I cut you open, I had to search around to find her.  She was so high up in your pelvis and was caught up in there, almost like there was a ring around her, holding her in.  I don't think she would have ever dropped down on her own." (Meaning she wouldn't have dropped down to start labor on her own, without being induced.  And being induced was not an option for a VBAC).

We didn't know if we'd ever truly know why a C-section was best for us, but upon hearing those words from the doctor, we had our answer as to why.  I didn't get my answer for "what delivery should I do?" by the heaven's opening and hearing a loud voice.  My sweet husband, who was in tune with the Spirit, helped me receive the answer that was best for us in a very still, small voice.  A voice and feeling I would have missed, as I was waiting for something louder and much more direct.  Everything worked out how it was supposed to, to which I am very grateful.  And most importantly, our sweet Olivia was brought into this world safely and very healthy.

We were wheeled back to our recovery room (where we started the morning).

Little O was given her first bath.  I was still laying flat and couldn't see it.  We thought she'd cry, since she was pretty fussy in the Operating Room, but she tolerated it quite well.

We also knew right away that this little lady has RED hair!  With 2 red heads and 2 blondies at home, we were anxious to see what we'd get this time.  Although I still don't have my dark headed baby like I've always wanted (who am I kidding?), I'll take another gorgeous red head any day.  Her hair and Ben's arm hair were twins!

Her first picture with Daddy!

After her bath, she was our sweet, quiet girl.  No more crying for the rest of the day.  I can't even really remember her fussing at all either.  She was very mellow and so extremely sweet.

This about sums it up- chill and calm and so gorgeous.

We spent a few hours in recovery.  I was allowed almost immediately to start eating- a totally different experience than last time.  I had to start off with crackers, but was told I could eat a meal in a few hours if I wanted.  I was also able to sit up in bed.  I took that very slowly, as I didn't want to risk throwing up right after abdominal surgery (ouch!)

Later in the afternoon, we were wheeled to our new room, where we stayed until discharged.  Just like last time, we were given a very tiny room, as is code here with C-sections.  And this room was very old- it was in the old part of the hospital.  This hospital just had a birthing center remodel about 4 years ago, but they out grew it as soon as it was finished.  The nurse told us they deliver about 450 babies a month at this hospital and they just don't have room for everyone in the new, remodeled section.  So the woman who are sliced open have to recover in tiny rooms.  Seems fair, eh? :)

After school, my mom brought the kids by.  These were four very excited and very anxious children.

There just wasn't enough babies to go around for these anxious hands.  We really could have used a set of twins this time! :)

My best baby helper!

He didn't get the brother he's always wanted, but he's pretty smitten with this sweet girl.

My "baby" Lexi with the newest baby.

A proud Grandma!

A treat this time was that my dad got to be here for the first time ever to meet an Andros grand baby right after birth..  He was actually in town on business for meetings this day and the day before.  He was scheduled to fly home the afternoon of the birth and wasn't going to have time to come to the hospital before his flight left.  But when his boss heard that he had a grandchild born that day in the area, he let my dad change his flight to the next day and Dad was able to come and meet Olivia.

Olivia with Grandma and Papa Blakeslee

Group shot!

Me with all 5 of my beautiful children!  I have FIVE!  Wow!

Our first family photo

I always look TERRIBLE right after birth.  My face and nose swell to twice their size during the last bit of pregnancy, and then during labor and delivery, they swell another 2 sizes.  So "first family pictures" are not my favorite because I look so yucky, but it's all for a good cause.  I was also not sitting fully up at this point because I suddenly got very nauseous. 

What a blessed day!  Olivia arrived safely and my C-section experience this go around was already much more positive than last time.  D-Day was a success!  We are so in love with our little angel girl.  We have been blessed beyond measure. 


Jami Little said...

Ah, she is so sweet!

I'm SO GLAD everything worked out for you and your cute little Olivia! She looks like Chloe to me. She's ridiculous, I can't stand her cheeks - SO CUTE! I loooove chubby baby cheeks. So much :). And that picture of her hair with ben's arm hair, oh my. Too funny! Congrats. She is seriously a doll.

Holly said...

Love it! So glad she is here and so glad for you to no longer be pregnant! Enjoy, enjoy! Can't wait to meet her!

Amanda said...

I'm glad she's here safe and sound and hopefully this recovery will be quicker and smoother than last. I can't wait to meet her and snuggle her. I am so happy to see you wore my favorite shirt to delivery day. I also wore the same shirt the day of my delivery. It's the thing to do I guess! We can compare pictures later:)

Tara said...

So fun to read the whole story. So glad that everything went smoothly. Olivia is so perfect and I love all your pictures!


SuburbiaMom said...

Well done, mama! So glad she is here! Thanks for sharing this post; it was inspiring to hear what a mother goes through. Wish our baby girls would be able to play together...

Johnsons said...

Oh she is so cute. I love her cheeks. Congrats and Im so glad everyone is safe and sound.

Camille said...

Congrats! She is perfect. I'm so glad you went with your decision to schedule the c-section, sounds like it might have been scary. I hope the recovery is going well. Those are some great pictures! Love them.

The Moore Family said...

So glad you and Olivia are okay and it all worked out! That red hair! :) and what proud, adorable siblings Olivia has!