Thursday, June 4, 2009

An end and a beginning

I am no longer pregnant ... beautiful Anna Sophie is here!! She was born on Wednesday May 13th at 51 minutes past midnight, but her story of being born should probably start on the Monday, two days before she arrived.

(A word of warning: this post is partly me journalling so that I'm able to look back and remember all the things that were important to me about Anna's birth ... so it's likely to get fairly lengthy! Feel free to drift in and out of my ramblings, or just skip to the pictures!)

As you know, I've been in school the whole time I was pregnant. I took my spring semester finals the week before Anna was born, but I still had two papers to turn in by that Monday. I spent the whole weekend working on them, turned them in on time on Monday, and went and got my prenatal massage that Mark got me for Christmas (!) - and loved every minute of it :) Mark and I had scheduled in a date night for Monday, since I was finally done with my semester, and went to The Garlic Rose to celebrate; after dinner was dessert at the hangar with Smackey, Megan, Kris & Nicole. It was an awesome day - totally relaxed (once I turned in my school work!) and fun. The weather was gorgeous, and I got to spend the day with some of my favourite people.
I woke up that night at 3:15 convinced I had just peed a little. I leaped out of bed and ran for the bathroom (to the extent that a 9-month-prego can either leap or run) ... and discovered that I was definitely not peeing but rather going into labour! I wasn't contracting at that point, so Mark and I debated whether or not to go to the hospital yet. We spent about an hour just hanging out and making sure we had everything we needed packed and ready to go, but by 4:30 I wasgradually starting to have contractions and we were both getting a little antsy about the risk of umbilical cord prolapse (Which was not incredibly likely, particularly since I was still feeling the baby move, but would have been an emergency had it happened. Sometimes having a medical background is more of a hindrance than a help...).
We arrived at Hillcrest a little after 5am on Tuesday morning. We got checked in through triage (by a very funny, large black lady who didn't approve of Mark's neat but tiny handwriting and made me redo the paperwork he filled out so she could read it without having to put her glasses on!) and were taken to our labour and delivery room. I had an awesome nurse, but only for an hour or so until the night shift ended. My day nurse was another story...!
I was dilated to about 3cm, and I was having very bearable contractions about every 5 minutes. Dr Geidl and I had talked about intermittent monitoring rather than continuous, which meant that (against my nurse's personal preference) I was able to get up and walk around with my IV pole, as long as I came back to my room and got re-attached to the doppler for 15 minutes every hour so we could check on Anna's heartbeat. By lunchtime my contractions were getting stronger and I was starting to have to focus through them. I had a little bit of food (also against my nurse's preferences - "This is a very very very VERY bad idea!" - but ok with my doctor and definitely ok with me!) and did some more walking in the hallways with Mark. I had some visitors to help pass the time - Laura and Mer came to say hello, a couple of our friends from Image who were working stopped in to check on us, Kris & Nicole were in and out, and Tiffany was there too a little later.
By about 3pm, my contractions were strong enough that I had to breathe through them. But when my nurse checked my cervix again, I had hardly dilated at all since the morning. Dave came in and checked on me, and said we would probably have to start me on Pitocin, an IV drug that augments labour. I knew that contractions with Pitocin are a lot harder and faster, so I'd been hoping I wouldn't have to have any ... but since my water had broken 12 hours ago and I hadn't progressed more than 1cm since then, I understood the decision. I think I got started on the Pitocin around 4 or 5, and sure enough, contractions were a LOT more difficult! I was using the birthing ball a lot, which I liked, and we also put my Labour playlist on the iPod to help distract me, but each contraction felt like it was taking my whole quota of strength so I wouldn't have any left for the next one! I remember sitting on the chair in my room, facing backwards and leaning over the back of it with Mark and Tiff rubbing my low back each time I had a contraction, wondering how people got through this alone!
My nurse came to check me again around 8, at which point I thought I was dying, and told me I was about a 4+. Something in me broke at that point, and I told them I'd like an epidural as soon as possible. That was something Mark and I had taked about during my pregnancy, and we had concluded that I'd try not to have one but we were open to it if I ended up needing one. So I asked for it, still feeling a little guilty but knowing that there was no way I could go through any more hours of those contractions without something for the pain! The anesthesiologist came up to my room fairly quickly, and even though I dreaded the thought of a needle in my back, I don't even remember it being painful compared to contracting! I did have a contraction while he was putting it in, which was awful, but managed to stay in my hunched-over position, grabbing Mark around the waist till I thought I was probably inflicting some kind of internal damage to his organs! Once the epidural was in, I felt like I was in heaven. I could feel tightening during each contraction, but no more pain.
At 9 my nurse checked me again - and I was complete! Immediately there was a flurry of activity as the delivery tray and bassinet were wheeled into the room, my doctor was called and everything was made ready. Once Dave arrived (extremely soon after being paged - I'm pretty sure he broke every speed limit between home and Hillcrest!), I started pushing. I was able to feel the contractions enough to know when to push with them, but I still wasn't sore. I was excited that the final stage in this whole process was starting ... but after an hour of pushing with each contraction Dave suggested (and Mark agreed!) that I take a break, since there was still no sign of the baby. I took a 30-minute nap till about 10:30, at which point the nurses and Dave and also Dr Keller, an Image faculty, came back in. I also found out that the entire Crouch family plus Kris and Nicole were all waiting out in the lobby - even Jan, despite the late hour! I started pushing again, and at some point had to have an oxygen mask because the baby's heart rate was dropping. I had to turn onto my side to help increase the blood flow to my uterus, and I kept listening to the baby's heart beat on the monitor. After more pushing, Dave & Dr Keller decided to use an intra-uterine pressure catheter to see whether my contractions were forceful enough to actually push the baby out. (The IUPC was just a little wire that they attached to my uterus to monitor contractions, and it fed to a screen that they could see.) They also attached a fetal scalp electrode to the baby's head to monitor how it was doing during contractions. They established that our poor baby was stuck at one of the parts of my pelvis; there's a ridge that its head has to pass below, and that's where it was stuck. By about midnight, 3 hours after I started pushing, I could tell that people were starting to get concerned. Mark was by my side the whole time, encouraging me to push, and at this point he started telling me I had to push harded because we really needed to get that baby out. I knew people were starting to think about the possibility of a C-section, but *thankfully* no-one ever mentioned it out loud! After a while a little head full of dark hair became visible, which gave me the energe to push a little harder. Finally, just before 1 on Wednesday morning, Dr Keller produced a vacum (out of nowhere; I'm sure there wasn't one in the room prior to the second it was in his hands!), Dave gave me a quick episiotomy to try to contain my 3rd-degree tear, and with the next push he helped me deliver our gorgeous little Anna Sophie! (So we went from wanting a natural childbirth to having Pitocin, an epidural, IUPC, fetal scalp electrode, episiotomy and a vacum-assisted delivery! Every trick in the book except a section!) She was born at 00:51 on Wednesday May 13th, weighing in at 6lb 12oz. Mark cut the cord, the nurse towelled her off and gave her to me, and I finally got to meet the little person that had been growing inside of me and kicking my guts around for the last several weeks :)
After snuggling with her for a little while (while my episiotomy was being sewn up!), the nurses took her over to the warmer and cleaned her off properly, weighed her, tidied up her little belly button and made sure she was breathing ok. Her APGARs were 8 and 9, which is a good score. Finally they gave her back to me, and her proud daddy got to go call in the troops - who were *still* waiting in the lobby! Everyone piled into the room and fell in love with her (appropriately so :) ... Kris prayed over Anna and me and Mark while we were all there together, and then everyone went home to get some over-due rest!
I was moved upstairs to the post-partum unit, and we got settled into my room there around 3am.
We ended up staying in the hospital until Friday afternoon because Anna had jaundice and her bilirubin levels were staying high for a while. Also, her blood sugar was a little low (left over results of my gestational diabetes) so she had to have tube-feedings to stabilise her glucose. But after the first day or so she was eating better and her poor little cone head started to go away so she looked better too! We're totally in love with her, but can already tell that she's going to be hard work - we're tired but happy, and we'll see what the next few weeks look like once they get here!