Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Longest Day or AJ's Story Part III

This post has descriptions of the birth of a baby...be aware that things might get a little "icky" to some folks. If you don't want the sordid details of the process, just skip to the end.

So after they turned the baby and saw that he was still doing ok, they moved us into a Labor & Delivery (L&D) room and started all sorts of drips. Well...they'd started the saline IV before the version, but I also needed antibiotics (due to a naturally-occurring bacteria that I was having a flare-up of that the baby might have gotten in the process of being born), and Pitocin (the drug used to induce labor). All of that was started around 11:30 AM. The Pit was set to drip at a rate of 4 mL per some time increment. That got my labor to think about starting, but it wasn't really going that well, so they upped the level by 2s every hour or so. They planned to get up to 20 and then re-evaluate, but it really wasn't doing much for me, so they started increasing it by 4s instead of 2s.

Now, understand that pitocin is the synthetic version of oxytocin. Oxytocin, in addition to stimulating labor and increasing the strength of contractions also crosses into the brain and releases endorphins (the body's "happy" juices). Pitocin, on the other hand, only does the first part. Most women who are subjected to pitocin end up in huge amounts of pain, usually by the time it reaches about 10. Mine ended up at 28 before I asked for drugs, and even then it was only after a rational thought process.

You see, when they'd first checked me, I was ~1cm dilated. The next time they checked (a couple of hours later), I was up to 3. The next time (several hours after that), I was still at 3, so it was recommended that, if I hadn't dilated considerably by the next time, that they break my water to try to speed things up. They did that, then checked again a few hours later. I'd gone all the way up to 4 cm! Woohoo (yes, I'm being sarcastic).

And during the time after they'd broken my water, I hit what's termed "active labor," meaning that it really started hurting and required my full attention, even in between contractions. Before then, it really hadn't been that bad. We'd been watching TV and talking (and getting caught sneaking me crackers). Eventually, it'd gotten to the point where I had to pay attention during the contractions, but in between wasn't so bad. In fact, the worst part about the early labor was the very distracting headache I had. It went away sometime that evening. But then I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. Now, we'd done the bathroom thing multiple times during the course of the day, so it wasn't that big of a deal (well except for the time that we forgot to hook back up to the monitors and the head nurse threatened to turn the pit off - probably stopping the labor and throwing us into C-Section...we didn't like her much). Anyway, they unhooked me from the monitors and I waddled over to the toilet. While I was there, it was like something clicked, and it was all for real. I'd been doing it for probably 9 or 10 hours at that point, with the version prior to that, but all of the sudden, this was it.

So I moved around as much as possible finding a comfortable position (which was impossible), and finally ended up back in the bed. Gradually I went from just concentrating on relaxing during contractions to screaming in agony during each one. It was after a couple of hours of that that they found that I was only to 4 cm. It was then that I knew I wouldn't be able to make it till the end without help. In fact, I'd come to the conclusion prior to that check that, if I wasn't up to 7 or 8 cm at least, that I'd ask for drugs. When I was only at 4, there was no question.

Fortunately, they'd left the catheter in for the epidural from the version, so the anesthesiologist came in and juiced me up. It was probably close to midnight at that point. I hadn't slept much the night before (and probably not well since Wednesday at least), we'd been at the hospital since 7:30 that morning with all sorts of emotionally-stressful things happening, AND I hadn't eaten in 24 hours. So the best thing that the epidural did was to let me sleep for about an hour. VNB got in a nap too (our "assistant coach" kept watch over me while he slept).

After our naps, we were ready to go again, not only that, but I went from 4cm to 9 in about two hours (epidurals slow labor if given too early, but given late in the game, they speed it up). Epidurals are known to prevent women from feeling the urge to push, so I was a little worried. But then I started feeling this pain. The L&D nurse thought that maybe I was feeling the urine catheter they'd given me when they gave me the epidural drugs (you can't tell when you need to go, so they just siphon it off for you), and it _really_ hurt...plus, I figured that if I was going to be drugged at all, then I shouldn't feel any of it right?

So she gave me a booster of the drugs. The pain never went away completely, but that helped for all of about 5 minutes. After that, it got worse. Finally, I told VNB that I thought I needed to push. He got the midwife, who checked me again and I was fully dilated! Now in true "Murphy's" fashion, she had another lady who also wanted to push right then...but she sent the nurse in with her and had her wait while I pushed.

This was the most painful experience of my life. If the drugs worked at all, I didn't know it except for the fact that I had absolutely no control over my right leg, and only limited control over my left. That became important when VNB was helping me hold up one of my legs. I was pushing against his hand and he was getting tired, so he switched to the other hand, but that wasn't comfortable or working for me, so I, um..."forcefully" told him to switch back. He told me that his arm was tired. My response? "I DON'T CARE!!!" That was funny labor moment where I yelled at my husband #1.

A little while later, I was getting _really_ hot and finally convinced VNB to get a wet towel for me. Well, we had to direct him to the towels (in the bathroom), then he was trying to just put some ice in it. That was when I yelled at him to get the whole thing wet and "do it NOW!!!" He had a very startled look on his face, but he obeyed, and I was grateful once I got the towel off of my forehead and onto my body. In his defense, he thought I just wanted something cool on my forehead, so he was getting ice, thinking that would be the coolest thing. What he didn't know was that, unless my entire body could be put in the ice, it wasn't going to be enough for me. And he was so focused on the pushing that he needed a more, um..."forceful" approach to get him to really hear what I was saying.

But those were my only two real "moments." VNB was disappointed that I didn't curse or blame him for the whole thing.

Anyway, after about 40 minutes of pushing, the baby's head was crowning...but it just stayed there for three contractions. After the second one, the midwife started looking concerned and mentioned that the baby couldn't stay there for very long and that we needed to think about performing an episiotomy (where they cut you to give the baby more room). VNB was with her on the cutting, but I wasn't. I told them that I wanted one more contraction and while they were trying to convince me otherwise, I started pushing again. When that contraction didn't move the baby at all, I agreed (I just wanted one more chance, I got it, so I was content). She cut me (2nd degree) and pretty much at the next contraction the baby's head came out and the body during the one after that!

They put my slimy baby on my belly, but with the baby's back to me, so, like my mother before me, I kept having to ask, "what is it?" VNB was distracted, making sure that I was ok (as were the nurses and midwife), so it wasn't until the third or fourth time that I asked that the midwife told me, "It's a boy!!"

Then it was time to cut the cord (which VNB did very nicely), and the baby was brought over to the little station on the wall to get his vitals (which VNB watched like hawk). While he was being checked out, they were stitching me up (that wasn't fun, even with the lidocaine). Once that was done, they brought the baby back over to me and I really got to meet him for the first time.

Even from the moment of birth, he was the most adorable baby on the planet. Yes, I'm biased, but I _have_ had independent verification from neutral third parties that he is, indeed, the most beautiful baby they've ever seen. And absolutely perfect. It was possible that he was still slightly premature (we weren't really that sure what the due date was, but regardless, this was earlier than even the earliest of possible due dates), but he cried on his own immediately, had Apgars of 9 both times, had perfect hearing, peed, pooped, and ate just like he was supposed to. The lactation consultant called him a natural at breastfeeding. For all of the horror stories I've heard about it taking weeks for babies and mommies to figure that out, he knew right away (smart little guy too - have I mentioned how perfect he is?).

Anyway, so at 4:58 AM (17.5 hours after starting, but really only about 7 hours after it got to be painful and with only about 45 min of pushing), Andrew Alexander "AJ" Jones was born, weighing in at a hefty 6lbs, 14 oz, and measuring 20.5" long.

This is a picture taken an hour or two after he was born by his proud paternal grandparents through the nursery window (they had to do a more thorough check up in the nursery while they transferred me to a regular room). A very proud VNB is holding him up for all to see. He really hasn't stopped doing that since. :)

But we've had our ups and downs since then. Look for "Attempts on AJ's Life or AJ's Story Part IV," coming soon to a blog near you. There will also be more pictures. :)


Ginny said...

Leia, he is beautiful. BEAUTIFUL. Newborns aren't normally that cute! Congratulations...I'm so happy for you and VNB!

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