Monday, February 8, 2010

Caleb's Birth Story.....Finally!

First bath
All photos at 9 days old

We arrived at the hospital at 6 a.m. on the 22nd as directed. A nurse checked us in and showed us to the birthing room we’d be using. She went over my information and chatted for a bit. Over the course of the day, she was the first of three nurses we’d see as the shifts changed.

I had to change into the hospital gown and get hooked up to a monitor. It was such a relief to hear Caleb’s heartbeat throughout most of the day. Normally I’d have been all for minimizing interventions during labor, but the monitoring was important to me because of Felicity’s death. Overall, we were incredibly pleased with how the hospital handled our birth.

The OB on the floor came in to talk with us about how the day was going to progress and the perinatologist also came in to discuss things. (He was the doctor who did our original consultation with Maternal Fetal Medicine back in July, but since then I had not seen him at any of my appointments.) They wanted to start off with a dose of cytotek, which would help to ripen my cervix. I was still only a cm dilated. Depending on how ready my body was for labor that might be all I needed. Otherwise, I could receive up to four doses of cytotek (four hours apart) and then proceed with pitocin to really get labor going. We’d just have to see how my body handled everything.

I was hooked up to an IV due to be Group Beta Strep positive. I needed to have 4 hours of penicillin prior to Caleb’s birth, which is actually a five hour process because there needed to be an hour between the two doses. The first dose of penicillin was really uncomfortable; it felt like it was burning my arm as it went into my vein. After the initial dose of the cytotek in my cervix at around 8 am, I began having light contractions after about 20 minutes. The nurse said this was pretty unusual. The contractions continued to be light for a couple of hours, but then started to increase in frequency. Slowly they started to increase in intensity too, but I was able to handle them easily. The doctor checked me sometime after 12:30 and I was dilated to 3-4 cm and with very little discomfort from the contractions. Because the contractions were coming so frequently at that point though they couldn’t give me any more cytotek OR start me on pitocin. We were excited by the thought that I might not need anything further to really get labor going. I was restricted to a clear fluid lunch (beef broth, jello, sherbert type stuff, and juice), though I cheated just a little.

I tried to do more movement after eating lunch at about 1:30, but it was kind of hard due to the cords from the monitor and the IV, not to mention the hospital gown wasn’t covering a whole lot. So I paced and stood in one place and moved my hips back and forth. I also rocked in a rocking chair. The contractions continued to pick up both in intensity and frequency. Finally at close to 2:30 as I was standing and swaying back and forth, I felt a weird sensation, like something was stuck and then not. Right away I felt my water dribbling out. What I had felt was the amniotic sac move through my pelvis and break. My parents arrived just then and I continued to leak more and more water. Soon after that I moved into active labor.

I’d say within about 10 minutes the contractions were getting hard to get through regardless of my position. My back was aching during each one despite Paul applying counter pressure. I had back labor with Ethan (my first) and it is not fun. This wasn’t quite as bad, but it was bad enough. I tried sitting in the rocking chair, leaning against the hospital bed on a pile of pillows, and finally I got onto the bed because I was starting to worry that if I didn’t move soon, I eventually wouldn’t be able to.

During this point in labor I was thinking of Felicity. I was remembering my labor with her and how intense it was, though at the time I didn’t know she had died. I was also thinking of all my grieving mommy friends. I thought about all of them that went through labor (or c-sections), knowing that their babies had died. I was struggling to get through labor and all the while I could hear Caleb’s heart beating away on the monitor. I could only imagine how incredibly painful it must have been to labor in physical pain while being in so much emotional anguish knowing your baby was gone from this world.

At about 3:15 (I’m not totally sure of the exact time) I was in a hands and knees position on the hospital bed, leaning on a pile of pillows, when I began to feel “pushy.” I said so and the nurse called the doctor, but both the perinatologist and the OB on call had been called down to the OR. So they sent in the midwife on call, who just happened to be the midwife who caught Ethan 7.5 years ago. (I wasn’t too fond of her back then; she just isn’t very friendly and does not have the right demeanor for being a midwife.) She checked me and said that I was dilated to 6. This was SO hard to hear since I was feeling like I might need to push. I got upset and told them I needed something for the pain. I was exhausted and the contractions were right on top of one another or so it seemed to me, not to mention the pain of having back labor. Both Paul and my mom encouraged me to keep going, but I was at my breaking point.

My dad finally had to escort my mother out. (My mom and I have a great relationship, but I’ve learned to set definite boundaries when she can’t deal with decisions I’ve made. I love you Mom, but you understand this part of our relationship!) I moved to sitting on the edge of the bed, while they went to get me a shot of morphine. To my knowledge (I was pretty unaware of anything but the pain at this point), Paul and the nurse were the only ones in the room. I sat on the edge of the bed for a few contractions before feeling the urge to push once again and harder at this point. I said I needed to push and the nurse quickly called for the doctor or midwife. I moved back onto the bed all the way and then another contraction hit. I think the perinatologist just made it into the room and to the bed, when I pushed. Caleb came into the world with that single push at 3:55 pm. I never even felt him crown, it all happened so fast.

He was put on my chest and we all marveled at his small, perfect body. It was pretty obvious by just looking at him that he was my smallest baby. We called my parents to inform them that he had arrived and they came back to the room. The doctor had to take him back after a few minutes to suction his mouth and nose. This process took a good 5-10 minutes. I couldn’t see him too well, but Paul was right next to him and everyone was telling me what was happening. I had already delivered the placenta, without much effort. It was then that it all hit. He was alive! He was okay! I asked if the cord had any issues and the OB said it was fine. I started to cry thinking of all we had been through in the last 15+ months. I cried for Felicity. I cried for my grieving mama friends. I cried because I was happy and tired and had a beautiful baby. Finally he was back in my arms and then nursing! I thanked God for being merciful and allowing Caleb to be born healthy and alive.


Marisa said...

What a wonderful story - thank you for sharing! :)

Heidi said...

:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

That's really all I have to say!

(Oh and we'll have to chat about MACHE- I think Tim and I may be coming together sans any little ones)

Molly Koop said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful birth story. I'll admit that I've been waiting to hear the "details". :) I had to laugh about your dad having to escort your mom out of the room. I'm glad you knew what you needed on so many levels. No wonder you were ready for some morphine. Things moved along very quickly for you...and one push? Love that. He was ready to see you face to face! He looks gorgeous. I hope you're getting a bit more rest these days. Continued prayers, Molly

Rachel said...

Just for the record (I'm not sure if it was clear in the post or not) I did NOT get the morphine - they didn't get it to me fast enough. We realized afterwards that my "breakdown" when I said I needed was transition. Glad I didn't have to have it. It made me itchy all over and vomit after I had it during Ethan's birth and that was not fun.

Charity said...

Praise God for the birth of baby Caleb! Thank you for sharing your story.

Molly Koop said...

That's what I was thinking you meant about the morphine. What a crazy fast transition! Morphine may not have been your best friend anyway. :) Your body did what it needed to do to avoid it. As my former nurse said to me once "The amazing female body does it again!" :)

Ae said...

What a great story and the photos are precious!

Sharleen said...

How awesome Rachel! I had tears in my eyes reading Caleb's birth story. Praise the Lord!!! He is so gorgeous....I just love the pic of the 3 boys!

Sara said...

Wow, beautiful story Rachel... beautiful boy. I am so happy for you... praising God for your precious new son Caleb.

Ebe said...

Precious precious child. I can only imagine the tears of joy and sorrow and relief that you cried when he was laid on your chest, crying and wiggling.

Thank you for sharing his beautiful birth story with us.