Monday, January 2, 2012

Ethan's Birth Story

Finally have a few minutes and the kid is asleep in his Rock N Play, so here we go!

If you've read my previous posts, you know that on Thursday December 8 I went for a check-up and discovered that I was already 4 cm dialated and 90 percent effaced. !! We went in to panic mode trying to scramble and get things ready, as we were pretty sure baby was coming withing the next week or two. Friday and Saturday were spent running around to various stores picking up last-minute essentials.

Saturday night we went to a holiday party at a friend's house. There was all kinds of food sitting out and I tried some of everything. Unfortunately, once I got home I spent the evening with stomach cramps. I realize now that these were probably early contractions, but since my tummy had been cramping every time I had a BM before this I just assumed I had eaten something "off."

Sunday morning I felt better and roused myself out of bed. My mom and grandmother came to town to help me wash, sort and put away all the baby clothes and linens. Our good friends LJ and LR came over to help as well. LJ spent the morning scrubbing our bathroom to within and inch of its life, and LR helped Mr. M. assemble things and move Christmas stuff. At about two LR and Mr. M. headed out to T.arget to pick up a bookcase for baby's room.

Since my stomach had been upset, I hadn't eaten much all day except toast and applesauce. I made myself some chicken soup and sat down on the couch. All of a sudden I couldn't get comfortable because my back was hurting really bad. It would hurt, I would change position and it would get better, then start hurting again. I finally gave up on the contractions and headed to bed with a heat pack to see if that would help.

Mr. M. and LR returned while I was laying down. I wondered why he hadn't come to check on me, and later learned that my grandmother had just told him I "wasn't feeling well and went to lie down." Thanks, Grandma.

At this point the back cramps were getting stronger, but my belly was still soft and wasn't getting a round and tight. I even called Labor and Delivery, and they said it probably wasn't contractions since my belly was still soft. I downloaded a free contraction timer app to my phone and was startled to realize the cramps were coming every 5 to 6 minutes and lasting about 45 seconds, again all in my back. Mr. M. had come to check on me by this point, and he took one look at my face during one of the "spasms" and declared that we were going to the hospital.

We already had a labor bag packed, so we threw some things in an overnight bag and left our friends, family and dogs at our house with promises to call with updates. At this point I didn't really know if I was in labor or not.

The ride across town was an interesting experience. Mr. M. and I were pretty silent, just holding each others' hands and feeling the nervousness and excitement that you would expect us to feel. It was a companionable and close silence, and for some reason it's one of my favorite memories from that night.

We got to the hospital and checked in, the registrar promising to "make it quick" when she saw my face. I then headed up to the Triage area, where they evaluate you to see if you are really in labor before admitting you or not. I got in my hospital gown and they hooked me up to monitors - one for contractions and one for baby's heartbeat. After an agonizingly painful cerivcal check, she said I was at 4 cm and she would be back to check on me in a hour to see if I had progressed.

By now the contractions (which the monitor confirmed) had gotten a lot worse. I could tell when one was coming on because I would get a weird burny feeling like I had to pee for a few seconds before the pain started. The pain was still centered completely in my lower back. Mr. M. did a great job of feeding me ice chips and helping me to breathe through the pain.

After an interminable hour, she checked me again and I was at a 4.5 or 5. We then had to wait for her to get ahold of my doctor (who was just by chance the doctor on call that weekend, a fact I am SO grateful for).

The nurse came back and said they were going to go ahead and admit me and give me some pain meds, but since I was early (35.5 weeks) they couldn't do anything to help my labor along. She said that if I progressed to a 7 or so, they could help labor.

However, as soon as they wheeled me into a delivery room, another nurse said "Did they tell you Dr. A. is going to break your water?" Mr. M. and I were both totally surprised and he immediately rushed out into the hall and started calling people.

Dr. A. came in and said she was "impressed" by my contractions, which were now so bad I couldn't get through them without groaning out loud. I asked if I could have my epidural, but she wanted to wait and see what happened after she broke my water.

Having my water broken HURT. Not the actual breaking, but the instruments going up there and such were really painful. Then there was a big, hot gush of fluid. If felt strange.

Dr. A and the nurse immediately noticed some "old blood" in my water, but what was more alarming was the fact that after she broke my water, I went almost immediately from 5 cm to 8! They slapped an oxygen mask on me because the sudden change was stressing the baby a little bit.

Everything went into fast forward. The nurses were scurrying around slapping bracelets on me and asking me questions while trying to get anesthesia up in time for my epidural. By now the contractions were so bad that I was clinging to the bed rails and wailing with every single one, despite trying as hard as I could to just breathe through them. Dr. A. told me in all honesty that it might be too late for the epi to even work, a fact which terrified me.

Getting the epidural was not bad, maybe because I was in so much pain and so wanting it to work. I had to sit completely still and was worried that a contraction might come, but it didn't. The needle with the numbing medicine hurt a little bit, and the actualy catheter going in just felt strange.

After it was over, I laid back and waited. And waited. And gradually, the pain got less and less until finally, blessedly, I could feel nothing.

Back labor ain't for sissies, y'all.

Things slowed down a bit after that. My grandma arrived and came into the room. She and Mr. M. both stayed for the whole process. I was feeling good but very nervous about the actual pushing part, afraid it was going to hurt, afraid of complications, afraid of everything but so looking forward to meeting our little man.

I pushed for an hour and 40 minutes and no, it didn't hurt at all. It actually was hard to know how to push since I couldn't feel anything, but I did my best. At one point my nurse had me hold onto a towel and she held the other end and we played tug of war during the contractions to help me know how to push.

We encountered some difficulties. Ethan was turned to the side a little, so Dr. A. had to reach in and try to rotate him. His cord was wrapped around his neck but hadn't affected his heartrate so he was okay. Watching him emerge and be placed on my stomach was one of the strangest experiences of my life. He came out crying and peeing. :)

We were all surprised at how big he was for an early baby! Six pounds, ten ounces and 18 inches. Dr. A. said that if I had gone full term, he would have been so big that I would have needed a C-section.

I had a second degree tear which needed sewing up, so I watched while they weighed him and checked him out. I didn't get a chance for any skin to skin or an opportunity to try to nurse him, since they took him almost immediately up to the nursery to be evaluated.

Mr. M. announced the name and successful delivery to the many family and friends who had gathered for the birth while the nurses got me cleaned up and comfortable. I kept saying, "I can't believe I had a baby and it didn't hurt!" Still very true - I can't believe it!

A little while later they came down and told me Ethan had been taken to the NICU for some possible respiratory issues. That was really hard to hear. I hadn't even held him yet at this point and I burst into tears. Friends and family came in to congratulate me, but since they couldn't even see the baby most of them went on home.

They got me moved into my recovery room and settled in with ice packs and pain meds. At this point I was missing the wonderful epidural. :) Finally a nurse wheeled my down to the NICU, where I got to hold my son for the first time and feed him his first bottle. I couldn't believe how beautiful he was, or how much hair he had on his head! We got to spend a little time in the NICU before heading back to the room.

You know pretty much the rest of the story. The rest of my time in the hospital was spent either sleeping, pumping or visiting Ethan in the NICU. I left the hospital without him and didn't get to take him home for two weeks while he fought off jaundice and eating issues in the NICU. Being at home alone with Mr. M. while our baby was in the hospital was a very sad, confusing experience.

Now it appears (fingers crossed) that things have settled down. We have an appointment with the pediatrician in the morning, so we'll see how much weight E has gained and how he is going. Mr. M. going back to work tomorrow, so we'll also see how I do on my first day by myself with him!

And my first solo night tonight. Mr. M. is going to sleep in the spare bedroom and leave me in the master with E so he can get some sleep before work tomorrow. I'm not much looking forward to flying solo tonight, but I know I can do it.

Wish me luck!


  1. Good luck on your first solo run!

  2. Oh man... back labor! I am glad to know there's a happy ending to the story. You and E are quite the troopers!