Monday, June 3, 2013

Ellery's Birth Story, Part I

I really debated whether or not I wanted to share Ellery's birth story on my blog.  Part of me wondered if I'd be sharing something too private and personal, and if there aren't some things that should be kept between me and my family.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I want to be a writer, which means I need to tell my stories, and great storytellers are open and honest.  Maybe I'm being too transparent, but I devoured birth stories in the days leading up to my due date, and my hope is that somehow my story can be an encouragement to someone else.  Plus, I think this story paints a picture of how God really does work everything out for good, and I like to share examples of that any chance I get.

So let's start with Monday morning.  We were two days past Ellery's due date, and I was scheduled to be induced at 7am.  The doctor let me go an extra two days in the hopes that I would go into labor naturally.  Ellery had been performing extremely well in the non-stress tests, so my doctor felt it was safe enough to let her try to come on her own for a couple extra days.  I really wanted to go into labor naturally.  My dream was to have a completely drug-free birth, and I felt that my midwives had really prepared me for that.  Of course, I hadn't counted on being one of the lucky few to acquire gestational diabetes, so that medical issue really threw a wrench into my plans.  I hadn't counted on being transferred to a doctor either, but I was grateful that I liked my new doctor and felt extremely comfortable with her.  I knew she had mine and Ellery's best interests at heart, and I felt safe in her care.  Though I disliked the idea of being induced, I knew it was safer for Ellery to come out sooner rather than later, and decided to let go of my expectations for the labor and delivery and simply pray for a healthy baby.

Sam and me right before we left for the hospital, excited to meet our daughter!

My mom, Sam, and I headed to the hospital early on Monday.  My mom had come from California to help care for the baby during her first week at home.  (It turns out we needed her more than we realized!  More on that later...)  I was very excited and anxious, and started crying on the drive to the hospital because I was so happy to think that I'd be meeting my daughter very soon.  They started prepping me right away, and my doctor checked to make sure my cervix was ready to begin the Pitocin.  It was not.  She informed me that I'd be put on Cervidil, a drug that would soften and prepare my cervix, and that I'd be on it until 6pm, when they would finally begin the Pitocin.  It was pretty discouraging to learn that I'd have to stay in bed for the next eleven hours, especially because I had just had a full night of rest and could not begin to think of sleeping.  The nurses kept trying to get me to go to sleep that day, but how do you sleep all day when you've just woken up from sleeping all night?  Normally this drug is started in the evening so the patient can sleep while it works, but unfortunately my body wasn't cooperating.  So Sam bought a couple magazines from the Safeway across the street, we watched some TV, and I did some sudoku puzzles.  But it was boring.  I felt bad for Sam and my mom since they were stuck with nothing to do while I sat in that silly hospital bed.

I was finally started on Pitocin around 6:30 that evening, at which point I started feeling great!  They let me get out of bed, which was glorious after an entire day of sitting.  I stood and swayed through contractions, Sam walked the halls with me and pushed my IV unit alongside us, and I happily bounced on the labor ball while we watched The Bachelorette on the hospital TV.  The contractions started but they were only mildly painful, so I was feeling great.

About nine and a half hours later, I was not in such a good mood.  The contractions were more painful, and I was physically exhausted, having been awake almost 24 hours at this point.  My nurse checked to see if I had made any progress at all, and sadly, there was none.  After 21 hours of being on drugs to induce labor, my body was again refusing to cooperate.  That information broke my spirit.  I was exhausted, in pain, and was told that they'd be repeating the entire process for the next two days to keep trying to force me into labor.  If it didn't work by Thursday, they would perform a C-section.

Since I was still having intense contractions, they gave me some sleeping medicine so that I'd be able to sleep.  The medicine, along with a good frustrated cry, helped me sleep a bit.  Tuesday morning they started the process again, only this time I was kept on the first medication for twelve hours rather than ten.  Another boring day!  I felt very discouraged all day, and kept apologizing to my nurses for my grumpy attitude.  But I honestly felt like I was never going to have this baby.  Oddly enough, the more time went by, the further I felt from actually becoming a mom.  I told Sam and my mom that I had felt closer to having the baby the week before than I did at that moment.

It was great having my mom there because she and Sam were able to share the responsibility of keeping me company.  My mom went to our house to take care of our cats several times, and Sam had the chance to run home to take a shower and take care of a few things.  I know my mom had come to take care of the baby, but Sam and I were both incredibly grateful to have her there during that miserable hospital stay.

Around 9:30 Tuesday night, after being stuck in bed all day hooked up to monitors and an IV, my doctor came in to check on my progress.  Still zero.  Nothing had happened at all after now 33 hours of inducing medication.  They were about to start another round of Pitocin when my knight in shining armor (Sam) stepped in.  He asked my doctor if we could just discuss the possibility of a C-section.  I told him I didn't want to go through another two nights of Pitocin and another day of Cervitil if I was just going to have a C-section on Thursday anyway.  She said she'd like to keep trying for another couple days because she thought it would eventually work, but that it was our decision.  I told Sam I didn't think I had the physical or emotional strength to do it, especially because I was on a backward schedule that kept me awake and in pain at night and tried to force me to sleep during the day.

After discussing more about the risks of the surgery, we agreed that a C-section was the choice for us.  My doctor even said that she felt comfortable with it because of the gestational diabetes.  If I had had a low-risk, normal pregnancy, she'd want to wait, but that since we were already now three days past my due date, she felt it was wise to go ahead with the surgery.  She instructed the nurse to remove all the monitors from my belly, which had been hooked up the entire time up to this point, so that I could get a good night of rest.  I was so grateful!  She had me eat a big snack before midnight, and then Sam and I both got some much-needed sleep.

I'll stop there and pick up with the actual surgery.  Baby is sleeping now, so mama's gotta go sleep, too, while I have the chance!

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