Saturday, April 14, 2012

Carter's Birth Story

I have a terrible memory so this is for Carter more than anything else.  It's not that I have the time to sit and write a blog, though I would love that.  But I'm making the time tonight because I'm realizing how the details of Carter's birth and first few weeks of life are slipping from my memory every day.

On the morning of February 10 I was 5 days past my due date and felt it.  I had stayed pretty active during my pregnancy - didn't have much of a choice with a toddler - but at the end I just felt huge and I was ready to meet my baby boy.

At 7:45am I woke up needing to use the restroom.  David happened to be on his flex day that day so he was sleeping soundly next to me.  I got up and went to use the restroom.  Sitting on the toilet was painful - I felt strong, strong pangs in my stomach.  Remember, with Millie I was induced so I only ever felt contractions on Pitocin and I had never gone into labor on my own.

I went back to the bedroom after a painful bathroom experience and sat on the bench at the end of our bed.  David sat up and I said "I'm having contractions".  He raised his eyebrows as I said "And these are different".  I tried to think realistically and tell him that it would probably take hours and that I can just time my contractions if he wanted to go back to bed.  As the words were coming out of my mouth I had another contraction that I had to concentrate to breathe through.  I looked at David and said "You should probably shower". 

I went to the living room and timed contractions.  When I stood they were excruciating, but when I sat they were a little less crazy so I sat.  David contacted my friend Nicole who received the phone call as her boys were getting on the bus to go to school.  She and her 3-year-old daughter (who is Millie's best friend) came over and took over getting Millie dressed and fed.  Amelia had awoken at 8:15 and David set her up with breakfast after his shower.

I remember standing at the top of the stairs getting ready to head down to the car and wondering why my contractions were so bad.  Isn't that funny?  I had read my Hypnobirthing book in preparation for a drug-free and LONG labor.  I fully expected the "little" contractions that would "warm me up" for the more painful ones to come.  But no - these hurt right away.

David opened the car door and I gingerly climbed into the passenger seat.  As I did, my water broke.  David opened the garage door and retrieved some towels for me to sit on.  The 20 minute car ride to the hospital was the most painful and uncomfortable car ride I have ever had in my life.  I felt every bump and I got angry at every driver who dared to get in front of us and not drive over the speed limit.  I managed to keep the anger inside, though.  I was not shouting and being ugly to my husband.  That is, until we got into the hospital parking garage. 

My husband plays by the rules.  He makes complete stops at stop signs, always uses his turn signal, and never cuts corners.  Attributes that make him fantastic, unless you're his overdue pregnant wife who is in active labor and he doesn't want to cut corners in the parking garage.  He'll tell you that he couldn't see if there were cars coming, but I remember being able to see through to the next level and I was HURTING.  I only remember saying in a somewhat rushed and aggravated tone "Just cut the corners!"

We reached the top level of the garage and sat there.  The labor and delivery floor was on the 6th floor and the garage only went up to level 5.  Oh no.  We had been here before but they were remodeling and it was 2 1/2 years earlier so we didn't remember much.  I then saw a sign for Labor and Delivery on the 6th floor - just take the elevator.  I love this hospital but an elevator for women who are in active labor doesn't seem brilliant.

David pulls right up to the doors and runs inside to ask for help since I can't stand up, much less walk.  When I had Millie there was a day shift nurse who I didn't care for.  She was an older lady and probably 90 pounds soaking wet.  Guess who brought out the wheelchair to wheel me inside?  Yup!  Same lady.  And she brought a wheelchair that didn't have foot rests.  So here I am, contractions barreling through my ginormous pregnant body and I'm having to hold my legs up while this 90 lb woman tries to push me.  I had to stand up over the doorway transition strips because she couldn't muster the "oomph" to push me over them.

We get upstairs and David isn't far behind with the bags after parking the van.  They strip my clothes (except for my bra which I later would HATE - I just remember saying "WHY am I still in my bra?!) and get me into a gown and into a bed in the triage room.  Fortunately I'm the only person there, because the nurse informs me that there are no rooms available and I might be delivering my baby right there in triage!  I'm checked and I'm already at 6 cm dilated.  My doctor is called and updated.  The triage nurse insisted I get an IV, but after she tried 3 times to get one in I told her that it wasn't necessary and to please STOP IT.

I wish I could adequately describe for those who have never been in labor before what it feels like to be in transition.  It's like the worst gas and PMS cramps you've ever had, on steroids.  Plus there's pressure...oh, the pressure.  You don't want anyone to touch you unless you want to be touched and if you are touched it better be at the right pressure and the right spots.  My whole body felt like it was radiating pain without much of a break.  Turns out I'm a moaner.  I moaned through the pain and tried to concentrate my thoughts on other things.  I frequently thought of God not giving me something I couldn't handle, and I thought of how many millions of women have done this before.  I knew it could be done and I was on the road to doing it.  I vividly remember asking the nurse why I wanted to cry.  I remember feeling like if I could have a good cry at that moment then maybe I'd feel a little better.  The pressure was so great that I thought I already had to push, but the nurse told me that it was the baby making his way down the birth canal.  This helped me tremendously, as now I could actually envision as I grunted through the pressure that he was making progress.  I was making progress.  We were making progress.

I remember my sweet husband asking if there was a CD player available because we had a CD that I used while in labor with Millie that really helped.  No, they didn't have a CD player and I assured David that we probably didn't have time to worry about it, anyway.

When I had dilated to an 8 my doctor was called and promptly rushed over to the hospital, where she put some fire under the staff to get a room ready.  A few minutes later I was being wheeled out of triage and down the hall to a room.  I did NOT want to be moved, much less wheeled at a high rate of speed.  David said that I was getting quite a lot of attention because of how quickly the nurses were rushing me down the hall. 

We get into the room and my doctor realizes she doesn't have gloves.  While she's getting gloves I'm transferred to the bed.  I only vaguely remember this part.  It seemed that once I was in the room I had 10 faces around me at all times.  I realized later that they were there to finish prepping the room and help get me set up lest I birth the baby on a gurney.  My doctor slips a glove on and it rips.  She had only brought in one pair of gloves, so she chastizes herself and hurries for another pair.

I'm exhausted.  I'm also at a 10 and feeling the pressure to push.  The birth canal movement pressure had nothing on the "get this baby out of here" pressure.  But I was tired and I was hurting.  I remember thinking "I can't do this.  I'm going to have to now push this baby's huge head and shoulders out of my body?  Impossible!"  I voiced as much to my doctor.  I said "I'm sorry, but I can't.  I can't do it.  I'm really sorry."  My doctor looked right into my eyes and said "Yes, you can, Jamie.  Everyone says that they can't do it but you CAN do it!"

I mustered up, literally, every ounce of anything I had left in me and gave it a good push.  I think I pushed 1 1/2 times and Carter was out. I have NEVER been so happy that something was over with in my entire life!  The elation that filled me over having done it and it having been OVER WITH was impossible to describe.

Carter was beautiful.  He looked SO much like Amelia at first.
Born 2 1/2 hours after I stepped foot out of bed that morning at 10:17am.
He weighed 8 lbs, 2 oz and was 20 1/2" long.

He was plopped on my chest immediately.  I kissed him and loved on him for a long time.  I actually had to ask them to take him and clean him up.  I nursed him for the first time and he latched on a little lazily but he did it.  He got a bath (which he LOVED) and then David's mom came in to see him.  I was bleeding pretty heavily and still nursing Carter so his dad stayed in the waiting room.  The nurse (who was amazing) wanted me to get up and use the restroom so I did.  As I sat there I started feeling light-headed.  It lasted a minute and I thought I was feeling better so they started to help me to my bed.  Halfway there I passed out.  Apparently I had some large clots still left so the doctor on call came in and took them out.  That's the simple version.  I was offered a drug that takes effect quickly and wears off in 15 minutes but I refused.  After the doctor did it once I begged for drugs and it was no biggie after that. 

Millie seemed to be curious about "baby Carter", but mostly ignored him.  When she pays attention to him she's always very sweet.

My recovery with Carter was so much better than with Amelia.  SO MUCH BETTER.  It took me months to heal after I had Amelia.  With Carter I had virtually no pain issues at all.  It was wonderful.  The first night in the hospital with our little boy was a bit brutal.  He pooped every 20 minutes.  By the time we left the hospital the next day he was done with meconium...he had already pooped 13 times since birth.  Ridiculous!  It made for an interesting night.

We went home to a clean house thanks to my sisters (who surprised me by driving all the way up from Portland!) and my parents.
Carter was slightly jaundiced but it was decided that he could be checked again at my appointment with the lactation consultant 2 days from then.  My milk still hadn't come in by Sunday night and I was starting to really worry about my boy.  His lips were chapped and the inside of his mouth was dry.  He was also crying a lot and it wasn't a cry that sounded healthy.  I nursed him constantly but he obviously wasn't getting enough so we gave him some formula that we happened to get in the mail.  He quickly downed it and slept great.  The next morning at my lactation appointment I cried as the consultant told me that he was down more than 10% of his birth weight - he had lost a full pound in just a few days.  I was told to nurse him for 10-15 minutes then pump for 15 minutes every time he ate.  I followed the regimen and he was doing much better a couple of days later at my follow-up.  By a week following his birth he was up a full pound from his birth weight and I was producing an insane amount of milk.  God is good.

I'll have to talk more about his temperament later, as it's getting late.  But he's now an extremely healthy 9 week old.  He's over 13 lbs which puts him in the 95% for his weight and he's also in the 95th % for his height and head.  He eats like a champ!  He's a full 3 pounds heavier than Millie was at his age which I'm SO thankful for.  He's a tank and I love it!

I will update more often.  I must!