Saturday, July 11, 2009

Labor story

Now that Claire's here, I'll be shutting down this blog and going back to posting just on my main one -- until next time I'm pregnant, anyway. I thought I'd close this one out with the details of how labor and delivery (or should I say extraction?) went down. Be warned: This could cross the line into TMI territory; those who prefer to think Claire arrived via stork might prefer to read this version.

Claire's Arrival: A Timeline

Tuesday, June 30
An ordinary day. Work, Chick-fil-A lunch, new tires on the car.

8 p.m. - I go out for drinks (well, water) and appetizers with Libba, Amy and Heather to celebrate Heather's birthday. I tell them how sure I am Claire's going to go past her July 8 due date.

Midnight - We're asleep.

Wednesday, July 1
3 a.m. - I wake up to use the bathroom and find that I seem to be experiencing a slow but steady trickle of something. I'm pretty sure it's not urine. I realize it's July 1 and say "rabbit." I google "amniotic fluid," learn that your water doesn't always break in a gush like you see in the movies, and that it smells like diluted bleach. I call Labor and Delivery at the hospital to get their opinion. They tell me to come on in.

3:15 a.m. - I wake up Matt, tell him we have to go to the hospital but it could be a false alarm, and we both take showers. We throw together a hospital bag. My car (with the baby seat) was supposed to be left at the office overnight, but Matt had switched it out with a Kirby Explo' while picking up dinner, unbeknownst to me. Good move.

3:45 a.m. - The hospital confirms that my water's broken and we get checked in. I'm only 1.5 cm. dilated and can't feel any contractions. They start a penicillin drip since I tested positive for group B strep. We walk around and around and around and around the halls.

5:30 a.m. - The on-call doctor tells me I should think about taking Pitocin soon to speed things up. I tell him I'd rather give things a chance to progress on their own first.

6-9 a.m. - We call our families and send out a mass "We're in labor!" email. People start showing up at the hospital.

1 p.m. - After numerous rounds of walking the halls, I'm having definite contractions and feel confident things are progressing. The doctor who's now on call checks me and I'm only 2 cm. dilated. (Believe me, this was discouraging.) He strongly recommends that I take Pitocin to hurry things up. They like to deliver within 18 hours of the water breaking, but within 12 hours if the mother tested positive for group B strep, so what they consider the ideal window for delivery is shrinking. I agree to Pitocin and the pain reliever Fentanyl. The nurse tells us to plan on a 10 p.m. or midnight delivery.

5 p.m. - My Fentanyl runs out, but the Pitocin, which is on a continuous drip, keeps going. The labor and delivery floor is slammed (one person pushing, two dilated to 9, one in pre-term labor at 27 weeks, and two who were in car accidents and need constant attention) and the nurses can't get to me immediately. The contractions are intense.

6 p.m. - I get the second dose of Fentanyl and also request an epidural. (I went into labor not feeling that strongly either way about epidurals -- I wasn't assuming I'd have one, but wasn't going to beat myself up over it if I decided to.)

7 p.m. - The Pitocin is working -- I'm dilated to 5. I get the epidural and immediately am so glad I did. I tell Matt to remind me of this during future childbirths. I requested a low-dose, or "walking," epidural, but our hospital doesn't provide these. So I get the full dose, but it's what I was hoping for with a low-dose one: definite pain relief, but I can still feel all the contractions, and my legs aren't numb. I can wiggle my toes, lift my hips and could walk if I weren't hooked up to so many drips and the fetal monitor. I'm starting to REALLY feel the effects of three hours' sleep on top of no food except crackers, chicken broth and Jell-O since the cheese fries I split with the girls the night before.

8 p.m. - The nurse tells us labor is not imminent. Matt tells the waiting room crowd they can stick around if they want but nothing will be happening soon, probably. Everyone leaves except for Mom and Dad.

11:30 p.m. - I start to feel lots of pressure very low in my pelvis. It doesn't feel like the regular contractions. Matt calls the nurse, who says I'm 9.5 cm. dilated and the baby is way low. She starts preparations for pushing and Matt goes out to tell Mom and Dad. We think maybe we'll have a July 1 baby after all (HA!).

Thursday, July 2
12:30 a.m. - I am fully dilated. The nurse tells Matt he can tell Mom and Dad to order us some post-delivery food, which they do, in case we don't deliver before the cafeteria closes (at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., I can't remember). She says she thinks we'll be holding Claire in less than an hour. When Matt gets back I start pushing.

1 a.m. - I can feel the contractions, and the nurse is wonderful about coaching me about when and how to push. Between contractions she is massaging my perineum to hopefully prevent tearing. She can see Claire's head and tells us she has a ton of hair.

2:30 a.m. - After an hour and a half, nothing has changed. I keep pushing, we try different positions, the nurse keeps massaging. Claire just can't get past the pelvic bone. I'm getting exhausted and very frustrated and would do anything for some food. The epidural is starting to wear off.

3:15 a.m. - Still nothing. Now there's talk of episiotomies and vacuums. I'm getting more worn out and frustrated with every futile push. I know I can't push any harder, and I start to worry we're going to end up with an emergency C-section, especially because of how long it's been since my water broke (24 hours). The doctor comes in, armed with scissors and a vacuum. I don't care anymore if it means we can avoid a C-section.

3:30 a.m. - I feel delirious, and am frustrated practically to the point of hysteria, because I've been pushing with every bit of my strength and I have nothing left. The epidural is done. The pain is beyond anything I ever imagined I would experience, and it all seems to be for naught, because Claire just is not coming out. I tell everyone I can't keep going, but they refuse to let me quit so I rally, but it's not pretty.

3:46 a.m. - It's a miracle! On the third try, the vacuum works and Claire's head pops out. It turns out she was "sunny-side up," or in the posterior position -- her head was facing up at birth -- which is why getting past the pelvic bone was all but impossible. The umbilical cord is wrapped around her neck, but just loosely, so I stop pushing for a minute while the doctor untangles it. The rest of her body seems to just slide out after all that.4:15 a.m.ish - Claire is cleaned up, the doctors have given her the thumbs-up, and I get to nurse her. I have no idea what I'm doing, but she does -- she latches right on.

5:15 a.m. - The doctor finishes stitching up my fourth-degree tears. Mom and Dad, who have been in the waiting room nearly 24 hours, come in to meet her.

5:30 a.m. - I drink a Coke and take a hot bath. Thanks to the combination of heat plus blood loss plus still no food, I pass out when I'm trying to stand up, but I knew it was coming -- that tell-tale ringing in the ears -- so Matt and a couple of nurses are there to catch me. After a cold shower and ammonia I come around and we move to the room where we'll stay that night.

The whole experience was brutal, but amazingly, it took only about five days for me to feel basically 100 percent (although I haven't tried running yet) and to forget how bad it really was.Small wonder.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hurry up and wait

Claire must be pretty comfortable in there. Today's 39-week appointment revealed no dilation and still only 50 percent effacement (unchanged for a few weeks). Her heart rate remains excellent as does her movement, and the doctor said she's sitting very low, which I already knew since I feel like I'm driving with a basketball in my lap lately.

I know I've had the easiest pregnancy in the world and I still feel great, but I'm getting so impatient to meet her! The doctor said they'll probably want to discuss inducing at next Tuesday's appointment if I make it that far -- which I bet I will. Unless I'm just oblivious, I haven't even had any Braxton Hicks contractions, much less the real deal. And the "gory details" I've been so excited (yet repulsed) by for the past week are totally normal and don't necessarily mean labor's right around the corner, the doctor said. I guess I should just be glad they're not atypical.

I pleaded for a guess as to when I might go into labor and all he would say is 10 percent of women deliver early, 10 percent deliver late, and the rest are within a few days of the due date. A non-answer to an impossible question, I realize.

Without us asking (I hadn't decided if I wanted to), the doctor said he normally would have stripped my membranes this morning but he didn't because of the group B strep. So ... the wait continues.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

14ish more days!

Here's the 38-week shot. She's about the size of a watermelon now and that's pretty much what it looks like.
Without getting into the gory details, I'm more optimistic now than I was a few days ago that Claire's birth, if not exactly imminent, could be on the sooner side. I moved my doctor's appointment from next Thursday to next Monday so I don't have to wait so long for confirmation. :) I also spent from 2-4 a.m. yesterday (when I got ahead of myself and thought I might be on the verge of labor -- newbie mistake) finishing my one remaining article that was due by July 1. Now that that's turned in, I don't have any work responsibilities that someone else couldn't do for me if necessary, which is nice.

Running has actually gotten easier in the past week or so, for a few reasons, I think: I've switched to the treadmill, so I'm not fighting 90-degree heat; I can wear fewer clothes -- more comfortable as well as good for temperature control -- since I'm at home and don't have to worry about whether my belly's covered (it never is anymore); I'm accompanied by my iPod, which I rarely take on outdoor runs; and I tell myself (regardless of whether it's true) that every run is nudging me closer to finally meeting Claire.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nursery is ready, baby is not

Today we went to the doctor again, for the 38-week appointment -- it seems like we spend all our time there lately -- and met the one doctor we hadn't seen yet. I'm now measuring at about 37 weeks and Claire's heart rate is still great but there's been no progress on the dilation front -- 1/2 cm., if anything, the doctor said. I figured that would be the case since I haven't had any contractions or other signs of labor.

I'm impatient to meet her but another week or so to tie up loose ends with work stuff would be really nice. After that I'll probably start researching DIY induction techniques -- lots of running, lots of sex, maybe a little castor oil a la Melissa.

We finally have at least ordered everything, I think, that we really should have before she arrives. A diaper pail, for example. Some of it might not beat her to our house, but at least it's on its way.

Also, we're probably finished with the nursery. We might add something to the wall over her crib if the mood strikes, but both of us prefer blank walls to walls decorated with things we don't like -- and I'm pretty sure Claire will be cool with whatever.

This is about half of her stuffed-animal collection. The others are in the basket by the crib. My great-aunt Clara made this awesome quilt -- just one of many great blankets people have given us.

I love this for both the sentimental value and the gorgeous frame, which you can't really see in this picture. Terry cross-stitched it for one of the boys in 1981 and she gave it to us at the last shower.

I was kind of ambivalent about whether we should get a glider, and if so which one, but Matt did the research and this one exceeds all expectations. Very, very comfortable.

Baby girl clothes are fun to buy. So I hear. I have yet to buy her a single item of clothing, and now you know why. Not that I'm complaining.

Dresser plus changing pad. All the diapering stuff is in these drawers, and when the diaper pail finally does get here, we'll probably scoot over the dresser to make room.

This dresser holds a ton of miscellaneous stuff -- socks, shoes, various blankets, nursing accessories, etc.

These are pages from some of my favorite children's books. Three of them are obvious (Clifford, the Very Hungry Caterpillar and Dr. Seuss), but if anyone outside of my immediate family can identify what book the page framed at top left is from, I'll be impressed and know we were meant to be friends.

Matt and I couldn't find a memo board we liked so we made this ourselves. It was actually fun and I love how it turned out. Kate, guess which card is Matt's favorite? That's right.

Belly bump picture coming soon, for real this time!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Counting down

Another doctor's appointment today, the 37-week one. I never got around to taking a 36-week bump picture so I think I'll skip and just do a 37-week one in two days. Today the measurements were right at about 36 weeks (3 cm. more than last week). Apparently I didn't necessarily grow that much in the past week; the doctor said the numbers can vary depending on the baby's position. Claire's heart rate was still good and strong. They didn't check for dilation or effacement because I haven't had any contractions.

I did find out that my group B strep infection test came back positive (they took the sample last week). It's not a big deal, just means I'll probably take penicillin during labor to prevent it from being passed on to Claire.

Betsy took this picture while she was in town last week. Not very glamorous -- I have a crooked linea nigra, a temporarily deformed belly button and a blob of weirdness above it (site of an ill-advised belly-button ring that lasted all of three months in high school) -- but I still like the picture.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Surprise ultrasound

Yesterday we had our 36-week appointment and for once there was a little excitement. We saw a doctor we hadn't seen before (we'll be rotating among them for the next few weeks since who delivers Claire depends on who's on call; this way we'll at least have met all of the doctors). He measured me at 33 cm., which was a centimeter smaller than I measured at my last appointment (when I measured right on at 34 cm./34 weeks). The centimeters are supposed to match how many weeks pregnant you are.

He said the change could a) mean the baby had dropped or b) indicate I was losing amniotic fluid, which would be bad, and he ordered an ultrasound for later in the afternoon to see which it was. Matt was pumped about that because he was kind of nervous all along that we weren't going to have an ultrasound between the sex-discovery one and the birth, which I guess does seem like a long time. I was excited because I thought we'd be able to see her face, which we did, but you couldn't tell anything about her features except that they're there. We weren't worried because her heart rate was good, she was moving great, and if there was a problem with the amniotic fluid, they could have delivered her immediately if needed and she would have been fine.

The ultrasound went well -- all the measurements are right on and there's plenty of amniotic fluid -- which means the baby has dropped, yay! I'm also 50 percent effaced but not at all dilated. And according to the ultrasound, she weighs 6 pounds, give or take 14 ounces, which, granted, is a big margin of error. They say she's gaining half an ounce a day now (more on the days I work at home and eat pink jellybeans for eight straight hours), so she's on target to be a good, healthy weight -- not too big, not too small.
I owe the blog a 36-week-bump picture. Probably it will come tomorrow, because I think the camera's at the office.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Part 2: Doctors and the bump

(Part 1 is here.)

3. For the past few weeks I'd been feeling like I needed to crack my lower back but couldn't because my stomach was in the way. It was affecting the way I ran but wasn't exactly painful, definitely nothing I couldn't run through and nothing that bothered me when I wasn't running. At the same time I was noticing an occasional sensation in my pelvis -- not really pain, it just felt like my hips or pelvis was spreading. Amanda said she'd felt the same thing so I didn't give it much thought.

Then last Tuesday I ran my normal trails in Rassie Wicker with Lauren R. and my lower back was killing me by the end of the run. For the rest of the night I literally could hardly walk -- I used both hands and the railing to make it up three stairs from the garage to the house. It was borderline excruciating to walk or even stand.

I got online and self-diagnosed it as a problem with my SI joint. Apparently, near the end of pregnancy your body releases a hormone to relax the pelvic area and prepare the joints for childbirth. Occasionally it releases too much and the ligaments get too loose and unstable.

Normally I would wait out this kind of thing but a) the pain was really, really bad and b) I am terrified of chronic back problems and c) everything thing I read said this problem could get worse with future pregnancies, of which I'm hoping for several and d) I will go insane if I can't run again soon. All in all it seemed like something I should try to nip in the bud.

After NINE DAYS of not running the pain is much better but I still can't really walk without limping. So this morning I had the first chiropractor visit of my life. He said it's definitely an SI joint issue but the good news is it should improve a lot with some specific exercises (that I have to go back next week to get -- paying another specialist co-pay, annoying).

He said I should take another week or two off from running while doing these exercises, but after that I should be able to run again (while continuing the exercises for several months). I'm sure it will be awesome running for the first time after two or three weeks off in mid-June at 36 weeks pregnant, but whatever -- I won't complain. I was sure he was going to tell me to just hold off on running until after Claire's born (which I would have ignored, but it's nice to have official approval). He also "adjusted" me and it felt great.

4. This afternoon we had the routine 34-week appointment. Starting with the next appointment (36 weeks) we'll go weekly. Everything looked fine, baby's heart rate was great, urine was clean, etc. I didn't see my regular doctor and this one told me to keep my heart rate below 140 when running, but it's a little too late to worry about that.

He also told me to try to gain a pound by the next visit because apparently I haven't gained weight in the past month, but I'm not sure if he was serious. I am an eating machine -- anyone who's spent time with me will attest to that -- and I don't know of any other way to gain weight (except to cut back on exercise ... hmm).

5. Here's today's bump!