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.


Amanda said...

You are Superwoman.

Anonymous said...

Oh Jen. What a sweet picture of your little family!

Libba Lemon said...

You are AMAZING and again, I am SO proud of you!

So glad to hear that you've already forgotten the pain - isn't it shocking how quickly that happens? Miff loves to remind me that as I was lying on the table being stitched up, I was already saying I couldn't wait for next time...!

Can't wait to see you three. xoxo

Sallie said...

Soooo glad you posted the story , I have been wondering about how it all went!! I got tears in my eyes reading it and can't wait to meet little Claire!!

Kylie said...

Sniffle ,sniffle! Thanks for sharing jennifer!! :)

Maegan said...

Oh, I have been fighting the urge to call you so I am so glad to get the details via the world wide web. So glad that she is here! Isn't childbirth amazing? (And horrible?!) Love you all!

Melody said...

Wonderful feeling once she was in your arms, isn't it? Glad that everything went well, sorry to hear about the tears. She's beautiful! Enjoy her while she's little, they really grow fast!!