Saturday, September 19, 2009

Labor Report

Before I write too much I must reiterate one thing that I have heard many times throughout pregnancy, "Everyone is different."

Years before I even considered getting pregnant I had been told, "You're so tough, labor will be a breeze for you." During pregnancy I'd heard stories of other people finding labor to be easy or telling me I'd have no problems because I was in pretty good shape.

Well... I can tell you without a doubt, Thursday was the most painful thing I have ever endured. For me, it was a huge challenge and I commend all those other mothers out there who have gone through it.

Now... for what I remember (I've been told there is a bit of labor amnesia that occurs)

On Wends night (Sep 16th) Michael and I went to bed with the intention of getting up at 5am to go for our Thurs morning workouts. As I laid down I noticed a lot of gurgling in my belly and wondered if I'd actually make it too the pool. At 11:30 I woke up, pretty sure my water had broken, I changed into some clean clothes and laid back down for a bit. I woke up Michael at midnight to tell him my water had broke, "Are you sure?" We were both confused b/c we'd heard it would have a distinct smell but we didn't smell anything... or well... I didn't smell anything and Michael smelled something horrible for a short amount of time. He said he'd had a dream already that night about my water breaking. We called the nurse line, took a few last minute belly pictures, and emailed the people we were planning to meet up with in a few hours.

Then we were off to Seton. I've never seen Mopac so empty or feel as empty as it did during that drive, yet somehow we had a diversion when the off ramp for 35th st. happened to be getting resurfaced. Not a big deal but a bit humorous.

We checked into the hospital and it was confirmed that my water had broken. Doctor said I get 24hrs to get the baby out, after my water breaks, before she gets taken out for me.

My plan was to give it my best to get through labor without any drugs but I knew I would have to see how it went. As my OB told me later on Thurs, this was not something I could train for.

At 1am I was at a "generous" 1cm of dilation. By 6am I was starving of hunger, and 1.5cm dilated. There was no choice, I was given Pitocin, medication to induce contractions. The painful part of the day soon began. Within an hour I was having intense contractions at a rate of about 3 min on, 1 min off. Michael tried to assure me, "It's just like doing 800m repeats at the track."

"But I've got about 100 of them to do," I replied half joking and half fearful of the pain to endure.

"I think you have a lot more than that." He was not joking but at the time of the statement we didn't realize how true that was.

Over the next 6.5 hours I went through the most painful thing I have ever endured. My contractions got closer, and at times they began to overlap. The few I remember the most were the ones that didn't seem to let up, when I would have a continuous bout of pain for 10 minutes. I couldn't hardly talk, I could not relax, I could hardly stand. At some point Michael had to leave my side for a moment to go to the bathroom and I could hardly deal with the agony of having him step away.

Mid morning the anesthesiologist came in to ask me if I'd like an epidural. I told him I wanted to keep trying and he said he would be available if I changed my mind. He also mentioned that it's rare for people who are induced not to get the epidural b/c you don't have the same progression of pain as natural labor.

I tried my best all morning to cope with this pain, after all, I believed I was supposed to be able to deal with it. After about 3 hrs of labor I really wanted to take the epidural but could not bare the idea of given up. Michael kept assuring me I was doing fine. I'm not real sure what he was thinking but that's what he told me b/c he was doing his best to support my efforts to make it through without the epidural.

If I am not mistaken, I believe I was at about 3.5 cm by 10am. As noon rolled around I was seriously questioning my ability to keep going. I could hardly stand up on my own and my body was getting fatigued. My nurse said my contraction patterns were looking like someone who is pretty far in labor, and we got excited for a moment. She checked my cervix, "You're at 9cm!, opps... I slipped you're still at 5.5 cm." She told me that most people could expect to dilate about 1 cm / hr up to 10 cm now. Once I'd get to 10 I'd have to push. After 6.5 hrs of this I was not sure if I could make another 6. The internal battle was huge but I asked for the epidural. I almost felt as if I was a quitter. What if I speed up and get to 10cm in 2 hrs from now, I could do 2 more hours. No, logic said it was unlikely and I should let myself get the epidural to have energy to push.

I got the epidural and almost instantly the baby's heart rate started to have trouble. A swarm of nurses and doctors entered the room and I felt even more guilt, that I'd made a decision that was hurting my baby to keep myself from feeling pain. This was actually not the case, it was the effect of her position and the constant contractions on her head leading up to that point. Her body was having trouble with the intensity and frequency of the contractions, and a decreased heart rate is her way of telling us she is unhappy. This decreased HR did occur a few more times during the day and was not considered to be good, a sign of fetal distress. To control the heart rate decrease, the nurses had to reduce the amount of Pitocin to reduce the contractions, which reduced the rate at which my cervix would dilate.

After the scare subsided I realized what had happened. Maybe I should say I realized how much pain I'd truly been in. All of a sudden I was able to relax and carry on a conversation. It's no wonder why so many people just tell you to take the epidural when you are given the chance.

For the rest of the afternoon I was stuck in bed, hoping my cervix would dilate and Leah's body would be able to cope with it well.

At 8pm, the doctor on call checked my cervix again, and discovered I was only at 6.5cm. I had progressed only 1cm all afternoon. Things were not looking good for a vaginal delivery. The doctor also expressed concern about the shape of my pelvic arch and the ability to have a vaginal birth. Even though this conversation was hard to have, the doctor did a great job of presenting this to me in a very professional manner. I had a good cry, but knew what choice had to be made. At this point, things moved the quickest they had in hours, by far!

At about 8:10pm I was wheeled into the OR. I was prepped for cesarean surgery, and Michael was prepped to watch. The room was full of people who were doing a great job keeping me in good sprits. One nurse by my side blurted out "We're havin' a birtday party!" The doctor announced when she made the incision, which was clearly one of the most stressful points in the day. The doctor eased the tension by mentioning: "wow, you have not body fat." I said 13%. She asked where, and Michael blurted out "boobs and butt". Great place, the doctor said.

A few seconds later, though what felt like an eternity, we heard some crying. The nurses dropped the drape so Michael could see Leah for the very first time. She was quickly moved over to a cleaning area and prepared to go the transition nursery with Michael. He and the nurses snapped a few pics and video and before I knew it, they were gone, and I was being cleaned up and taken to the recovery room.

About 20min later, Leah and Michael rejoined me for the first feeding. We got about 15min of feeding in, which the nurse said was pretty good. At this point, we were all very exhausted, but still had a lot of sleepless, though well worth it, hours ahead of us.

It's impossible to know what cards you will be dealt for your labor, however you can be assured it will be the most memorable experience of your life.


DCM Photography said...

freakin awesome!! I am so happy for you all!!

Cori said...

Wow Michelle - what a story. You and I have had very similar experiences both with our due dates, early babies, looong labors, and now babies under light therapy.

You did a great job! The fact that you could reason out your emotional and physical capabilities at a time like that is amazing.

And, now you know why your pain was so severe. I had the same problem before Sam's birth with my back pain. That pain was worse than most of my contractions and it wasn't until he was born sunnyside up that they told me the reason for my back pain - he was pressing on a nerve.

Anyway, congrats to you and Michael. Leah is healthy and happy and you get to take her home so all is well. :)

Elizabeth said...

Congratulations, Michelle! Glad to hear you and baby Leah are doing well.

Jess said...

def. something that you can't train did great and like you said it is just unknown what hand you will be given on that day...congrats to you both! enjoy your new baby!

Sara said...

congratulations Michelle! So happy for you and Michael. I know several people with very similar labor stories. Glad you both are healthy though....that's the #1 goal. You are a very strong and tough woman for going that long without any epi! :) Enjoy every minute with your baby girl!

oh and a side note: I noticed on one of Michael's pictures that the tag on Leah's bed said that Binford is your OB. She is mine too and delivered Colton. I love her! She is an awesome doctor! :)

Summer said...

Congratulations! While you may not have had the birth you pictured, it sounds like there was really no other option and the end result is the most important - healthy baby, healthy mom. Enjoy your new little one! Please let me know if you guys need anything!

Elizabeth said...

Hey Michelle! Congrats! I just got around to reading your Labor Report. Don't be too hard on yourself. These things happen in their own way. But I can completely sympathize with you. Allison was born by induction. My labor went so slow that I was on pitocin the entire time AND I had no option of pain medication (because the labor progressed so slowly). I was in labor with her for 35 hours. Why do you think our kids our 7 years apart! Then Breese came along and I was so happy that my labor was a mere 24 hours. This time I was able to get an epidural about 19 hours into it. Good thing because he was 9 lbs, 10 oz. (and he was a day early). Why do you think we stopped after him! And he was so jaundiced that they sent us home with the special lights.

You guys look so happy with your new little bundle of joy! Enjoy every minute of it. They grow up so fast (Allison is a sophomore at UT!). From one mom to another, the advice I can give you is trust your instincts. You are Leah's mother and you definitely know her best.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! She is sooooooo cute! Take (and share) tons of pictures.