Monday, June 23, 2014

Dillon's Birthing Story Part 1: Shit or Get Off the Pot

  I never imagined in a million years I'd be birthing in the face of danger. 

"Are you nervous?" the Labor and Delivery nurse asked me as she obtained my history and vital signs in-between our bantering, on the account of us not being strangers and all. 
"Eh. I don't think so. Why?" I'd heard the far too familiar alarms in the background of our small talk, but didn't give it much thought.
"Oh, just curious. Have you had any issues with your blood pressure?"
"No. It's been perfect."
"Feeling weird lately?"
"Just really pregnant, I guess."
"Any visual disturbances?"

I don't think I've mentioned  on the blog that for the last few weeks I haven't taken a single shower without experiencing a light show. The first time it happened was before the Dave Matthews Concert. Patrick was talking to me from around the shower curtain, and I started to look away from his face to follow the pretty sparkling white fireworks that were gracefully falling around my upper body, but disappearing before I could feel them land on my skin. I'd mentioned this to Dr. B the next week, but since my blood pressure had always been and continued to be picture perfect, we brushed it off as the baby's weight causing a low blood pressure like reaction. 

She refused to tell me exactly what my blood pressure was at the time, probably in fear the it would only increase more had I been aware of the disturbing numbers (let's just say I was probably on the verge of having a stroke), but sooner or later I was bound to discover my picture perfect pregnancy was well on it's way to not being so perfect any more.
After a restless night's sleep nap during cervical ripening (It's difficult to sleep with a blood pressure cuff going off every 15 minutes and alarming........I was offered a sleeping pill, but I told them they might not want me going crazy and running up and down the halls bare butted and crazy!), our morning started off with a bang at 7am. I'd been having steady contractions every 2 minutes for an established amount of time, but they weren't intense enough to cause enough cervical changes to birth a baby (I'd started the night 90% effaced and dilated to 1cm, and began the morning dilated to 2cm.), so a peripheral IV was started with Pitocin infusing, to get the ball rolling. By 10am, Dr. B came by to check on how things were progressing and to dramatically speed things along by breaking my water.
That's when I heard the second word I'd hope to never hear within the walls of my own delivery room (the first was PIH, though no one actually said it out loud, I was well aware that I'd gone into Pregnancy Induced Hypertension), but knew every day we went past term our chances increased: meconium. We couldn't just have any ol' type of meconium, but thick particulate meconium was the way we rolled. The NICU nurse curse was beginning to take shape. I held my jaw tight, to keep it from dropping when I saw/felt the warm dark green amniotic fluid flood around me and pool on the chuck pad like someone had just dumped a cauldron of spinach stew in the bed. The NICU would no longer just be coming to our delivery as a courtesy visit; they'd be coming because they had to.
The pressure waves were coming in full force now, twisting my face into grimaces as I listened to my hypnobabies sound track and tried to stay relaxed. I got positioned on the birthing ball, so Patrick could sit behind me and rub my back, while my nurse ran around from one corner of our room to the next getting the water tub set up.  By the time I got in the tub, my contractions were in full force and submerging into the warm water was a huge relief. I could finally move around freely without anything weighing me down. Patrick sat beside me and applied pressure to my lower back when I gave him the cue, and I felt like things were moving really fast. After an hour of this, I was in a great deal of pain and constantly felt an immense amount of pressure from the baby's head engaging to my pelvis. Patrick was such an amazing birthing partner during this time; he never lost his cool and was very in tune to my needs, though I'm sure he was dying inside with helplessness.
Unfortunately, this was the moment when the first life saving measure had to be taken, and I had to get out of the tub to be started on an IV infusion of MagSulfate. My blood pressure was dangerously elevated to a point that I needed to be protected from having seizures, which meant it was also time to cry "Uncle" and get an epidural, hoping that the common side effect of a lower blood pressure with the epidural and pain control would assist in protecting my health. It was only noon, and I was already dilated to 7 cm and 100% effaced.
Being constricted to laying in bed with full blown contractions was miserable, especially when I wasn't even getting a full recovery between most of them. They were rolling, a new one starting before the previous had completely subsided. Even more miserable was having to wait for a full liter of IV fluid to infuse before they'd actually start the epidural. I'm pretty sure I thought I was dying. When the time actually came to brave the oversized needle being placed in my back, it was quite the challenge, getting into position and keeping still with my back rounded for the CRNA through the constant contractions.
The next challenge was laying flat on my back for the medicine to work evenly throughout my body when all I really wanted to do was roll on my side and pull my knees into my chest. Eventually my body responded to all the medicine and not only was my blood pressure under control, but my pain went from a 20/10 to a 0/10. More good news, I was already dilated to 7cm and completely effaced. Not too much longer now, or so we all thought.
After getting doped up, my progression slowed down dramatically, and a few hours later, I was only dilated to 8 cm. The baby was in a transverse position, inhibiting progression, and we tried everything to help him to rotate, including the nurses positioning me onto all fours to hang out in a doggy style position for an hour at a time. I was starting to get shaky and pretty cranky about the fact that I hadn't been allowed to have anything but clear liquids since midnight. Jello, popsicles, and chicken broth just aren't the best fuel foods for endurance.
Here we were, me eating popsicles with the A/C in the room down to the 60's to just keep from combusting into flames and Patrick desperately trying to stay warm, to the point of turning on the radiant warmer in the room to defrost his extremities.
By 5 pm I was at 9 cm. Dr. B had been in and out of our room several times throughout the day to chitchat and stalk baby Cotton's arrival. No one ever told him a watch pot never boils. Intentions were to let the baby labor down the birth canal before pushing, but two hours later there'd been absolutely no progress made. Zero, zilch.
Dr. B mentioned several times how amazed he was that the baby's heart rate looked so great under the given amount of stress, considering the meconium situation and now adding to it the length of the labor, but it was officially time to "shit or get off the pot" (my words, not his) in order for this baby to be born SAFELY. Here it comes, the third word I never wanted to hear mentioned during my labor.
 I know he felt terrible even mentioning the word c-section, well aware of how hard I'd worked all day and of my wishes to have as little intervention as possible during pregnancy and labor. He kept telling me how great a job I was doing, and how I'd done everything possible to have a baby, but sometimes something is wrong and the baby just can't be born the way we want. Out of a last ditch effort, he had me push, hoping he could turn the baby's head during a contraction and get us over the last hump, but alas, it didn't work. Now I could literally say I shit AND got off the pot. Everyone felt defeated, especially me, but even my L&D nurse who busted her ass all day helping this baby be born the way we wanted. Nothing could alter the fact that Cotton's head had engaged in my pelvis in an awkward position and things were just too narrow for this to be changed. It was shift change, so both the nurses who's opinions I trusted were in the room to confide in, and it was really time to make the next life-saving decision of the day. I had to come to terms with the fact that the only way this baby was going to be born was by having it surgically removed from my belly, so we asked for 30 more minutes.
Tears were unstoppable. I hate crying in front of people, but I was just so frustrated. Frustrated that not only my life, but my child's life could be in danger. Frustrated that I'd gone through 12 hours of labor for what now felt like a big fat nothing. Frustrated that I hadn't had anything to eat in a million years and knew that having surgery would only prolong this, along with the curve of my hospital stay and recovery time. I could tell my emotional state was breaking everyone's hearts; they were all so sweet and encouraging with pity dripping from their faces.
By 8 pm, I'd wiped the tears away and gave the final okay to proceed with what we knew needed to be done. Around this time it became even more indisputable our decision was the right one, as evidenced by the late decelerations on the fetal monitor (the baby's heart rate was staying down after my contractions were over, telling us the stress was becoming too much to bare).
We crossed our fingers, held each other's hands tight, painted a nervous smile on our faces, donned our surgical hats, and hoped we weren't having a "wimpy white boy". 
To be continued....... 


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