Monday, February 16, 2015

Maxwell's Birth Story

The story is lengthy- if you are a pictures only person go ahead and scroll to the end :)

It turns out that motherhood is no joke-- the sleeplessness, the vulnerability, the hard work, and the sweet moments. Its all true. Its taken me almost 4 weeks to write this story- I've been writing a few sentences at a time, often with one hand while I entertain baby Max. So, it's not perfect, but it is our story.

I woke up at about 1:00 in the morning on January 20th and felt like I had wet the bed. It was more like a slow trickle and felt warm and gross and I thought… oh my goodness! This is it! But I tried not to get too excited since I had so many false starts for labor. (in fact, I had been having contractions for about one week and they were never productive). I slowly got up and went to the bathroom. Right when I got to the toilet there was a big gush of water, and then another one. No doubt about it, this was definitely Max’s bag of waters and I knew he would be coming to the world soon. I got on my knees there in the bathroom and said a quick prayer for comfort peace and a safe delivery for our boy. I then tip toed into the bedroom and whispered to sleeping Danny, that my water broke. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Ok..... I don’t know what to do!” I could tell he was trying to sound calm but perhaps didn’t really feel that way. I told him to just relax, try and get some more sleep and that I was going to take a shower and start getting ready. Our hospital bags had been packed for like a month because we were so sure he was coming early—he was 4 days late. I jumped in the shower, curled my hair, and put on makeup. I could hear Danny outside of the bathroom getting things loaded into the car and getting ready. I listened to one of my Hypnobabies tracks to try to relax so things wouldn't be so adrenaline charged. I loved using Hypnobabies throughout my pregnancy to help me relax and feel empowered about child birth generally.

I came out of the bathroom and went in to wake up my mom who was staying with us to help out with Maxwell and let her know that we were headed to the hospital soon. She was already awake and looked really excited. I told her that my water broke and that we would text her and be in touch when she could come meet her newest grandson. It felt a lot like Christmas eve—lots of excitement and buzzing around. At about 3:00 we finally left for the hospital. I wish we had actually waited a little longer since my contractions were still pretty comfortable. I just didn’t know how intense they would feel with Hypnobabies and only knew that my doctor always said to go to the hospital when my water broke. I wish now I had waited a few more hours. We got to Timpanogas hospital and they admitted us right away since my water broke. They did some weird exams on me to make sure it was actually amniotic fluid that had come out- I swear it hurt way more than labor did haha. They checked me and I was still only dilated to a 3 and about 70% effaced which I had been for weeks. That was kind of a bummer--I knew I would have a lot of work to do that day.

My contractions started picking up a little but they were very manageable. I kept using hypnobabies techniques and saying things to myself like “limp and loose” and “open” and imagining my safe place. I tried to take a nap on the hospital bed and then started work on my birthing ball. It felt so good to lean on the ball during contractions and roll my hips in circles in between them. After maybe 4-5 hours, one of the nurses wanted to get me started on Pitocin since I wasn’t really progressing. I did not want that stuff AT ALL. I had heard that it hurts like crazy and have had a few friends who tried to go natural, ended up having to get Pitocin, and then an epidural because the pain was so bad, and ultimately end up with a c-section. Since I wanted to go natural, this was not ideal. We kept the nurse off for a few more hours but I still wasn’t progressing. Since my water was broken, they ideally like to get the baby out within 24 hours to prevent infection. The doctor had the nurse get me started on Pitocin- the smallest amount available. We agreed that we would start the smallest amount possible and only go up if my body didn’t respond to that and as soon as my body started responding they would take me off (not up the dosage like they would normally do).

My body responded immediately. All the sudden my contractions went from being noticeable, to being all consuming. I was very “into” my body and not aware of my surroundings. Each contraction got more and more intense. I used my Hypnobabies techniques but it was hard to concentrate—the contractions were strongest in my back. They made my whole body contort. It felt like someone was doing the Cruciatus curse on me with each one. I remember calling the nurse the “b” word in my head—I did not want to be on Pitocin! I kept picturing my “safe place”—on a beach with Danny and Max and using other hypno techniques that helped me relax- They were so intense it was difficult to even say these things to myself. After a few contractions, my whole body started shaking really hard and I started chattering. During these really tough contractions, the nurse came in and took my birthing ball away because my fetal monitor kept falling off. Laying in bed hurt so much worse than being on my birthing ball.

I felt really strongly during this time that family and friends were praying for me and Danny and Max. That was empowering and strengthening. I had a strong sense that everything was going to be ok. I felt so excited to meet my son. 

Danny was amazing during the tough contractions. When he could tell the contractions were intense he would come apply counter pressure on my back, or push on my shoulder or forehead and remind me to relax and feel peace. It makes me cry thinking about how sweetly he took care of me in those moments. I felt more in love with him than I ever had. He also stood up to the nurse and went to our car and got our own birthing ball, which helped a lot, though I couldn’t use it for very long. I was so glad Danny was there. I just wanted him to be right by my side the whole time—which he was. I think by the time Max arrived he was every bit as tired as I was—he really did labor the whole time with me.

I knew the pain in my back likely meant that Max was posterior and also knew that meant that my doctor would likely have to reach up into me and turn him around before he would be born. I did not particularly desire to feel any of that, and so I ended up getting an epidural, contrary to my plan. I felt really disappointed—I had spent months preparing for birth with Hypnobabies and felt cheated out of that a little bit. Honestly, I was more afraid of getting an epidural than I was of giving birth naturally, which is why I did Hypnobabies in the first place. I feel like my body was built to give birth, but not necessarily built to have a creepy needle and tube thingy in it.

In some ways, I am thankful that the nurse put me on Pitocin to get things going though—I had been having contractions for over a week and who knows if I ever would have really progressed to get him safely here. Also, my favorite doctor was the one on call and he would have been gone if I had labored for 2 hours more—and my least favorite doctor would have been the next one on call, so I was grateful for that.

After I opted for the epidural, the anesthesiologist came in. He was as personable as Dwight Schrute. I didn’t mind at all—I just wanted him to be good at his job, which he was. He got the epi in me quickly and effectively and I never thought numbness could feel so good. It felt kind of like a cold trickle all down my spine. He told me it was really important for me to hold still when he was putting it in and that he needed to put it in during a contraction. I literally laughed out loud- I had no control over how much my body was shaking and contorting through every contraction. He put me on my side and I imagined being at the beach with Danny and Max again and did everything I possibly could to hold very still. And then the needle was in and in a weird way it felt very good- kind of like when Danny was putting counter pressure on my back.

As soon as it went into effect, I felt like there was something in between my legs. I wondered if it was just a weird effect of the epidural. The anesthesiologist and nurses stepped out of the room for a moment. I felt a little sad that things had not gone according to plan and I looked over at Danny who was standing next to me at my bedside holding my arm. He reminded me that the only thing that matters is that we have a healthy baby and then said he had something he wanted to read to me. He pulled out our hypnobabies stuff and there was a paper called “change of plans script” which he read to me. It helped me relax so much and helped me not care about the way my little man was getting here—I was just excited he was getting here! I felt so much love for Danny and how supportive he has been of me during my whole pregnancy and birthing time and just generally in our marriage. I still felt weird like there was something in between my legs and I had the thought- I think I need to push. So I called the nurse back in and asked her to check me. She was like “oh wow. Yeah… you are ready.” I looked at Danny because I didn’t know what she meant. And then she explained that she was going to get the doctor and some of the other nurses so I could start pushing. I looked at Danny again and his face looked like how mine felt. Just complete shock that this time had arrived and so quickly! I had dilated from a 3 to a 10 in less than an hour. I was glad too because the epidural wasn’t all consuming. I could feel contractions, but no pain, just that my stomach was tightening up. And I felt the desire to push but it didn’t hurt at all. As soon as the nurse walked out to go and get help, I actually closed my eyes and took a quick cat nap. All the contorting and shaking had worn me out! And I wanted to be able to do a good job of pushing.

Max’s heart rate was pretty steady at about 140 throughout the day. But, when the nurse came back in, she read the monitor and came over to me and started pushing on the monitor on my belly and looked a little nervous in her face. She called in another nurse and without really telling me what was going on, put oxygen on my face and told me to take deep breaths. I asked what was happening and she said that his heart rate had dropped to around 60 and they were nervous to have me start pushing while his heart rate was so low.

Dr. Broberg came in and checked me out. He told me that Max was posterior (faced the wrong way—with his face up instead of down) and that he was going to reach up and try to turn him before I started pushing for real. He guided me to push to turn his head and we were successful with one push! I was so happy. I’d had friends who spent all day trying to do that and or ended up with c-sections because their babes wouldn’t turn/descend. Max’s heart rate was still really low but improved when he turned. My doctor explained that he was going to invite some respiratory specialists in because he could see meconium and said that he suspected that the umbilical cord was wrapped around Max’s neck which was another reason why his heart rate might be wigging out. As soon as the respiratory specialists got into the room he had me start pushing. It was 3:00pm. I remember saying to myself, I want to meet my Max by 3:30. I felt really nervous about his heart rate and wanted him out of there ASAP. I was also motivated by the fact that another doctor would be taking Broberg’s place at 6:00 and it happened to be my least favorite doctor at the practice I went to (as an aside, my least favorite doctor gave me a vaginal exam that hurt worse than having my membranes stripped and my labor up until Pitocin. I did NOT want him handling my lady parts ever again).

Dr. Broberg said “wow I can see his hair” and for some reason that really got me into the zone. Maybe I was excited that my baby would have hair? Or maybe that just made the whole thing seem really real—I was having a baby!

I pushed through four contractions. The doctor and nurses were really supportive—at first they tried to guide my pushing but I ultimately just went with what felt right and then they stopped telling me when to push. Despite the epidural I could feel just enough to know how hard to push and I tried to breathe through each one. It felt very easy and natural to me. Danny and one of the nurses held my legs and kept encouraging me and telling me what a good job I was doing and that his head was out, etc. And in 26 short minutes (seriously it felt like 5 minutes or less to me) our sweet baby Max was here! I couldn’t believe it.

Dr. Broberg was right—the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice and there was lots of meconium, so the second he arrived, they clipped the cord and whisked him away into a corner of the room to suck out his mouth. I HATED the sound of it. It sounded like my little guy was choking and all I could see was a big group of nurses, doctors respiratory people around him so I didn’t know what was going on. I started bawling. Was he ok?? I told Danny to go check him out and was happy that they let him see what was happening. Danny told me everything was ok and that they were just sucking amniotic fluid and meconium out. I asked him how he looked and made him go and count his fingers and toes, haha. I still felt very nervous and helpless because I was basically paralyzed on the stupid hospital bed and couldn’t see my baby and all I wanted was for them to put him on my chest. My arms and skin physically ached to hold him.

After they sucked out the meconium/fluid, they wrapped him up and told me they would need to take him to another unit of the hospital for further testing and to keep sucking stuff out of him. I told them to give him to me.

Most of the specialists had started clearing out and I could finally see him and I watched as one of the specialists carefully swaddled him up. She carried him over to me and placed him gently on my chest. Heaven. I felt complete and whole and the happiest I've ever felt.

I couldn’t believe he is our baby and that he was here and that he was so perfect. I held his little fingers and cherished every minute. They took him away again. Danny looked at me like “what should I do?” and I told him to go with them, which he did. They were gone for 1 hour and 40 minutes. I stared at the clock the whole time. Eventually, all the nurses, doctors, specialists were gone out of the room. My baby was gone. My husband was gone. One of the nurses brought me a huge plate of rump roast and fried potatoes. I gagged at the thought of eating it. I just wanted my sweet baby and to be with my new little family. I felt so claustrophobic and trapped laying on that hospital bed, waiting. It was probably the loneliest and most helpless I had felt in my life.

Finally, Danny walked in the door with our sweet Maxwell. I felt so much happiness and relief! He was healthy and breathing and we were a family and we were all together. I put Max on my chest again and we just sat there, elated.

Even though things didn’t go according to my plan, I felt very blessed and watched over all through my labor. I think everything worked out beautifully and I loved and I cherish the whole experience.

On our way out the door to go to the hospital,about 3:30am

feeling a powerful contraction just before heading out the door and using hypnobabies

Relaxing between contractions. I hated being on the bed during contractions-- the exercise ball was bomb!

oxygen when Max's heart rate fell to 60 bpm

couples dinner at the hospital 

getting ready to leave the hospital 
Maxwell's first car ride--I swear the most stressful car ride of my life. 

Max's arriving home at last! I gave him a full tour of the house. 

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