Friday, December 11, 2009

Sweet Baby James

Our little man has made his debut! James Murrow H. was born at 4:23 pm on Monday, December 7th. He weighed in at 8 lbs. 3 oz. and 19.25 inches in length. He has daddy's dark brown hair, dimpled chin, and perfect coloring and mommy's round cheeks, little ears, and penchant for side sleeping.

And for all the gory details, here's James' birth story...

On Friday, December 4th at 38w6d, my MW stripped my membranes in an attempt to kickstart labor, thus allowing me to avoid an induction scheduled for Wednesday, December 9th. I went to work afterwards and felt crampy with a little bloody show, but it was completely tolerable. I had already planned to make Friday my last day at work, which ended up working out perfectly. Friday night, we went out for a nice dinner, thinking it might be our last chance. In the middle of dinner I noticed that my "cramps" were coming, peaking, and going. We timed them a bit during dinner and they were pretty consistently 5 minutes apart lasting about 45 seconds. Rather than flipping out, I decided to ignore them since they were so mild and hardly painful at all.

I had some trouble sleeping from Friday to Saturday since every so often there would be a cramp/contraction that was severe enough to wake me. I probably woke up about every hour having to pee or in response to a bad contraction. On Saturday, the cramps were the same -- mild and ignorable until around 1 pm when I had my first contraction that was painful enough that I felt the need to stop what I was doing and concentrate on breathing through them. We learned in our birthing class that this "early labor" stage can easily last for a long time, so it's best to ignore it for as long as you can. Therefore, we went and saw The Blind Side Saturday afternoon and visited with my grandma. By Saturday night, the contractions were pretty intense, but they were so inconsistent. We wanted to wait to go the hospital until they were about 5 minutes apart for a full hour, but they never got that consistent. We tried walking and bouncy balling to get things more regular, but that never worked.

The contractions were bad enough by Saturday night that I wasn't able to fall asleep. When 4 am rolled around and I still hadn't slept a wink, I decided to call the MW. She suggested that I take a bath and a couple Tylenol PMs. If this wasn't "it," that would be enough to space out the contractions and maybe end the "false labor." If this was the real thing then I'd need some rest and the Tylenol PM would help me get it. I ended up scoring three hours of sleep, which would be all the sleep I got from Saturday morning at 8 am to Monday afternoon at 2 pm. Thank God for those three hours!

On Sunday morning, my contractions continued their frustrating pattern of being intense, but completely irregular. Again, we attempted to go about our business as usual, which meant a trip to Michael's to buy the materials for making a plaque for James' nursery door. Around 8:15 pm that night, my bloody show which had been occurring throughout the weekend turned to a bright red color and became much heavier. We decided that this was scary enough that we at least wanted to go to the hospital and make sure the baby and I were both handling things okay. We called the MW's office and let them know we were on our way. When we arrived, I was 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced. The triage nurse wanted me to walk around the hospital for at least an hour to make sure I was progressing enough to be admitted. At 11:30 pm, I was officially admitted.

After an hour and a half of walking, I was 4 cm dilated, which was enough for them to admit me. Since my birth plan was to go natural, we were given one of the two birthing suites with a whirlpool and shower, which was awesome. From 11:30 pm to 5:30 am, we walked the halls of the hospital, labored in the tub, and used our Bradley techniques to work through the contractions. I found it helped a lot to drape myself over a chair while Brett applied a warm compress and rubbed my lower back with tennis balls stuffed into a sock. For 20 minutes of every hour, I had to be connected to the heart rate and contraction monitors and those were the toughest 20 minutes since I couldn't move to different positions to help deal with the labor.

Finally at 5:30 am, I asked the nurse to check me. I was really expecting to have made quite a bit of progress after 6 hours of hard labor. When she said I was 5 cm dilated/100% effaced, I was a little disheartened. We continued to labor until 9 am, when our MW made rounds. During this time, the contractions were getting more intense and harder to breathe through, plus I was frustrated that we had so far left to go. The whole sleep deprivation probably didn't help either. When the MW came in, she said that she knew I had been in labor for a very long time and that I was operating without much sleep to fuel me. She suggested we choose one of four options: go home and see if labor would progress quicker there, take some light meds to "take the edge off," break my water to speed things up, or get an epidural/pitocin combo to move things along.

I knew that going home wasn't an option for me since we'd already made it this far and it seemed unlikely that I'd be more comfortable at home. The light meds she was suggesting could cross the placenta, which I didn't want for the baby's sake. I also figured that if I was going to take meds for pain control, I may as well go for the "big kahuna," the epidural. We were torn between having her break my water or the epi/pitocin combo. On the one hand, breaking my water was a more natural option, but it also would likely make my contractions much more painful and close together. We decided to have her break my water. We agreed that we would give that option one hour and then assess whether we wanted an epidural at that time.

This is the part where my labor took a turn for the worse and the pain simply became too much. The actual breaking of the water was completely painless. It happened to be at the very beginning of a 20 minute stretch when I needed to be monitored. Those were 20 very difficult minutes, as the contractions hurt about 3 times as much and were coming in rapid succession. To top it all off, I had to be stationary. After those 20 minutes, I moved to the tub. Being in water made the contractions space out a little, but they still hurt just as bad. I don't totally remember this part, but Brett said that I was shaking during contractions. At one point, I started throwing up. In the middle of these, I looked at Brett and simply said, "I don't want to do this."

In Bradley classes, you learn that there's a "transition" that occurs between first and second stage labor when a laboring woman throws up and expresses self-doubt. This mirrored exactly what I was experiencing at this time. We decided we'd get checked again to see if we'd miraculously progressed quickly and were on the verge of second stage. When the nurse checked me, I was 6 cm. I knew I wouldn't be able to get myself to 10 cm like this and still have the energy left to actually push. Our labor/delivery nurse, Kelsey, was absolutely AWESOME. She had been completely supportive of my efforts to go natural, coaching me through contractions, never recommending pain meds, and generally following our birth plan to a tee. When she checked me and I was still only 6 cm, we made it clear that we wanted the epi and we wanted it quick. She was awesome and got everything set up and the anesthesiologist to us in about 15 minutes. I got the epi around 10:30 am. Inserting the epi didn't hurt at all, compared to the contractions. What amazes me is that I was able to stay still while he inserted it. The contractions were so awful, but I think I was able to suck it up and sit still through them so I could get some relief.

The whole labor changed so much for the better after I got the epi. I was able to take a short nap and even whipped out a handheld mirror and put on some makeup. Around 1:30 pm, I was 8-9 centimeters and fully effaced. At 3:30 pm, I was fully dilated and effaced. My MW's office is just across the street, so she was on her way over to "catch" the baby. Around 3:45 pm, a few nurses started guiding me through some practice contractions. At that same time, Kelsey came in and said that her shift was ending early because they were overstaffed. She gave me a big hug and wished me luck, saying she was really sad she wouldn't be around to meet the baby. She also said that she'd try to make say she had paperwork to do so she could at least stay a little longer.

My MW came after just one practice push and started guiding me through the real pushes. Since I couldn't feel my contractions, she had to tell me when to start and stop pushing. After just two or three more pushes, my MW said that she could easily see the baby's head and that he had a full head of dark hair. I was so excited that he had Brett's dark hair. Knowing that gave me some extra pushing motivation. I did a couple more pushes and Brett asked if I could reach down and feel the baby's head. I did and it felt so surreal. On the next push, I started puking, which really sucked. I hadn't eaten much during the labor, so I was mostly dry-heaving. It sucked because I wanted to be pushing but couldn't while I was vomiting. I vomited quite a few times and the MW said that the baby was moving lower each time. After that I pushed just once or twice more and he slithered out. They placed him directly on my chest and it was a moment that will change me and my life forever. He looked so perfect and I was instantly so proud of him.

I only pushed for about 30 minutes, so our nurse Kelsey was still around and able to be there for the birth. She had our camera ready and took some first moments pics for us. The placenta was slow to deliver, so my MW ended up reaching up there to help it detach. No part of the pushing was very painful. Even when he was crowning, I could hardly feel it, thanks to the epi. I ended up with a first degree tear and just one stitch. By the time he was cleaned, measured, weighed and I was stitched up, the epi had worn off and I felt back to my old self.

Our little man has been such a joy. He's such a sleepy fellow that it's been hard to breastfeed him enough, but we're working on that. Overall, I'm so pleased with our labor and delivery. It was long, almost as long as this birth story, and I ended up with an epidural which was not part of my plan. However, I truly believe that this long of a labor would have ended in a c-section for many women. I'm grateful that our Bradley classes gave us the tools to turn a 52 hour labor into a vaginal birth. I also wish that I had placed a little less pressure on myself to deliver naturally. Ultimately, I feel like James and I are no better or worse off for having had a medicated delivery. I put myself through a lot of psychological stress by wrapping my sense of self up in having a natural delivery.

So, there you have it. We are home resting, breastfeeding, and learning as much as we can about our sweet baby boy.

1 comment:

  1. He's adorable! I love the pic of your DH holding him- his arms are hilarious, like "i think I got him?". Congrats! And thanks for posting all the stuff u learned in class - it made it a whole lot easier to follow along.