Sunday, June 19, 2011

Birth Story

If you want the short version:

James Benton Davidson 

6/8/11 at 5:23am
7 lb 15 oz
21.5 inches long
36.5 cm head

The slightly longer winded version:

Since I was 37 weeks pregnant, I would routinely have contractions, typically on a night before I worked the next day.  Scott and I would time them on his iPod touch contraction app.  They would be anywhere from 4-10 minutes apart.  Not really painful, but noticeable.  Sometimes they would last all night, sometimes just a few hours.  All this would do is confuse me!  How am I going to know when the REAL DEAL is happening when we have all these false starts all the time??

Fast forward to Tuesday, June 7th.  I went to my weekly appointment at my OB.  Side note: At 36 weeks, I was a fingertip-1cm dilated and 70-80% effaced.  At this appointment, I'm 2 cm dilated.  Hooray!  At that rate of dilation, my baby would be born sometime in August...  I was having contractions on this particular Tuesday, but again, who knew if they would lead anywhere or not.  When I was checking out of the OB office, they made me an appointment for the next week, in case I was still pregnant.  I made it abundantly clear that I would NOT be coming to that appointment.  I had zero intentions of making it to 41 weeks.  

That afternoon, I met up with my sister Nikki to take some pregnancy pictures.  39 weeks, 6 days pregnant.  I figured that was a good time to document my hugeness. :)  We went to the Rose Garden near NC State.  It was 5:30pm and a million degrees outside.  If I have a "glow" about me in the pictures, I assure you it's sweat.

I was having some more contractions all during the photo shoot.  Sometimes we would have to wait a second to take a picture because I was having a hard time SMILING during the contraction.  Deep down I was hoping this was the real deal, but I'd gotten my hopes up before and it didn't lead to labor.  Soooo....I tried to ignore the contractions and not think about it!  Scott met up with us at the Rose Garden and we went to dinner at Cantina 18, my new favorite restaurant.  During dinner I asked him to bust out the iPod and time some of these contractions.  They were about 4-7 minutes apart during dinner.  I had a hard time eating dinner.  This was hugely disappointing, since I was so excited about eating there.  We boxed up the rest of my dinner to go and headed home.  I just wanted to be home.  Scott and I had driven separately.  I was very sad about that as I drove home.  During that 15 minute drive home, at least twice I got white-knuckled on the steering wheel during a contraction.  I have a stick-shift car, by the way.  YOU try shifting gears and negotiating a clutch, gas and brake while contracting.  Fun times.  Despite the increasing intensity of the contractions, I was still in denial.  I figured this would fizzle out, as it had before, and I would be at work the next morning.  

When we got home, I asked Scott to take a walk with me.  We'd walked miles and miles around the neighborhood and surrounding area in the past few weeks.  This walk was a bit slower than usual.  We would stop during contractions.  We really focused on timing the contractions during the walk.  If this WAS leading somewhere, I wanted facts to be able to tell the doctor when I called.  After our walk, I continued timing things until about 9pm-ish.  I knew I needed to go to bed if I was going to work in the morning.  Problem:  I couldn't sleep through these contractions.  Scott said I should call the doctor.  I wasn't sure if I should, but I did.  I called and left a voicemail for the on-call doctor.  The person that returned my call was one of my coworkers that works in the Birth Center Operating Room.  

Renee said: "Betty Anne, why are you calling up here asking if you should come in when you know you need to be here?!"

I told Renee:  "I'm NOT sure I need to be there, that's why I'm calling to ask the doctor!"

Renee said Dr. Beatty wanted me to come in and be checked.  Alright!  I hung up with Renee and got in the shower.  My thought:  "If this is for real, I'm gonna be CLEAN!"  Scott gathered a few last minute items left to pack in our "hospital bag".  As we were walking out the door, I told him I forgot to eat!  We both knew they wouldn't let me eat once I got to the hospital, and therefore I should eat right before I got there, but I had no appetite (just like at dinner).  Foregoing the eating, we headed to the hospital.  We were fully prepared to get checked and then sent back home.  See how I was still having trouble believing this was happening?!

I called my friend, Sarah, an L&D nurse who happened to be working that evening.  She said she would be available for me by the time I got there.  Sarah and I went to school together at Wake Tech.  I was VERY excited that she could potentially be my L&D nurse.  We got to the hospital just before 11pm.  When Sarah checked me, I was 3.5 cm!  

My cervix was actually changing!  
They weren't going to send us home!  
And finally the false alarms were OVER!  
I was NOT going to work in the morning!  

So much to be excited about!  Oh, and also, these contractions HURT.  That is not exciting, but a reality of labor.  Sarah got us moved into our L&D room, started my IV and fluids, and got me situated on the monitors for a bit.  Dr. Beatty came in and checked me about 45 minutes after Sarah did.  I was 5 cm.  Things were MOVING!  For some reason, I felt it was important to go for a short walk while I was in labor.  Sarah said after I had been on the monitor for about 20 minutes and the baby looked good, I could go for a walk.  Sarah and Dr. Beatty both mentioned that my bag of waters was bulging and might break at any moment.  If it broke, my labor might speed up.  My concern was that I would miss my opportunity for an epidural.  I had NO DESIRE to go au naturel for this experience.  So off we went to walk.  Scott pushed the IV pole.  I was solely responsible for putting one foot in front of the other.  We stopped to talk to some of my coworkers in the hallways as we walked, my face contorting with each contraction.  That must've been a pretty sight. :)  We walked for less than 15 minutes before I was all done and ready for an epidural.  We got back to the room (the very SAME room that I delivered my daughter in, how cool is that?!) and Sarah called for the anesthesiologist.  He was in the OR and would be a few minutes.  Oh joy.  Sarah checked me again:  I was 7 cm.  Moving right along!  <last time, I got an epidural at 2 cm.  I felt accomplished that I made it much further this time!>  I was sitting up on the side of the bed, ready and waiting to receive the glorious relief of the epidural.  I was practically levitating off the bed during contractions.  I was thinking "You so damn stupid. <said in best Dr. Bailey voice from Grey's Anatomy>  Why did you go walking??  Now you're hurting more than ever and you have to wait for an epidural!!"  It wasn't too long, in reality, before the blessed epidural-placing doctor arrived.  I just happened to be measuring time in contractions.  As in, "I hope he gets here before the next one..."  I said that at least a handful of times.  I offered for Scott to leave the room for the epidural.  Our goal for this labor and delivery experience was for Scott NOT to pass out.  I didn't mind at all if he skipped this part.  He insisted on staying.  Sarah had him sit in a chair in front of me, so he couldn't see anything happening to my back.  Sarah was great and told me minute by minute what the doctor was doing and what to expect.  I was a little nervous that the epidural would hurt a lot, but it wasn't bad at all.  Some funny feelings at times, but nothing like the contractions I was feeling.  I guess it's all about perspective. :)  Within moments of having the epidural in place, I felt relief. AHHHHHHHHH.  So. much. better.

Scott said he got a little swimmy-headed briefly from Sarah's descriptions of what was happening and what I should expect, but he hung in there.  Good job Scott!  After retrieving a recliner for Scott to nap in, and making sure my vital signs were stable and baby looked good on the monitor after the epidural, Sarah let Scott and I rest/sleep for about an hour and 15 minutes.  I'll let you figure out which one of us rested and which one of us SLEPT.  Sarah said Dr. Beatty was coming at 3:30am to break my water.  At 3:29am, it broke on its own.  Eewwwwww.  Even with the epidural, I could tell I was sitting in a swimming pool of fluid.  Yuck.  Scott woke up to hear Sarah saying "Yep, your water definitely broke!" and watching her change out all the padding beneath me.  Again, he didn't pass out.  Yay!  They checked me again:  9 cm.  In a few minutes, it would be time to push.  Scott got on the phone to Jacqui and Nikki, both of whom wanted to be there when the baby was born.  We told them if they wanted to be here, they better hurry!  

We waited to start pushing until both Jacqui and Nikki got there.  (less than 30 minutes)
my doulas, Jacqui and Nikki

Just after 4am, we started pushing.  Whereas before the epidural was providing me great pain coverage, during the pushing part, it hurt all the time.  This was very unfortunate for me!  On the up-side, I could feel a little better how to push.  But on the down-side, it HURT!  During this phase, I felt like my knowledge of how this process goes worked against me.  What I mean by that:  After the first few pushes, Dr. Beatty left the room.  Because I work in this environment, I know that when the doctor leaves the room, it's because they anticipate pushing will take a little bit and they are not immediately needed.  When Dr. Beatty left, my heart sank.  This was not going to be 4 pushes and the baby is born.  Bummer.  Guided by my brilliant nurse Sarah and encouraged on by my "team" of Scott, Nikki and Jacqui, the pushing continued.  Dr. Beatty was in and out of the room periodically.  Sarah and Dr. Beatty assured me the baby was making progress and was moving (slowly) down.  I accused them of lying to me.  Note to self:  it's ALWAYS a good idea to throw out wild accusations at your health care providers when you are in a most compromising situation <stirrups>.  I asked, in an accusatory tone, if this baby was making progress, why is Dr. Beatty still in a sweatshirt instead of gowned up?  And why is the L&D table still covered up?  Again, my knowledge worked against me.  I should've just listened to them and kept pushing.  I did keep pushing, but it was with much skepticism.  When you are at this point in the labor process, it's really important to keep in mind that 1) bazillions of women have done this before you.  It HAS been done before. It CAN be done again.  and 2)  YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.  I wasn't feeling so much like I could do this.  I thought I needed help.  More than once I requested Dr. Beatty use a vacuum extractor.  Nobody in their right mind REQUESTS the doctor use a vacuum.  There are risks to mom and baby with such a device.  They are only used when necessary.  But I requested one.  That gives you an indication of how less-than-hopeful I was feeling about this situation.  After an hour and 9 minutes of pushing (I know, that's really not that long...) Dr. Beatty agreed I was a good candidate for a vacuum.  After 3 pushes through 1 contraction with the vacuum on his little noggin, James Benton Davidson entered the world at 5:23am.  Scott, who had been so amazingly encouraging throughout the whole process, was even more so now.  Whispering sweetly in my ear, he assured me I did a good job.  For a multitude of reasons, I could not WAIT for my baby to be born.  One of the reasons?  I was anticipating MUCH relief of the pain I felt all through the pushing phase.  This did not happen.  As soon as he was born, my pain level shot through the roof.  I started sobbing.  Some thought it was tears of joy that my precious son had been born.  But mostly, it was because I was hurting so badly!  I'll have to ask Sarah and Dr. Beatty their thoughts on why my pain went UP after he was born.  Fairly quickly they numbed me up with some lidocaine, which provided me almost instantaneous relief.  My breathing slowed.  I stopped sobbing.  I could listen to the greatest sound, my baby boy testing out his lungs.  Now I was crying tears of joy.  He was finally here.  Scott was in awe, I'd say.  He did NOT pass out.  He didn't watch the birth, but at least he didn't pass out.  He held my shoulders during each push and would strategically place his head right behind mine.  His voice was right by my ear during every push.  Nikki was holding one leg, Sarah held the other.  Jacqui was Nikki's pinch hitter when she needed a break.  This was truly a team effort.  Everybody was on camera duty when James was born.  My coworkers from Special Care, Lori and John, were in the room for delivery since a vacuum was being used.  Oh, and James pooped (meconium) right before he was born.  The presence of meconium also earns you a Special Care Nursery team at delivery.  Thankfully, James screamed the moment he was born and didn't let up for a little bit.  His lungs were great.  He hardly even had a red mark on his head from the vacuum, since it was only on his head for about a minute.  Apgars (for those that care) were 8 and 9.  Pretty standard. :)

As soon as he was deemed fine and dandy by the Special Care team, they handed him back to me.  We tried breastfeeding first and then just spent some quality time skin to skin.  I was completely head over heels in love with this boy.  He just got here, but that didn't matter.  All it took was a second. :)

I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to be present for James' birth.  Both on the coworker side of things as well as the family/friends side of things.  I was so grateful for each person there and the role that they played.
Dr. Beatty and Sarah

All in all, the process went much faster than last time.  We got to the hospital around 11pm and he was born around 5:30am.  Last time, I was in the hospital for 12 hours before my sweet little girl made an appearance.  

We're doing well at home.  Getting to know each other.  Enjoying being a family.  Feeling very, very blessed.


Stacy Bradshaw said...

What a beautiful and touching birth story. Congratulations - he is absolutely beautiful! I know you and Scott are proud! Love you all!

Anonymous said...

great story! for some reason, i imagine a few expletives would have been thrown in the mix had this been written in real time. can't wait to meet him.


Mimi to 3 said...

Such a precious story! So thankful he is here and healthy. Enjoy every minute and hope we can meet little James soon!

Little Miss Sunshine said...

Makes me cry all over again.... my baby having a her baby!!! Sweet angels....

Anonymous said...

Oh Jr. Mint I so enjoyed reading both of your stories! I like the part about "not having to work in the morning-of course a shout out to your Sr. Mint that did have to work would have been good-LOL". Seriously I am so happy for you guys and your gorgeous little boy-and I am glad that you can stop sleeping in the recliner!