Saturday, February 4, 2017

Mark's Birth Story, Part 2

*if you haven't read part one of the birth story, do that first!*

Around 10:45am after spending some time in the rocking chair, contractions increasing in oh-$h!t-that-hurts-ness, I requested an epidural.  Nurse Courtney checked me right before my epidural and I was only about 5 cm dilated.  Bummer.  All that pain and not a lot of progress since I started the induction process at 4 cm.  I tried not to be too discouraged by that fact.  *sigh*

Between 10:45 and 11:45, my sense of humor was mostly gone, I was fighting tears with each contraction, and I wondered why oh why did I think this (having another baby) was a good idea?! Only one person could stay with me while I was getting the epidural.  I chose BFF/Doula Amy.  Scott would have had issues with them describing in detail what was happening. "Okay, cleaning your back now, it'll feel cold.  Quick poke and a sting with some numbing medicine..."  That's probably where we'd have lost Scott.  And Brooke, poor Brooke didn't get a vote.  Sorry Brooke.

Getting the epidural was mostly uneventful.  I mean, it's not FUN having someone stick a needle in your back while you're cringing in pain from contractions but they want you to remain absolutely still...but the pain relief afterwards made it seem worthwhile.  By 11:45am, the epidural was on board and working.  GLORY.  For a little while after, I still had a hot spot on one side where I could still feel each contraction, but a (small) hot spot was better than feeling my whole uterus contract each time.  After a while, the hot spot went away, thankfully.

My epidural was awesome because I had pretty great pain coverage but I could still move my legs well.  They felt tingly and weird, but I could easily move them.  That proved incredibly helpful later.

I asked Courtney to check me again not too long after the epidural was in full effect.  When she did at 12:25 pm, I was 10 cm!  Side note: I've read a lot of stories and heard a lot about how an epidural can slow or stall your dilation in labor.  I'm just not one of those people.  From my first delivery to my last, I dilated much, much quicker once I've had an epidural.  Pre-epidural, I'm too tense and fighting the contractions, despite my best efforts to breathe, stop tensing up, etc.  I guess I'm one of those women that post-epidural FINALLY relaxes enough to allow my body to do it's thing.  Less than an hour after getting the magnificent pain-reducing juice in my back, we were ready to start pushing.  There was excitement in the room.  We were all hopeful we were close to meeting this baby!  I might get to eat lunch! (Did I already mention that they don't let you eat when you're in labor?)

12:30 or so, I started pushing.  Pushing is a strange thing.  "Push like you're having a bowel movement.  Push all in your bottom."  These are the types of things labor and delivery nurses say.  I appreciate the instruction, but with my fantastic epidural, I couldn't tell exactly how to push.  This, for me, is the only down side to the epidural.  It numbs up all the nerves that my body uses to tell my brain how to push the baby out.  Maybe this is what people mean when they say epidurals can slow down or stall your labor.  It certainly can prolong the pushing process.

Anyhoo...I started pushing.  Mark's heart rate would dip periodically with a contraction or sometimes afterwards, but usually recovered well enough that we weren't TOO concerned.  The baby's heart rate is the best indicator during the pushing process of how they are tolerating getting borned.  For the first while, I was on my back while pushing.  Scott was by my head.  Amy helped me hold a leg. One of my two nurses helped hold the other leg.  This was seriously a group effort!  It became obvious after the first 15 minutes or so that this wasn't going to be a quick process.


Fourth baby.  Everyone thought this might go quickly. *sigh* With my first baby, I pushed 3-3.5 hours.  Second and third babies, 1.5 hours.  Apparently I just don't pop these kids out...

In the first hour, I did a lot of rotating to the left side and right side in between contractions to see if it would help Mark come on down. (said in best Price Is Right voice)  I didn't open my eyes much during the first hour.  During pushing or in between, I just felt wiped out.  And we were just getting started!  After an hour of pushing and not a lot of descent of Mark's head, my nurses suggested me taking a break, using this huge, green, peanut-looking thing to position my legs (supposedly opening up my hips, widening the birth canal) and see if it would help things progress.  I was all for taking a break!

Amy says it was maybe 20 minutes that I "rested" with the green peanut awkwardly between my legs.  Then it was time to push again.  I had no real concept of time at this point.  This time the nurses suggested I try "knees to chest" pushing position.  Let me tell you how GLORIOUSLY HUMILIATING this position is.  Imagine wearing nothing but a hospital gown that opens in the back and then get on your hands and knees in the bed.  The only item of clothing I was wearing, the lovely hospital gown, was now draped on the bed under my elbows and knees and it's AWFULLY BREEZY BEHIND ME.  Amy very kindly covered my heiney with a sheet.  Poor everyone in that room.  The arse-flag was flying high.  Mark's heart rate did the best in this position, so we spent a decent amount of time pushing this way.

Dr. Brooks came and checked on me a few times in the course of all the pushing.  Part of the problem why Mark wasn't making his way down the birth canal was because he was crooked.  Ideally, babies are born (if mom is on her back), facing down, towards the floor.  This allows for the absolute smallest diameter of their head to pass through mom's pelvis first.  Think of putting a shirt on a toddler. It is easiest if you're standing over a toddler, putting a shirt on them, for them to look towards the floor, the "crown" of the head coming through the shirt first.  Same concept, if that makes any sense.  Sometimes, though, babies are born "sunny side up", facing the ceiling (if mom is on her back).  This makes for a tougher delivery, more back-labor, and a larger diameter of the head to pass through mom's pelvis.  Mr. Mark was being all kinds of special. Or stubborn.  He wasn't facing up OR down, but kinda crookedly towards the side.  This fact, combined with his Davidson-large-head, meant Mark wasn't going anywhere fast.  Dr. Brooks made multiple attempts to help Mark rotate.  Read: Doctor's whole hand buried in places you don't even wanna know.  THANK GOODNESS FOR THAT EPIDURAL.  Amy said she was glad Dr. Brooks has small hands, for my sake.


From 2pm - 3pm there was a LOT of pushing, rotating me to the left, right, hands and knees, back to my back, me holding the end of a sheet while someone held the other end to help me push (like tug of war).  We were trying everything.  Mark was.not.moving.  It wasn't that it was just taking a long time for him to come out.  He wasn't budging.  This was a problem.  Although he was tolerating all the pushing (for the most part), he needed to show SOME movement.  Dr. Brooks left the room at 3pm and said she would give me 30 more minutes to try and push him out and then I would need to have a c-section.  This was INCREDIBLY disheartening to me.

In a last-ditch effort to get this baby out, I asked them to turn off my epidural.


If I was going to have a c-section after three previous vaginal deliveries, I wanted to know I had given it EVERY.LAST.OUNCE. of effort to prevent it.  I had been trying really hard up to this point.  But this was it.  30 more minutes.  That's all I had.  I had my support people text others to pray specifically that Mark's head would turn and that we could avoid a c-section.

Very reluctantly, the nurses turned off my epidural.  In no time at all, I was feeling the full force of my pitocin-induced contractions.  I wasn't comfortable before the epidural was turned off.  After?  I was pretty much sobbing all the time.  It hurt so freakin bad.  I cannot fathom how so many women have natural child birth.


I remember seeing tears in Scott's eyes too.  We were all so very tired and scared this was going to end in a c-section.

Whereas before I had my eyes closed all the time, these last 30 minutes, between the sobbing, I was focused, eyes open, on point.  Because I could feel EVERYTHING, I was able to push more effectively.  I was able to feel what was a good push and what wasn't.  I definitely felt like I was giving 110%.  And yet, Mark still wasn't moving.  *more tears*

Just moments before 3:30pm, Dr. Brooks came back in the room.  She was coming to tell me that it was time to call it.  Time to head to the back for a section.  We'd done all we could do, but 3ish hours of pushing with NO PROGRESS was not good.

Literally AS Dr. Brooks walked in the room, the miraculous happened.  Mark's head rotated and down he came.  The nurses were yelling at Dr. Brooks, "He's moving! He's moving! Get ready!"  The room was a zoo of activity.  Lots of people scurrying about.  After Mark started moving, he was born in no time.  Maybe two pushes, because once he started moving I couldn't really STOP pushing.  At 3:30pm, out he came.  (that part hurt too)

The first thing I said to Mark, through tears, was "Mark!?!?  Why did you DO THAT TO ME??!"  He was too busy wailing to hear me.

The whole room was ecstatic.  He finally was born.  Vaginally.  HOORAAAYYZZ!!  I attribute my avoidance of the c-section to two main things:

1) Divine intervention. It could only have been the Lord himself that rotated that baby's head when he did.

2) Turning off the epidural for maximum effectiveness while pushing.

Whatever the contributing factors, I was just SOOOOOO relieved he was here and healthy (apgars 8/9!).  He weighed 9 lbs 5 oz.  (5 oz bigger than my biggest baby) 38.5 cm head. (that is HUGE)  22 inches long.

Thankfully I only had a 2nd degree tear.  Google it if you'd like.  Not a big deal at all considering how freakin big he was.


Sometime immediately after Mark's dramatic entrance into the world, Scott leaned down and said "Okay! I'll do it! They can chop my balls off!" Translation:  He would agree to having a vasectomy. He is deathly afraid of needles and wasn't willing to consider this option before. We knew we were done having babies after this, but who was going to get a permanent fix was still up in the air.  Apparently the dramatic, emotional, physically exhausting and excruciatingly painful delivery of Mark convinced Scott that I'd been through enough.

Scott's procedure is scheduled for Feb. 17th.  :)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Attending a Friend's Delivery

The following is what you should know if you are invited to be present for a friend's delivery, according to Brooke.  This perspective is particularly important if you have never birthed a baby yourself.

1) There will be things you see.  You cannot unseen these things.

2) There will be things that you smell. You will not forget these smells.

3) Wear close-toed shoes in the delivery room. Trust me. Things splash.

4)  Sometimes you look away and look back and there's a placenta in a trash bag on the floor. Pro tip: focus on the momma.

5)  When people need things, get those things.  Examples: food for the husband/support team, a break from the room, pressing the silence button on the baby warmer alarm.

6)  The lady bits that you see are unlike real-life human lady bits.  Don't be alarmed by your friend's bits.  You can still be friends after you see your friend's bits. Mainly because you haven't really seen your friend's bits.

7) Sometimes laboring friends have to go to the bathroom, especially after they've been put on fluids.  Offer to help (push an IV pole) or stay out of the way.

8) Prepare yourself for the emotional gut-punch of going from normal, friendly banter to the excitement of the first push to the frustration that the d@&! baby won't come out to writhing agony and gnashing of teeth to sobbing joy when that little human finally arrives.  The emotional hang-over is unparalleled.

9) If, before this day, you wanted to have children, that will remain unchanged.  If, before this day, you were confident that you did NOT want to have children, that too will remain unchanged.

10)  After that baby pops out (HA. As if it's like uncorking champagne) maintain eye contact with someone. Anyone.  Just maintain eye contact.  Because there are too many things that you can't unsee.  Stitches.  Bodily fluids evacuating the uterus.  Again with the placenta. #PTSDisreal

11) After her water is broken, any jokes that result in laughter will also result in fluid leakage.  This will feel disgusting to the mother, which fuels the friend/comedian's desire to make her laugh.

12) There are a LOT of fluids involved.  Fluids in bags being infused through IVs. Fluids in bodies being expelled by lady bits. And fluids in babies that get expelled onto nurses and doctors immediately following delivery.

Things that parents need immediately following delivery:

1) Food. At least one meal has been skipped.  People need food.
2) Not to answer 74 questions.  Just because the pushing is over, doesn't mean everything is gravy.
3) Some quiet time. Alone. By themselves with the new baby. Medical staff exempted.
4) Whatever they ask for.  Take pictures. Tap dance. Whatever the parents need in that moment.

*thus sayeth Brooke*

Have you attended a friend's delivery?  What would you add to this list??

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mark's Birth Story, Part 1

Disclaimer:  This post will be honest, detailed, and at times down right graphic.  Be advised.

After waiting and waiting to go into labor on my own, I agreed to be induced on Wednesday, December 14th.  40 weeks plus 6 days.  BFF/Doula Amy was able to make it down from Raleigh to join the fun on this momentous day.  My MIL was also in town to help kid-wrangle while we were at the hospital.  Between my parents and my MIL, there was a one-to-one grandparent to kid ratio for James, Reese and Amy's one year old Henry.

BFF/Doula Amy

On the morning of my induction, I was instructed to call before 5am to make sure they had room for me to come in that morning.  Calling before 5am sounds a little painful, but when one is up every 1-2 hours to pee due to bladder capacity of 25 mLs, it's no problem at all.  Reese came in our room about 4am (one of the rare moments I really was sleeping) to ask "How long till it's a sunny day?" Translation: When is it time to wake up?  How much longer do I have to stay in bed??  I told her it was still a while until she could get up, so GO BACK TO BED.  I went ahead and called the labor and delivery unit at the hospital about 4:30, since I was already awake!  They said it was fine for me to come on in at 6am.


I was so nervous that they were going to have too many laboring mommas already and that I wouldn't be able to be induced that day. Alas, we were green lighted.  I got in the shower and started getting ready.

Against doctor's orders, I ate a bowl of cereal around 5am.  I wasn't supposed to eat anything after midnight, but who can labor/deliver a baby on a totally empty stomach??  I knew the risks (what if I had to have an emergency c-section and had recently risk for aspiration and complications related to that would drastically increase), and chose to take the gamble.

Amy, Scott and I left for the hospital about 5:30am.  MIL Gail was at the house with all three kids sleeping.

When we arrived at the hospital, they quickly got us into a room and had me change into a gown.  The night shift nurse brought in the stuff to start my IV.  Four attempts and another nurse later, I finally had an IV.  I tried to be very understanding.  I know what it's like to have good IV days and bad IV days.  Today, two plus weeks later, my bruises from the failed attempts are finally healed.  I looked like a drug addict for a couple of weeks with the bruising on my forearms!

Around 7am the nurses changed shifts and our day shift crew came to see us.  Courtney, my labor and delivery nurse and her preceptor, Anna Katherine introduced themselves and continued with the getting ready process for induction.  I was honest when Courtney asked me the last time I ate something (5am).

About 7:30am my final support person arrived on the scene, Brooke.  I told her her role was social media correspondent and comedic relief.  Boy did she ever exceed expectations on both accounts!  Brooke brought with her some breakfast for Amy and Scott.  They kindly stepped out of the room to eat so I wouldn't drool over their Bojangles that I couldn't have.

Social Media Correspondent/Comedic Relief Brooke

Dr. Brooks (OB doctor) came to see me about 8:10am.  She checked my cervix, broke my water and ordered the pitocin to get the labor party REALLY started.  When she said she was going to break my water, I suddenly got really nervous.  Up to that point I mostly felt excited.  I was nervous about whether the fluid would be clear or have meconium.  And if it had meconium in it, would the baby tolerate labor as well or not and what if what if what if...  I was THRILLED to find out that I was already 4 cm dilated (instead of the ZERO centimeters I had been for weeks!) and that the amniotic fluid was clear.

Let's pause for moment and talk about when one's water breaks (or is broken for you by a doctor).  The copious volume of warm, squishy, odorless fluid that emerges from one's body is disgusting.  It feels like you peed on yourself, but you know you didn't.  Even though I was sitting on several absorbent chux pads that were changed almost immediately after Dr. Brooks broke my water, the eewy, squishy, gross feeling didn't go away.  And as an added bonus, every time I laughed, sneezed, coughed, had a contraction or otherwise increased abdominal pressure, more fluid would leak out. So.very.icky.  I realize that water breakage during labor is a very natural thing, but so are a lot of gross things.  Like okra smoothies.  Ew.  Comic-relief-Brooke made me laugh on purpose just to watch my face cringe from the fluid leakage feeling.  She's a mean person.  Meanwhile BFF/Doula Amy was extremely kind and helped changed the chux pads frequently so I didn't have to sit in the yuck.  Scott was being helpful by playing some game on his phone.

My dear husband, Scott

Cringing from the fluid leakage every time Brooke made me laugh.

Pitocin was started at 2 milliunits/minute between 8:15 and 8:30 or so. Within moments of that being started, my contractions became quite noticeable.  Not mind-numbing painful, but NOTEWORTHY. After pitocin started, the baby's heart rate got a little more flat with less variability (normal rises and falls in the heart rate) than is desired, so we repositioned me a lot to see if that would improve his heart rate.  In most cases, it did.  *phew*  We were just getting started, it wouldn't be good if he ALREADY wasn't tolerating labor!

Courtney and Anna Katherine asked me about an epidural.  Said I could have it whenever I wanted.  I debated about this for a bit.  I didn't want to get the epidural right away, before I was even really hurting, but I didn't want to wait too long either and get to the mind-numbing-pain stage.  Trying to guess the sweet spot in between, though, was tricksy.  The anesthesiologist stopped by to talk about the epidural so whenever I was ready for it, we could proceed.  I went ahead and started getting the liter of fluid bolus required pre-epidural.  Fun fact: epidurals can cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure, so to counteract that they give moms a big fluid bolus to help keep the blood pressure up. Thanks to all the fluids, BFF/Doula Amy and I made several trips to the bathroom together.

Amy, in between doula-duties

Amy apologized for staying in the bathroom with me while I went, as this isn't something we typically do in the history of friendship.  But with my IV pole and tubing, contraction/baby heart rate monitor cords, blood pressure cuff, chux pads, etc, I could NOT go by myself without dipping some sort of medical equipment in the toilet on accident. I should've felt weird having a friend in the bathroom with me, but I didn't.  I knew I needed the help!  As a side note, I know Courtney and Anna Katherine appreciated Amy being there because they didn't have to come in my room every single time I needed to potty!  Dr. Brooks wanted me to have a urinary catheter, but I declined that.  As long I was still able, I would get up to the bathroom (with Amy's help of course)

By 9am, I was rating my pain at about a 6 out of 10.  The pitocin was at 4 milliunits/minute by that point.  Shortly after that, Courtney brought me Zantac and Alka Seltzer.  I didn't fully understand the necessity of those meds, but it was something to do with protecting my stomach after I got the epidural.  Whatever.  As those meds are pretty low risk, I didn't decline them.  The alka seltzer tasted like ocean water.  SOOOO salty.  Blech.

After one of my bathroom trips, I decided to not get back in the bed, but try out the rocking chair in the room.  I was a lot more comfortable in that chair than I was in the bed, at least for a little while.

*to be continued!*

While you wait for me to write up the next segment of Mark's birth story, go check out these blog posts:

My third birth story, Reese Katherine in 2012