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