Thursday, May 17, 2012

Birth Story: Part 2 - It's a Love/Hate Relationship

Read Birth Story: Part 1 if you haven't done so already. Note: this is a very long post due to a long hospital stay. I am mostly writing our birth story for our own records, to accompany the short videos we have from our time spent there, and to encourage others, yet this post still does not convey all that we experienced nor felt. It has been hard to condense and put into words the details due to the emotional toll it took on us and that's okay. I think as long as I have written the basics, then photos, videos, and our memories will fill in the gaps. :)

Wednesday
    8:30 p.m. - We checked in to the hospital. We made our way to the fourth floor, the labor and delivery floor, and were shown to what would be our room until our boy arrived. I had requested a room with a tub and was thankful there was one available. We also had such a pretty view looking out the giant window - I couldn't imagine what it would be like to labor in a room without some sort of view! I carefully placed little Matthew's bag of items in the wardrobe and set out the things I had packed for laboring (scripture cards, magazines, playing cards, extra socks, etc.). The room was comfortable, and this slightly eased my nervous heart.


    Yes, this slightly eased my nervous heart that is until the nurse walked in to insert an IV. On my birth plan I stated to have no IVs unless necessary, which they agreed with, until I had to be induced and unfortunately induction made it necessary. Needles and I just aren't friends... my veins literally run from them making the process take much longer than it should. Although it was only a hep-lock to prepare me for the morning, it was enough to make my stomach lurch. This nurse was good though and managed to get it on the second try while I looked at my quiet husband, whose silence calmed me on the inside. Trying not to seem weak, I asked her what were the chances of them having to insert another hep-lock should this one "malfunction?" Her response was that usually these are good for a couple days so I should be fine. Whew!


  A few moments later the midwife on duty came in to share with me that they were going to insert a Foley Bulb as a means to soften and open my cervix before starting me on Pitocin the following morning. This is basically a balloon that is inserted into the cervix and then inflated... I was told it should fall out on it's own and hopefully get me dilated to 2cm or 3cm by the morning. I laid on the bed taking deep breaths as they set about inserting the bulb (which was far from pleasant). Matt of course held my hand as we locked eyes knowing this was the beginning of the birth of our son, who could arrive the next day! When the small procedure was finished she taped the tubing to the inside of my thigh and told me to get some good rest because I would be needing it! Before drifting off to sleep that night, my family came into the room and we had a time of prayer - prayers of health, strength, minimal pain, and thanks for new life. I settled into the hospital bed around 11:00, with Matt sleeping on the pullout chair beside me, and tried to get comfortable with a hep-lock in my hand and tubing taped to my thigh. It was awkward, but I managed to sleep!


Thursday
Thursday Morning
6:30 a.m. - My wake up call from the nurse startled me as I woke up to embrace what the day held. I took a quick shower, a bit disappointed to find the tube still taped to my leg and the foley bulb still inside, but that was okay. I was being induced and that meant it could take time (of course my perception of "time" ended up being off by days...) Matt and I ate a hospital breakfast, eating all the protein I could, and waited for the nurse to come by and do a routine check. She tugged on the bulb which was not ready to come out and fetched the midwife to begin my Pitocin. I began at a level 2 with the purpose of increasing the dosage every half hour until something happened. Trying to stay positive despite being hooked up to a machine, I asked for the mobile fetal monitoring system. The midwives knew how important it is to be mobile while in labor and did their best to keep me moving as I desired. There was a mobile unit available so for the majority of that day Matt and I walked around the 4th floor...


and walked...

Sitting on the birthing ball, filling out my baby book
and walked some more... I was wearing the mobile monitoring unit around my belly, which due to my roundness slipped off every time we made a round on the floor (notice in the photo on the left you can see the monitor poking out). We'd have to step back into the room for readjustment so they could get a reading on our baby's heartbeat. He was strong and steady all day long! While I waddled with the mobile unit wrapped snug around me, Matt pushed the IV cart caring the Pitocin and fluids. We nicknamed this contraption Ward (due to the awk"ward"ness of it and being in the hospital "ward") and he followed me everywhere. The Pitocin increased every half hour and I had very minor, sporadic contractions off and on all day. Most of the time I felt nothing, or the nurse would come in saying I was having some contractions, but again, I felt nothing. Matt and I would look over at that baby bed in the room though, knowing our son would be there soon enough. They did pull out the Foley bulb around 9:30 that morning which brought me to "a tight 2 cm" and by the end of the day, nothing had changed. I'm pretty sure this is when I began begging God for my water to break! I just wanted something of significance to happen and to happen naturally. They did get permission to push me past a level 30 on Pit, as 30 is the limit without a special order, and I made it to their max level of 36 where I coasted for a couple hours. Aside from walking the floor, my family visited with us for a while, we played games, and watched some television. It was a long day of Pitocin, with the nurse stopping the dosages at 10:30 p.m. so I could rest up for the next day. It felt great to be unhooked and push Ward off to a corner! I was allowed to leave the floor with Matt and head to the cafe for some food. Thankfully I wasn't starving because the midwife said it was fine for me to snack lightly throughout the day even while on the meds. We made it back to our room around midnight, yes, it was that late... we learned that unhooking me from Pitocin at 10:30 does not mean I am free at 10:30... they have to monitor the baby for an additional 30-45 minutes! As we laid down to rest we thanked the Lord for a baby who was healthy and asked for strength to go through day 2 of induction. I'll admit I was a tiny bit disappointed that the Pitocin didn't kickstart anything at all, but pushed those thoughts aside as I tried to get comfortable to sleep. I had this dull ache in my lower back that sort of stretched around to the left side, like a sore muscle. It wasn't until around 3:00 in the morning that I was able to really rest without the uncomfortable ache and drifted to sleep with thoughts of meeting my sweet, healthy boy soon!


Friday
6:30 a.m. Same routine as Thursday only this time I wasn't as nervous about being on Pitocin since I made it through to the max the day before. I had a new nurse and new midwife on duty and we were ready for a new day. I had a vaginal exam first thing and was informed that I was still at 2 cm, which I'll be honest and say this made my heart sink a bit. We requested minimal vaginal exams to reduce the risk of bacteria and to help us stay focused on what matters - truthfully dilation numbers do not matter because every woman advances through labor at her own pace regardless of what number she is dilated to. I remember thinking, today could be the day, as I readied myself for round 2 of Pitocin. The nurse came to start the IV only to disrupt my positive thinking with, "I'm sorry, but we're going to have to run a new hep-lock." Really?! Evidently the one in my right hand was no longer good after just one day, not to mention it was painful, so she set about poking my other hand. After a few minutes (and calling in for assistance because it wasn't easy locating a good vein), I was hooked up and ready to go. The plan for today was to start at a level 2 again, and go up every 15 minutes instead of every half hour. So we began...
Friday Morning
...we walked the floor...chatted with family...played cards...walked some more (by now nurses and other staff knew us and would talk with us)...toted Ward around...continued having multiple adjustments and tightenings of the bands holding the fetal monitoring system to my belly...counted exit signs....started to feel discouraged...made up names for all the photos of people on the wall...


And before we knew it we were at a level 36, the max, by the afternoon with only minimal contractions taking place. I could feel them when I walked, sometimes stronger than others, but when I stopped walking they would slow down, meaning I was not in true labor. And remember that ache I felt the night before? Well it came back early that afternoon and we had to call the nurse, who called the midwife, to try to diagnose what was going on. It was not my kidneys, nor my gallbladder (which women with cholestasis have a higher chance of gallbladder problems) and putting hot towels on the spot did not help. I did not want to seem like a wimp because hello! I'm supposed to be able to handle having a baby, but this pain wore me down and the first of the tears came. They were quiet tears, the kind that you try to stifle because they shouldn't be there. I'm supposed to feel contractions, not this crazy ache! My sweet husband did all he could to make me comfortable as we snuggled on the hospital bed just waiting in silence at what was to happen next. It was 5:00 and I had been at a level 36 for a while... I looked down at my legs and feet, noting how HUGE they were. I had felt like I was retaining water when walking around floor 4 became more uncomfortable for me in my legs earlier that day. A nurse shared with us that yes, Pitocin does make you retain water, and it was then that I couldn't bare the thought of going until 10:00 that night maxed out on Pit with nothing happening. My body wasn't really responding and yesterday and today's total of Pit in my system was close to 27 hours . True, we had a couple good contractions earlier but nothing long-lasting so we called the midwife in for a chat.


We talked about the pain in my back/side/now abdomen, and how swollen my body was, and how no contractions were happening anymore. We asked if we could stop the Pitocin and get some rest for the next day. Third time is a charm, right? That's what the staff would tell us as we walked multiple times past them that day. Our midwife said she knows we are disappointed, but she was receiving pressure from hospital staff that were above her to give me something else or break my water. She said she was working hard to be our advocate, knowing we wanted our water to break on its own, but tomorrow something would have to happen because we were there to have a baby due to my condition. We were given an option of her breaking my water in the morning and starting Pitocin, or starting Pitocin first for a bit the next day and then having my water broken if the Pit wasn't enough. We opted for the latter of the two, which was perfectly fine with her, but to appease the big guys, I was to stay on Pitocin until 10:00 that night. Matt and I appreciated the midwife's consideration, yet we were feeling frustrated. To add to our confusing thoughts and sleep deprived minds, a nurse walked in a couple hours later to inform us that unfortunately we were being moved to the 5th floor. I remember my heart beating quickly as I thought about packing up our things and leaving the room we had tried so hard to establish as our own in preparation for birth. It was December 30, and evidently a lot of women come in to have babies at the end of the year... they were running out of room. Since I wasn't "doing anything" I was asked to move up a floor just for the night and they would have a room for me in the morning where I would start day 3 of Pitocin. Boy, oh boy.


It was late. We packed up our things and were shown to our new room. I cried a little. I was relieved to be off Pitocin, yet had such an aching pain in my side that I felt was related to the induction. I was also so tight in my legs and feet that I was numb. Matt's hug felt so comforting as we took deep breaths trying to let everything sink in. Our baby was still healthy, my body needed Pitocin to work but was developing an adverse reaction to it, and we were beyond tired. Spending your third night in the hospital with no baby yet not only wears on you physically, but it had begun to affect us emotionally as well. What was God waiting for? I remember walking to the cafe to get some decent food before bed, and I just sat on a chair in the lobby and cried. I could hardly walk due to being so swollen and the pain in my side was excruciating. Today was not the day we were meeting our son. Matt held my hand and spoke encouraging words to me. I knew he was feeling discouraged too... it was in his eyes as he tried to help me look for the positive in our situation. Here was my husband trying to be strong for me and I was falling apart that Friday night. The word why kept buzzing through my head. It brought back those same feelings I had in the parking lot of the grocery store after I was told I had cholestasis. Those confusing, scary feelings had resurfaced and I tried to keep my head above the spiral of thoughts and emotions that were coming. It wasn't easy... we finally managed to get to sleep that night in our new, much smaller, room, with questions of the unknown floating through our minds.


Saturday
6:30 a.m. Again, the same routine as the two days before. I was up and showered only to find that no nurse had come in yet to tell us what was to happen that day. Matt actually searched for our nurse telling her we had to be downstairs by 7:00 for Pitocin. Nope, not anymore. You see, they were still full from all the laboring women the night before. I felt my heart sink just a little bit because I was up and ready for a new day... I was ready to give birth to my baby and wanted to get started as soon as I could! We were told it would be another hour so to not wander too far. We ate breakfast in the room and called family to catch them up on the latest. Time ticked by ever so slowly and it was not until noon that I was finally back downstairs ready to be hooked up. Talk about a late start!


When we reached our new room back down on the 4th floor, we were happy to see that we still had a great view and went about making the room our own. The midwife on duty (my 4th at this point) came in to have a chat about what to expect for the day. She was so kind and reassuring and told me some of the greatest words I had heard since my stay... "why don't you go outside for 20 minutes?" I was free! It was only for 20 minutes, but I had not been outside since Wednesday night and the thought of fresh air made me giddy. Matt and I felt a surge of energy when we walked out the doors and headed straight for the labyrinth on the hospital campus. We walked and prayed and were pleasantly surprised at the warm 60 degrees we felt on that last day in December. God was doing something with us, we knew that much, and some of the anxiety drifted away into the air. All too soon we made our way back to the fourth floor, with hope that today could be the day we meet our baby.


While I waited on the nurse to come start the Pit, I came out of the bathroom staring at my left arm... the one with the hep-lock. It was unusually large so Matt called the nurse in right away. I wanted to hide when she told me that the vein was broken, resulting in fluid sitting in my arm. When I say sitting, I mean it had literally caused the underside of my arm to bulge - like the fluid had never left that spot but was just flowing into a puddle inside of me. Matt helped me onto the bed, because at this point getting up and down was difficult, and we waited for another IV to be inserted. It took her, along with the help of another nurse, to figure out where to stick me. After that was done, they set about putting the fetal monitoring system onto my belly (which at this point had small blisters from the constant use of gel the two days before). Unfortunately, today, the day when we know labor was to officially start because they were going to make it so, there was no mobile unit. I was tethered to not only dear Ward, but a machine on the shelf less than four feet from me... until a mobile one became available. Trying not to let it get me down, we set up the birthing ball, laptop, and games close to the unit so we could still labor as we pleased in spite of being relatively immobile. I watched as the Pitocin began its steady drip down the tube and into my body once more, praying I would be done with this medicine long before I endure another 14 hour day of it. I tried to put it out of my mind and dove into a game of King's Corners with the daddy of my soon-to-arrive baby boy.


Four hours passed with mild, inconsistent contractions before the midwife came in and with our permission, broke my water. Doing my best to relax while she inserted the hook, I felt hardly anything when my water broke. She said baby Matthew's head was pressing very firmly on my cervix and we should definitely see a change in pace... and we certainly did!

1 comment:

Callie Nicole said...

Oh goodness, that sounds miserable! That's crazy that the pitocin didn't do anything the first couple of times, but I'm glad to hear breaking your water started to move things along! My water broke about the same time they started the pitocin, so I think both of them combined made things move really quickly for me - I can't imagine going through such a long induction process! No wonder it wasn't the greatest experience for you.

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