Monday, January 31, 2011

The rest...

"Wow!" the midwife on call said. "Your water broke again?! It's so unusual for that to happen 3 times!" She told me to come on into Labor & Delivery, but that I didn't need to rush right in since third babies tend to come a little slower than second babies. But after the crazy labor I had the last time, I wasn't going to risk it! So, as soon as my mother arrived to watch the boys, we headed off to the hospital. During the drive over, I was hemming and hawing over what to do about an epidural. I had one with C's birth, but had an unplanned unmedicated birth with O. I had been debating the whole pregnancy about whether or not I should try for a med-free birth this time because my recovery with O had been so easy. "Why don't you just see what happens?" Hubby suggested. "But, I think you could do it without meds again if you want to."

Since I had not had a recent internal exam, I had no idea if I was dilated or not. Having no evidence to the contrary, I was optimistic that things might progress quickly like last time. So, when I arrived at the hospital I told the nurse I would like to try to deliver without an epidural.  But when I was finally examined, the midwife told me I was only 3cm dilated and about 50% effaced.
"Really?!"  I asked.
"We still have some work to do!" the midwife announced cheerfully.  I was not full of cheer.

On the drive over, I had convinced myself that I'd be at least 7-8cm, and having the baby in the next 30 minutes. Now that non-medicated birth was seeming like less of a good idea. I still wanted to try to deliver naturally, but by midnight, instead of picking up, my contractions had slowed down markedly. After speaking with the on call OB, we agreed to wait until 3AM  (6 hours after my water had broken) to see if things would pick up and start progressing again. If not, she would start Pitocin to augment my labor at that time. I tried sitting on a birthing ball to see if that would get things moving again, and after a while my contractions did pick up again. Soon I was feeling quite uncomfortable and was feeling a lot more rectal pressure with each contraction. Noting these changes, the nurse asked me if I wanted an epidural, but again, I was on the fence. I was quite uncomfortable, but maybe things were finally moving along?  She suggested that we have the OB do another internal exam to see what kind of progress I had made. I was so sure that the amount of pressure I was feeling was a great sign, that it was a shock to hear that I was only 4cm and still 50% effaced. "WHAT?!" I thought to myself, and immediately told my nurse, "I feel like a failure but I want the epidural!! If I'm feeling this much pressure and I'm only 4 cm, I'll never make it! I wonder why things aren't moving along this time?" 

The nurse reassured me that the length of third labors typically end up being somewhere between the first and the second labors, rather than being the fastest of the three. "I had an epidural for my 3rd baby, after going natural for my second too," she said. "I think it's hard to labor the third time if your second was so fast, because you have the expectation that things will be easy again. And then when it's not as quick, you get so discouraged. That's what happened to me!"  That made me feel better, and once I made my peace with the idea, I was excited to get some pain relief. I thought I would have to wait a long time, but within 5 minutes the anesthesiologist was there to start the process. While he was putting in the epidural, my whole body started shaking violently.
"What's the matter?" Hubby asked, concerned.
"I don't know. I can't stop shaking! Is it a reaction to the epidural?" I asked the anesthesiologist. But he and the nurse assured me that it was not and that the shakes were probably a sign of labor progressing.
"It's a good thing!" the nurse said cheerfully. But I wasn't feeling very good. The epidural had relieved the abdominal cramping, but I was still having awful rectal pressure.
"Hmmm..." the anesthesiologist said. "Still quite uncomfortable, huh? Let's top you off with some Fentanyl." But that didn't relieve the pressure either. In fact, I was getting more and more uncomfortable instead of less.
"It feels like right before I delivered O!" I said to Hubby. "There's so much pressure and now a sharp pain!"
"It's probably still just the position of the baby," the nurse said. "But let's get the doc to examine you and see where you are."

So the on call OB came back to check me. This time I was sure she would say I was only 5 cm. After all, I had been 4 cm not long before. But instead, she said brightly, "Yup! Your baby is right here! Would you like to start pushing?" And so I did.  15 minutes later, at 2:55AM, baby A made his entrance. I couldn't help but chuckle. Of course he was born 5 minutes before the time that the OB had planned to start pitocin. And immediately after I got the epidural that I agonized over and might not have needed in the end. That fits my stubborn child mold perfectly. 

But you know what?

He's so worth it!
Baby A: 8lbs, 8oz, 21 inches

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The beginning...

Sorry to keep my readers waiting!! It's nice to know there are a few of you out there! Unfortunately, getting a chance to sit down and actually write a coherent thought is difficult these days. But at the moment, the two big boys are in school, and A seems fairly content in his swing, so I'll try to get at least part of his birth story down....

*          *          *

As I entered my 38th week of pregnancy, I was so tired and uncomfortable that I couldn't wait for the baby to be born. Hubby had been joking throughout the pregnancy that I just needed my OB to set an eviction date, and then we would know when the baby would be born. "As soon as she sets the date, you'll know that your water will break the night before." Hubby said. "Because that's what you do. And he'll be born on a Friday, because all our babies are born on Fridays!"  But since we'd relocated after O was born, I was now under the care of a new OB practice, and had no idea what their birthing policies were. Since this baby was also measuring big, estimated to be 9+ lbs at delivery, I tentatively broached the subject of induction with my new OB at my 38 week appt. "Well, this hospital is quite strict about not letting us do any elective inductions before 41 weeks without a medical indication. And a big baby can sometimes be that indication, but you've had large babies before..." my new OB said, her voice trailing off, clearly unwilling to commit to any plan at this point. I left the appointment despondent. Even though I knew she was doing the right thing to let nature take its course, the idea of waiting 3 more weeks for a baby was torture. I had really just wanted her to say firmly, "If you haven't delivered by XYZ date, we'll induce you." I finally admitted to myself that I had bought into Hubby's theory that the baby would be just like his brothers and wait until the absolute last second before making a spontaneous appearance. With no firm end date in sight, psychologically it felt like I was going to be pregnant forever. "With no eviction date, he's never going to come out!!!" I wailed to Hubby. And so, I went into the weekend fully prepared to be back at the office for my 39 week appointment the following week.

It's funny how quickly one's perspective can change. On Sunday morning, O developed a fever and spent most of the day clinging to me. I immediately flipped from wanting to have the baby ASAP to hoping he'd hold off as long as possible. "It's a good thing I'm still not due for another 2 weeks!!" I thought. "Hopefully, this will be a 24 hour bug, and if not, there's still plenty of time for everyone to get healthy before the baby comes. Besides, I have to wait a few more days for Gramma to get here anyway." Originally my MIL had been planning to arrive for a 2 week stay that Monday, and I had it in my head that I could go into labor only once Gramma was here to watch the boys. But then she postponed her flight, and was now arriving on Thursday.  Monday morning O seemed better, and we went through our normal routine. C went off to school and then I brought him to his afternoon swimming lesson.  While at swimming, I noticed that I was having more Braxton Hicks contractions, and that they seemed stronger than before because I was feeling some increased pressure with each contraction. "Maybe the baby is finally dropping down," I thought. "Maybe I really will go into labor soon after MIL arrives on Thursday. Maybe I really will have another Friday baby!!" But then pessimism took over. "Probably not...I bet I won't even have the baby until after Gramma's gone home again! Because she's leaving before I'm 41 weeks pregnant. And I'm not going to get induced before then..."

Unfortunately, by dinner time Monday night, O's fever had returned, and C was lying on the floor also feeling warm. "Uh Oh!" I thought. "I guess C is getting sick too." By the time Hubby got home from work, both boys were clearly under the weather and on their way to bed, and I was curled up on the couch feeling sorry for myself.  Around 9PM, I started feeling very anxious, and Hubby and I had this conversation: 
Hubby: "What's with you? You seem weird."
Me (grumpily): "I'm just tired. And stressed because the boys are sick. This had better be a short lived illness, and you and I had better not get sick, because I really need everyone to be healthy by the time I have the baby! And I'm uncomfortable because I'm feeling more pressure. But my contractions are still totally irregular, so whatever..."
Hubby: "Maybe you should call your doctor? I know you've been contracting for 3 months, but you seem different today."
Me (yelling): "I am not calling the doctor! What would I say?! I haven't even had a contraction in the last half an hour!  I am just stressed out because the kids are sick.  I am going to lie down on the couch and watch TV and try to relax. And the contractions will go away like they always do. Besides, C & O both have fevers, and your mother is not here yet! I am NOT going to have a baby today!  Just leave me alone!"
And so I settled down on the couch to watch the season finale of The Closer.  My rationale clearly hadn't reassured Hubby, but it made me feel better. I was NOT having a baby that day.

If I had been thinking clearly, I would have realized that I had just thrown down the gauntlet and issued a direct challenge to the baby.  I had told him to stay inside for a few more days, until my child care plan was in place and his brothers had recovered from their illnesses. And from previous experience, I should have known that my children never listen to my birth plans. Instead I got about 5 minutes into the show before I realized that my night was going to be very different than I thought.  

"You said you want me to wait until Thursday?" I imagine A was thinking. "Nah. I don't think so."

Because at 9:15PM my water broke.

Friday, January 21, 2011


In order to put A's birth story in perspective, I think I must start with the birth stories of his big brothers. That way you can see the ornery and contrary nature that my boys seem to have from day one...

Almost 6 years ago, towards the end of my pregnancy with C, my OB became concerned that I was measuring too large. A couple of ultrasounds indicated that C looked like he would be 9 1/2 pounds if I made it to 40 weeks. This was plausible because Hubby was over 9lbs when he was born, and big babies seem to run in his side of the family. As the pregnancy progressed, I did not. There were no signs of impending labor, despite the many Braxton Hicks I was having. No dilation, no effacement, and C was still floating high in my belly. As my due date came, my OB recommended a cesarean section to deliver C. As he put it, "I am concerned that there is a reason that he is not dropping down, and I don't want to induce you and try to force him out if he is too big. Because then you two, of all people, will be the ones who end up with a shoulder dystocia." While I wasn't thrilled about the idea of a C section, I wasn't thrilled about trying to force out a humongous, unwilling baby either, so Hubby and I agreed to this plan, and prepared for a C section that Friday morning.

I was a bundle of nerves Thursday night, anxious and excited about finally meeting my baby, but eventually fell asleep. Only to be awoken at 1AM when my water broke.  "What?! This isn't what was supposed to happen!!" I thought and immediately started panicking! On the drive into the hospital, I started having real contractions, and when I got to the hospital I had finally started to dilate and was now 2-3cm.  My OB said "I'm so glad this happened, because I really didn't want to have to do an elective C section on you. Your OR time isn't until 10AM, so let's see how your labor progresses. If it's not going anywhere, then we can still do the C section then, but hopefully we can avoid it!" And by 10AM, I was 7cm, so the new plan was to try a vaginal delivery. C was born at 1:11pm, only 12 hours after my water had broken. It turned out he was only 8lbs 9oz, and he could fit through my pelvis! Even though I had an uncomfortable recovery, after an episiotomy, 3rd degree tear, postpartum hemorrhage, and a brief fainting episode, I was so happy to have avoided a C section!

From then on, we all joked about how what a stubborn baby C had been. It was as if he had been biding his time until he was about to be evicted, and then said "Oh, you think you're going to come and take me out?? Fine. I'll show you! We're doing things my way!"

*          *          *

2 years later, when I was pregnant with O, I had gestational diabetes, so I had weekly ultrasounds and growth scans. O was also measuring large, but this time around no one was really that concerned about it since I had previously birthed a large baby. But two weeks before my due date, O seemed to be a little sluggish on the ultrasound. I mentioned to the perinatologist that he'd seemed to have somewhat decreased movements in the last couple days, still moving, but not as vigorously as previously. The perinatologist was very alarmed and recommended that my OB deliver me immediately since I was already 38 weeks. My OB was much less concerned, and just recommended sending me the hospital for monitoring, which O passed with flying colors. But after a few days of anxious kick counting, and another appointment with the perinatologist who asked "Why hasn't your OB delivered you yet???" and reiterated the increased risks of stillbirth with gestational diabetes, Hubby and I met with my OB for my 39 week appt. Hubby told my OB, "You've got to do something. This perinatologist is making us feel like every day that the baby isn't delivered is a mistake, and it's making us nervous wrecks." Since this time around, I was favorable for induction, having been dilated to 3 cm for 3 weeks already, my OB agreed to induce me that Friday if I hadn't already delivered.  I was worried about being induced, because I wanted things to happen naturally, but I was more worried that something would go wrong if I didn't deliver soon. Hubby kept joking, "Don't worry! I'm sure you'll go into labor right before you're supposed to be induced. Because that's what you do. Our kids just need an eviction date before they'll make a move." I just rolled my eyes at him, and prepared for an induction at the end of the week.

That Thursday night I was too nervous to sleep well and tossed and turned most of the night. At 3AM I felt a pop and jumped out of bed, just before my water broke all over the floor. "You've got to be kidding me!!!" I thought. "Is this really happening again?!?!" I called the on-call OB and let him know what had happened. I wasn't really contracting at that point, so I asked him if I should just come in and meet my regular OB at 6AM (the previously planned induction time). But since it was my second baby, the on-call OB recommended that I come to the hospital just in case my labor progressed quickly. "No rush, but come on in in the next hour or so" he said. So after taking a shower, getting things together, and waking up Gramma to watch C, we headed off to the hospital, arriving about an hour and a half later.  Again, I started contracting on the drive over, and by the time we got to the hospital, I was starting to feel quite uncomfortable. By the time I got through registration and got settled in a labor room about 45 minutes later, I was very anxious. "Something's not right!" I kept telling Hubby. "I'm so uncomfortable and I feel so much pressure!" Hubby, in a misguided attempt to be helpful, said "It can't be that bad..." and pointed to the monitor. "Look! You're not even contracting at all!"  If I could have stopped clutching the side of the bed for dear life, I would have punched him in the face. "No, this is so much worse than when I had C! Something is wrong!" I insisted, so Hubby called for the nurse to ask for an epidural. But at that point, the on-call OB arrived, examined me, and announced that there was no time for an epidural, because I was ready to have the baby right now. "WHAT?!?" I thought. "This wasn't the plan!!!" but at that point I no longer cared. I pushed through just one contraction and O was born at 5:55AM with no medications and no tearing. At 6AM my regular OB strolled into the room, saw me holding my baby, and said, "Why didn't you call me?!?" "I figured I'd still be in labor at 6AM, so I thought you might as well get some sleep." I said. "Who knew the whole thing would take less than 3 hours from start to finish?!"  We all had a good laugh about that, and again joked about how my babies were so ornery and always overturned our best laid plans for their own better ones.

*          *          *

But seriously, only about 1 in 10 women have their water break as the first sign of labor, so what were the odds of that happening twice? And for it to happen the night before our scheduled delivery both times?!?  It couldn't be just coincidence, could it? Through my whole pregnancy with A, I wondered...would it happen again?

Friday, January 14, 2011

A long time ago...

C came home from school today eager to tell us about Martin Luther King Jr.

"Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who lived a LONG time the 1900s!"

C then went on to report other facts about the civil rights movement and why Martin Luther King Jr. was important to our country, but I just couldn't stop chuckling at that first sentence.

And now I feel old.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Keeping it in perspective...

Both C & O ended up missing an entire week of school with this recent illness, and thus did not have a chance to tell their friends about the arrival of their new baby brother right away. By the time they did make it back to school, clearly other more interesting things had happened...

Me: "C, are you excited to go back to school tomorrow?"

C: "Yes! Hey Mom, maybe it will be my turn to share?!"

Me: "I bet you will get a chance, since you've been out for a week. What do you want to share with your class?"

C: "I know! I'm going to tell them how Daddy and I finally beat the Stormy Shores world in the new DK game."

Me: "Really? ........ You're going to share about Wii games?"

C: "Yeah! Because it was so hard! And we finally beat it!"

Me: "Hmmm...(looking pointedly between C and the baby in my lap)...Isn't there anything else that happened last week that you want to tell your class about?"

C: "Oh, right. The baby. Well, I want to share about that too, but I might only get to share ONE thing!"

Me: "And you think the Wii game is more interesting than having a new baby brother???"

C: "Well, Mom, they are both pretty fun. But that Wii game is REALLY hard!!"


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Well, that was a surprise!

After contracting for 12 weeks, I was fully expecting to be overdue, but Baby "A" surprised us all and arrived 10 days ahead of schedule! And thank goodness because he was already 8lbs, 8 oz!

Unfortunately, while the birth was fairly easy on him and me, A's timing didn't work out ideally for everyone else! Gramma missed the birth as her flight from FL wasn't scheduled to arrive until 2 days later, and C and O were also unable to visit us in the hospital because they have been sick with fevers all week. I am thankful to be home with all 3 boys now, but it was not the homecoming I envisioned, as I have been working hard to keep the boys away from the baby so he doesn't get sick as well. I can't wait until everyone is healthy again and I can break out the the "big brother/little brother" shirts for some photo ops!

Hopefully I'll get a few minutes to write down A's birth story before I forget the details! I'm finding that "mommy brain" is even worse the 3rd time around!