Sunday, December 4, 2011

Jane's Birth Story

WARNING- this post will go into detail (though not too much :-) about the process as well as have a difficult image of little Jane from the NICU. Just wanted to alert you to this sensitive information

On Monday night, November 21st, after I got home from work, I was just feeling a little off- different from how I had been for the rest of my pregnancy. I decided that I should finally watch the birthing and medication videos that my OB/GYN had recommended just in case. Overall though, I felt fine and we went about our night in the typical way.

I woke up the next morning, November 22nd, at 6 am (my usual time) and I was going to go out on my 30 minute morning walk. I was having some contractions and so I decided to skip it today and just stay in bed. When William woke up at 7 am, I told him that I was having some contractions and we started to time them and they actually were 5 minutes apart and so he decided that he would not go up to San Francisco but instead work from Mountain View. So, today my co-workers had organized a special party for me to celebrate the upcoming arrival and I know just how much planning and effort goes into these and so I felt bad just completely canceling at the last minute so I actually went into work. Yup, I showered, did my hair, and got dressed in my pregnancy work clothes.

I got into work at about 9:15 for the 9:30 am party and I told everyone that I had some contractions this morning. They had said "wow" and we talked about when my family was coming and about how I thought that I would be "late" in giving birth since everyone- even random cashiers at Target- told me that I would probably be over due. I had a few grapes- the only thing that I had eaten that day- at the party and they also took the last photo of me in my pregnant glory with my co-workers. Everyone was so nice- my boss bought me a box of See's chocolates and my co-worker Caroline gave me a pretty purple orchid- and then afterwards, I went back to my desk to take care of a few things. My co-worker and other qualitative researcher Mary, who is a mother of two grown children, then came up to me and said that I looked like I was in pain, as the contractions had kicked up a little bit following the party. She asked if I could talk through them and I said yes, but she, Caroline, and even my boss Ming, all came over to me and told me to just go home. I picked up some baby items from another co-worker who gave me her old swing, bouncer, and Snugli and then went home.

The contractions started getting more and more painful but I had heard that first time labor can take days to progress so I thought that I had time. The contractions got even closer and more painful that even the recommended positions weren't working and so I called William and told him to come home and that we needed to go to the hospital. The Kaiser hospital is only about 20 minutes away but I had several painful contractions on the way there that I had to grab the arm handle above the window. I was afraid that I might get sent home but literally as we got out of the car and started walking into the hospital, my water broke at 12:15 pm. I mean it wasn't a trickle but a huge gush. Fortunately, I had my black work pants on so you couldn't really see it but I was just thrilled that they would not be able to send me home- that I was actually in labor. Having contractions while walking into the hospital was not pleasant- fortunately, I had William, to hold onto.

As we checked in to Labor and Delivery, the immediately took us back to a room and as kind of an ominous foreshadowing, as we walked there we heard the guttural scream of a woman in the throngs of the birthing process. When we got into the first room, they checked me to make sure that it was amniotic fluid that had broken (yes) and that I was only 4 cm dilated. I found that lying on my side and gripping William's hand was the only way to get through the contractions. I said that I wanted an epidural ASAP and so in the mean time, they gave me an IV dose of pain medicine which did help to take some of the edge off.

They then transferred me into a birthing room where they told me that there was a line for epidurals- it was a busy birthing day- and that the anesthesiologist would be with me as soon as possible. The drugs had worn off and I was in a lot of pain. We then called my mom and had her call the rest of my family and William called his parents and had them notify the rest of the family as the contractions were getting closer together and much more intense. Finally, the anesthesiologist came in and was able to administer the epidural. I had a brief involuntary jerk reflex in my leg that scared William as I wasn't supposed to move but things were ok. I started to feel some relief, meaning that the edge was taken off and the left side of my body started going numb, but my left side never did. Only a few minutes after the epidural, I felt the need to push. I told the nurse this and she said that they would check me again and this time, I was dilated to 9 1/2! She started getting me into preparation mode for pushing and labor. Now, pushing was difficult for my as my right leg was not numb and so it kept shaking uncontrollably due to the pain and so I felt like it was impeding my ability to push. They asked for the anesthesiologist to come back to give me some more medicine, but she didn't make it in time.

The nurse kept telling me to push, push and finally she then says- "Stop- don't push anymore- we need to get the doctor" which is really hard to do when your body is telling you that it wants this baby out. The resident and attending came in and got gowned and then the pushing began. I honestly have no idea how long it was but finally, I gave a big guttural scream and then she was out- I didn't see it but according to William, she literally shot out like a cannon and the doctor nearly fumbled her due to the speed and how slippery she was.

They immediately put her on my chest and I knew that something was wrong because although she was wide awake, she wasn't crying. She was on my chest for a minute or two before they took her away to be weighed and looked at. A pediatrician later came in and examined her and said that she was having some some breathing problems and so they were taking her to the NICU. I sent William to be with her as the resident and attending spent the next HOUR stitching me back up (the not so fun part of a super quick delivery).

I fortunately did not see her while she had the breathing tubes and respirator in- the photo that William brought back to me broke my heart.
Fortunately, she only had to be on the respirator for about 5 hours. William said that when they were putting it is, she didn't like it and so she kept ripping out the nasal tubes and just struggling.

My overall experience of the birthing process was that it was even more painful than I had imagined- at least I had some drugs in my system to take the edge off. Props to all of those women who do it naturally as it is really painful. Also, props to all of those women who are in labor for DAYS- my shorter one was bad enough that I can't even imagine just how exhausted you might be after all that time. I also never got mad at William- he truly was such a great help and strength through it all. I don't know what I would have done without him there and I am grateful that my contractions started early enough in the morning that he stayed in Mountain View instead of going up to the city. I truly am even more in love with him after this process.


Julie Laughlin said...

wow cheryl! glad everyone is okay! she is darling even with the tubes in!!

Danika said...

You are my soul sister! First of all, I'm so excited your water broke. It's relatively rare and even women with multiple children will listen with wonder as you describe what it's like. Mine broke with Ireland and I feel like I kinda got a purple heart in birthing because of it. Secondly, YES on getting an epidural! I'm so proud of you for doing that because I feel like there's pressure out there to go natural. My back labor with Liesel was so bad, the epidural failed and I briefly got to feel what it's like to long for death and I'M NOT KIDDING!!! So yeah, take the drugs, let the hippies pant their way through it. Thirdly, I also know what it's like to be ripped a new hole (I have beautiful children with very large heads) and I so, so, SO hope you are recovering well! Fourthly, thank you for saying that it hurts because man alive, IT HURTS! When I hear someone say labor pains are exaggerated I want to tear off my own arm just so I have something to throw at them. Okay, enough. SO proud of you sweetie! You're amazing!!!