Sunday, May 8, 2011

Isaiah Michael's Birth Story

When we went to bed on April 18th, I was having difficulty falling asleep, which wasn't uncommon for me - pregnancy is really uncomfortable near the end! I finally fell asleep around 11, but woke up around midnight with cramps - I honestly thought I had the stomach flu or something. I went back to sleep, but around 1:30 am, I woke up again - the cramps were worse, too bad to sleep through. I started to wonder if it might be labor, because I had had some other labor-esque symptoms the couple days beforehand, too, but it was nothing like I expected. I spent the next hour doing research online to find out if I could be in labor. By 2:30, the contractions were consistent enough to time, so I started that process. They were 3-5 minutes apart. I called my midwife, and she said to stay home until they were consistently 3 minutes apart and then to call her. A couple hours later, we hit that mark (they were 2-3 minutes apart and getting too painful to talk through). I called my midwife, and she said to come on in, so a little after 7 am, we left for the hospital. We got there around 8, and they monitored Isaiah's heartbeat, which was nice and steady. They also checked me, and I was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Things were definitely moving forward! Brady and I got some breakfast and started playing cribbage to pass the time.

My midwife arrived a few hours later, and when she checked me, I was 5-6 cm dilated and 95% effaced - pretty good progress for a first time mom! One of my friends, Becki, also arrived (we had enlisted her to be our photographer for the day). We spent the next couple of hours walking the halls, and I also labored in the tub for a while (which helped a lot!).

Time actually went really fast for me until we hit about 2:30 pm or so...then the contractions started getting more intense. Plus, I was getting pretty exhausted - it had already been a long day (after all, I had been up since 1:30 am), and I was running on only about an hour of sleep! After about 2:30 pm, time felt like it stood still - and it's also pretty blurred together, so I might have the chronology of the rest of the story off a bit.

At that point, my midwife checked me again, and I was 7-8 cm dilated and fully effaced. I remember being discouraged that I had only progressed 2 cm in over 3 hours (which actually isn't bad for a first-timer, but it was so painful getting those 2 cm that I wondered how I would ever make it to 10!).

I labored in the tub again for a while (Brady was in the tub with me, supporting me through contractions, and I was so tired that I started falling asleep on his shoulder between contractions!). This is also about when I started questioning my ability to do the whole giving-birth thing without medication. I was so overwhelmed, though, that I simply couldn't make such a big decision in the moment as to accepting medication when I hadn't wanted to going into labor, so I ended up continuing on without medication (my midwife told me that I was in transition at that point, so the contractions weren't going to get worse, just different). I felt nauseous every time a contraction came, and I'm honestly surprised I didn't throw up from the pain. Both Brady and my midwife were incredible, though - very supportive and encouraging. At one particularly difficult point, I remember saying that I didn't think I could do this, and my midwife (whom I had never met before, by the way - she's the one midwife of the four in my practice that I didn't get to meet when we moved to Minnesota) sat next to me and said, "Erin, you're a woman of faith, right?" (she must have seen the Bible verses I had printed out for encouragement during labor). I said, "Yes," and she said, "Well, so am I, and that means that we both know and believe that God designed your body to do this. You can do it, because God designed you to be able to do it." She didn't know it, but that was what I had been telling myself of all day when things got tough, so having her remind me of that was such a blessing! Praise God for providing a woman of faith to be my midwife!

Unfortunately, that midwife was only on-call until 5 pm, so unless I had the baby by then, she would not be delivering. At first, we thought that I was progressing quickly enough that she would be able to do the delivery, but it became clear around 4 pm that that wasn't going to be the case.

The new midwife arrived at 5 pm. I was really having a hard time by the time she came around. I started feeling a very slight urge to push around that point, but I wasn't fully dilated yet. The midwives told me to do a couple light pushes to see if I could break my water, because that would speed things up (my contractions had slowed down a bit). It didn't work, and the new midwife suggested that she break my water for me. I really wasn't convinced that that was a good idea, to be honest, but in the end, I decided to let her do it. I slightly regret that decision, but hey, if it did speed things up (which we unfortunately can't know for sure), then I'm grateful for it!

Around 6 pm, the urge to push was impossible to ignore, so we started that process. I was surprised by how different my contractions felt once I began pushing - they definitely weren't more intense than during transition (praise God!), but they were very, very different than before. After about a half-hour of pushing in the tub, Isaiah was crowning (which is really fast progress for a first-timer! They say first-time moms push for 1-3 hours on average, and it sure looked like I was going to be near the lower end of that statistic!). I could see him crowning and remember being so relieved, knowing that it should only take a few more pushes for him to come out! Brady was encouraging me and told me, "Okay, let's get through 5 more pushes - you can do 5 more pushes." Five pushes came and went, and Isaiah barely moved at all. I started asking why he wasn't coming out and saying that I thought he was stuck. There was no way that he shouldn't have moved with how hard I pushed for those 5 contractions!

And then the midwife called a couple back-up nurses and started whispering to them - not exactly a comforting thing. Both Brady and I knew something wasn't right, but no one told us what was going on. They would just whisper and then tell me to do something differently. It was very unnerving for both Brady and I.

They had me switch positions in the tub to try to coax Isaiah out, but it wasn't working. Finally, my midwife told me that we had to abandon ship on the waterbirth thing, and I had to finish pushing in bed. Looking back, I'm disappointed that we couldn't have the waterbirth we had hoped for, but in the moment, my only thought was, "How the heck am I supposed to move to the bed with a person's head sticking out of me?!?" Let me tell you, it was not a comfortable move!

So, they helped me to the bed (while my midwife had her hands between my legs in case Isaiah came out during the move, which was a very real possibility). At that point, I heard my midwife ask someone to get an NNP. Now, I was pretty confused and overwhelmed during that time, but I had enough wits about me to realize that NNP meant Neonatal Nurse Practitioner. That's when I really started losing it emotionally. I knew something wasn't right, but I didn't know what was happening. I just felt so overwhelmed and confused and even a bit scared.

They kept telling me to push harder and longer and finally told us that the reason Isaiah wasn't moving was because he was occiput posterior (OP) or "sunny-side up" - for those of you who haven't taken a birthing class recently, that means that he was coming out facing up instead of facing down. That position made it so that his skull could not mold to the birth canal like it should have and was causing him to get a bit stuck where he was. No matter how much or how hard I pushed, he moved very little.

The midwife started trying to turn him manually. That was definitely the most painful part of the entire day. I mean, I was already stretched to the limits, so to speak, and now she's shoving her hand around his head, as well! I kept pushing and she kept trying to turn him. I'm honestly not sure how long that whole process took, but she eventually got him to turn about 30%, and as soon as he did, he popped right out (quite literally! Brady and I just watched the birth video last night, and he really did pop out once he turned slightly).

It was the weirdest feeling ever, and I honestly didn't realize he was even born until they put him on my chest. Once he came out, they kept trying to tell me to grab my baby, but I literally could not process what they were saying, so they had to bring him to me and put him on my chest. I have never felt so relieved in my life as I did in that instant...until they got around to sewing me up, that is (I had a 2nd degree tear - which isn't bad considering, and I think I probably wouldn't have torn at all if he was facing the proper way). And, by the way, no one ever tells you that after you give birth, it will look like a murder scene. Seeing so much blood was really disconcerting. I also was bleeding more than I should have been, so they had to give me a shot of pitocin (encourages the uterus to contract) to try to stop the bleeding.

Luckily, the NNP didn't end up being necessary at all. Often times, when babies are born the wrong way like Isaiah was, they go into distress, but his heartbeat was nice and steady the entire time. He is one strong, healthy baby! Praise God for that! Even the hospital staff was amazed at how strong our little guy is :)

Isaiah was born on April 19, 2011, 8lbs 10oz (55th percentile) and 21.5 inches long (95th percentile). His head was 13 1/2 inches around (10th percentile). The first thing I noticed when they handed him to me was how big his hands and feet were! They are not newborn-sized at all! The second thing I noticed was that he did indeed have 10 fingers and 10 toes. I never thought that that would be something I would check for right after my baby was born, but immediately when he was handed to me, I wanted to make sure that all appendages were accounted for (they are, by the way)! He was born at 7:49 pm, meaning that I pushed for about 1 hour and 45 minutes - again, really not bad at all considering it was my first time and he wasn't facing the right way (which they say usually adds an hour or so to your pushing time).

Afterwards, I was feeling a bit disappointed in myself that I didn't handle his birth as well as I would have hoped (though I did make it through an unmedicated, natural birth, which I was glad about). When I mentioned that to one of the nurses who was there, she told me that I shouldn't feel disappointed in myself at all, because Isaiah's birth was more challenging than most. She told me, word for word, "I don't normally pity first time moms, because a harder labor is just part of the package deal, but I was really starting to pity you!" My midwife also echoed that sentiment and told me that if Isaiah had been facing the right way, he would definitely have been born within two or three pushes of when he started crowning (so Brady should have been right that I only needed 5 more pushes). Unfortunately, because he was faced the wrong way, it ended up taking a little over an hour longer to deliver him than it should have. Plus, I was informed that delivering a baby who is facing the wrong way is akin to delivering a baby who is one pound larger than your baby actually is - so, in some ways, my experience was closer to what it would have been like to deliver a 9lb 10oz baby than to deliver an 8lb 10oz baby who was facing the right way - all in all, I guess I didn't do so bad!

As much as the process of bringing him into the world wasn't fun, now that Isaiah is here, it is all worth it - he is the most beautiful, precious, amazing little person I have ever seen! Having a baby really puts a whole new perspective on the Bible verse, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH." It is amazing to think that this new little life is half-me, and half-Brady - so cool!

Isaiah had his first doctor appointment six days after he was born, and he is doing great! He has already surpassed his birth weight (which means I must be doing something right in the whole nursing realm - yay!) and other than a couple of blocked tear ducts (very common in newborns, apparently), he is the picture of health!

I'm doing much better now, too. The first couple of days were very difficult - I was in a lot of pain and didn't get much sleep the night he was born (who knew that once you have the baby, the staff doesn't just leave you alone, but wakes you up EVERY 2 HOURS to check your vitals and tell you it's time to nurse (which your baby doesn't want to do anyway, because he's too tired, so you end up using up an entire hour of the two hour window you get in between checks just trying wake up your sleepy and not-hungry baby to try to feed him per the hospital staff's request). So, yeah, not much sleep was had that night)?

My first pain-free day came only a week after he was born, which is pretty good considering everything, so I'm really pleased with how quickly and how well I've healed.

Brady and I are so in love with little Isaiah. He is absolutely amazing! And it has been such a joy and a blessing to see Brady interact with Isaiah. He is an incredible dad already! He was so supportive during all of labor and delivery, and after the fact, he took AMAZING care of me and Isaiah - doing everything possible for me so that I could rest. I didn't even change a diaper until Isaiah was 5 days old - and I had to convince Brady that I was up to doing it myself even then! Plus, he has been so, so helpful during the night - bringing Isaiah to me for feedings and changing diapers and rocking him to sleep. Isaiah's had a bit of a hard time sleeping, because he's had lots of uncomfortable gas, so I know for a fact that I would have already lost my mind if I had to do this whole raising-an-infant thing by myself. Brady's been so good with him. All in all, I'm very blessed by the two men in my life :)

Brady was able to take off of work through the Monday after Isaiah was born, and it was so nice to have him home with us. We got lots of good family bonding time, and timing wise, it also worked out perfectly that he was able to be home until I was physically capable of taking care of Isaiah by myself during the day.

We are so blessed!

If you would like to see some pictures of our beautiful son, check out this link:

1 comment:

  1. Awwww... I loved your birth story! Way to go Mama! I was exhausted just reading about your pushing ordeal - I know that was the hardest workout of your life!

    And the best part of all - a healthy baby and healthy Mama in the end! Don't let stuff that happened during your labor nag at you - you did great!

    I'm so glad your husband has been a hands-on father. It makes all the difference, especially those first few weeks. I was lucky enough to have my husband home with me too in the beginning, and it was such a life-saver!

    I'm also glad breastfeeding is going well - I had such a difficult time with that. I'm exclusively pumping and it's really tough. I'm reaching the point where his appetite is more than what I can produce, so I'm probably going to have to start supplementing with formula - which I was really hoping to avoid. But you know, I've given him 3 months of breast milk. So if one of his bottles during the day at this point in formula, that's not the end of the world, I guess.

    I hope everything continues to go well. I am sure you are loving every minute with your little guy. I wish I had a facebook so I could see your pictures!

    Thinking of you every day and sending you and Isaiah lots of love!!