Category Archives: Birth

Rachel’s First Hour in Photographs

 

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A huge thanks to my dear friend Katherine who took all these pictures. We will treasure them for a lifetime!

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Rachel Noelle’s Arrival and Birth Story

“But He Gives More Grace.” ~James 4:6

Rachel Noelle has arrived!

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After 31 hours of labor, Rachel came on Monday, September 14th, in the mid afternoon. She was 36 weeks and 3 days. I was diagnosed with intrahepatic cholestasis at 31 weeks, and therefore had to have her early in order to prevent the increased risk of stillbirth.

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We were so grateful that she weighed 6 pounds 9 ounces, and was 19 inches long! She did phenomenally well, and except for lower blood sugars in the very beginning, she transitioned into the outside world like a champ.

My induction went a thousand times better than last time, too! (Even if it was longer than I had been hoping — it was only 4 hours shorter than Josh’s induction.) After a long labor, the icing on the cake was that I only had to push for less than 5 minutes and had zero complications!

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Here we are after arriving to the L&D unit at 6 am. At this point I think we’re ready to get the ball rolling but the nurses were waiting on doctor’s orders. Hubby is already bored and checking out the various types of medical equipment in the room…
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And here’s my mom reminding me of Josh’s induction by knitting a baby sweater for Rachel right off the bat! (She sat in the same chair and knitted various baby items last time also.)

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This was the finished product of my mom's knitting endeavors during my labor. I think it's adorable!

This was the finished product of my mom’s knitting endeavors during my labor. I think it’s adorable!

The progression we chose for the induction started with Cytotec, foley bulb, pitocin and then an epidural, which was placed sometime in the middle of the night (maybe 3 am?). I was very afraid when it came time to place the epidural because I was so very scared that I’d have a repeat of my last epidural’s horror show. But praise God that it went in just fine with minimal pain this time!

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Cytotec on board here. Regular but mild contractions. It wasn’t long after this that I got out of bed and walked-walked-walked and then spent most of the rest of the day and night sitting on the birthing ball or on the rocking chair.

Feeling nauseous here. Sometimes you just have to find the humor in a hard situation.

Feeling nauseous here. Sometimes you just have to find the humor in less than ideal situations.

My birthing coaches: Hubby, my older sister and my mom (my younger sister was also there for most of the day). It was wonderful to have all the support and encouragement. I will always look back on this time with fond memories. Everyone is pretty tired here as I’ve already been in labor for 24 hours and no one has really gotten much sleep.

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And a huge thanks to my mother in law for watching Josh the first day and night that we were gone! She brought him to visit after Rachel was born but he burst into tears as soon as he heard her cry, and hubby had to take him out of the room. They explored the hospital patio for a while.

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My younger sister holding Rachel for the first time.

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After we got moved to the Postpartum floor. As you can see with the bottle in the background, I had to supplement Rachel with tiny amounts (1/2 oz) of formula after each nursing session to help keep her blood sugar up. I was able to stop giving her formula after my milk came in a few days later.

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My mom and Rachel.

My mom and Rachel.

Keeping it real with this photo. I was so tired here that I seriously look like a drug addict. This was taken the evening of the day Rachel was born, and I had slept a total of 3 hours in the past 72 hours! (Thanks to my Dad for bringing me See’s Candy, though!) I was falling asleep mid-sentence by this point.

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My Dad and Rachel.

My Dad and Rachel.

40 hours after Rachel was born, they let us go home! My fears about her needing phototherapy (for jaundice) or her not nursing well never came to pass. Thank you Lord!

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And lastly, some photos of Rachel taken from home:

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Auntie and Rachel.

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My little snug-a-bug. She is so cuddly!

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Our sun bathing beauty. Even though her bilirubin levels were stable, I opted to put her in the sun for 15 mins a day to help with her jaundice.

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Great Grandpa holding Rachel. She’s his third great grandchild!

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Mimi and Rachel. (Unfortunately I didn’t get a better pic.)

Auntie and Rachel.

Auntie and Rachel.

In the meantime, hubby is off work for a few more weeks and we are adjusting to being a family of four. Josh has had a bit of a rough transition so far and has been throwing many tantrums, especially when I’m nursing Rachel. We have good and bad days with him, and never know which it’ll be! I’ve been dealing with postpartum blues which has been a drag and I’m praying that I’ll be back to my normal self again soon. Until then, the tears seem to flow quite easily, even though I’m so delighted to have a new precious daughter. So, despite various difficulties, we are enjoying Rachel; we are in awe of her tiny stature and are loving getting to know her sweet personality!

Thanks to all who prayed over her safe delivery! 

 

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The Day is Finally Here

My alarm is set to go off in 3 hours. We head into the hospital for our baby’s induction soon. I’m not off to a very good start, because (again) I haven’t slept.  I’m excited– but I’m also already exhausted. It’s been a long week of not sleeping much. I sure hope my body returns to normal after our baby girl is born!

My friends threw a beautiful baby shower for me yesterday and it was so good to pray together at the end. To ask God for a shorter induction than last time (34 hours) and that our daughter would be delivered safely. To thank God for giving us children, when we had previously thought we would have none. As much as this last month has been a big challenge, I still get choked up thinking about God’s kindness to our family.

Josh still has no clue that his world is about to be drastically changed. Even when he’s sitting on my lap and little girl is kicking away at him, he never seems to notice. I’m not sure what to expect out of him but I know he’ll be a good big brother.

Thanks for praying for all of us today. This chronic lack of sleep has me feeling like I’m about to run a marathon after a week of fasting. At the moment I don’t have any idea of how I will handle it well. But I know the Lord will get me through it.

Hopefully I’ll have pictures of our baby girl to share very soon!

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A Late Night Update & Some Photos

I gotta say — the newness of being diagnosed with ICP and the need for an early induction has worn off and I’m left with, well, itching. Lots and lots of itching. Thankfully it’s mainly just at night. The itching is unmistakable — sometimes it feels like bugs crawling under my skin, and other times it feels like I just got bitten by a fire ant (so I guess that would be bugs crawling above my skin). Usually it’s the later. I often do a double take to see if there’s an insect on my skin. It’s a very strong sensation, and it gets annoying very quickly!

So I am averaging 3-5.5 hours of sleep a night (please no one tell me that this is good preparation for those sleepless nights when the baby comes, because there are days that hearing that will only discourage me). I took a Benadryl last night and a cold shower and I was so happy to fall asleep rather early and get more sleep. But I don’t want to get in the habit of taking Benadryl every night (even if it is category B) so I will just have to live with the itching and save the Benadryl for when I’m in desperate need of sleep. I’m surviving, but it’s hard not to be frustrated at being up and awake, feeling recklessly itchy every night. It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve fallen asleep before midnight.

Thankfully, our little baby girl has looked awesome on every single NST so far. And I’m thankful (even though I’m scared) that she’ll be coming early. I have read in several places that the stillbirth rate of undiagnosed, untreated ICP is 15%. A scary-high statistic. Breathing a sigh of relief that I am both diagnosed AND being treated (with Ursodiol). From everything I’ve read, my OB is treating me appropriately and taking every precaution.

There are many things coming up that are out of my control. The induction is just 3 weeks away. I have no control over whether my body will be even slightly ready or not for labor (I’m guessing not). I have no control over my GBS status (to be determined at 35 weeks). I have no control over whether the induction will be another horror story, or whether (if I choose to get one) my epidural will actually be intact and working this time.

Surmounting all other unknowns, I have no control over how our baby will do. Will she latch on and nurse well? Will she breathe okay? Will she be jaundiced?

(This control freak doesn’t like uncertainty, apparently.)

The nurse setting up my NST the other day asked how long kick counts were taking, on average. “About 20 minutes, probably,” I replied. “Great” she said, “But if they take up to two hours, you go straight into L&D, okay? And even if you have to go into L&D every single day, no one will fault you for it. Cholestasis is no joke.” Gee, I thought, thanks for freaking me out, lady. When I got home from my appointment that day, I retold the conversation to my mom (who had been babysitting) and found myself suddenly holding back tears. I realized that I still felt scared for our baby, even though I was on medication that was supposed to decrease the risks and even though I had an early induction scheduled. Childbirth is already scary without complications, but the reality of having a high-risk pregnancy was hitting me that day like a ton of bricks. Thankfully, since then I’ve had time to process, to adjust my thinking and also my expectations for the next three weeks (as well as for our baby’s birth). Also, seeing as I’m up most nights, I’ve also had a lot of time to research and to know with more certainty what the risks truly are and what to expect.

I’ve also spent some time memorizing the following verses to meditate on during the next 3 weeks. I cannot tell you what peace Scripture and prayer have brought me:

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Isaiah 26:33 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

John 14:27 “Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

I know I’m not immune to struggles, fears, or life scenarios worse than I ever imagined. Being a Christian doesn’t mean life is easy in any way. But I do know this: No matter what happens, the Lord will be with me. He will give me grace to endure and a faith greater than an easy life could ever produce. So tonight as I stop typing intermittently because of this itchy skin, I have peace about our situation, and I have hope. I’ve gone from incredibly surprised (at being diagnosed with ICP) to incredibly scared to now just incredibly excited to meet our little girl. Peace in the midst of any trial is truly a gift from the Lord.

{Thanks for praying for our baby girl whom we are set to meet in just three weeks!}

And here’s some pictures from the past week…

The things that fascinate toddlers... it makes me laugh.

The things that fascinate toddlers. It makes me laugh.

Fruit snacks are the most amazing thing on the planet to this kid. I think he’s deciding which one to eat first  (big decision!).

Who says an 8 month pregnant mama won't get down on the kitchen floor and play with her toddler?

Who says an 8 month pregnant mama won’t get down on the kitchen floor and play with her toddler? (Now can someone please help me back up?)

Helping Daddy put together sister's new diaper pail.

Helping Daddy put together sister’s new diaper pail.

“What ELSE is in the box, Daddy?”

My creepy looking hand on an ice pack, which was keeping my palm from itching so much.

My creepy looking hand on an ice pack, which was keeping my palm from itching so much.

33 weeks pregnant. My mom has said twice now that my belly size has plateaued. Of course now that baby is coming early, I want to gain more weight and my belly to grow as much as possible. Oh, the irony,

33 weeks pregnant. My mom has said twice now that my belly size has plateaued. Of course now that baby is coming early, I really hope to gain more weight and want my belly to grow as much as possible. (Oh, the irony.)

My little guy. Love this kid to pieces, and trying to wrap my head around the fact that he's going to be a big brother in less than a month.

My little guy. Love this kid to pieces, and trying to wrap my head around the fact that he’s going to be a big brother in less than a month.

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July Lessons, Birthing Thoughts & 26 Week Pregnancy Update

I wrote a post about a week ago on things I was learning as a young (ish) mother but I was brain dead at 2 am when I wrote it so I decided against publishing it. I wish I could say I’m much more alert tonight at 8:50 pm but that would be a lie. I’m discovering that as I chase around a toddler and embrace week 26 of pregnancy, I’m just flat-out tired most of the time!

I’m learning so much these days, though. Learning to let go of expectations and hopes that I have for the future and to trust the Lord with it. Learning to find patience for the days that Josh whines continuously and to curb my own whining when my pregnancy ailments get the best of me. Learning to be grateful for the little things, and stopping my mouth when ‘Ms. Negativity’ tries to enter in. Of course I fail all the time– just ask my husband. But it is a good season, because the Lord is teaching me, and that never leads to a stagnant walk with the Lord.

My older sister and her family are here for a month, living an hour away with my parents while they attempt to renovate the granny house on my parent’s property. I don’t get to spend much time with them (they live overseas) and my sister and I are very close, so I’m hoping to get over there as much as possible this month. I don’t know how it will work out gas/money-wise or with Josh (who’s not a fan of his car seat and who is still needing two long naps a day) but I’m trying not to cling to wanting to be there all the time too much and to take it a day at a time. While at church this morning I realized that it was something I needed to surrender to the Lord and so I did just that. The Lord gave me tremendous peace about it and now I’m excited for how the month will unfold.

So far things are going okay with this pregnancy. Still having a lot of heartburn which comes on randomly and regardless of what I choose to eat. It usually keeps me up several hours into the night. I’m still trying to keep off of the PPI’s (proton pump inhibitors–Protonix, Prilosec, Prevacid, etc) until I make it to the third trimester if I can. Also experiencing more swelling in my hands and feet than I ever had when pregnant with Josh. I don’t know if it’s because of being pregnant during the hot summer months or what? And overall feeling much more emotional and irritable. Yayyyyy.

Yesterday was funny because a few people told me “You don’t even look pregnant!” and today I got “You’ve really grown!” and “Look how big you are now!”  Here’s a comparison below between this pregnancy and my pregnancy with Josh. These pictures never really seem to show how big I feel in real life.

(I) 26 weeks 5 days

26 Weeks with Josh

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26 Weeks this pregnancy.

I’ve been thinking a little too much about giving birth lately. I guess I’m still traumatized from last time, but I need to be thankful that I delivered a live, healthy child and that there were no emergencies for either of us (even with the umbilical wrapped around Josh’s neck 3 times — he still tolerated labor like a champ!). I’m really hoping to avoid getting an epidural and to be able to labor at home for as long as I can handle, but it seems to me that plans with childbirth tend to get thrown out the window, sometimes before labor has even started! (i.e. The baby is breech, an early induction is needed due to low fluid, baby doesn’t tolerate labor well, mom is GBS positive so can’t labor at home for very long, mom’s water breaks early on, etc.) Having a safe delivery is ultimately my chief goal. I just hope it’s not as awful this time around! There were points of complete hopelessness and despair (where I honestly felt like both baby and me were going to die — not sure if it was a side effect to one of the medications I received or what?) that I hope to avoid next time around. I will be praying a lot about it, that’s for sure… and will be roping in my friends and family to be praying as well when the time comes.

Things are going great with Josh. He’ll be 16 months old in the next week. Recently he’s become attached to the blankie my mom knitted him before he was born and it’s been a great thing to have for comfort. Whenever it is that I decide to take away his pacifier, it’ll be really handy to have that blankie! He loves to put his head down on my shoulder and snuggle with me when I’m putting him down for a nap or at bedtime. I really cherish these moments of closeness with him. He still loves to snuggle in my lap and read books with me. I know it won’t last forever, but I also know it’ll be a joy to see him gain independence and to learn new things as well. He is still a very focused little boy and the lady in the nursery at church playing with him exclaimed “I think he’s going to grow up to be an engineer!” after watching him hold his interest in stacking nesting blocks for a long time. I couldn’t help but laugh since his daddy is an engineer with a reaaaallly long attention span. 😉 He’s still not walking (he’s soooo close, though!) and repeats words occasionally after us, but still isn’t talking yet. Thankfully, his understanding is very good now. In fact, the other day I was telling my mom on the phone that Josh would bolt toward the front door whenever I told him “Daddy’s home!” and he overheard me saying that to her and took off toward the front door! He was quite sad (and confused) when I had to tell him, “Sorry Josh, Daddy actually isn’t home yet!” Now I need to be more careful with what I say in front of him!

Every day is a new adventure.

Every day is a new adventure with this little guy.

Hoping to make it to the zoo, the fair, a splash pad, and to get lots of swimming in at my parent’s pool with Josh and my nephews this month. Also, we are going camping next weekend with my extended family! Lots to look forward to. I’m also looking forward to my 28 week OB appt next week (but NOT looking forward to the glucose tolerance test I’ll have to do that day). I’m not sure if I’ll get another ultrasound before I deliver (seems like they did one at 36 weeks with Josh? Or maybe it was 32 weeks? I can’t remember) but I sure hope so. It would be really fun to see this little girl again.

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Joshua’s Birth Story

Hello there! It’s taken two days with five to thirty minute writing intervals at a time, but here is Joshua’s birth story!

{But first I would like to begin by stating three things}

First, this post is not for everyone. Birth, as common (yet miraculous) as it is, happens to be filled with things like cervical changes, blood and perineal tears. Topics like these are pretty much unavoidable when discussing birth in detail. If this isn’t your cup of tea, please feel free to skip this in its entirety!

Second, my story is about an induction at 39 weeks. I read many induction birth stories before giving birth and read bad and good ones alike. This one will seem bad, trust me. If you are preparing to give birth via induction, please do not despair at reading my story. Every woman, baby and delivery is different. There are so many variables that all make a difference, so please keep that in mind when reading my story. Also, despite the horror I went through, as I look over at my sleeping newborn son I realize that not only did the Lord carry me through the experience, but that I would do it all over again to be able to have him here. I guess that’s how the earth stays populated!

Third, this will probably be the longest post you will ever read on my blog. You might want to grab a cup of coffee before reading. I congratulate you if you make it to the end!

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Joshua’s Birth Story

~March 9th, 2014~

0630: After 2.5 hours of sleep (chalk it up to nerves/pregnancy insomnia) and after hubby getting 5 hours of sleep, we arrived at Labor & Delivery as scheduled. We made our co-pay for the hospital stay and were taken back to our labor room. The nurse was nice enough, and instructed me to wipe down my abdomen with a chlorohexidine antiseptic wipe before changing into a hospital gown, which I guess is hospital policy. I changed after rubbing the wipe on my belly and immediately felt intense burning and itching on my skin where the wipe had gone. I got into the bed and soon realized that my belly felt like it was on fire! The nurse hooked me up to the tocometer and then left to go gather supplies for an IV. While she was gone I wasted no time in breaking rules (it’s the nurse in me) by asking hubby to please wet some paper towels with water so that I could wipe off the silly chlorohexidine residue left on my abdomen. I tried that but my abdominal skin was still screaming and I was ready to break the skin from the intense itchiness. When the nurse came back in the room I told her I was having a skin reaction to the chlorohexidine and requested benadryl. She was helpful and actually came back fifteen minutes later with some IV benadryl, which she gave after placing my IV (which she got on the first stick, I might add). I felt immediate relief upon receiving the Benadyl.

0730: The OB on call came in and introduced himself. I vaguely remembered him, because he used to work at the hospital I currently work for. He mentioned that he had even trained my OB when she was a resident, and spoke highly of her. He then did an exam and determined that I was 1 cm dilated and a little effaced (I can’t remember how much, all I remember was that it wasn’t much, so maybe 25%). We talked about the next steps for the induction and decided to start with Cytotec.

0830: My mom arrived to join the fun. I really had no idea how the induction would go and told family members to sort of “play it by ear” since inductions can take a really long time. So I was a little surprised to see my mom walk in the door so soon in the game but was glad to have her there. She sat down on the sofa and started knitting a sweater for my nephew who lives overseas. My nurse came in a gave me the Cytotec, which is actually a drug approved by the FDA to prevent stomach ulcers by releasing prostaglandins, but also works to dilate the cervix. I swallowed the tiny pill and felt amazed that something so small was supposed to make me have contractions. I did feel a little nervous about swallowing something to jump start contractions, because what if it made the baby distressed? I couldn’t turn it off like I could a pitocin drip. I asked the nurse about that and she mentioned that there was an antidote to the cytotec, which is turbutaline (a medicine used to stop contractions during premature labor). So that was reassuring to know.

After the cytotec, contractions started up about fifteen minutes later. I’d been having pretty regular contractions (anywhere from every 5 minutes to maybe 4 and hour) for weeks now. The contractions weren’t bad. I could talk through them. The nurse came in again and started me on Clindamycin (an antibiotic) for my GBS+ status since I’m allergic to penicillin (which is the standard treatment for GBS).

1300: The contractions at this point were mild and maybe every 4-5 minutes. I asked the nurse what I could do to “speed things up.” She suggested going for a walk. My mom had left at this point to switch with my dad so that someone would be there to watch my disabled sister. Hubby and I went for a walk. The contractions did get a bit stronger while walking, and I found myself hunching over a little with each one. We passed some nurse in the hallway twice who kept offering unsolicited advice like “You just need to relax or you’ll wear yourself out!” (Sometimes I wonder if people who say things like that have ever given birth?) Back in our labor room, the contractions picked up some more and my nurse came in the room. She noticed that I (apparently) was furrowing my brow with each contraction and said she didn’t like that and said that I needed to think about ocean waves rolling in and out with each contraction. (Again, I wondered if she too had ever gone through this?)

1400: A new OB came in and checked me. I was still 1 cm, but this time she told me that I was 75% effaced. She offered to put in a foley bulb catheter (which is basically a tube that’s inserted through your cervix and then filled with water to make a balloon– it sits at the top of the cervix and acts almost like the baby’s head would if the baby were engaged– the pressure from the bulb on the cervix releases prostoglandins and helps to dilate it). I said “yes please” as I was anxious to keep things going. The cytotec was wearing off anyhow. This procedure ended up being extremely painful because after two drawn out attempts to insert the bulb, the OB couldn’t get the catheter through my cervix. It seriously felt like if she pushed any harder, she would hit my spine. She struggled with it for what felt like an eternity. I then suggested that she try to insert it when the head of the bed was raised more (they had lowered it to be completely flat) because she had seen improved effacement of my cervix when I had been in that position before. She agreed to try that– the nurse raised the head of my bed and the OB was then able to get it in!

1600: At this point I’m at a loss as to why I was so excited to get the foley bulb put in. That sucker hurt! Every 30 minutes or so the nurse would come in, tug on it a bit, and re-tape it to my thigh. Not pleasant in the least. The contractions were pretty steady at this point and somewhat painful. More family members came in to visit– my dad stayed a while, and my hubby’s parents and sister came.

1700: By this time I was really over the foley bulb. I was told that it would “fall out” when my cervix was dilated to 3-4 cm. It was really uncomfortable and I was just wanting it out and so I ended up giving it a tug myself and pulled it out! (I know, another example of where I am a bad patient). I felt immediate relief upon pulling it out, and was happy that it meant I’d made a little progress at least. I called the nurse to let her know.

1800: The nurse came in again and started Pitocin at 2. We’d already done cytotec and the foley bulb–the next step was the real beast: Pitocin. Some women go into natural labor with just cytotec, and some with just a foley bulb. I guess I wasn’t either of those people. Pitocin would make sure I had strong, regular contractions. I was game for it because I wanted this baby out! Pitocin it was.

1830: The pitocin got started and my hubby and my mom and I went on a walk around the labor unit. Once you’re on Pitocin you have to be monitored continuously so the nurse hooked me up to a portable monitor. I didn’t mind this as I knew that pitocin could stress the baby. We walked and with each contraction I had to slow down and grip hubby’s arm. The nurse told me they would be increasing the Pitocin every hour (or maybe 30 minutes?) or so.

2100: By now the pitocin was turned up to 8. The contractions were getting pretty intense. The nurse offered me some Fentanyl and I reluctantly accepted, because I wanted to hold out on getting an epidural for as long as I could stand it. After the Fentanyl I could still feel the contractions coming every 3 minutes or so, but they weren’t as painful. The pain relief lasted for about an hour or so, and also made me very sleepy.

2130: A new OB on call came in and checked me. I was super disappointed to find out that not only was I still only dilated to 4 cm, I was now only 25% effaced, when I had been told I was 75% effaced before. Great. I knew this was due to having two different OB’s check me and their varying opinions. Still, it was not encouraging news. Again I got up and went walking, this time with a small entourage of people including my husband, mom, and my husband’s parents. I was having to stop and breathe deeply with each contraction at this point, and after a while I had walked all I could manage.

2300: A new nurse came on shift. She was very brisk when she came in and asked me if I wanted an epidural and exactly when I would be wanting it, because she needed to plan her night accordingly. I told her I was trying to go as long as possible without an epidural, especially since I wasn’t progressing very quickly and didn’t want to sabotage that any further. She curtly replied that by the time I couldn’t stand the pain anymore, I wouldn’t be able to sit still for an epidural. She then callously said “And frankly, this is what you’d expect when you try to force babies out via induction before they’re ready.” “Oh please,” I wanted to respond; “I’m 39 weeks for crying out loud!” But instead I kept my mouth shut and started to cry as soon as she left the room. She had me feel like the worst mother in the world. My abilities to graciously withstand people like her were dwindling– the contractions were getting really strong and I had gone a long time with little sleep or food (breakfast had been my last meal, although I did sneak a cookie during the day that my mom had brought in for my husband). I began to pray as I had no idea how I could get through 8 hours with a nurse who didn’t really seem like she was there to “help” me.

2305: Five minutes later, the (less than kind) nurse came in with another nurse and announced that she would be giving report to the new nurse as she had to take another assignment. I was overjoyed! Thank you Lord! My new nurse was incredibly kind and caring. My mom, husband and I just marveled at the Lord’s immediate answer to our prayers.

~March 10th, 2014~

0100: At this point, the contractions were getting to be unbearable. They were every 1.5 minutes and double peaking, meaning that they were lasting over a minute. This gave me less than thirty seconds to recover from each contraction. I was pretty besides myself with pain, and crying with each contraction. My mom was there rubbing my back and my husband was letting me grip his hand (believe it or not I still have a deep bruise in one of my hands from gripping his hand so often and so tightly during this process). Knowing that I was only at 4 cm dilated, I decided that enough was enough and called the nurse to ask for an epidural.

0130: The nurse anesthetist came in got me prepared to have the epidural. They had my mom leave the room, so she waited outside in the hallway. I was a mess at this point. In fact, I was in so much pain that they ended up turning down the pitocin. I was crying non-stop. I sat on the edge of the bed and leaned forward as much as I could with hubby helping to hold me from the front. The contractions kept coming anyhow. The nurse anesthetist told me “you’re going to feel a slight poke” and OH BOY was it more than a “poke!” It felt like he had just shoved a fire poker into my spine! I literally screamed, which is highly unusual for a gal like me that likes to watch having my IV’s put in and lab work drawn. My husband got light headed at this point upon hearing me react like this. I was seriously confused– what was the guy doing? I had been expecting the typical “lidocaine just under the epidermis” type of injection, NOT a huge needle being jabbed into my spine! Then, he told me I needed to keep still and the same thing happened– yet AGAIN!!! And again I had not been expecting it, because I had thought that my back would already be a little numb. So, yes. I literally screamed a second time. I thought he was finished at this point but alas he informed me that he still needed to insert the epidural. Are you kidding me? That wasn’t it? (As you can see, we had major communication issues, partially I think because he spoke so softly and partially because he had a really thick accent). He inserted the epidural itself which was uncomfortable but didn’t make me want to keel over like the lidocaine injections. He then bolused my epidural with pain meds. I started to feel my legs and torso feel warm and then tingly–what a strange sensation! But I could feel the horrible contractions less and less and that was what I had hoped for. My mom came back in the room (after waiting in the hallway) very concerned after hearing me scream twice. It was definitely strange because going into the procedure I actually had zero fears about having an epidural placed, but that experience was something I will never forget. (From what I’ve heard, my experience was not common, so please don’t freak out if you’re planning on getting an epidural for the first time.)

0400: After a few hours of feeling better, hubby got some sleep on the couch and my mom tried to sneak a nap in the chair. I tried to sleep but found it pretty difficult. The OB on call for the night came in and checked me. I had been feeling hopeful, but my cervix was still stuck at 4 1/2 cm.  She said I was 90% effaced, and said she wanted to break my waters. I opted to go for it, even though I knew it would mean that I would need to have our baby in the next 24 hours or risk a c-section (due to increased risk of infection). I was feeling pretty worn out by now, and frankly I was thinking that if I hadn’t had the baby in 24 more hours I would probably want a c-section anyhow! The OB broke my water and very little fluid came out. She said this was good, because it meant that baby’s head was lower and acting as a cork on my cervix. I however interpreted it to be bad though, because I felt that it meant it would do nothing to help speed up things, seeing as there was probably an entire hind bag of waters still intact.

0600: I started to become very aware of painful contractions. I rotated from side to side, thinking that maybe my epidural was not distributing correctly. It didn’t help, and before I knew it the pain was completely out of control. It was the worst pain I had felt in my entire life, except for maybe the time I had an ovarian cyst burst (which was two hours of intense pain). Again the contractions were right on top of each other, and lasting over a minute. My husband and mom were at my side, trying to help. I was sobbing. My mom was crying just watching me. At this point it was 0645 and I knew it was shift change and that the nurses were giving report, but my mom said “Who cares if they’re busy?” and ran out to tell my nurse that my epidural had stopped working. Both the night shift and oncoming day shift nurse came immediately into the room and called the nurse anesthetist. I don’t really remember much else about this time– except that it was awful and I was just trying to survive on the pitocin drip.

0700: A new nurse anesthetist came in and gave me a bolus through my epidural. I don’t know what medicine she gave me– it did work to numb the pain a little– but it left me feeling incredibly anxious and awful. I felt a sudden sense of doom, like I was never going to be able to have the baby, that the whole thing was pointless. I was ready to rip out my IV and epidural and walk out the door, that’s how bad this medicine made me feel. At the same time my oncoming nurse tried to put an oxygen mask on me (I guess I wasn’t breathing deeply enough) and I told her that I absolutely couldn’t handle anything like that on my face when I was feeling so anxious. (I’m not typically an anxious person, and this experience gave me much compassion for those who struggle with this sort of thing on a regular basis.) I requested that my husband just remind me periodically to take a deep breath and she agreed to that.

0745: The pain med bolus in my epidural wore off. It lasted a whole 45 minutes. Once again I was besides myself with pain, and crying. I just didn’t know what to do. I felt completely stuck. My new nurse (who was wonderful, by the way) suggested that I had some sort of “bad” epidural and that I should consider getting a new one. But I was completely afraid of two more extremely painful needle pokes in my spine! Besides, I thought that maybe I was just one of those people who epidurals didn’t work well for. I knew that at least was a possibility, and it was confusing that it would work only part of the time. My nurse again called anesthesia (this time it was a new person as the last person was on their way home). The new nurse anesthetist on came in a gave me another pain med bolus in my epidural, this time it was something different than what I was given before. I felt my legs and torso get warm and tingly again, meaning that the epidural seemed to be working again. The anxious feeling I had slowly waned, thankfully.

0800: My nurse decided she wanted to check me because the pain I had been having seemed to resemble transition labor pains in her opinion. But alas, I was still stuck at 4.5 cm, even though my pitocin drip was up to 10. I felt majorly discouraged and wondered if I was ever going to see my baby!

0930: The OB on call for the day shift came in and introduced herself with her entourage of a both a medical student and resident at her side. We discussed my case. My pitocin was up to 12 at this point. She then checked me and told me (YET AGAIN) that I was only at 4.5cm! I burst into tears. I was really uncomfortable, exhausted, and hungry. Oh yes– and I was throwing up too, probably from the pain meds. I heard myself ask… or rather beg, for a c-section. This shows how desperate I was, because all along I had been praying to avoid another surgery and more scar tissue forming. I didn’t even care about scar tissue at that point. My only concern was that I didn’t want a c-section with the epidural I had, because I didn’t trust it to keep working during the surgery. Either way, it was all for nothing because the OB kindly but firmly denied my request. Rather, she decided that an internal monitor needed to be placed to make sure that the contractions were actually strong enough to dilate my cervix, and she recommended going up-up-up on the pitocin. This was not the news I had been hoping for. I was besides myself with despair. Here I was, barely making it with an epidural that worked on and off, and already on a high level of pitocin, and she wanted to INCREASE it even more?! I couldn’t even look her in the eye or respond to her suggestion, I was such a mess. I couldn’t believe how hopeless I felt then. Again I kept praying and texted some close friends that I desperately needed their prayers because the induction was not going well. The OB left the room to gather supplies for the internal monitor and through tears I began to think that maybe getting induced was one of the worst decisions of my life. Sounds pretty dramatic now, and it gives some insight as to how much of a mess I was at that point!

0945: Internal monitor placed and pitocin turned up to 14.

1100: I started to spike a fever, but nothing too serious, 100.6. The OB started me on an additional antibiotic as she was afraid that the clindamicin wasn’t cutting it for the positive GBS status. They were worried that I was developing chorioamnionitis (an infection of the amniotic fluid). I was then told by the OB that my baby would have to receive at least 48 hours of antibiotics in the nursery once he was born. Additionally, baby’s heart rate became elevated (due to my fever) and was in the 180’s. I hated knowing that my baby was now stressed, and the urge to get him out was even stronger. Nothing was going like I thought it would. Thankfully I had the support of my husband, my mom, and also my mother in law, which was a blessing.

12:15: Pitocin at 16. Once again the epidural wore off and the contractions were every 1.5 minutes. I literally wanted to scream with each contraction but held back. Instead I cried. My mom cried too and my husband looked completely distressed. I got checked again and was STILL 4.5 cm. It was just unbelievable. We talked about replacing my epidural again and I agreed to it. If I couldn’t have a c-section, then there was no way I would survive on this amount of pitocin with a bad epidural.

1330: The nurse anesthetist came in I prepared for the worst. Hubby was out getting lunch (my epidural had been working when he left) so my mom stayed to help me brace for the epidural placement. The nurse anesthetist put in the epidural and I was overjoyed because I barely felt it! Additionally, it was a good epidural and worked right away! Also, he let me know that the old epidural wasn’t even intact– it was in a little bit but not very much. I let out a HUGE sigh of relief knowing that I didn’t have to deal with the bad line anymore. Thank you Lord for some pain relief!

1335: This is a side note, but during my hospital stay I was on my 8th nurse. Yes, you read that right: Eight nurses! Some would have me as their patient for 3 hours, some for ten minutes, some for five hours, etc. I had no idea what was up with their assignments that they would be moving around from patient to patient so much. It was extremely annoying. Anyhow, my excellent nurse that day had been with me since 0700 and she was the best one yet. But I knew she would be going home when her shift ended at 3 pm. I (somewhat jokingly, somewhat seriously) asked her if she could work overtime and stay with me. (Yes, I actually asked her that.) I couldn’t believe it when she replied, “Well, they’re short today so I might just do that!”  She later came in and told me that she was indeed staying until 7 pm and all of us in my labor room cheered!

1420: I was checked again by my OB. I was prepared to hear “4.5 cm” again. Instead she completely blew my socks off when she said “You’re complete! The baby’s head is RIGHT THERE!” I couldn’t even believe it. I was utterly dumbfounded. How on earth was this possible? We all cheered at that point and I thanked the Lord for delivering me from being stuck the rest of my life at 4.5 cm. The OB said we should wait an hour or so and let the additional pain med bolus the nurse anesthetist gave me wear off a little so that I wouldn’t be completely numb when it came time to push. I was really glad about this because I was pretty worried about trying to push out a baby when I couldn’t really move my legs much and had never done it before. My nurse told me try to get some sleep before pushing. I remember thinking “Yeahhhh right!” I was way too nervous and excited. That’s like going to Disneyland for the first time as a little kid and having your mom tell you to take a nap when you first arrive. It’s not going to happen!

1520: My nurse came in a decided it was time to try some trial pushes. Hubby and I kicked everyone out to the waiting room. She got my got my legs up into the stirrups (oh, joy) and told me exactly what I needed to do. She instructed me to push with my next contraction and I did. She immediately said “STOP!” and excitedly told me “His head is right there! You are going to have this baby in no time!” It was like music to my ears– after being so worn out from such a long labor I now had the hope that I wouldn’t have to be pushing for a really long time! My nurse then frantically called the OB and told her to please come ASAP and ran around getting everything set up to catch the baby.

1530: The OB came in I also allowed the medical student to watch as well (they probably could have asked me anything and I would have said yes). I began to push with each contraction and before I knew it our son’s head was out!

1543: Then my OB told me to give a tiny push and so I thought I gave what was a tiny push, but apparently the rest of the baby slid right out and my OB said “Stop! Stop pushing!” Oops. Me pushing too much meant a second degree tear. But our baby was out, and I couldn’t believe how fast it all happened! When my OB said that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck THREE times I was astounded, because he hasn’t showed many signs of distress as he descended down the birth canal. I did, however, notice that his umbilical cord was really thin and long– although I was initially bummed about it being thin (because I always associate thin cords with poor nutrition) I then realized that I should thank the Lord that it was thin, because it was so incredibly long and allowed Joshua to be delivered without too much distress.

Joshua was then placed on my chest and I just stared at him in amazement, with tears running down my face. My husband also looked completely awestruck. He was so cute! I just kept looking at him thinking, “So this is who was inside me all these many months!” It was the strangest and most amazing feeling in the entire world. He cried a bit and I kept drying him off and replacing wet blankets with warm ones. In the meantime I was being sewed up (totally thankful at this point for the epidural!) but I was able to nurse him a little during that. After snuggling with him for about 45 minutes the nurse took him over to the warmer and got measurements, gave the vitamin K injection and put the erythromycin in his eyes. He weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces and was 19 1/4 inches long!

After I was decent again, we brought in the grandparents from the waiting room and finally got to announce our baby’s name! It was so nice to finally be able to tell people after keeping it a secret all these months. I hate keeping secrets, but I’m proud to say that I never spilled the beans once! My mother in law exclaimed “I LOVE the name Joshua!” and that made me smile. Hubby was enjoying his time with Joshua, and then more friends and family came in and everyone took turns holding Joshua. My nurse brought me in a tray of food and I devoured it while watching everyone hold him. I was starving! But it was such a sweet time to see everyone meet him for the first time. We were all so excited that Joshua was finally here and I was especially thankful to the Lord for giving me grace in only having to push for 15 minutes after such a long labor ordeal.

An hour or two after that our awesome nurse transferred us to our postpartum room and gave report to the new nurse just in time before having to head home at 7 pm. I gave her a huge hug and told her how much I appreciated her sticking it our with us until the very end.

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We stayed in the hospital for two days and Joshua did not end up having to receive antibiotics after all. They did draw blood cultures though and wanted to give them 48 hours to grow before sending him home. My fever diminished immediately after giving birth, and Joshua never had a fever. So I seriously wonder if my mild fever was more due to having an epidural for an extended period of time and not due to bacteria. I guess we’ll never know!

Now that thirteen days have passed, I have to admit that I still felt a little traumatized while recalling the details of Joshua’s birth story. It was so incredibly hard. And yet… God was in the midst of it all, answering prayers, working miracles,  and blessing our socks off with one incredibly good little baby. When I snuggle with our little son, sometimes tears of gratitude will fall as I thank the Lord for what a precious child He gave us. So yes, it was a hard pregnancy. It was a horrible labor. But it was absolutely 100% worth it.

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