Monday, July 15, 2013

Sydney's birth story: Part One

I have been working on getting this just how I want it for awhile now, and while I have yet to think it is perfect I know that it is time to share it. This is part one of her birth story. It is quite long, and it goes from when labor started until her actual arrival. The craziness which ensued after her delivery will be in part two. I started this over a month ago so the date is different, and it is written to my daughter so it is written a bit differently than it would be if it was just a blog post.

My Dearest Sydney,

It’s so hard to believe that you will be three weeks old tomorrow, June 7, 2013. I have spent the majority of the past three weeks just staring in wonder at the miracle of you. I find myself wrapped up in your tiny noises, engrossed by your facial expressions, and totally in love when you open your eyes and look at me.  In truth, the past three weeks have been the best three weeks of my life.  I realized, however, that I have spent no time documenting your life thus far because I’ve been too caught up in staring at you. What follows is a summary of your birth and the first three weeks of your amazing life. I love you, Angel!

May 16, 2013 marked the arrival of week 36 in my pregnancy with you. My body had been aching for a few weeks at this point because (mostly) of the bed rest that I was on due to my risk of preeclampsia.  I had an appointment with Dr. Ismail at 10:00 to have an NST and BPP (non-stress test and biophysical profile) and then see the doctor. Your grandpa was driving me up to my appointments at University of Chicago because I was told not to drive, and it was so nice to have the company during the many months of visits up there. 

I woke up that morning feeling exhausted. You were always such a good night time sleeper in my tummy, but the previous night you were awake almost the entire night through. You kept kicking, punching, rolling your head, and doing whatever else you could think of in your cramped quarters. This was so extremely unlike you, and I was kept awake by your strong movements for hours on end. When the alarm went off in the morning, I struggled to keep my eyes open and I dreaded the tiring length of the day ahead of me. I truly had no idea how long the day would actually be.

My NST went great, and you passed the biophysical profile with flying colors. They attempted to get a 3D picture of your face for us, but the technician remarked that you were so far down in my pelvis that it was just simply impossible to get a picture of your face. She was shocked at how low you were. We had been hearing that you were low for weeks so I really didn’t think much of this comment, and I proceeded to wait for Dr. Ismail’s appointment. 

As I was called back to Dr. Ismail’s office, I was put into an exam room, and my blood pressure was taken. My blood pressure was pretty high as it had been a few days prior at my last appointment. They were very concerned at this point that I was developing preeclampsia so on May 13 I had many blood tests done, and a 24-hour urine collection as well. They were hoping to have results for me during this appointment to make sure that everything was safe for me and you. 

As I was waiting for the doctor to come in, I started feeling miserable suddenly. I was nauseous, crampy, and just overall feeling terrible. Dr. Ismail arrived shortly after this feeling began, and after talking to me for about ten minutes, he concluded that he believed I was in active labor. He had his P.A. check me which showed that I was 100% effaced and 2 cm dilated. He immediately sent me over to labor and delivery to be evaluated, but I figured we would be going home in a short while. I truly did not think that I was in labor at this point.

I vaguely remember the walk over to labor and delivery as I also called your daddy’s school to find out what time his lunch was (I didn’t want to interrupt his classes to tell him I was in labor and delivery since I knew I was going home soon).  I checked in at the L&D desk, and I was given a gown to change into and hooked up to the monitors to see about contractions.  Sure enough, I was contracting every 2-3 minutes, and they were looking like very promising contractions. Since I had steroid shots with you at 33 weeks for our preterm labor scare, there was no reason to stop labor from happening at this point so they moved me into the labor and delivery room for admission.

At this point, I called your daddy to make sure he knew what was happening. I explained that they were admitting me and this was the real deal (we had had two previous hospitalizations prior to your delivery); you would be making your arrival into this world within the next 24 hours! Your daddy’s work immediately told him to go, and he, Grandma, and Auntie Ellie came up as fast as they could to be with me. 

Shortly after being admitted to a private room, they broke the news to me that I did indeed have preeclampsia. This meant that I was to be put on a magnesium sulfate drip to protect me from having seizures during labor. The problem with magnesium sulfate, they explained, was that it was known to stop labor so they planned on adding in Pitocin if needed to continue my labor pattern. I had really not wanted to have Pitocin so I was quite sad to hear this news, but I knew that it was safest for both of us if you made your arrival vaginally so if Pitocin was needed I would be okay with it. 

Your daddy arrived shortly after all of this was explained, and it was nice to have my family there to support me. I called Grandma Murray to let her know I was in labor as well, and she planned on coming to the hospital as soon as she got off of work. Everyone was quite anxious and excited for your arrival! Soon after Daddy’s arrival, they hooked me up to the magnesium sulfate, and this is where things start to get a little blurry for me. The magnesium sulfate created an almost anesthetic like effect where everything seemed really foggy and blurry (literally). Unfortunately, it did nothing to take away from the pain of contractions. 

Within about an hour of starting the magnesium, the Pitocin was started because my contractions stopped being regular. It was hard to accept that I needed Pitocin, but the whole experience wasn’t as bad as I anticipated it to be. In fact, the contractions got stronger, but they were completely manageable as long as I had a hand to squeeze and a pillow to breathe into. I actually remember having Braxton Hicks contractions which were stronger than the ones during the Pitocin. 

These contractions continued for hours upon hours as they let me labor on my own. I wasn’t able to get out of bed which was the most frustrating part to me, but it was required because of the magnesium. So I lay in bed as the family took turns staying beside me so everyone could eat dinner. Your Auntie Ellie bought a sweet headband and socks for your arrival, and your Grandma Murray showed up at this point too. This period of time seemed to go by so quickly and before I realized it, it was starting to get dark outside.

At some point, I decided I wanted to watch the season finale of American Idol while going through the contractions, but I remember so little of the actual show! I was too busy breathing through contractions every three minutes or so that it was hard to focus on what was happening. 

About 12 hours in (around midnight), Daddy convinced me to get an epidural so I could get some rest. I felt that I had been handling the contractions well, and I fought him on this decision. He managed to talk me into it though as he worried I was too exhausted (remember I had very little sleep from the previous night).  Even when anesthesia came in to talk to me, I told them I really wasn’t sure I needed it but to put the order in for one anyway. So they did. At this point, they also decided to check me to see how much I had progressed. 

When the doctor came in to check me, I remember wondering how far I had progressed and how many centimeters dilated I was.  I never really expected her to tell me that I hadn’t progressed at all except that you had moved further down in the birth canal. I was truly heartbroken. I had been in active labor for twelve hours and made no progress whatsoever! I felt defeated at this point, and I realized the epidural would probably help move things along. 

About twenty minutes after being checked, my water broke! I remember asking the nurses a dozen times if the water was clear, and each time they assured me that yes it was. I was so worried that something would be wrong during your delivery that I kept questioning everything. Within minutes of my water breaking, my contractions went from manageable to completely terrible. They were so painful that I could hardly breathe through them, and I was so grateful that anesthesia was on their way with the epidural. I had been so against having an epidural, but these contractions were no joke anymore, and I didn’t want to manage them without pain meds.

Receiving the epidural was scarier than I wanted it to be, but at the same time not as bad as I had imagined. I always worried about the needle going into my back, but honestly I didn’t feel that part at all. The part that was scary was when my blood pressure plummeted, and I started blacking out. Daddy was in the room holding me up during the procedure, and he said there was a lot of blood everywhere. He also heard the doctors talking to each other about how the medicine they were giving me just wasn’t working, and he very quickly became quite frightened. It took several minutes to get things back to where they were supposed to be, and I soon started feeling better. 

They explained that I could hit a button for additional pain medicine to be delivered when I needed it, and it was only minutes after the doctor left that I was hitting the button because only one side of my body was getting any relief from the contractions. After several contractions and still being in excruciating pain, the nurse called the anesthesiologist back to give me a bolus of pain meds to see if that would help. The bolus did help for a few minutes, but then the pain was back on one side yet again. At this point, it was pretty apparent that my epidural was “patchy” and would only cover part of the pain.

The doctors told me to try and sleep as much as I could because I would need my energy for pushing, but I simply couldn’t sleep with the pain I was in. Thankfully, I had a wonderful support system around me to help get me through each contraction. I squeezed the bed railing so hard while your daddy put pressure on my back each time a new contraction would come on. I was so exhausted at this point, and I truly had no idea how I could keep going any longer. 

An hour after my water broke, I started feeling a lot of pressure between my legs but I didn’t think anything of it. With the epidural being patchy, everything felt a little different anyway. When the pressure continued to increase during the next hour, I told Grandma Brooks how as I feeling, and she asked the nurse to have someone check me again.  When the doctor came in, I truly expected her to say that I hadn’t progressed much more. Instead, she told me that I was “complete,” which meant that I had gone from two centimeters dilated to ten in just two hours.  She also told me that you weren’t facing the “right way” for labor, and you were looking up toward the ceiling instead. I asked what that meant, and she told me it would be a harder labor than regular. Given how stubborn you were throughout the pregnancy, this didn’t really surprise me! Instead of worrying about your position, all I could think of at that point was It was officially time to push.

The nurse put an oxygen mask on me to help with the strain of pushing and given how exhausted I was, the oxygen was very beneficial for me. As I began pushing, the doctor who was on staff had already called Dr. Ismail to come in, but she would be taking care of me until he arrived. 
The next hour seemed like an eternity as I struggled to push with an epidural that had become very ineffective at this point. I could feel everything in both legs which meant it had basically worn off, but I had to keep pushing. I was so very frustrated with the doctors because they kept telling me I was making progress, but I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere.  With each contraction, the pain was so strong that I thought I was going to rip off Daddy’s hand.

I kept pushing though, and eventually the doctor told me that she could see your head and that you had a full head of hair! I was thrilled to hear this, and it gave me an energy boost I desperately needed to keep going.  At this point, however, the doctors were handling two deliveries, and I found out that they told Dr. Ismail not to come in because he wasn’t going to make it in time for your birth.
The doctors kept going in and out of the room to deal with both births happening at the same time, and I kept asking where they were as I kept pushing and pushing with just our family and a nurse present. All of the sudden, the nurse told me to stop pushing (this seemed like the most horrific request and it was the hardest thing in the world to do), and I suddenly got scared. I thought something was wrong, but she simply had to run and get the doctors because it was officially time for you to make your entrance. 

I remember pushing as hard as I possibly could again and again at this point. Daddy said he was thinking I was going to pass out because of how strained my face was and how hard it was for me to breathe at this point. As soon as I felt burning, however, I felt such a relief because I knew that meant your head was ready to come out! I gave it all I could on that push, and I felt such a relief when your head popped out and at 4:25 AM on May 17, 2013, I watched you come into the world. You were so very beautiful, and I was ecstatic to hear your faint little cry. 

My first time holding her..completely exhausted and very out of it.

Everything happened quickly then. I was allowed to see you and give you a quick kiss before they whisked you off to the NICU to be monitored for your blood sugars because of my diabetes. In the time I got to see you though, you were crying and crying until they put you on my chest and you heard my voice. It was such a magical experience to know that my voice, which you obviously recognized, calmed you down so instantaneously. They also did tell me that you weighed 5 pounds and 14 ounces which I thought was great for only being 36 weeks! After you were taken to the NICU, I was so upset not to have you near me, and I was so exhausted at the same time. I ended up with a third degree tear from the birth, and it took them over an hour to stitch me up as well.  

I thought the stitches would be the worst part of the entire experience (after the actual labor), but I had no idea what was to come.

To be continued. . .

Monday, July 8, 2013

The First Seven Weeks

My dearest Sydney,

These first seven weeks have simply flown by faster than I ever imagined. I always listened when others would tell me that having children makes the time go by so quickly, but I didn't fully grasp that until now. I wake up with you around 6 AM each morning, and suddenly it is 10 PM and I'm unsure of where the hours between even went.

It's hard to believe there was a time before you were born. I remember constantly wondering who you would look like.

It's pretty obvious that a good chunk of time goes toward just staring at your beautiful face as you eat, sleep, and play. You make the sweetest faces I've ever seen, and you are now starting to smile which means that I'm enamored by you even more. The rest of my time is spent making and cleaning bottles, pumping, burping, changing, feeding, and talking to you while we tour different areas of the house. Somehow, I still manage to remember to eat and do my treatments, but even life's necessities seems trivial in comparison to watching you.

As the time has flown, I've learned so many new things. I've learned how fast the days go and how long the nights can be. I've discovered that 3 AM is my favorite time because it's just me and you in your drowsy but happy state. I've understood what it means to worry endlessly, and love more powerfully than I could ever have imagined. I've regained my sense of wonder and excitement as I begin to see everything through your eyes. I watch you stare in awe at the world around you, and I think to myself that if everyone had a little Sydney to watch the world with there simply would be no war. I've found my arms are stronger than I thought as I carry you around for hours to soothe you and quench my own selfish desires. I've felt pain when you've felt pain, and I've felt utter relief when the pain dissipated. Most of all, however, I've learned that no matter what you do in this life and no matter what happens from this point forward, I will always love you more than life itself. You are my precious miracle, and I know I am blessed beyond belief.

 A little cuteness until the next post (birth story).