Saturday, February 26, 2011

Violet's Birth Story

Well, folks, she's finally here.

Actually she's been here for 6 days now. The past 6 days have gone by like a swift breeze, a stark contrast to the slow weeks before when I would have sworn I was living my own hellish version of the movie Groundhog Day. Every day I woke up pregnant, for 16 entire days past my due date... longest days of my life.

Seeing as I was carrying the label of "gestational diabetic" {even though I still have serious doubts I really was a diabetic}, it's amazing my doctor "let" me go to 42 weeks. Most doctors insist on induction for GD moms at 38 weeks, as GD moms are at higher risk of having fat babies that get stuck in the birth canal. My doctor didn't bring up induction until I hit week 40, and we went so far as to schedule one at that point. But once the day arrived, I called and canceled. I had my heart set on going into labor naturally, along with a gut feeling that it wasn't time and I was also planning on a VBAC using the Hypnobirthing technique. Seeing as 40% of attempted VBACs are unsuccessful, however, I knew another c-section was a definite possibility.

Here is how Violet came to be:

Just kidding, that part is personal. Here is how she was born, 42 weeks later:

I'll spare you the grueling emotional rollercoaster of the weeks preceding her birth. I complained enough about that on Facebook, anyway. {Justin likes to refer to my recent moods as "hormotional".} I wonder how many people got sick of my whiny status updates and defriended me?

I went into labor on my own around 5am on Saturday the 19th! When I woke up that morning to the undeniable symptoms of early labor I literally did a happy dance. I was scheduled to be induced the very next night, at 42 weeks + 2 days, and had been panicking at the thought. Many might not think induction is so bad, but after weeks {months!} of research on natural birthing and the obvious benefits, I've learned just how tricky inductions can be and they are rarely free of complications and interventions.

Contractions came all day Saturday, getting stronger and closer together like they're supposed to, but very slowly. It wasn't until 8pm, after spending the day at my parents house which is minutes from the hospital, that I finally decided to call the doctor and see if I should head to the hospital. Contractions were 5-7 minutes apart, and getting more intense. I was using my Hypnobirthing techniques to keep myself relaxed and in very little pain, but it'd been about 13 hours since the onset of labor, I was eager to get things moving.

My doctor wasn't available that night, so instead I got a hold of the on-call doctor, "Dr. G". He was surprised to learn I was a VBAC {vaginal birth after cesarean} with {supposed} GD and had been "allowed" to go to 42 weeks. I explained to him that I really hadn't given my doctor a choice on the matter. {My recent research on natural birthing had made me feel all empowered! I believe women should educated them on the birthing process instead of walking into labor & delivery blindly trusting their doctor and allowing he/she to make all the choices. It is, after all, my body - my choice.}

Dr. G agreed it might be good for me to head to the hospital to see if Violet was descending and labor was progressing. If I was still in early labor, I could go home for the night.

I took my time, ate dinner, and tearfully said goodbye to Eisley. {Hormotional}. It was hard to leave her! I felt like I was abandoning her. We headed into the hospital around 10:30pm. I was torn between wanting to stay and wanting to go home. On one hand I hoped I would get there and be surprisingly advanced - maybe dilated to 5 or 6? Then I would be able to stay and look forward to the birth soon to come! On the other hand, I was going on 17 hours of labor at this point {albeit early labor} and was growing tired. The thought of going home and getting some sleep or taking a bath sounded really good.

I was one of only two women in labor & delivery when we got to the hospital. Unfortunately I was assigned to that nurse. The majority of the nurses in labor & delivery and also postpartum have been wonderful, in my previous experience. But there's always that one nurse you hear about. And just like last time with Eisley's birth, my first nurse was the one. Justin and I didn't like her at all. Just more reason to go home.

After 17 hours of labor & steady contractions, I was dilated to 1cm! The nurse tried to make a mountain out of a mole hill regarding one heart decel Violet had {tsk, tsk, using scare tactics on patients} and demanded I take a test to ensure my water hadn't broken {it hadn't}, but in the end I insisted on going home to get rest where I'd be more comfortable. Being only 1cm, it was obvious this might be a while.

She sure did take her time getting us discharged, especially considering I was one of two patients on the entire floor that night, but we finally left around 2:30 am.

By the time we got home, it was obvious labor was progressing at least some {I'd give more details, but it'd just gross you out}. My Hypnobirthing techniques had been serving me well up to that point, but now I was going on almost 24 full hours of zero sleep, so the relaxation and visualization techniques I'd been practicing for weeks were losing their effectiveness. The contractions were getting really strong, they were absolutely gripping at this point. I couldn't walk or move during them, nor could I talk other than select four-letter words. I'd been hoping that the 42+ week pregnancy meant I'd be rewarded with one of those fast labors, or at least one less than 12 hours like so many subsequent pregnancies end up with. Unfortunately mine was proving to be a long and difficult one, and I was starting to doubt my ability to go without drugs like I'd planned.

Unable to sleep with the contractions growing more intense, I got into the bathtub. I can certainly understand why so many women do water births! The warm bath served as a natural pain killer and probably cut the intensity of my contractions by 50%. Justin took the opportunity to nap on the couch, and I even enjoyed a glass of wine and just prayed that progress was being made. But all good baths grow cold eventually and by the time I was shivering I admitted to myself it was time to get out and see what happened next...

And what happened next was Justin & I in bed until 7am, him sleeping in four-minute increments and me clawing into his arm and moaning in four-minute increments. I'd given up on my Hypnobirthing techniques by this point, way too exhausted from 24+ hours of laboring to put in the concentration it took to put mind over matter and dull the pain. We knew, around 8:30am, that it was time to head back to the hospital - if not to hopefully give birth shortly, then to at least get some sort of pain relief.

If I was lucky enough to arrive at the hospital with advanced dilation, maybe 5cm or more?, then I would keep trucking, I decided. But if not, well, I'd decide when I got there...

I muttered a "few" expletives on the drive to the hospital.

When we parked I got out of the car and stood there for a couple minutes, shivering in the cold, unable to move until the contraction subsided. {I'm really not trying to be dramatic here, people, does this sound over-indulgent in the pity area? I'm just trying to tell it like it was...}

This time I arrived in labor & delivery they were busier, and I was blessed to be assigned a wonderful nurse! She was Irish, from Dublin, and she was wonderful and suited me perfectly. {Nurses may not seem like a big deal, but when you're dealing with a woman who is helping you manage the discomfort and seeing/touching parts of your body even you aren't familiar with - to me their personality can make all the difference.}

I had been hoping for more progress, but at this point I was 3cm & 70% effaced. At least it was something. But seeing as labor was now approaching 30 hours and it seemed I had miles to go, when she mentioned my natural birth plan I started to cave. Who knew how many more hours I'd be in labor? And I realized I wouldn't do so well without rest, so the epidural was starting to look really appealing at this point, despite the fact that I'd so hoped to avoid it. If I knew at that point that it'd only be a few more hours, I'd like to think I would have pushed through. But I had no way of knowing how much longer it'd be, so I caved. I needed rest!

My wonderful Irish nurse, who started out her career as a certified nurse midwife, was so reassuring at this point. She'd done a natural birth herself, but also one with an epidural, she knew what I was going through at that moment and praised me for going that far - which in my hormotional state was so lovely to hear from someone at that point, bless her.

I forgot to mention - the most significant factor regarding my slow going labor at this point: Violet was not descending, she was still at a -3/-2 station {about as high as they can be}. This was exactly like Eisley's birth had gone, 18 hours of labor/failed induction she hadn't descended, which resulted in a c-section...

Now close to 30 hours of real labor - without any descent on the baby's part... not boding well for a VBAC.

I was surprised that the anesthesiologist came very shortly after I arrived, and the relief was oh so sweet. For the first time in well over a day, I could truly rest while my body kept laboring. The epidural, while not ideal for those who prefer natural, is still a wonderful invention. Contractions were coming stronger than ever, regularly 2-3 minutes apart and strong on the monitor. These were baby-having contractions, Irish nurse assured me. Hopefully they'd produce some progress soon.

Dr. G arrived shortly after the epidural, confirmed the slow progress and Violet's high station, and also discovered that my water had broken at some point. {I'm guessing when I was in the bath?}

I liked Dr. G, even though he wasn't willing to offer me much hope. "I'll be honest, if you can manage a VBAC at this point I'll be impressed." He was right, my labor was way off the curve, as he put it. 30+ hours with this little progression, specifically Violet's station, and considering I was a VBAC with GD and a previous failed induction, the odds were stacked very high against me by this point.

But since Violet was doing so well and I was now resting comfortably, we decided to see if the epidural helped relax me enough to produce some progress and gave it a few more hours. Dr. G could have given me pitocin to produce stronger contractions in hopes of forcing Violet down, but I was pleased that he wasn't thrilled with the idea since I had a uterine scar that could possibly rupture with such strong drug-induced contractions. {I am NOT a fan of pitocin, having done research on it.}

There are several possible reasons why Violet {and Eisley} did not want to descend, we're just not sure what exactly what prevented it. With both births now the doctors liked to think I was going to have huge babies. Eisley was estimated to weigh 9 lbs with a huge head before I gave birth {she was a mere 6 pounder with a little head} and the doctors assumed with Violet since I had {borderline!} GD & went to 42 weeks that she would be enormous. Dr. G said at one point, "If we do a c-section and she's a 9 pounder I'll be saying 'You're welcome!'" He was obviously concerned about the fact that I was a GD patient at 42 weeks... even though I wasn't.

But despite my lack of concern that Violet was large {I never thought she really was}, when 1:45pm rolled around - Sunday the 20th - and I was still at 3cm with Violet as high up as she could be, I seriously began to think c-section. Dr. G was not at all pushy, since Violet was still doing great considering my strong contractions. Both he & Irish nurse expressed their doubts on my ability to have a successful VBAC at this point, but they were willing to allow me to keep going. This was the same point I had reached with Eisley two and a half years ago. Ultimately, I made the decision. C-section it would be.

After 42 weeks, 2 days {I know, I know, I keep saying this - but seriously} and now 34 hours of labor and no sleep - I WAS READY TO MEET MY BABY!

Just like last time, I coped by going over the positives in my head. It wasn't as I'd planned, but focusing on things to be thankful for keeps us from getting bitter - that is what I believe, even though I don't always practice it.

First, I wouldn't re-break my tailbone which was broken towards my birth canal years ago after a fall from a horse {and now, 6 days post-birth, having spent hours on my butt recovering & nursing Violet, I've already experienced enough discomfort with my healed tailbone to be very thankful it's not re-broken from a vaginal birth. The doctor who'd x-rayed my tailbone years ago had warned me I'd break it again when I gave birth. The breastfeeding would just not be happening if it had, it already gives me discomfort as it is.}

Second, I already have the "battle wounds" from a previous c-section. Subsequent c-sections are notoriously easier to recover from, as they go through the scar tissue from before. It is possibly quite a good thing to not have "battle wounds" from a vaginal birth as well. Better one or the other than both, I suppose. Rumor has it you can suffer all sorts of unpleasantness such as incontinence, etc., after giving birth vaginally.

Finally, despite it being a major surgery with longer recovery, there are some added benefits to the cesarean. I'll leave it at that, but being a veteran of two now, I have to say they're not all that bad in more ways than one. Not the end of the world. Many women even ask for c-sections these days. I had hoped to do it the way God intended, but I prayed and it was not so. There must be a good reason.

I'm just blessed to have two beautiful daughters now after two successful pregnancies.

And so around 3pm on Sunday the 20th of February, I was prepped for surgery. This time around I wasn't even nervous! I knew I'd finally have my baby in my arms and I was looking forward to the 42 weeks, 2 days, and 34 hours of labor to be OVER. Once and for all.

Violet was born at 3:55pm.

She weighed a whopping 7 lbs 13 oz {haha! Take THAT doctors who tried to scare me with the "Your baby is going to be HUGE because you [supposedly] have GD and are at 42 weeks!!!" Obviously I'd been right to follow my gut. She might not have fared as well had I allowed them to induce me at the standard 38 weeks for GD patients. Momma knows best!}

Her apgar score was 8/9 - perfect for Colorado.

I would detail the birth itself, but this post is already entirely too long, AND why tell you when I can show you???

Within the next couple days here I'll be posting the video Justin took of the c-section & Violet's birth! Don't worry, it's not at all graphic {except for the part where Violet pooped herself}.

Until then, please enjoy some pictures of Violet's first days. We love her!!! What a treasure God has sent us. Again.

Our family of FOUR!
{Woo! I am seriously puffed up. Ya'll should SEE my post-cesarean cankles. Frightening.}
Another tiny finger this poor guy is suddenly wrapped around.
Don't forget to leave a comment at the end of this post! No account needed.
Do you think she looks like Eisley?

Ready to go home after three nights in the hospital.

Come back soon to see the video of Violet's birth!

3 comments:

  1. Welcome, beautiful Violet!
    Well done Heather, your patience paid off.
    Can't wait to see more photos of your gorgeous family.
    I'm glad you got a better nurse, you can always trust the Irish to sort you out (okay, is it obvious I'm Irish? hehe)
    xxx

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  2. Such a beautiful baby. Good job, mama.

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  3. Congratulations, Heather! Way to stick it out for 34 hours. You are truly amazing. I don't think I could have stuck it out that long. Violet is beautiful! Many blessings to you and your family.

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