Sunday, June 26, 2011

When My First Born Was

(newborn Andrew, November 26, 2005)

(Andrew, age 3.5, just before my baby boy became a big brother, April 2009)

(Andrew, age 6, December 2011)

The first part of the story involved practicing fertility awareness for about a year to avoid pregnancy, then we "tried" for about four cycles before I found out I was pregnant on March 11, 2005. My due date was November 20th, my mom's birthday (266 days from conception).

I'll start out by saying that we planned to do a home birth with Andrew, so I saw a midwife (Wendi) for all of my prenatal care. I had interviewed her before I even got pregnant, so I called to tell her I was pregnant, but didn't see her until I was 12 weeks along. Besides one blood test, I didn't have any procedures done during my pregnancy. No ultrasound, no genetic testing, nothing. I gained 30lbs total, starting at 158lbs. and ending right at 189lbs. I'm 5'9" by the way! I had no complications and no issues and was declared "perfect" at every prenatal visit. I saw a chiropractor, too, throughout my pregnancy, which definitely helped with the backaches and discomfort. They predicted a fast, easy delivery.

Since my plan was a home birth, we had everything ready and I planned to use our sunken tub for relief. I had the birth all planned mom would be there for moral support and my dad would be there to take pictures intermittently during labor and after the birth. Mom would also help take care of the midwives. I would labor until it got difficult, then move to the tub. I actually thought I'd try a water birth, if it worked out that way. When the baby was born, Drew would announce the gender of the baby (and maybe even catch the baby, too!). The midwives would lay the baby on my chest while the cord stopped pulsing, then Drew would cut the cord. We'd stay in the tub, bonding as a family, until the placenta was birthed, then everyone would get cleaned up and moved to the bed. We'd get to spend those first hours nursing and being together, without all the hullabaloo of the hospital or any extra interventions. It was a great plan, and we had every reason to believe it would happen that way.

I had asked the midwives how many times they'd had to do a hospital transfer. Besides one true emergency situation, they said "never." The only reason I thought I'd end up at the hospital was because I couldn't handle the pain.

My due date came and went. The next week was Thanksgiving, and several people predicted that I'd have the baby on Thanksgiving. We normally went back to Drew's aunt and uncle's house about two hours away every year (where we'd been introduced by his sister back in 2001) but didn't make the trip in case I went into labor. His mom and siblings were there and were hoping to come visit the baby before returning home to New Mexico.

On the way home from my folks' house on Thanksgiving, I was definitely uncomfortable and may have been having some Braxton Hicks contractions, or just mild pre-labor contractions. Drew and I even timed some that night, and he could feel my belly harden--but nothing became of it.

Friday was a long, boring day. I was so done being pregnant, at 5 days past due!! That night, I expressed how miserable I was to Drew and he said, "Well, let's pray that you'll go into labor tonight." Great idea, Honey!!!! So before bed, we did.

At 4:00a.m. on Saturday, November 26th, I woke up to a new kind of sensation, along my lower abdomen, that was decidedly different from what I'd been feeling up until that point. It was a pulling pain and I looked at the clock and thought, "I think this is it."

I timed contractions during those wee morning hours, and they kept going! By 7:00a.m., I called my mom, just to give her a head's up. She was planning to come over, anyway, but I told her to pack for the duration and bring the soup she'd made for the midwives.

Drew got up around 8:00a.m. to go to work (he had a retail job and worked weekends) and could feel my belly tighten with my contractions, and said something like, "Yeah, you're probably in labor." He's a fairly laid back kinda guy!! He said he'd go open the store and to let him know how it went and he'd come back. People were amazed after the fact that I let him leave to go to work when I was in labor--and he worked 45 minutes away! I wasn't worried, though, partly because my mom was coming over.

By 11:00a.m., I called the midwives to tell them I was probably in early labor and they said to keep them posted. Friends came by around then to drop off a birthday gift (my birthday was Nov. 29) and I remember definitely noticing the contractions during their visit, but I was still handling them easily and talking through them.

At 2:00p.m. I called the midwives to tell them things were progressing and definitely not petering out! They said they'd come whenever I thought I needed them--I said, "Come!" I asked if I could get into the tub and they said "yes."

Around that time, Drew was back home and I got into the bath tub! The next three hours are a blur but looking back, I'd call that part "active labor." I was very insistent upon #1, not watching the clock and #2, not being checked repeatedly. I was so afraid of being discouraged by my progression!! From 2:00 to 5:00, I was practicing all of my coping techniques during contractions: focusing on a candle, singing, squeezing someone's hand, breathing--you name it, I tried it! The biggest help was having Drew sitting next to the tub, holding my hand. The midwives came and went, checking on me and checking the baby's heart rate, and telling me what a great job I was doing.

By 5:00p.m., now 13 hours since the first contraction, I noticed the light starting to change and asked for the time. I was amazed that three hours had gone by! When you're taking life one contraction at a time, time seems to go by faster!

From around 5:00p.m. to 8:00p.m., I continued to labor, almost exclusively in the tub. I just couldn't imagine getting out and had no desire to try anything else! That time span is another blur for the most part, but I know that during that time, I was doing the most moaning and low singing--and even told Drew, "I don't know how much longer I can do this." I also went to the bathroom several times, and lost my mucous plug in the toilet and soon after, my water broke in the tub in one big bubble! The midwives did see some meconium in the amniotic fluid but said a little bit was normal. I seem to remember being nauseated during this time, too, so that was probably the peak of transition. I'd say this time frame was active labor and transition.

It was also during this period that I had incredible back pain and pain in my backside, on the right side. If it had been closer to the 8:00 mark, I'd say that was the "urge to push" and I didn't realize it. I just thought it was part of labor pain. It was intense and excruciating, but I got through it somehow. Drew told me later that, during this phase, he urged the midwives to check me because he thought I might be ready to push, but they reminded him that I didn't want to be checked so he relented.

Finally at 8:00p.m., I was checked for the first time in my pregnancy...and I was fully dilated and fully effaced! I was so relieved that I got a second wind!!

From 8:00p.m. to 10:00p.m., I went back and forth to the tub and the bed, trying to push. There was more and more meconium leaking and then the baby's heart rate started speeding up. He wasn't lacking oxygen--he wanted OUT!

At 10:00p.m., the midwives decided that with the presence of meconium and the baby's increased heart rate, we were better off going to the hospital. They probably talked about it to Drew and my mom, but all I remember was them telling me they knew I was disappointed, but that it was for the best. I was SO ready to get that baby out, I just said, "Get my robe and slippers."

So Wendi, Drew, myself and my dad piled into my dad's car and headed for the nearest hospital. Wendi talked to the nurses on duty, telling them what was happening and they called the doctor in to meet us there. I was in excruciating pain and the contractions gave me absolutely no break in between, so I was miserable--but also "in the zone." I do remember my dad passing the hospital and having to turn around--and I was so focused that I couldn't say anything.

My mom calls him an angel, the guy that was waiting on the hospital curb with a wheelchair. I'm sure we looked like something out of a movie, me being whisked upstairs to the maternity floor with wet hair, wearing a robe...and all these people rushing behind me.

Turns out I was the only woman in labor that night, so all the nurses met us in the room and prepped me. The only thing I remember clearly was one of the nurses (Jackie, who ended up being wonderful) saying she was going to attach some kind of monitor to the baby's head and I said, "Oh, no, you're not!" I think the midwives explained to her that I didn't want any extra interventions. I'm glad they were there for this part. The doctor came rushing in at about 10:15p.m., yelling to me, "You're going to push this baby out or we're going in for a C-section!" He was a jerk, FYI, but all I needed to hear was "C-section" and I knew I was going to push like my life depended on it!

Dr. Sun was debriefed on what was going on and got suited up. I know he pretty much immediately did an episiotomy, plus he tried a vacuum, which ended up slipping off. Um...OUCH. I seem to remember that the baby was born in about four pushes, and I really did push harder than even I knew I was capable of.

There was a pediatric specialist waiting to check the baby, because of the meconium. I remember the baby coming out and how relieved I was and I have only one other memory of (what turned out to be a) him until an hour later. But Drew says he was given to the specialist and taken away to be checked out immediately. Drew also remembers how ugly the baby's face was when it/he came out, and he thought, "That better be a boy or God is just cruel." heehee

Andrew IV was born on Saturday, November 26th at 10:27p.m. weighing 8 lbs. 4 oz. and measuring 20" long with dark hair and dark blue eyes.

I don't remember being told "It's a boy." After all the waiting, anticipation and speculation, I was robbed of the moment that I had so been looking forward to. And, of course, Drew wasn't able to catch the baby or cut the cord. He remembers being concerned for me because there was so much blood.

What I do remember is Dr. Sun saying I was badly torn on the right side, where I'd felt all that pain before. He tried to stitch me up and it was even more excruciating than labor and I remember saying, "I just gave birth and now you're going to do THAT?!" With no anesthesia, mind you. I guess I was bleeding too much to take the time. It turned out that I had a fourth degree tear in my vaginal wall (undoubtedly where Andrew's head had been resting for so long) and had to go to surgery for him to repair it.

So I was prepped for surgery and remember passing by Andrew (he'd come back from being checked, he was fine, with Apgars of 7 and 9), laying in an isolette and breathing oxygen, and one of the midwives lifted him up and waved his arm as I passed. I remember the nurse saying something like, "He really needs to lay flat," or something to that effect, and I thought, "Boy, I bet the nurses are annoyed by all of this." That was the only time I saw him until I returned from surgery.

I was taken down the hall to an O.R., all the while saying, "I can't believe I had a boy!" I was elated and exhausted. I got a spinal shot and it took Dr. Sun a good half an hour to stitch me up. In the meantime, the anesthesiologist enjoyed berating me about the danger of home births and I remember holding my own and not backing down. The same nurse who I yelled at about not wanting the head thingy was nearby and whispered, "Don't pay any attention to him." That was probably my first moment of mom-to-mom bonding!

During the stitching up, Dr. Sun also commented, "This is the worst tear I've seen all year." It was November 26th!! What doctor says that????? He later added, "Well, at least it will be that much easier next time." Thaaaaaanks.

So I was wheeled back from surgery to find Andrew all wrapped up and in Drew's arms. My mom was there, too. I finally got to hold MY SON and, boy, was I in love!! I think that's when I was filled in on his Apgars, weight, etc. I remember looking him over and noticing that his fingernails were yellow and calling them "Vampire fingernails." An odd thing to notice first, huh?

I went to recovery after a while and talked to the midwives some, about what had happened. It was very surreal to have landed myself in the hospital.

The first day or so, Drew was sick with a terrible cold and Andrew was cold, too. Drew was holding him skin to skin but it wasn't enough, so he was put under heat lamps. Beyond that, he was perfect. We had a minor glitch with nursing because I had it in my head that he should be positioned a certain way, so he'd get frustrated and Drew would have to take him to calm him down, then hand him back. Finally, I realized he wanted to have his arms crossed over his chest and that was the ticket--he was a champion breast feeder for (brace yourself) almost three years after that.

We spent that Saturday night, all day Sunday and up until about 3:00p.m. Monday in the hospital. Our church was literally steps away, so after my sister and brother-in-law came to bring me my things and visit Andrew Sunday morning, we asked them to stop by church to let our home group know that Andrew had arrived. They came by after church, along with the pastor and his wife, the youth pastor and his wife and a handful of others. Hello!!! My brother and his wife visited, along with Drew's mom, who was heading back home immediately after she left the hospital. We were so glad she got to meet him! Drew's sister and her family, and Drew's uncle, all came by Sunday night to meet him.

Some other memories...

~ I vividly remember watching the sun come up both mornings I was in the hospital, as I sat up nursing Andrew in bed. I was so happy and content.

~ I remember signing a form to refuse a hearing test for Andrew, and as someone walked out and the door slammed shut, he jumped and the other nurse commented, "Well, there's his hearing test." HA!

~ The pediatrician that came to check him before we left declared him "robust." And he has been ever since!

~ The nurse that discharged us lectured Drew about being gentle to me when we "resumed intimacy." Repeatedly lectured him. Awesome/

~ Just before we left the hospital, Drew and the nurse disappeared to pull the car around, check the car seat, etc. and it was the first time I was alone with Andrew. We sat in a rocker and I sung "Jesus Loves Me" to him and cried and cried.

And that's about it! He was perfect as far as breastfeeding and sleeping, and never had any issues. His umbilical cord stump fell off quickly, at only about four days old. I think my milk came in at about five days. He was never fussy, he didn't have colic or digestion problems--nothin'. He pooped fairly infrequently, which turned out to just be "him," and actually made life a lot easier! We never paced the halls at night with him. In fact, I learned how to nurse laying down pretty quickly and everyone slept wonderfully as a result. He was a happy, content baby and people so frequently commented about how "alert" he was that we started calling him "Our Little Lert." As in, he was a lert. heehee.

As hard as it was to go past my due date, the fact that he was so healthy made it totally worth it. With November being jam-packed with birthdays in our family, we were relieved that he got his own unique day.

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