Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oh, Henry!

Under the category of "better late than never" I have the pleasure of announcing, three weeks late, the birth on November 23, 2008 of Henry Eliot Hirsch, 7lbs 12 oz, 20 inches. He is, of course, perfect in every way, and much more enjoyable out than in. He was born after a strange and protracted labor (well, protracted compared to his sisters' births) but never looked back. Everybody is adjusting well, even with the fatigue, and Henry is growing like gangbusters.

Your move, Uncle Dan and Aunt Mer. Henry is anxious to meet his best friend.

Longer birth story:

Friday night, I went into early labor, but the contractions were only moderately regular, and weren't so strong that I thought they were terribly painful. I still stayed up all night (and I do mean all night) that night timing them, and hoofing it around the house trying to make them fall into a productive pattern. But by Saturday morning, I was having some bleeding issues. Because I had previously been diagnosed with a placenta previa, I was afraid it was connected to that, even though I had been cleared at 32 weeks. I called the OB's office and they brought me in to check. I spent all Saturday morning in the hospital, and had zero progress on my labor. They did clear the bleeding as totally normal and confirmed I'd progressed from 2 to 3 cm. So the labor the night before had done something, but didn't seem to be going anywhere fast. I was so worn out. I took a small nap Saturday afternoon, and had lots of moderate contractions, but no real labor even though they had gotten strong enough to get my attention each time they happened. I was despondent--labor was so much more obvious and directed with the girls, but this time it was so protracted, with no real assurance it wouldn't just linger for another week. That was just such a depressing thought. Saturday night, we went out to dinner with friends and I had some contractions again, but nothing that convinced me labor was imminent.

But all that blood kept saying to me "you can't have that and not be on the cusp of labor!"

So Saturday night, I went to bed at 10:30 and was woken up at 11:30 by a ROCKING contraction. Heeeeere was labor. Yippee! I began to have contractions that took my breath away. Only they weren't regular! ARRRRRGH! They'd be consistently 10 minutes apart, and then just inexplicably slow down to 27 minutes apart. Infuriating.

Either way, I wasn't going to get any sleep for the second night in a row. I was deliriously tired, and after hours and hours of painful contractions, I began to lose focus. Especially when they consistently refused to follow a totally predictable pattern, though in retrospect they were certainly trending in the right direction. I was tolerating them well until about 3am when they took on a more urgent edge.

By 7am, I was wilting. I called the OBs office and told the doctor on call what was going on, as well as my desire to have a natural childbirth. She recommended staying at home for as long as possible because she's fought the hospital before on constant monitoring and the like and it was a tough fight. At that point, though, I really really really REALLY wanted to know how far I'd progressed because the pain was unbearable. I had fears of still being 3 cm and having gone through all that pain for nothing. I wasn't getting those full stomach contractions that come in waves from your back, but just incredibly stabbing sharp frontal pains and deep low tightening. I was so scared that nothing was going on.

The uncertainty of how far labor had progressed me, coupled with the extreme fatigue and going stir crazy at home for the second day in a row had me begging Brian to take me to the hospital. He kept encouraging me to stay the course, that it was clear things were happening and that it certainly would be over soon.

But I was losing resolve. I told him I wanted him to take me to the hospital and give me pain medication. He said it was his job to talk me out of it because he was going to represent "me at a more rational time." I told him I understood his perspective and appreciated his efforts to advocate for something he knew I valued.

We finally agreed on this: we would go. If all of this hard work had been for naught, then he understood that pain medication was necessary. However, if I'd made tons of progress, then he was sure that information would bolster my resolve. So we left for the hospital. On the monitor, NONE of my contractions were registering. What's more, they slowed down, though each one was still making my toes curl and I was in no way tolerating them because they were unpredictable and I was absolutely panicking that all this pain wasn't doing anything. They were taking FOREVER to come check me. When they did, I was 6cm. While that was great, I realized at that very moment that I was NOT going to make it all the way to 10. Even though the nurse was sure it would go quickly, being my third child and all.

I just looked at her and said, "I need pain meds, please." She asked, "do you want an epidural?" I said yes, and you know what? It felt right. I finally felt like I could tolerate the rest just knowing that I'd taken control of this pain. The anesthesiologist came, and his recommendation was to do a really light epi. He would keep the continuous pump epi turned on really really low and give me a sort of "panic button" where I could self-dose more medicine if I felt it necessary. The dose of narcotics in the line was so low that my fentanyl-expert husband (he works for a pharma company that makes fentanyl products) was doubtful it would even be effective. But it was just enough to take the edge off the contractions. Blessed relief! Unfortunately, I think I transitioned WHILE he was putting it in. I was shaking and nauseated and having the worst contractions I'd ever felt, right on top of one another. But the anesthesiologist worked quickly and it was a comfortable experience having it placed.

I never had to use the panic button, I could move my legs (well, one of them), and feel the contractions. What's more, when the OB came in just as the anesthesiologist was finishing up, she checked me and I was a 9. So I guess I was starting transition just as the anesthesiologist was working. The OB then said she wanted to rupture my membranes. I asked her if I could just see if I progressed without that and she looked at me like I was nuts. All I knew was that I didn't want to be forced into an end-game and AROM meant we were certainly going to have to deliver a baby. That's when Brian said, "uh, you're 9cm. You ARE having a baby today." He was right. She pointed out that the epi was likely to end the contractions and this way she could avoid hanging pitocin, which I'd avoided completely thus far. She was right. Rupturing my membranes did ensure that labor continued and I spent 20 minutes waiting to progress to 10. I was so buoyed by the relief in pain.

Things happened quickly after that. The OB came back, and declared me complete, and we did some test pushes. He descended quickly. I was also delivering in an antepartum room because L&D rooms were undergoing maintenance. It was a tiny room, set up for only emergency deliveries for women who stay in those rooms on hospital bed rest. Once they wheeled in all the other things, there was barely room for Brian, the OB and one nurse!

So the OB decided not to break down the bed into stirrups and rather let me labor on the regular bed in whatever position most worked. That was a great approach. What's more, about two feet from me was a big wall mirror and I could watch the whole thing. And when he finally crowned, I got to reach down and deliver him myself, upon the urging of the OB. It was so cool. Of course that whole time I'd been watching in the mirror and the OB had to say "look down, not there!" LOL!

Overall, once the pain relief kicked in, the labor experience was absolutely amazing. They let me keep Henry with me, and I got him latched and nursing within 15 minutes of delivery. I did have to use my pinky finger to stroke the roof of his mouth and then swap out for the boob, but once he made the association, he did great. When they took him for his bath, they were really happy he'd spent 40 minutes nursing and didn't bother checking his blood sugar nor were they interested in binkies or formula. He was clearly content. He came back to me quickly. I was put in a huge private suite, I guess to make up for the labor room!

I recovered really fast. I still looked 6 months pregnant, but I was up and walking within a very short time after delivery. I felt great. The epi was so mild that I bounced right back, which was one of the reasons I wanted to go natural. It seems I got the best of both worlds.

Henry adjusted great, and only lost about 6 ounces before my milk came in on the second day and he started gaining again. At discharge, he was already back up to 7lbs 10oz, and now, three weeks later, is well over 9 pounds.

1 comment:

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

Belated welcome, Henry! :) We are expecting in August. Hope everyone is doing well. If you'd like to check in on what we're doing, stop by my blog.