Thursday, September 30, 2010

Real Labour

Has it only been just over two weeks since William was born? I can't believe it. I wish I could say it's all been smooth sailing, but William came into the world via an emergency c-section (and all I wanted while I was pregnant was to avoid a c-section).

Maybe I should back up a bit.

Induction day was 11 days overdue. I avoided any exams and sweeping of membranes not wanting to mess around "down there", because I was hoping things would take their natural course. I instead had two sessions of acupuncture (a woman in our birth and babies class swore by it--had actually gone into labour within hours of having it done). But on induction day, I was seen by some locum (not my doctor), who proclaimed me as barely a centimeter dilated, and was very quick about it. After she left, I cried and was quite upset knowing how little chance I had of not having a c-section from that point onward what with all the medical intervention that would be required. Rob and I immediately went over to the hospital for a cervical ripener, and had to actually sign a release when informed that Cervadil could cause a very speedy, hard labour.

Prior to the Cervadil, I had my blood pressure taken and it was quite elevated at 143 over 90, probably because of how upset I was. This turned out to be a saving grace, as they didn't want to release me based on the blood pressure alone. So, at 1pm I was given the Cervadil, then admitted where I was told I wouldn't be leaving the hospital without a baby.

How Cervadil works is you get examined 12 hours later if you haven't gone into labour. This is when women are normally sent home. Intense contractions didn't begin for me until around 6pm or so, and had Rob and I wandering the halls to try and manage the pain/force labour into progressing. The contractions came in clusters, and I was very nervous as I was not yet admitted into the labour and delivery ward, and Rob would have to leave at 9pm when visiting hours ended on my ward. I was frightened of labouring on my own up to 4 centimeters until I'd be admitted and Rob would be able to come back and be with me(as yet another woman in our class experienced). It seemed as though all the things I was afraid of and trying to avoid were coming true.

Rob left at 9pm, and the contractions had settled to a manageable rhythm. I was even feeling sleepy and decided to get into my pajamas, turn the lights down, and try and get some sleep; we were both advised it could be a long day of labour. I had been in bed for hardly any time, Rob had only been gone 40 minutes, when I felt my water break in a big gush (a peculiar sensation that I still don't know if it was audible or was just an internal "whoosh"). I immediately pushed the nurse call button, and tried to get to the bathroom with as little mess as possible. I could barely get out of the bathroom and back to bed once the nurse arrived because the contractions were progressing rapidly. At that point I was 3 centimetres dilated and told it would likely take awhile.

Because I was GBS positive, antibiotics needed to be administered via IV as soon as my water broke, so that was a big focus. Unfortunately it took 3 attempts by different teams of people (nurses, residents and finally an anesthesiologist), which took close to an hour. I was desperate for pain medication, even at that point, as there was no spacing of contractions--no working up to 5 or 4 minutes apart, it was one minute, two minutes, one, one, one, and on it went. First I was told I could get a shot of morhpine, but that kept getting sidelined by the IV issue. Then I was told I could get pain meds via the IV, which of course wasn't in yet. Finally they located some laughing gas, and I went from 3, to 5, to 7 centimetres within an hour and a half.

Rob was called almost immediately, and appeared to be taking his time (at least forty minutes from my count). When he arrived, I believe I was using the laughing gas, I was in so much pain. I could feel the contractions build in the side of my belly like a heartbeat, which would clench and clench until it hit the peak. I prayed and prayed I would get more time in between to brace for the next contraction and try and relax from the previous one, but I had little reprieve. When the IV was finally in, I asked again for pain relief and the nurse actually sat down on the bed, took my hand, and told me it would be all natural. This was heartbreaking news at the time, as the pain was unbearable and had started and progressed much more quickly than I'd ever imagined it could.

After I was 7 centimeters dilated, they called for a room on the labour and delivery ward, but one wasn't available. Just as quickly it was and I was whisked away. From there things went very fast. It seemed I wasn't in my room long before I was being rushed to the delivery room. I can't remember when they put on the internal fetal monitor, which allowed us to hear the baby's heartbeat (in stereo it seemed, it was so loud). When the contractions would hit, I would suck on the laughing gas so hard it sounded like I was choking for my last breath through the mask, I was breathing so deeply. There were no other thoughts in my head beyond stopping the pain.

Then the urge to push hit me. My whole body trembled, and I vaguely understood what this meant, and that I could not yet push. I was finally told I could not yet push, and that's when we all heard the fetal heart rate audibly drop to a loud, slow and sickening thump, thump, thump that seemed to reverberate throughout the room (certainly throughout my pain induced, laughing gas haze) as compared to the cheerful quick staccato in between contractions.

I was measured again and was still 7 centimeters. I was then told I would need a c-section, as the baby was not "tolerating" the labour, and I remember signing off on a release form. I immediately asked if I would be getting pain medication, and was told there wasn't enough time for it, that I would need to be put fully under. Instead of being alarmed, I was more concerned about how quick they could make this happen. I was being wheeled to the OR (or whatever), as they fired questions at me about when I last ate, etc. The entire time they were prepping me, I just kept asking how long before I was under--HOW LONG?!

Rob was being rushed into scrubs and was then told he couldn't come in, so he had to listen to me howl as he waited outside in the hall. He saw person after person rush into the room, all while not knowing if everything was going to be alright. He was told, "Listen for the baby's cry." It wasn't long after he heard it, he was able to go in and see William sitting in the warmer all bright eyed. My water broke at 9:40pm and William was born at 12:59am. Rob can retell his side of the story now without welling up, but it was a challenge retelling it for up to at least a week after William's birth.

I was out for another two hours while Rob and William got acquainted in the nursery. When he was finally able to present William to me, I wasn't the least bit surprised Rob had a boy in his arms.

We both have since wondered if we would be able to endure this again for a second child (can't believe the thought has even crossed our minds at this point), but for now, we get to hold our little healthy William in our arms and thank God he arrived when he did.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Labour Day

And so it is, though I am not yet in labour.

Not yet.

The official due date was September 2nd, but I didn't get too hung up on that, as I know it's not always entirely accurate, and the baby and mother nature usually have other plans. A woman in our birth and babies class remarked at how patient I was, but at the time I wasn't yet overdue and was in no rush to have this baby. While I am still not frustrated or anxious about it, I do want it to happen naturally without medical encouragement.

To that end, Rob and I have started to push the labour envelope, only to be surprised when it appeared to have worked in the sense that painful contractions began within the hour (though sporadic), and are still occurring though not necessarily progressing in any obvious pattern. I started using the iPad contraction timer, much to Rob's dismay--who then decided he should pull an all nighter to finish the odds and ends not yet done around the house (which I quickly discouraged and easily talked him out of).

I understand labour to be an active process where you should stand, walk and move around to encourage your body to continue the process, except Rob and I decided we weren't "quite" ready, so I lay down to try and stall it instead. : ) We didn't anticipate it happening right away and want just "one more day". I'm curious to see how we'll feel tomorrow and if we are as gung-ho on our induction experiments as we were last night--though, we still know that natural is the best option, especially considering how much I want to avoid a c-section which increases the more medical intervention occurs.

I can't believe it's been 3 weeks since I stopped working. Sometimes I wonder how I've been filling my time, as previously mentioned, but I'm still sick (and at this exact moment coughing is an all-body engaging, stomach hugging intense experience--and a mind numbing reminder that labour itself will be much much worse--gasp). Trying to get over this never ending cold by resting as much as humanly possible has taken up a fair bit of time, along with the odd cleaning, and shopping and such. The new mothers and fathers in our baby class keep saying over and over, "get sleep now" (they actually mouth it when I simply glance their way), as if we didn't already know this, and to that end, I continue to nap whenever a series of yawns strike me.

I'm under no illusions that I'm physically or mentally prepared for labour, I just know it has to happen in order to meet our little boy or girl. When I watch breastfeeding videos, I become emotional at the thought of holding our little baby, and how much he or she will rely on Rob and I for love and all the necessities of life. I feel weepy at the thought of seeing their little feet, and holding a little hand.

And I have no idea just how much our lives are about to transform.

Any day now.