September 8, 2011

Samuel's Birth Story

Being pregnant for the second time was almost nothing like what I expecting it to be. The morning sickness was worse. The round ligament pain was unbelievable and unfair. I had incredibly painful Braxton Hicks. I was exhausted the full 9 months, courtesy of my very active toddler. But on the other hand...I didn't crave a hamburger once, I was way more mellow and only consulted the Pregnancy Bible twice, and second trimester bliss was still bliss.

Of course, my natural inclination was to compare the two pregnancies. For the most part, my second pregnancy was more complicated and yet, still mostly normal. My blood work was a little off during my first trimester, but everything corrected itself by the follow-up visit. They couldn't get all the right measurements at the first ultrasound, but again, everything was good on the follow-up ultrasound. So, we went into the final stretch with just anxious excitement, our only concern the increased possibility that I would have another hemorrhage.

In fact, I was so concerned about having another postpartum hemorrhage that I spent 9 months focused on that and completely avoided thinking about what labor and delivery would be like the second time around. With my first pregnancy, my water broke when I was 37.5 weeks along and I had to be induced. I never experienced any pain with my Braxton Hicks, so the only experience I had with real contractions was the two hours between when they broke my second bag of waters in the hospital and when they finally got the epidural to work. The whole thing, from water breaking to actually birthing a baby, took less than 18 hours.

So, imagine my surprise when I started having contractions MONTHS in advance of my due date. I learned that Braxton Hicks do, in fact, hurt. A LOT. I had them in the middle of the night, I had them in the pool while I was trying to teach, I had them while trying to keep up with a very active toddler. I had them so often that I was doubtful that I would even know when they switched from being "practice" contractions to the real deal.

I actually went into labor at 35 weeks because I got a stomach bug and got dehydrated. Since Luke had come at 37 weeks, I was positive that this baby would come just as early, but I wasn't quite ready at 35 weeks. We were greatly relieved to get the labor stopped, but the dry run had me antsy for the real thing. So, as weeks 36-38 went by, I became more and more convinced that I would be pregnant forever. Every woman who has ever been pregnant understands this feeling.

Everyone tells you that your second labor will go much quicker. Actually, because so many people feel the need to hammer this "fact" into your head, I was paranoid that I would deliver my baby in the driveway. However, my early labor began a full 24 hours before we went to the hospital. I woke up around 5 AM Wednesday morning with contractions. They were painful, but not consistent. By that evening, I was completely exasperated. The contractions weren't stopping, like they had every other time, but they were so erratic, I didn't know what to think. I was determined that this was going to be it, so I packed everyone up and off we went to walk the mall, since it was too hot to walk outside. Even then, it was after midnight before they started strengthening and becoming more consistent. I spent 3 hours timing them, and thankfully, around 2 AM, they went from every 10-14 minutes to every 5. I got Travis up, called a neighbor to watch Luke, and off we went.

When we got to the hospital, the contractions had become erratic again, although they continued to get stronger and more painful. We spent an hour or two walking the halls, where they evened out to about every 4 minutes. Even though they slowed down again once I was hooked back up to the monitors and in bed, they were making progress and we got the green light to stay. Because the contractions weren't progressing in a textbook manner, I was confused about what was happening. My plan was to stay up right and walking for as long as I could take it and then ask for the epidural. I hated the idea of laboring while laying down.

However, once they got me hooked back up to the fetal monitor, they began to start worrying about the baby's heart rate. It would dip during contractions, but then rebound immediately. They weren't too alarmed at first, but eventually, they started to monitor it more closely. I went ahead and got the epidural since I'd been having hard contractions for over 12 hours, and they were going to make me stay attached to the monitors and in bed.

Shortly after the epidural took effect, the baby's heart rate wasn't bounding back as fast and more people started showing up in the room. They began moving me around and trying different positions. Left side, right side, on all fours, on oxygen, off oxygen. I eventually ended up on my hands and knees, oxygen mask on my face, face smashed into a pillow, but to no avail. They were still concerned about the dips in his heart rate and how his rate was staying low, in general. While I was still in that very dignified and uncomfortable position, I heard the nurse ask the obstetrician if she was calling it. She said yes, and before I knew it, a nurse was throwing a blanket over my back and my bed was moving. I didn't even get to see Travis before I was being wheeled into the hallway and the anesthesiologist was running alongside trying to inject something into my IV.

From this point on, I kept my eyes closed. I was silently freaking out. Once they got me into the OR and on my back, I kept them closed because I knew if I opened them and saw where I was and how all those people were whizzing around me, I wasn't going to be able to hold it together. My anxiety was already high because of the hemorrhage possibility, and you know, because I was giving birth...but this was more than my brain could process. So I just closed my eyes, tried not to cry too much, and listened to the amazing anesthesiologist who was my savior and kept me from losing it. Seriously, she was amazing and if you had the ability to request a doctor for your emergency C-section, I would totally recommend her.

In what seemed like hours, but was probably only 5 minutes, Travis appeared by my head dressed in scrubs and they started they operation. Within minutes, he was out. The cry of our newborn son is something I will never forget. His name is Samuel. Samuel Dean Norton. He was 6 lbs, 10oz, and 19 inches long. He was born at 10:21 AM.

For now, I'm going to leave it at that. I will go into all that happened after the C-section, but for tonight, I want to remember that one perfect moment when he was born and we were both fine. Before the NICU and the geneticist and the cardiologists, before our lives were forever changed. That moment when I heard him cry, when I held my husband's hand and cried tears of relief and happiness. That was a good moment.

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