Saturday, July 7, 2012

Julia's Surprise Birthday

Julia’s Surprise Birthday

Many people have asked about our experience here with the labor/delivery process for Julia. So here is her birthday story.

At 41 weeks exactly we decided to help Julia arrive into the world since she was clearly not thinking of leaving her first home. Up to this point I had experienced no contractions or other signs of her thinking of coming. So, wanting to get an early start to what we believed would be Julia’s birthday; we headed down to the hospital at 6:45am on June 12, 2012. My dad dropped Josh and me off at 7:30am to begin our great adventure of welcoming our new little addition into the world. By the time we checked in, filled out paperwork, got into our room and received the first dose of inducement it was 9:15am, and now the waiting began. The inducement medicine I received was a little pill that was placed next to my cervix; the purpose of this was to ripen my cervix and begin contractions.

Keeping in step with everything else up to point, this too was slow to get going. By 2pm I finally began having my first contractions, they didn’t hurt, so I knew they probably weren’t doing much. At 3pm the doctor returned and checked me out – only 1cm. So he gave me another inducement pill. By 7pm when the doctor returned nothing had really happened. So he told us that he wasn’t going to continue anything more for the night and that the following morning he’d come by first thing and we’d try again. While I was a little frustrated that everything was going by so slowly I wasn’t too disappointed about getting a good night’s rest, I was tired. The nurses rolled in another bed for Josh for the night and we went to sleep about 10:30pm. At 12:30am I awoke suddenly to sever pain. I didn’t know what it was and figured it was just a random pain so I tried readjusting so I could get back to sleep. Well, it wasn’t a random pain, real contractions were here. I paced the room quietly until 3am when the contractions began to get harder. I called our friend and doula, Katie, at that time to let her know what was going on so she could decide if she wanted to come now or later. Katie showed up to our hospital room around 4am. Josh was still sleeping so we sat together in the little guest section of our hospital room where she began walking me through different techniques for getting through the contractions. I was so grateful that she was there –all the preparations I had done ahead of time I had totally forgotten! We spent the next 3 hours working through contractions as they gradually increased in intensity. By 7am the doctor had arrived and checked me out only to find that I was dilated to a grand total of 2cm. Talk about let down! I was surprised, 6.5 hours of contractions only to have increased by 1cm… I knew we were in for another long day. But the doctor seemed optimistic, he said he thought the baby would be here by 2pm. So I thought to myself, “Well, he’s the doctor, he’d know!”

At that time the doctor gave me another inducement pill, but this time only a quarter of a dose. Three hours passed before he came again, during which I passed the time facing the joys of contractions doing squats, walking the room, rocking my body (while standing) to the rhythm with a rocking chair, dancing, and countless other techniques for bringing little Julia to the outside world. Katie gave me acupressure, and massages to assist the process as well. When the doctor returned at 10am he notified us that I was only at 3cm. He suggested that I use Pitocin but I wasn’t about to give in to that quite yet. I’ve heard horrible things about Pitocin and really wanted to the process to be as natural as possible, so I said that I wanted to continue without it for the time being. He wasn’t too thrilled at that reply but left us to it.

I found that if I sat or lied down my contractions stopped, so I kept moving… the ENTIRE time from 12:30am until 8pm. Another few hours passed and again the intensity of my contractions had reached another level, but thanks to Katie and Josh getting through them wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be… and I think they found my personal coping mechanisms funny at times because, though I was focused, I could hear them laughing from time to time… I’m always happy to provide a comic reliefJ. And there were times where I started to fall asleep standing up in between contractions, and when I would shake awake from starting to fall over, they’d get a little giggle out of that tooJ.

When the doctor returned I had reached 5cm! We were so excited… the longest part (supposedly) was over and now the next 5cm should be faster going. The doctor said he’d come back in a few hours after lunch. When he returned we thought FOR SURE that I would be at like a 7 or 8 because of how quick and long the contractions were, but no luck… still 5cm almost 6. He again suggested Pitocin and said that we could be here another day if we didn’t use it. The decision was very difficult for us to make but we decided to go forward with half a dose of Pitocin to see if that would get things going. A couple hours later I was at almost 7, then shortly after that, 9cm. I didn’t feel that the contractions got harder but that could also be because the IV drip they had in my hand wasn’t working very well, it was pressed up against the vein wall, and they even saw this and told me to just hold me hand in a very specific position for the rest of the labor/delivery… practical and professional, eh?

Nine centimeters ushered in the drama of the whole process. It was 8:00pm, and the doctor told me to begin pushing because Julia was still really high and we needed her to come down. After a few pushes with him he told me that with how strong I was pushing she’d probably be out in 2 or 3 more pushes! Well, we were pretty excited about that. However following that statement, he left the room. So when I had contractions I would push but it seemed weird to be pushing without the doctor there. After a little while Josh went looking for him and found him sitting at the receptionist desk with the other staff, just hanging out. Josh asked him to come and check on the progress. At this point he came in with two nurses and the pediatrician and a U-Haul truck full of stuff. Our room was literally full from wall to wall – there was hardly room for Josh and Katie in the room after everything they brought in.

I’m going to spare some details from the final hour but here are the important bits of information…
Julia came after one more hour of pushing. She weighed 8 pounds 12.3 ounces and was 22 inches long. She was and is healthy. That final hour of pushing was very intense. I think it’s a good thing that I was so tired by that point, because I don’t remember much now. The doctor (as it seemed from Josh’s, Katie’s and my point of view) kind of lost it. In the D.R. 70% of deliveries are C-section, so natural delivery isn’t practiced as much. He got very aggressive in the end and stopped communicating with us. He began shooting me up with various medicines (in my IV bag) and when I’d ask what he was doing, he just ignored me. He wasn’t happy to be patient and wait for Julia to descend on her own; he was grabbing her from inside and eventually with one push she was completely born; there was no head, then shoulders, then body – she shot out like a rocket, but again, this was because he was being very aggressive… I have many stitches to prove that. All this wasn’t before he tried to give me an episiotomy (after I had told him that I didn’t want one) but thankfully Katie fought him on that for me. Furthermore he didn’t think that the baby was coming fast enough and didn’t think that I would be able to push her out so he had one of his nurses literally lay on my stomach while I was pushing and she tried to push the baby out from on top of me… bizarre? I think so! Lastly, my contractions basically stopped while I was laying down, so he had one of nurses induce contractions by poking my stomach… a lot… and every time after a contraction had passed.

After Julia was born and we got to hold her the doctor said that he needed to take me to the O.R. because I had torn a lot and he needed to get me stitched up. (According to Katie, he did most of the tearing himself – not the baby). So get this… after just having given birth and having been in labor for 32 hours, they asked me to crawl (crab style) from the birthing bed to a roll away bed… with the umbilical cord still hanging out of me. I hadn’t even fully crawled onto that bed when they began wheeling it out of the room and down the hall, I literally had to hold my head up because it wasn’t on the bed and I didn’t want to door to hit it. Once inside the O.R. they asked me to crawl onto the operating table! But not just crawl across, they wanted me to crawl diagonally so as not to get blood everywhere… are you kidding me!?!? So I crawled onto the operating table where a few things began to happen immediately. One, the nurse began stabbing my stomach again with her fingers because she thought that it was bad for the placenta to still be inside, so she was trying to induce contractions to get the placenta to come out, which she accompanied with tugging on the cord a little as well. When I asked (with a very frustrated tone) what she was doing the doctor looked over and told her to stop, that the placenta would come soon. Second, the doctor, after he scrubbed up again, began stitching me up almost immediately without having numbed me first. I kept saying “ouch” and asking what they were doing. He totally ignored me. Finally I said “Stop! I want to be numbed, no more!” He looked frustrated by this because now we had to wait for the anesthesiologist. While we were waiting he tried a few more stitches and each time he poked me I flinched pretty dramatically and loudly said “ouch!” Finally he stopped and waited. Just then, Josh came in! I was so grateful that he was allowed to be with me, especially since this part hadn’t been going well. He stood there and held my hand the whole time. Finally the anesthesiologist came in and got me all set up, they put a mask over my face and within seconds I was out. Josh said it was pretty crazy, 30 minutes of them stitching and searching for places to give me stitches. When Josh asked him how many stitches I had received, the doctor said he didn’t even know. After the surgery part was over they woke me up about 15 minutes later because Julia was finished with the pediatrician and ready for some food. They wheeled me into our recovery room around mid-night where we met my parents who had been waiting patiently for hours. After Julia finished eating, my parents got to hold her but then went back home shortly after… I was pretty out of it and everyone was tired. The anesthesia made my vision really blurry and my memory was gone… not to mention I was saying some pretty ridiculous things, which everyone got a laugh from. I was pretty excited to get some sleep… but not Julia! She wanted to stay up and hang out J! Which we’ve done every night since she came into the world!

While it wasn’t the perfect experience, I am just so grateful to have a happy and healthy baby girl. Praise God!