Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our Little Miracle

Tiny baby B is actually sleeping . . . somewhere other than in my arms, so I'm going to push my luck and see how far I get with this blog post.

I want to tell the story of her arrival.  I feel like I need to tell her story.  Because it's miraculous in every sense of the word.

And for those of you who get squeamish (like my brothers!) when women start talking birth, no worries, a public blog is not really a place where I would want to lay it all out there.

No, this story is one of faith and inspiration and the confidence to follow the path they dictate.  I believe that if I hadn't followed that path, this story would have a very different ending.  Because we didn't have a whole lot of wiggle room with this delivery.  I was about an hour away from having an unintentional home birth and a few minutes away from having a possible stillbirth.

But let me back up, so this story will make sense.

Of all my pregnancies, it seemed that this one was the most worrisome.  Not huge, terrifying emergencies, but smaller things that added up to less than ideal circumstances.  First, the baby was breech at 37 weeks.  My NP told me to walk, which I knew wasn't going to change anything and could possibly make the situation worse.  Other than that, she recommended a c-section at 38 weeks.  This very narrow-minded, throw-your-hands-up type of approach galvanized me to search out my own solutions.  I knew there had to be more options.

Turns out there were.  And I took full advantage of them, trying to be careful to pick the ones inspiration dictated.  Between chiropractic adjustments and somewhat uncomfortable home exercises, the baby flipped.  I have to include a shout out for a fabulous website with TONS of helpful information on it.  Spinningbabies.com--a great reference for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to mine.

First worry resolved.  Next, at 39 weeks, I had too much amniotic fluid.  Which I personally think was a direct answer to my prayers for help with the breech presentation.  The extra fluid allowed an extra-large baby the room she needed to flip over.  But the doctor didn't quite see it that way.  For her, it only meant greater risk of a prolapsed cord.  Which it was.  So, of course, she wanted me to induce as soon as possible.

The thing is that my water has never broken spontaneously before delivery was fairly close.  I felt very strongly that I could trust my body to follow in that same pattern.  So I passed on the recommended induction.  At my very next appointment, the ultrasound showed that my fluid levels had dropped dramatically.  Another problem resolved.  Another prayer answered.

Then I passed my due date.  Which was no surprise to me.  I expected it.  But it prompted a whole new round of negotiations about induction.  The doc set the limit at 41 weeks and scheduled a time for me to go to the hospital.  I was getting fairly tired of being stuck in the role of uncooperative patient, so I didn't really protest.  I figured we'd just play it by ear and make the final decision later.

Because of the whole breech issue, I became pretty adept at figuring out what position the baby was in.  It was really confusing at first, but with practice, it got a lot easier.  So I knew that she was posterior.  For a while, I didn't worry about it.  I was just so relieved that she was no longer breech.

Posterior presentation is something that a lot of OBs don't worry about.  Maybe because they have no go-to medical intervention for it.  But as the scheduled induction date grew closer, it weighed on my mind more and more heavily.  A few days before the induction, Shaggy told me that he felt very strongly that I should cancel the induction.  He's never steered me wrong before, so I followed his advice.  Which, as you can imagine, didn't go over too well at the doctor's office.  I ended up leaving the appointment with a very vague I'll-see-you-next-week sort of arrangement.  I imagine there were a lot of shaking heads after my departure.

At the time, I wasn't really sure why Shaggy felt so strongly that I should cancel that induction.  But in retrospect, I think it was that act which motivated me to finally research different exercises and techniques I could use to help the baby out of a posterior position.  Again, spinningbabies.com was extermely helpful.

So I spent a good deal of time Friday and Saturday on my hands and knees, trying to encourage a more favourable position.  And it worked pretty well.  By the time I went into labor on Saturday night, she was anterior. 

It took us completely by surprise how quickly the contractions progressed.  By 3 am we were on our way to the hospital, with me praying for a quick labor.  I guess this would be a good example of one of those times where I should be careful what I ask for.  They didn't even have time to finish all the check-in procedures.

I refused to lay on my back for the inital monitoring, explaining that I had worked way too hard to get the baby OUT of a posterior position.  I was not about to risk her slipping back just so it would be more convenient for the nurses to put the monitors on.  Hmmm . . . maybe I really am just an uncooperative patient.

But it was another of those undeniable moments of inspiration.

After the inital monitoring was done, we discovered that the baby had slipped partially back into a posterior position.  So it was back on hands and knees for me.  Good thing we brought our trusty birthing ball, which helped make it all a little more comfortable.  Once I was settled, I kew I wasn't moving, though they tried to convince me that it wasn't the best place to be.  But I didn't care.  I felt I needed to stay exactly where I was, no matter what anyone told me.  So I did.

I am not one of those women who deliver an hour after getting to the hospital.  Except for this time.  Baby B came so fast that it took everyone off guard.  The doctor wasn't there, although she was close, they said.  They wanted me to wait.  I think I said something to the effect of, "This baby is coming.  You better get ready to catch her, or give my husband some gloves!"  I was not about to wait for the doctor.  I ALWAYS want labor and delivery to be over as soon as possible, but this time, it was more than that.  The idea of waiting was not something I could even entertain for a moment.  I felt like I was riding this enormous wave--one that I had absolutely no control over, one that I just had to ride through to the end.

So the nurse ended up catching the baby.  She was a sort of purplish-grey color, but was absolutely perfect in every other respect.  She was whisked off to get cleaned up and weighed.  10 pounds, 2 ounces.  22 and some inches.  Ummm . . . . yeah.  I don't know why my babies are so enormous.  They just are.

Then the doctor walked in, took in the situation, and thanked me for getting her out of bed at 4 am.  Noooo problem.

It was a little later that the ruptured umbilical cord was noticed.  Nobody could explain it.  Nobody had ever seen anything like it before.  It was as if something had sliced it open.  There was a jagged cut along it, an inch or two long, leaving the middle completely open.  There was no way oxygen was getting through that.  It couldn't have happened before delivery, my fluid was clear.  It must have happened during delivery.  But no one could think of any way it COULD have happened.  I tried googling it and came up with nothing.

We didn't spend a whole lot of time thinking about it when we were in the hospital.  We were euphoric, totally absorbed in our new baby girl.  But after we came home, the seriousness of the situation sunk in.  If I had been in a more mainstream delivery position, say flat on my back, delivery would have been prolonged.  If she had still been in a posterior position, delivery would have lasted MUCH longer.  If I had waited for the doctor to arrive before pushing, it might have lost just enough time for baby B to run out of oxygen.

As much as I worried and complained about all these problems that arose with this pregnancy, I now believe that everything happened exactly as it needed to.  This was EXACTLY the journey I had to take to safely bring this beautiful child into the world.  How very grateful I am that she's here, and that she has a Father in Heaven who loves her enough to have guided me through every step of this journey.

And to top the whole ordeal off, once baby B was cleared to go home, I couldn't stand the thought of spending the night in the hospital and ended up having to check myself out . . . against medical advice. 

I am SUCH a rebel.  And I don't regret a thing.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Waiting Place

Today is my due date.  No signs of imminent labor.  No surprise, really.  I've been here three times before.  Only one of my children was merciful enough to come early.

But what I'm realizing this time around, as I struggle to keep up with day to day life, is that MY life is the only one which stops and holds its breath waiting for this child to arrive.  Everyone else's life just trucks along normally.  The kids have dentist appointments and pediatric appointments and school registration forms and playdates and open houses.  School starts in 10 days.  Shaggy has as busy a workload as ever.  Maybe busier, actually.  And he's adding on all sorts of extracurricular activities and projects which make absolutely no sense to me.  But then again, I am the only one who is waiting with baited breath to finish out this pregnancy and move on with the next phase of motherhood.

But at least everyone joins me in their excitement to welcome a new baby into the family.  Whenever that will be.