Saturday, April 30, 2011

Marianne Grace's Birth Story

nNote: this post has taken a week to write. Marianne is now 2 weeks old and I'm doing wonderfully after having some issues with my recovery, last week.

I'm not feeling so hot at the moment, so I thought I'd take this time to write down Marianne's birth story. It's hard to believe she's already a week old...and that means these pictures are already out of date. Those super-cheeks are looking less Winston Churchill-esque and more feminine.
For those of you who aren't interested in the looooong story, as I'm sure this will turn out to be, here's the summary:
9:45 pm - water breaks while walking around Target
12:07 am - arrive at the hospital
12:43 am - Marianne is born
Now for the guts and glory version:

I'm sure you all know the bedrest and prodromal labor bits, so moving right along, I found myself at 39w3d and still pregnant. It happened to be Good Friday. I hadn't slept particularly well the night before, complete with tears at 3 am, the prodromal contractions having ceased yet again.

I talked to my mom on the phone that morning, and she shared a sense that she'd had. It went something like this:
- God wanted to allow us to participate in choosing the timing of our daughter's birth.
- Mark could pray over the baby and I to that end.
My completely human response was: Awesome!...if that's really from God...and gosh prodromal labor would've been more mentally manageable if I'd had that word weeks ago! (But, knowing me, I would've said, "great! 37 weeks sounds like a nice baby!" And the Lord needed to protect this beautiful daughter of ours from her selfish and impatient mother!)

Having something between a Zechariah moment and a Mary moment (ie, I wasn't struck dumb from doubt, but I wasn't convinced that this was the Lord) I figured it certainly wasn't going to hurt to go ahead and pray. So, after we put the kids down for a nap, as I prepped the bathroom to give Mark a haircut, we discussed our baby's birth as though we could actually plan it out. Mark then prayed over me, offering all this to the Lord, if it be according to His will. So, here's what we (I) requested:
- Being Good Friday, I considered what a gift it would be to be in REAL labor that day.
- I wanted to make it to the 7 pm Good Friday service.
- I wanted to be at the point of going to hospital sometime after the kids were in bed (ie, have their emotional and physical needs of the day met, and not have them see me in hard labor)
- Have the baby some time on Holy Saturday (again, to over-theologicalize...yes, I made that word up...I had in mind Jesus freeing the captives/opening the gates of Hell)
So, that is what we prayed for.

And throughout the day I had a small handful of unremarkable contractions, just like any other uneventful day.

Just as we were leaving for the Good Friday service, I happened to discover the tiniest hint of bloody show. I tried to remain calm, as I knew I was 3 cm and this wasn't a "sign" of anything more than what I already knew...but I called my mom anyway, because hey, it was fun to see something. And I told her that perhaps I would have this baby sometime in the next week. ;)

The brief drive to the service was accompanied by a couple of slightly more remarkable contractions. As soon as we arrived, my uterus went silent. Nothing during the service. Nothing during the drive home, and perhaps a couple unremarkable ones as we put the kids to bed.

Earlier in the day, putting some faith in the sense Mom had, we asked Kate if she wouldn't mind sticking around the house so we could walk around Target, after the kids were in bed. She agreed (she wanted to meet this baby almost as much as me!) However, by the time the kiddos were in bed, it seemed pointless. I almost called it off, as I knew it would get my hopes up and I was so weary of the mental game...but again, that tiny seed of faith said "go." So we went - it was 9 pm.

We had a small list of items we wanted to pick up at Target, but mostly we walked up and down every aisle, trying to keep me in constant motion. True to prodromal form, my contractions did pick up due to the walking. They were also a bit stronger - a good pain, akin to the massage of a knot - and it felt wonderful to walkwalkwalk through them.

While there, we ran into my friend P who had sat with us at the service and knew our plan for the evening. She was doing last minute Easter shopping and it was a joy to see her, and have a laugh about trying to get things going. Not five minutes later, as I was power-walking through a nice long contraction, I felt a familiar "pop" as my water broke!!! Mark was a few aisles over, and I called out his name while trying not to increase the flooding (thank you GAP jeans for being so absorbent, there was no "clean-up in the kitchen goods aisle" necessary!) We made a bee-line for the door, stopping briefly to share the news with P, while trying to not look conspicuous - wet pants or a coat wrapped around my bum, which would draw more attention? It was 9:45 pm.

On our way home, we called my mom to let her know that our baby was going to be born sometime in the next 24 hours. Fortunately (or so we thought) we knew we could relax at home for a bit since I had no obvious risk factors (engaged head = little risk of cord prolapse; group B negative = no need for antibiotics). We figured we'd finish packing our bags, watch an episode or two of Prison Break, go to bed...etc.

When my water broke my contractions were about 6-7 minutes apart. By the time I finished packing my bag, they were strong enough that I had to pause and concentrate through them. 10:30 pm(ish) I was waiting for Mark to finish packing and plopped down on my large exercise (aka birthing) ball. I was amazed how much more manageable the contractions felt! By this time they were about 5 min apart. I realized that I was disappointed that I didn't feel like eating any of my yummy labor snacks; I wasn't quite nauseous, but felt like I was heading in that direction. Around this time, Mark and I had the "lets try to do this naturally" talk. I felt up for the challenge, and we agreed that this would be our plan, unless it became obvious to do otherwise.

We settled on the couch to watch an episode of Prison Break, and 20 min later, I gave up trying - I don't think I paid attention for more than the first 5 min. My contractions were about 4 min apart. I had to change positions. I'd heard the toilet is a good option for labor, but realized as soon as I got there that I just wanted to lie in bed.

Once in bed, I attempted to get into the famous Bradley relaxation/sleep pose, but it was too painful to put my legs together. Contractions were now 2-3 min apart. This was when I started saying "I can't do this!" - mostly because I felt stuck in an uncomfortable position without a better option while excruciating contractions were flying at me. Thankfully, Mark had the good sense to realize that we had to get to the hospital now. I was preoccupied with thinking "well, these contractions sure are close to together and horrifically painful, but I don't think they're lasting for a whole minute and they haven't been this close for an hour, yet." With Mark insisting, I managed to crawl to a chair and slump over the seat while Mark put my shoes on. This was the most comfortable I'd been for awhile and I didn't want to move. One of the only things I clearly remember Mark saying is "you can't wait for this contraction to be completely over or you won't make it to the car in time for the next one!" This gave me the motivation I needed.

Thankfully, we're just a short drive from the hospital and I found the van surprisingly comfortable. It was midnight.

As soon as my nurse finished her "put on the gown..." routine and left, I knelt on the floor and leaned on the bed, like I had on the chair in our room. Almost instantly, I was grateful for Iain's potty-chair insert that we had brought with us, as had a contraction and threw up. I figured that was probably a good sign - with Iain I started heaving around 7 cm, and I was hoping to be at least 6 cm at this point. The nurse came back and started in with the "do you want an epidural?" talk and Mark interrupted with "we'd like to know how far along she is before we discuss that." (I love him!) so she checked me: 8 cm!!! I knew I could still have a long haul in front of me, but chances were decent that this was going to be over soon. With our nurse's encouragement, and knowing that an epidural was likely useless at this point, we forged ahead with our natural birth. Mark and the nurse were an excellent team, coaching me through each excruciating contraction as I continued to yell "I can't do this" - knowing full well that I didn't have a choice - for the duration of labor. It was 12:35 am.

I pushed. I didn't really mean to, but as soon as I did I realized that I had to! The nurse said "I thought this was coming soon, go ahead if you need to." Which confused me because I thought I was supposed to be checked before I pushed to make sure I was 10 cm. But I didn't care, I just had to push. But then she told me to breathe through the next one, and I thought that was probably going to kill me. I tried. I couldn't. I heard another nurse say that the hospital doctor was on his way and he was great. Just then, my doctor walked in the door. Hurray! I could push freely and I did. I just pushed and pushed. I couldn't tell one contraction from the next; I don't think they stopped, they just peaked and subsided a tad and peaked again. So I just kept pushing. 12:43 am Marianne Grace Archibald was born! All 9 lbs 14.4 oz of her.

My immediate recovery was a bit rocky, and after a natural birth I needed an IV, pitocin and cytotec to get the bleeding under control. I wasn't allowed to get up out of bed or be moved to my recovery room until 4 am. Marianne, being so large, had trouble regulating her blood sugar, but aside from my bleeding and her glucose levels, we were both doing great. We were discharged on Easter Sunday!

Up next (I hope): Marianne's name story.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Good, The Bad, The Pregnant

The Good:

- Baby is officially full-term! (38 weeks)
- Spring has finally arrived: green grass, flowers, 60-70 degrees, sunshine!
- My Mom close by and willing to rescue me when I need rescuing!
- An evening walk with the love of my life - exactly what I needed to boost my spirits!

The Bad:

- Snow is predicted for the weekend
- Living life day-to-day, unable/unwilling to make plans. (Really, I should just make plans; it would give me something controllable to look forward to!)

The Pregnant:

- Prodromal labor has been joined by nature's enema/nausea
- All this can occur hours to weeks before labor actually begins
- At my 38 wk appt today, I was told "no change" from 2 weeks ago; if anything, baby has moved up a bit (0 station).
- Waking up from a nap this afternoon, about to lose my cookies, I turned into a sobbing mess. All this waiting, wondering and "is this it-ing?" is taking its toll on me.
- I have diagnosed myself with Gestationally-induced Insanity r/t taunting labor symptoms. I've been playing this "when will she arrive?" game for 11 weeks. Now that we're in the safe-zone, I'm beyond ready to get on with it! Meanwhile, my body keeps me guessing as it throws every clue in the book (well, almost) in my direction, promising "SOON!" But, as any pregnant and eager mom knows, each day of this stage is an eternity, and I could have up to 3 more weeks of this. Happy Lent.