Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gunnar's Birth Story!!

My dear friend and college roomie Siba had a beautiful baby boy last night! Welcome Sheldon Douglas! In honor of his birth, this whole week long I'm going to take a trip down memory lane and recap Gunnar's Birth and the struggles of postpartum ...it's BIRTH WEEK! (It's Like Shark Week...but on blogspot and about birth and babies...)

WARNING: Graphic descriptions about birth...if you're an expectant mother or one who doesn't want to be freaked out by labor stories...do not read this one. This is also exceptionally long...sorry it's the nature of the story.

 Sunday November 14th, 2010 I was 4 days past-due and I spent the whole day busy busy (church, grocery shopping, cleaning, hosting a football party, etc), as usual, to keep myself from the constant wondering and frustration of not having a baby yet. I had even walked almost 2 miles to Borders just to try and get some contractions going. John and I spent a while at Borders and at some point I lost him...and ended up walking up and down this gigantic staircase probably 10 times over looking for John. When I finally found him...I burst into tears, pregnancy hormones are a bitch...they make you think irrational thoughts like "my husband just left me stranded in a bookstore and he didn't even bring his phone...what if I go into labor right now all alone!"
By the time we got home from Borders it was almost 9pm. I was pretty tired but definitely needed to unwind and relax before trying to go to bed (sleep was nearly impossible at this point...no comfortable positions existed anymore)...so we decided to put in a movie. We chose "Leap Year" and I swear by the second the opening credits had finished...my contractions started and started STRONG AND FURIOUS.
I knew this was the real deal right away because they were unlike the Braxton Hicks I'd felt in previous weeks and were consistently coming about every 7 minutes. I told John right away that this was it...I KNEW it...so I started my pre-hospital plan of making cookies for the nurses and doctors. I must say baking cookies amidst contractions is quite a challenge (even for me who bakes all the time). By the time the movie was over  I was already getting tired and worried about getting to the hospital in time and insisted that we call the doctor (John thought we should wait until my contractions were 5 minutes apart for an hour to call...but I insisted).
So we called the Doctor and the doctor on-call basically told me this could go on for quite a few more hours...and possibly days (not encouraging to a woman who was doubled over in pain trying to remain calm through the whole phone call). He said we could come in as soon as the contractions were consistent and 5 min apart. So I took a shower, blew out my hair, John frantically ran around filling up the bag with things he needed (I had asked him to look in the bag for weeks and he never did...) And we would pause about every 6 minutes to get me through a contraction (I'd get so frustrated when John didn't make it to help me through because the first 30 secs are killer). John was keeping track of timing and wasn't letting me know how quickly they were occurring but all of a sudden he was like we have to go... NOW!! Apparently my contractions had gone from 6 min apart to every 3-4 min all of a sudden.
John thought it was necessary to document the moment of getting in the car to go to the hospital...I was just getting through a contraction...lovely moment.

Bringing my water...labor makes you so thirsty!

I had about 4 contractions in the car ride there (thank GOD it was 1:30 in the morning and there was no traffic so we were able to get there a lot faster than usual). We parked the car in the garage and walked to the hospital and between the car and the hospital I had 4 contractions. 
I checked into Triage, the nurse was doubtful when she checked me considering I'd only been in labor for a few hours, but we breathed a sigh of relief when she said "WOW! Good Girl, you're already 5 1/2 cm dialated 80% effaced! You're not going home tonight honey, you're here to stay!" Which was AMAZING news. Especially considering at my last appointment my cervix was only 1 cm dialated and 0% effaced.
So they wheeled me up to Labor and Delivery, my first nurse was super sweet and so supportive of my "all natural" wishes. She was so complimentary of me and said she'd never seen anyone deal with the pain so well. So we walked the halls, used the birthing ball and other various techniques for the next 6 hours but in that time I'd made little to no progress. My bag of water still hadn't broken and my contractions were now a minute or less apart with little to no break in between to rest or catch my breath.
I was BEYOND tired. I was completely exhausted and it was then that I realized that I needed some relief, I needed to relax or I wouldn't have the energy to push (and I knew that I needed to be strong during pushing because my doctor was 50% certain that my pelvic bone was too small to fit the baby through.)
getting ready for the epidural...

*Side Note*** I tremored ALL through labor. This is a vocal technique I learned in graduate school to release my breath...I wasn't intentionally causing the tremors the way I would in a warm-up...they were just happening and so I released into them instead of getting more tense.  I truly believe it helped me get as far as I did before the epidural, it relaxed my muscles and really helped relieve some of the anxiety. I didn't intentionally do this, but my body began to shiver and so I just allowed them to be full on tremors, voiced and everything. I totally recommend it!

The epidural was not as painful as I thought it would be. The hardest part was that I was having contractions every minute and it was nearly impossible to sit still through the pain of the contractions while they put it in, but I didn't feel the needle or catheter go in at all. And once they were in and working my whole world changed. I was finally able to have conversations with my nurse and I even got in a few small naps. A friend of ours who worked at the hospital stopped in and we had a great visit with him...and meanwhile I wasn't having to "work" anymore...it truly was amazing.

Around 9:20am my doctor finally came in to check me and I was still only 7cm dilated so she told my nurse to page her when I was "Complete" and she'd come back to help me start pushing. Well it wasn't 10 minutes later that I felt a strong urge to push, my nurse checked me and sure enough I was "Complete" I'd gone from 7cm-10 in less than 10 minutes! So they broke my water (found maconium in the water, so put out the call for pediatricians to come for delivery). My nurse paged my doctor (but she was out for lunch or something, didn't expect it to happen so fast). So my doctor told my nurse that we could "practice push" until she got there. Well there's no practicing...it's really just pushing without the doctor around.

So we PUSHED...and PUSHED...until my cousin Jessica got there. Jessica came to be my acting "doula" for birth...I cried the minute she came in...something about having another woman there, someone who has been through it and knows what I'm going through...and someone I trust and love, a family member...it was awesome.  She came straight to my side and brought instant comfort and encouragement with her soothing voice and helped me push and push some more until my doctor got there...and then I pushed until my parents got into the room (I cried again when they got there...how amazing that they made it in time before the birth, they drove through the night from Minnesota to Chicago, amazing!)...and continued to Push and Push for 2 and a half hours...with no progress. I'd tried every position in the book. Side, Squatting, All fours, back, everything and I was getting tired and started to feel a lot more than just pressure but also some pain. It was around this time that my doctor made her concerns known. I had 30 minutes to deliver this baby or we'd be looking at a c-section. It was definitely looking like the baby wasn't going to fit through my pelvis.

So We charged ahead and I continued to push as best I could when ALL of a Sudden-- out of no where---the WORST PAIN OF MY LIFE---There's no way to describe it other than it felt like my skin was being turned inside out and people were pulling, tearing and ripping at my muscles and skin in all different directions without any stop...constant throbbing excruciating pain. I lost all focus, people became blurry (they were trying to talk to me but I wasn't soaking in anything that they were saying other than a few words here and there.  I was moaning and screaming "Help me! I need Help! Someone PLEASE! Please help" My doctor was perplexed...I shouldn't be feeling any pain with an epidural in...something was horribly wrong. It took them 30 minutes (30 minutes of constant contractions with a baby trapped in my birth canal) to assess the problem and realize that my epidural had fallen out!! And to make matters worse they had put me on a triple dose of Pitocin to keep my contractions normal after receiving the epidural...and Pitocin supposedly makes contractions incredibly fierce.

So it was decided that I needed a new Epidural STAT and my family was whisked out of the room and I had to sit up for another 45 minutes in writhing pain while they gave me another epidural. By the time it went into affect all I could say was "THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!!" 1000 times for relieving the worst pain ever!

When my family came back in we were all convinced that I had gotten this second epidural so that we could have a c-section.

But to every one's surprise my doctor said "Kirstin would you like to try to push again? Who knows how long the epidural wasn't active and you were doing so well at the beginning of pushing that who knows how well you could have done if this hadn't happened. It doesn't hurt to see." I was so amazed to find that she was talking me out of a c-section and honoring my wishes to have a vaginal delivery. So I agreed and we began pushing again. This time the epidural was set so high that I couldn't even feel the pressure of the contractions so they kept an eye on the monitors and told me when to push.

This was amazing! I was so thrilled to be without that horrible pain, with my family and not in a surgery room that I had a smile on my face and was chipper while I pushed for the next hour and a half. (yes totally 4.5 hours of pushing).

By the time I crowned, Gunnar's head popped half way out to every one's surprise, including my doctor who hadn't changed to her scrubs or called the pediatricians yet, so she actually had to tell me to stop pushing....which was quite difficult to do. And with the next push he was completely out. Born at 2:42 pm on November 15, 2010...weighing 7 pounds 5 ounces, 21 inches long.

But the scary part was not over...As soon as she announced, "It's a Boy! Oh Kirstin he's so cute..." the whole room went silent...and all I could do was look around the room and look at people's faces to realize something wasn't right. I watched them take a stark white/purple baby to the incubator as 2-3 pediatricians rushed around him. I was stuck in bed to deliver the placenta and to be sewn up... I sat there waiting for my baby to cry...watching my mother praying and my doctor sweat as she tried to keep herself calm. The only person who spoke to me was my wonderful nurse who came over to tell me that it was good that he hadn't cried yet, because that meant that he didn't inhaled maconium which meant he wasn't at risk for pneumonia.

Apparently his umbilical cord was over 7 feet long and wrapped around every limb and every crevice of his body, including his neck...But finally after 5 minutes, just seconds after they had called a "code 3" (emergency resuscitation) Gunnar finally made his first cry. He went from an APGAR score of 1 to a 9 with one cry. And he was perfect! Nothing wrong with him since. But it was a scary scary 5 minutes.

Believe it or not, we actually hadn't settled on a name just yet. We didn't know whether we were having a girl or a boy and so we narrowed it down to 6 full names. 3 for each gender. We wanted to wait to see the baby and see if a particular name suited him best. When they finally brought him over to me for the first time and I saw his brilliant blonde hair I just knew we had to go with Gunnar Miles. Gunnar is a  Scandinavian family name from my mom's side of the family.  Miles was a middle name we just loved and it reminds me of John because he's a runner.

It was such an incredible journey and I am so proud to have made it through. A rite of passage and my little badge of honor is Gunnar. I can't describe the feeling of being handed your baby for the first time after nearly 10 months of waiting...it's something to cherish. This truly is something I was born to do...and as cliche as it sounds...my life has a new meaning.

Just hours after he was born John's parents made it all the way from Minnesota too!

Dr. Hakimian...thanks for honoring my wishes!!

We had this amazing postpartum room, a corner room with views of Lake Michigan and the city.

They usually give this room to women who have multiples. Lucky me!

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