Week 41 & Birth Story
~ Welcome Sophia Aurora!
(TMI! TMI!) On Friday of week 41 I got last entry's wish for "some new (albeit disgusting) development in that region." In the morning I lost my mucous plug. I found out that this phrase "lost . . . plug" is less a literal action, and verges on being more of a euphemism. It glosses over one of the most disgusting things I've ever known my body to do. I was prepared for it . . . . I had read about it, and even seen pictures of them while googling various pregnancy-related things! But I was not prepared for it to be warm, and that threw me totally off! All of a sudden I was totally repulsed by what had slowly slithered its way out of me. And my boobs were still leaking, sometimes a lot. I could express this leakage if it got itchy, and that grossed me out too. Anyway, it was so weird to know logically that these were clean, natural, necessary, even beautiful things in many ways, while viscerally I was actually nauseated at the sight or feel of them.
Saturday 7/19: I felt a small gush, and thought maybe my water had broken, but it didn't leak much after so I waited until I felt another small gush the next morning to go in to the doctor. Sunday I went in, and they swabbed me and told me there was no amniotic fluid. They also measured the amount of fluid with ultrasound, and said there was plenty. We went ahead and scheduled an induction for 7/23.
Monday: We went in for our scheduled check-up, and I had been bleeding lightly since Sunday. The doctor confirmed that yes, it was "bloody show," stripped my membranes a second time, and sent me home to wait. Later that evening, around 5 PM, I started having the first timeable contractions, although they were still at irregular intervals. They became increasingly painful, and I barely slept or ate. They continued through Tuesday, and I started to see much more bleeding. When I called at 9pm to ask how much blood is too much blood, they told me to just come in because it was a "slow board," and we could get the process going. So that evening I was admitted, and started on pitocin to make the contractions more regular. They did become more regular, and then I started having long contractions. One lasted 4 minutes and was excruciating, and all of a sudden nurses started rushing in. The baby's heart rate wasn't recovering the way they'd like to see. They stopped the pitocin and started a sucrose IV to try to get more heart rhythm variations from baby. At this point I was 5 cm dilated, and requested an epidural.
I got the epidural . . . along with a score of other things. Catheter, obviously, but also a monitor on the baby's head, and a different one that went between the uterus and the head to monitor the pressure of the contractions. So I had a whole barrage of tubes dangling from down there, and I needed help every time I wanted to roll to another side (which was frequent; my hips were in pain if I spent too long on any one side). I started to run a low fever, which makes the rest of this even more blurry.
At some point a nurse I hadn't seen before came in to give my nurse a break. She started the pitocin drip again, and I told her we'd turned it off because I'd reacted poorly to it; my contractions got longer instead of stronger. She said it was ok, and that they'd need to turn it on because the contractions I was having were no longer strong enough to make any progress. I was starting to feel intense pressure, to the point where it was painful. It felt as though I was bruised on the cervix, and with each contraction I could feel pain along with tremendous pressure. I told the nurse this too, and asked if I could push soon. She had the doctor come in and check me, and I was at 7 cm, 90% effaced. They advised me not to push, but the pressure was becoming unbearable with each contraction. Suddenly I had another huge contraction . . . this time it was about 7 minutes, barely ever dipping down. By the end I was screaming, begging for a break. As it turned out, the baby's water had broken at some point, although no one knew when. It might have been a slow leak that started the Saturday before, or it might have been later. In any case, there was no membrane to rupture at any point. My fever was up, and the baby was again not recovering well. They suggested it was time for a c-section, and I said fine.
An urgent c-section was called, and suddenly I was being shaved and handed a cup of some nasty stuff to drink (that I later found out was antacid). They gave me a spinal at the epidural location, and off we went. I told my husband to call my mother (who had gone home with my sister, after spending much of the night and early morning there with me), and then I was being wheeled into surgery. Just as I wondered how they were going to move all 210 lbs of me, they started inflating this really cool hover bed under me, and glided me over to the table. That was awesome.
The rest of it . . .not so awesome.
The baby was out quickly, but no one told me how she was. I heard her cry, so I knew she was probably ok, but they showed her to me only as she was being whisked out of the room. Eventually they told me she had inhaled meconium, and they were going to put her on oxygen to help her breathe. I was upset because I hadn't gotten to touch her and had barely even seen her. They sewed me up and wheeled me to recovery where I stayed for about two hours being watched the whole time by a nurse. I started to get a little movement back in my toes, but I was shivering hard from the fever and the surgery. My husband was in and out, sometimes off with the baby, sometimes with our family, and then finally staying with me. We got taken to our room, slightly removed from the normal post-partum recovery rooms; I was glad I wouldn't have to see a roommate with her baby "rooming in" while mine was in the Special Care Nursery.
Our families got to go see her in her little "incubator" with the oxygen hood over her. Eventually they intubated her as well, and gave her an IV for feeding and antibiotics. I still couldn't walk or move, so I didn't get to see her until the morning, when they helped me get out of bed for the first time and took out the catheter. It was horrible to not get to see her or hold her for almost the first day of her life. All I could think about was how much she probably wanted and needed to be held, and every time I pumped it was a reminder that I couldn't be with her yet. They had to sedate her too, because she kept trying to pull the tube out of her nose, so even once I was able to get wheeled in there it was hard. They didn't want us touching her too much because it would stimulate her, and there were so many wires to avoid when we put our hands in the holes . . .
On Friday they started weaning her off the oxygen, a process they said could take a few days, but they had her off by that evening and I was able to try to breastfeed her at 5pm. We went to the nursery every three hours after that to keep trying, all through the night. On Saturday, they said they'd be monitoring her, and try to wean her off the IV drip if she was getting enough nourishment from the breastfeeding, and by that evening they put a hep lock in just for the antibiotics. They let Jeremiah go get her every three hours and bring her to our room to feed instead of us having to go to the nursery, which we did all night . . . except the one time J's alarm went off and he turned it off in his sleep. We were an hour late for that feeding, so they gave her some of my pumped milk and he went back two hours later.
On Sunday 7/27, after the baby passed additional tests and x-rays, and after getting my staples removed, we were able to go home. I know we were very fortunate to have this happen in this time frame, considering that some of the original estimates of how long she'd be there varied up to one to two weeks. I can hardly imagine the strength parents have to summon up to attend to their babies who are there for extended periods of time. It was difficult enough to have ours there for a mere four days.
Anyway, when all was said and done, I had very little to complain about based on our outcome. The slew of indignities I faced along the way was something I couldn't have prepared for (throwing up a couple of hours after getting to my room, having nurses coming to change my disposable underwear and pads for me . . . and wiping down there, and asking me if I was passing gas yet, and measuring my pee in the toilet-hat). The doctor said that the baby's size was probably a factor in why she wasn't progressing faster . . . Sophia Aurora was 8 lbs 11 oz, 21 inches at birth. The doctor suggested I opt for another c-section for future kids instead of a VBAC, since it would likely be the same situation. I am ok with that. I feel like I've done it both ways at this point anyway.
So, that's how Sophia got here. It felt like such a long experience . . . I can't believe I fit the important stuff on three pages! Sophia is what the lactation nurse called a "barracuda baby," sucking very vigorously at feedings. She's quite a character already, and very much daddy's little girl. Jeremiah spent each night, and most of the days, in the hospital with me, helping me and the baby. She's almost two weeks now, and weighs 9 lbs 4.8 oz. Yesterday was a big day . . . she had her first check-up, and later she got to meet her great-great-grandmother! We took a picture with our 5 generations. As for me, I am trying to enjoy the time I have with her, and I am planning to go back to work in six weeks, almost three weeks into the school year. I feel a little more healed each day, though I am not back at the gym working off the baby weight yet.
Thanks everyone for following along with us on this beautiful, painful, joyful, exhausting, rewarding journey we've had for the last 9 1/2 months, and I wish you healthy, happy journeys of your own.