November 19, 1:00 a.m.--this is when I got a glimmer that something just might be happening soon. I awoke for the usual ďpeeĒ run and on completion realized something felt different and noticed some dark red mucous--not much so if it was to be my plug it was just partial. No contractions yet so back to bed but once I crawled into bed there it was, my first contraction, just a tiny one barely a minute long; I noted the time just in case. About 10 minutes later another contraction and they repeated about every 10 minutes for the next hour. I decided to wait on calling the doctor since these tiny very light contractions were not productive and I didnít want to be strapped to a monitor this early in labor.
By 2:30 I decided to see if activity changed anything so I went downstairs and did some light cleaning and swept the kitchen and dining room floors. Contractions didnít get stronger but actually lighter and a little farther apart. I drank some water just in case I was dehydrated which I knew from Noahís delivery can cause false labor. Ok, that just might be what was going on but just in case I better pay a couple of bills and then since things were letting up, back to bed. Once back in bed the contractions started back up getting back to the 10 minutes apart and lasting about a minute. Not the easiest way to get some sleep but at least my body was resting I guess.
From 4:00 a.m. to just before 5:00 I debated on calling the doctor since the bathroom trip showed more bloody show. Finally I decided to wake Darius and get his opinion since he had to get up for work in the next 30 minutes. He said to call the doctor and see what he wanted me to do. Thankfully Dr. G was on call! Of course he wanted me to come in and get checked over so Darius took a quick shower, and I dressed, brushed my teeth and grabbed my notes and a few peanut butter crackers for Darius, along with my pillow. I set the curling iron and blow dryer out for KayCee to bring up later, just in case this was the real thing. I had put too much in the suitcase and didnít want yet another bag to carry in; no need to look like I was moving in!
We arrived at the hospital around 5:30 a.m. and the nurse greeted us with the doctorís orders--bed for a 20 minute monitor strip then she would get more instructions from him. The baby was high, cervix medium thickness and only a dilation of 3. The contractions barely registered and babyís heartbeat was strong so off to walk the halls for an hour. After 45 minutes the nurse met us and asked if it was ok to have a student nurse shadow the labor nurse . . . ok with me, they have to learn with someone. Another 5 minutes or so and we are summoned back to the room, doc has arrived and wants to break my water to get things moving. Another new experience; it didnít hurt but had to wait for me to feel a contraction. I was having several but not feeling them all. I had dilated to 4/5 and thinned some but still too high. Iím stuck in bed and spent 5 minutes on one side then roll and readjust all the monitors for 5 minutes on the other side; then repeat all over again. Come to find out this was because the baby was head down but face up and doc wanted the baby face down. A third term med student, Louis, asked if it was ok for him to shadow doc during my delivery; once again ok by me. He wasnít sure if he would be in on my delivery or the other delivery down the hall; later the doctors decided my delivery would be a better experience for him so he stayed with us.
After an hour of rolling side to side doc decided to start pitocin (YUCK!). With our experience with Noah neither Darius nor I were excited to hear about this. With Noah the pit put me into active labor within half an hour and ready to push with not much transition time. It was not the case this time but it did increase the strength of the contractions and intensity. After another hour and baby still had not turned, I was contemplating the need to do something for pain because I was not handling the contractions like I had in past labors. Doc noticed the struggle I was having and suggested that I consider an epidural since it seemed I was fighting the contractions. I am contemplating this in my mind at the same time; nothing helped me and I was not even able to concentrate through prayer any longer. This pain was like nothing I had experienced in the previous labors or miscarriages. I agreed and couldnít believe I was agreeing to it, yet felt ok to go ahead with it trusting the Lord to help me with my fear of the epidural. I was allowed to get up and go to the bathroom before they put in the catheter; before this I had to use a bed pan--yuck.
At some point doc put in an internal monitor to register the contractions since they were not showing up on the external monitor all the time. This didnít hurt except him putting it in place. Meanwhile everything has been set up for babyís arrival in our labor room. We are getting close I thought. I had a strong contraction while in the bathroom and another strong one when I returned to bed. Doc and labor nurse realized I was transitioning; they tried to put in the catheter and the first one did not go in the right place. Meanwhile I had another horrible contraction and strange pain. Doc was now on the bed with me asking where the pain was and what it felt like. Another contraction and then I finally showed him where the pain was in the very lowest part of the abdomen and could only mutter Ďdifferent painí before another hit. Doc said, "We need to prepare for a c-section. Iím sorry, I know this is not what you wanted but Iím afraid we may be ripping scar tissue and I donít want to lose either of you." I agreed; I just wanted to get this done. Very unusual for me, but this pain was nothing like I had ever experienced. The nurse sternly told Darius to put on the complete scrubs now--mask, booties, hat and all. Doc cancelled the epidural and announced that we would get the spinal once in the surgery room. Thank goodness I knew what that was like since Eloraís c-section was done with a spinal; this was a relief to hear.
About that time I started having dry heaves, horrible dry heaves, and someone shoved a cardboard box into my hand. I have no idea who was doing what, I just know things were flying. Doc announced that everyone should be prepared for a vaginal delivery once we got to the surgery suite just in case. When we arrive in the surgery suite and they are asking me to move over to the surgery table from the delivery bed, Doc yells the baby turned and dropped we can deliver vaginally. By that time I was ready to push but not yet they said. Doc was trying to get the stirrups in the surgery table and something was not going well. The next thing I hear is a clamor and he says to forget the stirrups and help get her legs up. I finally laid eyes on Darius who didnít know at first we were not doing a c-section. I know because he was very ashen in color then his color started coming back as he realized what was happening. I remembered after Eloraís birth he said the smell was awful and Iím sure that is what he was dreading along with everything else a c-section brings.
Someone had my right arm, I believe Darius was at my left arm, the anesthesia nurse was giving me oxygen and nurses on both sides of me were pulling my legs up as I am flat on my back begging to push. I got the ok on the next contraction to push. It seemed to take forever for the contraction to come; it doesnít but it seems like time stops for a few seconds. Two pushes and the baby is out! Itís a GIRL!!! She didnít cry at first which always causes my heart to skip a beat. Then I heard her scream--ahh, yes good lungs! Doc took care of delivering the placenta and checked the caesarean scar which was all good and intact. I needed stitched about an inch and of course as par for me, my body started shaking, as I know this is a form of shock I always go through after delivery. The med student was a gem and let me hold his hand as the doctor stitched me since Darius was with our baby girl. Iím amazed and thanking God he made sure we were all ok. He gave us a beautiful baby girl, and though the birth process was the most painful one so far, I made it through a successful VBAC with no painkillers! So much to be thankful for; Praise God!
Isabella Rose was born at 9:58 a.m. weighing 7 pounds 12 ounces and 20 inches long. Light brown peach fuzz for hair, light colored, thin, yet long eyelashes and dark blue eyes and absolutely beautiful! And as usual everyone in the delivery room agreed that she is gorgeous!
After doc finished with my stitches and the med student made sure I had not one but two warm blankets on me, I waited to be moved to a more comfortable bed. My doctor came over and leaned very close to talk with me. He said our daughter was beautiful and though the labor was eventful, she did a great job of never stressing and holding her own. As he leaned closer he said he wanted to be the one to let me know that they suspected our baby girl has Down syndrome. He knew of course that I had declined testing for this but he didnít want it told to me by anyone else. I have never had such a compassionate doctor and the compassion he was showing me at this moment was unbelievable. He said that there were some markers that indicated this like low muscle tone, an extra fold at the back of her neck and the shape of her eyes. The pediatrician would look her over and confirm or deny the findings. He congratulated us and we talked for a bit longer, then he said he would be back later. At our later visit he and I both realized the horrendous pain that I felt causing him to think I might be tearing inside was in fact the baby descending and turning at the same time. It seems so obvious now but when you are in the midst of it not quite so clear.
We finally went back to the labor room I started in to be moved later to my recovery room. I got to nurse Isabella in the labor room and she did great. We got to cuddle and as much as I wanted to unwrap her and inspect her it was way too cold in the room for that and no matter how many times the nurse turned on the thermostat we were not having much luck warming it up. Inspection of those little hands and toes, fingers and feet is one of the most wonderful things--simply awe inspiring to think God used us to create such a wonderful being!
It was time to get Isabella under the warming lights and clean her up so Darius walked her down to the nursery and spent some time in there while the nurse and student nurse helped me clean up and prepare to go to my room. While in the midst of clean-up the pediatrician stopped in for a visit. Actually I believe he came back with Darius from the nursery but anyway not the best timing. The three of us sat and visited about Isabella and why it was suspected that she had Down syndrome. He told us that she had about one-third of the markers that they use to diagnose this genetic condition. He shared with us the clinical definition of Down syndrome, he asked if they could draw blood to have it tested by the genetics department at the local childrenís hospital which we agreed to. This test would confirm the diagnosis as well as tell us what type and he thought it would take a week to get the results; it would actually take two weeks. He said that her heart sounded good and he did not find any respiratory problems. These two areas we have learned are problematic for those with Down syndrome.
The pediatrician also called the local Down Syndrome Guild, which in turn had a local parent give me a call and came for a visit while we were in the hospital. The mother is also a local chapter president and was wonderful to talk to and brought us a huge basket of gifts. The gift included several books about Down syndrome and a DVD this ladyís husband produced about their first years with their sonís diagnosis as well as lots of baby items.
While in the hospital all three pediatricians that evaluated Isabella agreed about the Down syndrome. On the second day our own pediatrician was on call and we sat and talked for at least 45 minutes about the things to come. Isabella has low but good muscle tone, no heart trouble that we can tell, and no upper respiratory trouble. In fact the mom from the DSG (Down Syndrome Guild) said that I was the first mom she had visited that was able to have her baby room in with her; most of the babies are in neo-natal care. So we feel very blessed. After the visit with the mom from DSG I really searched my heart and prayed about how I felt about this news. It was at this time that I felt God pressing on my heart the following, I guess you would say, revelations . . . ĒI have chosen you and your family for this very special task of raising one of my most precious of children. You and your family have proven yourselves worthy of this job. I love you and want you to know what a privilege this is.Ē It is hard to put into words the honor I feel; it is like the King of kings has chosen us for a very special task and all I want to hear is well done as we complete each step along the way. We donít feel anger or frustration, no questions of why or why us which anyone who knows me knows I like to know why in everything. But not this time. Maybe after that last miscarriage and having to lay all the ďwhysĒ at the Kingís feet with no answers. I must have learned something.
Over these first weeks there have been all kinds of appointments to set up like the cardiologist, an echocardiogram, the genetics counselor, therapy decisions and an appointment with the optometrist all done except the last one. I have also had to deal with Isabella not gaining, actually losing more weight over the first couple of weeks which has meant weight checks several times a week. I know nursing is the very best for her and have had to figure out what works best for Isabella in this area which we are still working at. Thanks to a friend I was able to borrow a dual breast pump to use to help with those last traces Isabella canít suck out--you know that wonderful, fattening hind milk which is then given to her via feeding tube or bottle throughout the nighttime hours. Another friend was a LaLeche league leader and has helped with suggestions and support to keep breastfeeding. It is vital to nurse every two hours from start of one feed to start of the next. I switch feed to enable Isabella to get more hind milk (so hopefully an end to pumping at some point) and also keep supply high.
The cardiologist and echocardiogram revealed a hole in Isabellaís heart. At this time we are just to watch and recheck at 6 months. They do not feel that this has anything to do with the Down syndrome and that it might just heal on its own over time. She was also born with an umbilical hernia which has been healing nicely since birth.
KayCee has been a real trooper helping with the other kids and fixing meals. She has even done the majority of the Christmas decorating! Jesse has even learned to cook hamburger for casseroles and soups, something he is very anxious to help do when I ask.
It is amazing to look back and see how God has prepared me for this journey. The bottom line is that we have a beautiful baby girl that God blessed our family with. God ensured a successful VBAC experience without pain killers and gave me a wonderful doctor to boot. Not to mention the insight I gained by sharing my experience through this online journal. Thank you for reading along and thanks to StorkNet for allowing me to share. My hope and prayer is that someone gleaned something from this experience as well.
May you see the precious gift of life you have been given and treasure the wonderful blessings God sends your way; each day is just loaded with many things to give thanks for.
Thanks for reading and sharing in this part of the journey!