Monday, January 19th, started off with my now weekly doctor's appointment at 9:20am. Everything seemed to go fine until the doctor noticed a bulge on my right side while I was laying down. He said, "Does that baby look sideways to you?" I said no, that's just the way her feet lay and that she's usually in a "7" configuration - her feet under my ribs, her bum in the middle of my tummy, and her head straight down. He checked me to see if I was progressing and then measured my tummy. At 38 weeks, I should have been 38 cm from my pubic bone to the top of my uterus. He claimed that I was much smaller than that, even though last week I was supposedly right on track - 37 cm for 37 weeks!
The doctor said he wanted to get an ultrasound to see how big she was and it turned out she was in the 10th percentile for weight and size. They estimated her weight to be 5lb, 14oz and assumed the cause to be a problem with the placenta. Apparently, it had stopped producing nutrients for her and she stopped growing. The doctor said that the best course of action would be to have her on the outside, rather than in so she could thrive (even though she would only be a week and a half early). He quickly scheduled an induction to be started Tuesday night at 8pm. My responses were that my mother is flying in on Wednesday afternoon and that my 26th birthday was on Tuesday. He wanted to put me in the hospital right away, actually, but I had breakfast that morning and they like you to not have eaten for 8 hours before an induction.
So the rest of Monday, and through Tuesday (my birthday) was spent cleaning the house, packing my bags, doing laundry, buying preemie clothes, going for a birthday dinner, and putting finishing touches on the nursery. By 8pm on the 20th, we were ready to go to the hospital.
And then, I got a back cramp. And then a few in the front. And a few more back and front.
When they hooked me up to a monitor, once we arrived in the Labor and Delivery Unit, I was contracting around every four minutes and was one centimeter dilated. I wanted to go home and work through this on my own but that idea was shot down because the doctor and nurses really wanted this baby to be out soon. With all the problems with her growth and the placenta, we all agreed that it was best to start on Pitocin and try to get her out of me as soon as possible. Which was a shame, I thought, because my body KNEW what it had to do and was going at it's own pace to safely birth this baby. And the doctor didn't have enough confidence in my body's own ability to progress. At least they didn't need to use Cervadil or Cytotec to help prep for dilation - I was already on my way!
I talked with the nurse (Sue - wonderful lady) about my wishes for wanting to give birth as naturally as possible, to use the bath tub to help labor, to be able to sit and walk and kneel and lean as I needed to, and how I wanted to wear my own nightgown to give birth. All of my requests were denied. I also was not able to eat or drink for over 24 hours (once it was all done with) and with all of these frustrations and limitations.... I started to cry. Nothing seemed to go like how I wanted. One thing after another that I had read about, been told to request, and given advice upon was quickly been cast aside like my wishes didn't even matter. When I asked if I can try a natural method of induction, my nurse said, "Your doctor doesn't really like to do that kind of stuff." Well, he's not the one pushing a baby out of his whoo-ha!!
So after my crying spell, the nurse came back in and asked me why my chest was red and splotchy (if you know me, you know that when I'm nervous, upset, over-heated, or stressed out that my chest breaks out in hives). I said simply, "It does that sometimes," and then she noticed that I had been crying. She pulled up a chair and sat and talked with me for a long time about my birthing experience. That's when things started to change for me and I started to relax a little about everything. Sue said that what really matters is having a healthy baby and I knew that deep down inside, I think. Relaxation had to be key and then we tried to change things up a little bit so I wasn't stuck in the bed all night long. She got a rocking chair and slid it into my room so I could sit (even though I was on a MILLION monitors and wires), which was nice of her.
6am finally arrived, as did my doctor (who had been absent and sleeping peacefully all night long - unlike us!). After 10 hours on Pitocin, I was still at 1cm so he decided to sweep my membranes. Which hurts. Very much. Then, without hardly talking to me or looking at me, he asked my nurse for the amnihook to break my water. I started to object because then I would have to be confined to the bed, not even allowed to get up and go to the bathroom. He just said, "You're not going to progress on your own," and went ahead anyways. I thought that wasn't very fair because I MIGHT have been able to progress on my own if I was allowed to move and walk and bounce on my birthing ball (which was still sitting, deflated, in my tote bag).
8am - still 1 cm. The rest of this hour is a little personal, but lets just say that Jeff was a trooper and helped me out a lot. Some very embarrassing instances, and lots of crying and apologizing, but my body is just doing the things it does while giving birth! I get a new nurse named Karen who encourages me, tells me about her 7 natural births, and wants me to flip and flop from side to side and most important of all - RELAX!
9:30am - still 1cm. I start asking about my pain relief options. I absolutely don't want an epidural (in my mind, Pitocin + Epidural = C-section!) but I start asking about Staydol. They mention morophine but I rule that out because that just seems so... extreme. Right? Isn't morophine, like, for drug addicts??
9:45am - I ask if they can just get a syringe ready of Staydol for me. Just in case.
10am - These contractions are out of control. I have about 15-30 seconds of relief between each one and am not relaxing at all! It doesn't help that my bed is as hard as a rock, I keep having to pee, and my stomach feels like I've taken Saran Wrap and suctioned the baby to me. I can now feel every kick, every knee and elbow, and everytime I lay on one side and switch to another - everything "melts" down towards the bed. The lack of amniotic fluid is really an odd sensation!
Oh, by the way, I'm still 1cm after 14 hours of labor. I give in and get some Staydol. Jeff is able to take a nap (he was getting WAY too cranky and I was pretty "snappy" too) and I don't neccessarily nap, but I zone out during my contractions. I began focusing on a little icon of a TV on the side of my hospital bed. It works. We play some music and I begin to visualize the lyrics. Stevie Nicks was doing some awesome things in my drug induced haze. I also tell my nurse, who's name is Karen also, that we're both cool because we spell our names "K-A-R-E-N" and not some retarded way like, Caryn.
12pm - Whoo-hoo! 6cm! The window is also closing on whether I'd like another dose of Staydol. Thinking I had a lot more time to go until she arrives, I say, "Yes, please!"
12:30pm - I get a strong urge to push all of a sudden. I'm shaking, starting to go crazy, can't keep my eyes open because I'm on just a bit too much medicine, and these contractions are one on top of another. I yell out, "Can we turn this frickin' Pitocin off?!? I need a chance to catch my breath!" Then it feels like I have to retch. But not upwards - downwards. My body curls and tightens on it's own, like I'm going to uncontrollably vomit. It's the oddest sensation that no one really ever explained to me before. They check me again. 10cm. I've progressed 10cm in 2 and 1/2 hours!
But my lovely doctor is no where to be seen. In fact, I've actually only seen him for 5 minutes when he broke my water! Apparently, the good doctor is in the parking garage, on his way into the Labor & Delivery Ward. They tell me to "Hee hee hoo" breathe in order to stave off the uncontrollable urge to push. I guess it works, but I would rather just hurry up and do it. They strap an oxygen mask to my face and before I can protest, they say that it's not for me, it's for the baby. That's enough to make me keep it on, even though it's hot and forces my stinky breath back into my nose!
Finally, the Great Nurse Karen says, "He's here, go ahead, start pushing," and she gets into position. She's a great coach, as is Jeff who stays by my side and helps hold me (and my right leg) up. Jeff told me later that everything happened so quickly once it was showtime. The nurses wheeled in tables full of instruments, my bed was raised up to standing height, the overhead light dropped down from the ceiling and was turned onto full blast. Furniture was moved out of the way and our computer and blankets were all shoved into closets. I had no idea about any of this. And even though I wanted my glasses on, I totally forgot about them once it was time. Turns out, they weren't so important after all.
I heard someone say, "See? That Staydol did the trick! You just had to relax!" That made me feel better, even though the most recent dose was bothering me because I just couldn't keep my head clear and focused. Then the good doctor finished his cheeseburger, wiped off his mouth (I assumed), and strolled leisurely into the room. He waited, at my crotch, with his arms and palms open like Jesus, and just stared non-chalantly. Karen, the awesome-ness, started helping me out saying things like, "Get mad, Karen! Get mad at Dr. (Blah Blah)! Come on! Push! You're doing it! She's right there!" When she told me to get mad at him, it didn't take much. I just laughed (yes, laughed, in the middle of the most painful thing ever) and had a renewed strength.
My blood pressure cuff went off on my right arm at one point during a push and I yelled, "Get this frickin' thing off of me!" I waved my arm and Jeff was totally confused, thinking that I was talking about my hospital gown. Another nurse knew what I was talking about and hit the switch to shut it off. I had been concerned earlier that my blood pressure was getting too high (150/90's - eek!) and that interventions were going to have to happen. But luckily, everything turned out just fine!
The baby nurse, Thelma, was a kindly old woman, who I later found out had been there for over 40 years. She saw me in distress and looked at me and said, "You need to relax in between contractions (pushes). Just think of a beach." My eyes, she said later, had a twinkle in them when she said that and Jeff started to talk to me about our wedding just three and a half years earlier on the beach. It was enough to help me calm down and then, all of a sudden, there was her head.
It was the oddest looking thing. At first, I thought her head was really small, like a doll's. Turns out, it was just the tip of her "cone-head." A few more pushes, and then there she was. They told Jeff to get his camera ready and he took a few pictures of her getting wiped off and the cord clamped. Turns out, too, that I forgot to mention that I wanted the cord to be cut after it stopped pulsing. Guess that's not as important as I thought either.
As soon as she's out, they rip the oxygen mask off of me and I pull my hair out of the disgusting ponytail that it's in. Ever the narcissist, I fluff out my hair and await my first picture with my daughter. Then they tell Jeff to cut the cord and I rip the camera out of his hands (seconds after birth, mind you) and take a picture of him cutting the cord!
Then she's placed on my stomach, "cream cheese" and all and I kiss that little, screaming face. God, she's beautiful! Baby Nurse Thelma takes her to the warmer and she and Jeff fill out paperwork while I'm being worked on and cleaned up (which, by the way, still hurts.... a lot). He asks me, "Kathryn, right? With a 'y'?"
I answer, "Yeah, whatever! ARruughhhh!!!!"
"Honey, do you want her to have a Hepatitis B shot?"
"Oh my God, I don't care! RRaawwwrrrrr!!!"
She's wrapped up, cleaned up, and so is her mommy. They leave us alone for a little bit and I say hello to my little Mckenna Kathryn. 6 pounds, 4 ounces. 18 inches long. January 21st, 2009**. Just one day after my own birthday. What a wonderful birthday present!
More to come about the days following.....
**As a friend of my dad's mentioned, she'll never have to live one day under the Bush administration. :-D