Friday, August 4, 2017

March Sixth, Two Thousand Seventeen

Personally, I love reading birth stories. I loved reading them before pregnancy, during, and even now after experiencing my daughter's. While trying to conceive, they got me pumped (despite some scary ones) for my turn one day, and during pregnancy, they made me ugly cry. Seriously. So, I want to share Abby's birth story with you today. Partly because you like them (you ARE reading this post...), and for me to share with Abby one day. It's been almost 5 months (!!!) since this, and I really can't remember every detail now. I may be updating/editing this post as little things pop back in to my head!
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40 Weeks: No baby. Just nausea, fatigue, and being impatient. I had a midwife appointment, they were weekly at this point. The weather was pretty decent, for it being February in Alberta. I go to my midwife appointment to have my first cervical check and membrane sweep. They were offered to me before, but I refused until today. I was 1cm dilated, and 50% effaced!! It was actually really exciting for me! I was told I could exercise, as it could help because I was actually dilated, and to try a few things. It took some time, but I finally tried the castor oil (yuck) because my midwife said they found it to have about a 70% effectiveness with their patients. I drank red raspberry leaf tea, took evening primrose oil, and dank castor oil twice. Trying to keep my thoughts positive, but I thought all the things to induce labour were bologna and silly.
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40 Weeks/4 Days: I started losing my mucus plug! Although nothing happened as a result of the membrane sweep (if nothing happens within 48 hours, it "failed"), losing my mucus plug got me super excited! I immediately messaged Rob's sister, Lauralynn. She was, and still is, my go-to person for all this.
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41 Weeks: Another midwife appointment. After all those silly Old Wives Tales to try and induce labour, I was still only 1cm dilated and 50% effaced. I remember feeling just so disappointed and knew what was coming. I was given the rundown on induction methods, and was told 41+3 is when they typically like to let pregnant women go, for safety reasons. If I chose to wait baby out, and not be induced, I would have to start continuous fetal monitoring. That meant going to and from the hospital every day until this kid popped out. It wasn't realistic for us, as we only had one vehicle and I was ready to just meet Abiageal. My midwife agreed to let things go how they were going, but if I wasn't in labour by Saturday evening, I would come in the Sunday morning for the foley balloon catheter. Cue driving home in tears. Also, crying randomly over the next 3 days and being a big ol' pregnant biiaaatch to anyone who gave me tips on how to induce labour on my own, and other such comments as "you look nice." Screw that noise.

41 Weeks/3 Days: Okay, now the story gets a bit juicy (ha). You ready? We (Rob and I) arrived at the midwife center for the balloon catheter around 10:30am. Nervous as helk, I laid on that table ready to start this party. I was still 1cm and 50% effaced. No change. Uggghhhh. I wasn't 100% sure what to expect, but I had the general rundown that it would get me to about 4-5cm dilated by "tugging" when I walked, and the hope would be that it just kickstarts my body to do what it needs to do. It took them about 45 minutes to finally get it in properly, while Rob giggled to himself as he texted his sister. Lauralynn was asking how it was all going so Rob decided to have fun with it. "I'm watching two women go elbow deep in my wife" + "This is the closest I'll get to a threesome". Isn't he a treat?
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It was such a weird feeling to have it in. It wasn't too painful to get, it just got really uncomfortable because a 5 minute procedure turned into a 45 minute one. They couldn't see my cervix or something. Bring on the flashlight! I'm not kidding. It wasn't nice to sit, and to pee was another story. We went to Lauralynn's to keep myself busy, and she was also our birth photographer! The contractions started around noon but weren't too bad. Pretty manageable, I mean, I could walk and talk and breathe and cuss out Rob, sooooo. I had a couple contractions that were not nice at all, had me full on sweating, and wondering what the hell I got myself into, and wondering if I really wanted a med-free birth. A couple hours went by and while walking is what makes the catheter do it's thang, Lauralynn offered to walk the trails from her house to mine. I remember there being snow on the ground, but it was decent weather, and I had to pause or slow down a few times while she tracked the contractions on an app.

I got home and circled the damn living room and kitchen I don't even know how many times. Peeing was so uncomfortable because I had to move the tubes out of the way (they typically are in somewhere, but in this case, they were just hanging out and taped to my leg), and going from a standing to sitting position also tugged, resulting in dilation. In between contractions, I was able to lay on the couch. I was SO tired! Netflix was on, I had a comfy blanket, my pillow, and Rob and Lauralynn. Contractions came and went for a while, even while laying down. I was equally forced and encouraged to get up and move around so that the catheter could do what it was supposed to do. I think we ate McDonald's at one point? I think Rob's parents, Len and Cheryl, came by at one point too? Maybe they brought the food...

The contractions stopped around 9pm. I called my midwife who said maybe I just reached 4-5cm and my body was resting. She encouraged me to take a tylenol and a gravol, and to get some rest because tomorrow would "be the day." I did just that and had the best sleep I had had the entire pregnancy - highly recommended.
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40 Weeks/4 Days: Off to the midwife we go at 10:30am to have the balloon catheter taken out! That was quick and painless, until they took the tape off my inner thigh. Hooollllyyy, that was definitely the worst part of that induction method. They said I was 4cm dilated and more effaced - exciting! But I had had no contractions since they stopped the night before. Basically, it didn't kick my body into labour mode, it just got me to 4cm. My original plan was to give birth at the Sturgeon hospital but they were full so we were sent to immediately drive from the midwife center to the Misericordia hospital. It was a surprisingly calm drive and I was relatively calm when checking myself in "for induction" while Rob tried to find a parking spot. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was going how I wanted it to. I still don't know how I wasn't just in a puddle of my own tears walking into the hospital. They sent me up to the third floor where I checked in again and was brought to my room. We got a pretty good corner room with lots of daylight and big windows!
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After getting changed and laying in the bed, the nurse came in to take my information. She explained how the synthetic oxytocin worked and said I could eat now as I wouldn't be allowed once they hooked me up. Rob brought me some apple and orange juice, and a sandwich, which was actually pretty good for it being hospital food. When we finished, they got the IV going. No one told me it would be a giant friggin' needle going in to my hand, unlike the previous IVs from my two hospital visits at 12 and 15 weeks pregnant. They told me it's just in case I needed to receive blood.
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Oxytocin was started at 11:30am and would be increased every half an hour until I reached the maximum amount. I remember seeing my midwives for cervical checks and support, Rob and Lauralynn joking and hanging around, Cheryl coming in for a bit, and the nurses coming in every half hour. They would adjust the fetal monitor if necessary and would up the oxytocin dosage. The day actually went really fast for just laying around and only getting a couple walks in. I wanted to avoid being strapped to a bed, because I know that one intervention usually leads to many interventions, which would result in a c-section. It was difficult because they were wanting to continuously monitor Abiageal because I was induced. I put my trust into my midwives and nurses because I really didn't know what else to do. I remember standing and just rocking so it wasn't just laying in the bed, joking that I don't feel anything and could totally play a game of cards at that moment. That all changed around 5pm (I think).

Midwives came in and broke my water at that time. Oh boy, things went from 0 to 100 real quick! It was honestly the worst pain. My body didn't get the chance to slowly build up to it, so a mix of maximum oxytocin and my water breaking just was like, BAM. I laboured through about 5 or 6 contractions before asking for the epidural. Lauralynn reminded me of the laughing gas stuff, but I declined and said to go straight for the epidural. She knew I wanted to avoid it, but I was at the point where I couldn't even talk or do anything. Rob joked that I sounded like a rhinoceros. The nurses gave him the side eye, but I'm pretty sure I let out a little laugh. I'm really surprised at how nice I actually was to everyone around me, haha. I knew going in, that men tend to feel helpless, so I kept my cool and wouldn't get upset or annoyed if Rob tried rubbing my shoulder or trying to help me because it was just really nice having him there to hold my hand. Also, holding the puke basin for me, haha! The apple juice didn't sit very well once the contractions hit.
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The anesthesiologist arrived sooo quickly, I was super surprised and relieved all at once. The pain was really nothing to get it in, a quick sting, but it was hard to stay still when the contractions started while I was sitting. The nurse who held me was so amazing, I wanted to thank her before we left the hospital but we couldn't remember her name. She held me and whispered that I was doing amazing and I'd have a baby girl soon, that I got this, and all sorts of stuff that really, really helped. After the epidural, it was amazing. To go from that level of pain to being almost numb, was the best thing ever. Midwives did a check and I was 5cm. Uhm, what? After all that, I only dilated a CENTIMETER?! Given, it had really only been a short amount of time. In the back of my mind, I knew a c-section was coming. I didn't acknowledge it though, and continued on. They put the catheter in and let me rest.
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Midwives came back a little while later for another check, I was still only 5cm. Dang. Long story short, they brought out this peanut exercise ball to get me in what felt like a million different positions that are supposed to help with dilation. While doing that, they had trouble monitoring Abiageal, but they were doing okay monitoring my contractions. Some of them peaked 3 times before they'd dissipate! Thank god for modern medicine. We knew Abiageal was head down, but she was sunny side up (face facing my belly, when they should be facing the spine), so it made it difficult to find her heartbeat. Eventually, they had me in a position where I was on my hands and knees with the peanut ball under my chest for support. I was starting to panic a bit because the epidural was wearing off, due to gravity. I said I wanted to just lay on my back because I was started to feel the contractions again. So, we moved me. They did another check after like, an hour or two of moving positions...still 5cm but I was 100% effaced and they could feel her head.
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While watching the monitor, they realized that Abiageal was trying to push her head THROUGH 5 CENTIMETERS and was in distress. Well yeah, ow. My midwives said they were going to discuss with the OBGYN on shift and would get back to me, but it was looking like a c-section. I think they were trying to keep me calm and stuff, because the OBGYN came in right away and said they were taking me in less than 20 minutes, as soon as possible, for the c-section and needed my consent. As soon as they said it, I bawled. Hard. I don't think I've ever ugly cried like that before! A c-section was the last thing I wanted because I was so scared of it and the recovery. They gave Rob and I a couple minutes alone while I'm pretty sure the whole hospital wing could hear me crying, haha. They came back in and I vaguely remember them wheeling me down the corridor to the OR.
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I don't remember what happened, but I'm pretty sure Rob wasn't allowed in until they were about to take Abiageal out. He wasn't allowed in the OR when they prepped or opened me up. Lauralynn was allowed in when Abby was out, too. Oh man, I was shaking SOO much and couldn't stop ugly crying while they did it all. The dude by my head had to hold my arm down for an accurate blood pressure reading and I'm about 90% sure they gave me Ativan at some point. I just couldn't calm down.

At 10:01pm, Abiageal was born!
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I remember hearing her cry and then one of the nurses saying "he's beautiful!" I'd be happy with either or, but I was like "she's supposed to be a girl!" and they corrected themselves, haha. We got some quick skin-to-skin time before I needed them to take her because I was shaking and really, really nauseas. I had people and Rob around, but I didn't feel okay enough to hold Abby. While they were trying to stitch me up, I was puking and puking. They gave me anti-nausea meds through my IV and it calmed down eventually. Turns out that I lost almost a whole litre of blood during that. While Rob was holding Abby, and they stitched me up, Lauralynn came by my head and held my hand to keep me calm.
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Suddenly, we were in the recovery room. I remember seeing Rob holding Abby, walking around the room, and sitting in the chair at the foot of my bed. They gave me water and I remember being just so out of it. I didn't want to keep my eyes open or lift my arms to get the water into my mouth. It turns out that Abiageal and I both had fevers. Her's was a mild one, but it went away with more skin-to-skin with me. I had the nurse and Rob stay right beside me during that because I was too nervous to hold her, and too weak. Mine was 100 degrees, I think. It eventually went away, but I remember wanting to just go to sleep.
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Looking back at these photos helped a lot and I'm so thankful for them. Even though most of it was blurry, I can look at these photos and show Abiageal one day! The c-section recovery really wasn't as scary or painful as I thought, and was told, it could be. It took 8 weeks for my incision to fully close, but it's closed!
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I can't believe this turkey is going to be 5 months old on Sunday! They change so much and she already looks so different. It goes way too fast!

While nothing in my "birth idea" went how I wanted it, like, literally nothing, we still ended up with a healthy baby girl. Honestly, it took me a while to be okay with how everything went. I still get a lump in the back of my throat when I mention it took an emergency c-section and that I couldn't experience a vaginal birth. I may attempt a VBAC if we decide to have another child but it's recommended to wait 24 months from birth to birth for that. I've come to terms with having another c-section, now that I know what to expect, but I'm 100% not ready to be pregnant or go through it again for a while.

Holy, wow, you read through all of that. Kudos to you! I pretty much rambled and made no sense for parts of it, but you pushed through ;) even if just for the cute photos.

All photos in this post are courtesy of Abiageal's Auntie, Lauralynn of Treasured Forever Photography!
xo. Nicole

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