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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Miracle Child: My Birth Story

While it's all still fresh in my mind, I wanted to document Samuel's birth story. I hope y'all don't mind! Birth stories are very personal and sometimes out of our control, so I'll just thank you guys in advance for letting me share my story. 

So here it goes... 
My birth story started with curtains. You probably remember the huge headache I got from fabric.com when I tried to order fabric for my nursery curtains. Long story short, I finally found a seller on ebay selling the exact fabric I originally wanted, and ordered it. 
UPS delivered the fabric around 5:30pm a week later, on a Monday. I opened the package immediately, and began laying my fabric out in the hallway to start making curtain panels. My husband was out at a church board meeting that evening, so I knew I'd have a couple of hours to work on projects. I finished the curtains that evening, and posted this picture from my iPhone on Facebook. I was exactly 34 weeks along. I had 6 weeks left to go.


 

After I finished the curtains, I prepped my workbag and set out my outfit for work the following day -- Tuesday was my commute day, so I would be headed into San Francisco that following day. I realized as I was getting my things together that I needed to buy a new train ticket for my commute. I was planning on this being my last commute day of my pregnancy, and I was more than annoyed that the Amtrak site wouldn't let me purchase a ticket for the following day online for some reason -- thank goodness, because I would have never used it!
Brian got home from his board meeting after 10pm. We hung out for a bit and I went to bed around 11pm. 
I wasn't in bed for more than five minutes before I felt a kick -- an unfamiliar kick, very low in my pelvis. Almost instantly I felt the warm trickle begin. A wave of panic rushed over my entire body. Without hesitation, I jumped out of bed, at this point still unsure what exactly was happening, but fully aware something wasn't right. I raced to the bathroom, and as the trickle became a stream, I realized my water had just broke. My water broke.... At 34 weeks.
Tears started running down my face. I'll be completely honest -- I was freaked out. My pregnancy had been going so well, I never imagined I'd be standing in my bathroom at 34 weeks with amniotic fluid running down my legs and pooling on the floor. I started shaking. I took a deep breath and screamed as loud as I could for Brian. He was upstairs in seconds, and I choked out words my mouth could hardly form, "My water just broke."
Brian was calmer than I was. I'm not sure he fully realized as I did that birth was now eminent. Even if he did, he's always been calm in times of emergency. And I was so glad he was calm for this. He brought me my phone, and I dialed Labor and Delivery. The words came out a little easier this time, "I'm 34 weeks and I think my water just broke." My heart sank as I was instructed to come directly to the hospital. I knew they would say that, but it just affirmed a reality I was still struggling to accept. I grabbed my purse and Brian grabbed chapstick and a hair scrunchy for me, and that's all we took to the hospital. In theory, we should have had 6 more weeks so we hadn't packed a bag yet. 
I'll never forget how I felt taking that first step inside the ER entrance of the hospital. It wasn't the feeling I'd imagined in my dreams of bringing my boy into this world. I was terrified, my cheeks still damp with tears. We went straight to L&D, and were officially admitted at midnight once it was confirmed that my water did indeed break and that my baby was very low and head-down. I was still shaking. 
I'm a planner (surprise, surprise), and I thought I had mentally prepared myself for every possible birth scenario. I knew birth could be unpredictable, and I wanted to be able to roll with the punches. But premature delivery was not something I had ever fathomed because I had zero complications with my pregnancy. I had no idea what to expect. Over the course of my pregnancy, I had watched numerous birth videos of all varieties. My favorite part was always the very end when baby was handed to the mother for snuggles. I loved the reaction of the moms. I craved that moment. And now, at 34 weeks, I wasn't sure I would get that moment. I knew if I had a c-section at full term I wouldn't get to hold my baby right away, but he'd be waiting for me after I got off the operating table. At 34 weeks, regardless of how my son would be born, I knew he'd be taken away to the NICU. I could hardly think about it without crying. All I wanted was for my baby to be ok, and to be able to touch him and hold him. 
I was given an IV and hooked up to an assortment of monitors, including one watching my boy's heartbeat. The nurse turned the volume up and my husband and I listened to our baby's heartbeat for the duration of my 15 hour labor. When the nurse left the room, Brian held my hand and we prayed together, for the health of our boy and for me, as well as for miracles that would point to God's glory and power. God's first miracle -- I started to calm down. 

I wasn't feeling contractions yet but the nurse told me they were picking up contractions on their monitor. Around 3am, I did start to feel them. Around 4am, the decision was made to augment my labor with pitocin. That stuff hurts like a mother! I endured about 5 hours of that, with contractions coming now every 1-3 minutes, and then finally got an epidural -- sweet relief! The best part was the fentinol I was given prior to the epidural to help me sit still. The nurse warned me that I would feel drowsy. Well, let me tell you, drowsy hit me like a ton of bricks. I slurred through my words, "Whoa.....you weren't kidding..." She laughed and said, "You feel like you just drank a pitcher of margaritas, don't you?" I think I nodded. At least, I intended to. 
The epidural was easy and painless -- I experienced no discomfort whatsoever. And when it was all over and the pain relief started to kick in, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could still feel and move my legs, wiggle my toes, and even feel my contractions. I just didn't have any pain. I only felt pressure.  
Shortly after the epidural, my BFF surprised us with snacks and drinks for Brian. Such a blessing! We had left the house with nothing. She had also been to our house to let our dog out for a bathroom break.

 
I was finally able to sleep at this point. I didn't realize how tired I was until this moment. And, yeah, maybe the fentinol was helping, but at this point it was now Tuesday and I hadn't had a wink of sleep since Sunday night. I will say one aspect of labor I wasn't privy to was the fact that if you get an epidural, you must also get a catheter. It makes sense logically but was never something I had really thought about. For some reason the catheter seemed scarier than giving birth! But it was painless, and to be honest, it was a huge relief (pun intended) because they were pumping massive of amounts of fluids into me through my IV and getting up to pee every 30 minutes with the boatload of monitors I had hooked up to me was a huge annoyance. So, I welcomed the catheter with open, um, arms. 
I slept to the sound of my baby's heartbeat. It was comfort to me, almost as if he was speaking to me from the womb, "Don't worry, momma. I'm doing great and everything is going to be fine."
Nap time.
I loved every nurse I had. The entire hospital staff was simply outstanding, and we enjoyed getting to know each of them. My doctor stopped by a few times to see how I was doing, and I was checked periodically to see how my labor was progressing. Around noon, I had made it to 3cm, but the nurses were noticing that my baby's heart rate wasn't responding well to my contractions, which were coming at a very rapid pace -- the pitocin was turned off in hopes of spreading my contractions out a bit. This helped my baby's heart rate, but  my labor didn't continue to progress. At 3pm on Tuesday I still wasn't quite 4cm, and I had developed a fever. My doctor explained that the fever could be a sign of infection (which would also explain my water breaking so early), and she recommended we move forward with a c-section. 
The assortment of nurses I had throughout my stay thus far had all reassured me that babies born at 34 weeks generally do great; they just need to stay in the NICU for a few weeks. In fact, I didn't need to get steroid shots to help his lungs, or do anything special prior to delivery. They all said, "We just want to see a nice pink baby when he's born," and that stuck with me. All I could think about going into the operating room was, "Lord, please let him cry and please let him be pink." 
Ready for surgery!
The c-section was an interesting experience. First, I got to see my husband dressed like this:
Brian in the bunny suit, aka the "awesome suit."
Now, that was worth the price of admission right there! 
Secondly, I was numb from my shoulders to my knees, which made it difficult to breathe because I couldn't feel myself breathing. Don't get me wrong, I was breathing just fine and was being closely monitored the whole time -- I just felt like I wasn't able to get a good breath. Once I understood why I felt funny, I was able to manage my breathing for the duration of the procedure.
Thirdly, I wasn't aware going into it that you can FEEL everything they are doing in the surgery. I could feel every incision, stretch and movement they made in my abdomen -- I just didn't feel any pain. It was the oddest sensation. I was pretty drowsy, which I'm sure helped, but my husband told me it was one of the most terrifying experiences of his life. He didn't watch the actual surgery, but could see my body rocking back and forth on the table as they worked to deliver our baby. He told me later his whole life was on that operating table, and he realized it he could lose it at any moment. At that point, I felt kinda bad for being so drowsy, because I'm sure my glazed-over eyes weren't helping his fears. 
My surgical team was amazing. My OB led the team, which I was very happy about. My doctor is absolutely fantastic, and I felt so at ease with her in charge. My nurse at the time was just wonderful. She had a c-section fairly recently, so she continually reassured me about what I would experience and how I would feel. The rest of the surgical team was jovial and friendly. They asked if there was anything they could get me while I was on the table being prepped for surgery. I said "How about a sandwich and a hot stone massage?" I like to think that they liked us more than most patients. :)
I knew exactly when they pulled Samuel out -- I could feel him emerging from my belly. The next few seconds seemed like an eternity as I waited to hear his first cry. And, then it happened. A perfect "waaaahh!!" followed by a hiccup and another cry. It wasn't a hysterical cry...more of a "why did you wake me up" cry. I remember feeling such an amazing sense of relief and thankfulness to God. I forgot how difficult it was to breathe. And then I saw him, growing in pinkness with each passing second. They brought him to a station near my face and cleaned him. I couldn't stop staring at my beautiful little guy. I couldn't believe he was actually here. I couldn't believe he was all mine. And that was God's second miracle. I looked at Brian and saw tears pooling in his eyes and spilling over. In the 13 years that I've known Brian, this is the second time I've seen him cry. It was beautiful -- tears of joy for our baby boy. 
Just born!
They brought Samuel to my lips and I kissed his face before they took him off to the NICU. The team finished putting me back together (I might have been a little tempted to randomly make buzzer noises, like the game of Operation, but I decided it was in my best interest to let the doctors focus). Members of the surgical team started saying their good-byes, wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving and I was replying with thank yous and "Happy Thanksgiving!" back at them. The very-tall surgical technician who assisted my doctor said good-bye to the staff, and I chimed in, saying to him, "Thank you so much, Dan!"He leaned over the curtain to Brian and I, and said, "You guys are blessed. I pray your son grows up to be be smart, musical and great singers just like you two." At this point, he had my attention. How did he know this about us? He pulled down his mask, "You probably don't recognize me, but I go to Valley Church." We were overwhelmed with God's providence in that moment. What a blessing to have an angel from our church watching over my surgery. God's favor knows no bounds. And that was God's third miracle. 
I was taken to a recovery room, while Brian went to see Samuel in the NICU. As I regained feeling in my body, I started shaking, which apparently is totally normal after giving birth. Luckily they were able to give me medicine to help me stop shaking. Brian joined me in the room, and we started making phone calls to announce Samuel's birth. Brian put the phone up to my ear so I could talk to my mom. I remember my voice sounding horrible -- hoarse and weary. I tried my hardest to make my voice sound normal. I didn't want her to worry, because I was really doing great -- I just sounded like I'd been run over by a truck. Our friends arrived shortly thereafter and joined us in my recovery room. They showed up armed with preemie clothes that they and another dear friend from our church had purchased -- I was overwhelmed with their thoughtfulness. 
I was wheeled to my room, where I started to ask Brian a million questions about our baby. I was put on bed rest for 12 hours, and all I could think about was making it through those 12 hours so I could see my baby in the NICU.
My first post-delivery nurse and nurses assistant showed up shortly thereafter. I kept telling them how much I was looking forward to seeing my boy. When they had finished taking my vitals and getting me situated in the room, the nurse said to me, "I can bring a wheelchair and take you to the NICU, if you can stand up on your own." I could feel my stubborn sense of determination swelling up in my throat. Dag nabbit, I would STAND if my life depended on it! And so, just a few hours after having my guts sliced open, I was on my feet -- unsteady, and not at all upright, but standing nonetheless. 
They wheeled me to the NICU. And then....we met. "Hi baby. I'm your mom."
Meeting for the first time.

He had an assortment of tubes, monitors and machines attached to him...most notably, a machine to help his lungs expand and contract, an IV and a feeding tube. But all I could see was my precious boy.


Holding Samuel for the first time.

Amazingly, my son was off the breathing machine in about 12 hours, was off the feeding tube as soon as my milk came in, and had his IV removed after about 3 days. But the biggest miracle of all was that he did so well we were able to bring him home after only 6 days -- not the 6 weeks we feared as a worst case scenario, or even the 2-3 weeks we hoped for as a best case scenario. Six DAYS. Six days. Praise God!!

First family portrait

My doctor had tests run to try to determine why my boy was born early, but all of my tests came back normal, so unfortunately we don't know why he came early. But I can't imagine life without him. Brian and I are so in love with our son!

My boys. 
He's been doing incredibly well, progressing as if he was born at full term. I am a proud momma. :)




Cheers!!


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6 comments:

  1. Beautiful! Brought tears to my eyes and your baby boy is such a doll! What a blessing!

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  2. What a handsome little man you have there! It doesn't feel like 2 months have already passed - seems like yesterday you posted that you had him! I'm glad that all is well - you look beautiful and completely in love holding Samuel! Congratulations to you and Brian :)

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  4. Awe!! Congrats!!! What a wonderful story. I love reading birth stories because everyone's is different and unique and remind me of my own. :-) You're son is beautiful! God is so good!! May God continue to bless your family and may your son grow to be a strong and faithful man of God. :-)

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  5. Thanks for sharing.. Your baby is beautiful!

    ReplyDelete

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