Monday, February 1, 2010

reflections on a big chapter of our story

So, last year in the heat of the moment and all of our attentions on Charlie, I feel as if the story of the days leading up to Charlie was forgotten about. It was not your typical birth story by any means and in reflecting on where we were a year ago, I feel as if it deserves some attention. If anything, we should have known then that Charlie would do everything in his own way and in his own time.

One year ago today my water broke shortly after the Superbowl ended. I still argue that it was not because of my dissatisfaction with the dirty Steelers winning (sorry Steelers fans!), but it makes a good story! So, my water broke with no other signs of labor starting. After consulting with the doctor on call it was decided that I would just wait and see over night and go to see my midwife as was already planned in the morning. The night passed with no change and at my exam in the morning I was barely dilated at all. I was told to head to the hospital where we would try and get things started.

After leaving the doctor’s office we stopped back at our house to make arrangements for Chloe, make the appropriate phone calls, and get our things. Vince handled most of the business that needed to be done as I was in a bit of a fog. Leading up to this point, every time I thought about actually giving birth to my baby I would find myself crying and being so afraid of what was to come. I was not afraid of the actual process of giving birth - I was actually quite at peace with that - but I was scared to death of what would happen once my baby was not warm and safe inside of me. I was seriously worried that I would become consumed by these fears and just cry throughout my entire labor and delivery. So, after we came back from the doctor’s office and the fact that I was at a point of no return settled in, I went into the nursery and sat in my rocking chair - the chair lovingly built by my husband - and I held onto my belly and just got lost in my thoughts. I felt like I was standing on the edge ready to jump - the most intense emotions I may have ever felt in my life. Vince came and found me, pulled me together one more time and we left for the hospital.

It seems as if once we actually got to the hospital something inside me switched and I felt like I had been given a job to accomplish and that gave me some clarity and focus. We got checked in, delivered our birth plan to everyone who needed it, and settled in for what we thought and hoped would be a typical labor and delivery. While I was not super pleased about having a baby on Groundhog’s Day, I figured that I would find a way to deal. Progress from here was slow at best.

This was on Monday February 2. I was given multiple doses of Cervidil (a medication inserted to try and prepare the cervix for labor and with any luck induces labor as well). This did little to nothing for me. On Tuesday they tried Misoprostol (a similar medication) and also had no progress. As the hours passed and the nursing shifts changed, my frustration with lack of progress grew. I began to really fear that I was going to have to have a c-section - the thought of which frightened me incredibly. Tuesday night when yet another shift change came around and we were introduced to another nursing duo who would care for us throughout the night, I had a melt down brought on by both the frustration of no progress and the bombardment of phone calls and text messages looking for updates we could not give. Hoping to put my mind at ease, our nurse put in a call to Dr Neulander (the OB who owns the practice I go to) and he called us in our room to discuss how things were going and what the plan of attack would be. We planned to start Pitocin first thing in the morning and if things did not progress, a c-section would be imminent. Wednesday February 4th would be our delivery day one day or another. By Wednesday afternoon the Pitocin really started to take effect and things progressed successfully throughout the afternoon and evening. My wishes and plan was always to have a natural childbirth process if possible. I was mentally prepared for the work involved in giving birth. The Pitocin added another level of intensity that I could not have anticipated, but at 9:52 pm that night our beautiful baby boy came into the world without any interventions other than the massive amount of medications needed to get things moving!

When I first planned to write this post my intentions were more than just telling the story of our labor and delivery experience. Nothing went as expected, including the fact that I never expected to encounter so many amazing people along the way over those days leading up to the miracle of Charlie’s birth. As each nursing shift changed, we were introduced to a new nurse or nursing team who would care for us for the next 8 to 12 hours. There was no one who came into our room who didn’t find a way to put us at ease and make what was an incredibly stressful situation as manageable as possible. What was maybe most frustrating besides not making progress hour after hour and day after day was that we found ourselves getting attached to our nurses with hopes of them being “the one” who would be with us when the big moment came just to have to say goodbye to them as another shift changed. Molly, Stephanie, Colleen, Mary Jane, Barb, Casey, Leslie, Donna, Stacey, and finally Jessica each made an indelible impact on our birth story. I actually ran into Mary Jane at Target last fall. She had been particularly kind to us as she had a friend whose baby was also born with CDH. She had been following our blog and Charlie’s progress - - so, hi! J

Of course, I cannot write about our experience a year ago without mentioning my absolutely amazing midwife, Betty. She did absolutely everything in her power to ensure that I had the birthing experience that I really wished for. She eased my fears and knew just what I needed. I recently went to make an appointment for my next annual exam and was so sad to find out that she no longer works for my office. I cannot imagine going through another birthing experience without her. She sent a gift for Charlie a couple weeks after his birth - one of those light up aquariums. We put it in the nursery and turned it on every night while he was in the hospital. Vince dubbed it “the beacon” and would say that it would guide Charlie to our house if he were to ever “escape” from the NICU. J We still have it on all the time and have found that Charlie cannot sleep without it. Thank you Betty - we owe you so much.

So, as I end this very lengthy post, I can’t help but feel a strong case of the “one year ago todays” coming on. Life changing. Every moment of this experience has stuck with me and has changed my life indelibly.

Just checked in a ready to get the show started - little did we know!

our labor and delivery room

cursed cell phones - definitely will not be involved
in any other birthing experiences down the road!

monitoring Charlie's heartbeat and my contractions for three days
I was hearing the heartbeat sound for days later - it gets into your head!

first picture of our amazing baby boy, fighting from the very start!


Tracy Meats said...

Happy Birthday Charlie!! I will always think of Charlie as "Gumdrop". He is one cute boy and hope his first birthday is a memorable one! Celebrate big, for you sure were blessed with a miracle. I hope Charlies next year is full of adventure and fun!

Tracy, Ian's mom from CHERUBS

Dee said...