Sunday, October 2, 2016

34 weeks - A Birth Story

I sincerely apologize for the lack of updates.  I've been a little busy!

My mom arrived from the Frozen Tundra on Monday, March 28.  She wanted to see my baby belly and help me finish getting the baby's room ready.  We had a lot planned for her visit - wash tiny laundry, breakfast with Jack Hanna at Busch Gardens, a beer-and-burgers themed baby shower and maternity photos.  But you know what they say about best laid plans.....

On Tuesday, March 29 I had my 34 week appointment as well as my non-stress testing.  The doctor surprised us with a quick ultrasound so Mom was able to get a look at her grandbaby.  She also sat with me during my non-stress test and heard the heartbeat.  Nothing looked unusual so we went home and had a quiet evening watching tv and feeling the baby move.  I knew I was having contractions because I could feel my belly getting tight but they didn't hurt at all so I didn't think much of it.  They were not coming in any sort of pattern so I didn't bother timing them.  I had a bowl of cereal around 9:30 pm and went to bed.  I got up to use the bathroom around 1 am and felt fine.

At 3 am on Wednesday, March 30, I woke up with the strangest feeling, like either I was about to wet the bed or my water was about to break.  I flew up out of bed and as soon as my feet hit the floor - GUSH - my water broke.  For a second, I stood there like a statue, not knowing what to do.  I reached across the bed to wake up Kyle.  By some miracle, he'd heard it happen - he's usually a very deep sleeper.  I told him I thought my water broke.  At that point, we hadn't packed our hospital bags but I had picked up some travel size toiletries at Target so I grabbed those out of my closet while he grabbed his duffel bag.  As soon as he set the bag on the bed, Delilah jumped in it.  Sorry, cat - you're not coming.  I hobbled into the bathroom and tried to clean myself up as best I could.  I threw some stuff into the duffel bag while Kyle went to wake up my mom and tell her what was going on.  She came out into the hall and asked if I wanted her to come with us.  I replied, "Are you really going to be able to go back to sleep?"  We were out the door by 3:30 am and I could feel the contractions coming.  From the car, I called the surgeon to let her know we were on the way to the hospital in case they decided I needed a c-section.  I also called the labor and delivery department because I wasn't sure where to go.  We were supposed to do our birth class the coming weekend.  The nurse told me to skip the ER and come straight to labor and delivery.  I told her I didn't know where that was - I'd never been in that part of the hospital before.  She told me to just take the elevator to the second floor and follow the signs.  The good thing about having my water break in the middle of the night was there was no traffic on I-64! 

We got to Langley around 4 am and went straight upstairs.  They did a test to see if my water had broken - what else could it have been? - and got me into a room.  Kyle and my mom sat with me while the nurses got me settled.  For some reason, they had a hard time getting an iv started.  I've never had that happen before.  I was feeling the contractions regularly and they didn't feel good.  I wanted my epidural ASAP.  The anesthesiologist started an iv in my arm and then did my epidural.  I was prepared for it to hurt a lot worse - it really wasn't bad.  The nurses were impressed that I didn't even flinch!  I believe that was around 8 am.  The nurses came in to check my blood sugar every hour so I was able to kind of keep track of time.  By some miracle - the second of the day - one of my favorite OB's was on that day.  I was so happy to see Dr. W.  Things got a little weird that morning, and I don't remember if it was before or after I got the epidural.  I think it was after.  All of a sudden, I felt horribly nauseated.  I was positive I was about to throw up, but I never did.  Then I started running a low-grade fever, so the nurses were putting cold packs all over me to bring it down.  I was able to close my eyes and rest, but I didn't sleep.  I sent my parents out at lunchtime.  Although I couldn't eat, I didn't want them to starve.  Sometime after lunch, I think it was after 1 pm, my progression stalled.  I was dilated to a 5-6.  I'd heard horror stories about Pitocin and had hoped to avoid it but Dr. W. thought it was the best thing to help me along.  Once the Pitocin started, my contractions came harder and faster.  Throughout the day, the anesthesiologist had to come back twice to add more juice to my epidural.  My hat is off to all the mamas who deliver babies drug-free.  No thank you! 

My memory gets a little foggy around dinner time.  I assume I sent my mom and Kyle out to get something to eat again.  For whatever reason, the nurses stopped checking my blood sugar so I lost all track of time.  By now it had been more than 12 hours since my water broke.  My understanding was that after the 12 hour mark, the chances of infection increase and we might have to talk about doing a c-section.  Dr. W. explained that we had more like 15-18 hours.  All along, our goal had been to avoid a c-section if at all possible.  Because of the baby's head down position and small size, he felt confident that I'd be able to deliver vaginally.  At some point during the day, the neonatologist came in to talk to us about having a premature baby.  Dr. S. was wonderful and I'm so thankful he was there that day.  He told us his daughter had also been born at 34 weeks and she grew to be a normal, healthy kid.  I have a friend and a cousin who delivered premature babies, so I knew a little about the process.  I knew our baby would be spending some time in the NICU.  I think that if I'd been a little more with it, I'd have been more upset about that.  But I was so tired at that point, I just wanted to be done. 

I'm not sure what time it was that I started pushing.  I think it was between 6-7 pm.  I know it was getting dark out.  We'd seen the sun rise and set at Langley.  My room faced the runway and we'd been able to watch the jets take off and land all day.  I wished my dad and our nephew had been there to see it, they both would have enjoyed that.  Various nurses, midwives and Dr. W. all came in and out of my room while I pushed.  Mom and Kyle took turns holding my legs.  We tried all sorts of tricks, but our stubborn baby didn't want to come out.  I kept telling everyone I felt like I was doing it wrong, or it wasn't working.  Baby was originally in the preferred face-up position, but at some point flipped to face-down.  Each time I had a contraction and pushed, they were reached in and tried to turn the baby right-side-up again.  This went on for what felt like FOREVER.  I didn't cry but I whined a lot.  I just wanted it to be over.  I think it was around 10 pm that Dr. W. and my other favorite OB, Dr. G., came in to talk to us about the possibility of using the forceps to deliver the baby, or doing a c-section.  We were running out of time.  I really didn't know anything about a forceps delivery and I just wanted to be done.  I looked at Kyle and asked if we could please just go to the OR for a c-section.  He reminded me that we'd been hoping to avoid a c-section.  Dr. W. explained that he'd have me push through one contraction with the forceps and if it didn't work, we'd do the c-section.  One way or another, we were about to meet our baby. 

Once we made the decision to try the forceps, my room became like a clown car.  People just kept coming in.  I'm not sure how many nurses and midwives were in the room, it felt like about 20.  Dr. W. and Dr. G. were both suiting up in their protective gear.  The NICU team came in, which seemed like another 10 people in the room.  But I couldn't have cared less.  I just wanted that baby out.  As I said before, I'm sure if I'd been more coherent, I would have been more upset.  But I was so tired and I just wanted the experience to be over.  Because I had my legs up with my feet in the stirrups and a sheet draped over, I couldn't see everything that was going on.  That was probably a good thing.  It sure didn't feel good.  At that point, the epidural had pretty much worn off and the baby was so low that I felt everything anyway.  I pushed, Dr. W. pulled and all of a sudden, we had a baby!

Andrew Wesley Weitzell was born at 11:02 pm on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, the third miracle of the day.  He weighed 4 pounds, 14 ounces and measured 18 3/4 inches long.  It had been about 20 hours since my water broke and about 4 hours since I started pushing.  I was so relieved to be done, it didn't even register with me how serious the situation was.  Kyle called out, "It's Andrew!  It's a boy!"  I wasn't sure I heard him right and I asked, "It's a boy?"  I didn't find out until after the fact that as soon as they pulled him out, he started peeing everywhere.  And to be perfectly honest, he didn't look good.  They didn't even hold him up for me to see.  He was so tiny and so blue.  The NICU team took him to the warmer and started working on him.  Later, my mom told me that he wasn't breathing and they had to bag him.  His initial Apgar score was 2 out of 10.  Once they got him cleaned up and breathing, the nurses wrapped him up in blankets and put a hat on his tiny head.  One of the NICU nurses, Jackie, brought him over to my bedside so I could see him.  He let out a tiny cry and I kissed him and told him everything would be ok, Mama was here.  And then they whisked him away to the NICU.  Kyle and I had never actually written out a birth plan, but we had ideas of what we wanted.  We hoped to delay cord clamping, do skin-to-skin right away and take advantage of the "Golden Hour," in hopes that our baby would attempt to nurse.  All of that went out the window.  Other than getting my epidural, nothing went as we'd hoped. 

As quickly as my room filled up with people, it emptied out.  My mom and Kyle both went out in the hall to call our family.  Dr. W. finished stitching me up.  The remaining nurse helped me get cleaned up.  I started shaking pretty badly, I'm guessing a combination of being extremely hungry and all the hormones surging through my body.  The nurse helped me into the bathroom, and I didn't so much walk, I shuffled.  I felt like my grandmother.  Kyle and my mom left to go home, and though Kyle told me he was going to come back, I told him that I didn't think it was a good idea and he should just stay home and get some sleep.  Once they got to our house, he sent me a text saying he was going to stay home.  I was happy with that decision.  The nurse gathered up my things and I was moved to a different room across the hall.  I was starving, so she scrounged up some graham crackers and chocolate pudding for me.  It had been more than 24 hours since I'd eaten anything, and weeks since I'd had any sweets.  It was delicious!  I think it was after 3 am that I was finally able to settle down and get some sleep. 

Our sweet boy ended up spending 2 weeks in the NICU before we were able to bring him home.  That is a post for another time.  Once I figure out how to add pictures, I'll share some of those as well.