for weeks i've been trying to get the story of your birth written.
i know if i don't write it soon, i'll start to forget all the little details.
so this morning [while kate's at school and you nap] i'm sitting down with a cup of hot chocolate and writing until my emotions get the best of me.
because let's be honest, post-partum is nothing but an emotional roller-coaster and writing the story of your birth is going to do me in.
hope someday you enjoy reading how you came into our world.
we love you a ridiculous amount baby girl.
so glad you're ours.
[and to everyone else who is reading this:
really, really long.
feel free to skip this one]
the story of how i got the baby i wanted and the labor and delivery i didn't:
ok, let's begin on the evening of february 7th.....
the ever-important hospital bag
my induction was scheduled for 7 pm tuesday night but was pushed back due to high patient volume in L&D. I knew this could happen and secretly hoped it would- i just wasn't ready to face the pain. call me a wuss, it's true- i don't handle pain well at all. the extra time allowed me to snuggle with kate and jank which i was very grateful for.
we went to bed around 11pm with the knowledge that we would probably be called sometime in the night. as expected, my phone rang at 1215 am [after only 1 hour of sleep]. the charge nurse asked that we come to the hospital since they had a bed available. we grabbed our hospital bag and off we went. what a exciting ride that was- jank and i both full of anticipation, excitement and fear. but mostly i remember feeling complete happiness knowing that i was about to meet our little girl.
my plan was to document my labor in pictures...
that plan didn't really pan out.
we arrived at the hospital with chips and salsa for the nurses [always a good idea to suck up to the nurses!] and were quickly shown to our room. this is when i realized how much i hate being the patient. my voice was shaky as i answered all the initial assessment questions and i laughed nervously about a thousand times. my nurse katie was great [especially since she drew the short straw and had to take care of a nurse. nurses really do make the worst patients- we don't do well relinquishing control to someone else].
soooo not excited to be the patient.
the plan was to start me on a medicine called cytotec which would ready my cervix for labor [i was only dilated to 2 cm and was 50-60% effaced at that time so pitocin wasn't an option]. i received one dose of the medicine and was instructed to try to get some sleep for a few hours while the medicine worked it's magic. jank and i hunkered down for what we expected to be a looooong labor and were able to rest for a bit. and then the trouble started....
i was trying my hardest to ignore the computer in the room that was recording the baby's heart rate and my uterine activity. i even had katie turn down the volume of the baby's heart rate so i wouldn't obsess over it. but who am i kidding? i stared at the screen like a crazy person- i wanted to see every little rise and fall of her heartbeat. i started to notice that ev's heart rate wasn't responding as expected. she was within the normal range but didn't have great variability [which can be attributed to a sleepy baby, how i'm positioned and/or lack of oxygen]. i was just readjusting myself onto my side to see if that would help when katie came in to reassess the situation. she helped me turn all the way onto my side and then we waited to see if the baby would respond positively to the new position. she did.... briefly. and then it was back to the same old 'flat' heart rate. so back in katie came to readjust me again. we played this game for a bit- right side.... left side.... on my back with a slight tilt... all with the same result.
katie came in at some point [the times are a little foggy to me- probably around 4am] and put some oxygen on me. i remember turning to brandon at that time and saying 'we're only 2 hours into this labor, i'm only 2/2.5 cm and i already have oxygen on. this isn't going to go well'. in my head i was already preparing for a c-section. and i was scared.
i'm not opposed to c-sections. i support any method of delivery as long as the result is a healthy baby and mom. i just never wanted to have one myself. when i pictured my delivery, i envisioned pushing my beautifully healthy baby out and immediately having her placed on my chest [with a towel to help control the yuck factor]. i envisioned helping the nurses dry her off while i stared at her face and listened to that wonderful newborn cry. my arms ached to hold that baby. i didn't want to be strapped to a table and not be able to see her enter this world. but i also knew i would be ok with any outcome as long as she was healthy.
[it's funny how we go through life and get so caught up living our day-to-day that we don't realize what an impact the present will have on our future. i suppose life will always be that way since we can't see the future and therefore we will always be consumed by the present...... that said- i'm so grateful for my past experience as a L&D nurse. my previous knowledge of labor allowed me to prepare myself for this unwanted turn of events. thank you to georgette my manager in logan who gave me a job as a tech and then as a RN on L&D and to all the nurses and doctors who taught me about labor. because of them i was able to handle this stressful situation. although i'm not sure i 'handled' it all that well.]
ok, so there i was with oxygen on, laying completely [and uncomfortably] on my left side. baby ev's heart rate was responding decently to the oxygen. things were ok for a bit. not great mind you, but ok. i have to imagine at some point katie was on the phone with my OB keeping him abreast of the situation. i was told he liked to be updated despite the late hour [this would seem like a no-brainer to most people, but it has been my experience that not all MD's are created equal. there are many who don't like to be bothered at 3 am unless something is tragically wrong]. no decision to pull the plug and head to the OR had been made yet since the baby's heart rate was tolerating the 'labor'. i put that in quotes because i really hadn't started having contractions yet.
once my uterus started to respond to the medications we ran into more trouble. every minor contraction [and they were minor. i barely felt them] caused evelyn's heart to dramatically drop. once the contraction ended her heartbeat would return to normal and we would carry on until the next one when it would do the same thing. this brought katie back into our room to reassess me since sometimes these kinds of decelerations of the heart can indicate a sudden dilation of the cervix. but not for me- no cervical change occurred. i was given more fluid through my IV and once again turned to my other side. and there i stayed until i had to get up to go to the bathroom. katie helped me unhook from the computer and told me to call her when i was back into bed. i thought i would save her the trouble of having to come back in and i hooked myself back up. evie's heart rate was quite low initially but returned again to her baseline once i turned onto my side. a few minutes later i had a decent contraction and with it brought the expected drop in her heart rate. i was facing away from the computer at that time so i could hear her heartbeat but couldn't see what rate she was at. i waited for the contraction to end and with it the return of her heartbeat to a normal rate. i felt the contractions abate but didn't hear her heartbeat increase. i waited a few more seconds and waited.... and then i just knew. i was filled with an incredibly intense feeling of dread and fear. brandon felt it about 5 seconds after i did- he had been resting on the couch in my room and could sense something wasn't right. i asked him to get up and turn up the monitor's volume and just as he was walking to the monitor, my door opened and katie hurried in.
at this point evelyn's heart rate was in the 80's.
it will be a long time before i forget how dreadfully slow that heart rate sounded.
on katie's heels were 4 more nurses. i distinctly remember seeing 4 pairs of feet hurrying to my bedside and thinking 'please let them be good at what they do. please let them save this baby'. it's hard to remember everything that happened in those next few moments. it was organized chaos. my sheets were whipped up, my cervix was checked, my oxygen was increased, more fluids were given and then in walked my OB. he didn't spare a moment greeting me- he slapped on a pair of gloves, broke my water and attached a fetal scalp electrode to evelyn's scalp [so we could more accurately monitor her heart rate]. at that point he looked me in the eye and said something along the lines of 'well, this isn't going well is it?' i just stared at him like a deer in headlights. i was obsessed with the metallic beep, beep, beep coming from the computer telling me my baby's heart rate- still too low despite everyone's efforts.
i remember reaching for brandon's hand and wondering why he wasn't standing at my bedside. when he didn't immediately take my hand i turned my head to look at him. his face was pale and he look terrified. later he told me he couldn't breathe and was having chest pain so he sat down. he was so worried we were going to have a bad outcome. brandon's not one for dramatics like i am and i cried when he told me that part of his story.
dr lewis then proclaimed 'this isn't working, we need to get to the OR'. and with that pronouncement the chaos increased. the anesthesiologist was suddenly at my bedside. i was given preoperative medicines. consents for surgery were signed. brandon was quickly changed into scrubs. i feel like i blinked and suddenly i was being wheeled into the white, sterile and cold operating room.
i was quickly positioned for a spinal and i tried very hard not to think about what would happen if the spinal didn't work fully. [i've assisted with a few c-sections where the spinal didn't work fully and the moms were crying out in pain. it was pure hell] my anesthesiologist was amazing- calm and collected and took the time to reassure me since brandon couldn't be there to do so [he was allowed in after they started the surgery]. i remember repeatedly telling him i could move my left toes and he patiently reminded me [over and over again] to give it one more minute and i would be numb. he was right and by the time the surgery started i was indeed numb. hallelujah.
as i laid on the OR table with a sterile drape in my face, i stared at the bright light in front of me and tried to block out the sounds of the OR. i knew what a c-section looks like, i knew what all the inside layers of the human body look like and what the surgeons must do to get to the uterus. i knew when they would cut and when they would tug and tear and i knew my baby was still in trouble. scariest moment of my life was right there on that table. the spinal was spreading up my chest and into my arms, making it hard for me to breathe. i couldn't hold brandon's hand tight enough. i remember praying over and over again as tears streamed down my face. i prayed for evelyn to be healthy. i begged for her to be ok. at this point she thankfully still had a heartbeat but it had been so low for so long i couldn't ignore the possibility that there might complications.
and then i heard the surgeons say 'she's out' and for one small moment all was silent. i think i aged 10 years in that moment. and then i heard her cry. and there has never been such a beautiful noise. she cried and cried and cried and i cried right along with her. the nurses allowed me to see her very briefly before taking her to the warmer. she was pink and covered in vernix and so very beautiful. i couldn't see the warmer from the OR table but brandon was able to video for me those first few minutes of our daughter's life.
i laid on that table listening to them call out my daughter's stats and i drank in those numbers like they were my lifeline: apgars of 9 and 9 [it's based out of 10 so 9 is great stuff], 5 pounds and 12 ounces [much bigger than expected!], 19 inches long [so tall compared to kate!]. and with every passing moment i became more and more overwhelmed. i was consumed with relief. relief that my gorgeous baby was here and ok. relief that my spinal worked and i didn't feel the surgery. and relief that i was done.
and when they brought her to me, all bundled like a burrito and with that silly hat on so i could only really see her eyes, i sobbed. i couldn't hold her but the nurse [bless her for understanding how much i needed to touch my baby] pressed her face next to mine and i whispered 'i love you' a thousand times and kissed her cheeks until they had to take her away to be monitored.
look how happy she is!
brandon stayed with evelyn throughout the next hour. he was able to watch her first bath and take pictures for me. he kept me updated while i was monitored in the recovery room. i was given plenty of pain meds so i don't remember much except i was very happy and very tired. and extremely grateful everything turned out ok.
we love you little miss evelyn rue.
more and more each day.