Friday, October 08, 2010

The Best Day of Our Lives

It used to be this:
June 16, 2007

But now it's this:
September 14, 2010

We are completely head-over-heels in love with this new little person.  Over the moon.  Fallen all over again.  

She is perfect.  

She wasn't due for over three weeks, which I figured meant at least four.  We had in mind that she would come 10-10-10 (wouldn't that be a great birthday?) but other plans were in store and we are so thankful to get to meet this little girl earlier than planned, completely healthy and whole and content.

Here's how it happened. 

Early in the week before she was born, I started having intense itching.  It was like pins and needles all over, especially on my hands and feet, but very deep, as if it were under my skin.  I also had nausea, a decrease in appetite and an increase in Braxon-Hicks contractions.  Interestingly, this was also combined with very intense nesting instincts, and I was probably over-doing it with cleaning and organizing!  I let my doctor know what was going on Wednesday, which was also when I googled my symptoms.  I was already aware of something called cholestastis of pregnancy and sure enough, my symptoms matched.  My doctors wanted me to try some other remedies first for the itching (benedryl, etc.) before jumping to that conclusion, but finally brought me in Friday afternoon to pull some blood work.  Being Friday afternoon though, this meant that we wouldn't see results until Monday.  

I spent the weekend enjoying two wonderful baby showers and a visit from a dear friend.  I was so incredibly thankful for all of these distractions because I was very much on edge and really didn't feel well all weekend.  I knew something was off and I had a feeling she was going to come early, but I was trying not to let myself get worried or worked up unnecessarily.  I trusted my doctors and knew they would take care of us, but I was also afraid of how early it was (I'd just hit 36 weeks) and didn't want to have her too early.

Sunday night into Monday morning were awful.  I felt so itchy I could hardly stand it and I knew something just wasn't right.  At 6:15 am I woke up and decided to pack for the hospital while waiting until I could call and speak to my doctor directly at 8 am.  I knew that if I called the advice line they would just send me to the hospital but that it would take 2 hours (not exaggerating!) to get there because rush hour had already started.  I told my husband I was packing because I couldn't sleep and needed a distraction, then forced him to go to work.  I was trying to stay in denial.  I thought if I went to the office they'd have my labs, check me out and give me the ok or at the very worst put me on bed rest with some medication.  So, I packed the bag, called and left a message at the office, took a long shower and laid back down in bed until the phone rang.  They wanted me to come in right away.

I got to the office at 9:30 am.  As I sat in the waiting room for almost an hour, I kept hearing the receptionist and the nurse practioner I was supposed to see whispering about me.  They kept talking about calling this doctor and that doctor and waiting for this, that and the other test result.  Finally, they brought me back, and the nurse says, "We're sending you to the hospital.  You have cholestasis of pregnancy, which means that your liver values are way too high.  You're going to have your baby today!"

I thought my heart was going to stop.

As I fought back tears, I asked a few questions and knew full well that they were worried about the baby.  At first I thought she meant I was going to have an emergency C-section, but she told me they were going to monitor the baby and then induce me.  She told me to call my husband, go home, get some stuff together and head in.  She smiled and wished me luck, and I could tell she was trying to be upbeat and relaxed for my sake.  I walked out to my car, shakily called my sweet husband, then lost it and tearfully called my mom.  I took a few deep breaths, prayed for the safety of my precious baby and drove home, calling a few friends along the way.  At home, after holding each other for a minute, we went around the house trying to gather ourselves and everything else we might need.

We arrived, met my mom,  and sat in the waiting area for a good while.  Looking back, I'm frustrated that we weren't given a little more information from the get go.  The unknowns just had us really worked up. When we finally got settled into a room and fully checked in and the doctor came, he explained that the biggest concern was that cholestasis can cause spontaneous death for babies because their livers aren't able to compensate for the mom's liver.  He said that once we were in and hooked up to the monitors, we were fine; they could watch the baby closely and if anything seemed odd, they could have her out in a matter of minutes.  They even had a bed reserved for her in the NICU.  So, while all of this was really concerning, we felt completely calm and confident that everything was now under control.  (That doctor was really so very wonderful!)  It was time to have our baby!

The "plan" was to give me the first labor-inducing medication at 4:30 pm, then start the next drug at 4:30 am.  They figured we'd have a baby sometime in the afternoon or early evening after that.  But once they got me checked out and regularly monitored, we discovered I was already in very early labor on my own.  I was having regular, though not painful, contractions and was already dilated 1 cm.  We started the medicine and within 15 minutes the contractions started picking up. They still weren't very painful though, and we sat around watching tv, chatting and even ate some dinner and saw some visitors.

By around 7:30, I was really feeling the contractions.  They were short, but really close together.  It was uncomfortable to not really get a break from them.  My husband was wonderful about helping me relax and breathe through them.  A dear friend came by for about an hour or so, which was good to help take my mind off things.  The contractions kept getting more and more intense, and by 10:30 my water had broken and they decided to stop the medication and see what happened.  I was 80% effaced and 5 cm dilated, and I was in a LOT of pain.  They wheeled me into a labor and delivery room, which felt totally surreal, but was also rough because I had to breath through a contraction totally on my own without my husband to lean on or help me.  They are a lot harder to deal with if you aren't prepared and distracted. 

We got into the labor and delivery room and they had to get a full bag of fluids into me before I could have an epidural.  Thus began a ROUGH 45 minutes.  I am SO thankful for my wonderful husband and mom who were basically the greatest team ever.  (On that note, I would HIGHLY recommend two support people for laboring moms.  First of all, I only had one nurse, so it was good to have someone else while I was pushing.  Second, it was so helpful to have my husband to lean on while my mom rubbed my back or put a cool cloth on my neck.  It was also great because she remembered to grab the camera when the baby came.)  They got me through every contraction (these were transition contractions- hubby and I called them "teeth contractions" during our labor class!) with lots of counting and comfort measures.  My nurse was also fantastic.  She happened to also be a midwife, and I could tell right away that her style was to really let mamas do what their bodies need to do.  She was very relaxed and calm.

When I could get the epidural I was surprised by how little it hurt.  Getting that epidural was a wonderful decision for me.  Once it kicked in I was able to relax, both physically and mentally, for the first time all day.  At about 12:00 my nurse checked me and I was 5 cm dilated, 100% effaced, and the baby was at zero station.  My nurse got excited because she knew she might get to meet the baby before her shift was over.  My husband and mom could both take a break; he napped and she watched t.v. while I journalled and made a playlist for my ipod.  Seriously!  That's how relaxed I was.  I still felt pressure, but the pain was much, much less, even though I didn't have the epidural medication all the way up.

It only took about two hours until I felt like the pressure was very constant and too uncomfortable.  I felt like I needed to push.  I called the nurse and she checked me again; I had dilated the last 5 centimeters in under two hours.  She called the doctor and we all felt a nervous excitement; this was it!  The nurse came back in though and said that doctor wanted to have me wait an hour before pushing to let the baby come down a little more on her own, even though she was at +2 station.  I felt a little annoyed because I felt like the doctor was just busy with another patient and figured I was fine since I had the epidural.  This was also the first time I sensed that the nurse wasn't exactly in love with and on the same page as my doctor, even though she was super kind and still totally relaxed and didn't show it.

Unfortunately, then the nausea hit me.  Thus began another pretty wretched 45 minutes.  I refused to turn my epidural up because I wanted to feel the contractions, so I was feeling some pain, and the throwing up made life pretty miserable.  I really, really wish that could have been eliminated from the process!  Eventually that pressure became so unbearable that I just HAD to push.  The nurse called the doctor and told me I could try a few pushes, so at 3:28 (thanks Mom, for writing it down!) I started pushing.  Things happened FAST!  The nurse called the doctor three more times, and made mention that she could catch the baby if need be.  Pushing was scary for me.  It felt like nothing was happening and that made me feel desperate, even though everyone kept telling I was doing great.  We could see the baby's head within about 3 pushes, and I kept pushing.  Finally, the doctor sauntered in.  At this point I was totally out of it and focused only on pushing, but I'm told that she was taking her time, just chatting with another nurse and slowly getting ready to change for me.  Then, she glanced up and saw my baby crowning!  She cried, "Are you having this baby without me?!" and flew over (no kidding) tearing on her scrubs and rushing to get ready.  She kept telling me to "wait" and "don't push" and I kept crying, "I can't!  I can't!" and I just know that our sweet nurse must have dismayed the loss of the calm, serene environment we had going before and probably thought the doctor should have listened to her sooner.

The doctor wrenched the end off the bed, put her hands out, I pushed, out came her head, I pushed again, and out came the rest of her.  When they set that baby on my chest at 4:00 am on the dot I have never felt such intense physical and emotional relief in all my life.  They whisked her away though and she wasn't crying; panic crept in and I kept saying, "She's not crying!  Why isn't she crying?" and everyone kept assuring me that she was fine and making plenty of sound.  She was just so sweet and precious right from the get-go that she didn't feel like yelling.  Apparently, and I didn't know this, not all babies do that lusty cry right away, and that's totally fine.

When they wrapped her up and set her on my chest, we just felt totally wrapped up in love and happiness and joy and such utter relief.  She was fine.  She was healthy.  Her APGAR was a whopping 9.9.  I felt so elated, so proud, and everything felt so utterly surreal.  I couldn't believe I had actually MADE her and pushed her out, and in only 30 minutes.

It all happened NOTHING like I expected. I, like probably every pregnant mom, envisioned waking up my husband in the middle of the night with a gentle, "Honey, it's time!" like they do in the movies.  I thought we'd go through the first stage of labor together at home, using all of the comfort measures we used in childbirth class.  I was all ready to take long walks at the hospital, rock on the birth ball, take walks, soak in the shower.  I expected bad back labor.  I wanted as little intervention for as long as possible, although I was never opposed to having an epidural as long as I got to 5 cm before I got it.  Obviously, it didn't go that way.  I couldn't do most of those comfort measures because the baby had to be monitored, although for me the best helps were counting, massage and distractions anyway.  But in the end, it didn't matter.  What in life ever goes as expected?  It's the first lesson in parenting; trust, adjust and readjust.  God gave us our perfect gift and we will treasure her for the rest of our lives, including the incredible day she entered this world.

 Gosh, she is loved.  So loved.


  1. Anonymous10:08 PM

    Thanks for sharing Taylor! It's neat seeing how God had his hand of protection on you both. :)

  2. Anonymous11:12 PM

    Oh, mama. She is SO loved. You told me all of this but reading it again left me diving for kleenex. She is so very precious, dear friend. :) You.are.blessed.


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