Monday, February 27, 2012

Birth Story, part 2

OK, so the midwives broke my water and copious amounts cascaded out while one of them kept her finger on Maggie's head- a very uncomfortable position to be in (for me. I don't know how it was for the m/w). When the fluid eased to a trickle, we all turned our attention to the monitor and saw that Maggie's heart rate was plummeting from 140-ish to 45-ish with every contraction. Contractions also started coming more frequently, although I couldn't tell you how often since this is when everything started to blur for me. The midwives had me roll onto my left side, then my hands-and-knees, hoping a new position would relieve pressure on the cord and prevent additional decelerations. Nothing worked.

C was still standing off to the side, near the door. He heard one of the midwives call down the hall, "All hands in 209!" The room was suddenly full of people. An internal fetal monitor was inserted. An anesthesiologist came in and said to me, "So, we're having a c-section. Why doesn't she have an IV?" He was the first to mention c-section, and the midwives and doctor quickly shushed him (he was unanimously labelled an a$$hole and pretty much everyone apologized for his crude insensitivity afterwards) then turned to me to explain what was happening- each contraction was putting pressure on the cord, blocking the flow of oxygen to Maggie and causing her heart rate to decelerate. She could not tolerate the decels for long, and since no position appeared to alleviate the pressure, the safest course of action would be a quick c-section. A nurse started an IV in my arm (not an easy task while I was on hands-and-knees). I rolled onto my right side and signed the consent for surgery, then was whisked away to the OR.

It was freezing in the OR. Why is it always so darned cold in operating rooms? I sat on the edge of the table while the anesthesiologist administered a spinal. He told me to hunch over and push my lower back toward him. Obviously, he'd never been 9-months pregnant with a big baby who was entirely out front. There was no way I could "hunch." I could slump, but I could not "curl around the baby" or do anything else he was asking me to do. He seemed frustrated with me and kept jabbing me in the back, all while I was trying very hard not to move. I was afraid to flinch as he kept hitting nerves, for fear that he'd hit something even worse and do some damage, or that my movements would somehow harm Maggie. People were talking, but I couldn't tell if they were talking to me. I had tunnel-vision, and the only person I could really understand or pay attention to was the midwife who calmly put her face in front of mine and explained all that was going on. If not for her, I would have been even more lost and scared in the frigid, glaring room full of distant voices.

I kept asking the midwife if Maggie's heart rate was OK. I was afraid that my inability to curl my back would mean general anesthesia for me or serious permanent damage to Maggie. I'm not a crier, especially in front of people I don't know *very* well, but I know I was in tears at this point- frustrated with myself for not being able to comply, and terrified that something awful was happening to my baby. And I wanted to punch the anesthesiologist, who kept right on poking and stabbing, muttering about my not doing as I was told, not warning me before hitting nerve after nerve in my spine. For some reason, he was also harping on getting my tubes tied (not part of my plan, and obviously unnecessary)- like that was his business and something I'd be thinking about at a time when my baby's life was in jeopardy.

Finally, I felt a warm, tingling sensation (thank goodness for the warmth of it!) in my right foot. Then in my left. As it crept upward, I swung around to lie on the table and felt an overwhelming sense of relief- the spinal had finally worked and I would not need to be knocked out, and we could finally get to work on saving Maggie.

Time was still a complete blur to me. When C received his scrubs so he could join me in the OR, the nurse told him it would only be about 5 more minutes until he'd be escorted in. Half an hour later, he was still waiting, worrying that something unthinkable had happened or that I'd needed general anesthesia to speed things up (in which case, he would not be allowed in the OR). When he did finally walk in, C was told not to look at anything but my face because the surgery had already begun.

I remember asking C what time it was just before Maggie emerged. Charlotte was born at 1:25 AM, and I knew we were close to 1:25 PM. I thought it would be interesting for both girls to have the same birth time, 12-hours apart. It was 1:30 by then, and Maggie was out two minutes later. C's first words on seeing his second daughter were, "God- she's BIG!" Then I heard someone comment that she wasn't pinking up and was a little limp. I heard her cry and that gave me hope that she would be OK. A nurse brought her over and C snapped a quick photo of my first sight of Maggie, then he and our daughter quickly left for the nursery while the doctor closed me up.

To be continued...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Birth Story, part 1

I don't have time to write a whole lot now. Charlotte is at a swim class with grandma and daddy, and Maggie is asleep... probably for another half-hour or so. And I hope to take a shower before everyone is back and awake. But, if I don't start writing this now, I'm afraid I'll lose all the details to the haze of time. So here's a start...

My doc (I alternated appointments between a midwife and a DO- love both of them, and trust them both with Maggie's life and mine) had asked that we arrive at the hospital between 6 and 6:30 on the morning of the AROM. In spite of our best efforts, we were running about 10 minutes late, but figured that didn't really matter since nothing runs on-time in a birth center. Babies are not born on a schedule, right? Anyhow, my parents arrived to spend the day with Charlotte, and C and I left for the hospital. The nurses told us when we got there that we weren't expected until 9, but since we were there we might as well get the early monitoring done. I just wanted to go out to breakfast, but they convinced us to stay. 30-minutes later, all was measuring well- small contractions every 8 minutes or so, a steady fetal heart rate with appropriate accelerations when she moved around, no suggestion of an IV or other "invasive" paraphenalia.

The midwives (not my usual one... two others in the same association, but who work exclusively at the hospital) came in shortly after 8 to assess and found that I was essentially unchanged since my last appointment- 4cm, -1-station, and maybe 90-percent effaced. "Walk" they told me. I suggested I get dressed and walk down to the donut shop in the lobby for breakfast, but they asked me to stick to the halls of the birth center. C went out and picked up a breakfast sandwich for me, a muffin for himself. I walked. And walked.

The birth center is one not-very-long hall in the rambling hospital, so walking was extremely dull. I'd met one of the nurses (K) when she popped into my room to make sure the birthing cart was stocked with everything it should contain, and I joked with her that if she needed anything from the supply room down the hall she should just let me know and I'd pick it up for her on my next trip by. I don't know how many times I paced the hall, but eventually the midwives decided I should try somthing a little different and offered me a birthing ball to rock on. The checked me again at 9:30, and nothing had changed. More monitoring, all was well, but no progress toward a natural labor. One midwife said she wasn't comfortable breaking waters with the baby as high as she was, but the other insisted it was OK. I was told to walk some more, rock on the ball a bit longer, and they'd break my water at 11:30 even if nothing had changed. So I walked. The nurses changed shifts and the one who'd done several of my NSTs (and discharged us after Charlotte was born) was "mine" for the next 8 hours. I liked her a lot- warm and friendly, sincere, and chatty where I am quiet so I never felt like I had to make up conversation or entertain her.

11:30 rolled around, and I'd put miles of wear on my slippers and the hallway. More monitoring, another check, and no change whatsoever. Surely AROM would get things going. So, the midwives finally agreed with each other that I'd gone as far as I would without interference, and that as long as they kept a finger on Maggie's head to prevent the cord from whooshing out with the fluid it was safe to rupture the membranes. C ducked out of the room for a moment as he didn't want to see exactly how the membranes would be ruptured (it sounded worse to him that the reality of a "crochet" hook).





Waterfall from between my legs.

C came back in and stood off to the side, not sure of what to do.

It went on...
and on...
and on.

All while a midwife kept her finger on Maggie's head to keep the cord from slipping down.

Finally, the waterfall tapered to a trickle and the midwives told me there had been 5-6 times the normal amount of amniotic fluid they expected. Polyamnio-something. Not a problem, just an indication that Maggie's kidneys were working VERY well.

Maggie's waking up. Got to go...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

no worries

Things are going well, but with obvious room for improvement. The c-section incision continues to be the least of my worries. The bloat has eased a bit, or maybe I just got used to it. Now, my attention has shifted to my incredibly swollen lower extremeties. If I sit with my feet up, way up, for an hour or so, I can then walk comfortably for about 10 minutes before my feet and ankles return to elephantine proportions. I was walking down some stairs yesterday when I felt a popping sensation and then saw one of my toes visibly swell before my eyes. Until then, the swelling stopped at the base of my toes, but now everything from the knees down is fair game. My calves are rock hard and I can't imagine squeezing into a pair of shoes right now. We'll start all the doctors' appointments next week, so I still have some time before I need to wear shoes or venture outside. But tomorrow is supposed to be warm and glorious, so I will try to rig something tonight so I sleep with my legs elevated in the hope that will kick the day off with minimal swelling.

Charlotte hasn't shown any signs of what I'd call jealousy, but she's incredibly needy and breaks into tears at the drop of a hat. She likes to hold Maggie on her lap and give her kisses. She points out Maggie's "little baby eyes and nose and ears and hands and fingers and baby toes." She cries in the morning because I won't lift her out of bed, and C's nerves and patience are wearing thin. I got a little daring yesterday and held Charlotte, picking her up from her changing table. No actual lifting involed, and I didn't walk while holding her, but it sure felt good to give her a big hug. Today, I had her climb onto a chair and then I helped her "jump" into her high chair from there for breakfast. I think I should be OK picking her up from the floor in a few more days. Once I can do that, and the swelling goes down, and I'll be self-sufficient enough to give C a break when he needs one.

He's not used to dealing with a toddler all the time, and I'm afraid this situation isn't the beautiful bonding experience he was hoping to share with Charlotte. My patience with his parenting is wearing thin too. I don't want to pull the old "my way is better" argument, and I want him to develop his own parenting style, but I also don't want to see it all go horribly wrong. The thing that gets me most is that he never tells Charlotte to do anything. He always asks... "Do you want to brush your teeth now? Are you ready for jammies? Will you go bye-bye with Daddy?" My style is more like, "It's time to brush your teeth now. Would you like to use the green toothbrush or the pink one tonight?" I give her choices, but they both accomplish what needs to be done, while C's "choice" is simply yes or no when a no is not really an option.

Anyhow, they're out on errands now, and I suggested he could stop somewhere for lunch if they wanted to since they won't be back until a few minutes after lunch time at the earliest. I suspect Charlotte will fall asleep on the way home and her afternoon nap will be completely messed up. They could have left 45 minutes earlier except that C kept asking Charlotte if she was ready to get dressed, ready to brush her teeth, if she wanted to put on her shoes, if she wanted to go bye-bye...

Maggie, on the other hand, is amazing. She sleeps. She eats. She poops and pees. Then she sleeps some more. She does not object to sleeping alone in her bassinet, although I've only put her in it when she's already asleep. She was awake most of last night, nursing every 90 minutes or so. She only cries when she's hungry or has a soiled diaper. When she's awake and not eating (a rarity), she looks around with her big midnight eyes and makes little smacking noises with her lips. She's in the bassinet right now, and has been sleeping peacefully since I put her there more than an hour ago.

I need to go put my feet up before she wakes up and I need to walk around the house again.

Friday, February 17, 2012

recovering & learning Maggie

We're still in the hospital. After a c-section, insurance will cover 4 days' stay and I am still quite hobbled so I'm going to take whatever is available. The incision itself isn't too bad, except when I cough, laugh, or sneeze. My back aches from sitting around too much in unsupportive chairs, and possibly from the spinal too, so I have a hard time standing upright. I'm also ridiculously inflated. My belly is so full of air that it resonates like a drum when tapped on. I try to spend a decent amount of time walking around to help move the air out, but it's difficult and a bit painful. I have yet to see the incision- it's well below the inflated belly which blocks my view.

Maggie is turning out to be a fantastic nursling. She had no trouble latching from day one, even though we were advised to supplement a couple of times in her first 24 hours to keep her blood sugar from plummeting. C really liked having the chance to feed her the two bottles that she had, but I was a little disappointed and worried about the problems that could have resulted. But, everything is fine now. I think my milk is starting to come in already. Maggie wakes on her own every 2-3 hours to nurse, and manages to continue sucking even when she falls asleep mid-meal.

I'll write a bit about her birth story later, but want to mention now that the c-section was not the result of induction. My first thought when the midwives starting breaking the news to me that a c-section was be necessary was that I had fallen into the cascade of interventions that I've read so much about. In fact, being induced and having my water broken under controlled and closely monitored conditions may have saved Maggie's life. I cringe and cry when I think of what could have happened if my water had broken at home and I'd waited for labor to "start" before seeking medical care. Tuesday was a frightening and emotional day that I will never forget. I've experienced the two extremes of childbirth, and I'm glad this one didn't come first or there may not have been a second.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

well, there was no pitocin...

Margaret Frances was born via c-section at 1:32 this afternoon after some serious decels that followed the AROM. The cord was wrapped twice around her neck and up under her arm. She's perfectly healthy and sleeping beside me. She's 22 inches tall and weighed 9 pounds 6 ounces. We can't believe how much she looks like Charlotte, but with more and darker hair.

nothing naturally

We're off to the hospital for as non-intrusive an induction as I could dream up. They'll break my water this morning and see what happens. I hope that's all it takes. We'll have a laptop at the hospital, but I don't know if they have WiFi so I'm not sure I'll be able to post. I'm not sure I'll be in a blog-posting frame of mind either, honestly. In any case, the clock will start ticking in an hour or two, and as soon as I am up to it, I'll let you know how it went. I'm about to have my biggest Valentine's Day ever!

Monday, February 13, 2012

still inside

I honestly feel like I am about to split. Maggie sits a lot more forward in me than Charlotte did. Charlotte was tucked up under my ribs, which meant some serious rib pain when I lay on my left side and she'd literally kick the inside of my rib cage. I joked that she came out so quickly because she had my ribs to push off of. Maggie is completely out front, not tucked in anywhere. I have an all new set of stretch marks as a result, which I don't care about except that they ITCH and my abdomen is otherwise fairly numb.

We're in the home stretch now. If nothing happens today, we'll be at the hospital first-thing tomorrow morning. I'll post before we leave for the hospital, whether that's for the AROM or before. Any positive natural labor vibes you can send our way are greatly appreciated. I dread being induced, by any means.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

still nothing

I managed to sleep a whopping 4 1/2 hours last night. Really. That's an improvement. I sleep in 70-90-minute intervals until my hips or my back wake me up. Then, I get up and walk around a bit, drink a glass of water, wait for some contractions to happen so I can time them, and eventually go back to sleep. So far, the contractions haven't done anything better than 5-6 minutes apart for about two hours before petering off to nothing.

I think I forgot to mention that I gained 7 pounds in the last week. It's all in my ankles and feet. My shoes still fit, though, because it's all squishy and malleable. Pressing with my fingers leaves a dent that lasts about 10 minutes before filling back in. None of it hurts at all... just feels wierd when I wriggle my toes.

Every time a contraction starts, I wonder if this is the start of everything.

I am constantly tidying up after myself so that if something starts NOW, I won't leave a mess behind.

Even with her pants around her ankles (after sitting on the potty), minimizing her stride, Charlotte can outrun me from the bathroom to her room... where she disappears under the guest bed and I can't reach her. Our biggest frustration with her, our only one really, is that she does not come when we ask her to. Instead, she giggles and laughs like not coming is the best joke in the world. I know she just wants to play and be chased and caught, but I'm not up to the chasing part at the moment.

I hope tonight is the night.

Friday, February 10, 2012

the unwanted OB appointment

I gave in to a cervical check this morning. 3-4cm, 80% effaced, and -1 station. I knew Maggie was low, and now I have a medical opinion to back me up. The "useless" contractions I've been feeling on and off all week appear to have done a little something, considering the condition of my cervix. As soon as they coalesce into a regular pattern, I think things should move pretty quickly... or maybe that's my wishful thinking again.

I had the induction discussion with the doc. I told her that I wanted to avoid pitocin since it would necessitate constant monitoring and the hospital doesn't have a portable/wireless fetal monitor (yet- they're looking into buying one, but not in time for me to use it). My biggest dread is being stuck on a bed while in labor. I want to be able to move around. That's my top priority. So, in light of that, my doc agreed that we should proceed with AROM (artificial rupture of membranes) instead of introducing pitocin. I'm on the schedule for first-thing Tuesday morning if Maggie hasn't arrived by then on her own. I'm going for a walk now, and plan on another before dark tonight... plus a lot of hot sauce on everything I eat. C'mon baby!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

punctual? I hope so

Well, here we are just minutes away from the DUE DATE. Nothing is happening. I'm delaying going to bed because sleep only lasts a couple of hours at a time. C has a cold, likely caught from Charlotte (who still has a slightly runny nose but is otherwise A-OK), so he's snoring. I can sometimes sleep through snoring, but I can't fall asleep with it. I'm debating drinking yet another cup of raspberry leaf tea before turning in. Might take another evening primrose capsule too, or go for a brisk walk. Or all three. But it's dark and cold outside, so I'll stick with the tea and capsule.

I have a doctor's appointment on Friday which I am still hopeful not to require. My pen ran out of ink when I was writing it on my calendar. I took that as a sign that I wouldn't need it. I've been drinking raspberry leaf tea and taking evening primrose capsules for 5 days now and have nothing to show for it. My prayer at this moment is that Maggie is just being a perfectionist- we've been saying since May that she's expected to arrive February ninth, so maybe she's just hanging back until we flip the page.

I haven't been doing all the walking I did while prgenant with Charlotte. For one thing, I'm not working so I don't have a "lunch hour" or set schedule to plan around. It's also kind of tough to take a real walk with a toddler who insists on walking "all by yourself" all the time... until you're half a mile from home and she wants me to "carry you (she hasn't got her pronouns straight yet... she calls herself "you")." She may be small for her age, but when Charlotte's 23-ish pounds are combined with the 50 I've put on with Maggie, my walk isn't anything remotely close to brisk. I need to just hand her off to C and go walking, but that's easier said than done. I'll make more of an effort tomorrow. I need to get this labor started. I'm pretty tired of being pregnant AND I am getting more and more worried about induction as we approach the medically-prescribed deadline.

Well, it's after midnight, so officially Maggie's due date. Here's hoping she makes her appearance today. If I may put in my request, I'll take labor starting around 8am, with a baby in my arms by noon please. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

3 am. No, nothing's happening

Well, I AM having a contraction right now, but it's not a "real" one. I just can't sleep. I did yet another load of laundry. Every time I wear something, I think that I won't get to wear it again until after Maggie is here. Then I do another load of laundry and, ta-da! I can wear it again, and she still isn't here. I also need to make sure all Charlotte's clothes are clean, since she's suddenly too big for so many things that I considered staples just a week ago. She tells me they're too small by saying, "Too tight, Mommy! Too big!" At first, I thought she was telling me some clothes were too big, but now I understand she was referring to herself as too big for the clothes. She often follows that statement with, "Save for Maggie."

Tonight, Charlotte woke up crying 3 hours after going to bed. She almost never wakes up in the middle of the night, and even when she does, she's usually pretty quiet and goes back to sleep after rearranging her blankets. So, when I heard the crying, I picked her up and held her. She calmed down immediately and then asked to see Maggie. She stood in front of me while I sat in the glider, lifted my shirt and started talking to her baby sister- "Hi, Maggie. Birthday soon? Charlotte hug and kiss Maggie." She patted my belly, gave it a kiss, and pulled my shirt back down. And looked me in the eye and said, "Charlotte eat some food now. Yes!" I was hoping she sensed something I hadn't, that maybe Maggie was plotting her exit. But here we are 4 hours later and I'm awake only because I decided to throw another load of laundry in the dryer.

Speaking of which, the dryer just buzzed. I'll try sleeping now. I should be able to squeeze in about 4 hours of shut-eye before Charlotte wakes up for the day.

Monday, February 6, 2012

as pregnant as one can be

I don't know if I gained weight overnight or if Maggie just shifted, but today ALL of my maternity clothes are snug. Yesterday, they were still somewhat roomy, the way I like to wear my clothes. The belly doesn't look any lower, but I can feel something-sometimes pressure and sometimes just a presence- just above my pubic bone. I believe she's dropped a bit, and I am hoping like mad that she's about ready to make her way out. I am soooo done with being pregnant. This is how I felt when I told my boss on a Friday that my maternity leave would start the following Monday, whether Charlotte had arrived or not. And Charlotte was born less than 72 hours later.

NST tomorrow. Hoping not to need it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

a normal day

I just felt like writing that nothing appears to be happening today. I may get to watch the Super Bowl after all. (But I am hoping to have jinxed that by saying that nothing's happening, because that's what I did last time)

So yeah- nothing, aside from a lot of wishful thinking.

Friday, February 3, 2012


I had what I hope will be my last OB visit today. Once again, I declined the cervical check. Realistically, it wouldn't have told us anything useful. Women have been known to be a couple of centimeters dilated for weeks before going into labor. And some women don't dilate until labor has set in. Maggie's heart rate was consistently between 132 and 140, as per usual. My blood pressure was perfect, and fundal height measured in between 39 and 40 weeks. All is well.

I finally asked the big question- if Maggie has not emerged by my due date, what are our plans? Since I have the same doc as last time, I was not surprised to hear the same explanation I got with my previous pregnancy- "at 40 weeks, a woman over 40 has the same risk of stillbirth as a woman of 27 at 42 weeks." The combination of AMA and GD usually translates into induction at 39 weeks, but they're "letting" me go for now to see how much longer this pregnancy will continue on its own. I have a 40w1d OB appointment next Friday (which I hope will not be needed) at which we'll discuss an induction procedure in more detail. My doc is not comfortable with going beyond Monday, 2/13, so if Maggie's not out on her own by then... yikes.

Truthfully, I suspect that my own mental state has something to do with the onset of labor. We've been so relaxed thus far that there has been no real reason to go into labor "early." I say that with quotation marks because anything after 38 weeks is considered full-term, so nothing since 1/26 would have been considered early. I don't complete things very well without a definite deadline ahead of me. I like to finish a little early, but I was never one of those students who could write a paper over the weekend when it wasn't due until Thursday. So, knowing that I have until the 13th might be enough to get things rolling.

That and the Super Bowl. As with my previous pregnancy, the due date is a Thursday. My water broke on Sunday evening at 8:00, and Charlotte arrived 5 1/2 hours later. My husband is trying to come to grips with the fact that he may have to watch the game on the small, slightly fuzzy, hospital room TV if we follow the same timeline as we did with Charlotte's emergence. And since I haven't seen a complete football game all season (we do have a toddler to entertain, after all), why should I be able to watch this one? My ideal would be... oh, who cares what my ideal would be. It's not as if I can plan this, try as I may.

Charlotte has been a little under the weather the last couple of days. She threw up last night at dinner- only the second time in her entire life that she's done more than infant-y spit-up (I am very very lucky) and had a temp of 101. This morning it was down to 99.6. I forgot to check tonight, but she still felt a teensie bit warm to the touch and she's a bit more sleepy than normal. She also has a runny nose, but nothing that appears to bother her at all. In fact, she seems to enjoy the excuse to ask for a tissue every few minutes so she can swipe it across her face and deposit it in the closest trash can "all by yourself." She also likes "catching" fake sneezes in her elbow whenever I remind her to catch her coughs and sneezes there. We have a plan in place, should Maggie arrive while Charlotte isn't quite 100%. C will bring Charlotte to the hospital, and he'll stay in my room with Maggie while Charlotte and I have a lunch date in the cafeteria. I can't imagine not seeing her for the couple of days I'll probably stay at the hospital (where I won't have to cook or clean.... bliss!), but she obviously can't be in my room with Maggie if she's not completely healthy.

My bag is (almost) completely packed. Maggie's bag is packed. The camera is charging now. All our February bills have been paid (that's my job- C doesn't even know where all our bills are). The bassinett is ready. My parents are on stand-by. The nursery is nowhere near complete, but I'm OK with that. We're ready enough. I'll post when something happens.