Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tristan's Birth

Being pregnant and overdue is no fun. Being pregnant and overdue and knowing that you need to have your baby in order to pick up your adopted kids is just awful. That's where we were at on August 13th.

We got the news late that evening that our boys were finally ready to come home. We were ecstatic. I had always dreamed of getting that news and then quickly calling American Airlines to book our flights. Well, we couldn't book our flights because we needed to have the baby first and make sure he and I were both healthy and able to travel.

So, when we went to the doctor on Thursday, 8/14, and learned that our choices were to be induced on Friday with our favorite doctor or on Monday with one of the other doctors, it was an easy decision. We had fought induction for 3 weeks by then. At 38 weeks I was told we were having a large baby and induction was recommended. At 39 weeks we again stated that we didn't want to induce. At 40 weeks we knew that induction was looming in the future as our doctors don't allow you to go beyond 42 weeks. At two days shy of 41 weeks, knowing that our twins were nearly ready to come home, the doctor again asked if we wanted to induce. We decided to pray about it, but didn't feel like it was time yet. When we went back to the doctor a few days later on 8/14 we were finally ready to submit to induction.

My doctor had me admitted to the hosptial the night before to prepare my cervix for induction the next morning. They did a drug-free procedure that got my cervix dilated to 4 cm by morning.

I need to take a break from the story to explain my desires for this birth. But first, I need to go back a long time in history to when my sister was born. I was nearly three and when I learned how babies were born I was completely freaked out. I remember a book and there was a picture with a woman's legs in stirrups with sheets draped over them. From that point on I was terrified of childbirth and vowed that I wouldn't have kids. In addition to that, my mother shared the story of my birth, which was quite traumatic for her because I was born butt first. Needless to say, she had a rough delivery.

3 1/2 years ago I was pregnant. Chuck and I were thrilled. I immediately went out and bought "What to Expect When Expecting." I read it all the time. I was still very freaked out about vaginal birth and was of the mindset that a c-section didn't sound so bad. I remember reading one night about episiotomies and I threw the book across the room. I was that scared.

That pregnancy ended in miscarriage, and it was through the pain and processing of the miscarriage that God spoke to me about adoption. While it was a terribly painful time in my life, I'm very grateful I went through it. I know the pain of miscarriage and I can minister to those who go through it. I also know that I wouldn't be bringing home two very handsome Haitian boys next week if it weren't for that loss.

In late November I was finally pregnant again. We were so excited, but cautious. The first trimester was miserable. I had morning sickness that lasted all. day. long. I took comfort in the sickness, though, since I hadn't experienced that with the first pregnancy. I was still quite scared of childbirth, but had met some people along the way who really believed in the benefits of natural childbirth (without drugs). I had heard them out and found myself interested in learning more. As I did my research, my mindset completely changed and I found myself desiring to deliver my baby without drugs of any sort.

Now that is crazy. I'm a wimp. I cry hard if I stub my toe. I might even swear. But, I really wanted to give my baby the best start in life and I rested in the idea that God created my body to birth children and that with His help, I could deliver my baby without drugs. I did have two concerns, though. I knew that if I had to be induced or if I ended up with back labor, I may not be able to tolerate the pain.

As I did my research on drugs during childbirth, I also studied the use of pitocin, which is used to induce labor. Most people I know who had a pitocin induced labor have a horror story birth story. Many ended up laboring long hours, only to deliver by c-section. There are studies trying to link the use of pitocin to autism. Chuck and I watched a documentary called "The Business of Being Born" and learned a lot about the way childbirth is approached in our country.

So, after all of my research and prayer, Chuck and I decided that I would try to deliver the baby without the use of any drugs. We agreed that we would only induce if necessary. We were of one mind regarding this, and we caught a lot of flack from others. It was really hard to have people in our life give us a hard time about this choice. I really thought people would be happy that we wanted to give our son the best possible start in life. Instead many teased and told us that we couldn't do it. I prayed so much about all of this. I was hurt and really found comfort in God alone. It is to His glory that I even confronted my fears of childbirth and made the decision to trust Him. When I think about the utter fear that used to grip me when thinking of childbirth, I know that God was at work in my heart.

Okay, back to the birth story. We arrived at the hospital at 4:00 on Thursday 8/14. By 4:30 they had me hooked up to monitors, and to my surprise I was having contractions. I had prayed that I'd go into labor on my own, and that seemed to be happening. The contractions weren't painful at first, but they were consistent. By 5:30 my cervix had been prepped. Chuck went out and got us some dinner and my mom hung out with us until it got dark outside. My contractions got stronger, and I was sure I wouldn't be sleeping that evening. The doctor recommended that I take an ambien so that I could sleep as the following day could be a long one. I resisted the ambien, expecting to not be able to sleep through the pain of the contractions, but the nurse assured me that it would help me sleep. She was right.

At 6:00 a.m. the following morning they started the pitocin. My contractions had slowed during the night, to my dismay. Every 15 minutes or so they would come in and up the pitocin. It wasn't too bad at first, but that changed quickly. I had to stay on the fetal monitor, so I couldn't get up and walk around, which was something I knew would be important in managing my pain. I was able to sit on the birthing ball, and that was helpful, though not enough. By 8:20 my contractions were every 2-3 minutes, with some just a minute apart. The nurse had checked me and I was dilated to a 5/6, which was disappointing to me. I had really thought I'd be farther along since I was experiencing such tremendous pain. There seemed to be a band of scar tissue on my cervix and the nurse suspected that once it broke I'd begin to dilate quickly. The pain was so intense. I had a list of affirmations that I tried to say in my mind with every contraction, but soon found that counting my breaths better helped me to get through the contractions. I knew that once I hit 10 the contraction would be nearly over, if not over. The pain got so intense that I would come out of each contraction shaking violently. I told Chuck a few times, "I can't do this." His response each time was, "Yes you can. You are strong." At one point he tried reading some of the affirmations to me and I said, "I don't want to hear that crap." That was the meanest I got. A little while later he asked if I wanted to take some meds to take the edge off. I knew that I would rather get an epidural than introduce narcotic pain meds into my system. I was afraid I'd have a doped up baby that was unable to breastfeed. I told Chuck I wanted to get the epidural, probably at around 8:35. Chuck immediately called the nurse and she said it wouldn't be long. I remember looking at the clock at 8:45, wondering where the heck the anestesiologist was. He arrived shortly after.

Chuck had to leave the room while I got the epidural. It took the doctor two painful tries. He said I had a deep space and that was why it was painful. But, once it was in place and turned on, it was wonderful. I know that the epidural is only supposed to numb the body from the belly down, but I swear mine made me a little loopy. I was immediately calm and it was such a relief to feel calm.

Not too long after the epidural was put in place, the baby's heart rate dropped. The nurse put me on my side and tried moving the baby to get his heart rate back up. I was so thankful I had the epidural as she tried moving him around. I'm really not sure if it was the epidural or the knot in the umbilical cord (that we didn't know about until he was delivered) that caused the heart rate to drop. I just know that the nurse was very serious, though not so much so that she scared me. Chuck was not in the room when it happened, thankfully, because I know he would have been terrified. My pitocin was stopped during all of this and then slowly restarted.

At around noon the nurse checked me again and I was still at 6 cm. When I learned that I was so thankful I had gotten the epidural. I would have been so frustrated if I had labored another 3 hours, only to make no progress. She put in a call to my doctor asking her to come and "break apart" the scar tissue.

At around 2:00 we had heartrate problems again. The nurse was able to adjust me and the baby so that the heartrate stabilized. She checked me and I learned that I was at 7/8 cm and the scar tissue had resolved by itself. She suspected that when the scar tissue broke apart that it had an effect on the baby. I'm not sure how or why that would occur; I think it had to do with the cord problem.

The doctor arrived shorty after and I was at 8/9 cm. She didn't think it would be long before I would be pushing. They were right - once the scar tissue was broken, my cervix dilated quickly.

All this time, I was lying on my right side, trying to keep the baby happy. I was also on oxygen and had been since the first time we had heartrate problems.

At 3:30 the doctor checked me again and said I was just about ready to start pushing. They brought in a big cart and I expected bright lights, lots of people, and for my bed to be broken down. None of that happened. It was the doctor, the labor and delivery nurse, Chuck, and me. The doctor sat on the side of my bed and I was positioned to push. We tried it on my back first and the baby's heartrate didn't tolerate that. We tried pushing on my side, again, the heartrate wasn't good. They put in an internal fetal monitor, hoping to get a better reading. The heartrate was still not good when pushing. They decided to replace the internal fetal monitor because they didn't like the way it was reading. Yet still, with each push, the babies heart rate would go from about 150 to 50 or 60. To make matters worse, it would take about a minute for the baby to recover. The doctor asked me to get on all fours and stay like that awhile in hopes that the baby would move and that his heartrate would stabilize. I was really embarrased by that position, but they were very kind and kept me covered. We also tried pushing in that position and the baby's heartrate was still dipping. We tried one last time on my back and got the same results. At that point the doctor told us she wanted to do a c-section. She explained that if I only had about 15 minutes of pushing ahead of me that she would try to deliver the baby vaginally. However, she suspected that I'd be pushing for about and hour and a half and she didn't believe the baby would handle it well - as in long term damage from lack of oxygen. She was very compassionate and told us that she had wanted to do everything possible to deliver the baby vaginally because she knew we had an upcoming trip to Haiti to get the boys, but that more so she wanted us to have a healthy baby. I listened and nodded my head. She left the room and I began to sob.

Things began to move really fast after that. I was experiencing very painful contractions, I'm guessing because they turned my epidural off for pushing. I was an emotional mess, still crying over the need for the c-section. I remember feeling strongly like I needed to get up and go somewhere, like to the restroom or for a walk or home. At one point I told Chuck we needed to get out of there. I think I was just responding poorly to the complete lack of control I had in the situation. A number of people were in and out of the room. I drank some awful tasting stuff, was given a shot to stop my contractions, and the anestisiology team was in and out preparing my epidural for surgery. Soon enough I was being wheeled down to the OR. I remember laying on my back, which hurt a lot. I remember wondering how I was going to tolerate laying on my back through surgery because it hurt so bad.

When we got into the OR they quickly moved me to another bed. I began to shake violently at that point. I've seen a number of friends shake violently after giving birth, but I did so before. The doctor began asking me if I could feel certain things. Each time she got to the right side of my belly I could feel a pinch. This went on for a while, but I kept feeling the pinch. There was talk of doing a spinal, and honestly I'm not sure why they chose not to do one - maybe because of my violent shaking. Eventually they began the surgery and I felt things on the right side. I told them I could feel things and that it hurt. It was not pressure. It was pain. And it was horrible. Eventually Chuck was brought in and he held my right hand through the whole thing. I can't imagine what it must have been like for him to have to sit there while I consistently told them I was in pain.

Most women I know who've had c-sections always say two things - that it happened very fast and that they felt no pain, only pressure. For me, it seemed to take an eternity. I was in so much pain and I kept waiting for them to do something to make it stop hurting. I guess they couldn't until the baby was out. Finally, I heard Tristan cry. He came out crying loudly and they showed him to me over the screen before taking him to the other side of the room to clean him up. It was then that we learned that he had a knot in his umbilical cord. He also had quite the conehead from sitting in my pelvis.

It seemed to take them forever to close me up. I was still in a lot of pain, though I know they were pumping me full of drugs. Chuck says I began to bleed a lot, so maybe that slowed things down. At this point I began begging them to make the pain stop. I just couldn't believe that I was still experiencing so much pain and that they couldn't make it stop. Chuck was holding Tristan and they were both crying. I was really disinterested in anything but getting the pain stopped. And that makes me cry. I really feel like I missed out on Tristan's birth and the beauty and joy of it because of the pain I was in. Most women have their babies and forget all the pain they've just experienced. Mine was delivered and then I was unable to be present because of the pain.

I've cried many tears over this, and I'm doing so right now. I talked to my doctor and I have an understanding of why things happened the way they did. I'm not posting this to point fingers in any direction. It is what it is. It's something I have to process through and turn over to God. I have prayed a lot about this, and I trust that God will bring me healing both physically and emotionally. If you choose to comment on this, I just ask that you not comment negatively about the medical care I received. I have come to a place of understanding of why things happened like they did. No, it was not ideal, but I made it through.

Once I was returned to my hospital room, I was given some toradol and that seemed to work to get my pain under control. I was afraid to hold Tristan before that because of the pain I was experiencing. It was pure joy when I was finally able to hold him and nurse him. We were able to keep Tristan for 2 hours after he was born before he was taken to the nursery. While he was in the nursery I was relocated to a post partum room. Later they brought Tristan in to me and he breastfed again. He latched right on with no problem. The nursery nurse who was there told me how very blessed I was to have that experience with breastfeeding. And we continue to be blessed in this department.

C-section recovery is definitely rough. The following morning I got up for the first time and I was really surprised by how very sore I was. I couldn't even stand up straight. I didn't change any of Tristan's diapers the first few days because I just didn't have enough range of motion to do so. Chuck was such a trooper. We chose to have Tristan with us all the time. Three times a day, at shift change, they would take Tristan back to the nursery to get his vitals. Other than those times, we kept him with us. I didn't get a lot of rest, but when I think back on those first few days of his life, I remember the quiet late nights nursing him and falling in complete love with him.

So, that's the story. Tristan has been home nearly two weeks now and we are just loving it. Yes, having a newborn is exhausting, but so awesome. God has trusted us with this awesome little guy and we are in love with him.


moonsyner said...

I am sorry your experience was so trying. You are such an amazing person and I am awed by your attitude, outlook and bravery.
I struggled with one childs birth but after several years it has now turned into a funny birth story. Maybe it was the joy of spending those years with the child that helped dull the pain. I pray that it will be the same for you. I dont want to belittle what you went thru - just give you some encouragement for down the road.

With a newborn and two toddlers all at once you deserve all the accolades I could possible give you. Enjoy! Wish I could be there for the arrival. My prayers are with you every day.

Kathy said...

Ouch. I hurt for you.

I am convinced that whoever said you will forget the pain never had a child. Tyler is 18 and Jessica 17and I can still tell you how it went down. Of course, the pain doesn't matter any more but....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I ams ure it wasn't easy to write. I could relate to so much of it.

I am so glad Tristan is here safe and sound. He is so precious.

Sherry said...

Thanks for sharing your story!

Aaron and I had wanted a natural birth for Luke, for all the reasons you mentioned. Mr. Luke had a mind of his own and decided not to cooperate with that plan!

He was 3 1/2 weeks early, my labor was 5 hours, and we were SO overwhelmed. I ended up with an epidural that only worked for 15 minutes. He was in a funny position and my OB had to use the vacuum to get him out. That resulted in some really unpleasant damage to me. We got home, and I ended up with an epidural headache, which landed me back in the hospital when Luke was about 5 days old.

All of that to say that I definitely understand and can certainly relate. I'm so glad your recovery is going well and we can't wait to meet the rest of your family!!!


Jen S. said...

So sorry you had to go through such an ordeal! But thank God he is here now, healthy and happy! Hey, when we are both up at night for those 3 am feedings, let's telepathically send each other some encouraging thoughts!!

Anonymous said...

Wow...that mug was long. Thank you for it though. I do love all the details! It's still crazy to me that you guys have a baby. I don't think it will really set in until I get there and get to see the lil mug. I can't wait. I also can't wait to see my haitian nephews. Less then two weeks now!! Roth and I are praying for your travels these next few days. Call when you can!
Love you!!
Oh, and sorry I was born when you were 3 and you got freaked out cause mom had to tell you how it all went down. Maybe if you were like 4 or 5 it wouldn't have been sooo bad.

Mary said...

Thank you for sharing your story Julie. Have peace in knowing that even through all the hiccups, you consistantly made the best choices for your child. Raising kiddos is all about making plans and then changing them when the punches start to roll in. God bless you on your trip. We are so excited for you. P.S. My little guy is standing behind Samuel in those new update pics you got!!

Ginny said...

Sitting here reading your story, I am crying for you. I had a rough experience with the birth of my first child-although it didn't end in a c-section (just a nice big episiotomy). Because of complications I didn't get to spend time with my baby or nurse him for many hours after he was born. I was also blessed in that he still nursed like a pro from the start. In fact that is all he wanted to do around the clock-for months! I know how hard it is to recover from an experience that you had expected to be beautiful turn out to be very painful. One of my close friends who has had four c-sections experienced pain like you described with yours. She doesn't know why things happened that way, but like you she doesn't want to point fingers at anybody, she has just accepted that it is what it is. I hope you find peace, and I pray for your trip tomorrow! You are a tough girl.

Lori and Jeremy West said...

Thank you for sharing your birth story Juli. It is sooo important for women to be able to tell their birth stories - no matter how wonderful or horrible they are.
I am sooooo sorry you were in so much pain. :( As a former L&D nurse - It's always hard for me to hear people talk about their bad experiences without me wishing I could have been there to help change it all (my passion in life was to help women have positive birth experiences - no matter if it ended with a c-section or a vaginal, drug-free birth). But, from your wonderful and thorough description of everything, it sounds like you had a good team of doctors and nurses caring for you (trust me - I've heard horror stories that did NOT include good docs or nurses!). Some things are just out of our hands - despite all we do to make it go well.

You are an amazing woman Juli and I am glad to hear how you are turning it over to God. Like you said - God can use it (and anything) for HIS glory and to help others in the future! You are on the right track!

I am so happy for you and Chuck and your beautiful boys! We will keep you in our prayers as you adjust to being the parents of 3 all at once! God sure does have a sense of humor!! :) Man - He must think you guys are Superman and Superwoman! :)

ModMomMuse said...

I have read a lot of birth stories, Juli, but yours is amazing--you illustrate so well with your words. Congratulations on the presence of Tristan in your lives! The Lord is good, and He always had this in mind--you are right to trust him to heal you emotionally & physically.WAy to go, you two!!!! Great teamwork!!