Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Birth Story

We went into the hospital at 0600 Wednesday morning. I had two doses of cytotec. The doses didn't really work, and my platelet count was 73K so my doctor wanted to get the baby out. They started me on IV pitocin around noon that day. But, by 11pm I had made little progress. I was only dilated to 2, and the doctor couldn't break my water yet. Because of the pitocin I was definitely feeling the contractions, but I could tolerate them. They turned the pitocin off from 11pm to 4am to let me and my uterus rest. It went back on at 4am, and finally at 12:30 on Thursday they were able to break my water. That morning my platelets were 71k. 
The anesthesiologist came in and talked with my about the possibility of an epidural in case I needed it. The nurses said it would be tough to manage labor with IV pitocin going on top of my natural hormones. By about an hour after he broke my water, shit got real. I have never been in so much pain, no, I've never IMAGINED that kind of pain existed. Anyway, anesthesia had said an epidural would be pretty safe and they would monitor me close when it came out for complications. So, at about 3pm Thursday I got the epidural. I labored into the night, still feeling contractions but they weren't so intense. 
At about midnight (friday AM) I stopped progressing at 6cm. The nurse called the doctor and he said if I didn't progress in the next few hours I would have to go to surgery for a c-section because the baby was starting to have some heart beat accelerations showing us she was getting tired. I lost it. I had been laboring for so long and couldn't imagine it ending in surgery. So, my nurse had me (and my numb thighs) sit up and labor upright for a couple hours. The epidural didnt really help at this point because it was mostly pressure. I felt everything in my pelvis. It hurt but I just breathed through it. 
By 3am I was an 8cm, so that meant I was avoiding the c-section. Finally at 5am Valentines morning (Friday) I was almost to 10cm and started pushing. At 6am my doctor got there, and at 6:33 she was born :) The pushing was so tough. Hardest work Ive ever done and by that point honestly I was so tired I just felt like I couldn't do it. The last couple hours were full of tearful moments but I made it. When I did that final push and then she slid of out of my body there was the greatest most overwhelming feeling of joy and relief. I did it! They put her on my chest and my husband and I were in awe of this little Valentines baby. She was finally here!
48.5 hours from admit to delivery. I wouldn't recommend to anyone to be induced, unless (like me) there is a medical reason. It took a long time because my body wasn't ready for labor. I was disappointed that I got the epidural because I had spent so much time in the past weeks preparing to endure labor without one. But, because we augmented with IV pitocin it became unbearable, and due to the longevity of the labor I was simply too tired to endure the pain without some help. I did not have any complications from the epidural, other than that when they first put it in and started the medication my blood pressure dropped, and so the baby's heart rate dropped and they had to give me some ephedrine to get things back to normal. So, there I was, not feeling a lot of pain but feeling like I'd had 10 cups of coffee. 
When I write and read the story back, I realize it sounds horrific. But, it really wasn't. It was the work I had to do to meet my baby girl, and as she sleeps peacefully beside me while I write this, I know I would do it all again to meet her. There is no moment in my life that I can compare that moment to. It was, quite simply, the best day of my life. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Week To Go...

Yep, you read it right. I met with my doctor yesterday and I will be induced on next Wednesday February 12th at 6am. No. this was not a choice I made if you are wondering, that seems to be the million dollar question from the few people I've told. Because the platelets are low, my blood pressure is up a bit, and my placenta is starting to degenerate (not unsafe, but associated with a full term pregnancy) he thinks its best to go ahead to get things started since I will be 39 weeks. My cervix is already almost thinned out and I'm starting to dilate, so I should respond to an induction treatment called "cervical ripening."

Basically, they take a medication and insert it into the vagina near the cervix and monitor you for an hour. Then, once your hour is up, the have you start walking. After three hours, hopefully some regular contractions are starting. If they don't, they repeat the process with a second dose. Hopefully this will kick start you into labor. For me, I really don't want IV pitocin. I think it would make labor too intense and I am going to try and do this without pain medication. (See prior post about epidural and low platelets). So, if the cervical ripening doesn't work, I will just go home and give myself some more time.

Part of me hopes that my some miracle I go into labor between now and next Wednesday. I want this baby to come in her own time. But, the bleeding risk remains and if the platelets fall further I am putting us at risk for bleeding after delivery. I don't want that either. We did an ultrasound yesterday and she looks great. She measured 6 pounds 11 ounces. At 39 weeks she will be considered a full term baby.

I have been doing a lot of reading, and talking with some friends regarding natural child birth, and the more I learn the more passionate I am to go through the labor process without medication. One thing that I have been told and read over and over again is: "trust your body. Let go, give into the pain and let your body do what it knows to do." That is the truth isn't it? I mean, we were MADE to do this. Women have been giving birth for years and years. But, I started really thinking about this idea of "trusting my body" like if my body were a friend or family member. Like it was a relationship that I had with someone. Me and my body, are we BFF's? Has she let me down?

The short answer is no, she hasn't.

My body stood by me when I was born into this world. All my tiny little parts worked together to make my existence happen. She was there when I took my first steps, and fell down, and ran into a sliding glass door to give myself a black eye growing up. She fought every cold, flu, strep throat, ear infection and who knows what else I exposed her to as the years pressed on. When I tried marijuana, alcohol, and even <cringe> ecstasy in my teen years she did not fail me. She got nauseous but she did not fall apart. My body carried me across the stage at my high school graduation, she kept me awake, alert and healthy through college. She gave me butterflies through my first love to my true love, she protected my heart as it healed after relationships that didn't work out. My body continued to thrive as my first pregnancy failed, and she stayed stable through my surgery. My body kept my heart beating, my lungs breathing, and my consciousness intact as I layed eyes on my deceased sister for the first time. She kept me afloat as I somehow gathered up the strength to speak at my sisters funeral. She kept me cool and calm when I met my daughters and brought them home. She has been abundant in carrying this pregnancy for me.

My body has never failed me yet. Why wouldn't I trust her? Why would I doubt her ability to do one more thing that she was made to do.

I am not going to. I can do this.

I know how to be humbled, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in need. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:12-13

Saturday, February 1, 2014

It's February!

Wow, February 1st. I cannot believe it. Our daughter is due THIS MONTH. 19 days until her date to be exact, not that I am counting on it, I recently read only 3% of babies are born on their due date. So she will be here sometime this month, I'm sure. Who knows exactly when.

If my platelet recheck had dropped yesterday she was going to come out today. But, luckily, they are not changing. They are still low, but they haven't fallen further. I am currently full of 81,000 platelets. The epidural is still questionable, but I have had some great support given to me by good friends and am feeling more empowered to experience birth naturally. I. Can. Do. It.

We just got home from a picnic at the park thanks to this weird 60-70 degree northern California weather. I have never had a picnic on February 1st before and it was quite a treat. I definitely feel like I'm "nesting" as I turned "doing the dishes" into removing everything from the kitchen counters and scrubbing them. I plan to clean the fridge later today too. All in good time between playing with the girls and getting my feet up. It is amazing how tired I get after one little task.

In the midst of platelet worries I got to spend some time with friends last week. One day a pedicure and lunch with two great girls, and lunch with another the next day. It was a delight and I felt spoiled. Baby girl is still getting gifts so there is always something to wash and get put away in anticipation of her arrival.

Contractions are happening all the time now. Some are painful but most are not. I am 75% effaced, which means my cervix is almost all the way "thinned out" and Dr expects I will start dilating soon. My hope for the end of this pregnancy is that labor begins when my body is ready. I hope the platelets continue to hold (we're checking them weekly) so that she can grow until she's ready to come out.

Other than that, I'm just trying to enjoy every moment of her moving and hiccuping inside me. I definitely think I will miss being pregnant. I have enjoyed it, even with its odd symptoms and bumps along the way. Creating a human is truly an amazing thing and I am so blessed to of gotten the opportunity. A few friends have announced their pregnancies recently and I find myself both relieved that I am almost done but envious at the journey ahead of them, it is… oh so special.

A friend sent this to me in light of my very near journey into mothering a newborn, and I love it. Click hear to read.

Yep, just used the wrong form of here but the kids are yelling at each other down stairs so I'm just going to publish… haha.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Platelet Problems

I am sad to say that last week got crazier as the days passed. Earlier on in my pregnancy I had posted about my platelets being somewhat low. Again, platelets help your blood to clot and therefore prevent you from bleeding too much. Well, in my 28th (ish) week they were at 116K which is just below the pregnancy normal low of 120K (normal person range is 150K-450K). So, at 36 weeks (last Thursday) I had to have them redrawn before delivery. They were down to 80K. My doctor called me himself that afternoon, and the minute I answered the phone I knew something with my labs was pretty off. I mean, usually he has his nurse call, but this time it was him. This call was legit. The scariest part was the seriousness and concern in his voice. I would have to go to labor and delivery on Friday for a full work up and a non-stress test.

What does it mean? Platelets are below 100K= no epidural. Or pretty much, no epidural. Some anesthesiologists will still do one down to 50K but there is risk. The risk is that you could bleed into your spinal canal and become paralyzed. Or, just bleed, and bleed, and since epidural medication makes your blood pressure low anyway, you can become very sick very fast, and not have enough blood volume pumping through your body. This is never good, but its especially not good when you are exerting yourself trying to give birth.

Why are the platelets low? There are several dangerous reasons, like pre-eclampsia or HELLP syndrome which can both be VERY dangerous and occur in pregnancy. I tested negative (thank God) for these things. It can also be an autoimmune disorder, such as lupus, that the pregnancy makes more noticeable. I also tested negative for this. My doctor contacted a hematologist (doctor that specializes in blood disorders) and because there is no good reason, they've named it "gestational thrombocytopenia." This is a fancy term for low platelets in pregnancy. It happens, not super common but it happens, and there is no good reason why. Apparently because your blood volume doubles this can make the number lower and platelets get destroyed more readily in pregnancy. These play factors.

So here we are. What are we going to do? It sounds like we are going to check the platelets weekly and if they fall to 50K or below, I will be induced and have this baby. The reason is, the lower they get the more the risk of bleeding. On Thursday my level was 80K, on Friday, it was 71K. I am not heading in the right direction. I am also doing NST's twice a week. "NST" stands for non-stress test and basically they hook me up to the fetal monitor and make sure that baby moves and when she moves, her heart rate increases at least 15 points above her usual rate. This shows that she is getting enough oxygen and tolerating being inside me for a while longer. So far, she has looked amazing.

I'm just sitting tight until my appointment tomorrow. Hopefully I will gain some more insight for what the plan will actually be. I am scared to give birth period. And now knowing that an epidural, which was my "safety net" may not be possible I am even more anxious. An epidural was certainly not my "plan" but it was something I really wanted waiting in the wings if I needed it.

We took a childbirth class this weekend which showed us the different methods of breathing, and also educated us on a few other options for pain relief, and it was really helpful. I feel more empowered to conquer this labor with no epidural. I realize it could mean nothing, and I could end up traumatized or with a c-section but for now I am more comfortable with not having the epidural option rather than just feeling terrified when I think of it. I have no idea what I'm in for. But, there have been many times in my life that I've had no idea what I'm in for, and I've made it through those things. Instead of being fearful I am going to validate the fear and jump over it. Instead of worrying I'm going to pray. God will get me through this. As long as the baby is OK and I don't bleed to death, we will have done well. Childbirth is pain with a purpose, and it has a time limit with a great prize at the end. I am going to try and focus on that, rather than the pain. I have waited too long for this to let it break me.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

29 days!

Holy balls. I'm due to have this baby in 29 days. 29. It seems unreal. With holidays and birthdays and baby showers time has flown by over the past couple months.

It's been an eventful 35th week. On Monday, after a great weekend of a baby shower and catching up with a great friend (Hi L, I know you read this and I love that you came to stay with me) we were out running couple errands and took the kids out to lunch. When we got home I went into the bathroom and had some bleeding. Needless to say I flipped the eff out. I called my doctor, for those of you that may want to know, ****TMI ALERT*** it was a few quarter sized amounts of frank red blood. Anyway, he told me to go to labor and delivery at the hospital and he would call them to tell them I was on my way. When I got there I hadn't had anymore bleeding, so they hooked me up to the monitor and watched me for about 30 minutes to make sure baby was doing ok. She was moving all around, her heart rate was fine, and I was having contractions, but they remained painless.

After I got all checked out, he sent me home and scheduled me an appointment for the following day (yesterday). At my appointment he tried to figure out what caused the bleeding. We did an ultrasound and everything looked fine. He even amused me and printed some 3D shots of the baby's face which was so cool. What it looked like happened was that up until this day the baby had not been head down. She had been "transverse" which means she was laying horizontally across my belly. If she would have stayed here I would have likely had to have a c-section. But, as of yesterday she was head down. And she is very head down, her head is already engaged in my pelvis. So, he thinks that when she turned it irritated my cervix and caused the bleeding. My cervix has barely begun the thinning out process (called effacement) that happens before you start dilating. So, I'm not going into labor at this point. But, if I did, he would not stop me. I'm 36 weeks tomorrow so I am close enough.

Of course, I don't want her to come out yet. Last year, the standard for "full term" changed from 37 weeks to 39 weeks. It used to be that doctors allowed for scheduled c-sections and inducements anytime between 37-42 weeks. That five week block was considered "full term." Now, because they've discovered that fetal outcomes are improved if they "cook" til 39 weeks, 39-41 weeks is considered "full term," 37-39 weeks is "early term" and 41-42 weeks is "late term." They no longer will schedule a c-section or a labor induction until 39 weeks unless there is a risk to the mom or baby (for example high blood pressure, etc).

So, she can just hold tight. My doctor told me that the only "bad news" is that I am going to be pretty uncomfortable now that she is head down in my pelvis. And he is right. I get pelvic pain a lot, it's tough to get comfortable at this point anyway. But, I'm OK with it. As long as she is growing healthy I can deal with a little discomfort. Just like as long as she is content once she's born I'll deal with the fact that my arm is numb because she is resting on it, or that I'm so exhausted I cannot see straight because she kept me awake all night. This is motherhood. It is uncomfortable at times. Especially when the little nugget is crowning and I'm trying to push her out! Ha :)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

34 week milestone

At 34 weeks my baby is 4 3/4 lbs and is about 18 inches long. Her main goal from this point forward is to continue developing her lungs, and gaining weight. Most of the work is done. The milestone of 34 weeks is that most babies born between 34-37 weeks have a fairly easy time and are healthy. They will only require a short stay (if any) in a NICU. I wanted to make it to this point because at 34 weeks she can be born at my hospital with my Dr delivering her.

As of yesterday I am officially on maternity leave. My original goal was to make it to 36 weeks. However, my job is busy and I am on my feet a lot, so I started having contractions during work at 32 weeks and they got more persistent, so Dr told me to be done. I didn't argue. It was getting tough hopping around our unit with this big belly. Its funny though, I feel huge but everyone else keeps telling me how little I look. Who knows. The weight gain (almost 50 lbs) suggests hugeness, and since I'm supposed to gain a pound a week from this point forward and have usually gone over, I'll likely hit a 60lb gain before I deliver her. Super. Bring on the pilates.

She is still VERY active in my belly, after dinner and 2-4am are her favorite times. I can tell she is continuing to get big. If I turn to one side, and she wants to be on the other side she definitely lets me know. This and next weekend are my baby showers. I am very excited to celebrate this little one, and start putting together her nursery. In fact, that will likely start today.

The main "symptom" is fatigue. I'm just sleepy all the time. I alternate doing things I need to do with putting my feet up. Oh, and the feet, they look like sausage links at the end of the day. I HAVE CANKLES. Holy swelling. I hear the final month the swelling really gets serious….can't wait.

I took advice from a fellow mom and bought a few items from the Earth Mama Website for my post partum healing. It's mainly like ….um…. spray to relieve your vag after the baby comes out. I got some nipple salve for breastfeeding too. I like that the products are all natural, and I really want to avoid taking any pain medication after the delivery.

I don't know why, but I feel rushed to get all of these things done because since I was about 18 weeks I have always felt like this baby will be early. I have no reason to believe she actually will be, my OB thinks I'm just impatient I'm sure, but I just have this FEEEEEEELING. She is carrying really low, so I think as she puts on weight she's just going to cause me to go into labor. Granted, scientifically I have no idea that this would even matter, but the thought is there.

Here is what I hope to get accomplished:
1. baby's room and gear washed, assembled, and ready for action
2. 6-7 meals in the freezer so that our first week or so home we can just throw stuff in the oven
3. clean out girls toys
4. organize my office and get taxes done
5. organize hall closets
6. have a few lunch dates with friends since I will be on breast arrest for a while after delivery
7. Finish reading "Nursing mothers companion" and "baby wise" books  so I know what the hell I'm doing (ha)
8. continue to walk and stretch 3-5 times a week

We shall see how it goes :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

8 weeks to go

Countdown to Due Date: 55 days

I am officially (as of yesterday) 32 weeks pregnant. I'm in the 8th month. I cannot believe it. Everyone told me to enjoy the 2nd trimester (which ended at 27 weeks) because the third would likely kick my ass. They were right. I don't think I ever understood the word tired until now. I know those of you that have had babies are giggling to yourselves right now thinking "she has no idea." And, you're right. I am sure this level of tired is minimal compared to what I am going to experience when this baby actually comes out. But, for now, this level of tired is the most I have ever known, and it's legit.

I am normally a shop-it-up kinda girl. If we go out to hit Costco, I like to do Target, maybe browse some stuff at Best Buy, grab a little lunch, maybe cruise through the mall. Yesterday my husband got grandma to watch the girls so we could do the above without kids and enjoy a good lunch. I made it through one store at the mall, then had to eat cause I was starving. After lunch we hit Costco, and then I had to come home and put my feet up.

Other than that, some indigestion, stress incontinence, and 2-4am insomnia things are going quite well. We cannot wait to meet this little girl. Her nursery is coming along. My husband painted her room, cleaned the carpet, and assembled the crib. I know, he's a good man once he puts his mind to it. There is a lot to do, but my maternity leave is on the horizon and I am planning to get her room together once I'm off work.

For now, I'm just enjoying some lazy days on the couch feeling her move, which is now more like a wave across my entire belly. I will feel little jabs on the left of my belly button at the same time as kicks on the right side near my ribs, so she is getting big. Almost 4 pounds now! Two surgeons I work with have told me that there is no way I'll make it to my due date because she is sitting so low. They are not OB's so I'm hoping they're wrong, but plan to ask my doctor when I see him next week.

I have begun to get a lot of little tidbits of advice from other moms (which I love) and my favorite so far has been: "if it's been three days, you haven't showered, cannot remember if you brushed your teeth, and have spit up all over your shirt, you are normal. We've all been there." I totally love this. It's likely very true and something I'll remember in my dark moments as a mom to a newborn. I think I am going to start writing these things down.