Fisher's Birth Story
I wanted to write Fisher's birth story since we got home from the hospital, but a certain two year old and a newborn who loves to nurse and doesn't like to be put down have kept me busier than I expected. It's amazing how quickly 6 weeks can fly by! But I wanted to go ahead and get this all down before I start forgetting the details. Even though I didn't get the VBAC that I had planned for, I know that Fisher's birth was a testament to God's faithfulness.
My last pregnancy update on the blog was at 40 weeks. I had assumed that I would go into labor on within a few days of my due date (Shepard came on his due date), so imagine my surprise when the days surrounding it came and went without a baby. I knew that I had limited time if I still wanted a VBAC, so I placed the issue in God's hands and asked him to keep me from feeling anxious. I focused alot on Philippians 4:6-7 that week (“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”). I had been having random Braxton-Hicks contractions for several weeks by this point, but I began to ignore them because they never seemed to lead to anything.
On Sunday morning (the 17th), I woke up several times during the night because the baby was so active. We went to church as we normally do, and I started having mild contractions during Sunday School. Unlike the previous Braxton-Hicks contractions that I had been experiencing, these contractions continued to come throughout the rest of the day. We went to lunch with Joshua's parents, and then went home and took a nap. After a nice nap, we decided to go to the park and do some walking in an attempt to pick things up a bit. The contractions definitely intensified while walking, but petered out once we stopped. We went out to eat afterwards, and after dinner, the contractions seemed to stop entirely. I went to bed that night feeling slightly disappointed. On Monday morning I woke up early in the morning with strong contractions. These contractions were more intense than the ones the day before and they were lasting longer and seemed to be occurring more frequently. I called my mom to give her an update. I also had Joshua stay home from work, because I had a feeling that this might be "the day." My mom decided to come pick me up and take me for a quick manicure to help keep me distracted.
I continued to have contractions throughout the morning, but they never intensified or got closer together. I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 2 p.m., so I figured I would just wait and see what he had to say about any progress (if any). Mom and I picked up lunch, then she stayed with Shepard so that Joshua could go with me to my appointment. I knew that I would be having a routine ultrasound to check fluid levels, so I wanted him with me so he could see the baby. When the ultrasound technician put the wand to my belly, the first thing out of her mouth was a question: "Did you know that the baby is breach?" Say what?! I was completely shocked! I had been feeling hiccups down in my pelvis for the entire pregnancy and I had been so sure that the baby was in the correct position that I never even gave it another thought. I was immediately crushed, as I knew that breech equaled no VBAC. I did my best to hold it together through the rest of the ultrasound. When my doctor came in, the technician told him about the breech position, and he came over to tell me how sorry he was. Of course I immediately started sobbing. Huge, ugly sobs. My doctor was so understanding and told me how he knew how much I had wanted a VBAC and that he had wanted it for me too. The technician also told the doctor that the fluid level was very, very low and that there was indications of meconium in the fluid. Further nails in the coffin that was my VBAC. Due to low fluid and because of my prior c/s, my doctor didn't feel comfortable trying a version to flip the baby.
After the ultrasound, my doctor wanted to do a Non-Stress Test to check on the baby. The results from that came back normal, but with the meconium and the low fluid levels, he wanted me to be observed a bit longer, so he sent us over to the hospital. We had time to come home briefly to grab bags, then we headed up there. I was admitted to triage where they monitored my contractions for the next two hours. My doctor came by when we first arrived and told me that he wanted to either do the c-section that night or first thing in the morning depending on the results. After two hours, it was determined that the c-section could wait until first thing in the morning because my contractions hadn't changed. He would have ordered my c-section that night had I not just eaten before my appointment.
I held out hope that the baby might flip during the night, but I knew the chances were slim. Shortly afterwards, I was admitted to my own room where I was finally allowed to eat - it was around 9 p.m. by this point, and I was starving! I sent Joshua to get get some food for himself. Mom decided to stay with me, even though I told her she was welcome and get some rest. She didn't want to leave - gotta love my Mom! I was brought a turkey sandwich, baked lays, and a cookie, and immediately began eating. About halfway through my sandwich, my stomach turned, and I was no longer hungry. In fact, the thought of food made me want to vomit, so I had my mom move the tray as far away from my bed as she could get it. Almost immediately, I felt an incredibly strong contraction - one that was way more intense than anything I had felt up until this point.
The contractions immediately started to pick up and get more intense so I called my nurse to see what she thought. She did a quick check and determined that I was only at 2 cm. She told me to let her know if I started having a bloody show or lost any mucous. She also hooked the monitors back up so they could monitor contractions and the baby's heart rate. Around this point Joshua got back from dinner. The contractions continued to pick up and get more intense. I was doing great dealing with the contractions, though! I was so proud of myself! After I figured out that trying to breathe through them wasn't working (after yelling at my mom to stop telling me to breathe!), I started moaning through them, which really helped. I laid on my side and was having my mom and Joshua take turns applying counter pressure to my back. I was amazed by how much that helped! As the contractions continued to pick up, I called the nurse into my room several times to see what they were going to want me to do. Each time she told me to keep her updated on if the contractions changed any. I was a little frustrated because I felt like she wasn't listening to me when I told her that they were already changing. I knew I was in active labor, but felt like she wasn't recognizing it. Finally, around 11:30 the contractions were right on top of each other, with little to no time in between. Laying on my side was no longer working, and the only way I could get semi comfortable was to sit up on the edge of the bed with my arms around my husband's neck while mom applied counter pressure to my back. I was so mad at those stupid belly monitors, that I didn't even care if they were recording the contractions anymore. At this point I just knew that I was getting close. I asked my mom how much longer they would let me labor like this before they did something. I attempted to go to the bathroom and noticed blood, so again I called the nurse to let her know the change. When she saw how much pain I was in at this point, I think she finally took me seriously. She decided to do another check, so I had to lay down, which was not comfortable. At all. After the check she left the room without much of a word, then showed back up less than a few minutes later with the on-call doctor. The doctor told me that they were going to go ahead and do my c-section ASAP. I later asked the nurse how far I had gotten, and she said I was dilated to an 8, and had the baby been in the correct position that I would have been able to deliver soon after. She said it would have been the perfect VBAC birth, which was comforting, yet frustrating.
A team of nurses came in to place my catheter. Oh my word. I have never in my life experienced anything more painful than that. I would have gladly continued to labor for days than to go through that experience again. It was a difficult process because they had to go around the baby's butt and the catheter got stuck several times. I was trying to relax, but laying down on my back, while experiencing extremely intense contractions, and having the searing pain of the catheter was just too much. I'm not kidding when I say that I was literally screaming the entire time they placed it. I'm sure I was scaring the other women on the floor! I even made my husband and mother cry because they could see how painful it was for me. The nurses were so apologetic and told me over and over again how sorry they were that it was taking so long. Seriously, the most painful thing I've ever experienced. When that was finally in place my anesthesiologist came in to go over what the spinal would involve.
Let me take a side detour here to say that a member of our sunday school class is an anesthesiologist at the hospital, and I was super nervous that he was going to be the on-call doctor for my surgery. Since I had a prior c-section, I knew everything that's involved with it. Of course I knew that he was a professional, but I'd be lying if all the girls in the class don't joke about how embarrassing it would be to have him in the room during a procedure like that. I had asked the nurse in triage who the on call doctor was, and she told me that it was, in fact, Dr. T, and I remember feeling so relieved to know that he would be off duty by the time of my scheduled c-section that next morning. He came by while we were in triage to check on us, and gave me a hard time about me not wanting him as my doctor.
When he arrived in my room that moment, I told him that I was never more excited to see him than I was in that very moment! We had a good laugh about it. He asked me his list of questions while Joshua put on his scrubs and my mom left to go to the waiting room. I was wheeled back to the OR, and Dr. T was with me the whole time. They moved me to the operating table, and he began his work. He placed the spinal, telling me exactly what he was doing and explaining that I would feel immediate relief. I was laid down, the curtain went up, and I was prepped. Dr. T told me everything that was going on, and kept checking to make sure that my spinal had been effective. He was so comforting and I was so lucky to have him as my doctor. I can't believe I was ever nervous about him being there. Eventually Joshua was allowed in the room and the c-section began. I had the same sweet nurse as I did with my prior c-section (if you recall the last story, she was the one who talked sweetly to me and tried to calm me down). The on-call obstetrician was fabulous. She was very friendly and talked with us the entire time during prep and throughout the procedure (I wasn't ignored like last time while the doctors talked amongst themselves). We made sure to tell her that we didn't know the sex, and she was really excited to be able to reveal it. She told me that I would feel some pressure, and soon after she said "I think I see something…Yep, it's a boy!" After a few moments, she brought him up to my head so that I could see.
After they showed him to me, they took him over to check him out and run their tests. I remember being nervous because he wasn't crying. I felt silly, but I finally did ask if it was normal that he wasn't crying yet. I think everyone got a good laugh out of that, and one of the nurses said that he would be shortly. And within a few minutes, he began to cry. I hope it doesn't sound mean to be happy that your baby is crying, but I was very comforted by that sweet cry.
I sent Joshua with the baby to recovery while they finished taking care of me in the OR. Eventually I was wheeled back to recovery, and I was able to hold Fisher almost right away. The nurse helped me latch him on, and he took to nursing right away! What a blessing! After we were able to breastfeed, my parents came back to see us. They monitored Fisher for a while and noticed that his breathing was fairly rapid. They decided to monitor him for a bit longer before moving us to our postpartum room. After an hour I told my parents to go on home since it was fairly late by this point (around 3 a.m.). Finally around 4 they told us that they wanted to take Fisher to the NICU to continue to monitor his breathing. They told us it wasn't anything to worry about and that it was common for c-section babies to have rapid breathing. We finally settled into our room around 4:30, and aside from the nursing staff having to check my vitals every hour, we crashed until around 9.
I'll talk more about Fisher being in the NICU in another post, but I just wanted to say how much better this c-section experience was than my first. Maybe it was because I had been able to labor without drugs (until the spinal right before his birth), or maybe it was because the situation was beyond my control (the breech presentation), but I KNOW it was because I prayed throughout my pregnancy that I would have a better birth experience. And while I didn't get my VBAC, I know that the Lord was looking out for me and gave me the experience that He wanted me to have. And it was an answered prayer because my birth experience was definitely better. And maybe there was a reason why I wasn't supposed to VBAC. I don't know what that reason might have been, but I do know that He was with me the entire time and He was looking out for me.
A few pictures from recovery (Joshua is squeamish and didn't want to take pictures in the OR):
Getting to hold my sweet boy for the first time!
With my sweet Mom (so thankful for her!)