TigerOne’s Birth Story – Part 2

31 Jan

Oh hey there, was I telling you about TigerOne’s birth story? A family wide bout with RSV, which landed TigerOne in the hospital for a week sort of put a delay on writing this epic post. But, we’re all feeling better now, so let’s get on with it!

When we left off I was 41 weeks pregnant and I had just decided to go in to the hospital to be induced based on the results of my non-stress test. As promised, here’s the follow up tale of epic induction, a zen labor, a primal delivery, and meeting tiny TigerOne.

DAY 1 – Tuesday 10/30/12
(In which we are blissfully ignorant of what’s to come)

Ultrasound aka Your Baby is a Giant

At 41 weeks & 1 day pregnant and I arrive at the hospital knowing that I won’t be coming home without my baby. We begin the day by undergoing an ultrasound because my doctor wants to estimate how big the baby is. Ultrasounds at this stage in pregnancy are historically inaccurate, they can only estimate the size within a couple of pounds over or under actual size of the baby. So, when the ultrasound technician tells me that TigerOne is 10lbs, 14oz, I don’t really believe him. I figure this kid is 10 lbs tops, and I feel pretty confident my body has grown a baby that I can deliver without needing a c-section. I’m all about keeping a positive outlook.

After the ultrasound we head upstairs to check in for the induction. It is very strange to calmly roll my suitcase through the labor and delivery floor and not be in labor. We check in at the nurses station and they show us to the room that I will be laboring in. I change into a hospital gown, unpack the ipad, our speakers, my pillow, and water bottle, and settle in. At this point I am still thinking that this process will be short and sweet just like my doctor had said it would be…

Let’s Get the Party Started

A doctor and nurse come in and give us the low down on how all of this is going to work. We will start with a pitocin test to see how my body reacts to the drug and to see how TigerOne’s heart rate tolerates it. They will deliver the drug through my IV and gradually increase it over the course of 6-8 hours and we will see if any contractions start. I am again reminded by my medical team that since I’m already partially dilated to around 2.5 cm this shouldn’t take long. Someone actually says “it won’t be like one of those awful 4 day inductions some women have to have”, and this is my first indication that inductions can be a long and tiresome process. The nurse puts in my IV, takes my vitals, and then straps two monitors to my belly; one to track the baby’s heart rate, and one to see if I’m having contractions. I am told that I need to stay on these monitors the whole time that I am on the drugs, and I’m not supposed to eat or drink anything. The pitocin starts flowing and we wait for something to happen.

All hooked up

Pitocin Level 2

Pitocin is delivered in increments of 2. You start off with an IV drip at level 2, and can increase every half hour until contractions start getting serious. At the hospital where I delivered the max is 20, and I was told that most women start feeling pretty intense contractions by a level 6 dose. During the test my dose goes up to 10 and nothing really happens, I feel extreemly mild contractions, but mostly I just get hungry, thirsty, and bored with sitting in bed. When the test period is up, we find out that we have both passed. It’s about 9pm at that point. The doctor checks me and there has been no change in my cervix, and I am allowed to have some food, walk around, and have a shower. At around 11 pm they decide to give me a round of misoprostol aka “miso”, which is an oral medication that softens the cervix. You take it, wait 4 hours, and then see if anything has happened. I take the dose along with some benadryl to help me sleep and say good night to day one.

Day 2 – Wednesday 10/31/12
(In which I loose my mind)

I am awoken at 3 am so that the nurse can take my vitals and the doctor can check to see if the miso has had any effect. Actually throughout the whole induction process nurses come in to check my vitals every 3-4 hours around the clock. It’s super annoying. The doctor checks me and says that I am dilated to around 3 cm, not very much progress at all. The decision is made to go back on the pitocin and keep increasing it until something happens. My husband and I discuss that perhaps this will be a halloween baby, but we will be wrong about that. From 3 am until around 10 pm I sit in bed while we gradually increase the pitocin. They pause it once in the afternoon so that I can stretch my legs and have some food, but then we get right back on the drip. To pass time we play cards, we watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Groundhog Day and Harold and Maude on the ipad, and we wait. The day is unbelievably boring and exhausting. Friends continue to text asking for updates and encouragement.

My sister sends me following image:

Labor Encouragement on Halloween

To which I reply with something like:

Induction

I am nowhere close to pushing out my little pumpkin. I’m just hanging out, developing bed sores, and cultivating some crazy hair.

Over the course of the 21 hours of pitocin that day, the dose climbs from 2 to the max of 20 and stays steady at 20 for a long time. The contractions never get really painful, but they are a little more noticeable than the day before. I think I can honestly say this is one of the most awful days of my life. I’m uncomfortable, being pumped full of drugs, continually prodded by medical staff, unable eat, and unable to leave my bed. I continually remind myself that this is all in the name of progress and each hour brings me closer to meeting my baby boy.

When the doctor checks me an 10pm and I have made zero progress throughout the day, I start feeling pretty low. When the doctor goes on to tell me that because my body is not responding to the meds, and because the baby is thought to be so big, I will more than likely need a c-section, the tears start flowing and I cannot for the life of me stop them. I am beyond exhausted from a long day of drugs, and my spirit has been pretty much crushed at this point. There is nothing left for me to do but to become a heaving mass of sobbing tears and snot.

My medical team sees how horribly upset and exhausted I am, and I think they are a little taken aback. They say something to the effect of “Wow. OK, crazy lady. Take this Ambian and we will try again in the morning.” My doula comes to check in with us and provide a little moral support. I take the ambian and within moments everything goes black and I am in the deepest sleep I have ever known.

Day 3 – Thursday 11/1/12
(In which something actually happens)

I was born on December 1st, and my husband was born on May 1st, so we think “Hey, maybe this baby wants to join the first of the month club!” I awake around 7am, have some breakfast and we talk with the medical team. The new plan is to take two more rounds of miso to basically beat my cervix into submission, and then to go back on the pitocin to get the contractions in gear. If this plan doesn’t work, it will be c-section time. I am not a praying type of person, but at this point I ask my sister and aunt to light candles and think positive labor thoughts for me, which they do because they are awesome. I start wishing with every ounce of me that today will be the day that I meet this baby.

It takes 8 hours to go through 2 rounds of misoprostol, and at the end of it I have dilated only 1 centimeter, for a grand total of 4 centimeters. It’s mid afternoon and I am allowed to have some food, and then we dive right back in to the pitocin. The day is filled with more card games, and more movies. More looking at each other and saying “My god, can you believe that we are still here? Still trying to make this happen?” I watch Strictly Ballroom while my husband runs home for a a shower and a change of clothing, and slowly I start to feel contractions that actually hurt a little. When he comes back  in early evening we decide to watch Rango and that’s when my contractions start coming regularly and I need to focus to get through them. I start to realize, oh hey, this is that pain that people keep telling me will happen. This is why every keeps saying I won’t be able to do this without drugs. Halfway through the movie I realize that I can’t follow the plot and that it’s time to turn off the movie and practice some breathing.

rango screen shot

Rango, sending me in to labor at long last.

So we put on some hippie zen chanting music and I start getting in to my breathing zone. Around 10pm I tell my husband to catch some sleep because I’m pretty certain that it’s going to be a long night. I sit in bed riding the rhythm of contractions. When each one rises up I press my finger against my 3rd eye, take a deep breath and exhale it as slowly as I possibly can. My husband wakes up when I begin making some noise as I labor through things. When midnight arrives we are laboring together at last.

Day 4 – Friday 11/2/12
(In which this kid finally shows his sweet face)
Disclaimer: Things get a little graphic in this portion of the post!

November second is Dia de Los Muertos which also happens to be my favorite holiday. Given that my husband and I had a Dia de Los Muertos themed wedding, it is a fitting day for our son to be born. I secretly hope to myself that he will show up in full sugar skull makeup.

Artistic Rendering of TigerOne
(Not really… painting by SigneTveitan)

At 1am things are getting pretty intense and I tell my husband that it is time to call our doula and have her head over. He hangs up the phone after speaking with her and moments later I have a really strong contraction where I ask him to push on my third eye for me. At the height of the contraction I yell “push harder!” and the moment that his thumb digs into my forehead, I feel a pop, followed by a big long gushing sensation. My water has broken so we alert our nurse. Meanwhile, the pain of contractions jumps from about a 5 to an 11. I’ve lost my cushion of water and the pain sends my body into a state of shock that causes me to violently empty everything in my stomach. My husband says something to the effect of “WOAH, this is intense! This is happening!” and I wonder if maybe some pain medication wouldn’t be a bad idea, but I keep that thought to myself and persevere.

The nurse comes in and takes a look at where my water has spilled all over the sheets and informs us that the waters are not clear, there is some light meconium (meaning that the baby pooped the womb, which is fairly common in over due babies). She also tells us that it’s time to move to the room where I will actually deliver the baby. I look at her like she has just said the craziest thing I have ever heard. She wants me to walk down a hallway? While I’m in so much pain I can’t stop puking? HA! She’s hilarious! Our doula arrives and with her on one side, and my husband on the other, we walk the twenty steps to the new room, pausing for a couple contractions along the way.

We settle in to the new room and I arrange myself in a upright sitting position on the transformer labor bed. My husband and doula take turns sleeping and assisting me by putting pressure on my lower back and pressing on my forehead. I go to a place deep within myself and picture the contractions like waves, rising and falling, washing over and consuming me with a crash, and then fading away. We spend several hours like this and it feels like an eternity. I nod off in between contractions. I decide that hell is a place where you sleep for a minute, wake up to intense overpowering pain, and the do this on repeat forever. At some point I look into my doula’s eyes and tell her that I’m pretty sure that I’m going to be in labor for the rest of my life, and she assures me that I won’t. I don’t really believe her though.

The extact timing here gets a little vague, but I think sometime around 7am the doctor comes in to check me. When she says that my cervix was completely dilated I’m so on another planet that I don’t understand what that means. She tells use that the baby was still a little high so I could either start pushing now, or do what’s called “laboring down”. I end up laboring down for a while, just riding the contractions without pushing while the baby moves down. Things proceed in this manner for while until I feel like I need to move from the bed. I make my way to the toilet and that’s when the overwhelming urge to push overtakes me. I have a big involuntary push on the toilet, wherein I make the most gutteral sound my body has ever generate. It is low, and growly, and loud all at once. After that push I reach down and feel TigerOne’s head emerging and I think “Holy crap, this is it. This is primal. This is nature in action!” and then I scream out “I’m a animal!”

After this, I’m told that it is time to come back to the bed, since you know, it’s not good to deliver a baby on a toilet. With help, I waddle my way over to the bed, while crowing. I hear the nurse on the phone saying that we are about to have a baby and to send a team into the room NOW. The team arrives and after two giant pushes, wherein I’m thoroughly convinced that my body is catching fire and I’m going to split in half, TigerOne emerges with a gush of fluid and I feel immediate sweet relief. It is 9:15 am.

Moments Old

The brand new Papa cuts the cord and then, because of the meconium in the water, TigerOne has to be checked out on the warming table. It take a few scary minutes for him to pink up and let out his first cry, but I’m stuck on the bed watching from a few feet away while my placenta is delivered and I get a few stitches. I’m shouting out encouraging words to TigerOne as they stimulate him and give him some oxygen and gradually his color comes up and I hear his cry. Eventually, my husband brings our sweet swishy little bundle of TigerOne over to me, and we start to cry too.  It has been a long road to get here, but finally, we two have become a family of three.

When 2 became 3

Fresh Out of the Womb

He is 9 pounds 1 oz (take that, ultrasound!), 21 inches long, and the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. His little face stares up at me with curious eyes. The staff all congratulate me for getting through it all without using pain medication, they all say how extremely rare that is after so much pitocin. A  couple of nurses come in because they actually want to meet the crazy woman who had a four day induction with no meds. My amazing nurse tells me it was one of her favorite births in over 15 years of labor and delivery work. Our doula tells us how much she loves us. Everyone’s hearts are gushing with the sort of emotion that witnessing brand new life can bring.

It will be a while, about 10 hours, before TigerOne starts to show signs of being sick. At this time, we don’t know anything about the x-rays, EEGs, IVs, MRI, blood gasses, and three weeks NICU stay that will test the strength of our new family. It’s just my husband, me, our perfect boy, a whole lot of happiness and an eternity of love.

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