Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Walden's Great Escape - A Birth Story

At long last – Walden’s Birth Story.

I really need to get this down before I forget everything! I spend the week following Wally’s arrival doped up on Percocet and questionably conscious, so it’s already not as clear as Ryann and Clifton’s births.

We had our c-section (due to the previa) scheduled for May 1, not knowing whether we would actually make it to the date or not. I traditionally start some pretty intense prodromal labor around 36 weeks which had a huge risk of causing a hemorrhage and from there an emergency c-section. We were crossing our fingers to avoid this for a few reasons – 1. Risks of hemorrhage to me. 2. Risks of hemorrhage to Walden. 3. Need for general anesthesia which would also mean that Jared would be left in the waiting room not knowing what was happening. Major flashback central. No bueno.

So in the days leading up to the c-section, I made a valiant effort to take it easy. Kind of. Ever since I had been put on partial bedrest I had been biking to work rather than walking. Sounds and looked crazy, I know. But we live just a couple blocks away and while walking over would cause contractions every time, I was able to bike over with none. I also felt a bit more mobile on my bike than I did waddling over, a bit like swimming. It was a funny comparison to my perfectly healthy pregnancy with Clifton when Jared outlawed my bike in fear of falls. This time I was on bedrest with a high risk pregnancy and biking became my main method of transportation. Whodathunk.

I actually became increasingly bad about staying within my bedrest restrictions as May 1 approached. I strongly felt the limited time that was left with just Clif and wanted to fit in all of the last things with him. We even had a zoo trip with just the two of us a day or two before. Not exactly approved activities. Luckily Wally stuck tight.

The night before and the morning of May 1 were surreal. Both of the other kiddos came on their own time and we labored at home with them for hours. This time we hugged and kissed Clif and Nana and walked out the door to the hospital with no signs of labor. It was bizarre to check in to the hospital and know that I would be laying on a table and sliced open in just a couple hours. So, so odd. Also nerve wracking since we had schedule this for three weeks before Wally was due and we had no idea how he would handle this. Three weeks is nothing compared to the thirteen weeks we had previously been staring down, but it’s still nothing to laugh off. Those last few weeks are typically spent still inside for a reason. Final lung and brain development is crucial as well as a lower ability to deal with outside stimuli. However, we were hitting the point at which the risk of keeping him in was outweighing the risk of taking him out.

I was prepped for surgery with two IVs, one in each hand. One was for the typical IV fluids and the other was reserved for emergency blood products, just in case things went south on the table. It’s not unusual for previas to have trouble coming out or for them to be something more complex than expected, such as accreta. We were gently reminded several times that if Jared were asked to leave that he would need to leave quickly and that I would be put under general. This also carried the risk of an emergency hysterectomy. We arranged for my Mom to be in the waiting room just in case Jared were kicked out. After everything we experienced with Ryann, I can’t imagine Jared having to wait out in the waiting room by himself. That’s a panic attack waiting to happen. At least this way my Mom would be there during the panic attack. Ha! Somehow a bit better.

Our midwife, who also delivered Clifton (or rather directed Jared while he delivered Clifton, crazy!), was able to be there as the assisting nurse. This was so awesome and calming. (We love Karen!)

Jared was also able to be there while they were giving me the spinal, which is not the norm apparently. Not sure why they made the exception, but I’m so glad they did. This point was probably the height of my nervousness. We were in the operating room, everyone was gowned, I was about to be sliced open. Eep! Up until this point I was excited-nervous. At this point I had some scared-nervous. But truly, still not too bad. There was even a hilarious point (probably frustrating point for the nurses) when Jared unintentionally contaminated the already scrubbed surgical field by poking at my belly to see if I had any sensation left. Whoops.

I got the spinal, my legs went dead, my fear of barfing on the table was not realized. Thank you, thank you anesthesiologist who preemptively gave me some anti-nausea meds in my IV. Although c-sections can be done in just a few minutes, if needed, my surgeon crept along. She didn’t know exactly what she would find and so didn’t want to rush. We also had no idea how much bleeding would be happening and so she was trying to control it as much as possible as we went. Jared asked to peek over the curtain as they pulled Walden out, so Karen told him “we’re about to break the amniotic sac”. So awesome and strange! Jared peeked over just enough to see Walden and not enough to see inside me, definitely not a medical junkie, that one. When Ryann was born, she was a little mouse. Hardly a sound, just a couple mews. Clifton cried, but pretty normally and then he settled down. Walden was pissed. His nickname around the house right now is The Rager and it was actually quite fitting from the start. He was not happy to be pulled out and he let everyone know. But as sad as it could be to hear a baby so angry, it was the best sound in the world. He could breathe, he could scream, he could respond. He did have a bit of trouble with one lung and the nursery and NICU nurses had a bit of a tussle over where he was headed. The regular nursery nurse pushed for just a bit of time to acclimate. He was given a CPap and put in a warmer and Jared was allowed to stick by his side the whole time. The CPap was removed after about 30 minutes and he was okay outside the warmer after a few hours. As much as I had hoped to be able to keep him with me from immediately after he was checked over, I ended up being just fine with having a bit of time to myself and to get semi-settled into my recovery room, knowing that Jared was right by his side.

As the NICU and nursery were working on Walden, the surgeon was working on me. Big grins all around when that trouble making placenta came right out and my uterus started contracting just as it should. No blood products needed. Best case scenario that we all had been hoping for.

My sis and her family came by to meet Walden through the windows of the nursery, since they all had a slight cold. My mom was able to get a couple pictures of Walden through the window so that I could see him while I was waiting. I had been able to see and touch him for about 30 seconds in the operating room, but after that he was whisked away. After I had been in my room for a few hours, Jared was finally able to push Walden’s bassinet over to my room and hand him to me. Best. Thing. Ever. It’s such a strange thing to hold this tiny stranger who I love so much and can’t wait to get to know. Right away we all said that he didn’t look like Ryann or Clif. Wally has a much longer face, both Ryann and Clif had super round faces. Wally’s ears stick out and he looked tan before even seeing the sun.

The hard part of this whole experience came after the c-section – Recovery. And by all accounts, I had a wonderful recovery. My surgery was at about 9:30am and I was helped up and across my room by 5pm. Not a pleasant experience. Especially not when compared with my other recoveries, especially Clif, where I could easily take a shower solo and wear normal clothes by noon! With Ryann and Clif, during my recoveries I never took so much as an aspirin. With Walden I had the normal percocet, massive ibuprofen, stool softeners, antacids, as well as two additional doses of morphine that first day. It also didn’t help that I still had a pretty intense cough from a cold the previous week. Every single cough was toe curlingly painful. The next day I started pushing the bassinet on rounds of the recovery floor. Three times per day was my goal and I had to sneak one in at 11pm that second day in order to make it. That day I couldn’t stand up straight, I was shuffling, I had to stop for breaks, and by the time we got back to my room I was holding by belly and couldn’t wait to lay down. Every day was a bit better and I was finally feeling close-ish to my normal self by 2 weeks postpartum. However, I didn’t feel fully recovered until closer to 6 weeks postpartum. By two weeks I could walk and bend and climb stairs at a normal pace. By six weeks I could carry clif and fold and load the stroller and go grocery shopping. I did all these things well before the six week mark, but it would always end with me bleeding like a stuck pig. Postpartum bleeding with Ryann and Clifton was done by 10 days or so. Walden’s lasted until about 8 weeks. Huge difference.

One thing that I’m really happy about is my lack of concern over my c-section scar. I’m proud of that gash. It’s bad a$$! Hells yeah, I had a living baby pulled out of my open womb! Just as proud of it as my other experiences. I labored for a full day with Ryann. I had Clif with zero medical intervention. I pushed both out in three contractions. Wally, I kept inside me until it was finally safe for him to breathe our air, I laid on a table and had my belly cut open so that he could be safely born, and I will carry the scar for the rest of my life. Birth is amazing.

Walden did have jaundice, just like our other two. But while the other two narrowly avoided the billi lights, since we were still in the hospital, they just threw little Wally in there for good measure. Just kidding, he really was getting quite yellow. This bought us an extra day in the hospital, which I was surprisingly fine with. I was a bit scared to have our giant-manchild, Clif, around my still super-sore body. Having my Mom in town to help watch Clif was a huge help in allowing me to relax and recuperate during my stay. Also, Percocet. That stuff really knocks you out. I was nodding in and out my entire time on it. Really glad I didn’t drop Walden.

We’re really hoping that our next one gets to be a VBAC, however we are at a higher risk for another previa. We’re still huge natural birth supporters and hope to have another, but we’re also so very thankful for modern medicine and what it can do for us. WHEN NEEDED. That’s the key. Our bodies are marvelous things, but sometimes they need a bit of help. Or a lifeline. Fifty years ago I would probably be dead. We are so thankful for the skill of our medical team and the options that were available to us.

And Clifton is in love with his brother.

Last picture of The Belly.

All three babes at three months.