Saturday, June 9, 2012

Gabriel Joseph Stuart has arrived!!!

Seeing as little Gabe is now over 2 weeks old, I think I better write down all I remember about his entrance to the world. Time has been in a warp since his arrival. I don’t know if this past weeks has seemed incredibly short or incredibly long. Regardless it’s been incredibly lovely. And emotional and maybe just a little bit tiring ;)! Last Monday, May 21st, I headed into town to run some errands. I was hoping it would be a quick trip in, but had a few stops to make. First stop, Bed Bath and Beyond. Now, as mentioned before, I’d had lots of contractions over the last couple of months, but it was here (probably around 11 am) that I noticed that the contractions were starting to feel different. Before I had felt a tightening throughout my belly. I can’t really describe how they made me feel other than that they made it hard to breathe, though they weren’t too painful. These new ones were definitely more painful and rather than feeling them throughout the uterus, the pain was concentrated down towards my cervix. So, I started timing them. Every 12 minutes or so. So, I called Dan who was almost 2 hours away up in Dupont to tell him what was going on. He wondered if he should come home and I told him no…I’d let him know if and when they got closer together. I continued to run my errands and then headed for home. After arriving home, I figured I better finish getting my bags packed and ran around doing just that as well as picking up the house, just in case this really was the big day. The contractions were coming anywhere from 5 to 12 minutes apart at this point and after running around like crazy trying to get everything done I wanted to get done, I called Dan to tell him he best get on the road. It was 4pm at this point, which is when he was supposed to leave anyway, but I figured I better make sure he wasn’t staying over. At this point the contractions were getting more painful, so I ran a warm bath and jumped in to see if the water would cause the contractions to make a decision one way or another…to either fizzle out, or come on more strong. They chose the later and started coming much more frequently, like ever 3-5 minutes. Dan showed up around 5:45 and I told him we should probably think about heading in, so we excitedly loaded up the car and made our way into the hospital. In triage I was hooked up to the monitor and we saw that our little guy was looking great! Next was to check my cervix. I was a little disappointed to hear I was only 3 cm, but my midwife said she was sure I was in early labor and I could either be admitted, head home, or just go for a walk. We chose to leave the hospital and take a walk around the surrounding neighborhoods, rather than in the halls of the unit. I’m so glad we chose this option. It was so nice out and I thoroughly enjoyed the cool breeze as we walked the streets. I felt really good between contractions and I found I had to stop walking and just lean on Dan during the contractions. We walked for about an hour before heading back to the birth center. At this point the contractions were getting stronger and I was ready to get into the water. So, back to triage we went where I was checked again and told I was 5 cm dilated. Woohoo! After they got the tub all set up, I got in and labored for awhile until I started feeling the urge to push. My immediate thought was, awesome, this is almost done. But Kate, my midwife, wanted to check me first and after doing so, gave me the heartbreaking news that my cervix was only dilated to a 6.5. Oh dear. For the next bit of time (I had absolutely no concept of time) I tried to continue to breathe through the contraction and just not push. The only way I can describe this is torturous. I had planned on using good breathing techniques as well as think about pleasant things through each contraction to help distract myself. The problem was that if I didn’t concentrate on not pushing, I automatically started pushing. So each contraction came on full force and all I was able to do was try to repeat to myself to not push. Sometimes I was successful and sometimes I was not. Being an L&D nurse in this situation was not very helpful because I knew the consequences of pushing before your cervix is gone. So not only was I in extreme pain, fighting an urge that is extremely strong, but I also was so, so worried that I wouldn’t be able to fight the urge for much longer and would screw everything up and end up back in a c/section. Here is where my team became so valuable. My husband, mom and sister were there to encourage me through all this. My midwife and two nurses (Debbie and Tressa) told me over and over and over again that I could do it. I must say I didn’t believe them, but knowing that I had really wanted a natural childbirth, they never let me waver from that. I must have asked to be checked a million times, simply because I wanted to be able to be push just as soon as possible, since it was so hard to resist the urge. I also told them over and over again that I just didn’t think I could do it. I wasn’t yelling or crying in pain, though, just moaning through the contractions, so they probably thought I was doing better than I actually was. I asked if maybe it wouldn’t help to have my water broken to speed things up, though the thought of the contractions intensifying was more than I could bear. Rather than break my water, I labored through quite a few more contractions, but was so miserable and somewhat unsuccessful at not pushing through the contractions, so I got out of the tub and into the bed to see if a change in position would help. Kate went ahead and checked me again and broke my water at that point. The rest of the story is a bit hazy for me. They hooked me up to a monitor and at first it sounded like the heartrate went down a bit, then I heard Kate say that it was coming back up. I was having such a hard time not pushing, that after a few contractions I was checked again and while the cervix wasn’t all the way gone, I got the go ahead to do some light pushing with each contraction. With pushing the baby’s heart rate went down and stayed down, though they were having a hard time figuring out if they were monitoring me or the baby. Finally, they put a monitor on the baby’s head (called a scalp lead) so they could accurately assess how the baby was doing. His heart rate was down and it was apparent that we needed to get him out and soon (as it turns out, he had a really, really short cord, which probably was the cause of his heart rate dipping so low as the baby came down). My mom tells me that Tressa (my old manager when I worked nights) came to my side and told me something along the lines that this was the most important moment in my life so far, to work to push my baby out. I pushed as hard as I could and before long a doctor came in to help me in my efforts with a vacuum. At this point the room filled up with a TON of people, 3 RN’s, my midwife, Dr. McGuire, Dan, Heidi, my mom and several people from the nursery team to help support the baby should he need it. They hooked up the vacuum to his little head and I think two pushes later, out came his head (with the vacuum popping off once). His body was soon to follow and then the most beautiful sound in the world, his little cry. He was born at 3:31 am on 5/22/12. They placed him on my chest and I got to enjoy looking at my beautiful son while they sewed me up. The whole experience of giving birth was so much harder than I ever anticipated. When I think about the possibility of having another, I quickly think “no way, the pain was more than I could bear.” As I’ve mentioned this to Dan, he’s quickly reminded me that if the pain is the only thing keeping me from having another, I can always get an epidural! I guess that’s true, though I’d probably be too stubborn to let myself actually do it! And hopefully next time labor will be quicker. 

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