Saturday, October 17, 2015

Matthew's Birth - Part 4

If you haven't read the first parts click here to start at the beginning.

Jon and I began crying with joy and sadness. He was so sweet and small. We began looking him over and getting to know him visually. He had such ruby red lips and his eyes were open. He had lots of long dark hair (at least ½ an inch long!). The skin on the back of his right hand was broken from being born next to his head and it was indeed clenched. I looked for his feet and they were up by his chest, he was sitting like he had been while breech. His left foot was turned (clubbed) and small. He had his daddy's nose. His ears were small and low set. His mouth was open some of the time and we were able to see his little tongue and it looks like his palate was high but whole. His skin/body were blue. His second and third toes were longer than his big toes! I later realized that his right foot looked like my feet, long and narrow.

His skin was so fragile we decided to swaddle him before I handed him off to Jon. We took one the blankets we brought and I wrapped him up to hand him to his daddy. What a moment that was. He loves our little boy so much! Many tears were shed in those moments. Because of his skin we chose an outfit that could completely open up so that we wouldn't have to put his arms through the sleeves. We got him weighed (he was 3 lbs 15 oz) then he got handed back to me so I could snap up his outfit. We had a super soft and fluffy white blanket that we placed him in.

As all of this was happening they repaired the tears that I had gotten (his arm had been a problem) and cleaned me up. I was so unaware of what they were doing at first they were able to do a urine catheter without me noticing and they were amazed at how much I had in there! I know, TMI :) I had a normal amount of blood loss and everything seemed fine.

Soon the repair was done and all of the hospital staff left the room. We asked for a moment alone to cry. After a while I realized that my mom hadn't held him yet so we called her back in. Jon's parents had been called to let them know they could come previously since they had to drive from their hotel. They arrived a little later.

After family had gotten to hold him we had the nurse take Matthew over to a bed so that she could do his foot prints in ink and so that we could sleep. We slept for about an hour. I have never been so tired. It was hard to open my eyes when waking up. At some point we asked my mom to call the funeral home to come pick him up later. They told us they would be there between 11:00am and 12:00pm (that gave us several hours more with him). My dad had to drive all the way from home so he came around 9:00am and was able to see and hold him. At this point everyone headed home and we were left alone.

After a while I told Jon I was ready to hold him again so he brought him to me. It was then that our grief hit. So much pain and loss, so intense. It is inexplicable. I couldn't even give my husband a hug when he was grieving because I was stuck in the bed, but he came to me and cuddled with me and our son. It was a perfect moment, me curled on my side with Matthew in my arms and Jon curled behind me. How sweet to be a whole family for a moment. We knew we didn't have much time left with him. By now I truly loved him and didn't want to give him up. It felt so good to have him in my arms, I didn't want to say goodbye.

We called in a nurse and told her that we were ready for his memory box to be made with a bit of his hair and a foot print in clay. She graciously and beautifully made it for us. She wrapped him up better with a flannel blanket outside of the white blanket so that when we handed him off we could keep the flannel blanket for his memory. He will be buried in that outfit and blanket.

When the guy from the funeral home came he was super understanding and nice and told us a little about losing his little girl before birth. After we made some decisions the nurse asked if we wanted one last moment alone with him. We told her that we did. How hard it is to say goodbye! To know that you may never see that sweet face again this side of heaven. To give away that sweet boy only a few hours after his birth. I have never done anything so hard as letting him go. When we were ready the nurse gave us the flannel blanket and sweetly and carefully carried him out of the room. That blanket became him for me. We wept more.

After a time I felt tired again but Jon wasn't so he went to the waiting room while I attempted a nap. We had decided to leave around 4:00. I only got about a 30 minute nap but we did leave around that time after attempting to leave earlier to avoid traffic. We had a safe and uneventful ride home and arrived to a house that had been made spotless by my mom, sister-in-law and a friend. The hardest day of our lives was over and we headed to bed to sleep for a long time.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Matthew's Birth - Part 3

If you haven't read the previous parts click here for part 1.
Attempting to finish the blanket
between contractions (earlier in the day)

We knew that we needed to keep labor going but I was too weak to actively work at it and was mentally and emotionally drained so much that I could only cry at the thought of starting pitocin (which would make the contractions strong and close together). At this point they began suggesting an epidural. I did not want an epidural, not because I think it is wrong, but I so wanted to go without drugs and I was afraid of the potential side effects and the possibility of not being fully mentally there at the birth (because of the drugs). As they talked with me, my mom, Carolynn, the and the nurse encouraged me to consider it because we needed to start the pitocin but they told me that I was the one who had to choose. Jon told me that it had to be my decision and that he would support me no matter what I chose. I decided to have the doctor check me and that if I was close we would try without but that if I wasn't we would do the epidural. I was so drained I couldn't even cope with the pain of being checked and that sealed my decision to get the epidural since I was only 5cm or so. I wanted the epidural started before the pitocin.

Jon was right there with me through the epidural placement
The doctor ordered the epidural and they were ready surprisingly quickly. The anesthesia team were very kind and understanding. They were very gentle and told me to let them know if I felt any pain. I did end up getting extra local anesthetic because I could feel their pokes. Even with the epidural the contractions were still painful but easily handled and I could actually feel most of my legs (especially the left one). I was really happy about that because I really didn't want total lack of feeling and hoped that when it came time to push I would be able to feel it. Once the epidural was in place they started pitocin and we all prepared for bed so that we could get some rest before the end. It was about 10:30pm when we began sleeping.

The layette I knitted for him
(The blanket matches the pattern)
I woke up around 1:00 or so and the nurse explained that they would need to do a urine catheter soon. I asked for the chance to try to go without it so she ordered a portable “commode”. I was also beginning to feel the contractions quite painfully in my left hip so I tried switching sides and getting extra epidural medicine. She said to try pushing the button as many times as I needed it and that after three times if it wasn't enough we could call in the anesthesiologists to give me more. After three times it wasn't enough so we did alert them. Somewhere during those three button pushes I felt like I was having some pressure during contractions (possible baby pressure) so we called in the doctors to check me. At 2:00am they checked me and said I was still 5cm, not quite 6cm. How depressing! I didn't worry about it too much though because my mom has a history of going quite suddenly from 6cm to 10cm! We decided to place a peanut ball between my legs to encourage things along and to up the pitocin dose some more and everyone went back to sleep. Around 2:45 I suddenly began to feel intense pressure, my contractions became super close and I began essentially hyperventilating so my mom called in the nurse right away and I told her I felt like he was coming! She called in the doctor and the doctor found that I was fully dilated!

Mom knitting a hat for him earlier
They sweetly told me (which I really appreciate) that I could let the uterus do some of the work of pushing him for now or I could go ahead and push with the contractions. I wanted to push. At this point the urge to push wasn't crazy but his pressure was enough to make me want to push. I felt so much more control while pushing. I had no idea what to do though! I had read books but couldn't really remember what to do. Wonderfully, someone gave me a tip each contraction until I felt like I was doing it right. Some of them were “hold your breath while pushing”, “pull your legs back”, “tuck your chin and pull in your belly button”, etc. I am amazed at how clearly I heard each person that talked even though I was so focused! Jon was right by my left hand and was a wonderful cheerleader!

The first moment I held him
As the pushing urge increased and Matthew moved down the canal it became evident that his hand was up by his head. His hand was actually born first and in between two contractions I was able to reach down and feel it. I began feeling constant pressure and it became quite painful due to his hand down there (I felt very specific and intense burning where his hand was). They encouraged me to rest between pushes (that was super hard) and Jon had to remind me and demonstrate for me to breath deeply because it hurt so bad I was breathing super fast. It was only because of his help that I was able to even attempt to breath deeply through the pain. The second to last contraction before he was born I was almost able to get him out, I could feel it! But not quite. The next contraction I was able to push enough to get his head out and his body slid right out too. The relief in that moment was inexplicable. A moment later they told me “he's right there” and that brought me to the reality that I had just birthed a baby! I looked down and there was his head on my belly! They quickly began unwinding his cord (it was wrapped around his neck a total of 3 times) and I brought him to my chest. I didn't know what to do, he was lying so still.

(to be continued.....)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Matthew's Birth - Part 2

If you haven't read the first part, click here

One last belly shot
By 2 hours after the first dose I was contracting (painlessly, but I could feel it) every 2-3 minutes so they said that they couldn't give me another dose yet and we would wait to see what happened before going to the next step. It continued that way for the next 2 hours (during this time the contractions became a little painful). At the end of the 2 hours the doctors came in and said it was time to make a decision on what to do next. They gave me the option of something called a cook catheter which would essentially be two balloons that were inflated on either side of my cervix to put pressure on it similar to the baby's head or something else that I can no longer recall the name of that would be something like a tampon with a medication on it to introduce an artificial hormone similar to what my body would normally produce to start labor. I decided to go with the cook catheter.

Since it was 3:30am and Jon was sleeping well, I decided to let him keep sleeping while they placed the catheter (he is a hard sleeper and had no idea what was going on). I was informed that they normally give pain killers for this procedure but since I wanted a non medicated labor and delivery they asked if I wanted to have it now, wait and see, or not take it at all. I opted for the wait and see method. It was very uncomfortable (it felt like menstrual cramps a lot of the time) but not too bad so I ended up not receiving the pain meds. They said that I handled it better than a lot of people who have the pain meds and were amazed that I was able to go to the full inflation of 80mls internally and externally (inside the uterus and in the vagina) right away instead of starting with less and increasing as we went. The doctor told me that they would now essentially leave us alone until the 12 hour limit for having it in unless the catheter fell out (which would mean I was dilated).

After they left I got up to get a few things and go to the bathroom and the cramping got a whole lot worse. I woke Jon up to help me deal with it and he couldn't believe that I had let him sleep through that! We tried laying down but pretty quickly I was on the verge of tears and feeling like I couldn't handle the contractions. I remembered reading that when that happens we needed to change what we were doing and find something to help me deal with it. I texted my mom and the doula, Carolynn, (the photographer, Renee, was with her so she came too) and let them know that I was ready for them to come. We got up and began using a birthing ball we had found/asked for and tried rocking and swaying a couple of different ways. We were able to find something that worked for me and my mom arrived shortly. The doula and photographer were delayed a while. After a while we decided to walk the halls (it must have been around 5:00am or so) and as we did that my water broke! It wasn't a gush, just a trickle but, EEWWWW! It had some blood in it so we were pretty sure it wasn't the catheter leaking. As we walked back to the room to clean up I had some more leaking and the nurses and their station down the hall guessed what had happened by my “EEWW!” as I came around the corner :)

Getting ready to go walking
The continued leaking/gushing was grossing me out and I didn't want to keep walking as I leaked so I stood and rocked over a waterproof pad for a while then decided to try the tub so I wouldn't notice and to relieve my backache (the backache stayed with me most of the whole labor). It worked wonders on my back but also slowed the contractions. Carolynn and Renee arrived while we were in the tub so they came in and said hi and Carolynn chatted for a bit to see what had happened so far and how I was doing. After that we were left alone for a while and we had the lights turned off so I could rest my eyes. I didn't want to slow the labor too much so we didn't stay in the bath too long.

The next few hours were a bit of a blur, we did a lot of different coping methods, I got a 1 hour nap, I kept contracting and we waited for progress. Around 2:30pm I decided to try the bath and rest in there for a bit so my mom, Carolynn and Renee decided to go do other things (mom and Renee went for food and Carolynn needed to nurse her son who was being cared for by a grandparent). In the bath it relieved my backache and the contractions were spacing out but after a little bit the contractions became extremely painful and super close together. I couldn't handle it so we got out of the tub. The contractions felt like they were right after each other and were so bad I began crying during them uncontrollably. Since it was so close to the 12 hour mark for the catheter and it almost seemed like I was hitting transition we had the doctors come to check me. They started by pulling on the catheter to see if it would come out. It did, but it hurt a bit. They checked me and said I was a generous 3cm, but not quite 4cm. They told us that they would wait an hour or so to give me a break before starting pitocin. I said that I would like to take nap during that time so we planned to start pitocin around 5:15 to give me a 1/ ½ hour nap (that is usually how long I sleep when left alone for a nap). Everyone left me alone to sleep and I slept for about an hour in spite of the contractions still being a bit painful.

Fever time
When I woke up (around 5:00pm) I decided to see if the contractions would pick up more if I was more active so we started walking the halls. The nurse told us that all of the doctors were busy at another birth and they could come see us about the pitocin when they were done with that. My contractions picked up speed and stayed about 2-3 minutes apart and mildly increased in intensity over the next 3-4 hours but I also developed a fever from infection. I began to lose strength and emotional stability and began crying almost uncontrollably and the contractions became stronger. I believe the strain of the fever on my body combined with the emotional nature of the situation led to my emotional break down which made it so that I couldn't handle the pain of the contractions, which made me more emotional, etc. Most of the labor I had been genuinely upbeat and normal (we had processed our initial grief before coming to the hospital) but I could no longer handle the strain at this point. I also was becoming too weak to stand/rock/kneel etc so I decided to try laying down even though up to that point it had prevented me from coping with the contractions. I had almost immediate relief due to not having to hold myself up and I had gotten to the point where I felt super cold (from the fever) so laying down enabled me to be kept warm in blankets. Around the time I laid down they started IV antibiotics and had me take Tylenol to keep the fever down (I had reached around 103 F). For a while the contractions stayed about 2-3 minutes apart but as time passed the became weaker and farther apart until around 9:30pm they were 5 minutes apart and not very strong (I didn't have to do anything to cope). I also became less able to handle pain.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Matthew's birth - Part 1

Warning: This is a very detailed telling of the birth story (it may gross you out), and will include pictures that may not be easy to look at.

On Sunday, October 4th, 2015 in the morning we used the doppler we were borrowing to listen to Matthew's heart beat. A few days previous it had suddenly jumped to a normal heart beat of 150 bpm even though he had been happily having a heart rate of 90 bpm. The doctors had said that it looked like he just had a normal heart rate now and not to worry, but we were still concerned enough to listen once or twice a day. As the days went by it was slowly lowering and Sunday morning it was 70/130 bpm depending on where you listened (I believe that that was the lower/upper heart chamber reading). I was super worried and tearful, not sure what to do. Jon encouraged me to wait a couple of hours until 1:00 and listen again since we had an appointment with the OB the next day.

As we prepared for church I began to feel tired and weak (sometimes that happened in the mornings during the pregnancy) so we decided to stay home and I took a nap. I slept for 2 hours. Once I woke up we ate lunch and by that time it was after 1:00 so we decided to listen again. This time we couldn't find a heart beat no matter where we tried. He was normally easy to find.

Making calls and knitting his blanket
We called our OBs in Seattle (a 1 ½ hour drive away) and they said we could come straight there or we could go to the local hospital first for confirmation. We decided to go with the latter so we could have time to prepare and plan if he had indeed passed away. We arrived at the hospital and explained our situation and we were shown into a small room for an NST. The nurse was unable to find the heartbeat so she had the doctor come in with a portable ultrasound machine. The doctor (we were watching too) was able to see where the heart should have been beating and was unable to see any movement but, because it was a low detail machine she offered to order a better ultrasound for us. Jon felt that that would be best so we waited about 30 minutes for that. The technician told us that she would send the ultrasound to a radiologist but because she was just the technician should would not tell us what she was seeing (I understood). As she went along we were able to follow because of how many we had seen previously. We were able to see (and it was confirmed by the radiologist later) that he had one valve in his heart that was still moving a tiny little bit but nothing else was, and that there was no blood flow through the heart, vessels or umbilical cord. Our little guy was gone. We waited for a little while longer and the doctor came in to tell us that and that she would call the UW hospital to see what they wanted us to do. They were able to tell us that our preferred OB was not on call until Friday and that we could wait a day or two but shouldn't wait any longer than that.

We went home and began to try to make plans. After talking with our doula we called UW and asked what kind of induction method they would use (they said it would be the same as if he was alive) and also found out that they would recommend coming in that day because the longer we wait the more risk there is of infection and extra bleeding. We decided to go in that evening.

After a few hours of preparation and a few more of driving we arrived at the hospital. Because of our previous conversations they had a room and a nurse waiting for us and were shown in quickly. She told us that the doctors were currently in conference talking over possible plans for us and that they would be in soon to run them by us. The room was beautiful and spacious and on the end of the hallway so that we wouldn't be surrounded by other families. As we waited I began working on the knitted blanket that I had hoped to finish before his birth (I didn't get it done, but I plan to now).
Getting the IV placed

The doctors came in and introduced themselves. There was a head doctor and two residents (one or two of whom was the doctor(s) that ended up presiding of the delivery). They said that we would start by doing an ultrasound to confirm the one we had gotten earlier, do an external version if needed, and do a vaginal exam to decide our course of action. The ultrasound showed that he was transverse so we did the external version. The version was more painful than I had anticipated but it was successful. The findings of the exam were that my cervix was externally 1cm, internally (approximately) a fingertip, long and firm so we began an oral medication called Misoprostol that would begin the process of ripening my cervix. They said that it would be given to me every 2 hours as long as the contractions were more than 3 minutes apart and that it could be given up to 6 times. Jon and I attempted sleep at that point. Jon slept for several hours but I only got a catnap.