Meet the Sullivans: the birth story

March 13, 2012

the birth story

I think its about time that I share the story of how Owen was born. It's very long, a bit detailed and even sorta scary.

Let me begin this story by telling you a little about the weeks leading up to Owen's birth... at my 39 week doctor's appointment the doctor heard Owen's heart skip a beat (an arrhythmia). You can imagine how worried and terrified this made us, even though my doctor said it was probably nothing and would resolve itself. My doctor sent me across the street to the hospital immediately to have an ultrasound and to be monitored. The baby ended up being perfectly fine and healthy, of course. The arrhythmia ended up disappearing just as my doctor expected it to, but I still had bi-weekly NSTs (fetal non-stress test) to monitor the baby. 

The following week I went to the doctor again for my regular weekly appointment and this time my blood pressure was high and I was sent to the hospital to be monitored again. This time the doctor decided (to our relief) that if my blood pressure did not go down they would induce me that night... it ended up going down after about and hour and I was sent home...

Well, the Monday before Owen was born I was over a week late and I was getting very antsy. Between friends and family calling to see how we were, frequent doctor visits / NSTs, and my own worries I was becoming very anxious. Being over a week overdue I became hyperaware of any change thinking it could mean I was in labor or that something was wrong. Monday morning I woke up and thought that my water might have broken. It was just a bit, but enough for me to think twice about it.

I had been told that if I thought I might have a slow leak (that's when your water breaks, but just with a small leak, so its hard to tell) that I should just call the hospital and go in to be sure. So, since it was Monday and Keith was home we called labor and delivery and went in.

We got to the hospital and checked-in. We had an awesome nurse. She examined me and concluded that she thought my water had probably not broken. We told her a little about our situation and all that had been happening and she went to talk to the doctor on call. He decided that since I was overdue and scheduled to see him the following day to schedule and induction that they would fully admit me and begin the induction. Hooray!! We were so excited that it was finally happening! We immediately called our moms to let them know the exciting news.

At this point it was 9am and I was barely dilated or effaced and was only experiencing small light contractions that I was barely able to feel. So once they moved us to a bigger room I was given Cervidil to get the process going.

The Cervidil stays in for 12 hours. After 12 hours I had made little to no progress, so we started another 12 hour round of Cervidil. Thank goodness we had our Kindles, a TV and each other to keep us occupied! This time the Cervidil began to do its job and I began to dilate. This meant they could give me Pictocin which would mimic labor and thus get my contractions going. Once the Pictocin kicked in I started to really feel contractions. I had always planned on having an epidural and knew I wouldn't feel at all like a big wimp if I asked for it early. When we talked to the nurses they told us it would be best if we waited until I was at least 4cm dilated since the epidural can prolong the dilation process.

By then it was Tuesday afternoon. At this time they gave me Morphine to help with the pain, which it did a beautiful job of doing. I was beginning to think that this labor stuff wouldn't be so bad, but... Once that wore off the pain was pretty bad (in retrospect that was nothing compared to what was to come), so they gave me the first of three doses of Fentanyl to help dull the pain since I still was not to 4cm.

The problem with the Fentanyl was that it would only last for a short period of time (about 2 hours) and each time they gave it to you in works less and less. After the first dose I decided I was ready for my epidural but of course it was 9pm on Tuesday by then and the only anesthesiologist available was preparing to begin a c-section which meant it would be almost 2 more hours until I would receive my epidural-- this was the WORST news I had ever heard. I was in terrible, awful, horrific pain and all I had was one more dose of Fentanyl available to me. Sadly, the last dose of Fentanyl did nothing for me. 

The pain by this point was absolutely excruciating. I have never felt anything so bad in my life. I don't know how on earth anyone is able to make it through labor without pain medicine. I have such respect and admiration for anyone who can do it, because there is no possible way I ever could. In the labor and delivery video we watched (Laugh and Learn About Childbirth) they suggest a breathing technique that ended up being helpful to a certain point but once the pain really got going I honestly didn't even care about breathing anymore, so no technique was going to help. By then I was at 7.5cm. Keith was so great through all of the pain and suffering I was going through. I know if must have been hard for him to watch me go through all that without being able to do anything to help. 

At around 11pm the anesthesiologist administered the epidural (what a relief!), which I had heard was painful, but really it was nothing compared to what I had been through up to that point. They asked Keith to take a seat at this time, which I guess is mandatory since many spouses have fainted while watching the procedure. 

After they got the epidural going the pain subsided and I felt comfortable again (finally!!!). I was laying there relishing in the lack of pain I was now feeling when my blood pressure dropped and the nurses lost the ability to hear the baby's heartbeat. This sent everyone into panic mode and all of a sudden the room was filled with nurses who were pumping up my IV with fluids, flipping me over to palpate my abdomen to get the baby moving, given gem oxygen, etc.

Keith was still seated in the chair across the room and I remember looking over at him to try to gauge what was happening by the look on his face, since no one was telling me what was going on. Keith must have been really concerned and trying to avoid showing it because when I looked at him he gave me a big smile and two thumbs up, which is just hilarious...that's when I knew something was up. Thank goodness that after about 10 minutes everything calmed down and they finally clued us in. 

By 1 o'clock we were able to rest and get a little sleep until around 6am when our nurses came in and decided it was time to start pushing because I was fully dilated. I pushed for 3 1/2 hours with almost no progress. The entire time I kept thinking about how much I couldn't wait to hold our baby and how terribly thirsty I was. The thought of meeting our little one and drinking a giant Diet Coke with ice are what kept me going for that long. By 9:30am the doctor on call came by to check on us and pretty much told us I was probably not going to be able to deliver him vaginally, so wearily we decided to go ahead with a c-section. Looking back I can't believe how quickly we surrendered and decided on a c-section, but I guess you have a pretty different perspective when you've been through almost 48 hours of exhausting and painful labor.

They immediately began prepping me for surgery and sent Keith to get changed. He grabbed our camera and kissed me goodbye. The next time I would see him I would be laying on the operation room table. They wouldn't let him join me until they had already begun the surgery. When he came in Keith sat behind the curtain with me as they opened me up and threw my lower body around trying to get our baby out. 

I had pushed for so long and so hard that Owen was pretty well lodged in the birth canal (which is what gave him the cone head look) and they needed to use some extra measures to "help" him out. I won't tell you exactly how but one of the surgeons had to break scrub to more him back up and out of the birth canal. This of course made us panicked all over again, but it was over fast and before we knew it they were asking Keith to stand up and peer over the curtain to meet our little one. They said to him "Okay, dad, is it a boy or girl" to which Keith responded "Oh wow its a BOY!". I remember saying out loud to myself "Its him, its Owen! I have a son." with great joy :). Once I knew he had finally arrived and began screaming and we knew he was healthy I started to go into a bit of shock. I don't know if it was all we had been through in that last 48 hours or all the medicine, or being thrown around like a piece of meat in that operating room, but all I could do was just close my eyes. After Keith brought Owen over to me and I met him I think I feel asleep. 

The next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room. The pain was still pretty uncomfortable and I was still terribly thirsty. When I woke up Keith came in with Owen and I had a real chance to meet our son. 

Once I held him in my arms the pain and thirst disappeared.

I was so happy to just hold the little guy and look at him. 

He was perfect, peaceful and sweet.

He is worth all the pain, waiting and anxiety. 

He is our little angel. He is a blessing. 

1 comment:

Miss V said...

Thank you for sharing. Completely in tears. You are so very lucky. xo.