Friday, February 4, 2011

32 Hours (I think, I stopped counting after awhile)

So, I know I said mommy blogging annoys me. But, I just can't help myself. I absolutely have to write about the experience of Evelyn's birth. So - fair warning - this post is about childbirth.

We arrived at Fairview Hospital and they admitted me pretty quickly. By 4:45 p.m. the induction process was underway. The induction was started with Cervidil, a prostaglandin gel meant to soften the cervix. At this point I was not dilated at all and only 90% effaced. However, Baby Girl was well positioned.

Well, Cervidil actually initiated contractions for me. I started having contractions at about minutes apart and they persisted throughout the entire night as rapid as 1-2 minutes apart, but they were irregular. Needless I didn't sleep and was exhausted. In the morning they initiated the pitocin drip. Unfortunately the Cervidil was initiated the contractions but had not softened my cervix. So, the pain of the swelling was excruciating. But there is no going back once an induction is begun.

I only made it up to 3cm and they had to give me Nubain to dull the pain. It didn't much dull the pain and only made me sleepy to the point I would have a contraction then sleep through the next couple of minutes. It was so intense that at this point I asked that my mom and dad stay in the waiting room. My husband and sister took turns staying with me throughout the haze of excruciating pain.

The Nubain wore off and I continued to manage the pain with breathing and meditation. My cervix still held strong but the contractions got so intense that I could no longer manage the pain on my own. The contractions were so intense that I began involuntarily pushing. My belly looked like an alien was going to pop out of my belly. The nurse kept telling me to stop pushing but I had absolutely no control. I haven't felt pain like this in my life and even the pain of delivery was less than these contractions were. Such severe contractions at that stage is dangerous because the cervix is essentially still closed. I began to lose my mental faculties and couldn't even think straight. I decided to accept an epidural at this point.

The epidural was the first compromise in my birth plan, but I was terrified that without pain relief I was going to put the baby in danger. However, yet again my body reacted abnormally to the medication. The epidural did not work! I tingled a little bit on my skin but could still feel everything. The nurse anesthetist thought I was crazy that I could feel her little pokey probe.

They began talking about booking an O.R. for a C-section because the situation was becoming serious and called my obstetrician for orders, but Dr. Jesse stood by me. She was on her way to the hospital and told them to repeat the epidural that I wasn't crazy and if it wasn't working I wasn't making it up.

Guess, what? She was right. The second epidural worked. I could still feel the pressure and contractions but the excruciating pain that was initiating uncontrollable pushing subsided. I dilated up to 7cm by the time she got there and they turned off the epidural. Dr. Jesse arrived about 7 p.m. and I'd been laboring over 12 hours already.

I didn't know this part until today when The Husband told me but he overheard a conversation between our O.B., Dr. Jesse, and the nurses when she arrived. He'd stepped out into the hall and Dr. Jesse was at the nurses station fresh into scrubs to start our delivery. The nurses asked Dr. Jesse how she was doing, and she said she'd be even better when she delivered our baby. I didn't even know she was worried at this point.

The good news was Baby Girl was still going strong and I was able to focus on getting into active labor. I rapidly progressed to 10cm and it was time to push. At this point I was completely un-medicated, aware, and in control of the labor. The rest of the birth was un-medicated, but only by the grace of God.

I had planned on having only The Husband with me for the delivery, but changed my mind and asked my mom and sister to join us.

I continued to labor but the contractions wouldn't get close enough. I was having strong enough contractions though so I pushed through all of them. Unfortunately with a break of about 5 minutes between each one I wasn't making very good progress. Her head kept slipping back. I think she crowned ten times. My O.B. always is reassuring but I saw fear flicker across her face a couple times while we were waiting between contractions.

After about two hours of pushing I think the entire nursing staff of Fairview Hospital came to help. I had several nurses, a midwife turned nurse, my O.B., mom, sister, and husband there at the end. They tried every trick in the book. We were even able to laugh through some of it. Pushing a baby out of that certain place is a challenge because it is a feeling and sensation you never experience until you do it. Dr. Jesse explained me to pretend like I was doing a cannonball into a pool and was taking the biggest poop of my life to get rid of the worst constipation of my life. We all laughed and dubbed the description "the constipated cannonball."

I was getting very exhausted and had asked for a quiet birth but in the end what I needed was every one coaching and cheering us on to the finish line. The nursing staff and my O.B. were so supportive and having my husband, sister, and mother there kept me focused. I had a positive attitude the entire time despite the anxiety among the staff about the prolonged labor. The Husband surprised me by watching the whole delivery, he watched every time her head crowned and massaged my legs between contractions.

Dr. Jesse left the room and I realized that the situation was getting serious. She came back in scrubbed in for surgery. I realized later she was making sure there was an open O.R. and that anesthesia was ordered and they anesthesiologist was literally waiting at the door to clear the room.

Dr. Jesse told me I had until midnight. I had approximately 25 minutes. I was losing steam but my mom asked for a mirror.Earlier in the active labor one of the nurses tried a trick I'd never read about, we essentially played tug of war with a sheet. It allowed me to push extremely hard, but earlier it didn't work. In some of the last contractions we tried the tug of war again and her head finally stayed out up to her eyebrows. Once I saw the Baby Girl's head in the mirror and felt her I regained all strength and determination. Apparently I didn't even realize how determined I was because then I started pushing without contractions. They had to tell me to stop pushing!

Her head was out with the next push. Dr. Jesse cleared her airway and checked the cord and then we waited for another contraction, still about 2-3 minutes apart. Finally she was born with that last contraction at 11:38 p.m. I was ecstatic as soon as they put her on my belly. They had to tell me not to pull her up to far because the cord couldn't reach up to my chest. The Husband caught the cord, got his bearings and realized he'd been splattered. He politely asked for a towel, it was absolutely adorable! Baby Girl and I got acquainted while Dr. Jesse delivered the placenta and checked me for internal hemorrhaging.

After she stitched me up she showed the placenta to me just like I'd asked. I told it her it was the only organ I hadn't seen in person to draw or dissect and she laughed and explained all the anatomy to me.

They checked Baby Girl's vitals on my belly just as I asked and cleaned her up enough for us to kangaroo and for her to breastfeed for the first time. As I lay back in that bed finally with her in my arms surrounded by a circle of my mom, sister, and husband I was overwhelmed. I was shaking with excitement and wanted to hop out of the bed!

It took so much to bring her into this world, five years of waiting, one miscarriage, a difficult pregnancy, an excruciating labor, prolonged delivery, the support of an entire family, most of the amazing staff at Fairview, and my favorite physician. She was finally here. I felt so much relief and thanks. But mostly pure love.

I looked at The Husband and told him he had to pick one of the names. And he did. He named our little girl.

I live in words but I can't even formulate one single thought to explain how much I love her.

Finally all was finished and Baby Girl, Daddy, and I were given our time alone together. Finally after a long wait she was there with us and our family was complete. I could have stayed like that all night, but there was a bet on her weight among the staff and she needed to be cleaned up a bit. So, I watched as they cleaned her and weighed her. She measured in at 20" long and only 7 lbs., 11 oz.! This was much less than the expected 9-10 lbs! Her head was still as big as they'd predicted, though.

The Husband snuck back to the waiting room with the news. My Dad told me he came back there with his smirky serious poker face. Dad said they didn't even know he'd come back with news of her birth! Dad tried sending my aunt and cousin back first, but they told him to go! So her first visitor was Grandpa.

The Husband handed her over to Grandpa and told him her name, Evelyn Kay Hande Featherstone. Tim said Grandpa cried but his back was to me so I didn't see.

After Grandpa visited my godmother and godsister visited and then finally we headed up to the recovery room. I was so thankful for a comfortable bed. Evelyn fed again and they did a more thorough check of her then we settled in for a little sleep sometime around 3-4 a.m.

Looking back knowing what I know now that she wasn't a gigantic baby and that she remained healthy despite polyhydramnios I would have forgone induction entirely. I honestly believe the drugs used for induction caused irregular and prolonged labor for me and would have much rather done every thing entirely naturally. However, I was truly concerned for her health. So, actually no I change my mind. Despite the pain of those incredible contractions at only 3 cm and the extended labor I would still do that again to ensure her safety.

I feel positively blessed to have had such a positive birth experience. Every medical professional we encountered at Fairview, from the L&D nurses, to the lactation consultations, nurse educators, my O.B., and even the housekeeping staff were absolutely amazing. I know there is big debate about medical intervention and childbirth but I truly know now that it is an individual process that every mother will experience differently. Evelyn and I came through this healthy and very, very happy. I made some concessions, even took an epidural (twice), but in the end we made it and avoided surgical interventions. I felt entirely safe and supported the entire time. And truth is you won't know what you want until you're experiencing it yourself.

Okay, that's enough mommy blogging for now. Evie's first visitor besides family is on her way!

This last picture is of her Daddy holding her. He calls these "The Butt Pictures." She's in the same position she adopted in utero as her favorite sleeping position, butt up!


  1. Welcome to the mommy world! Other moms never get tired of reading mommy blogs so don't worry :-) Congrats on your beautiful baby girl!

  2. awesome, awesome, awesome! that was the exact description that did it for me: the doula saying, "Bear down like you're about to take the biggest shit of your life!!" lol