I had been feeling horrible starting on Wednesday, November 12th. I had a horrible headache and on Thursday could not even get out of bed. Friday I started to get worried, but did errands and visited a friend in the hospital to get my mind off feeling like crapola. That evening I made Chepe take me to Longs to do a blood pressure test. It was a little high, but I just thought maybe the machine was a little off, but I knew that I was in a bit of denial.
I ended up having an emotional breakdown and told Chepe about my fears that something was wrong and I would end up being medicated, induced, if not worse. He shared with me that he had been feeling the same way too for the last couple of days, but did not want to scare me. Basically, for the last three days at this point I had come to terms with this birth most likely would not be the birth we had planned (an unassisted birth at home, that we had researched thoroughly and were well prepared for). I just felt it in my heart. Also, for the last few days the baby was not moving as much and when I tried to talk to her I had a strange feeling that something was wrong for her too. I even asked her at one point if she was alright in there and I got a shiver that her answer was no.
So, Saturday morning, November 15th Chepe leaves for work. Before he went out the door we joked about how maybe the baby would be born on the "Ides of November" and then Chepe had to remind me what the "Ides" means (basically the 15th of the month). After he left I set up Eden with a show and I got in the shower. Not very long into my shower I felt horrible and nearly passed out, maybe even did a little since there really is no telling. I started to panic since I was home alone with Eden, but I just got out and called labor & delivery around 11am trying to stay calm. L&D asked me a few questions and said they thought something was wrong with my blood pressure due to my responses, so I should come in as soon as possible since blood pressure issues can go from bad to worse very quickly. I was having some visual floaters all of a sudden which seemed to be a tell tell sign that my blood pressure was indeed up. I called Chepe and then called my mom to come get me since that would be faster then waiting for him to return home.
We got down to Kaiser at 1pm. Within about ten minutes the staff put me on the monitors and my blood pressure looked fairly normal, so they ran labs. In the process they notice that the baby's heart rate was very low (below their lower limit for normal) and that was worrisome. The doctor on staff decided to do an ultrasound to check the baby and my fluid level and thankfully all looks fine. She asked if she could check my cervix and to my disappointment tells me that I am not dilated at all. My cervix was still sitting sideways though (like it was at my 38 week appointment), so the exam was a bit on the aggressive side to be able to check for dilation. The doctor mentioned that they wanted to do a stress test for the baby, to see how she would handle labor, and asks me if I want to try nipple stimulation or pitocin for get some contractions started. I say nipple stimulation, so around 3:00pm they moved me into a observation room for this test, but in the process my contractions started on their own. These contractions felt exactly the same as they had for the last nine weeks, so when the doctor and nurses kept saying I was in labor I kept telling them that I was not and that the contractions would stop in a few hours.
Between 3pm and 3:30pm Chepe arrived and I updated him on what was happening and sure enough my contractions stopped at this point. The results of my lab tests came back around this time showing me as having borderline high blood pressure, but they saw no real issues with me or the baby and decided they would release me. However, before they released me the doctor asked if she could check my cervix again, and discovered I was 4 centimeters. I told her that I believed I was now dilated only because she accidentally swept my membranes the time before since the check was difficult for her to reach. She assured me that she did not sweep them on purpose, but agrees with my guess that the exam itself sped things along. She reassured us that the dilation at this point was a good thing and that she hoped it would progress. She mentioned that she thought I could go home to labor on my own as planned, but that since she is only a resident doctor she had to check with a staff doctor for their release approval. At this point I was still in denial that I was having a baby since I only came in for a horrible headache. I still had a very bad feeling about everything and was still feeling like poo.
Over this whole time period baby's heart rate was getting into the normal range and then dropping off again sporadically. Every time it did this I would get worried that they are going to run in and tell me that they are prepping me for a cesarean section that instant. Luckily I had a good group of doctor's and nurses that knew where we stood on birthing methods/options and they were doing everything they could to stick to our birth plan. They said they would not do a c-section unless there was a true risk to baby or me, and that they wanted me to have as natural of a birth as possible and a vaginal delivery was their goal too.
The resident doctor comes back in and told me I was staying since they are worried about the potential for fetal distress and my blood pressure if labor were to progress. She said they did not feel comfortable releasing me knowing that I was at risk of complications. Chepe and I talked it over and agreed I needed to stay. At this point I was still in denial that all this is happening over a bad headache and asked them what it all meant, since I think they were keeping me just for observation. The doctor explained that I would be leaving with baby in arms and even though I knew this it made it real to hear her say it. So, this is when the "fun" began.
An IV was started to give me antibiotics since I was Group B Step positive. I originally had declined this intervention, but at this point reconsidered since I was already not having a 100% natural birth laboring at home. I figured I needed to pick my battles and save my "NO!" cards for something more important to me. The staff looked up my medical record and knew I had no interventions with Eden so they wanted to see our Birth Plan. I laughed because I felt it was pointless since half of it was already out the window. I was grateful though that they were being sympathetic to our views and goals for this birthing time.
At 8pm I still had no contractions happening naturally, so at 8:05 pitocin was started at 2.0ml/hr. Chepe was worried that I would be upset by having a birth full of interventions, but I reassure him that I came to terms with this three days prior when I felt something was wrong and I would be happy with any outcome that included a healthy Momma & Baby. I was truly at peace with the process and to be honest with how horrible I felt and how bad my headache was I was just done. I did not have the strength needed for an all natural birth either physically or more importantly mentally.
At 8:45pm the pitocin was increased to 4.0ml/hr. Chepe asked what the highest amount given was just out of curiosity and they said they can only increase 2ml at a time and the max is 36ml/hr. We both were in shock that some women require that much since I was already feeling the artificially induced contractions. They were coming every 3 minutes already, but were still mild.
At 9:40pm the pitocin was increased to 6.0ml/hr. I could feel the strength behind the contractions, but still not a big deal managing them. I was using my relaxation techniques on and off, but did not really need to rely on them...yet. Basically these contractions still felt similar to all the preterm/false labor contractions I had been dealing with for weeks now.
At 10:20pm the pitocin was increased to 7.0ml/hr. I was still handling this with no pain medications of any kind, but was getting worried that I would not be able to last much longer. I kept telling Chepe that I knew I was eventually going to need pain medicine of some kind because I was not prepared to birth and could not put myself in the needed mindset. He kept telling me I could, but I would snap back that I did not know anyone who had a natural induced birth. I was trying to explain how different it all felt compared to Eden's birthing time and how it all felt so artificial. My body felt hijacked and I could not seem to catch up mentally enough to get a grip on it. Even though I still felt horrible I kept on with no pain medicines and hung in there.
At 11:30pm my contractions were really starting to get stronger and closer together. I needed to stand, move around, and brush my teeth. I was not supposed to do any of this because I had all the monitors on, but I told the nurse that if I was going to do this naturally despite the interventions I was doing it on my terms and that meant getting out of bed and moving around. She understood and helped me move things around so I could crawl on the back of the bed for support, etc. Turns out she had a baby eight months prior and wanted an all natural birth, but it did not go as planned, so she was really wanting our birth to be as on track as possible with our birth plan. I could not have been any luckier to get someone who understood us and our needs, however her cheerleader attitude did annoy me a bit later when she would not get off the bandwagon. I did consent to another internal exam and was 5 cm. I knew this was trouble. The pitocin was not allowing me to relax enough to allow myself to open up, so Chepe and I began working on the "Open, open, open" visualization during each contraction.
Chepe was a great labor coach. With Eden I labored a lot by myself because that is what I needed to manage, but this time around I needed him immensely and he was my rock. He held me up, we swayed through contractions, he vocalized relaxation cues with me, he did pressure relaxation, and was very reassuring despite my dismal attitude. I still could not bring myself into a positive spot due to how I physically felt and that made things even harder to manage.
Over the next hour things got ugly. The pitocin induced contractions were mind blowingly painful. More intense then anything I felt with Eden and I still could not muster up the strength to deal with them properly. Since this labor had not started and progressed naturally I felt like I was playing catch up and just was not able to get on top of the contractions as needed to relax through them. I kept saying that I felt no control over this birth and that I was done. With each contraction I was more and more done and I was giving up a little more. No matter what the nurses and Chepe said to me they could not bring me back into a happy place. I would say this was Transition if this was a naturally progressing labor, but I now think pitocin makes your whole labor feel like transition...just plain awful.
At 12:30am the doctor asked if I wanted them to break my bag of waters. I refused and explained that I feared that once my water broke and took away the cushion my contractions would be too intense to handle. I was really loosing it now mentally and was physically exhausted. Nothing anyone could say was helping. I had given up. Pitocin had won the battle. I was actually begging for a cesarean section at this point because I was so overwhelmed. I was also upset every time the doctors and nurses kept saying, "you have done it before without meds you can do it again". Kaiser is not known for their encouragement of drug free births, so even though this was great for me to hear hours before I wanted to scratch their eyes out about now every time they said something even remotely encouraging.
Finally the nurse realized that I was emotionally a wreck and asked if I thought I needed something. I screamed because I had been begging for something now for hours, and even though I did not originally want anything I really needed something now. I knew that if I stayed this tense I would never progress and things would get even uglier. Chepe and I talked and we agreed I at least needed something in my IV.
At 12:30am I was given pain medicine in my IV. That helped take the edge off for all of five minutes until I was sitting on the edge of the bed and my water broke. I screamed and started to cry. I knew that it was all a lost battle because without that bag of waters cushion there was no way I could handle the intense pressure/pain. Chepe called the nurse and we told her my water broke. She told us that was a good thing and asked me why I was crying. I explained and said that it was the stupid IV medicine that did it. I felt like it made me relax just enough for the waters to release and then just left me in a worse spot since honestly I no longer felt any relief.
At 12:45am my blood pressure was through the roof. At times it was 168 and alarms were going off. They had to keep coming in to recheck it since it was getting higher and higher. My head felt like it was going to explode. Take a horrible migraine and multiply it by 10...no 100. I was trying to stand in between contractions with Chepe supporting me, but I ended up having to sit on the edge of the bed because I got incredibly dizzy. At points I could not see anything and when I did regain my vision it was gray scale, blurry, and very dim. I kept telling everyone that I could not see and that my headache was much worse then before. With every contraction at this point I was pushing the nurses call button because I was hopelessly exhausted and needed them to know I needed help.
The doctor came in with the nurse and we all talked about our options. I explained as calmly as possible that I was just done and needed them to take the baby. The doctor explained that an elective cesarean was an option, but that she did not want to give me one since she knew I would regret it. I explained that I would not regret anything since I had come to terms with everything days before and that I was just done. We began to bargain a bit. She said that for a cesarean I would need an epidural anyway, so she wanted to see if I would consent to that and if I did not feel better once getting it they would do a cesarean. I agreed. I was crying, exhausted, defeated, angry, but I still felt in control of my options.
Even though they were not the options I originally wanted I felt like I did my best to go at this birth naturally and only succumbed when I absolutely knew I could not make it. I even explained that if they could guarantee it was only 10 more minutes I could make it, but I knew that it very well could be hours and hours more and that I could simply not manage. I had already been there for 12 hours and I was ready to have this baby no matter what the journey entailed.
While waiting for the epidural the nurse gave me some oxygen, but keeping the mask on during contractions was a bit of a juggling act. Chepe decided he needed the oxygen too, so he held the mask to himself when I did not want it during contractions. I chuckled a little at this because that is just so typical of us. I am sure we were a sight to see sharing the mask.
At 1:30am I got the epidural. It was an intense process since I had to sit still during the crazy contractions. I was sick with anxiety. Once the epidural was placed I felt some nerve pain on my right kidney area, so they had to reposition me to relieve the pressure on the nerve otherwise they would have had to try again or remove the epidural all together, both of which were not options in my book.
By 1:50am I was feeling a lot better. I was in bed now and lying on my left side since I was still feeling intense contractions on that side. They were basically trying to have gravity move the epidural medicine into my left side, to help but I actually enjoyed this pressure/pain because it made me feel still connected to my labor. That was my main fear is I did not want to be so numb that I would not feel anything and not feel connected, so I gladly welcomed this little bit of discomfort.
Over the next hour the lights were dimmed so I could relax and Chepe turned the TV on to PBS were there was the funky folk music group playing a concert. They wanted me to sleep, but I never did. I just rested, eyes closed, sucked in the sweet oxygen, and entered into what I would describe as a trance-like state by the music. It seemed so loud to me, but I welcomed it. I felt like it entered my body and took over my labor. With each contraction I relaxed more and more to the music. I was relaxed from head to toe and finally felt in control to some degree. Finally like I was able to catch up to where the pitocin had taken me. I felt very peaceful and happy.
Suddenly I felt pressure between my legs. Again, I was so happy that I could feel these birthing sensations. I knew this pressure was me being fully dilated and the baby entering into the birth canal. The nurse happened to walk in right then and I told her. She checked and sure enough the baby and I were ready. Chepe's note on our paper towel puts it best with, "3:00am 10cm getting moved to the boom boom room."
It was a busy night at L&D, so we were taken to an operating room for delivery. Chepe had to put on the gown and hat, which made us both laugh. We were both well aware of the stark contrast between our two birthing journeys. I was moved onto a delivery table and became quickly aware that I had no idea how to push. This made me laugh because you would have thought I never had a baby before. With Eden pushing came naturally and I needed no instruction, but this time around I had no idea what I was doing. For about half an hour I tried to get a feel for what I needed to do and laughed at each failed try. The nurse and Chepe were very supportive and kept trying to kindly direct my pushing technique so it would be more effective. Because I was feeling my contractions on my left side they moved me to lying on that side so I could focus my energy and that helped tremendously.
In between contractions we talked about varying topics including how I had to get up to pee every night at around 3:30am, so that was why she was being born in the morning and that me not being able to do my enema at home and the enchiladas for dinner was resulting in poopies, which made me upset. TMI, I know, but this is our birth story and I want all the gory details included :o)
After an hour of pushing I really was getting in the swing of things and Chepe told me that they could see the baby's head at my contraction peaks. I started to get antsy and wanted the baby out, so I really put my contractions to work and would fit about three big pushes into each of them. I even commented that one push per contraction was for sissies LOL! As 4:20 approached Chepe was getting excited thinking that would be her birth time. I told him I would do my best, but could not guarantee anything. As the baby was nearing the crowning position the nurse ran to get the mirror so I could watch her emerge and a doctor to catch the baby.
This was completely awesome because it was impossible to watch this happen during Eden's birth, so this was a first for me. As Lily's head appeared I was able to see her being born and was amazed. That is something I will never forget and even though we do not have a picture of it, it is captured in my mind forever. This image is something I am very thankful for because it made the ups and downs so worth it and I alway felt like I missed out a little before by not witnessing this firsthand. One word sums it up, Wow!
Once her head was out the doctor saw that she had the cord around her neck. Kaiser's policy is that they have to cut and clamp at this point in this instance, which angered me a bit because we wanted a delayed cord clamping and yet again did not get that wish fulfilled. Because he had to do all of this and stopped me from pushing Lily's official birth time is 4:21am. Chepe and I were bummed because if he had not intervened and just slipped the cord over her head she would have been a 4:20am baby since she would have slid out at with the previous contraction. Oh well, she will always be our little canaculture baby in our hearts no matter what the birth certificate says.
Lily was immediately placed on my chest. She was not moving or crying, but the nurse still gave her a high Apgar score because she had this completely aware look on her face. She got a little blue and then decided to take her first breathe and let out a cry. I noticed that her head was lumpy and the nurse informed us that her head had been stuck sideways the entire time and they could actually see her in the birth canal with her head in a bad position. She commented that Lily's head position could have lead to all the preterm labor, non-dilation, and lengthy pushing time. I had felt her grinding on my pelvic bone for weeks and now I could see the results of that on her little head, but was thankful that she did not have bruising to accompany the lumps.
My placenta again did not want to detach, so the doctor helped it along a little like with Eden's birth. I was a bit put off by this because I firmly believe that the hospital sets unrealistic time constraints for placental delivery and that my body obviously needs more time for this third stage of labor. Some humor in this though is that when he scooped the placenta out the umbilical cord flipped around and squirted blood all over with force and made this weird spurting sound. Chepe and him laughed about how it was very Monte Python like and we all got a good laugh and talked about the machine that goes "bing". I kept telling them both to stop it because it was all a little weird, which only made us laugh some more. Nothing like cracking jokes while having your arm up to your elbow in someones uterus :o)
I did quickly notice that we have a one eyed monster on our hands. Lily refused to open her left eye and I started to panic thinking something was wrong with it. The nurse checked and said that it maybe was sensitive to the bright lights or a little tender from birth. Turns out she still is a little reluctant with that eye and we think it is her just being lazy since she would rather sleep then look at you. We took the next hour or so to bond with Lily and it was very surreal. I kept looking at her and just thought I was reliving Eden's birth since she looks so much like her Sissy, but then I would remind myself that this was our new bundle and that we did in fact have two daughters now. Wow...she was really here!
Lily made us laugh in that first hour by doing a very Edenesque move. We were looking at her and she acted as though she could not be bothered and just instantly closed her eyes with force as though she was telling us to get out of her face and let her rest. Too funny.
After a long while we were moved to recovery where they would begin to clean me up and do all the post birth procedures with Lily also. I could tell Chepe was exhausted so I sent him home to shower and sleep till the afternoon. I was very swollen and could not urinate, so a catheter was put back in and my very full bladder was emptied of over 2 liters of urine!!! Luckily I was still very numb so I did not feel it at all.
Lily was overstimulated and would not stop a pattern of crying, so I took the time for some skin to skin contact and kept trying to get her to nurse. It was just Momma and baby bonding time with was nice and very calming for me. The original doctor I had earlier in the process came in to congratulate me and I thanked her for not letting me give in as easily as I had wanted. She was very happy that I was happy and content with how it all turned out and wished us well with the new baby.
During recovery all the nurses kept asking me how I felt about a non-medicated vs. a medicated birth now that I had both. They specifically wanted to know which one I thought was better. I kept telling them that neither was better in my opinion, just different. Both of my births were beautiful events that both had their pros and cons and I would relive them both in a heartbeat.
Around 8am Lily and I were moved into our postpartum room and rested for a few hours. I had to wait for the effects of the epidural to wear off before getting a shower, which was not making me a happy camper. I was dumping fluids and toxins like crazy via perspiration most likely due due to my high blood pressure and the medications. Now there was no denying that I did stink. I kept telling the nurses that I smelled myself and was not happy. They joked that they could not smell me so I was fine, but that they do get women in that really stink, so I had nothing to worry about. "Yuck!" was my only response to their stories and I let them know again that I wanted my shower as soon as I could stand on my own and get the catheter out. Papa arrived back at the hospital, then Eden came to meet her sister. She was so excited and happy that the baby was finally out. Later that day I finally got my shower which was so refreshing and I scrubbed twice to get the stink off. The rest of our families came later for a short visit to meet Baby Lily and congratulate the Big Sis.
Once everyone left Chepe and I settled in for a night at the hospital since we would not be released until the next day. Lily was latching and feeding well, but she was still hungry. She was nursing nonstop and I could feel how painful it was becoming, so we consented to a formula feeding in the nursery at around midnight. The nurses watched her for a few hours so Chepe and I could get some sleep. I was so tired I was started to be delirious and explained how I just needed a few hours to play catch up. The nurse understood and was happy to help. Around 5am Lily was brought back to our room and we all slept more in between diaper changings and feedings.
At around noon we finally were giving the go home green light and were packed up and out of there. On the way home we picked up big sister Eden and then hunkered down for some family bonding at the homestead. The Morales Crew was finally home, together, and complete! Welcome Lily!
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