Sunday, March 08, 2009

Birth Story Part Four: The Arrival

Tater's trip down the birth canal was harder than average although the actual pushing phase of my labor was really quite short...all in all, I pushed anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, depending on who you ask (Aaron says 15, I say 20). As I stated in my previous installment, my dilation occurred very, very rapidly at the end. I was at 6 cm at 2:15pm, and by 2:35-ish, I was fully dilated and ready to push.

But I didn't need anyone to tell me that I was fully dilated...all of a sudden, I felt this incredible, tremendous, undeniable urge to push and honestly, after all of those hours of waiting, that urge felt good. That urge is so hard to describe--it's the most powerful, earth-shattering thing and there is no escaping it once it hits. I screamed at my doctor and anyone that would listen that I needed to push RIGHT NOW and after that final cervical check was done and I was made to wait through one more agonizing contraction, I was given permission to push.

It took me a couple of pushes to get my bearings and remember how to push effectively, but once I got the hang of it, it was like second nature. I tried to get in three good pushes with each contraction (it was like push--breathe--push--breathe--push--cleansing breath), and with each push, I could feel Tater moving further and further down into the birth canal. The pain was excruciating but I could no longer feel the pain in my back. I mentioned this between contractions to Cheryl and she said that the baby was probably rotating into the proper position as he made his way down.

After only a few contractions, I began to have that unmistakable "ring of fire" sensation and I was excited for a few moments because I knew the moment was at hand and Tater would be born soon. I remember being extremely frightened of that sensation when Grace was born and actually pulling back a bit from my pushing efforts, but this time, even though I was in tons and tons of pain, I was able to pull myself together and force myself to literally push through the pain. With the help of the nurses, I grabbed the backs of my thighs, put my chin to my chest, and screamed until I was hoarse through those last few pushes. Suddenly, I was able to see Tater's head and I was being told to pant instead of push--Tater's cord was wrapped around his neck so I needed to stop pushing for a moment so Dr. Fab could pull it off. Then, once I was given the ok to push again, his head was out, and then one push later, the rest of him came. Harrison Glen was born at 2:54pm.

The first thing I said after Harrison was born was, "That's so much better," and that drew laughter from everyone in the room, but I wasn't just talking about the pain being gone (although that was WONDERFUL). After having a miscarriage last year and after having a rough third trimester with this pregnancy, I was just so, so thankful to actually be able to see my son at last and know that he was all right.

After Harrison was born, Dr. Fab told us that she wanted him to go right over to the nurses because he was a little pale (really pale, actually), and of course Aaron and I consented. Aaron and I took a few moments to congratulate each other and cry together, and then I sent Aaron over to the warmer to be with Harrison while Dr. Fab finished up with me. I was still in some pain after the delivering Harrison, but the delivery of the placenta was mercifully easy (I didn't even have to push--Dr. Fab just kind of gently pulled it out) and after Dr. Fab examined me, she determined that I wouldn't need any stitches at all. I had torn only about 1 mm and she said that the tear was so small that it wasn't even worth fixing, so I was super thankful that I would be able to walk away from this delivery without even a stitch much less an episiotomy. (Almost two weeks postpartum now, I know that this made a HUGE difference in my recovery. The pain isn't nearly what it was last time, when I needed several stitches.)

Once I was cleaned up a bit and I was left alone, I rolled over onto my side and watched the nurses and Aaron with Harrison. I overheard that his weight was 6 lbs. 4 oz. and I was glad for that, especially since he was almost four weeks early. His APGAR scores were 7 and 8, and again, I was happy with that, especially given how pale he looked to me and the fact that he was a preemie. I watched Aaron's first moments with his son, and he just exuded happiness and pride as he talked to Harrison and took in the enormity of the moment. He was (and still is) the definition of the Proud Daddy.

It was decided that Harry would need to go to the nursery for a few hours because his blood pressure was lower than the nurses would have liked to see, but before he went, Aaron and I each had an opportunity to hold him for a while. I remember being really concerned about having enough love for another child (I love my daughter so much, after all, that loving another child THAT much seemed incomprehensible to me), but that fear melted away as soon as Harrison was placed in my arms. The love that I felt for him was immediate and all-consuming, and I learned that a mother's love has no limits. I spent a few precious moments holding my new son before passing him off to Aaron who held Harry for a while before he was taken to the nursery.

Harrison ended up spending more than a few hours in the NICU--he actually ended up spending three nights there. His blood pressure rebounded after he was given a bolus of IV fluids, but the concern then became his eating...because he was a preemie, he wasn't able to learn to suck effectively and ended up needing an NG tube for his feedings until he was three days old, when miraculously he started to eat on his own and we were able to pull the tube.

(The whole eating thing did not come easily for him, though. I had fully planned on breastfeeding Harry, despite not having the best of luck nursing Gracie, but Harry is tongue-tied [his frenulum, the little piece of skin under his tongue, is longer than it should be and his tongue is more attached to the bottom of his mouth than it should be], which makes nursing nearly impossible since he is not able to achieve a good latch onto my breast. It also makes any attempt at nursing extremely painful. Our pediatrician told us that if we wanted to, we could have Harrison's frenulum clipped and he might be able to nurse, but honestly, I am not so married to the idea of actually nursing him that I feel the need to put him through more pain and possibly subject him to short-term eating issues. So we are not having his frenulum clipped, at least not right now. I am pumping every three hours and Aaron and I are both feeding Harrison my breast milk through a bottle.)

The other issue Harrison had in his first few days was jaundice. For some reason, Harry's trip down the birth canal left him with a huge, painful bruise on the back of his head--many people that saw him actually asked if Dr. Fab used a vacuum extractor on him because his poor little head was so bruised and misshapen--and it took Harrison's body a lot of time to reabsorb that blood and his liver was not able to handle it all at once, so the jaundice set in. This bought him several days on a phototherapy bed, not to mention lots of trips to the lab for heel sticks. and we were finally able to get rid of that all late last week. Thank goodness.

The bruise that he had on his head is still somewhat of a mystery to me. The bruise is gone now and his head has a wonderful round shape, but it was nasty for a few days. The best explanation that I have been able to get is that he was so high in my pelvis for most of my labor and then made such a rapid descent down the birth canal that his head was put through some pretty major trauma in a short amount of time. Also, both my doctor and the nurse that attended me during labor observed that I have a really small pelvis and that I probably wouldn't be able to deliver a baby over 7 pounds naturally, so that might have had something to do with it as well. Either way, the bruise caused Harrison more than just a bad headache.

We have had Harrison home for a week now, and I have had lots of time to reflect on my birthing experience. Overall, it was a good one...for anyone in the Milwaukee area who is looking for a hospital to deliver their baby, I would highly, highly recommend the hospital where I delivered. The staff, both in L&D and in the NICU, was absolutely wonderful. They made me feel supported and cared for each step of the way and they made a difficult time for our family much more bearable. And, I am so, so glad that I decided to follow Dr. Fab to her new clinic and hospital. I really don't think I could have asked for a better or more attentive OB to lead me through this whole process. I made the right decision on that one.

I also wanted to mention one other person who I could not have done this without, and that is Aaron. I get teased occasionally because I tend to ooze and gush about my husband and how awesome he is on my blog and on my Facebook page, but man, I gotta give credit where it's due. I know this pregnancy was not easy on him, especially since this was his first time going through this and I know that he was afraid both for me and for Harrison. But, he was my rock throughout my pregnancy and he didn't falter during labor and delivery either. He was there for me every second that I needed him to be during labor and he did exactly what I needed him to do without me having to tell him. He joked with me and made me laugh when I needed to laugh, but he knew when I didn't want to joke around anymore and he let me be serious and quiet when I needed to be. He coached me through each contraction and reminded me that I am strong, even when I felt like I was at my weakest. And after Harry was born, he spent a lot of time reassuring me that everything was going to be all right when I'm sure he was just as scared as I was. I just can't imagine going through this experience with anyone else. Thanks, Aar, for being your usual awesome self.

So, that's it! Harrison is home, we're sleep deprived, and we're loving every minute of it.


Carrie said...

Both you and Aaron really triumphed over adversity. Good for you! And thanks for sharing your birth story -- it's truly an act of generosity.
How great that despite all the challenges you were able to push Harrison out so effectively. I have never had a pushing phase of less than an hour. I've blamed the posterior position -- Nutmeg rotated before the birth, Pebbles never did -- or maybe it's just my anatomy or maybe I'm just not GOOD at pushing! So I give you the first-place push prize! lol.
I don't know when we'll be able to see that little bundle -- I know we can't get up to Milwaukee this month -- but Epu, the girls and I are all looking forward to meeting him!

Anonymous said...

I loved your story, I will admit to checking frequently to see if you had posted the next part :)

After watching my sister go through 28 hours of pitocin labor and hearing your story, I'm really hoping not to have to experience the challenges you both did. Good job mama! When the time comes, I only hope I can be as strong the women who surround me.